Three Bats the Cardinals should Target

Trey Mancini, Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles stink.  That’s a simple fact.  They are going nowhere and need to be in full rebuild mood.  One of their few assets is 1B/OF Trey Mancini should be available and can make an immediate impact in the middle of the Cardinals lineup.  Mancini has an impressive stat line of .281/.340/.500, most notably is the slugging percentage.  The Cardinals have ranked in the bottom of the league in Slug and Isolated power all season.  

Adding power is a need for the Cardinals and Mancini fills in that need.  The Orioles will take pretty much any prospects you can offer, they need everything so you can offer anything.

Eric Sogard, Toronto Blue Jays

Eric Sogard is not a flashy name by any means, but he is a solid major league player that has been hitting all season.  Sogard was an afterthought in the offseason when the Blue Jays signed him but slow starts and injuries from their starters forced the veteran into service and he has rewarded them with a .371OBP and a 2.1 WAR from a guy that no one wanted.  

Sogard has shown some surprising power in 2019 hitting 10 homers in 2019 which is one shy of his career total. Sogard,33, is not a new kid on the block but he is currently in the middle of a career season and can fill in a slot at the beginning of the order. The leadoff spot has been a problem all season for St. Louis, adding Sogard would give them a player that has an .883 OPS when batting first.  Sogard’s price tag will be moderate as he is 33-year-old journeymen.  Worth a prospect just outside of your top 20. 

Eduardo Escobar, Arizona Diamondbacks

I am a fan of Eduardo Escobar; I was hoping St. Louis would take a run at the switching hitting utility man. Escobar has quietly put up great numbers for the Diamondbacks launching 19 homers and has a .879OPS.  Escobar will fill in nicely for the injured Matt Carpenter providing the power that Carpenter has not shown during 2019 and his ability to play multiple positions will allow Mike Schildt to utilize his other assets. 

Escobar also has a serviceable contract at 3year-$21million. The Diamondbacks have seen what the young Cardinals can do with two impact players Carson Kelly and Luke Weaver already on the roster, so you know they have spent time scouting the Cardinals system. Escobar is an impact bat without the impact notoriety.

MLB DFS Lineup June 25

P: Nester Cortes Jr, New York Yankees ($4,000)

Cortes Jr. is a wild card on this slate.  The Yankees bullpen was forced to over work themselves thanks to the late inning comeback by the Toronto Blue Jays.  Cortes Jr. will be looked to eat up innings against a team that is in the bottom five of strikeout percentage by a team. 

P: Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants ($8,200)

Bumgarner is a bargain at 8.2k.  A matchup with the Rockies seems like trouble but the Rockies lineup is missing two right-handed bats.  Ian Desmond and Trevor Story will both most likely miss this game.  The Rockies also have a 24% strikeout rate during the 2019 season.  Playing in San Francisco is also a huge ballpark downgrade for the Rockies offense.

C: Pedro Severino, Baltimore Orioles ($3,700)

Severino is one of my favorite plays against lefties.  Batting cleanup against lefties Severino has shown great power this season with a .609 slugging percentage and .281 ISO.   

1B: Dan Vogelbach, Seattle Mariners ($4,900)

Vogelbach brings a lot of power against a pitcher that gives up a lot power especially to lefties.  Brewers starter Zach Davies gives up a .497 slugging percentage to left handers as well as been struggling all June.  Vogelbach will most likely go low owned tonight due to the potential Yankees stack. 

2B: DJ LeMahieu, New York Yankees

I am jumping on the Yankees stack train tonight and DJ LaMahieu is where I am getting started.  DJ has been hitting everyone all season and with the lineup so stacked up you can all but guarantee that LeMahieu will at least give you runs scored.

3B: Manny Machado, San Diego Padres ($5,500)

Machado returning to Baltimore will not be the same as the recent reunion we saw with Albert Pujols returning to St. Louis, but it should still have an emotional effect for Machado. It doesn’t hurt that Machado is red hot coming into this matchup.  Ten straight games Machado has reached double digits in fantasy points, he will continue that tonight.

SS: Gleyber Torres, New York Yankees ($5,300)

Torres is a continuation of my mini-Yankees stack.  Torres brings power and speed to your lineup.  He does have surprisingly rough numbers versus lefties but that doesn’t worry me heading into a matchup with Clayton Richard.

