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August 4, 11:00 AM ET
Fantasy MLB with Tristan Cockcroft

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:04 AM)

Good morning everyone! It's a busy Monday, with an early (12:10 p.m. ET) game, #MockDraftMonday for fantasy football owners, and plenty of baseball news to discuss. Mostly baseball for now to help you get your lineups set. Who's got a question?

Tim (Pittsurgh)

What do you think of Josh Reddick ROS?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:05 AM)

We discussed him a bit on the podcast today, and I'll summarize that I see him as a somewhat streaky and injury-risk type, but one who has nice power potential and should receive more at-bats going forward as a critical power part of the A's lineup. Well worth a roster spot in our standard game, though at the back end at that.

Darren (CO)

What does G Polanco's realistic projected stat line look like next year?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:07 AM)

Realistically I don't think anyone should be expecting much greater than a .270 batting average, 15 home runs and 22-24 stolen bases ... or at least those are the levels at which you should draft him.

Jim (STL)

What type of numbers do you estimate for Lackey ROS?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:11 AM)

I actually think he has a shot at a 3.25 ERA, perhaps even one closer to three, going forward. He moved to one of the best situations for a pitcher, and he was already pretty reliable in the first place. Was a borderline top-30 starter for me following the deal.


To what do you attribute Chris Davis' terrible season?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:15 AM)

Rising strikeout rate probably directly resulting from pitchers having a better game plan against him. For example, he's not taking anyone by surprise on pitches outside and low, which is what he did in 2013. Davis is also pretty bad against pitches up in the zone; he's seeing a few more of those. I look at all his numbers and there isn't a <i>clear</i> singular cause. I think it's part regression to mean, part pitching adjusting, part his having a little worse approach at the plate.

Matt (NYC)

Does Brantley keep pace and finish with numbers close to 100-20-100-20-.300? If so would he be a top 25 pick next season? Thanks love the podcast!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:18 AM)

Well, he's now an effective lock for 20 homers and a .300 batting average, though he'll have to work hard for the 20 steals and he'll be close on both the runs and RBIs. Let's say he'll meet three of these, be close on the fourth, will miss by a few in steals. And no, I won't call him a top-25 pick -- think more like a top-40 -- if only because I don't see any one skill of his as being elite. I see him capping at 20 homers, 15 steals or so, batting average could regress to the .290 range. A nice, reliable pick, but I think people are still too quick to label him a mega-stud.

Mike (San Diego)

I see you had Denard Span ranked in the 240s in your last rankings. What about himn has you so skeptical that he can't be a solid 3 category contributor?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:20 AM)

Well, for one, he's more of a .280 hitter historically, so I'm not sure I see him as the outstanding three-category option that you do. At-bats have also been a mild concern. I classified him as a definite own in mixed standard, but to me, he's your run-of-the-mill .280-hitting, 25-steal guy who does little else (other than maybe 90 runs), and I think that's about the right spot for that type.

craig (del water gap)

Encarnacion, any update?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:21 AM)

Last I had heard -- a week ago or so -- he had a setback in his rehab stint and that pushed things back a bit. I couldn't imagine we'll see him back in the lineup before mid-August.

Andrew (Boston, MA)

Hi Tristan, was wondering if you could settle a dispute for us as an impartial party; as I'm the commissioner and involved in the trade, I don't want to be accused of being biased. Our league is a four-keeper league that keeps players in the round in which they were drafted. I recently executed a trade of Oscar Taveras (and the ability to keep him for the next two years at a 17th rounder and the third as a 10th rounder) to a non-contending team for David Price (a half year rental). I'm not really concerned with who won or lost the deal, but do you think this is reasonable?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:22 AM)

In a keeper league, much flexibility must be afforded. I don't view Taveras as the steal-of-a-deal keeper value at that price point as perhaps the acquiring owner does, but if Price's contract is expiring, I'd allow that flexibility.

MJ (Nebraska)

Thoughts on Steven Souza's callup?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:23 AM)

Underrated power/speed prospect that NL-only owners might enjoy as a back-of-the-roster type (addressing redraft with that), but I just don't see where he'll get the regular at-bats.

Kevin (Mass)

Bench McCutchen??? Not great alternatives.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:23 AM)

If not great alternatives, then no, absolutely not.

Andrew (los angeles) [via mobile]

So after a few bad outings, Jason Hammel is not out of the rotation and survived to be the 5th starter. Some says he's due for the downhill ROS because of the innings and is already showing... what's your thoughts of him ROS?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:25 AM)

I'm concerned and I don't think I could ever endorse him as more than a matchups pitcher the remainder of the year, but I'm also not surprised he's the one who stayed in the rotation and I think there's still some value that can be squeezed. The innings concern seems overblown; he has routinely tallied more than 100 frames a year and the only reason he didn't have more was injuries. Sure, it's a concern, but only a slight one, and it really doesn't change my matchup assessment.

