Fantasy MLB with Tristan Cockcroft
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday morning, ESPN.com fantasy expert Tristan Cockcroft will drop by to take your questions and analyze all the latest baseball news from a fantasy perspective.
Cockcroft is a two-time LABR member and was the 2012 Tout Wars champion. He is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame.
Send your questions now and join Cockcroft Monday at 11 a.m. ET!
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Keith Lipscomb (11:02 AM)
Tristan will be joining you a bit late, in about 10-15 minutes. We appreciate your patience. Thank you.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:17 AM)
Good morning everyone! Sorry for the delay, but let's get right to it. Who's got a fantasy baseball question, with Week 6 upon us?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:18 AM)
Lineup reminder: First game tonight begins at 7 p.m. ET.
Sleepy (New Jersey)
Zzzzzzzz....snort, what? You're here finally? 'Bout time!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:18 AM)
Hey, just because Jack Bauer doesn't require sleep doesn't mean I don't! Haha.
Should I be worried about Jay Bruce's injury/lack of production pre injury?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:20 AM)
Honestly, Steve, that's something Eric Karabell and I can ask Stephania Bell tomorrow, but at least from the news we have, there's nothing long-term that terribly bothers me. I'd say maybe he'll need a week or two to get back into his normal groove -- bear in mind that Bruce at times in the past has struggled to hit his stride to begin seasons, and it might be like starting his year over once he heals -- but I wouldn't be afraid to keep him around if I had him.
What are your thoughts on Cain hitting the DL? Is he just skipping today's start and starting later this week or could this be something bigger?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:21 AM)
Evidently he's eligible to return on Saturday (I couldn't tell from the math if it was Saturday or Sunday) but I'm not about to chance it in a weekly league. Yusmeiro Petit is a perfectly adequate stopgap -- and maybe more -- so I'd keep Cain firmly reserved either way. In a week? He's back to being the Matt Cain we've seen from 2013-14, and yes, I'm aware that's saying he's not his former ace-caliber self.
Richie (Fort Worth)
Is Stroman worth a stash? Dropped Bud Norris for the kid. 12-team points league.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:22 AM)
I say yes, because the Blue Jays have clear paths to both closer (committee currently) and two starting rotation spots (McGowan, Happ are the ones in start-to-start question). Stroman has that slider that results in a healthy K rate, and while I do think his skill set is a little more relief stopper than starter, long-term, right now I do think he has a pretty clean path to a rotation spot maybe 1-2 trips through from now.For this week? No, don't start Stroman. Middle relief for him for Week 6.
following up on stroman, is he a better stash then bauer? looks like bauer won't get his shot yet but he is dom.in.at.ing.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:24 AM)
When it comes to Trevor Bauer, my understanding is that the math supports the Indians waiting another few weeks for him in order to push back his free agency by another year. His stats sure look good in Triple-A -- big improvement in terms of control -- so I think he'll be here soon. I prefer Stroman, but much of that is proximity to rotation spot. I think Bauer's long-term path is as starter, with plenty of K's, so take that for what it's worth.
Who are you most confident about for tonight? Shelby Miller, Quintana, Gibson, Perez, Happ?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:25 AM)
Jose Quintana, regardless of my wins debate with Eric on today's podcast. I'm just specifying that the "odds of W" are diminished because of the road/Samardzija matchup, not saying that I dislike the matchup. Much as I loathe wins as a skills category, it's still one of the five primary Rotisserie for fantasy, so I need to explain probability of the W.
Should I drop Joe Smith for Frieri or Lindstrom for this week?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:28 AM)
Joe Smith has been fine as closer, but Ernesto Frieri has been just as good in middle relief. There are hints of an imminent switch, so if I could, I'd avoid both as starters this week. If I must choose one being active? Smith rides for Week 6, because you want the known saves today. Smartest play of all is to find another space on your roster to stash both until there's more clarity, both sit for Week 6, and in a week it's Frieri's gig again and you activate him.
Ben (Baton Rouge, LA)
I could drop Axford for Broxton. Make the move or sit tight?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:29 AM)
I'd sit tight. John Axford really isn't doing anything wrong, even if his ERA/WHIP aren't pretty, and I don't see a change there being imminent. Meanwhile, Aroldis Chapman could be back within the next 1-2 weeks and then Broxton's not getting any more saves.
