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 (11:02 AM)
Good morning everyone! Busy, busy Monday, with a day game at that (1:05 p.m. ET, Mets at Phillies), so let's get right to your fantasy baseball questions... and yes, since it's #MockDraftMonday, I might sneak a football question or three in there.
Annie (San Francisco)
Now that he's coming off the DL, what can we expect from Joe Mauer ROS?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:04 AM)
I have to think better than what he's offered thus far. Certainly he's capable of a .300 batting average and .400-ish on-base percentage, but I wouldn't expect the power to return. Let's say a fair projection is probably .290-2 the rest of the way. And that's fine as catchers go, but it explains why he wasn't more generously ranked last week.
Your thoughts on Javier Baez this week? Would you start him over Rollins at SS or Ortiz at utility?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:06 AM)
I'd consider him over Jimmy Rollins, based on his seven games versus Rollins' six, and your team's needs do come into play there, but there's no way I'd use him over David Ortiz. Remember: Baez is a play for power (and a little speed). There'll always be the danger of a 2-for-25 week.
Thoughts on Rymer Liriano of Padres and drop Dom Brown for him ROS?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:07 AM)
Fair swap there. I just said on our podcast today that he could be a "lite" Gregory Polanco, and that's going to be worth a pickup even in shallow mixed. Fringe roster guy in the format, granted, but a pickup, yes.
Jay (Rye Brook)
Hi Tristan, I have been waiting for Everth to get hot, now he's lukewarm and he has a hamstring 'Cramp'? Slated for 7 days, I picked him up in my weekly mixed 12 team points league, do I risk that or grab another from my WW? I also have Kipnis' 5 game schedule on my bench. I can pick up Cozart, Negron, Taylor or A. Cabrera along with some older players (Jeter, Drew) and even Didi is available, who?s my best one week option or is Everth safe?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:08 AM)
I'd hardly call a speedster in the midst of a disappointing (referencing full rather than recent returns) season with a hamstring problem "safe." Cabrera's is the precise example that makes me take a conservative approach; I'd go Jason Kipnis but I'm fine with Asdrubal Cabrera if you're aiming for greater volume of counting stats. And even then, it's six games compared to five.
When do we see Avisail Garcia? Garcia or Michael Saunders ROS?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:09 AM)
There's some talk that Garcia could beat his initial timetable and play in September, but I wouldn't count on much. Any setback probably concludes his season. Him over Saunders -- just a "better player" thing -- but I'm not saying that as a manner of giving you complete confidence of a big final, say, three weeks of 2014.
Nick (Cleveland) [via mobile]
Over the past week i have lost Goldschmidt, Hanley, and Neil walker. Any hope for my team in the playoffs?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:10 AM)
There is always hope for every team in a playoff system. Just how that format works. Fluky things can happen just as in football. It merely requires you to be more mindful of your lineups on a daily basis.
Any word on if Rick Porcello is definitely losing his two start status after pitching in relief yesterday?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:11 AM)
I haven't seen any official word of that, but I think the Tigers have the luxury of pushing Robbie Ray up by a day and merely slotting in Rick Porcello on Wednesday, so I'd say it's better than 50/50 that Porcello is only going once this week.
Matt (Cleveland, OH)
You had Kuroda really high in your rankings but his play doesn't justify the ranking and now he says he is playing through injury. Should we expect a major drop this week?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:14 AM)
I hadn't heard any specific report of an injury. To say "less than 100 percent doesn't mean anything." At this stage of the season I'm sure most pitchers don't feel like they're in tip-top shape. I need more than that before I'd drop him that much, though he'll probably lose a small handful of spots this week just based on that recent outing. Didn't look all that great to me.
Jason (Fort Worth)
In a weekly points league where I keep losing in the playoffs...any tips for setting weekly lineups in such a league in September?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:16 AM)
Know your scoring. Does your league grant a significant advantage to two-start pitchers, for instance? If so, I'd begin lining up my pitching staff as much as a week to 10 days in advance, once I've locked in my playoff seed. Is it head-to-head? If so, know how you stack up against your projected opponent. Example: Don't ignore steals if your opponent is weak in the category. That kind of knowledge can break theoretical "ties" between your choices. Also, look at the schedules; make sure you're not lining yourself up for five-game players at the expense of ignoring a comparable seven-gamer.
