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.

Why the Cardinals have to win this series.

The Cardinals schedule to start the season was not ideal.  Opening up in Milwaukee with a group of young starters in a hitters park is not going to turn out well no matter how much talent you have.  The Brewers are who we though they were a potential offensive juggernaut that has limitations everywhere else of the field. Nevertheless that Cardinals were one blown save away from a split to start the season.  The scheduling god seemed to continue their cruel joke forcing the Cardinals to make as second trip to Milwaukee just two week later following a trip to Monterrey, Mexico.  The Cardinals were able to salvage the final game of the series, starting the season just 2-5 against the defending Central Division Champs. The third series versus the Brewers may only be a beginning of the week late April showdown but this could be a defining moment in the race for the Central crown.  The Cardinals need to come out and take advantage of a Brewers team that is dealing with serious pitching injuries.  Let’s breakdown how and why the Cardinals must win this series.

Pitching matchups favor the Cardinals in 2 of 3.

Game 1

Jack Flaherty has been tagged by the Brewers in two early starts giving up 9 runs and 16 hits in seven innings. Ryan Braun and Lorenzo Cain in particular have crushed Flaherty with a combined average of .492 over 23 at bats this season.  Flaherty has been great at home this season in two starts with a 0.82 ERA in two starts.  The Brewers will have Adrian Houser on the mound making his first start of the season. Since this is Houser’s first career start he will most likely dominate for the first 4 innings or so until the Cardinals unleash the second time through.

Game 2

Zach Davies who is what you would call the opposite of a Cardinal Killer, in particular Matt Carpenter has owned Davies to a .455BA in 22 career plate appearances.  Davies will most likely be opposed by Daniel Ponce De Leon taking the spot of the injured Michael Wacha.  Ponce De Leon has only faced the Brewers in relief where he pitched in relief successfully striking out two on 14 pitches. Ponce De Leon is going have a big night. This is soley based on the fact I believe the Cardinals will jump out early and give him the confidence to dominate.

Game 3

There was a time where Jouhlys Chacin would have dreaded a potential matchup with the St. Louis Cardinals, owning an 0-7 mark in nine career starts up until last June.  Since then Chacin has won his last three starts against the Redbirds including a great opening day start where his struck out seven.  Chacin will face off against Adam Wainwright whose been the definition of up and down during the start of the season.  Waino will have to have his curve working against the powerful Milwaukee lineup.  If not his 89 MPH (being gracious) fastball will be put on a tee for the power bats of Milwaukee.

Brewers coming off of 4 game sweep in LA

You always want to kick a team while they are down.  The Brewers are coming off of an abysmal series in LA losing all four games to the 2018 National League Champs. Milwaukee has been dealing with a lot of injuries in the rotation which has caused them to force a few starts from guys they were not expecting including Chase Anderson and the game one starter Adrian Houser, injuries in their bullpen have also forced the hand of manager Craig Counsel putting guys in positions that they will not be successful.

Why the Cardinals have to win this series.

It is time for the Cardinals to show that they are the class of the NL Central. In game one, the Cardinals have their presumed “ace” on the mound in Jack Flaherty which should set the stage for the rest of the series. The key to victory is very simple, don’t pitch to Christian Yelich, take a advantage of the weakend Brewers starting pitching and take advantage of your home field.  The Cardinals will not have any excuses if they are unable to win this series.

MLB Picks 4/20/19

I have been throwing out a lot of picks lately and haven’t held myself accountable so today I begin to truly cover my plays and see what my end of the season record may be. Let’s get this started on a winning track.

Chicago White Sox (Santana) at Detroit Tigers (Norris)

The Detroit Tigers as a team haven’t hit much all year. They have however been better at home with a .244 BA at home when compared to a .183 BA away from Comerica Park. Ervin Santana has not been stellar in his first two starts of the season giving up 10 earned runs over 8 innings and getting shelled by right handed hitters.

The Tigers have a healthy Nick Castellanos back in their lineup which will propel them to a victory at home.

Pick: Detroit Tigers -135

Boston Red Sox (Porcello) at Tamp Bay Rays (Morton)

Rick Porcello has been a ticking time bomb to start the season, a matchup the leagues best team has the potential for time to run out. Lefties in particular have hit Porcello to a tune of .460 batting average in more than enough of a sample size.

The Tamp Bay Rays will have an array of lefties in their lineup including Brandon Lowe, Ji-Man Choi and the red hot Austin Meadows. Even if Boston was playing better this is not a matchup that benefits the the world champs.