Are you buying Drew Hutchinson?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:29 AM)
If the league is deeper, sure. He's a play for K's; I see inconsistency from outing to outing so I'm using him mostly in home games, games against bottom-half lineups and/or against K-prone teams (think Astros, Twins). I'd play him this week.No, I do not think he finishes, say, a top-40 starter.
Danny Duffy (Kansas City)
Is Danny Duffy worth a flier as an SP in standard mix leagues?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:30 AM)
In our leagues, no, probably not, as he's more in the matchups than ride-every-start class. I'm picking and choosing and like the Seattle matchup, so feel free for Week 6.
Is this the dreaded year where Miguel Cabrera starts his downslide?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:31 AM)
No. If he's not his usual self by June 1, I'm convinced it's because he's more hurt than he's letting on. I don't see career downswing being the reason behind this. Not yet.
Brian (NYC) [via mobile]
Is Dellin betances as dominant as he seems? Kimbrel/Chapmen like K rate so far
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:33 AM)
He looks great to me every time I watch him. Could be the quietest emergence as a next-in-line-to-close of anyone on any of the 30 teams, frankly. For example: If David Robertson were to suffer another unexpected DL stint on July 1, I wouldn't be remotely surprised if, by then, it's Betances rather than Shawn Kelley stepping in. Tuck that away; and it's useful if you can use ERA/WHIP/K's middle-relief help or are speculating on holds.
Layne McBeath (Dallas, TX)
Take a ride on the Closer Carousel!I have Farnsworth and Joe Smith in a points league to get some saves. Frieri is on my waiver wire, but I'd have to drop one of these two. With yesterday's news, should I cut bait with Farnsworth and lock up the LAA closer situation until it shakes out?Thanks!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:34 AM)
Yes, adieu, Kyle Farnsworth. I have always felt the Angels closer candidates were more valuable than having the Mets "now" guy.
Followup to Cabrera- So does that mean your not at all worried about the 2-time reigning MVP? What should we expect
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:36 AM)
What's to worry about? Well-hit average hasn't suffered that sharply, line-drive rate still pretty solid, K rate slightly elevated yes, but swing-and-miss rate doesn't fall entirely in line (it's pretty stable for past 4-5 years). I'm not a doctor, nor can I read Cabrera's (or his doctors') minds; if he's hurt then that's an easy explanation. But in the absence of that information, I don't see anything to worry about here, and would understand if he just needed the first month or so of this year to work back to tip-top shape after his 2013 ailments. I'm willing to give him a mulligan for April, no discount in trade price.
Are you looking forward to the "24" return tonight? I'm thinking about being cautiously optimistic.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:37 AM)
I'm all in. It's going to be great, I'm sure of it, at least until Jack's family shows up again.
Springer, when do you decide it's time to pull the plug? I know he only has around 60 ABs but has struck out 26% of those ABs with his known swing and miss rate from his minors and early struggles since being called up, when do you drop him?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:38 AM)
I'm going to take a closer look at George Springer for tomorrow -- he's a near-impossible read because he has no past MLB track record to examine those next-level stats -- but I've said for months that this is an obvious "streaks" dude because of the K's historically. He'll inevitably have a massive hot spell soon, from what I've seen of him he's pretty quick, so I'm willing to be pretty patient with him ... yes, even in the 10-team formats.If that changes when I examine more closely, I'll surely let you know. But he deserves patience.
Do you see anyone closing for Toronto for a solid period of time?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:39 AM)
Yes, Casey Janssen, if he's actually healthy. I'm a big, big believer in Janssen's skills, and if he's really on the comeback trail (week or two off) he could be a sneaky-good, hmmm, top-12 fantasy closer from that date forward.
Matt (State College)
To what extent are you buying Dozier's hot start? Some regression to the mean is inevitable, but are we looking at a 20hr/30stl season?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:42 AM)
To the extent that in my last ranks I think I had him 150th or so overall and 12th or so at second base, and I'm willing to quibble up to maybe 125/10. I'm game on the 20/20 prediction, but I'll be clear: He's going to hit for a low average, and players like this endure slumps, and in our shallow formats people are wildly impatient with players like that. I'm telling I buy, but you're going to have to swallow those occasionally bad weeks aiming for that power/speed combo.
