Jason Vargas has a 3.25 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP this season. He’s also a thirty-one year old with a career 4.20 ERA, 4.58 xFIP and 1.31 WHIP.
Analysis: Yes, Jason Vargas is having a fine season but he will not sustain it. The 3.25 ERA is nice but his xFIP is 4.09. Vargas’ strikeout rate of 6.4 K/9 is average for a fantasy starter but there are other areas of concern. His strand rate is 8% above his career average and his fastball velocity is down which isn’t surprising considering he is 10th in baseball in pitches per game at 104.7 per. Over his last five starts he has averaged 109 pitches per start. In short- he is due for a drop off sooner than later.
This is the perfect time to maximize value/return on a fantasy pitcher with good numbers through 99.2 innings on 15 starts. Even when using the eye test he just doesn’t impress unlike an Edwin Jackson type(who by the way has a 5.12 ERA/3.65 xFIP with 83 K’s in 84 IP). Currently, Jason Vargas is available in 20-60% of fantasy leagues.
The Kansas City Royals have won ten in a row and Omar Infante has certainly contributed recently. Infante went 2 for 4 Wednesday afternoon against the Detroit Tigers and he currently has a 9 game hitting streak which includes 2 home runs and 11 runs batted in.
Analysis: Omar Infante isn’t a flashy fantasy second baseman but in deeper leagues he is worth consideration. Infante ranks 4th in the majors among second baseman in runs batted in with 34. He is 16th in home runs and 17th in runs scored among second baseman as well. He is hitting .255 at the moment but his BABIP this season is about 50 points below his career mark so there is plenty of room for improvement. He still doesn’t walk much but he puts the ball in play a ton- his contact rate is at 88% which is 19th in all of baseball.
He is more so a deeper league add but Omar Infante is capable of posting top 15 fantasy second baseman numbers going forward. Infante is available in 70-90% of fantasy leagues.
Jaime Garcia has allowed just 1 earned run in his last two starts. He has pitched 14.0 innings in that span while only allowing 8 hits and striking out 10 batters.
Analysis: Jaime Garcia has a career 3.46 ERA, 3.42 xFIP and 1.30 WHIP. He currently has a 3.72 ERA, 2.96 xFIP and 0.96 WHIP this season. Garcia’s 6.40 K/BB rate is a career high at the moment and good for 14th among pitchers with at least 30 innings pitched this season. He only has six starts under his belt but his walk rate is great at 3.3% and his strikeout rate is solid as well(7.45 K/9).
Keep in mind that Garcia has posted a sub 4.00 ERA and a sub 3.40 xFIP each of the last three seasons. He isn’t a sexy fantasy starter but he’s a “ratio stabilizer” with improved walk and strikeout rates this year.
Currently, Jaime Garcia is available in 35-75% of fantasy leagues. Up next for Garcia is the Phillies on Friday night. The Phils are 24th in runs scored, 20th in home runs and 25th in batting average this season.
Dexter Fowler is at it again. Fowler is the 29th rated fantasy outfielder over the last month of the season.
Analysis: Dexter Fowler is reborn this season. His walk rate is at an all time high at 14.6%. He ranks 3rd among outfielders in walks and 6th in OBP. He only has 4 bombs and 6 swipes(which is solid) but the .391 OBP this season is special. Fowler has scored 38 runs this year as a result which is good for 13th among major league outfielders.
Fowler’s BABIP and his batting average(.282) is sustainable. In addition to his increased walk rate Fowler’s strikeout rate is below 20% for the first time in five seasons. He is taking more pitches and is becoming moderately selective. It appears that Fowler has finally turned the corner.
Dexter Fowler is available in 35-50% of fantasy leagues. Overall this season he is the 36th best fantasy outfielder and it doesn’t appear that he is slowing down. Fowler has been good in small stretches in the past but the athlete is becoming a ballplayer this season.
Gregory Polanco went 1 for 5 with a run scored in his first big league game. He will be a toolsy fantasy player in the near future but the smart play here is to sell and sell high. Keep in mind my June 1st article- “Selling High- Taveras.” Oscar Taveras is hitting .194 at the moment with two extra base hits in ten games played. Taveras was the “it guy” on the wire much like Polanco is now.
Analysis: I like the future of Gregory Polanco a lot more than that of Taveras. Taveras may turn onto the Fernando Martinez exit if he isn’t handled properly. Taveras doesn’t have much speed and his power is good not great.
Then you have Gregory Polanco… a future fantasy stat stuffer. Polanco has Hanley Ramirez like tools. He hit second in the order in front of Andrew McCutchen in his debut but who knows for how long? Polanco needed more time in the minors for the sake of plate discipline, period. His BABIP numbers are inflated as well. He has a .399 BABIP in Triple-A this year and a .350 plus BABIP in the other stops where he hit over .300 in the minors. This is a concern.
Polanco can and should contribute this year but he isn’t a fantasy savior. It’s best to sell high and maximize value/return.