Tony (Fort Worth, TX)
I just chose Koehler to start this week instead of the available Hutcheson, Collmenter, Nelson, and Niese. Did I make an okay move?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:17 AM)
Yes, that's fine, though I do like Drew Hutchison this week generally. In my Forecaster I ranked them Koehler, Collmenter, Hutchison, Niese, Nelson.
Does Gettis get his power stroke back this year? Or next?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:19 AM)
I haven't watched enough of him lately, Jeff, to be honest, to judge whether he has a chance to recapture it this year, but I'll stress that he's the type of hitter who can run streaky in that regard. And his injury several weeks ago did specifically concern me as it pertained to his power. It's probably smarter to bank on it returning in 2015, but again, we could see it again this year.
I have Stroman and deGrom w/ Cashner on my D/L. Is it too risky to add Pineda since i assume Stroman and deGrom will eventually have their seasons cut short?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:20 AM)
Well, with deGrom now probably headed to the DL, it makes all the more sense to add yourself some depth in Michael Pineda. To be clear, Pineda is an ultimate wild card; extremely disconcerting injury history and we don't even have any idea how much of his early-season success was tied to the glop on his neck. I think he's a pretty talented young pitcher, could be top-75, say, but he's the ultimate lottery ticket. Don't consider him more.
Les (East Windsor, NJ)
Pineda - does he pitch this week and what have u been hearing about his velocity?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:21 AM)
He's on track for Wednesday but no official word of his activation that day. I've read reports between 91-93 mph, which is on par with before he got hurt, and I've seen reports of him hitting 94 mph on occasion as well.
Would you feel comfortable with MJD as a 3rd RB???????
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:21 AM)
Kirk Gibson (Arizona)
Expectations for Pollock when he returns?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:23 AM)
Well, he'll play regularly, which is an advantage, on this hitting-starved team. I think he's capable of a .280s batting average with decent pop and speed; let's say between 15-20 full-season paces in homers and steals but scaled to remaining games.
Confused by the fact that you like Hutcheson generally this week but ranked him lower in your rankings then Koehler and Collmenter. How does that work?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:25 AM)
That means that I like both pitchers but like Tom Koehler more. It means I give Koehler, Collmenter and Hutchison (and Niese on the lower scale) a decent share as streaming weekly options, just addressing many of the names since different ones will be available in different leagues.Hutchison I mentioned because the first thing I'll get as a counterargument will probably be "but they're road games and he'll face Felix." My take: Don't care, like him anyway. Has road success.
Concerned Fantasy Owner (Year of the Injury)
Hey THC, With 3 weeks left until my playoffs begin, my team is ravaged by injury. I have BOTH Cutch & Tulo on the sidelines w/injuries...Which one, IF EITHER, do you think I will have back for the playoffs
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:25 AM)
I think you've got greater odds of an Andrew McCutchen return, but decent shot you'll have both back for your playoffs.
Fred (Boston, MA)
Trade deadline coming up in a 12 teams keeper league...Was just offered Brantley for my Cargo. I'm already out of it for this season but Cargo's injury history has been miserable, would you make the deal?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:27 AM)
I'm probably going to have Carlos Gonzalez ranked higher for 2015, but I'm no longer that confident in saying it and I'll surely be doing deeper analysis this winter to ensure it's the correct call. Let your comfort level with Gonzalez's injury history drive that; it's a fair value point.Eric Karabell and I also discussed CarGo's 2015 value in detail on the Fantasy Focus Baseball podcast today, for more on that.
Jay (Rye Brook)
If Liriano is a Mixed league add on do you add him over Stubbs since Stubbs should have a mostly full time gig with Cargo out?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:29 AM)
I'd regard both players as mix-and-match options but I'm likely to have Liriano ranked slightly higher on Wednesday. Stubbs is useful; he crushes lefties and hits at home. Beyond that? I want absolutely no part of him. (As in, "sit" on the road and "sit" against righties, and I wouldn't hesitate to say either in those pertinent weeks.)Liriano if you'd prefer to just plug one guy in and ride with him. I suggest you exploit the matchups.
