It has been almost a month since I posted on this hallowed space, and boy have you all missed me. I could write a whole post on excuses as to why and how and where so much time has passed since we last spoke, but who needs all that? Let’s just say I am typing this on a brand new, much smaller, lighter device, and I couldn’t be happier with my purchase. Tech talk aside, I’m back! Let’s talk fantasy, guys!
So, we are about to complete the first fantasy baseball week post-All Star Break, which means it’s like 6 days too late for a 2nd half storylines article. But hey…I’ve got a new computer, a new lease on life, and I make the rules around here! If Michael Jackson says he wants team-by-team breakdowns, then it’s breakdowns he’ll get.
Side note: Picture this. Michael Jackson’s funeral. A few years ago. Except it’s happening at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The King of Pop is lying there all dead and stuff and Tito and Janet are all sad. The ceremony is happening when all of a sudden the lights fade to black. Smoke fills the stage that Michael is resting upon. All of a sudden the casket lowers into the floor. Seconds later the lights come back on, and Michael is standing there with his iconic red jacket and fedora on. His head is down, his backup dancers are at the ready, and BOOM! HE KICKS OFF HIS WORLD TOUR RIGHT THEN AND THERE! Music starts, and he is off like a shot. Crowd is going apes**t. How bonkers would that have been, guys?!!! Anyways.
Depending on what league format you are in, the playoffs/end of the roto season are coming up fast. You should have a pretty good idea of whether or not you are in the race. If you’re confused, DM me on Twitter, and I’ll tell you. For instance, in one league, I’m the Padres. It’s not happening this year. There are some bright spots, but I’m too far behind. To make a run now would be grasping at invisible straws. In another league, I’m the Yankees. I’ve spent time at the top. I’ve got the pieces in place. Now, I just need to make that last move to get me over the top. What team are you?! Rhetorical question. I only care about my own fantasy teams.
Now, if you haven’t already started mocking fantasy football drafts, then this is the article for you! Here is at least one storyline for each team that I will be looking for in the 2nd half. Keep in mind, this is from a fantasy perspective, and the teams are in order of current standings as of July 21st. Here we go…
Nationals: We start at the top. They are running away with the division, and the shortcomings of their bullpen have not ruined their season…yet. They are smart enough to know this needs fixing before they enter a 5-7 game series with the likes of the Dodgers, Cubs, and Diamondbacks in October. The Madson-Doolittle trade seems to help a little. Some pundits out there don’t think they are done tinkering with the back-end arms, so stay tuned. The bullpen is definitely the biggest question both real-life and fantasy moving forward.
Braves: As a fan of this team, I cannot believe I am listing them second. I’m jazzed! They came out of the break with an emphatic sweep of the Dbacks and were then promptly swept by the Cubs. They face off with lots of sub-.500 times down the stretch, so look for big 2nd half numbers from Kemp and Freeman moving forward. The biggest fantasy story here is if Jim Johnson gets moved. If he does, he isn’t closing for whatever team acquires him I’ll bet. Arodys Vizcaino could be next in line for saves if JJ leaves town.
Mets: It’s been a season to forget in Queens this season. Lots of rumors about them possibly trading DeGrom, but I don’t think they should switch to full rebuild mode just yet. They’re actively shopping veterans Addison Reed, Jay Bruce, and Curtis Granderson, so stay tuned. Paul Sporer advised on his most recent podcast to go ahead and stash Familia for the next two or three weeks as he could be a valuable source of saves down the stretch. I agree.
Marlins: That Giancarlo Stanton guy is really good. I’ve read multiple articles asking who will hit more homeruns the rest of the season: Stanton or Judge? My money is on a HEALTHY Stanton. Healthy being the key word there.
Phillies: It’s been over for the Phillies for awhile, and interest has already turned to the Eagles as they look like a playoff team this fall. I was really high on Maikel Franco before the season, and now I see that it was a blessing that I got sniped on him in every single draft. I’m a big fan of Aaron Nola moving forward both single season and in dynasty. Also, pickup former Rangers prospect Nick Williams if he’s still available, and you need OF help. He is blazing hot at the moment, and I think he has a chance for a nice second half.
Brewers: Nobody thought the Brew Crew would be here in late July outside of the state of Wisconsin. Even that statement may be a stretch. Another thing that would have been hard to swallow months ago is that Travis Shaw would have a better season than Eric Thames. That’s actually happening. Take that in. If you’ve rostered either player, I think you’ll be happy by season’s end considering the price on draft day.