Pick: Tamp Bay Rays -1.5 (+140)

Philadelphia Phillies (Nola) at Colorado Rockies (Senzatela)

No one expected the Rockies to have struggles on the offensive side of the ball but that has been the case early in 2019. The Rockies are bottom five in most offensive categories. With a slash line of .215/.274/.360 at the plate as a team a matchup with Aaron Nola seems like trouble for Colorado. However, their offense has come alive during their recent winning streak, scoring at least four runs in each of their last five games.

The Rockies will send Antonio Senzatela to the mound coming off of a great first start against San Diego going 6.2 innings while only giving up one run. Ryan McMahon has stepped up for the Rockies filling in for the injured Daniel Murphy. The Rockies as a home dog versus a usually sluggish start to the season for Nola should give great value in this situation.

Pick: Rockies +105

MLB DFS Picks April 2 2019

P: Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals, $11,800

Scherzer looked to be in mid-season form versus the New York Mets in his first start, striking out 12 over 7 2/3 inning pitched. His matchup with the Phillies looks to be tough but as a team the Phillies struck out 75 times in 211 career at-bats. Look for Scherzer to feed off of the home crowd for another stellar performance.

P: Hyun-Jin Ryu, Los Angeles Dodgers, $9,300

When healthy Ryu has been one of the most effective pitchers in all of baseball. The Giants are hitting .194 as a team while striking out 47 times.

C: Omar Narvaez, Seattle Mariners, $3,300

Narvaez was a preseason sleep at a very weak catching position. Narvaez brings some power potential in a lineup that has started the season red hot. His low cost makes him a great option in a pitcher loaded slate.

1B: Pete Alonso, New York Mets, $4,100

Alonso connected on his first career homerun last night, he will now be building on his momentum. With 7 hits in his first 17 career at bats. Ride the hot streak.

2B: Starlin Castro, Miami Marlins, $3,700

Castro will get a favorable matchup with Jason Vargas whom he has an exit velocity of 90MPH in 12 career at bats.

SS: Zack Cozart, Los Angeles Angels, $3,700

Cozart started the season slowly along with the rest of the Angels lineups. Soft tossing Marco Gonzalez is a solid matchup for Cozart whom in a small sample size of four at bats has two hits.

3B: Yandy Diaz, Tampa Bay Rays, $3,400

Yandy Diaz will most likely be batting leadoff against lefty Kyle Freeland. Diaz already has matched his career totals in homers with one. He should be in a prime spot to continue his hot hitting.

OF: Ian Desmond, Colorado Rockies, $3,700

2019 has not been a great start for the entire Rockies lineup. Desmond though excelled in 2018 versus lefties leading to a OPS of .841.

OF: Mark Canha, Oakland Athletics, $3,500

Assuming Canha will start against the lefty Chris Sale he could be worth a look as another low cos outfielder. 13 of Canha’s 17 homers were hit against lefties in 2018. If he gets the start he should be a great asset.

OF: Odubel Herrara, Philadelphia Phillies, $3,500

I am never a fan of starting players versus your own starting pitcher but Herrara’s ‘s career numbers versus Scherzer can’t be ignored. Herrara is hitting .341 in 47 career at bats against the Nationals ace.

MLB Overreaction for each Division

NL East: Braves are not going to compete for the division.

Atlanta got swept over the weekend by the new look Philadelphia Phillies. The reigning NL East Champs have dealt with some injuries to their rotation to start the season including 2018 All-Star Mike Foltynewciz and Kevin Gausman.  Atlanta was forced to start Bryce Wilson and #2 ranked prospect of 2018 Kyle Wright in 2 of 3 games in Philadelphia. Wright was able to show off some of the skills that made him a top prospect the Braves bats were held in check by Jake Arrietta Sunday night to cap off the series sweep.

The Braves had a tough matchup to start the season versus the revamped Phillies in a city that was already hyped because well its philly.  Atlanta’s offense will carry the load early as they wait for the injury bug to work out.

NL West: Padres will compete for the division.

San Diego was able to take 2 of 3 from the rebuilding San Francisco Giants in San Francisco making us all wonder maybe they are more than just a young team with some promise in the future.  Will Myers and Eric Hosmer went a combined 10 for 26 in the series, both will be heavily looked upon to provide protection for the newly acquired franchise player Manny Machado. 

