Fantasy MLB with Tristan Cockcroft
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday morning, ESPN.com fantasy expert Tristan Cockcroft will drop by to take your questions and analyze all the latest baseball news from a fantasy perspective.
Cockcroft is a two-time LABR member and was the 2012 Tout Wars champion. He is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame.
Send your questions now and join Cockcroft Monday at 11 a.m. ET!
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Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:03 AM)
Good morning everyone! Let's get right to your questions this most awesome a.m... the first Monday that Oscar Taveras is in the big leagues.
Derek (PA )
Is Cody Allen now the closer in Cleveland? I'm in a 14 team league where closers are at a premium. I currently have Rendon and I'm wondering whether to drop him for Allen.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:05 AM)
I'd consider back-to-back saves -- with Bryan Shaw in a clear setup capacity -- a certain sign that Allen is the leader if it's even still a committee in Terry Francona's mind. Allen over Hector Rondon for me, though Rondon's fine on the lower ranking tiers once he's back from paternity leave.
Craig (Delaware Water Gap, PA)
I feel Matt Carpenter is so underrated its crazy. How come with rankings, chats etc it seems he is almost a borderline 2b, He scores tons of runs, hits for high avg, walks and hits high in the order. I know he is not a 30 HR hitter, but what eligible 2b is really..
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:07 AM)
He's a .291 hitter pacing for three homers and six steals, though a solid 105 runs scored (largely due to his lineup spot and penchant for walks). I've probably been as pro-Carpenter as anyone, but how could I really rank him much higher than I have?
Omar (Golden State)
Doolittle have top 10 closer potential?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:09 AM)
Skills-wise, sure, I'd put him there with the guys in that nebulous 9-12 range, though he doesn't have quite the tenure in the role of some of those guys. The reason he doesn't rank there is that it's difficult to go all-in on a guy with only a couple weeks' track record in the role, who had been held out of said role for faaaarrrrrr too long just because he was a lefty (or, at least, that's my theory why he was). If you want to go all-in, I'm fine with it. I love Doolittle the pitcher, he's deserving, he looks great. But you're gambling upon the volatility of managerial closer decisions.
Mike in Mass [via mobile]
SOS! (Sultan of Swat) do I start James Jones or Brock Holt in my utility slot this week? Holt should sneak into daily lineup as long as Napoli is out, but I'm last in steals and Jones has been steady...
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:13 AM)
I'd go with Jones if only that the Red Sox will have Stephen Drew available for the full week, and Holt is the most obvious player headed to the bench for him; Drew probably just sits the two games against lefty starters (out of six total). Jones, meanwhile, is getting starter's at-bats; it's mostly a playing-time decision here.
Will Maikel Franco be up this year?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:14 AM)
I sure think so, but he has to perform better in the minors to earn said call. Frankly, he'd be up today if he had started on even a decent level. We might be looking at the All-Star break or later, but I think it will happen ... and who knows, teams are so unpredictable with prospects' promotions, it could be this week for all I know.
Ken Adams (New York)
Would you rather have Oscar Taveras or Polanco the rest of the season?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:15 AM)
Polanco, still, but that's a projected-rest-of-season-stat-line decision. Your own roster needs can drive, it's close enough either way. We talked ad nauseam about these two on today's podcast, if you want more detail.
Willin Rosario was just dropped in my league (H2H, 1 catcher). I currently have Salvador Perez. Drop Perez for Rosario?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:16 AM)
I would, though you have to do your own calculations if that's a points league; the K's could weigh here. Rosario has clearly the greater power (and therefore RBIs in all likelihood) potential, Perez more stability going forward in terms of batting average. But the power drives that rank.
Will Rubby De La Rosa have 12-man mixed fantasy value the ROS?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:17 AM)
Another player discussed today on podcast, I gave a decent amount of detail about his specific improvements, and what he has done in the minors and exhibited in this one outing does earn him a speculative stash for me even in your format. Again, your roster drives it, but I buy that there's something there and worth the chance.
HRs R Us (NYC)
purely power - which hot hitter lasts? Khris, Willingham, Arcia, Duda, Ozuna
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:18 AM)
Just power? Simply homers? You've got them in the right order other than swapping Duda and Ozuna around, and I'd stress that I'd project the two Twins to be awfully close to one another in the homer category from today forward.
Andrew (Howell, NJ)
Trade Starlin Castro for Hosmer? have Everth,Desmond and Rizzo,Morneou,morse. I get Hosmer
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:20 AM)
I think you could get more, to be honest, but I'll be crystal clear that I ranked Hosmer higher of those two this past week (going forward, please be aware that's going forward, not year to date, common misread), because I believe in the guy making the requisite adjustments to finish with a strong final four months. Try to get more first, but your roster affords you the chance to speculate on Hosmer if you're with me on that.