Josh (Iowa)

Saves are hard to come by in my league. Any guys you think are worth an add for save potential this season?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:29 AM)

I still think there's an outside chance of waiver deals for Jonathan Papelbon, Addison Reed, Joaquin Benoit and Steve Cishek -- in that order in my opinion -- so that means possible fantasy relevance yet for Ken Giles, Brad Ziegler, Dale Thayer/Kevin Quackenbush and A.J. Ramos. I also think guys like Brad Boxberger, Pedro Strop and Jeurys Familia have outside shots at saves down the stretch. And all of this is taking some way-out-there chances, to be clear, but that's also what you asked.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:29 AM)

Incidentally, the main reason I'm no longer all-in on Brad Ziegler as a saves stash is that he really hasn't pitched all that effectively of late.

Jack (Boston)

Best replacement for Goldy? Reynolds, Duda, C. Carter, McGehee, Loney, Bulter?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:30 AM)

Normally I'd say Chris Carter, but I loathe his schedule this week (at least at it pertains specifically to him), so it'd be Lucas Duda for now at least.

Jose Martinez (Mexico)

I know you discussed Bryce Harper in your Podcast, and I see him like a lottery ticket guy....What do you think of Adam Jones for Strasburg and him?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:32 AM)

If you could get that kind of value for Adam Jones, I'd say certainly, do it.

justin [via mobile]

so what are we supposed to do with Chris Davis. down with the ship?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:33 AM)

You unfortunately don't have much in the way of alternatives. Even with his down numbers, he's still better than probably 80-85 percent of what's out there on waivers in your league. And that's assuming he just maintains current pace. You can't really trade him for much; I'm not just giving him away for a last-man-on-the-roster type. Certainly you can try. But with guys like that this deep into the year, you're stuck.

Mike (NY)

Will Lindstrom Close upon return?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:33 AM)

He's got a good shot at it considering how difficult it has been for the White Sox to fill the role all year. As he was the closer at the time he got hurt, I do think he'll zoom right back into the committee when activated, and he's got as good odds as any of leading the team in saves the rest of the way.

Hank (Austin)

What on earth is going on with Gerrit Cole? The Pirates are acting very weird with his whole situation.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:34 AM)

I wish I knew, but the reports also sound like they just wanted to skip the rehab outing, not something more dire. I'll ask Stephania on the podcast tomorrow, see if she's got a take on it.

Bryan (NJ)

Danny this legit ?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:37 AM)

At current pace, no. Legit as a viable fantasy option? Sure, I'll bite. I'm merely concerned that Santana's batting-average baseline is more .280 than .320, due to his somewhat free-swinging nature, and he's a bit too ground ball-oriented a hitter to believe totally in the power. I see no reason he couldn't be a .280-10 with 20 steals guy (full season projection, needing to be scaled to remaining games).

Mike (NY)

Are you starting Scherzer with confidence tonight. A lot of people believe he will be shelled.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:37 AM)

I am. I wouldn't remotely hesitate. Who are these "a lot of people" anyway?

Keith (CT)

Donaldson as a 7th round keeper or Springer as 17th? Already keeping Dozier,Buxton, and Bryant from rounds 23-25.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:38 AM)

I prefer George Springer in the 17th, but both are valuable keeper chips in most circumstances. In your shoes I'd probably keep Donaldson over Buxton, being that Donaldson can help you win in 2015 while Buxton highly likely will not.

Mike (Philadelphia)

What are your thoughts on Beckett and Masterson for ROS? I'm thinking of cutting bait on one to open up a streaming spot.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:39 AM)

I'm OK with cutting Josh Beckett. I think he rushed back from his injury and his performance is suffering for it. Look at his recent difficulty pitching deep into games; says a lot.

Ted (Boston)

Whats the minimum outfielder you'd take back for Cargo ?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:41 AM)

There are gray areas when it comes to specific spots in my rankings -- some fit needs for you better than others, risk levels vary, etc. -- but in that Brett Gardner range you'll see in there, that's where I'd stop. Guys like Gardner, Corey Dickerson, Kole Calhoun ... that's the absolute <i>least</i> I would accept if I want to cash in my Carlos Gonzalez chip. Otherwise I stand pat and cross my fingers hard.

Rob (Seattle)

Can we trust WY Chen or Bud Norris in fantasy? BAL seems to like them, but fantasy owners, not so much. Should they be used in AL-only?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:42 AM)

Both are matchups types, that's the class in which they belong in fantasy, but I feel a little less queasy being able to effectively choose from Chen's of those two.

Brian (NYC)

In a weekly league. Springer activated this week? Even just a few games might be worth it over a full week of my UTL options (Carter, Morse, Wong, Singleton)

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:43 AM)

Travel might make it challenging for him to return before Wednesday, and with the loss of a lineup spot (the DH) in Philly, I'm not so sure the Astros will race to activate him. Could be Thursday for all we know. I'd probably risk Springer over Chris Carter -- I outlined my Carter concern in the Forecaster -- but not over the others.