OF: Giancarlo Stanton, New York Yankees ($4,600)

Stanton hit a dinger last night.  He is facing a lefty tonight.  He will have huge ownership, if you want to be different then don’t play Stanton.  I don’t want to be different here.

OF: Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies ($4,500)

Still being priced down thanks to his slow start, Bryce Harper brings a lot of value to your lineup at just 4.5K.  The Phillies finally came to their sense and moved Harper out of the lead-of spot back into a productive role in the middle of the order. 

OF: Dominic Smith, New York Mets ($4,000)

Long time top prospect Dominic Smith is finally getting some at bats while playing the outfield for the Mets.  Smith bring a lot of power to the plate.  Check to make sure he is in the lineup, if he is, he is a bargain.

Draftkings Lineup June 8 (Early Slate

Going to keep this one pretty quick as the targets seem pretty obvious on the offensive end.  favorable matchups that can be exploited today.  Good Luck.

P: Kyle Gibson, Minnesota Twins, $9,700

Targeting a starter versus the Detroit Tigers is an obvious choice.  The Tigers have a number of career at bats against the Twins hurler but a combined .200 average as well as an OPS barely above .600 makes him an easy target for your number 1 pitcher option.

P: Framber Valdez, Houston Astros, $7,400

Framber Valdez will make his first start of 2019, building off of a great four innings of relief against the Seattle Mariners.  There is some risk to starting a lefty versus the right handed power of Baltimore but Valdez has strikeout upside and high probability to get four points for the W.

C: Grayson Greiner, Detroit Tigers, $2,300

1B: CJ Cron, Minnesota Twins, $4,400

Cron crushes lefties.  Gregory Soto has not been impressive to start the season for Detroit.  Looking at a mini stack of the Twins, starting with Gibson pitching and power right -handed bats.

2B: Jonathon Schoop, Minnesota Twins, $4,200

Twins stack continues with a potential power bat in Schoop.  Schoop can provide a little speed as well.

3B: Matt Chapman, Oakland Athletics, $5,100

A’s Stack

SS: Marcus Semien, Oakland Athletics, $4,200

A’s stack

OF: Stephen Piscotty, Oakland Athletics, $4,300

A’s Stack

OF: Nelson Cruz, Minnesota Twins, $4,200

Nelson Cruz will homer today if he gets four at-bats

OF: Khris Davis, Oakland Athletics, $4,200

A’s Stack

Stackable teams:

Houston Astros, Oakland A’s, Minnesota Twins

Anyone Notice Dakota Hudson?

The Cardinals had very few bright spots over the month of May.  One that has gone under the radar was the development of Dakota Hudson.  Hudson quietly established himself as the benchmark of consistency while covering for the struggles of other higher touted staff members.  It’s time to notice that Hudson is stepping up in a time when the team needs him the most.

Entering May the Cardinals were on a roll but Hudson was seen as a likely candidate to be put on the bus back to Memphis. There wasn’t much of an argument to keep Hudson in the rotation over the first month and a half of the season.  In the months of March/April Hudson gave up a slash line of .327/.400/.594.  Hudson had become a punching bag for opposing offenses because he was not pitching to his strengths.  Hudson was averaging 7.13 K/9 rate going along with a 55.4% ground ball rate.  For him to be effective Dakota has to utilize what works for him by limiting hard contact and raising his ground ball percentages. 

Hudson has rediscovered what makes him effective in May.  Utilizing his sinker has seen his groundball rate raise by 10% in the month while limiting what was essentially his doom.  Hudson has given up just one homer in his last seven starts, his ability to keep the ball down limiting the hard contact rate has made him a huge asset to the pitching staff.  The reduction in his FIP is the most noticeable statistic showing a decrease from the astronomical 7.52 in March/April to 3.49 in May.  Six of seven starts Hudson has went at least six innings giving up over two runs just one time, while giving up just no more than five hits over his last four starts. Finding his strength has meant a reduction in strikeouts per nine to 5.86, but that reduction has allowed him thrive on his strengths.

Lefties are still a problem for the young Cardinals hurler, giving up an wOBA of .420 during the 2019 season. Building off of his most recent start where he was able to hold down a left-handed heavy Reds middle of the order featuring Joey Votto, Derek Dietrich and Jesse Winker. This could be a sign of things to come as he has had a bit of bad luck against lefties with a BABIP of .367.  His overall hard hit percentage has decreased by 3% in the month of May,  with continued regression in this statistic Hudson can find himself improving his numbers against left handed hitters. 