Dear Sultant, in a 12 team h2h with BBs and BA, please rank Marlon Byrd, Josh Willingham an d Dexter Fowler. Thanks!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:21 AM)
I'm taking this as if it's the standard 5x5 with walks an added sixth category on the offensive side, in which case I'm swapping Byrd and Willingham in your listed order. Willingham's a risky guy from an injury standpoint, but I think he's awfully underrated in walks-oriented leagues, and his right-handed swing is actually a much better fit to Target Field than anyone gives him credit.
Are you hopping on the Phil Hughes band wagon yet? The guy has been incredible this year.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:23 AM)
Yes, to the extent that anyone rationally could with Phil Hughes. Some pitch-selection adjustments and a ridiculous improvement in his control. This is a skills change and anyone not willing to take a close look is missing out. (And, by the way, people are in a whopping 33 percent of ESPN leagues.)
Big time keeper-league trade question. 6x6 league (OPS and QS)I'm holding onto Harvey for $1, and Bogaerts for $8 next year. Being offered Ryan Zimmerman and Carlos Gomez, both non-keepers. Is this enough to give up these two great keeper values, or should I look to get one of Pedroia or Victor Martinez involved?Thanks!!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:24 AM)
It's a fair offer, and I'd say that if you were getting Gomez alone, and just the kind of move a contender should be making to secure a championship. So, I ask in reply, can you win this year? I'd like to see a better second guy than Zimmmerman -- I'm iffy on him as you can see in my ranks -- but I'm not going to quibble if this move puts you over the top.
Greg Polanco (Tennesse)
When will I be up?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:26 AM)
Um, you should've been up two months ago, so I have absolutely no idea. Chatter from the Pirates this week, where he was slotted at leadoff, has me thinking they're getting close. Today's as good a day as any to stash Gregory Polanco or Kendrys Morales, because I'd happily place my bets that when we meet here one week from this precise time, they'e both on major league rosters (or at least Morales will have his team and on a rehab assignment a la Stephen Drew).
Is Brian Dozier's hot start coming to a halt, or is this for real
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:28 AM)
The nature of low-average guys is to endure streaks on either end, so Dozier really isn't doing anything that surprises or bothers me all that much. I still think he's a .240-hitting, 20/20 capable guy (maybe 25/20, will not go higher). And yes, that is an adjusted expectation of mine compared to the preseason; I didn't count on even that solid a stat line.
Cashner could come back this weekend against the nationals. Do you start him against the nationals in his first start back?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:29 AM)
No, but a lot of that comes down to: Length of DL stint (3-plus weeks) resulting in limited pitch count, nature of the injury, and the fact that since it's a weekend outing, you can surely afford the luxury of the DL stash while you evaluate his performance before activating him for his second turn back. The conservative play is fairly obvious to me here.
Gomez,Tavares and Starlin Castro for Gray, Alvarez and Altuve. I get Gomez side and was wondering who got the better deal?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:30 AM)
That's a pretty fair deal. You get the best player, I think the other team got the best overall deal, but frankly I'm splitting hairs saying that.
Arnold (chicago) [via mobile]
Just picked up Collin McHugh, what should I expect from him?? Like his K rate but unsure of Astros pitching. Thanks
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:33 AM)
"Unsure of Astros pitching" is an entirely unfair assessment; see Keuchel, Dallas.McHugh was a topic on one of our past podcasts, Mark Simon went into the improvements he had made, McHugh is attacking the zone more readily this season and I can attest to the big improvement he has made with his slider (a la Keuchel). Yes, there's something there, still prefer Keuchel though. I'm OK with saying he's a top-75 starter going forward and that's a pitcher well worth streaming at least half the time.
Mike (Albany, NY)
How far would K. Morales move up your ranks if he gets signed this week by a team like...your Yanks?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:34 AM)
If I recall, he was my No. 18 first baseman at the onset of the 2013-14 offseason, though I'd say more like 20-25 now. Though I consider the Yankees an outstanding destination for him based upon the fit of his lefty power swing to that park. I'm fine with the No. 20 first baseman rank if that's where he winds up.
What type of player should I trade for Molina. Thinking Tavares or S. Castro
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:35 AM)
In a redraft league, I'd trade Oscar Taveras for Yadier Molina in an absolute instant.
Jay Bruce is killing me...do I trade low or hold and pray?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:36 AM)
Hold and pray. Eight games since his return from the DL and he's a natural streaks guy based on his K/low-average ability. Heck, Bruce has a history of slow starts to seasons; shouldn't we expect a sluggish initial period after returning from the DL as well?
Tammy (Des Plaines)
Willingham for AJax, which side?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:38 AM)
I'd take Jackson, but a lot of that is better playing-time odds the rest of the way. I'd only predict higher walk and homer totals for Willingham; Austin Jackson probably wins all the other relevant categories.