Todd (Pittsburgh)

Similar to the Cargo question - time to cash in Tulo? Seems he might be back in two weeks, he might not be back. What's a minimal acceptable SS?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:46 AM)

I'm probably stopping at Starlin Castro, just giving the quick glance at my ranks.

hickle (penncraft)

What's the story on Pedro Alverez?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:48 AM)

He has slipped into a bit of a platoon gig and frankly, it's the right decision, considering he's hitting .189 and slugging .284 against lefties this season. I've been terribly disappointed by Alvarez this season, and while I think he's still capable of putting forth future 30-homer seasons, for now it's wise to plan accordingly as if he'll lose you some at-bats.

Todd (Pittsburgh)

For the week - chance Cutch, or pick up Coghlan? Dang early Monday games!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:49 AM)

I am not subbing Chris Coghlan for Andrew McCutchen this week. It has to be someone better than that.

Nicholas (Hammond)

Samardzija/Donalson for Wainwright/Freeman...which side do you like more? Why? Any Wainwright concerns from last outing?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:50 AM)

The Adam Wainwright side. No major concerns. His K rate has dropped a bit, which is of <i>slight</i> concern to me (hence him falling behind David Price in my ranks), but I'll also point out that <i>every</I> pitcher has a stinker every now and then. Wainwright has done far too much to earn our trust.

Joe Smith (Toronto)

Is Marcus Stroman a must own in mixed leagues?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:51 AM)

Yes. There'll be an adjustment period of some sort -- that's inevitable as it is for every pitcher -- but there is no reason to sit back and leave this kind of a pitcher out there in any format.

Eric (Pittsburgh)

I understand the advocating sitting Chirs Carter... but in a weekly league, would you start Kiermaier instead?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:53 AM)

Nah. I'm not a Kevin Keirmaier guy, that's one part of it, the other being that he's a platoon type and the Rays only play four righties this week. You don't want to just replace one guy with multiple-day-bench concerns for another with a similar amount; Carter's just the better player.

Brett (DC)

Kluber's 2015 preseason SP ranking is...?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:53 AM)

Might be 15th. If he breezes to 200 innings keeping up even 80-85 percent of this level of performance, there's no question he belongs at that spot (if not better).

Your Old Nemesis (Chicken Parm)

In which order should these guys be started this week: Belt, M. Adams, Taveras, J. Singleton?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:57 AM)

Chicken parm is most certainly <i>not</i> my nemesis. Ok, during the diet challenge it is.At any rate, I'd go Adams, Taveras, Singleton, Belt.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:58 AM)

Also, frankly, I'd take Singleton over Taveras if I had an ironclad guarantee from the Astros that Singleton is starting all three games in Philly. My guess? He will. But I can't make you that guarantee. I just think Taveras wins the at-bat war between them.

Brad (Madison, Wis.)

Hey THC, I have Cliff Lee in an 8-team league where we can keep 9. Should I even hold Lee the rest of the season, or just drop him and not worry about it?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:58 AM)

I'd keep him around in that format. See how the winter plays out. Could still be a top-25 starter next year if everything falls right.

Chris (Chicago)

I'm winning my baseball league already so...I'm keeping Lacy and Calvin Johnson...I can keep one more out of this group: Rashard Jennings, Spiller, Ellington or Stafford?Thank you

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:00 PM)

I'll use this to preview the rest of the day's exciting event (well, for <i>me</i> it's rest of the day, it's been going on since 9 a.m. ET for ESPN Fantasy): #MockDraftMonday! I'd keep Ellington of that group. Extremely intriguing long-term ceiling; I'm also thinking forward a couple years in making that pick. You can replace the QB, and I just don't see Spiller being any guarantee. And Jennings is fine, just, his ceiling doesn't equal Ellington's.

Jimmy (Dallas)

The first pick of This Years PPR Fantasy Football League will be......

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:01 PM)

Can't go wrong with any of the big three; I'll take LeSean McCoy. Charles next for me. Razor-thin differential, personal opinion driving, nothing more.

Wayne (MD)

H2H league - pitching quantity can be key (stupid, I know) - is Minor worth holding onto? Looking solely at fantasy post season here...

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:02 PM)

I think cutting Mike Minor is well within the realm of consideration. Giving up way too much hard contact, now the Braves are taking a step back from him. Means it might take awhile for him to straighten himself out. I'm only doing what you describe (if it's shallow mixed) if the bench is deeper than the ESPN standard. Can't see how you have the space in that format.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:04 PM)

OK, time to wrap things up for today. Take care everyone, best of luck to you in your Week 18 fantasy baseball matchups, and if I didn't get to your question, feel free to hunt me down on Twitter today. I'll be doing some #MockDraftMonday the rest of the day, so I'll be keeping an eye out there for your questions too.