St. Louis is much maligned for not making moves to try and bolster their rotation and/or bullpen.  Passing on Closer Craig Kimbrel and Starter Dallas Keuchel has St. Louis fans wondering whether John Mozeliak is really committed to winning in 2019.  While Mo has made questionable decisions, his steadfast commitment to stick with developed players has not always been a terrible decision.  When others were giving up on Hudson the Cardinals stuck with him and it is paying off with quality start after quality start. 

MLB Picks May 18

Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees

This matchup seems like I’ve played it recently.  Oh.. I did and won the ML with the Yankees.  Blake Snell could arguably be the best pitcher in baseball, but he has had his struggles against the Yankees with a 3-5 record and a 4.52 ERA in his career versus the bronx bombers.  The Yankees are also quietly getting healthier with the return of Gary Sanchez Aaron Hicks.  Did you know they moved into first place in the AL East?  Most probably didn’t. 

Betting an against the best pitcher in baseball is probably not the best idea but getting +112 for a first-place team with their ace on the mound is always worth a gamble.  The Yankees are hot, ride this one while you have the value.

Pick: Yankees +112

Kansas City Royals at Los Angeles Angels

I’m going to start by saying that the Angels are 26-17 ATS this season.  This lineup is one of the more underrated sources of power in the league with the return of Shohei Otani. They now feature a lineup that goes pretty deep as career utility man Tommy La Stella has emerged from the scrap heap to lead the Angels in homers (11).  Even players at the bottom have found ways to contribute most notably Kole Calhoun is slugging .490. 

The Angels will get a chance at Jakob Junis who couldn’t make it out of the fifth inning in his most recent start and has a problem with giving up the long ball.  The Royals have had bullpen issues as well sitting at the bottom of the league in most statistics including saves (obviously).

Griffin Canning will take the mound for the Angels.  He has had a problem giving up the long ball this season but will face off with a Royals lineup that will not provide as many power threats as the Angels. 

Pick: Angels RL (+110)

Oakland Athletics at Detroit Tigers- 9.5

The Tigers will send hard luck Mathew Boyd to the mound against the Athletics on Saturday.  I call him hard luck because he may be the best pitcher in baseball no one is talking about.  Boyd currently sits 3-4, 3.15ERA and .99WHIP.  Boyd will have a challenge with the Oakland A’s, a team that is tough against lefties but has overall underperformed in 2019.

Boyd should be able to hold his own while the Detroit lineup has struggled ultimately the entire 2019 campaign. I am going to bet on bad offense from Detroit and solid pitching from Boyd. 

Pick: Under 9.5 (-120)

Three Potential Targets for MadBum

Madison Bumgarner looks to be on the move during the upcoming trade deadline. The Giants lefty has craft fully dictate who he will go to. This trend can and should be motivation for other prominent stars moving forward. Rather than exercising a full NTC and perhaps limiting the length and value of their current contract, they should strategically pick some teams likely to be in contention for years to come in hopes of controlling their own narrative when the time comes.  If Bumgarner doesn’t decide to wave the no-trade clause there are still some teams that could be a good fit for him and the Giants.

Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays continue to baffle the baseball world.  They shouldn’t be that good with a payroll that Bryce Harper could cover with the first three years of his current contract.  Still the Rays find ways to make it work.  Great scouting, smart signings along with management team that seems to understand the puzzle of an MLB roster to perfection won 97 games during the 2018 season. The Rays still hold a top-rated farm system, ranking #2 behind only the San Diego Padres (more from them later). The Rays would be an ideal partner for the Giants as they have a core of intriguing position players to go along with a batch of young arms that are expendable.

Players like 1st baseman Nate Lowe, SS Lucius Fox could be a building blocks for a potential package while throwing in a pitcher like Matthew Liberatore.  Fox and Libertore rank in the top 55 in all of baseball and top ten in the Rays system.  A potential throw in like the once highly touted RHP Jose De Leon could very easily make close the deal.

Tampa Bay has the flexibility to move a few prospects to add to an already stellar rotation.  With the uncertainty of the return of Tyler Glasnow, Bumgarner could step right into a role alongside 2018 Cy Young winner Blake Snell giving the Rays a top of the rotation that would be tough to match in the playoffs.

