It’s the first week of Period 3, and we’re all tied for first (and last).
Here are some players the Touts hope will break the tie.
Howard Bender (Fantasy Alarm, @RotoBuzzGuy)
Pitcher: Zac Gallen – If the 0.77 home ERA and the strikeout potential don’t lure you in, how about the fact that the Rockies suck, especially on the road?
Hitter: Eloy Jimenez – He’s been hot since coming back from his appendectomy, he’s facing a tomato can in Tyler Anderson and over his last 10 games played, Jimenez is hitting .425 with a 1.189 OPS.
Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola)
Pitcher: Shane McClanahan – Only one blight on an otherwise stellar campaign. The Cubs will not make it two. At least I hope not.
Hitter: Emmanuel Rivera – Stacking Snakes against Kyle Freeland, Rivera batting second for 2.9 K. That works.
Rick Wolf (SiriusXM, @RickWolf1)
Pitcher: Bryce Elder – Facing Oakland. Been consistently getting better in each start. With a LHP facing him, the Braves should clean up.
Hitter: Royce Lewis – Almost a free square at $2000. Tough to pass up after 2-5 with a homer and 4 RBI yesterday. Stacking Braves, Mets and Twins.
Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis)
Pitcher: Bryce Elder – The Elder Wand was one of three magical objects that made up the fabled Deathly Hallows, along with the Resurrection Stone and the Cloak of Invisibility. Tonight, I am recommending Bryce Elder and his cloak of invisibility against the Oakland Athletics tonight. I like his $9,300 slary compared to other higher priced options.
Hitter: Will Smith – Staying with the price theme, I’m going with the fresh price (Will Smith) as my top hitter tonight. I typically do not like to spend a $5,400 salary on a catcher, but I love the matchup against Washington’s Irvin.
It was a quiet week for pickups in the Tout Wars kingdom. If you’d like to check out the rosters, standings and transactions for any of the leagues, just click on the league header, and by the magic of jump links, you’ll be transported to the publicly accessible OnRoto site.
Everyone likes choices. This week, we had some fun grouping three pitchers, and asking for a preference from each set. Take a moment to come up with your answers, then see if the Touts agree.
For the rest of the season, would you rather have Sandy Alcantara, Aaron Nola or Joe Ryan? Corbin Burnes, Zac Gallen or Kevin Gausman? Alek Manoah, Chris Sale or Bryce Miller? Mitch Keller, Eduardo Rodriguez or Nathan Eovaldi?
Fred Zinkie (Yahoo/Rotowire, @FredZinkieMLB): Nola, Gausman, Miller, Keller. I would love it if someone tallied all of these answers and posted them!
Doug Dennis (BaseballHQ, @dougdennis41): Nola/Ryan/Alcantara; Gausman/Gallen/Burnes; Sale/Miller/Manoah; Eovaldi/M.Keller/E.Rodriguez. I tried to tell y’all during AFL not to pay extra for “that dog” in Manoah!! 🙂
Brad Johnson (Patreon BaseballATeam, @BaseballATeam): Sandy A., Gallen, uhh… Sale?, and Keller. That third group is tough because I’m averse to all three. As far as I can tell, Sandy is having a normal season but with a bad strand rate. Seems like noise to me. Can’t really go wrong with the second group, though I can’t believe I prefer Burnes least.
Matt Williams (The Game Day, @MattWi77iams): Joe Ryan, Zac Gallen, Chris Sale, and Mitch Keller. My love for Joe Ryan runs too deep.
Michael Govier (FTN Fantasy, @mjgovier): Sandy is my guy and though he has let me down so far, the best of his season is yet to come. Gallen is the easy call for me in group two. Burnes was a guy I was completely out on coming into this year because of some unsubstantiated worries I heard about. Chris Sale is back baby! Though Manoah will improve from here on out, Sale is my choice. The last group is the most challenging because I know that Eduardo can’t be as dominant as he has been, but he also can still be really good. Plus the trade deadline factor may be playing a motivating factor as well. I’ve never been a part of Keller’s Krazies, but outside of his 1st start of the year where he gave up 4 ER, he has only surrendered 3 or less since in every start! Eovaldi has gone off lately, but can he stay healthy? I will go with the guy with the lowest SIERA of the three: Keller.
Rick Graham (Pitcher List, @IAmRickGraham): Alcantara/Gallen/Sale/Keller. I think Sandy was dealing with some bad luck early on, the stuff is still there. Gallen’s the real deal and Sale’s been great 5 of his last 6 starts.
Tim McLeod (PattonandCo, @RunTMcP361): Joe Ryan, Zac Gallen, Bryce Miller, and Mitch Keller.
