The trade deadline has come and gone and it was actually very exciting with lots of action leading up to the deadline and coming in right at the deadline itself. I’ve already examined the Scott Kazmir trade to the Astros, Johnny Cueto heading to the Royals, Cole Hamels to the Rangers, Troy Tulowitzki and Jose Reyes trading places, the 3-team/13-player mega deal between the Dodgers/Braves/Marlins, and a slew of other trades, so follow the links for analysis on those. Now I will take a look at all the other impact trade deadline deals and what they mean for the teams involved and for fantasy purposes. Continue reading
About six weeks ago is when I first began suggesting that Fernando Rodney be removed from the closer’s role to make way for the young and more talented Carson Smith, and then I gave it a full rundown in the “BLOW-PEN Report” on May 23. Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon ended up giving Rodney a lot of leash because he likely didn’t want to have to remove Rodney as his closer, but McClendon finally saw enough. On June 6, Smith recorded his first career save in perfect fashion.
Since Smith took over as the team’s closer, entering Friday’s game, he had converted 5 straight save opportunities by pitching 5.2 innings allowing 2 runs on 2 hits and no walks while striking out 8. So he has been having little issue in finishing games stress free.
Since Rodney lost the closer’s role, entering Friday’s game, he has done much better, only being scored upon once in 5 outings for 1 run in 5.2 IP with 4 K/3 BB. In that small sample, it hadn’t been the best of performances, but clearly it was much better than what he had been doing in the 9th inning trying to close out games previously.
Friday night presented an interesting situation for the Mariners though as Smith was brought on in the middle of the 8th inning where he let Mike Trout and Albert Pujols reach base before getting a double play to end the inning for a total of 10 pitches thrown. And then Rodney was brought in for the 9th inning to try and close the game against the bottom part of the Angels order, and he successfully did so after allowing one hit.
Initially when I first called for the switch of closers in Seattle, I had said that Smith was the better pitcher but that McClendon would probably eventually give Rodney another opportunity to close if he proved that he was able to work out his issues in lower leverage situations. But then when Smith began to have so much success and displayed that he could potentially handle 9th inning duties with ease, I thought that Rodney would never be getting his job back. So the way things played out on Friday is a bit peculiar to me since Smith did nothing in the way of performance to give back the job.
However, in this game, the higher leverage situation was actually in the 8th inning with the Angels best hitters (and two of the best in the AL so far this season), Trout and Pujols due up. So the thought process for McClendon could have been that they really needed to get by Trout and Pujols before even thinking about seeing a save opportunity for the game, which meant that they needed to go to their best option. So then McClendon might have thought that once Smith got by the heart of the order, then Rodney could come in to a more ideal situation to face the weaker hitters and possibly instill some confidence in him should he finish the game cleanly.
So I am still going to have to believe that Smith is the closer until he blows some saves (fingers crossed that he doesn’t). Maybe Rodney will snipe some opportunities away like he did on Friday, but I see little reason why Smith shouldn’t remain the man for the job and I would be shocked and lose any faith I had in McClendon as a manager if he were to switch things back with no probable cause. But we will have to wait and see just what happens next.
Let’s check out the rest of Friday baseball.
J.D. Martinez spent parts of three seasons on the Major League squad for the Astros and he never was able to compile a full season of success. The Astros then released him before the start of the 2014 season and the Tigers picked him up and he ended up breaking out for a real surprise season with a .315 AVG, 23 HR, 76 RBI, 57 R, and 6 SB in 123 games. Martinez was able to complete this transformation and breakout by completely retooling the mechanics of his whole swing, and it’s always nice to know that there are actual tangible reasons as to why a player finally has a breakout season. The high batting average of .300 wasn’t necessarily going to be there this season given that his .315 AVG from last year was driven by a likely unsustainable .389 BABIP, but it was reasonable to expect that this season he would be able to put up similar power production with the maintaining of his new swing mechanics.