Minnesota Twins

Minnesota was able to fill in a gap that held them back in 2018: Power.  Additions like Nelson Cruz and Johnathon Schoop along with growth from Jorge Polanco have made the Twins a a potent lineup one through nine. 

While the offense has flourished the starting pitching, staff has gotten contributions from unexpected sources.  Most notably veteran Martin Perez has reinvented himself with the addition of a cutter.  Perez has given up just four runs over his last four starts averaging 6 2/3 innings per start.  Even with Perez, the Twins still have some questions in the depth of their rotation.  Jake Odorizzi, Kyle Gibson and Michael Pineda have all been serviceable but there is still something missing at the top of the rotation.

The Twins have solidified themselves early in the first half as contenders for the AL Central crown.  Adding a veteran champion like Madison Bumgarner can fill in the gap after all- star Jose Berrios.  Minnesota also has the depth in the farm system to make this deal happen.  The Twins currently rank as the 8th best farm system in baseball according to baseball MLB Pipeline.

San Diego Padres

This is a but farfetched as I don’t see the Giant moving Bumgarner within the division but if they would the Padres would be an ideal target for them.  San Diego has the farm system to make this deal as well as the location and money to sign Bumgarner long term.  Signing Manny Machado allows the flexibility with prospects Luis Arias and Xavier Edwards.  Two potential pieces that have become expendable for the organization. The Padres also have. Large number of young arms that have been on the way for a long time that could be moved for a potential ace to work with the young pitchers that have continued to develop like Joey Lucchessi and of course the talented Chris Paddack.

MLB DFS Lineup May 12

P: Blake Snell, Tamp Bay Rays

The Yankees injuries continue to derail what could be a dominate lineup.  The most recent injury being power hitting catcher Gary Sanchez.  The Yankees still feature some potential value in their lineup but with no Sanchez, no Torres and the still recent return of Migual Andujar this team is going to be weaker than usual.  Take advantage an put in a reemerging Blake Snell coming off a bounce back start of 30+ DK points against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

P: Martin Perez, Minnesota Twins

You have to monitor whether Perez will make the start as he recently welcomed a new baby into the world last night. If he does make the start you will be getting one of the hottest pitchers in baseball against a Tigers lineup that tends to underwhelm you from an offensive perspective.  Perez has developed a cutter that has mesmerized opposing hitters in his last two outings.  Perez is still very affordable as well.  If he puts up another 30 point he won’t be in his next outing.

C: Danny Jansen, Toronto Blue Jays

You have to have a catcher and Jansen has power upside and he’s cheap.

1B: CJ Cron, Minnesota Twins

Building off of a great double header the day before.  CJ Cron has a history of mashing against lefties.  While I don’t like to stacking against Daniel Norris, the power of Cron is worth a risk at his 3.9K.  Sporting a .526 ISO in against lefties on the season Cron has great potential upside.

2B: Aledmys Diaz, Houston Astros

With Altuve on the IL Aledmys Diaz will be looked on to take a more prominent role within the starting lineup. Diaz has excelled at Tropicana Field this season hitting .300 at home nearly 200 points higher than on the road.

3B: Vlad Guerrero Jr, Toronto Blue Jays

Vlad Jr. has not gotten off to the torrid start that most assumed was coming when he received his call up.  He is coming off of his first double digit DK point day and appears to be seeing the ball well with two walks and two hits.

SS: Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox

Bogaerts has been on a tear of late.  The matchup against lefty Marco Gonzales gives him a chance to face a lefty which he has a .400 ISO against during the 2019 season.

OF: Tommy Pham, Tampa Bay Rays

I love to play Pham during day games. During his career he has excelled in day games and especially versus Masahiro Tanaka. Three hits in five career at bats with an exit velo of 101 in his career against the Yankees righty makes him a must play at just 4.3K.

OF: Dennis Smith Jr., Baltimore Orioles

Griffin Canning could be a popular play with the high strikeout rate of the Baltimore lineup.  Dennis Smith Jr. has the potential to jump on Canning early. Smith Jr. features a .524 slugging percentage against lefties in 2019.