Josh (St. Louis)
When Polanco is called up where do you see him in your ROS rankings?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:39 AM)
In the OF3/4 range in ESPN standard leagues, around the range of guys like Heyward/Hunter/Jackson. So around 140th overall or so.
I have a Jose Fernandez keeper question. I'm in a 12 team, 5 keeper league (keep for indefinite). I also have King Felix and Harvey. Should I cut bait or hold on? Is there trade value there?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:41 AM)
I'd shop him around, because there's no way I could justify keeping two guys coming off Tommy John surgeries like that, not in a five-keeper league. And I'd much rather have Harvey in the format because he has greater odds of the bigger 2015. Shop Fernandez, see what you can get.
Mike (San Diego)
29th? 29th?!?!?! How come you drew the short end of the stick in the franchise draft?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:42 AM)
Beats me. Luck of the draw. Draft position doesn't matter, you can't control it so make do with the hand you're dealt. I'll make a good pick at 29.
Bryan (Montclair, NJ)
Are you a fan of Tom Koehler (8 Quality Starts), or will he "cool" off?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:43 AM)
Look at the home/road splits, specifically the WHIP. He's a classic streaming candidate, and I wouldn't go further than that. Use at home, preferably against the lighter-hitting squads.
Nick (Hammond, LA)
What would you do with Samardzija? Keep? Sell? If sell, who would you target?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:46 AM)
I'd keep, but if you're going to sell, you want a top-75 player (which means effectively a top-25 starter or a top-50 hitter). So a guy like Michael Wacha, or Jose Reyes, or Brandon Moss.
No love for Nate (.)
Eovaldi didn't crack your 75 for this week!? vs the Cubbies! What gives???
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:48 AM)
Again, home/road splits. He has pitched within range of the quality start-minimum in recent favorable road matchups, but I think that's the best we should be expecting; and a 6-and-3 game is pretty much on the borderline of the top 75 starters.
you dealing Ventura after this start as long as its a quality one?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:50 AM)
Yes. I have serious concerns about his ability to stay healthy after an outing like this; an extremely hard thrower who probably wouldn't possess the same effectiveness if he tried to dial it down a few notches once he returns.
Derek (work) [via mobile]
I believe it was EK who says he is very much against Braun this year, he's been hitting well, what do you project for the rest of the year for him?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:52 AM)
I'm with EK on this one. I think Braun can his .300, and can hit another 20-25 homers with maybe 8-10 steals if he stays completely healthy the rest of the way, but I don't think it's realistic to expect that he will stay healthy for more than, say, three-quarters of the remaining season. I say purge the risk using his name value as your selling point.
What do you think of Cingrani -- is he droppable now?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:53 AM)
I don't feel any different about Tony Cingrani than I have the entire season. He could be great in time, once he polishes his secondary pitches. Yes, he's in cut consideration; has ranked in the matchups category in our standard game all year.
standard keepers league-- Harper or Springer?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:56 AM)
Competitive nature of your team drives it: If you can win, it's George Springer, since they're close enough even in the long haul that it's worth enjoying the next month's stats. I'm ranking Bryce Harper higher from a dynasty angle (meaning my next top 250 keepers), though, if you're playing more for future years.
John (NV) [via mobile]
Someone offered me Kershaw for Abreu and Lohse. I have to take it, right?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:57 AM)
Time to sell Cargo while he still has top 15 value (at least accoring to your rankings). If he doesn't run I don't see how he's even top 20
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:58 AM)
I've already said that I'm going to be taking a close look at that for the Wednesday re-ranks; it means you might only have another 48 hours or so before I'll publish a lower ranking that could hurt your trade case. I think at this point a ranking at exactly 20 is appropriate; too many injury worries.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:59 AM)
Speaking of that, I'm going to be addressing my readers' specific rankings questions in the column on Wednesday. If you've got any, make sure to send them to me on Twitter (@SultanofStat) or Facebook (/SultanofStat) and I'll discuss the best ones.
Greg (Tampa Bay)
You strike me as the type who has cried real tears over a fantasy sport. True or False?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:00 PM)
False, though I almost did over the 2004 ALCS, haha, if only because of the monumental historical nature of that series.
Do you see victor martinez getting a catcher eligibilty
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:00 PM)
Follow up...Trade Cargo away for Longo and Werth?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:00 PM)
Do you think any of Dozier, Kendrick, or Gyorko will be a top 150 keeper for next year?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:01 PM)
I think Brian Dozier might and probably will. Homer/steal guys tend to warrant that status.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:01 PM)
Ok, time to wrap things up for today. Thanks for all your questions, and sorry if I couldn't get to yours. Take care everyone, best of luck with your matchups this week, and don't forget, send in those rankings questions for this week's going-forward ranks column on Wednesday! Can't wait to see your best inquiries...