Cubs: What is going on in Chicago’s North Side? This looks like a totally different team from the 2016 World Series Champions. Must have been some crazy good champagne. Or really cheap if it caused this kind of a hangover. Anyways, they could just be slow playing the crap out of all of us. They acquired Quintana, and he promptly struck out 12 Orioles in his debut. I’m a Quintana fanboy, so I’m high on him moving forward. Rumor has it they aren’t done and want Darvish. Things could turn around for Chicago in a hurry. Trust.
Pirates: They are at .500 as of this writing, and that’s kind of how I feel about the 2017 Pirates. Andrew McCutcheon arose from the dead after temperatures returned to bearable in Pittsburgh, and suckers who sold him in May like this guy are kicking themselves. Jameson Taillon has been pitching very well lately, and who out there doesn’t want him to succeed? I’m high on him in the second half.
Cardinals: St. Louis has always had this incredible knack of turning also-rans into great role players on their way to the playoffs. Guys that other teams say “meh” about become crucial parts of their team. It’s Midwest Devil Magic, but it works. Tommy Pham has everyone in an absolute tizzy right now as does Paul DeJong. Pham looks like the real deal and has contributed across so many categories. I missed on both of them. Poop.
Reds: Doesn’t it feel like they’ve been rebuilding for like a decade now? Earlier this week, it was reported that Jose Peraza had been benched for Scooter Gennett which…what? How had that not happened yet. This Scooter guy is having a monster year, and I’d enjoy the hell out of this ride. By the way…Luis Castillo is a beast and he should be on your roster.
Dodgers: It’s the Dodgers, and then everyone else in the National League right now. Interesting question: Who do you want the rest of the season? Clayton Kershaw or Alex Wood? Ok maybe that’s an easy one, but you cannot deny what Wood is doing this season. Something clicked out in LA, and the numbers look completely legit. Also, I am such a big fan of Chris Taylor. He’s forced himself into playing time and done nothing but produce.
Diamondbacks: They made the big trade and acquired JD Martinez from the Tigers earlier this week. For the first time in like two years, I am not talking about how the Diamondbacks got fleeced in a trade. Sure, he’s a rental, but they gave up nothing. I couldn’t be higher on JD rest of season, and with that dynamite lineup, everyone gets a fantasy boost in Phoenix.
Rockies: It felt like their young rotation would stop getting lucky eventually, and it’s finally happened. Though they’ve tapered off slightly from the beginning of the year, the offense is still highly productive. I see you, Mark Reynolds! They’ll be even better if they can get a healthy Ian Desmond for a good chunk of the second half.
Padres: They’re sitting there in their sunshine and breezy weather being like “Thank God we play in the same division as the Giants!” I remain high on the future upside of Manuel Margot even though I don’t think he’s usable in 10-12 team leagues the rest of the season. Dinelson Lamet gets rocked far too often to start consistently, but the K stuff is filthy. I’m definitely stashing him in dynasty leagues where I’m out of the race.
Giants: This went south in a hurry this year. Mad Bum is Mad Bum and will get his. There’s not much else here fantasy wise, and I don’t trust Sam Dyson as far as I can spit. In fact, I just don’t want a Giants’ closer period. I don’t think they’ll win enough for that person to matter. Oh, and how dumb do I look for drafting Cueto early?
Which brings us to the American League! The land of DHs, Mike Trout, and one of the smallest ballparks in the MLB, which I totally just visited. Here’s proof!
I mean I totally could have pulled that off a random website online, and you’d never know. But I swear it’s authentic. Take my word.
Red Sox: I totally didn’t look at the standings at first and automatically assumed the Yankees were in this spot. How foolish! Chris Sale will finish as the #2 pitcher in fantasy this year thanks to those sexy Ks. Not much else to say about these guys. You know who you’re starting on this team.
Rays: A month ago, I would have written a blurb about where I thought Chris Archer would end up at the deadline. But lo and behold, the Rays are in it. Offensively, I’m blown away with what Corey Dickerson has done. I expect that .310 average to come down, but you’ll end the season with 25 HRs and 90 RBIs with him on your roster. Not too shabby.