OF: Nick Castellanos, Detroit Tigers

Castellanos has been hitting lefties his entire career and will continue to do so in the middle of the lineup.  Featuring an .854 OPS Castellanos will have a chance to put up some numbers against Perez in the three spot of the lineup.

MLB DFS May 7 2019

P: Griffin Canning, Los Angeles Angels ($8,500)

Canning flew up the prospect ranks for the Angels and now gets a great matchup against the right handed heavy Tigers.  Detroit has struck out at the 5th highest clip against right handed pitchers.  Canning should have his first real opportunity to show his worth in the DFS community.

P: Caleb Smith, Miami Marlins ($9,500)

Smith is a risky play versus the Chicago Cubs, but his production is hard to ignore.  In total opposing offenses are hitting just .168 against Smith this season.  Smith also has averaged 11.9K’s per 9.  The Chicago lineup has been flourishing of late but only Javier Baez has been consistent against left-handed pitching during 2019.  Smith will get strikeouts so even if runs are given up he has a chance to score points.

C: Jorge Alfaro, Miami Marlins ($3,600)

Alfaro has the power to bring some punch for your lineup.  Hitting in the number four spot in the order will against a left handed starter gives him the potential for a big fly tonight.  At his low cost and spot in the lineup he has the potential to have a big game.

1B: Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds ($3,500)

Joey Votto is good.  He just hasn’t shown it of late.  He gets a great matchup with Mike Fiers, who over utilizes his fastball which plays right into the hands of Votto.  Votto still carries a .381 WOBA vs. right-handed pitching going back to 2018.

2B: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros ($4,300)

Altuve continues to have low cost due to struggles in the early season. He has however had a strong ISO and WOBA to start the season.  He has matched up well with Danny Duffy over his career to a tune of .474 BA in 21 career at bats. 

3B: David Fletcher, Los Angeles Angels ($3,900)

The Angels could be a sneaky stack for tonight.  David Fletcher has had a quietly productive season. He will face off with Daniel Norris, whom is giving up a .367 WOBA to righties. 

SS: Chris Taylor, Los Angeles Dodgers ($3,600)

Chris Taylor is one of the hottest hitters on the planet right now, scoring double digits on Draftkings in four straight games. Taylor has also excelled versus left-handed hitters with a .556 slugging percentage. 

OF: Kiki Hernandez, Los Angeles Dodgers ($4,100)

Kiki mashes lefties. That is all.

OF: Ian Desmond, Colorado Rockies ($3,900)

Desmond is a dart throw at best against Madison Bumgarner.  With over 40 career at bats against him it’s safe to say that Desmond should have a good idea of what is coming. His .486 slugging percentage is worth a start at a low price.

OF: Andrew Benintendi, Boston Red Sox ($5,100)

Benintendi has had eight hits over his last four games.  He gets a matchup with David Hess whom can blow up at any moment.  If affordable a Red Sox Stack would not be out of the question.

Should Cardinals consider the “Opener”

The Tampa Bay Rays currently sit two games ahead of the Yankees in the AL East standings. Since 2018 they have been effectively deploying the “opener” strategy. The opener works by rearranging how pitchers are deployed: a middle reliever starts (or “opens”) the game, with the usual starter slotting in thereafter. The idea is to match up with the opposing teams first few hitters in order to take advantage of matchups and protect weaker starting pitchers that can be over exposed if they are forced to go through a line up more than three times. 

The Cardinals entered the 2019 season believing their starting pitching depth was going to be the catalyst for the season.  Injuries, inconsistencies and youth has changed the outlook of the season, forcing the Cardinals to use the bullpen at an extremely high rate, currently the Cardinals bullpen has pitched 46% of the innings for the staff. While this is not ideal the bullpen has shown that it can be reliable.  Multiple players have stepped up including John Gant, John Brebbia Giovanny Gallegos and the recently sent down Ryan Helsley.  Eventually they will welcome the return Carlos Martinez.  While you don’t want to mess the one-two punch of Brebbia to Jordan Hicks there are multiple statistical reasons behind the idea of utilizing the opener.

Major League Baseball has seen an increase in scoring in the first inning.  While most starters are getting prepared they tend to leave pitches in bad places resulting in a wRC+ of 110, by far this is the highest of any inning in 2018, the next highest inning being the 6th inning where traditionally the starting pitchers is facing the lineup for the 3rd or 4th time of the game. In fact, baseball in general has had a problem with the middle innings based on this 2018 wRC+ by inning chart. The Cardinals do not differ from the rest of the league.