Scott Swanay (FantasyBaseballSherpa, @fantasy_sherpa): Joe Ryan (best combo of home park and team context) > Sandy Alcantara > Aaron Nola; Gallen (most consistent; improving team context) > Gausman > Burnes; Sale (crapshoot) > Miller > Manoah; Keller (recency bias) > Eovaldi > Rodriguez
Ariel Cohen (CBS Sports, @ATCNY): Aaron Nola. This is a close one – but Nola takes the nod with a higher propensity to win, plenty of strikeouts and a nice floor of ratio production. The next set is also really close … even closer. I’ll go with Gausman, who has the highest likelihood of the three to hold down wins. If ratios were they key though, I’d take Burnes. The next question is Sale … I just see downside and lack of Ks with Manoah, and rookie card for Miller. Sale should be good if healthy. Finally, Eovaldi is an easy call here. Projections have him quite a bit higher, plays for a power offense team, lots of Ks, and high floor. Eovaldi easy.
Brad Johnson (Patreon BaseballATeam, @BaseballATeam): Something maybe everyone hasn’t noticed… since a mid-season adjustment last year, Keller now has a 2.59 ERA (3.21 FIP, 3.47 xFIP) over his last 25 starts. 9.21 K/9, 2.59 BB/9, 0.68 HR/9. Also limiting hard contact about as well as an SP can hope. Those are traits that make both arguments – it looks sustainable, or it could all regress.
Frank Stampfl (SportsGrid, RotoExperts, @Roto_Frank): I had Sandy Alcantara as a bust coming into the season but can’t help but think much better days are coming based on a career-high 14% swinging strike rate and an extremely unlucky 59% strand rate. This next group is very close, but I prefer Zac Gallen. He has the best control of his career and is throwing the curve and cutter more this season, which has led to more whiffs. Chris Sale leads this next group for me. Over his last six starts he has. 3.05 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 43 strikeouts over 38.1 innings. It’s very close between Mitch Keller and Nathan Eovaldi but give me Keller. He’s less of an injury risk and has finally put everything together thanks to this new cutter.
Chris Towers (CBS Fantasy, @CTowersCBS): I’m still at the point in the season where, absent truly compelling evidence, I’m not going to change my opinion about an elite Fantasy player yet, so I’m taking Alcantara and Nola ahead of Ryan, and I’m taking Burnes over Gallen and Gausman. Of course, the latter is closer, with Gallen and Gausman cracking my top 12 at SP, so I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say Gallen or Gausman have caught him. Sale vs. Manoah is incredibly close for me the rest of the way, though Manoah has certainly given us plenty of reason to change our opinions about him and has fallen considerably as a result. I’m still pretty skeptical of Miller, so that helps make that decision. The latter group is probably the toughest to choose from, but I’ll go with Keller, who deserves a ton of credit for tinkering his way to what looks like a true breakout.
Howard Bender (Fantasy Alarm, @RotoBuzzGuy): Aaron Nola — close with Ryan but I think Nola rights the ship and has a strong rest of the way; Zac Gallen — Save for one bad outing vs PIT, he’s been everything I though he would be before the forearm injury two years ago; Bryce Miller — probably good trade bair because he’ll probably have his innings capped, but I just can’t get behind the other two; Eduardo Rodriguez — here’s hoping he gets dealt to a winning team soon.
Patrick Davitt (BaseballHQ, @patrickdavitt): I’ll take: Ryan, who I think will be a Cy Young frontrunner (then Alcantara, Nola); Gausman, whose track record makes him the choice in the toughest of the four sets (Gallen, Burnes); Sale, whose clunker-gem pattern in the early going has eased into a gem-gem-gem-gem pattern, with a 2.30/0.70 line and 3 wins (Miller, Manoah, who looks lost); and Keller, whose cutter has been part of a comprehensive pitch-mix overhaul that has transformed his performance (Rodriguez, Eovaldi).
Vlad Sedler (FTN Fantasy, @rotogut): Nola, Gallen, Miller, Eovaldi. Should be close between Nola and Ryan from now until the end of the season. Same with Burnes, Gallen and Gausman. I’m not quite ready to put a pin in Burnes’ fantasy value.
Michael A. Stein (Fantasy Judgment, @FantasyJudgment): Alcantara/Gallen/Miller/Keller. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner will right the ship as the Marlins contend for a wild card spot. Gallen has always been one of my favorite pitchers and he is someone I trust to be consistent. Manoah and Sale concern me, so I am going with rookie Bryce Miller. He has been tremendous thus far, and the Mariners have had a lot of success recently from their young starters that get called up (i.e., Gilbert and Kirby). Finally, Keller is my choice out of attrition because I do not have a lot of faith in Rodriguez or Eovaldi long-term.