Yankees: They acquired Todd Frazier, and I don’t really care. He’s an empty average power hitter, and those are all too abundant on the waiver wire. I already gave my hot take that Giancarlo Stanton hits more 2nd half homeruns than Judge. RIP Michael Pineda’s season.
Orioles: Do you think that Chris Davis has a similar relationship to Khris Davis as Baby Jane does to Blanche in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Like Chris Davis is totally jealous and angry that Khris is the more relevant K(C)hris Davis now? I’d like to imagine that is the case. Remember when I thought drafting Kevin Gausman was a good idea?
Blue Jays: I am moving on from Marco Estrada as he has become an absolute dumpster fire here in the summer months. Marcus Stroman remains the most intriguing fantasy pitcher besides Roberto Osuna. This team has struggled this year, but you are still starting your stud in Josh Donaldson no matter what. I’m not intrigued by much else besides those three on this team.
Indians: I foolishly sold on Edwin Encarnacion earlier this season when he struggled out of the gate, and I regret it. We can’t always be right. I am really intrigued by Mike Clevinger moving forward. He walks quite a few batters, but he has an impressive 2.73 ERA in 11 starts this season. He’s also rolled off 4 quality starts in a row.
Twins: The surprise “contender” in the weak AL Central. Ervin Santana has good numbers overall, but there’s always a risk for him giving up 5 runs on any given start. I wouldn’t play with that fire. We all knew regression was coming. Congratulations if you drafted Miguel Sano.
Royals: I’m surprised there haven’t been more grumblings about KC trading off all their usable pieces. Apparently, they still see themselves as contenders and are looking to buy? They’re still in it record wise, but I don’t see it. You do you, KC. Eric Hosmer would be an obvious sellif I were their GM, and I would even consider moving Moustakas. The biggest story to watch here is where those guys end up as they are putting together fine seasons. If you rolled with Jason Vargas, then he should have been cut already. But wasn’t it a fun ride?
Tigers: Well, JD Martinez is out the door, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s back as a free agent signing this winter. The Tigers must now decide whether or not they are in full rebuild mode or not. If Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander get moved, it could have huge fantasy implications. As a desperate Verlander owner, I’m praying he ends up in the NL so he can get that easy pitcher out among other reasons. Miggy looks like he just needs a change of scenery. Something. Anything. I’m a big Michael Fulmer fan moving forward.
White Sox: Give it up for your 2020 World Series Champions! The rich get richer as they acquired Blake Rutherford from the Yankees in the Todd Frazier deal. This is a filthy rich minor league system. Moncada is finally up, but I don’t expect him to do much the rest of the season as he adjusts to the big leagues. There’s no one on this (big league) roster that I am wild about in the second half for fantasy purposes.
Astros: Running away with this division with an absolutely stacked lineup. Josh Reddick is an intriguing name moving forward, and I think Yuli Gurriel has been better than people realize this season. There is a huge hole to fill until Carlos Correa returns from the DL. George Springer is an MVP candidate and should soften the blow. Hot take: this is where Sonny Gray ends up.
Mariners: James Paxton aka Big Maple continues to be lights out since returning from the DL in early June. He’s only had 1 bad outing at Texas since then, and he’s going to finish as a top 10 pitcher. I wish Mitch Haniger was playing better, but I’m ok with dropping him in all but dynasty leagues.
Angels: Mike Trout came back on July 14th, and all is right with the world again.
Rangers: Odor is on pace to eclipse the 25 HR, 10 SB mark for the second year in a row, but it’s come with a major drop in his triple slash. His K% is up from last year as well, so your early round investment has definitely burned you. Rumor has it that Yu Darvish is on the move, and I would be selling him too if I were them. Pick up Gallo if you want to light your batting average on fire and need homeruns. But like…it’s 2017. Who needs homeruns?
A’s: The biggest question is where Sonny Gray ends up at the trade deadline. There will be multiple suitors, and they need to swing for the fences in their return. He has a chance to make a big impact especially if he lands somewhere like Houston. He’s obviously the biggest story to watch in the second half on this team. Khris Davis is the better K(c)hris Davis. I’m also high on Franklin Barreto down the line.
I know that was a lot to digest, but it’s been a month since I posted. I had a lot to say. It won’t be a month before my next post. I can assure you of that. Fear not, my faithful fans. Both of you! Give me a follow on Twitter! @jakebridges03!