If you dive deeper into the St. Louis starting staff, you can see that many have issues as the game goes on below are the statistics of starters going through the lineup for the 3rd time during the 2019 season.  Outside of Jack Flaherty and Michael Wacha each pitchers ERA inflates by over a run. Wacha in small sample size for 2019 actually hasn’t given up a single run in four innings when facing a lineup for the 3rd time, his struggles come entering in the second time through the lineup with a 7.71 ERA. His xFIP the 3rd time was actually the highest of any other time frames.

ERA third time through the order:

Wainwright: 7.36 ERA (6.00 ERA in 2018)

Flaherty: 3.60 ERA (7.71 ERA in 2018)

Mikolas: 8.20 ERA (4.25 ERA in 2018)

Hudson: 3.26 ERA

Wacha: 0.00 ER (xFIP 4.56)

The Cardinals rank 20th in the MLB giving up .44 first inning runs per game.  If they transition into the opener role for a guy like Adam Wainwright or Dakota Hudson they can avoid a potential rough start and allow your starter one less at bat through the heart of a potentially tough lineup. St. Louis has already made a move to a 13-man bullpen with the addition of Luke Gregorson and the demotion of Tyler O’Neil. This setup is very similar to an American League team.  Having that extra man in the bullpen can open up the options for Manager Mike Shildt.

The next step would be deciding who would take the role of the opener.  Options for me would be Giovanny Gallegos or recalling Ryan Helsley.  Gallegos has the ability to work multiple innings if the matchup calls for it, holding lefties to a slash line of .111/.238/.278. Helsey is a plus arm that has been justifiably considered for a future spot in the back end of the bullpen.  Starting off the game with a100mph fastball is never an easy thing for an opposing lineup to face.  Both of these pitchers are guys you would look for a shutdown middle inning role, why not have them start out the game and allow the Cardinal offense to try and jump on the opposing starting pitcher.

With the depth of Cardinals pitching staff they can utilize multiple players in better leverage roles, they can also look to limit innings for younger starters that will undoubtable be forced into inning restrictions. 

  1. To limit the innings of your young starters.  Dakota Hudson and eventually Alex Reyes.
  2. To get the most out of veteran and injury prone pitchers Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha.
  3. To not expose starters that have statistically shown an inability to handle lineups multiple times through.

Does this really work?  There is a small sample size to base the effectiveness of the opener. The most compelling evidence that has been presented in favor of the opener strategy is Rays pitchers’ performances relative to Baseball Prospectus’ projections. Almost all exceeded expectations. Among them: Ryne Stanek (actual ERA of 2.98 vs. projected ERA of 3.79), Diego Castillo (3.18 vs. 4.90), Hunter Wood (3.73 vs. 4.64), Ryan Yarbrough (3.91 vs. 4.56), Yonny Chirinos (3.51 vs. 4.43) and Vidal Nuno (1.64 vs. 4.86). The pitchers who didn’t: Sergio Romo, Matt Andriese, Jalen Beeks, Austin Pruitt and Ryan Weber. This might not be definitive proof that the opener strategy worked, but the results are persuasive.

The pitcher’s stats are a great way of judging the effectiveness, but their performance of the field has seemed to be the greatest factor in whether or not the opener works.  There may be other factors to the way the Rays have played over the last few months begin last season, but the facts are that they have been winning. 

Who do you use the “opener” for would be the biggest question.  The Rays still featured premier starters Tyler Glasnow, Charlie Morton and of course the great Blake Snell.  The Cardinals feature Jack Flaherty and Miles Mikolas but after that it can be a mystery at times with which starter is going to give you the best outing. Both Wainwright and Dakota Hudson seem like likely candidates for an opener role due to the fact they have both within the last two years spent time coming out of the bullpen and it could be an easy transition to warmup later and make your way into the game.  The facts of the matter are you have great pitching that is still developing itself and veterans that have a history of wearing down.  The opener may not be the ultimate answer but with the depth of arms you have it very well could be an option to consider until Alex Reyes, Austin Gomber or Dakota Hudson are ready to make the next step into rotation mainstays.

Thanks for reading would love to hear your opinions @italksportsti.