What do you think of Petit tonight @ PIT?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:44 AM)
I'd play him. Petit is a totally different pitcher than the spot starter of 2-5 years ago; more curveball-reliant, quality of that pitch has improved and he's generating a fairly healthy ground ball rate this season, partially alleviating the big-inning worry. And it's not like the Pirates' offense -- or the ballpark -- represents a scary matchup.
Arthur (Virginia )
Jose Abreu hits another homerun yesterday! Obviously this guy is more than legit at this point. Would you rather own Jose Abreu or Edwin Encarnacion in a 3 keepers league?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:46 AM)
I'm probably going to be more wrong on Jose Abreu this season than any other player, though in my defense, I've warmed to him in monstrous amounts over the short, short five-week period of season we've already witnessed. That said, I'm still going Encarnacion here, even understanding your keeper query. I still regard Encarnacion as a surefire top-25 overall fantasy talent, a safer one from today forward in 2014, and one with pretty good odds of remaining it in at least 2015 as well. Can't really fault your choice here whichever he may be, but I'm going Encarnacion.
Any Astros "closers" worth owning at the moment?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:47 AM)
No. Anthony Bass is the closest thing to it, but you'd have to be in a heck of a deep league before I'd want him in my lineup.
Villar's the #4 SS on the player rater right now. How much of this is legit?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:49 AM)
All of the parts that pertain to his patience (7.5 BB%) and speed (6-for-7 in SB). The homers are fueled by an outrageous 31.3 home run/fly ball percentage; I see three on the spray chart that look like total flukes. Result is a potential top-10 fantasy shortstop, but this is a guy you're buying because of the steals/runs and nothing more.
Would you start David Ortiz with 5 games this week or Michael Brantley with 7 games?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:50 AM)
The Red Sox play all of their games with DH rules, so Ortiz isn't sitting, nor would he ever sit in such a week of AL contests. By the way, three in Texas. Those are good matchups for any hitter.
David V. (Orlando)
TC: Thoughts on Matt wisler of Padres for 2014?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:52 AM)
I think he'll be a rotation candidate for them by sometime in June; he'd be an option if anyone is still struggling by then, once the free agency/arbitration clock is properly delayed. And I'd be pro-Wisler in almost every format once he's up, since it's quite a place to break in, that Petco Park.
Tristan, I have been on board with your Homer Bailey love, but do you think you've been overrating him at all? Even in his good outings thus far, he's been rather ordinary. Nothing special. Think it gets better?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:53 AM)
I've adjusted his rankings down somewhat, and you're correct that beyond just the "luck" stats he hasn't looked as sharp as I had expected. But I still say he's a massive buy-low, even if it's not quite at that top-15 potential starter level I had him at in the preseason. Top-25? Sure.
Matt (Cleveland, OH)
Saltalamacchia is the top Catcher available in my league on the Player Rater. Please explain why you rank Pierzynski and Ruiz higher in your positional rankings.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:54 AM)
Salty historically has struggled against lefties, his strikeout rate is too high for me to believe in the .303 batting average (.382 BABIP!) and I don't see Marlins Park being the best fit for his power stroke over the course of 162 games. He'll move up a bit this week -- at this point I'd go Salty over Ruiz -- but I see Pierzynski being a much safer week-in-and-week-out option.
Venable is killing me. Im in a very deep league and might just pick up Corey Dickerson. what are your thoughts on both players?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:58 AM)
I'm a huge, huge fan in Dickerson from a pure skills perspective, but let's be clear here: The Rockies' outfield is deep and the team doesn't seem to trust him as a regular center fielder, meaning he's in their mix-and-match pool for all three spots. I think Dickerson's ability helps him emerge in time, but that could be July for all we know. I'll go ahead and endorse your move, but just understand, you're playing it the way I like to: Invest in the skills and hope teams reward players for it quicker.
Ethics question. I offered a trade for Jay Bruce, before it was known he was hurt. I saw that he was hurt this morning, but the trade is already accepted. Which I am fine with really, I will just stash him on the DL. But the league is up in arms, calling it shady. The trade will go through, just curious whats the right thing to do here. I am fairly certain he accepted the trade after he knew Bruce was hurt. Thanks.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:01 PM)
That's one of the reasons that I generally tend to do my trade negotiating via email rather than onsite; I collect everyone's email at the draft and just talk trade that way whenever I can. Frankly, you've got no grounds to overturn that deal, unless your league has an approval process.But I'll be clear: I think it's terribly shady of someone to accept, post-breaking-news, a trade offer of a player made clearly before his value had significantly changed. Simply bad faith.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:02 PM)
Ok. Um, he's Francisco Liriano. It's a warning I constantly give. Has been one of the most inconsistent players in all of baseball for a decade now, despite no one crediting him as exactly that. I see one thing that easily explains Liriano's 2014 problems: Fastball velocity has lost more than an mph, and when that's true, he's a slider pitcher who's a lot more predictable. I ranked him I think 40th or so in the preseason; still on board with about that, maybe 50th. Not more.