Wainy 10th this week? With two good mathcup starts?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:31 AM)
Yes. His strikeout rate has slipped and that depresses his Game Score projection somewhat. We're splitting hairs anyway; I'd be flabbergasted if you own all nine of the pitchers I ranked ahead of him and were therefore forced to bench him anyway. A ranking of 10 is a practically guaranteed start for each and every owner in every league.
Where do you rank Sale among pitching keepers?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:32 AM)
Tenth-ish. And really, the only criticism anyone can have of Sale from the long-term angle is the funky delivery perhaps increasing future injury risk, or the DL stint he suffered early in the year. Performance-wise? I can make you the case he's one of the 5-7 best.
Need to choose my 5th SP for this week: Liriano vs Det or A Wood vs Oak? Both have been good the past few starts but Im leaning towards Wood because of Oak offense. Your take?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:34 AM)
I'm not sure I follow your comment on the Oakland offense. It's one of the five best in baseball. And even with the down performance in August -- about as small a sample as we can judge -- well, the Tigers actually have a worse team wOBA in the month of the two. Granted it was by one spot, but I have Francisco Liriano higher in my ranks for the week.
Paul (Parmville, USA)
David Wright or JP Arencibia this week?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:35 AM)
David Wright, though mostly because I don't trust Arencibia at all. He's a batting average killer and it's a week full of right-handed competition.
Jimmy (Miami Beach)
2 start Minor v LAD and Oak or Cueto @ Colorado?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:36 AM)
Johnny Cueto. Mike Minor is petrifying right now regardless of the format, and neither matchup is necessarily a plus for him besides. Anyone using him is merely making a case for volume.
Jose Abreu a 1st round pick in 2015 drafts? Has to be at this point right?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:37 AM)
I think if he's not, he's close. But as things stand, it again appears as if we'll have a wide "gray area" of picks between about seventh and 25th overall.
Nando [via mobile]
Josh Hamilton or Calhoun for ROS?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:38 AM)
I ranked them right next to each other last week, but I'll have Kole Calhoun higher of the two this week, if only because I'm growing increasingly concerned that Hamilton won't play at 100 percent the entire remainder of the year.
Over/Under for Andrew Luck: 4000 Yards 35 TDs?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:39 AM)
More on board with the yardage than the touchdowns, but if the point is to get me to say "solid year, top-five potential QB," I'm on board.
Cyrus [via mobile]
Better Keeper... Stroman or Wheeler
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:40 AM)
Good Q there... I'm still going Zack Wheeler, if only because I think he's a little more strikeout-oriented, and if he manages to polish his command a little more next year, he could break through in a major way.
What are your thoughts on Rafael Montero vs Washington tomorrow?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:41 AM)
I won't use him. Too unpredictable in his earlier stint in the bigs. Home game helps, but classic evaluation matchup from the bench for me.
If Minor pitches better tomorrow, would he still be a wait and see, or should he be grabbed afterward?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:42 AM)
Well, what's "better"? Minor has considerable work to do. Examine swings and misses and hard contact. He's been getting tattooed lately. Needs to lower the line drive rate much more than just looking at his surface innings-runs numbers. If you're asking me if he shows great improvement in these areas, OK, sure, I'll warm to him again, but I'm not that optimistic.
Cole [via mobile]
Would you drop Boegarts as a keeper and pick up Baez?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:43 AM)
No, but I'd do everything in my power to find another player to cut for Javier Baez. To have a Bogaerts-Baez middle infield lined up for the next half-decade? Pretty good...
Jose (Durham, NC)
Is there a shot McCutchen plays this week? Need to set my lineup and heard grumblings he could (amazingly) be back for this weekend.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:45 AM)
There's a shot, sure, but it's awfully risky as things stand today. I made the case in the Forecaster that the Detroit games mid-week granted the Pirates a DH spot where they could ease him back in, but I'd say three games might be your ultimate upside in a weekly format. I'm sitting him, if it's my team.
justin (New Jersey)
Any Underrated or under the radar 1b/2b options that we can look for to help down the stretch?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:47 AM)
Jordy Mercer, Dustin Ackley, Kennys Vargas, Jon Singleton, just to throw a few quick names out there...
Hank (Bristol, CT)
Anthony Rendon warrants a top __ pick in a keeper draft next year.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:47 AM)
In a keeper draft? If you're starting a new one from scratch in 2015, I'm probably calling Anthony Rendon a top-50 pick ... and I might even go fourth round.