After a month of the 2015 season, Martinez was hitting just .216 on May 8 but the 6 HR that he had at that point were respectable. The culprit of the low batting average was the fact that his BABIP was much lower than last season (which was expected) and he was also striking out at a much higher rate. However, over the last couple weeks, Martinez has really trimmed down his strikeout rate to a nearly identical mark that he was at last season. With the decrease in strikeouts, Martinez’ batting average has gone up a lot and now sits at .275 after his big day on Sunday, and his .325 BABIP is a much more realistic mark to suggest that this could be the area in AVG that he finishes the season with.
His game on Sunday consisted of a 3 HR and 6 RBI performance to give him 16 HR and 41 RBI for the season so far to put him on pace to do even better than last year in those areas. Also, his ISO is now up to .240, which is right in line with his last year’s mark of .238 to further prove that his power is legitimate and for real. The triple dong outburst from Sunday has me believing that the J.D. stands for Just Dongs. Expect to see him continue his power stroke as the season goes on, and he makes for a good play as a part of a Tigers offense that can do very dangerous things.
Now let’s check out what else happened on Sunday!
I am going to go ahead and say without any official report of it that the Diamondbacks/Dodgers game on Wednesday was the first game in baseball history that featured two players named Yasmani or Yasmany to homer in the same game, and that it was also the first game ever to feature three players whose names all start with “Yas” who all homered. This looks like another one for the Elias Sports Bureau to tackle and as stupid as it is, I think it is pretty remarkable. So let’s take this opportunity to give a little bit of a rundown on the “Ya Ya Yas.”
Yasmany Tomas of the Diamondbacks went yard for his 2nd HR of the season. The Cuban defect has for the most part produced well for the Diamondbacks, but I am sure that they were expecting and would like to see more power out of that beastly 6’2″ 255 lb. frame of his. So it was a very pleasant sight to see him deposit one over the fence on Wednesday. Despite the lack of power, Tomas has been getting it done with his batting average at .331 because of his wonderful ability to hit the ball to the opposite field and up the middle so often. This great skill that he has makes it incredibly hard for defenses to defend him, especially since opposing teams may not have great scouting reports on him in his first season. His high AVG is being supported by a BABIP that is currently well north of .400, but I am still optimistic about Tomas’ outlook due to his opposite field approach and for the likelihood that his power numbers will increase as he gains more experience during the season. With 3B and OF eligibility in fantasy leagues and being a part of one of the top offenses in the league, Tomas is a quality fantasy option.
Yasmani Grandal had that huge breakout game earlier this season where he hit 2 HR with 8 RBI at Milwaukee, and up until Wednesday, that one game had accounted for approximately 40% of his power production all season long. But with a HR on Wednesday, Grandal is now hitting .277 with 6 HR and 21 RBI in 45 games played. Grandal was one of the main pieces that the Dodgers received in return for dealing Matt Kemp to the Padres in the off-season, so the team clearly believed in him and so far so good. He’s not posting numbers that are off the charts, but he’s been a rock solid option at catcher. However, it should be noted that as a switch hitter, Grandal is much more productive as a left-handed hitter. From the left side this season, he is slashing .283/.400/.492 with all his HR and RBI coming as a lefty, and a nifty ratio of 26 K/24 BB. So keep this in mind if you own him and set your lineup daily, and also note that he makes for a very nice play in DFS (daily fantasy sports) when he is up against a right-handed pitcher, particularly ones that don’t throw too hard.
Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers ended up missing about 6 weeks with a strained hamstring, so he has a lot of time to make up for. Earlier this week, he came off the DL and has been making his return well known. On Wednesday, he had a perfect day at the dish, which included a 3-run bomb, to push his hitting streak to 4-games since returning (9 for 15 in those 4 games). But the sign of a true recovery from his injury might be when he steals his first base of the season. During his rehab of the strained hamstring, he suffered a setback otherwise he would have been back a few weeks ago. So he might approach it safely initially, but if he starts to steal bases like he is capable of then that will signify all systems are a go. Puig clearly has monstrous fantasy appeal and it’s scary to think of how good the Dodgers offense could be with him back, considering how they obliterated a lot of pitching without him.
Let’s take look at the rest of the hump day action.