Road Trip Week 11

By: Curtis Bailey and Matthew Rosser

 When it rains it pours. If this season were a road trip in your car, every time you turned left your passenger door would fall off and every time you hit the brake, your windshield would shatter. We have had so many injuries to truly valuable players that it’s beginning to look like a parody of a baseball season as opposed to the real deal that we were promised back in April. So we are back, once again, to help you wade through the disaster that is the 2021 baseball season. Green lights are the guys you add to replace your injured guys. Yellows are the guys you can’t drop because your team is so injured. Reds are the guys you need to drop because either A. they are hurt or B. they are bad. 

Green Lights

Alek Manoah: 

There’s a famous “sportswriter” from “Boston” who uses the theory of market correction for pop culture figures that get their niche stepped on by another, usually innocuously. And as we know with fantasy baseball, and life in general, there are two key rules: There is no such thing as an original thought, or a pitching prospect. Nate Pearson was supposed to be the true ace of his prospect class (which was and is stacked), but after injuries, poor performance and more injuries, it hasn’t gotten off to the start anyone hoped. Enter Alek Manoah, the “other” young pitcher on the Blue Jays staff. He lit up Triple-A this year in just three starts, with a .5 ERA and a 40% strikeout rate, and got the call last week to start against the Yankees. All he did was go six innings with no runs and seven punchies**. He also allowed just four base runners. I haven’t seen such a blatant spotlight shift since teenage Leo fed Jonathon Taylor Thomas’ career to Robin Thicke’s dad on prop Chinaware. It’s just a few starts, and he could get treated with kid gloves, but he’s already making people forget about Pearson. This guy is going to be fun. Own him where you can. (MR)

Luis Garcia:

I don’t want to like this guy because Astros, but dammit, I like this guy. Garcia has filled in wonderfully in their depleted rotation while also getting stretched out. He only first made it through the 6th inning in his most recent outing, but has shown promise throughout his stretching out process. Through 14 starts, Garcia has a 2.83 ERA, .205 opponent average, 28.1% strikeout rate, and a 10.2 K/9. That most recent start? A one run, eight strikeout gem against the reigning world champions. He’s not a future top 10 pitcher, but if he gets opportunities, he could still very easily help you win your league this year. (MR)

Erick Fedde:

Fedde is by no means a great pitcher but he has pitched 20 consecutive scoreless innings. This has had the effect of lowering his ERA over two full runs to 3.33 which is far and away the lowest of his career. One would think that if you did a deep dive on him it would show that this is unsustainable and he will return to being the below average pitcher he always has been. This is not the case. While his numbers do show that he is set to regress his xERA and his FIP both show that he is actually a better pitcher than he has ever been before. So go grab Fedde for this hot streak that he is on currently and that could develop into someone that you can ride through the end of the season. (CB)

Yellow Lights

Alec Bohm:

         Bohm was a 2020 darling, showing bat skills of a young Freddie Freeman and the follicular talent of his team’s superstar right fielder. So far in 2021, he’s one of the worst statistical hitters in baseball, sporting a downright offensive 64 WRC+ and a slugging percentage that starts with a three. His strikeout rates also over 20% for the first time in his professional career. Sounds like an auto-drop, right? Well, maybe not. Bohm’s BABIP is low (for him) ..306, but his contact numbers look largely identical to 2020. Statcast says he overperformed last year, but also says he’s substantially underperforming this year. His expected average, slugging percentage and WOBA are all substantially higher than his actual numbers. So far, the only thing that doesn’t seem like it will correct itself in some capacity is the strikeout rate, and even at its current worst, he’s still just regressed to essentially the league average. Bench Bohm and ride a hot bat if you must, but don’t drop him just yet. (MR)

Blake Snell: 

Honestly, I have no clue what to do with him. Snell is supposed to be really good, but he has really only been good once in his career. So just drop the overrated Snell right? Wrong. Snell lets a ton of guys get on base, which is a problem, but he also prints K’s like a superstar. So what needs to happen here is an adjustment in expectations. Snell is not the front line ace you probably thought you were getting but he is a pitcher that needs to be owned in all formats because his highs are as high as anyones. So in short, don’t drop Snell because you will regret it. (CB)

Dylan Bundy:

In Dylan Bundy’s last six starts, he has pitched 23.1 innings and given up 30 runs for an 11.57 ERA. This is, as we in the business often say, really bad. So it makes sense if you just lived through that, then you are ready to pull the plug on the Bundy experience. In the six starts before that, Bundy had 5 quality starts with a 10 K/9. Not a fantasy superstar, but pretty damn close. Bundy, despite his struggles, still has elite tools. He is in the 69th percentile in hard hit rate (Nice) and in the 87th percentile in chase rate. Batters are routinely fooled by his pitches and, as a result, can’t square him up. This is why Bundy is going to bounce back to his pre-May form and be a pitcher that you can rely on for the stretch run. (CB)

Red Lights

Dominic Smith:

It seems like just yesterday I was telling you that Dom Smith was going to turn it around and once again be the fantasy stud that he was back in 2020. I said this because his BABIP was low and when that regressed to the mean, the rest of his numbers would fall in line. Well his BABIP has climbed to .299 which is above his career average. Yet his batting average is still .242 and there has been no change in his power numbers. He still chases way too much out of the zone and rarely makes contact when he does. He doesn’t elevate the ball and, when he does, the ball doesn’t go very far. We have waited long enough. Let the man go! (CB)

Corey Kluber: 

        I haven’t been a Kluber believer in a few years and the past two years, it paid to hate. Coming into this year though, I changed my tune. He was going to be healthy; 2020 is the outlier, not the rule; and he is a proven commodity in a prove it contract. He was a yellow light guy after a foreseeably rough April, but we said then to have faith. That was rewarded with a reminiscent run of success that was capped by a no-hitter for the Klubot. Unfortunately, the Yankees forgot to oil his joints, he left his next start early, and has a shoulder injury that will sideline him for at least 2 months. It was a great mini-run, but time to decommission this year’s model. (MR)

Patrick Wisdom:

We all saw this coming right? In his first 13 games this season he batted .412 with 7 bombs. He was the best player ever. In the 11 games since he has batted .167 with 2 bombs. If you got him early in the hot streak you should pat yourself on the back for squeezing that orange but at the end of the day all he ever was was an orange in need of squeezing. Now that he has been squeezed dry it’s time to move on to someone else. (CB)