Pitching was the story for San Diego as Eric Lauer, Joey Luchessi and rookie Chris Paddack combined for a 1.80 ERA in 16.1 combined innings.  If the Padres starting pitching can continue to perform they may have a shot to compete in a top heavy NL West. 

They did face the Giants though so I wouldn’t count on it.

NL Central: Cardinals need to sign Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel

Rabid wolverines..oops I mean Cardinals fans are not happy after a tough 1-3 start to the season. The Cardinals were supposed to have the best rotation in the NL Central but that is not how if worked out against the powerful Brewers lineup.  Miles Mikolas, Jack Flaherty and Dakota Hudson combined of a 7.84 ERA over their first three starts. No what most thought but remember it is week one.

Now the bullpen.  The dream lineup of Alex Reyes, Andrew Miller and Jordan Hicks were supposed to be the “big three” in the backend of the bullpen.  They combined to blow a 3-run lead on Sunday causing panic in within Cardinals nation. 

Overreacting by signing Keuchel and Kimbrel will backfire for a team that just needs to be patient and allow their young arms to develop in season.

AL East: The Orioles may not lose 100 games.

The Orioles took 2 of 3 from the New York Yankees in New York!  Obviously the Orioles are going to come out of nowhere and compete in the AL East.  Baltimore winning the opening series versus the Yankees is almost quarter of the wins most people expected them to have in 2019.

The Orioles started their season better than most thought.  Sadly they will come down to earth very quickly.

AL West: Mariners are the best in the west.

Anyone notice the Mariners are 5-1 after taking 3 of 4 from the world champion Boston Red Sox?  The Mariners made more moves in the offseason then a 12 year old playing MLB the show for the first time.  Literally moving on from their best starter, reliever and hitter from the 2018 season. Seattle quietly picked up a potential impact bat with Domingo Santana but their hot start isn’t going to last.  Seattle will do what they always do and stay in it enough to let their fans believe that they have a chance and then completely bomb in the end.

Seattle can hit and they will hit but they pitching will not be able to keep up for long.

AL Central: Indians are not going to hit

The returning Carlos Santana went 5 for 10 in the opening series versus the Minnesota Twins. Outside of Santana thought he Indians did not look great at the plate during their first series.  The rest of the Indians had a total of 7 hits the entire series.  The injury to Fransisco  Lindor will hurt the offense but the struggles of Jose Ramirez has fans very worried about the potential of this offense.

Cleveland fans can worry for now but eventually Ramirez will find his way and the supporting cast is there for a reason.  This team will hit, just have to be patient.

NL West Preview and Prediction

LA Dodgers

Key Additions- AJ Pollock, Russell Martin, Joe Kelly

Key Subtractions- Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood, Yasmani Grandal and Matt Kemp

Lineup

The Dodgers finally moved on from Yasiel Puig after a lengthy run of talking about it. His replacement former Diamondback AJ Pollock has a history of injuries but If healthy can be just as productive as the departed while not bringing the drama.  The Dodgers were also able to bring back catcher Russell Martin to replace the departed Yasmani Grandal.  The veteran Martin will help a pitching staff that will be without ace Clayton Kershaw to start the season. The flexibility for manager Dave Roberts will be a huge asset Max Muncy, Enrique Hernandez, David Freese, Chris Taylor and Cody Bellinger all can play multiple positions which will allow for a lot of good matchups.  The lineup will miss Grandal’s power but a healthy Corey Seager could fill in the missing power.

Rotation

No Clayton Kershaw or Rich Hill means that Julio Urias will be in the rotation to start the season.  The top of the rotation will take a hit but in a whole it is still strong if Hyun-Jin Ryu stays healthy.  Walker Buehler has ascended into a premier role with the organization, he will be looked upon early to be the ace.  If his progression continues he will be the next great star in the organization.

Bullpen

The biggest addition in the bullpen was hard throwing Joe Kelly.  The worry about Kenley Jansen is understandable but he is still one of the best when healthy.  From the left side the Dodgers still have reliable Scott Alexander, but will need Tony Cingrani to return from the DL.

Colorado Rockies

Key Additions- Daniel Murphy

Key Subtractions- DJ LaMahieu

Lineup

David Dahl is finally healthy in 2019.  Put him in a lineup that features Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, Charlie Blackmon and Daniel Murphy. Dahl has the potential to add 30 homers to the lineup while stealing at least 15 bases.  The loss of DJ Lamahieu takes a consistent hitter out of the lineup but Garret Hampson and Ryan McMahon can easily fill in the role.  The Rockies have the most depth of any team in the division.

