Fantasy baseball pitching stocks

Fantasy baseball pitching stocks

By David Ferris
CSNChicago.com

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Jeremy Affeldt, RP, Giants: The team had no choice but to demote Santiago Casilla from the closer role (see below), and it looks like Affeldt is going to be the head of the new committee, no matter that he's a left-handed reliever. Affeldt has a solid 2.56 ERA and 1.14 WHIP to start things off; he's capable of retiring righties and lefties; and he's more durable than righty Sergio Romo. Figure on Affeldt getting the majority of San Francisco handshakes going forward, with Romo the second option.

Wei-Yin Chen, SP, Orioles: He wasn't the buzzy overseas signing of the year, but Chen has handled the AL East very well as a rookie (3.46 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 109 strikeouts in 135.1 innings) and he's been especially sharp since the All-Star Break. A 12-strikeout game against Oakland grabs your attention, and he backed that up with seven scoreless frames at Tampa. Congrats, Baltimore, you found a No. 2 starter here.

Jim Henderson, RP, Brewers: He's closed out the last two Milwaukee wins, and he's been crisp in seven big league innings this far (1 ER, 1 BB, 10 K). Possession of the closing baton is 90 percent of the battle in our numbers racket, and it's telling that Henderson received Wednesday's assignment after John Axford worked the eighth inning. Henderson's story is out of nowhere, sure - he's a 29-year-old journeyman who was actually drafted by the Expos back in 2003 - but Axford's story was just as miraculous and crazy.

Hold

Zack Greinke SP, Angels: He's posted a 5.68 ERA and 1.63 WHIP over his first three Anaheim turns, and he's hasn't faced an elite offense yet. It's an extreme set of results but it illustrates the broader point: there aren't many soft landings in the hitter-friendly AL, where the bunt is all but abolished and every team gets an extra piece of daily lumber in the lineup. Greinke's magical 2009 season sticks out like a sore thumb, but otherwise this is someone who's never had an ERA under 3.44 or a WHIP under 1.20. GM's better be careful with the checkbook this winter; Greinke is routinely talked about like he's an ace, but he's really a No. 2 type of arm.

Mike Fiers, SP, Brewers: He's been crazy-lucky with the homers (3.3 HRFB rate), but when you strike out a batter per inning and walk less than two men per nine frames, you're going to be successful. We all know Fiers won't keep this 1.80 ERA for the balance of the year, but he should be in the 3.00-3.50 range for the final third of the season, with a good WHIP, and that will play in any format. It's surprising Fiers didn't get a shot before this year, because his minor-league profile was excellent from 2009-2011.

Bartolo Colon, SP, Athletics: Several of the Oakland starters have a home-park bias, but Colon has actually done his best work on the road (2.81 ERA, five wins in nine starts). To be fair, it might be partially fluke-driven - his WHIP is considerably lower at home. But at the end of the day there's a lot to like about Colon, even at age 39: he plays on a surprising contender, his outfield is terrific defensively, and he's still working quickly, throwing strikes, playing baseball as it should be. Score one for science.

Sell

Santiago Casilla, RP, Giants: He has no one to blame but himself for the closer demotion. He's blown five saves over his last 17 appearances, along with eight walks and a 7.82 ERA. The Giants have designs on the playoffs and they have better relievers in house; they don't need this mischief. Cut Casilla immediately in all mixed-league formats.

Rangers win riveting goaltending duel over Blackhawks in overtime

Rangers win riveting goaltending duel over Blackhawks in overtime

When Scott Darling and Antti Raanta vied for the Blackhawks’ backup goaltending job two seasons ago, there was definitely a strong competition. But it was still one built on respect.

“We had no bad blood in that situation,” Darling said on Friday. “We’ve remained friends. He’s having a great season and I’m happy for him.”

On this night, Raanta may have been just a bit happier.

Raanta stopped all 26 shots he saw against his former team, notching his first shutout of this season, and Nick Holden gave the New York Rangers a 1-0 overtime victory over the Blackhawks on Friday night. The Blackhawks are 1-2-1 in their last four games but remain atop the Western Conference with 38 points.

The Blackhawks were missing Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook and Corey Crawford in this one. Nevertheless, it was a tight game, one in which both goaltenders were stellar. Darling stopped 36 of 37 shots – Holden’s overtime winner was the first goaltender allowed to New York in two games against them.

Considering the players missing, the Blackhawks will take the point.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

“With or without Toews, you’re always thinking when it’s in the third period and it’s close and getting inside 10 minutes, let’s get it to overtime,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We’ve seen a ton of overtimes in the league. You gotta get the one point. We’ve had some success trying to get the extra one. Tonight, not, but that’s got to be the mindset.”

The Blackhawks were close to taking the 1-0 lead six minutes into the third period, when Marian Hossa thought he scored his 15th goal of the season. But the Rangers challenged for offside. Upon further review, the goal was nullified.

“Well, obviously that’s a tough one,” Hossa said. “I mean, I didn’t notice it was close to offside but obviously with today’s technology, with this new rule, it’s a game of inches. It’s slowing the game down, I think. You’re getting confused, what exactly the coaches are looking for. They created this new rule and we just have to deal with it. But sometimes it’s more frustrating because the league wants to increase the scoring and right now, I think more goals are disallowed because of this.”

Hartman, who had the pass to Hossa, was also disappointed but agreed with the review’s ruling.

“You get your excitement up a little bit and you try not to get too ahead of yourself when you know they are reviewing it. You just try to see it as both ways, if they do call it a goal, if they call it back,” Hartman said. “Obviously it was the right call. It was just a tough one.”

The Blackhawks will take the point out of this one. Despite the players they were without they played a solid game. They had good, quality scoring chances. Their current backup was just slightly bested by their previous one.

“Both [goalies] were great, both [teams] had excellent looks at the net,” Quenneville said. “We missed some good opportunities on 2-on-1s and they had some good looks around Darling as well. Both guys got their teams to overtime, got a point. It’s a good point if you want to look at it like that. I didn’t mind the way we played but Darls was excellent.”

Blackhawks preparing for EPIX all-access look leading up to Winter Classic

Blackhawks preparing for EPIX all-access look leading up to Winter Classic

The 2017 Winter Classic featuring the Blackhawks and Blues is right around the corner.

Players from both sides already squared off in a game of NHL 17 to generate some hype into the game, but nothing compares to behind-the-scenes footage of the two teams leading up to it.

Beginning Dec. 16 at 9 p.m., EPIX will air a one-hour episode each week that provides an all-access look inside the lives of the Blackhawks and Blues, on and off the ice.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

The game will be on Jan. 2 at 12 p.m. on NBC, with the final episode airing Friday, Jan. 6.

Here's a two-minute preview involving the Blackhawks, who are labeled "A Good Bunch of Guys."