Five Under Appreciated Careers Still Going (MLB)

CC Sabathia amassed his 3,000 career strikeout this week becoming just the 17th pitcher in Major League Baseball (MLB) history to reach that mark.  Sabathia now pitching in his age 38 season is continuing to be relivant in today’s game despite being forced to change his style.  No longer is Sabathia throwing upper 90’s fastballs, instead he has adjusted his abilities to meet the needs of his body.  Sabathia quietly has made himself a hall of famer.  The best part of his career is that despite his age and personal issues CC is still a very effective major league player.  Watching him reach that milestone made me think about other players that seem like they have been in the league forever and have quietly amassed great careers, edging on the hall of fame.  I figured I’d do a top five list.  To make this list you had to have played at least nine seasons in the league and cannot have one an MVP.  Obviously you have to still be active in the MLB and playing at a high level. 

5. Alex Gordon- Kansas City Royals

The longtime Kansas City star has seemed revitalized at the plate in 2019.  The former #2 overall pick has always brought his glove to Kansas City amassing an arsenal of gold hardware with his six career Rawlings Gold Glove awards.  Gordon has shown glimpses of the five-tool player that the Royals thought they were drafting.  From 2011-2014 Gordon was a three time all-star, 3 time gold glover and finished as high as 12th in the MVP voting.  Recent struggles at the plate over the last few seasons have made people forget what kind of a player is in left field for the rebuilding Royals. 

At 35 years old Gordon has been reborn, through 28 games he currently has an OPS of .989, driving in 22 runs. Alex Gordon won’t be a hall of famer but he shouldn’t be gone on the first ballot.

4. Curtis Granderson- Miami Marlins

Curtis Granderson was highly touted prospect in the Detroit Tigers farm system in 2004 when he got the call up to the show two years later Granderson hit 19 homers for the Tigers. The year after that he finished 10th in the MVP voting leading the league with 23 triples along with his 23 homers.  The “Grandy Man” was a star in the motor city he then became a superstar when the Yankees picked him up in 2010. In his second season in  New York Granderson lead the league in RBI’s and runs scored finishing 4th in the MVP voting. 

The three time all-star has been a consistent source of power in the league for 16 years now most recently in 2017 he hit 26 homers and followed that up last season hitting 13 homers.  Granderson has hitting a shocking 336 bombs in his major league career.  Dude mashes!

3. Hunter Pence- Texas Rangers

Hunter Pence is still playing in the majors.  Seriously he is playing in Texas and playing very well.  The former 2007 rookie of the year has 13 RBI’s and a .844 OPS in 19 games played. Pence a three time all-star was a model of consistency over his career when healthy hitting over twenty homers in 7 of his 13 seasons. Known for his crazy antics and his clubhouse leadership, Pence will continue to play and eventually get to 2,000 hits before he calls it a career.  He has also added 227 homers and a career OPS of .800. 

Oh….he also has 3 World Series rings to go along with his great statistics.

2. Shin-Soo Choo, Texas Rangers

Shin-Soo Choo has never been a guy that fans will call “the guy” on a roster.  Choo has been a world class hitter since first opportunity in 2008. In 94 games that season Choo finished with an OPS of .946.  Choo earned his way into the starting lineup consistently continuing to produce with two straight seasons of .880 OPS. Choo is still producing at the major league level in his age 36 season.  The Texas Rangers, a place where veterans go to prosper, have seen the good side of Shin-Soo as he earned his first and potentially only all-star appearance in the 2018 season.

Choo will not be remembered a one of the greats to ever play but he has fit in perfectly to the analytically driven concept that baseball has adapted to. With a career OBP of .379, 193 homers and over 1500 hits most will not remember him to be as good as he has been in his career.

1.Nick Markakis, Atlanta Braves

Finally receiving the recognition he has deserved the former Orioles first round pick has had a career that has been completely overlooked by many in the baseball community. A three time gold glove winner Markakis doesn’t bring the flash of a power hitter or the speed of a base stealer. His best season coming in 2008 where he provided a 6.1 WAR to go along with his .897 OPS. Continuing his terrific performance Markakis has continued his stellar career with a .406 OBP while creating a veteran presence with the up and coming Braves.  Nick Markakis’s career numbers will stagger most casual fans.  With 2,273 career hits 3 gold gloves and over 2,00 career games Markakis has established himself as a potential future hall of famer.