Frank Ammirante (The GameDayHQ, @FAmmiranteTFJ): Ryan, Gausman, Sale, Keller. Ryan has taken his game to new heights and looks like an ace. Gausman is showing what he can do with a normalized BABIP. Sale has righted the ship and ahead of Miller due to likely more innings. Keller is the top choice due to improvements in K% and strong Stuff+.
Dave Adler (BaseballHQ, @daveadler01): trying not to project injuries…I see the following as the most likely to come out on top of these troikas – Nola, Gausman, Sale, Eovaldi.
Eric Samulski (Rotoballer, @SamskiNYC): I think the innings and poor defense behind Alcantara are catching up to him and I love Joe Ryan’s new pitch mix, so Ryan for me. Gausman seems the best bet of the next group, but I kinda like all of them. Sale for me in the third group. I’m benching Manoah everywhere now, and I like Bryce Miller but, come on, it’s a rookie with an 80% fastball usage or Chris Sale. And then I’ll take Keller in the last group. The cutter has been a game-changer for dealing with LHH and the sweeper he introduced mid-way through last year has been tremendous
Erik Halterman (Rotowire, @erik_halterman): Ryan is pitching like an ace; his 28.9 K% and 4.1 BB% look much more like Good Nola than the current version of Nola does. Gallen edges out Gausman on tiebreakers such as being five years younger and not pitching in the toughest division in MLB. Sale understandably needed a month but now close enough to himself, but if Miller handles a few stronger lineups like he handled Oakland’s, he could pass Sale and many more. I’m buying that Keller has finally arrived — he’s still top-5 in K-BB% even after a bad outing Friday — but I’m very encouraged by the other two as well.
Lauren Auerbach (Fantrax, @lkauerbach): Joe Ryan, Kevin Gausman, Chris Sale and Mitch Keller. All have K-BB% above 22% and the ERA estimators support their strong starts to the season. Given the unsteady pitching landscape this season, I’d happily roster any of these pitchers rest of season.
Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis): Joe Ryan MIN, Kevin Gausman TOR, Bryce Miller SEA, and Nathan Eovaldi TEX – SP. I like to spot trends using stat splits at various time increments for the entire season, last 30 days, last 14 days, and last 7 days. Eovaldi has been the best pitcher of the group to date, and he continues to show stat split consistency. I like Kevin Gausman for the strikeouts (85), Bryce Miller for the WHIP (0.51), and Joe Ryan for the wins (7).
Glenn Colton (SiriusXM, @GlennColton1): Nola, Burnes, and Eovaldi are my picks largely because I believe in sticking with the guys with talent and track record. I break away from this pattern for Bryce Miller who just flat out has me convinced. 1.15 ERA and .51 WHIP are too lofty to ignore.
Joe Gallina (Fantasy Alarm, @joegallina): Joe Ryan, Zac Gallen, Bryce Miller and Nathan Eovaldi. I currently roster all four on my Tout squad. I drafted Ryan, Gallen and Eovaldi but the 30 plus percent of my FAAB budget that I spent on Miller has been well worth it and I love his ROS outlook. Miller’s ability to throw strikes, limit walks allowed and avoid giving up home runs has carried over to the major leagues. He pitches his home games in a pitchers ballpark and since he pitched 133 plus innings last season the Mariners aren’t likely to put any limits on his innings pitched this season.
Dylan White (Baseball America, @the__arrival): I think that Chris Sale over Bryce Miller is probably the correct play – who knows how many innings the M’s will let Miller throw this year. (And with respect to Manoah, his command is so shaky right now, it seems like he’s in a position where even if he were to right the ship, he might approach Sale and Miller’s per start production…and that’s only if he rights the ship. I had Eovaldi as a sleeper candidate this year so in the interest of confirmation bias, I continue to choose him over E Rod and Mitch Keller.
Peter Kreutzer (Rotoman.substack.com, @kroyte): I have Alcantara, Gausman, none, and Rodriguez on teams this year, and wish I had Bryce Miller, and that would be a fine foursome. But I have to give the edge to Aaron Nola in the first group, and will stick with Gausman (over Burnes, who I had rated higher in the preseason but who is not right), Miller, and Rodriguez in the other three.
Rudy Gamble (Razzball, @RudyGamble): Joe Ryan, Kevin Gausman, Bryce Miller, Nathan Eovaldi
Chris Clegg (Pitcher List, @RotoClegg): Joe Ryan, Zac Gallen, Chris Sale, Mitch Keller. Joe Ryan has taken his game to another level this season with the splitter and sweeper. Zac Gallen is as steady as they come and we have seen inconsistencies from Corbin Burnes. I would love to say Bryce Miller, but I have concerns about his innings this season, which makes me lean Chris Sale here. Mitch Keller looks like a pitcher I can finally buy into with his decreased four-seam usage and the addition of a cutter and sweeper.
