Ironically, Blake Treinen, the former Washington reliever, might be the new Oakland closer. It’s funny how these things work out sometimes.
Treinen had about 15 minutes of relevance with the Nats earlier this year, quickly losing his place in the closing line. His 5.73 ERA in the capital tells a misleading story; his FIP (3.76) wasn’t much different from 2016, when he had a 2.28 ERA. Treinen’s strand rate has dropped by 16.8 percent this year, while his BABIP jumped 68 points. His hard-hit metrics are up slightly, but nothing that defends a 2.51 spike in ERA.
Treinen is still finding his way about greater Oakland, but so far, so good. He’s allowed just one earned run in 9.1 innings (4 H, 3 BB, 10K), and he was the last pitcher standing in Monday’s win over San Francisco. If the trade-deadline closer turnover has you down, note you can find Treinen available in 84 percent of Yahoo leagues. His 97 mph heater is a good fit for the ninth inning.
• Although Doolittle had one messy appearance in his six thus far for Washington, he’s making things happen in the ninth. He recorded his fourth Nationals save in Monday’s victory at Miami, taking over after Gio Gonzalez lost his no-hit bid in the ninth. Washington managed just three hits on its ledger, but it was enough to take it down, 1-0.
I’m one of the pundits who’s wondering when Gonzalez’s good-luck tour is going to collapse. He’s riding with a 2.66 ERA (FIP says 4.07, xFIP suggests 4.32), somehow succeeding despite strikeout and walk rates that are an eyelash worse than last year (when his ERA was 4.57).
A 75-point drop in BABIP is a godsend, and Gonzalez has allowed less sharp contact this year, so he’s earned some of these gains. But a strand rate over 85 percent is a red siren, too. I don’t know that Gonzalez has a lot of trade cachet in experienced leagues, but I’d at least let your opponents know you can “move a pitcher” and see if they independently land on Gonzalez.
• I don’t tune into Felix Hernandez starts any longer. They’re too depressing. The Rangers got him for two homers and four runs over 5.1 innings, pushing Felix’s ERA up to 4.28 and WHIP up to 1.36. Those aren’t horrendous numbers in the offensive environment of 2017, but they’re not good enough to be on a mixed-league championship team, either.
To be fair, King Felix still hugs like a champion.
Love this: Starting pitcher Felix Hernandez just walked up and gave friend Adrian Beltre a hug before Beltre’s at bat began. pic.twitter.com/LlBl1M2zeh
— Richard Lee-Sam (@RLeesam) August 1, 2017
Hernandez has always been as much artist as power pitcher, but his fastball merely sits around 91 mph these days. He’s allowing line drives 24.8 percent of the time — easily the worst of his career — and his HR/FB rate is through the Safeco roof.
If you want to chase the center cut for Hernandez, note his ratios are much better at home (3.75 ERA, 1.23 WHIP). You probably don’t want to use him at Kansas City later this week, but a home start against the Angels could be digestible (especially with Ricky Nolasco expected on the other side).
• I’ve always had a soft spot for Charlie Morton. Maybe it’s because his surname (and his nickname, Ground Chuck) remind me of steak. He would occasionally step into fantasy value with the Pirates, doing it with a pitch-to-contact style.
We don’t have the stomach for that approach now, and even Morton has adjusted to the miss-bats concept. He’s whiffed more than a batter per inning through his 88.1 innings this year, along with reasonable control and a ground-ball rate over 50 percent. Mix in the Astros ridiculous offense, and it’s led to nine victories and some sneaky fantasy value (3.77 ERA, 1.22 WHIP). He’s currently the No. 37 starting pitcher in the Yahoo game, despite a six-week stint on the disabled list.
In some leagues, reservations are required. In others, you can keep dialing up Morton a-la-carte. I’ll use him against Toronto this weekend, but probably steer away from an upcoming turn at Texas.
• The Mets need something to be excited about these days, and the imminent promotion of top prospect Ahmed Rosario certainly has fantasy owners excited. Rosario was already on the stash-and-hope list, but his ownership percentage jumped 13 percent over the last day. Rosario is expected to start for New York on Tuesday.
The 21-year-old shortstop was a Top 10 prospect on the three major lists this spring, though a significant chunk of his value is tied to defense. That said, Rosario was producing nicely at Triple-A Las Vegas, with a .328/.367/.466 slash, seven homers and 19 steals. Maybe he’ll hit the ground running in the majors; obviously there’s a wide range of outcomes with any prospect. But you can probably find a cuttable guy on the back end of your roster, see what develops.
To add extra juice to the story, Rosario’s MLB debut coincides with a Colorado trip. Sounds like must-see TV to me.