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Slight format change going forward with this column — I’m going to be leaving short term DL candidates near where they were ranked previously. It was become too hard to remember who and when players were coming back. (Yes, I do write the injury column — but I don’t write the healthy column.) This is what happened with Starling Marte — I don’t own any shares of Marte so I didn’t notice his return from DL so he was an unfortunate oversight the past few weeks in these rankings. If someone is looking like they’ll be out for a longer period of time — they might drop a bit more in the rankings or be removed entirely (as is the case with Jorge Soler and his broken foot.) Due to these new additions we’ve got a Top 110 hitters this week with guys like Josh Donaldson, Mookie Betts, Wil Myers, Yoenis Cespedes, Ronald Acuna and others making their surprise reemergence. Next week 10 of these hitters will probably work themselves off this list. Also, as a side effect to these new additions a lot of players will look like they’ve fallen really far in the rankings — again, this should normalize by next week. 

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Whew! It turns out taking a week off from ranking these guys makes for a lot of work the next time out. As you might imagine, there is a bit more moving and shaking than normal this week. Surprise surprise, we’ve also had a slew of injuries that continue to take it’s toll on the top 50. We’ve lost Stephen Strasburg, Walker Buehler, and Garrett Richards most notably, with Clayton Kershaw and Noah Syndergaard looking lost for extended periods. The aces that are left continue to dominate though, and Trevor Bauer has worked his way into the top 10. We did get Madison Bumgarner back, but he hasn’t looked very sharp and I’m wondering if he belongs in the top 20 at this point. Carlos Martinez has been killing his owners since his return from the DL himself, yet his upside makes it hard to drop him too hard just yet. On the brighter side of things, Tyler Skaggs, with whom we planted flags several weeks ago, continues to climb the list in glorious fashion. Also, I still have no idea how Ross Stripling is suddenly an ace, but he keeps shoving and I keep ranking him higher. I’d consider selling depending on what you’re getting in return, but I’m probably just enjoying the ride if I have Stripling. Let’s go in depth on a half dozen other Risers, Fallers, and Newcomers of interest this week.

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Ketel Marte (3-5% FAAB) is not the most intriguing pick-up of all time. He will not star in any Dos Equis commercials alongside silver-haired foxes who dive out of planes into the North Atlantic as an extreme form of salmon fishing. However, if you have injuries, it was surprising to see Marte available on the waiver wire. If your league is savvy enough, someone may be stashing the 24-year-old Arizona shortstop still trying to achieve his full potential. Since June began, Marte has 3 of his 4 HR to go along with a .426 ISO, 209 wRC+, and 3 barrels, that have all come on offspeed pitches. He has found more success this year on breaking and offspeed pitches. In fact, all 4 of his homers have come off of these offerings. Marte hasn’t made significant changes. However, now that he has 316 games of experience in the majors, this young player can finally be comfortable in the box against big league stuff. The MLB is not the best for a kid who can’t catch up to fastballs. Ketel Marte is now making all the contact you want to see while adding a little power to go with the speed. He’s not going to turn into a 20/20 candidate overnight, but that speed potential has been there this whole time. Pairing it with 15 HR pop is what Marte needed to stay relevant in today’s fantasy baseball landscape. While Ketel Marte doesn’t have off-the-charts raw power, he is looking a little more athletic these days, and it shows in the numbers. Pick him up where he is available and enjoy a solid floor for the rest of the season.

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“In battle, there are not more than two methods of attack – the direct and the indirect; yet these two in combination give rise to an endless series of maneuvers.”

When opening up your trade talks, it is important to remember people like to communicate in different manners.  Some people prefer to send trade offers back and forth while others prefer to lay everything out in a chat. For home leagues, you may already know how people in your league prefer to start a trade discussion. If you do not know the tendencies of your league mates, it has been my experience that some combination of these two methods is the best approach.

I recommend sending an offer through the league software with a note attached letting the other team know what or who you’re interested in. Giving an explanation of your thought process while assembling the trade offer can provide some clarity to the other team.

Another method would be to send an email, DM, chat, etc. with similar information in regards to what or who you’re looking for and provide some information about who may be available from your roster. In this communication, you may also choose to lay out some trade offer ideas that you were looking into and give the other owner some options or a general starting point.

It is also important to avoid tunnel vision and stay open to new players and ideas during the course of trade negotiations. If you are focused on getting a single player, you may miss out on the opportunity to expand the discussion to incorporate other players.

For instance, if you keep asking about a certain player the other team refuses to move, you may not look at the rest of the roster or reach out to the other team. If you close yourself off, you may decide to give up on a particular player or decide that the team has no interest in trading while communication and having an open mind may have yielded a good return.

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If you’ve ever been to that little jewel of a ballpark in Houston, you can hear the refrain every game: Deep in the heart of Texas!  And they’re singing it full throat with a World Series win last year and one of the juggernauts this year.  One reason: their starting pitching.  And hiding in plain sight, behind Verlander, Cole, and Morton, is a man by the name of Lance McCullers, and he is indeed the real McCoy.  This year he’s  8-3 with a 3.83 ERA and 1.190 WHIP and today he faces Kansas City, who come in at 22-48 and are 1-9 in their last 10.  Now let’s look at a few more early-, middle- and late-round picks for your Draft…drafts!