Scott Chu (Pitcher List, @ifthechufits): I was getting a little worried about the limited strikeouts for Nola, but 17 over his last two starts gives me enough hope that this ship is being righted. Nola has been a high-level fantasy starter for four of the last six seasons, and while I really like what Joe Ryan is doing, it’s not easy for young starters to find consistency for extended periods. He struggled through the summer last season after a strong start, and though I don’t think that’s going to happen again, the fact we haven’t had much opportunity to see him string three or four consecutive strong months together has me leaning slightly towards Nola.
Zach Steinhorn (Steinhorn’s Universe on Substack, @zachsteinhorn): Nola, Gausman, Sale, Keller. Manoah was dropped in one of my 12-team mixed leagues and I couldn’t even bring myself to bid on him.
Shelly Verougstraete (NBC Sports EDGE Baseball, @ShellyV_643): 1) Joe Ryan – He has gone from highly deceptive fastball only guy to adding a wicked sweeper while keeping that wicked fastball pitcher. My love for Sandy runs deep but I think both Skip Schuamker and Sandy are thinking this is 2022 instead of 2023. Maybe it is okay if he doesn’t throw eight or nine innings? I have Nola on many fantasy teams and it seems like it one of “those” years for him. 2) Kevin Gausman – Gausman was my pick to win the AL Cy Young and he is helping me not look like idiot. Burnes seems to have lost that ‘edge’ and while I love Gallen…give me Gausman please. 3) Bryce Miller – Just watch all three of these pitchers and the answer is clear. It is amazing how great the Mariners pitching development system is. Sale has looked great but I trust that Miller will be more consistent. And…we don’t talk about Manoah (sadly it doesn’t have the same groove as the Encanto song “We Don’t Talk About Bruno”.) 4) Mitch Keller – This matchup was pretty hard for me to pick but Keller just beat Eovaldi in this matchup. I love how deep Eovaldi is going into games but where are those strikeouts? Keller seems to be the pitcher we all thought we were drafted in previous seasons. I also like what E-Rod is doing but he seems like he is walking on a tightrope at this point.
Phil Hertz (Baseball HQ, @prhz50): Ryan, Gausman, Sale, Keller. Keller was the easiest for me. He’s been excellent since last August. Only caveat is that wins might be elusive if the Buccos revert to pre-2023 form.
Alex Fast (Pitcher List, @AlexFast8): Ryan, Gausman, Miller, Keller. Some difficult (Alcantara / Nola / Ryan). Some easy (Keller / E-Rod / Eovaldi). I think Ryan still has some potential upside if he can figure out the potential slider/sweeper combo while I’m worried about Alcantara and the new shift rules and Nola’s odd year curse (half kidding). Miller has the best four-seamers of any of those guys with fewer injury concerns at the moment and a not-as-scary floor. Keller’s tweaks have proved sustainable and while Eovaldi is a close second, the injury bug is always looming
Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): Nola, Gausman, Sale, Keller
Hi – Todd Z. here. Chances are by now you’ve figured out I put this thing together. As part of the piece, I posted each poll on my Twitter account (@ToddZola). Here are the results, side by side with the Touts picks.
It’s the fourth week of Period 2, so by the end of the evening, three more entries into the championship tournament will be awarded. Here are some of the players the Touts hope deliver.
Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis)
Pitcher: Spencer Strider – Spencer Strider is coming off a season low 7 strikeouts in his last outing. I’d like to see him go deeper than 5 innings tonight to be worth his $12,300 salary. He’s still averaging 26.4 fantasy points per game. Playing for pride tonight, but you never know.
Hitter: Aaron Judge – Aaron Judge has been on fire since returning from the IL. He’s produced double digit fantasy points in 7 out of his last 8 contests and has exceeded 30 fantasy points in 2 of these contests. At a salary of $6,300, he’s priced to perfection, but that’s what I need tonight.
Howard Bender (Fantasy Alarm, @RotoBuzzGuy)
Pitcher: Bobby Miller – Why wouldn’t you want to go with the rookie? Because he’s facing a tough Braves lineup? Pfffffft! Stare death in the face and laugh!
Hitter: Jorge Soler – In Coors against a lefty? Yum!
Phil Hertz (Baseball HQ, @prhz50)
Pitcher: Eduardo Rodriguez – With one exception, he’s been very good of late. Reasonable price versus Royals. Why not.
Hitter: Aaron Judge – 1.463 OPS over his last 10 games. Nuff said.
Erik Halterman (Rotowire, @erik_halterman)
Pitcher: Eduardo Rodriguez – To Bobby Miller or not to Bobby Miller is the question of the day for me. Count me as more scared of his opponent than excited by his price, so I’ll go with a boring, mid-priced veteran with a great matchup against the Royals instead.