Willie Wonka (Chocolate Factory)
Hi Tristan! Is J. Abreu for Joey Bautista a fair offer? Need an OF and deep at 1B. Thoughts? Thanks!!!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:03 PM)
Certainly. I like that deal getting Bautista.
Can u give me any reason to not drop CC in 12 team mixed league?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:04 PM)
Promise of as many starts as he needs to work things out? Potential matchups against soft offenses or in pitchers parks on the road? I'm grasping a little here, I know...
dan (Orlando, FL)
What time do you crazy guys wake up to record the podcast? Love it. Big fan. Thanks all the help you give.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:05 PM)
Thanks, Dan. I regularly see the sun rise. We tape later than that, granted. Pod Vader's quite quick at turning the show around, gotta give him much credit for that, even if he's totally wrong about Darth Vader winning a fight with Jack Bauer.
You gonna have to answer to a lot of burned Abreu owners who "sold high" come year end....
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:06 PM)
I'm willing to accept that if it is a result, and I have never been afraid to admit my bad calls. There isn't a person on the planet doing the fantasy baseball prediction game who hasn't had his or her share of massive, massive blown calls.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:06 PM)
That said, I'm totally right on Abreu... :)
If the Pirates called up Polanco tomorrow, would you drop Springer for him?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:08 PM)
I'd do absolutely everything possible to make it someone else first, but yes, I can be crystal clear that if Polanco is up on this Tuesday, then in my Wednesday rankings he's going to be the higher one on the list. And while that might sound reactionary, I'll be clear that I've always felt Polanco's skill set gave him a greater chance of making an immediate impact. A little less volatility in his skills, I'd say.
Chris Colabello (Minny)
Are my 15 minutes up?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:09 PM)
Need the league context. Colabello is like 2014's Garrett Jones. These guys matter even in the 10-team format, but they come with some rough patches.
Is Kluber becoming legit? I believe you have him as a match up guy but are you starting to buy into him as a regular starter?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:10 PM)
No, I'm all in again. I was all in when I put him in "Kings of Command," then over a 3-5 start span in the preseason/early April I was bothered by some of the things I saw in his command in specific outings. Watching him the past 2-3 times through I see the Kluber I did in the preseason; buy this. Buy it now.
Brian (BK, NYC)
When is Garret Richards going to get on your rankings?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:12 PM)
He was, last week. And the week before it. (I don't know about the one before that, I don't have a great memory for specific ranks 2-3 weeks ago, they're useless today.)He's got a shot at top-250 overall status this week, in addition. I think he's right on that standard-league borderline.
Cashner's K:BB worrying you?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:13 PM)
Not really, because the only time it was a major issue was the last outing. Remember, Cashner's K rate was lower the first half of last year; he's perfectly comfortable sacrificing some K's in order to become a better all-around pitcher.
Rob (Bellefonte, PA)
Roster question: I have a trade offer outstanding where I can get either Cliff Lee or Greg Holland. Both are obviously elite at their position. From a roster composition standpoint, I have a reasonably solid but non-descript group (Bailey, Chavez, Peralta are top with Cobb on DL). But I only have 2 closers (well, 3 really, but not counting Farnsworth). H2H, 10 teams, standard categories. Who do you go for, Lee or Holland? Thanks!!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:14 PM)
I'd go for Lee. Two closers is perfectly adequate in a 10-team head-to-head league, especially since you can more easily fill the saves off the wire.
Do you see Drew Smyly sticking in the Tigers rotation?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:15 PM)
Yes. There's no question he's got the ability to stick. Tigers were just using days off to push him back, and I firmly believe that's a workload-management thing (and smart to do it now while they have the chance, it's better for us in fantasy later in the year).
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:16 PM)
Ok, time to wrap things up for today. Thanks for all of your questions, and sorry if I couldn't get to yours. Take care everyone, best of luck in fantasy's Week 6!