Rotation

Kyle Freeland and German Marquez are two guys that have not become household names but they probably should be.  Marquez brings the ability to strikeout any batter at any time.  His ability to put batters away without allowing them to put it in play is always important in Coors Field.  The bottom of the rotation consists of Tyler Anderson and Jon Gray give the Rockies a solid four man rotation.  Gray had his terrible moments in 2018 but still has the ability to be a #1.  The final spot in the rotation is owned by Chad Bettis who has looked great during the spring and should be a serviceable #5.

Bullpen

Wade Davis had a lot of saves…but he still was not good.  Scott Oberg and Sen-wan Oh stepped up last season but the Rockies made a mistake by not adding anything depth to the pen. I don’t expect Davis to have another year like 2018 but still the bullpen could be the shakiest part of this Colorado team.

San Diego Padres

Key Additions- Manny Machado, Ian Kinsler, Adam Warren, Aaron Loup

Lineup

The Padres made the move of the offseason for the NL West adding high priced free agent Manny Machado.  They now have the player to build around while their youth movement.  The announcement that super prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. has made the team means that GM AJ Preller has high hopes for this season.  With a lineup that featuring  veterans Will Myers, Eric Hosmer Ian Kinsler around Machado, the Padres lineup has a lot of promise if the youth can make the strides in the right direction. 

Rotation

The rotation will get a lift from another big time prospect Chris Paddack joins Joey Lucchesi and  Eric Lauer to build a strong young core in a rotation that still has some holes to fill.  The Padres rotation will need some work if they are looking to contend anytime soon.

Bullpen

Kirby Yates is a premier level closer that can have a huge impact finishing off games for the Padres.  If they can get lead they have the guy to close it out.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Key Additions- Adam Jones, Luke Weaver, Carson Kelly, Greg Holland, Wilmer Flores

Key Subtractions- Paul Goldschmidt, Patrick Corbin, Chris Owings, Dan Descalso, AJ Pollock

Lineup

The Arizona Diamondbacks are set for a full rebuild.  Moving on from Paul Goldschmidt means that they are looking for a new cornerstone for the lineup.  For now they are going to be looking for David Peralta to step up and be the middle of the order bat that can carry the team.  Re-signing versatile Eduardo Escobar allows them to move Jake Lamb over to first base.  If Lamb is able to stay healthy he can potential be a 30 homer player,  but that is a big if.  Adam Jones and Wilmer Flores are two great veteran additions that will provide stability to the lineup during the rebuild. The D-Backs are going to give Carson Kelly a chance that he never got with the Cardinals in hopes that he can live up to the long time hype.

Rotation

The rotation lost Patrick Corbin to free agency but still has the its top two starters in place with Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray.  Luke Weaver showed promise in his first season with the Cardinals but has an issue with throwing his fastball for strikes which made him a movable piece.  Weaver was still a top level prospect that is worth the look as the fourth starter. 

Bullpen

The D-Backs surprised the baseball community by naming Greg Holland their closer over the favored Archie Bradley.  Bradley and Yoshihisa Hirano will give them what they need in the middle innings. 

San Francisco Giants

Key Additions- Gerardo Parra, Yan Solarte

Key Subtractions- Hunter Pence? I guess.

Lineup

I am not going to spend much time on any on this.  The Giants are going to rely on mainstays Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt and Evan Longoria. Adding veteran Gerardo Parra will provide some punch in the dugout but not much on the scoreboard.  I have always be a fan of Yan Solarte but he will not see much time unless injuries happen, still not exactly and impact bat that is needed.

Rotation

Madbum is great, Holland and Samardzija are average.  The only excitement here is the development of Derek Rodriguez.  Can he take the next step to become a true #2 starter?

Bullpen

Will Smith quietly had a very solid second half for the Giants.  Multiple reclamation projects like Mark Melancon, Sam Dyson and Tony Watson will be relied upon in a major way during the season.

My Prediction

1.Dodgers

2.Rockies

3.Padres

4.Diamondbacks

5.Giants

The Rockies have a chance to take the division in 2019, but they still have some questions in the rotation and bullpen.  The Dodgers will get back Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill, but their injuries will allow Julio Urias to develop and be weapon in spot starts or potentially the bullpen.  LA still has a great offense, so many players to fill in the gaps in case of injuries.  Dodgers will win the west but the Rockies will be on their tail all season.