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.

Jim Thome: Getting into baseball Hall of Fame would be indescribable

Jim Thome: Getting into baseball Hall of Fame would be indescribable

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Normally upbeat and positive, Jim Thome can’t help but beam with pride when asked about his Hall of Fame candidacy.

Thome, who blasted 612 career home runs, including 134 with the White Sox, is eligible for induction for the first time in 2018. Even though he’s expected by many to one day be voted into Cooperstown, perhaps even in his first year, Thome said he’s merely honored to be on the ballot. Thome is joined on the ballot by Chipper Jones and former teammate Omar Vizquel, among others. Voting begins in December and the results will be announced next January.

“To even be on the ballot and thought of, it would be the greatest honor I think you could get,” Thome said. “Or if you get an opportunity to go into the greatest fraternity baseball has or created, it would be indescribable. How do you ever think as a kid or a high school player or even going through the minor leagues, that you’d play at the big leagues that long? And then to get an opportunity at the end of your career to be put on the ballot is so great.

“That would be the coolest moment ever.”

Thome – who is in White Sox camp as a special assistant to the general manager – provided plenty of big moments in a career that spanned 22 seasons. He hit 30 home runs in 12 of 13 seasons between 1996-2008, leading the league with 47 in 2003. The slugger was a five-time All-Star and produced 72.9 b-Wins Above Replacement.

[RELATED: Brett Lawrie trying to clear final hurdles]

Thome isn’t as superstitious about his candidacy as others previously have been. He won’t be the guy to bring up the topic, but the Peoria, Ill.-native doesn’t shy away from discussing it, either.

“It’s not something you talk a lot about,” Thome said. “We’re not going to bring it up. But when people do bring it up, there’s a sense of pride, a sense of ‘Wow, baseball has thought that highly to put you on the ballot.’ And the fact that there’s just this wonderful fraternity of incredible players that you could be a part of, if you’re chosen.”

Cubs manager Joe Maddon misses his chance to guest-star in ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’

Cubs manager Joe Maddon misses his chance to guest-star in ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’

MESA, Ariz. – This is a big bowl of wrong: Cubs manager Joe Maddon might have missed his only window to make the "Curb Your Enthusiasm" cameo appearance Jeff Garlin promised. 

Garlin – a Second City alumnus and one of several celebrity fans within the team's orbit – had offered Maddon a role whenever Larry David brought the band back together for the loosely scripted HBO comedy.

But last week's Cactus League media event at the Arizona Biltmore conflicted with filming in Southern California, where "Curb Your Enthusiasm" is working on a ninth season after a five-year hiatus.

"There was one matchup, and I couldn't get there," Maddon said before Sunday's World Series rematch against the Cleveland Indians at Sloan Park. "I just couldn't do it. It'll happen."

During an all-over-the-place session with reporters that lasted 20-plus minutes, Maddon declined to make any Oscar predictions, saying he's into Netflix and Hulu now and doesn't really go to the movies anymore.

Maddon also hasn't watched much – or any – of the World Series highlights or documentaries. When it came to the handling Aroldis Chapman part, there were some boos inside Chicago's Civic Opera House during the premiere of Major League Baseball's "The 2016 World Series."

But Maddon said he basically skipped that type of content after being Mike Scioscia's bench coach for the 2002 Anaheim Angels and managing the Tampa Bay Rays to the 2008 World Series.

"You get busy and I don't know," Maddon said. "I need to start reading more and watching Netflix less."

Didn't you say that last spring?

"I did," Maddon said.

Maddon had been addicted to cable news during last year's polarizing presidential campaign: "But, damn, it's gotten really annoying, so I stopped watching all that stuff. It's just not good for your brain. It's really not. There's nothing to be gained."

When Maddon starts rolling, it's not hard to picture him in a scene with David and J.B. Smoove. Shaquille O'Neal, John McEnroe and Bill Buckner are among the sports figures with "Curb Your Enthusiasm" credits.

"That was the only day, so I don't know how we're going to figure this out," Maddon said. "First, they had one day set up, and that was going to be good. And then they had to change it to this other day, which was not good. So we'll have to (come up with something else), even if it's maybe a picture on the wall or a phone call."