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One of the things I’m tasked to do around these parts, is to identify the ETAs of some of the best and brightest prospects. Often the most difficult part of my job is weighing need vs service time vs development for each of their respective clubs. Sometimes numbers, even in the high minors, can be deceiving. Not to mention, each team has a unique approach to its handling of home grown talent. One player I’ve been asked about, almost as much as any in 2018, is the Astros Kyle Tucker. While Tony Kemp, Jake Marisnick, Josh Reddick, and Marwin Gonzalez split time in the Houston outfield, Tucker waits. The waiting game however, has not halted Tucker. Instead, he’s been in full fledged assault-mode the past few weeks, slashing a silly .400/.444/.650 with 9 runs, 8 RBI, a homer, and a perfect 4-for-4 on the basepaths. The lefthanded hitting Tucker has the ability to contribute in a full 5 categories in roto leagues, bringing an advanced approach, and a swing conducive for power growth. He’s worth stashing and streaming in RCLs, on the off chance he gets the call, and is 100% a priority stash in deeper mixed leagues, though he’s likely owned. Tucker is a top five fantasy prospect at the moment and needs your attention. Here’s what else I’ve seen over the past few days.

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Don’t be dour, Bauer, the Cole Sale isn’t until tomorrow in Greinke’s DeGrom! Greinke’s DeGrom can be whatever you like it to be, but I like to think it’s a fancy bathroom in the Diamondbacks dugout that only Greinke can use, and it’s bedazzled with copper plating that has his likeness pressed into it. It also features a bidet that only churns out pine tar, because you can never have too good a grip on things. That first sentence does happen to include the names of each starter from this week’s Tier 1 by the way, what a coincidence! We’ve got a nice chunk of nine guys between the first two tiers, but alas Tier 3 is weak with just four names. Tiers 4 and 5 are where the real action is as this week, making it a less than desirable streaming week. The likes of Caleb Smith and Marco Gonzales have been plenty useful this season, but bad matchups push each of them to Tier 4. Good luck trying to guess which Sonny Gray you’re going to get, the Sonny or the Gray, and mediocre matchups keep him dwelling in Tier 4 as well. Out of the mucky muck of Tier 5 you could perhaps cast your lot with “The Coors Kielbasa” German Marquez, but doubling up in Coors Field isn’t exactly my cup of tea. Here’s a look at some of the other notable two-start pitchers this week.

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Sunday marked the end of Matchup #10 for Head-to-Head leagues. Standard H2H regular seasons are typically 20 matchups long, so we have just passed the halfway point of the season! We now have 2 1/2 months of statistics and data to look, and numbers are starting to stabilize. By now you should have a feel for your team and which of your picks have panned out, and those that unfortunately haven’t. Since we just passed the halfway point, I thought it would be appropriate to go through each position and see what the best and worst picks have been thus far in respect to average draft position. I will be factoring in their performance relative to their NFBC ADP, and their production across the standard H2H categories.

I have labeled the best picks as someone who has “Impressed” owners and the worst picks as someone who is leaving their owners “Depressed.” I have kept it to one each per position (except for OF and SP) with some honorable mentions sprinkled in. Of course I will not be able to touch on every player that has impressed or depressed, so feel free to leave some of yours in the comments!

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All gravy as us Italians-Americans say. New York Yankees rookie flamethrower slash phenom slash spot starter Jonathan Loaisiga made his major league debut Friday night pitching five strong shutout innings, giving up just three hits, four walks and striking out six for his first MLB vicky in ever. Called up from Double-A Trenton Johnny was 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and 58/4 K/BB ratio through 45 innings. If that K/BB just made your eyes pop like mine did, it’s because the four walks he issued last night in his debut are the same number he’s walked all season in AA. Perhaps some of the struggles he had with his control Friday night were more nerves or jitters and less indicators of what’s to come from Loaisiga. Despite the four free passes, he was excellent out of the gate, Johnny Lasagna layered on the cheese, striking out four in the first two innings with his real pretty mid-90s fastball mixed in with his slider (17 swings and misses induced) and was helped out by a couple double plays. He hit some trouble in the fourth, but managed to pitch his way out of a sticky bases-loaded two-out situation by striking out Christian Arroyo. Yankee fans are calling him “Johnny Lasagna” because he’s a-spicy meatballs-a! Mama mia!  Rays manager Kevin Cash called him Little Riviera. That seems a bit over-the-top as well. Either way, I am calling him a player to watch after that performance. Lil’ Jon is telling you to Get Loaisiga, but Jon always jumps the gun on these rookie pitchers. Loaisiga’s first major league stint might be a short one, but I could see him sticking around for another start or two while Masahiro Tanaka is still on the DL and much like this whole Yankees team, his future is very bright. He lines up for another home start next week versus the red-hot Mariners, and I could see streaming him there and for the short term. Add him or no, Johnny Lasagna is not just Garfield’s new favorite player, he’s a name fantasy baseballers are going to hear a lot going forward. He was a BUY and he’s worth a grab for the upside alone, the layers of cheese and pasta are all just bonus.

Here’s what else I saw in fantasy baseball Friday night:

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