Hitter: Eduardo Escobar – Gotta collect all the Eduardos. Escobar had a -5 wRC+ in his first 12 games, but his 178 wRC+ since then suggests he’s not totally cooked. I wouldn’t expect more than league-average performance going forward, but league-average from a $2,500 player who’s batting second for a good lineup is a steal.
Sara Sanchez (bleedcubbieblue.com, @BCB_Sara)
Pitcher: Gerrit Cole – He’s been so good this season, I went back and forth between him and Strider tonight but the extra few dollars allowed me to tweak my hitters in ways that I *think* will really help, so I’m going to roll with Cole tonight. Plus the Dodgers have some really hot hitters right now and it made me nervous, even though Strider rules and I’m starting him in every league I have him in this week.
Hitter: Jared Kelenic – Kelenic has had a great year, and starting Cole instead of Strider let me pick him up as an OF option. The Mariners face off against the As tonight, which is only slightly less good that hitting in Coors, so I went with Kelenic tonight.
Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola)
Pitcher: Gerrit Cole – Cole and Strider and I’ll figure the rest out.
Hitter: Joge Soler – OK, Cole, Strider and Soler and I’ll figure the rest out. I should probably fade the chalk, but then I should also fade pizza. Though, it looks like Judge is getting attention, so fading Judge works, since I trust a platoon edge in Coors for a guy who is comfy vs. LHP over a non-predictive streak.
Steve Gardner (USA TODAY Sports, @SteveAGardner)
Pitcher: Yu Darvish – It hasn’t been a great season, but Darvish gets strikeouts even if he’s a little off his game. The Nats will help him get back in a groove.
Hitter: Nelson Cruz – A sneaky $3000 pick at first base, Cruz enjoys hitting against left-handers and you can’t discount the revenge factor (!) in his return to Washington.
The Touts continue to knock it out of the park. Here is this week’s discussion:
Please share one step of your weekly free agent research which you find crucial to the process.
Dan Strafford (MoonshotsMLB, @DanStrafford): I read Vlad Sedler’s article.
Mike Podhorzer (Fangraphs, @MikePodhorzer): The first thing I always do is review my team and take note of all the injured guys, as there always are several! Make a list of the positions I need to pick up a replacement for and then cross my fingers my options aren’t vomit-inducing.
Jason Collette (Rotowire, @jasoncollette): For most of my leagues, it is the Rotowire league management tool which allows me to look at who is available and how they stack up against who I have. The service doesn’t work with Onroto, but it’s a huge help with the NFBC and CBS-based FAAB leagues I am in.
Scott Swanay (FantasyBaseballSherpa, @fantasy_sherpa): If there’s a guy I’m particularly interested in, I’ll go over my league mates’ rosters to see who might need to replace a player at the same position who recently went on the IL. Combining that information with recent winning bids for players of similar quality gives me at least a rough idea of how much I’ll need to bid to add that player to my roster.
D.J. Short (NBC Sports, @djshort): Step one for me is usually taking note of the players who were dropped in a league during the latest run of FAB. In some cases, they are logical and not relevant. But in others, it might have been a tough decision for some, which allows you to speculate on an underperforming and/or fringy player. If they were rostered in the first place, there’s likely some modicum of upside. In other words, the research begins before the week even begins.
Larry Schechter (Winning Fantasy Baseball, @LarrySchechter): This may sound simplistic but making sure every week I look at the report of players released, so I know who is now available. Once in a great while I forget to do this and didn’t know somebody, I would have wanted was available.
Ryan Bloomfield (BaseballHQ, @RyanBHQ): Look at schedules/matchups for the following week. It’s a good way to get ahead of any soft two-start SP or favorable hitter schedules at a fraction of the FAAB price.
Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis): I look to see if there are any 2 start pitchers that won’t kill my ERA or WHIP that I can stream in weekly FAAB leagues. In daily drop/add leagues, I like to look at how a player is trending, along with weighing their last 14 days, 30 days, and season to date.
Scott White (CBS Fantasy Sports, @CBSScottWhite): Every week, I evaluate which five prospects are most deserving of stashing in redraft leagues, which changes more often than you might think. I do this as part of my editorial responsibilities for CBS, but it gives me such an advantage when entering my bids for the week. If you can anticipate which player is about to get the call rather than reacting to the one who just did, it’s pennies on the dollar as far as FAAB goes.
Matt Williams (The Game Day, @MattWi77iams): I research possible two-start pitchers for the following week in order to secure each player at a discount, if I have available bench space. The same goes for available hitters with a favorable schedule the following week (perhaps on the road in Colorado). This is an vital step to save valuable FAB.