In a league with a capped acquisition limit (75), I have only made 28 moves... Currently 6GB of the last playoff spot, when do you think is too early to start streaming my weaker SP?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:49 AM)
I've made 156 moves in 18 weeks in an extremely aggressive streamers league -- that's a weekly average of 8.7 -- and that's mostly addressing streaming starters. You'll have a difficult time adding much more than eight streaming options per week, and there are seven weeks left in the season. You've got 47 moves left, for an average of just under seven adds remaining; I think it's just about time ... but mind your pace.
Anthony (New York)
Tristan - Really need a replacement for A Sanchez in an AL only roto league. Strikeouts important, but also could use ratio help. Do you take a shot on any of Kelly, House, Feldman, Carrasco, Jimenez, Webster, E Rogers or Workman? Or better off with a reliever like Jepsen, Fields, or Farquhar?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:51 AM)
Doesn't sound like you have a specific type needed; just best overall value. In which case with what's out there, I'd maximize my matchups until someone sticks. For this week, it's T.J. House. Solid Tuesday matchup and could get two starts.
Deep AL Only League. Do J.Petricka or Z.Putnam have any keeper value in such a league - keep either of them for $2 for 2015? Thanks for taking the deeper league questions too!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:52 AM)
I think Jake Petricka could warrant that price. In most cases you don't need to lock in the keeper today, so sure, he's worth setting at that price. I do think Daniel Webb could factor into the White Sox's closer plans in 2015, though, so no guarantees here.
Bob (Ft. Lauderdale)
Good Morning T.C. I was curious as to your thoughts on David Peralta. Is that average legit?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:53 AM)
Well, his BABIP is .348 and he has a ground-ball rate greater than 50 percent, and he's not a natural speedster. I'd imagine he's performing over his head. He's a contact hitter, so I think it's reasonably to expect his average to range between .280-.290, though. Useful guy in the deeper formats.
Would you play Kyle Hendricks this week over Alex Wood or Zach Wheeler? Tempted by the two starts...
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:55 AM)
So am I. If two-start status carries additional weight in your league, I'd make the case for him over Wheeler. That's the way I ranked them in the Forecaster, after all (remember that's a little more two-start oriented).
As a Yankee fan and fantasy analyst, how do you feel about Ellsbury's production to date? It's hard to complain with him playing well overall, but I have to admit I had hoped for more power.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:57 AM)
I said during the winter -- at the time I wrote the column about his signing -- that Jacoby Ellsbury would have to want to readjust his swing to try to capitalize upon the ballpark (and therefore hit for closer to the power he showed during that crazy past power year). I watch him a lot; it looks like he prefers to keep the all-field gains he showed in 2013. That makes sense, but it means he's going to be a pretty predictable, .285-hitting, 15-homer, 40-45 steal type in New York, and not something more.
Paul (New York)
Is it worth starting Encarnacion this week, or go with Casey McGehee?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:58 AM)
When I hear "end of next week" as a projected return date and it's regarding a player who has already suffered a setback during a recent rehab stint, I'm sitting the guy. Casey McGehee is simply safer. Good comparison point: George Springer this past week. That's the risk you run with starting the DL'ed guy without a specifically announced return date.
Mike (San Diego)
Just hopped into the chat. Maybe I'm crazy, but if people are talking about playing Baez over Ortiz or even thinking about it, it means it's the perfect time to sell him in redraft leagues. Even possibly in keeper leagues.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:59 AM)
You're not crazy. I've been making that case for a solid week now. Total sell-high guy in redraft.
What's for lunch?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:59 AM)
Sauteed eggplant over rice, specially prepared by Mrs. of Stat.
Wainy behind Kluber ROS? Looks like Wainy has a friendlier schedule.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:00 PM)
I've got Adam Wainwright ranked higher.
Jay (Rye Brook)
Thanks, Tristan, lots of questions answered today, you've been great!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:01 PM)
Anytime, Jay, and thanks to everyone for sending their questions; sorry if I couldn't get to yours today. I'll still be keeping tabs on Twitter today, if you've got other baseball questions, but don't forget, it's #MockDraftMonday so I'll be ready to draft fantasy football with you in a short bit! Take care everyone, and best of luck to you this week.