Grey Albright (RazzBall, @razzball): Check the Hittertron or Streamonator on Razzball dot com, thank you for your patronage
Michael A. Stein (Fantasy Judgment, @FantasyJudgment): I check the +/- trends of seeing who has been added in case there is anyone I haven’t been paying close enough attention to. If someone appears to be an upgrade over a player on my roster, I do a deeper dive into my player to make sure it is the right call to cut bait with them. It has happened to everyone, but it is never a good feeling when you drop someone who gets hot right after or is scooped up by someone else and catches fire.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (ESPN, @SultanofStat): Deciding on your corresponding cuts can be as critical as evaluating your pickups. Never waste a bench spot, and knowing exactly how many spaces with which you have to play can help guide your pickups and, more importantly, your contingencies. There’s always someone out there worth speculating on, even for that $0 bid, but how much room to you have to do that?
Steve Gardner (USA TODAY Sports, @SteveAGardner): I have a weekly calendar reminder set a few hours before the first bids are due that I use as a notepad to add names I come across throughout the week. That way, when I see something that might have an impact on my FAAB bids, I have someplace I can keep it until I need to put that knowledge into action.
Patrick Davitt (BaseballHQ, @patrickdavitt): Review my team and try to make a reasonable realistic assessment of what (not whom) I need, what kind of player, position, category contribution, etc. Then I use the needs list to look through the FA list for matches.
Doug Anderson (Fantrax, @rotodaddy): One thing I do to find some temporary help in my deep NL- and AL-Only leagues is comb through the latest injury news and IL placements. Then I look at the players most likely to gain playing time because of those injuries. I’m not likely to hit it big on any long-term fantasy value (though it has happened) but it is a way to squeak out a bit of production when the alternatives on the mono league waiver wire are pretty bleak.
Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): I learned this from Friend of Tout Wars Rob Silver. At the start of the season, decide how much you need to spend each week for maintenance. That is, how much is needed to replace injured players and streaming each week. By means of example, in an NFBC league, that may be $20. If you spend $20 a week on general team management, that leaves around $480 for luxury items/upgrades. Each week, I adjust the ledger, based on how much I spend on needs and upgrades. For me, what this does is keep reckless bids in check. Anyone spending more than $500 this early on one player may not leave themselves with enough to make needed moves down the stretch.
Dr. Roto (DrRoto.com, @DrRoto): I go through the list of available free agents on Saturday and write down a few names of interest. I then go back Sunday to make sure I didn’t miss any key names on the first pass.
Doug Dennis (BaseballHQ, @dougdennis41): I keep a chart of who bid, on which players, and how much in every league. I keep track of which teams lost active players during the week and which teams are getting back players off the IL. I choose my targets (that is its own process–typically aimed at playing time) and compare to the chart/other teams’ needs.
Mike Gianella (Baseball Prospectus, @MikeGianella): This year I started diligently tracking who is dropped in all my leagues. When I used to only be in 1-2 leagues, this wasn’t necessary, but now that I’m in multiple (way too many) leagues it is easy to lose track of who got dropped, particularly if is a “surprising” drop who should be rostered in all formats. This step is particularly important in NFBC-style leagues with no IL and/or limited reserves. It is easy to lose track of a key IL drop who might be back in 6-8 weeks who “should” be picked up in 4-6 weeks. This step has allowed me to up my game this year and improved my process.
Michael Govier (FTN Fantasy, @mjgovier): I have to agree that Vlad’s article at FTN is the cornerstone for top notch free agency analysis. However, before I go there I review my roster for my team to see which injured players need a replacement. Then I look at my categories of need. If it’s roto, I want to add players that can improve the category where I need help. If it’s H2H, I am looking at the upcoming schedule for next week to see which teams have the friendliest schedules for streaming pitchers and hitters. For H2H I then look at which pitchers will have 2-start weeks because they give me a leg up in volume for a weekly matchup depending on the roster size and number of moves available within your league. Next I go to the free agent pool in each league to see which players are available based on rostership percentage. I start from the highest and peruse the lowest. That coincides with my needs and the upcoming schedule to form my list of free agent additions. I also rely heavily on my own Pallazzo Discord for prospect rumblings in anticipation of new arrivals who could help my team. Then, after I have formed my own opinions, I head over to FTN to read Vlad’s article to see where we agree and disagree. I make adjustments accordingly from there.
Sara Sanchez (bleedcubbieblue.com, @BCB_Sara): I have a notebook that is with me at almost all times (this is a trick I learned from Jenny Butler at FPAZ) and jot down the names I’m interested in as I listen to pods or come across them on Twitter. I also add names of drops each week. On Friday as I’m resetting my NFBC lineups I make note of what I need stats wise AND position wise, then I put in early bids at some point on Saturday to reflect those needs. I usually return to my lists to tweak a few times on Sunday (bumping amounts for guys who may have had great performances, triple checking I didn’t miss any injury news from late Saturday/Sunday). Then I sit anxiously on Twitter and wait for bids to run so I can kvetch with all of you about what worked and what didn’t, often while listening to Jeff & Scott on the Rotowire podcast on Sunday night.
Vlad Sedler (FTN Fantasy, @rotogut): Time management is of the essence. Especially if you have FAAB for multiple teams. One key part of my process is to make sure I have bids set at least one hour before the deadline, then STEP AWAY to a reset/brain refresh, then return to adjust dollar amounts.
Scott Chu (Pitcher List, @ifthechufits): I don’t have data for this, but I’m pretty sure April is the month with the craziest FAAB. The most important part of my early season process is to remember it’s early in the season. While it’s true that early season adds theoretically could provide the biggest lift, they can also be the biggest duds. 100 or 1000 is less than it feels early on.
Erik Halterman (Rotowire, @erik_halterman): Step one is always to set my lineup for the following week. That keeps me focused on the needs of this specific roster (important if you’re in a few too many leagues) and also helps determine whether this will be a FAAB period where I’m focused on filling immediate needs or one where I’m thinking more long-term. In many situations, you won’t have enough players you’re willing to drop to do both.
Dave Adler (BaseballHQ, @daveadler01): Keep regular track of AAA players to see who’s performing well – in particular K/BB and making sure that their BABIP is reasonable. That way, when a hitter goes down late in the week, you have a sense of who might come up to take his place. Targets who have had a cup of coffee in the majors are another plus. Pitchers, well, harder to judge, but track their progress and peripherals, too.
Anthony Aniano (Rotoballer, @AAnianoFantasy): For pitchers on the waiver wire I like to look at a few components. First is upcoming matchups. If you are pitching against Oakland, I am interested. Second is K rate and third is XFIP. Also, it is important with pitchers to look for an outlier. One bad outing can skew numbers so be sure to get a true picture of the player.
Sky Dombroske (Fantistics Insider Baseball, @SkyDombroske): I think making sure that you’re not treating FA pickups as “rest-of-season” adds is a critical step, which I think all of those mentioning checking upcoming schedules are alluding to. Whatever issues your team may have don’t all have to be solved for the year with every pickup.
Eric Samulski (Rotoballer, @SamskiNYC): I write a weekly FAAB-centric Substack called Samulski Sunday Tribune where I give the previous weeks stat leaders and provide context for their stats to determine if we should add them. So for that I’m always looking at SwStr%, hard hit data, plate appearances, minor league numbers etc. It’s probably too much work but it gives me a good sense of the pool. Check it out to see if it helps you. Otherwise, I look recent stats but then make sure to check plate appearances and also the rolling breakdowns on Statcast for batted ball trends
Chris Clegg (Pitcher List, @RotoClegg): I first go and set my lineups for the upcoming week to see where I may have holes or injured players. That is the start of my research. Then I hit the available player pool and start with positions of need or injury replacements. I look at speculation of prospects who could get the call and could contribute right away, even if I have to stash them for a week. I then check Vlad’s FAAB article to see recommended values as I know every player is reading that. If I really want a player I know I’ll have to spend 5-10% more than suggested.
Carlos Marcano (Triple Play Fantasy, @camarcano): I mostly works on a “per needs” basis, going through my priority leagues and down. It’s usually two things: underperforming players or injured players replacements (or temp subs). Then the process goes through checking advanced metrics and all the way to the cats needed for every particular metrics. A lot of discussion with my partner in crime, Mark. And then, more checking. Honestly, it’s a process that never ends, and it’s draining but extremely important for success.
Zach Steinhorn (Steinhorn’s Universe on Substack, @zachsteinhorn): During my daily perusal of the box scores, if I notice that a certain player who is available in my league had a great game, I write down their name on my notepad. By the weekend, I’d hopefully have a decent-sized list of players to take a closer look at when making final bidding decisions. I add more players to this list on Sunday when I sort by the various roto categories, usually focusing on the last two weeks, but I think it’s important to begin compiling a list of possible FAAB targets early in the week to lighten the weekend load.
Brian Entrekin (Fantasy Pros, BaseballHQ, @bdentrek): There are many steps to locking in your free agent bids for the week. One of my first things I do is look at the upcoming schedule for possible streamers. Then it’s about recent playing time trends and overall performances.
Peter Kreutzer (Rotoman.substack.com, @kroyte): We usually know who the big names to bid on are each week. How hard to go after them depends on a balance between their opportunity and your team’s needs. Many weeks, however, there are also under the radar names that don’t trigger that burst of excitement that real prospects do. Most of these aren’t going to be worth much, but it’s worth digging into their recent minor league record for clues about those who might help your team. A speedster or a guy who is making a lot of Triple-A contact (or even better a speedster who is making a lot of Triple-A contact) can be a cheap add if you have even a temporary hole. Don’t overvalue 28-year-olds having minor league success, but in many cases your opponents will be undervaluing them.
Tim McLeod (PattonandCo, @RunTMc59006473): I spend a lot of time scouting the Minors, looking for both breakout players, the “hot hand”, and top prospects likely to get called up. I’ll especially focus on teams where the incumbent is struggling and a callup becomes even more likely. I play an aggressive game, but over the years have found the rewards exceed the costs. The early bird can get more than just the worms!
Greg Jewett (The Athletic, @gjewett9): Tracking relievers so closely, noting their roles within their high-leverage ladder, seeing who warms up for a save chance, but does not receive it when the team pads its lead, and daily performances changing roles as the season ensues. This prevents overreacting when an injury presents itself or when roles change on the fly. Most make the mistake of adding a reliever for saves which happened when they were on the waiver wire, not ones in the future, creating a vicious cycle on one’s FAAB resources.
CJ Kaltenbach (Fantasy Guru, @TheSeigeDFS): Weekend playing time on teams with recently promoted prospects or 2nd chance guys; can get to a Nick Pratto type a week early by just checking PT before submitting bids
Glenn Colton (SiriusXM, @GlennColton1): Taking advantage of having a truly talented fantasy player as a partner (yes you Rick Wolf). They key to our free agent research is building a set of bids, and then each of us analyzing the players, prices, and team needs to continue to hone to the best possible result. If you find a good partner, use that person to make each of you better and most importantly in this context, your fantasy team better!
Phil Hertz (Baseball HQ, @prhz50): A lot depends on the depth of the league that you’re looking at. In Tout, for example, the pickings are slim, so you have to be careful about cutting someone who’s been in a deep slump because any replacement might turn out worse. This is especially so given the Tour requirement that any pick-up has to be active for a week. In more typical 15-team leagues with a significant reserve list, I tend to look for guys who have some upside. In keeper leagues, what I do depends on lot on whether I’m looking for the future or the time is now.
It’s the third week of the second period of Tout Daily with a close battle for the next three Golden Tickets. Here are some of the picks in tonight’s DFS lineups.
Howard Bender (Fantasy Alarm, @RotoBuzzGuy)
Pitcher: Clayton Kershaw – Dude’s mom passed away on Saturday and he chose to stay with the team to make this start. He’s pitching for her against a team that has the second-lowest wOBA vs LHP this season
Hitter: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. – Batting .441 with five home runs, 10 RBI and 12 runs scored during this 13-game hitting streak, owns a .378 wOBA vs LHP and stands in the box against a tomato can like Kyle Muller? As Mona Lisa Saperstein says, “Money, please!”
Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis)
Pitcher: Kevin Gausman – It’s feast or famine with Kevin Gausman, but mostly feast. He’s had 2 outings this season where he had 1.1 and -7.1 FPPG. On the other hand, he’s had great performances of 20+ FPPG in 7 outings this season. He’s topped 30+ FPPG 3 times and the last time he faces the Yankees, he had 40.0 FP. I like him at home tonight against the Yankees at a salary of $10,700.
Hitter: Jarred Kelenic – Jarred Kelenic is averaging 8.7 FPPG and his salary of $4,700 makes him a decent option tonight at the Boston Red Sox. He’s batting cleanup tonight and facing left-handed pitcher Nick Pivetta, who is sporting a 6.23 ERA going into tonight’s contest.
Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola)
Pitcher: Zack Wheeler – THE FUNGO has Wheeler right behind Kershaw, If I can only find a cheap shortstop to use them both.
Hitter: Matt McLain – Only a donkey would use a guy in his second MLB game, even if he’s 2K, batting second in Coors Field. Call me Eeyore.
Sara Sanchez (bleedcubbieblue.com, @BCB_Sara)
Pitcher: Jordan Montgomery – Looking for one cost effective starter and the Brewers are abysmal against lefties. Team wRC+ of 70 v. southpaws this season.
Hitter: Lars Nootbaar – The Cardinals offense seems to have fixed whatever was broken earlier in the season and Noot has been at the center of it. He’s leading off, cost effective and slashing .380/.475/.520 over the last two weeks. Oh and he gets to face Wade Miley tonight.
Jeff Erickson (Rotowire, @Jeff_Erickson)
Pitcher: Zack Wheeler – Wheeler should get well against the team with the second-highest K% in baseball, in a good pitcher’s park.
Hitter: Josh Naylor – Riding a little hot hand here, against a pitcher with the second-most homers allowed this season, most of them against lefties.