Fantasy Baseball Rankings Movers: Pablo Lopez holding strong despite slump; David Fry gains ground at catcher


In this space, Scott White will highlight some of the more notable changes to his rest-of-season rankings. You’ll find said rankings here and are urged to bookmark them if you haven’t already. There’s no better resource for gauging player value throughout the long season.

In an environment where every pitcher seems to be doing well (see last week’s Rankings Movers), there’s a temptation to write off the few who aren’t, even when they have an established track record of success.

The clearest such example is Pablo Lopez, whose ERA is up to 5.25 after back-to-back rocky starts. Even before then, he wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire.

player headshot

But instead of fixating on ERA, which is known to be a misleading stat, let’s review some of his other numbers to see if he’s a fundamentally changed pitcher. We’ll begin with the two most often listed alongside ERA in articles such as this one: WHIP and K/9. They currently sit at 1.17 and 10.4, which are more or less in line with his 1.16 and 10.9 marks from last year. His 3.25 xERA, and 3.05 xFIP are also virtually identical to last year, just flipped. Meanwhile, his walk rate is actually a career best.

So what has changed? In a year when most pitchers’ home run rates are down, Lopez’s is up to 1.7 per nine innings compared to his usual 1.1. That increase isn’t nothing, but it could easily be dismissed as a small-sample blip, particularly when everything else looks much the same (including xERA and xFIP, remember). As we enter the warmer months and home runs begin to increase around the league, Lopez is one pitcher who should see his rate go the other way, if only by the law of averages.

And since my rankings are meant to reflect rest-of-season performance rather than season-to-date performance, I’m not so inclined to move Lopez down in them.

Starting pitcher

  • Getting down to brass tacks, I still rank Lopez 10th at starting pitcher. That’s a few spots below where he started but still in the ace range of starting pitchers, obviously. It’s not like the pitchers behind him are completely spotless. Just looking at the next five in the rankings, George Kirby and Logan Gilbert have had their own struggles of late, and Zac Gallen’s and Aaron Nola’s underlying indicators are more concerning than Lopez’s. You could make the case for Shota Imanaga ahead of Lopez, I suppose, but he might be one of the pitchers most susceptible to a home run increase this summer. And have you noticed the Cubs are spacing out his starts more than the typical pitcher? Volume could put him a step behind in the long run.
  • As for the other high-end pitcher struggling to keep his head above water in a year when most are thriving, Framber Valdez has fallen to 30th for me, putting him behind Garrett Crochet, Tanner Houck and Jack Flaherty. I’m still hopeful for a rebound, but unlike Lopez, Valdez’s strikeout rate isn’t quite up to standard. And if this indeed turns out to be a season dominated by pitching, his profile (high volume but merely OK ratios) may not set him apart as much.
  • Coming off a start with seven no-hit innings and 11 strikeouts, Kyle Bradish has climbed about 10 spots, into the top 40. He’s been trending up ever since his return from an elbow strain, but his first four starts were on the shorter side, with none exceeding five innings. I’m hoping this latest start means the Orioles won’t baby him moving forward.
  • Christian Scott is down about 15 spots, putting him just inside the top 65. He hasn’t done anything wrong, per se, but the competition at this position is stiff. Any pitcher who goes a few turns without an absolute banger is going to feel it in the rankings, provided he doesn’t have a track record to fall back on. Strikeouts will be critical to Scott’s success, and he has less than one per inning so far. It doesn’t mean I’m out on him — the No. 65 pitcher should still be rostered in most leagues — but it does mean that he’s done little to stand out in this pitching environment.
  • Cristian Javier just went on the IL for a forearm strain, and that’s enough to drop him outside of my top 80. That’s presuming an optimistic timetable, too. Frankly, I’ll take any excuse to drop him even more given that he’s hardly offered reason for optimism following a disappointing 2023.
  • You may have heard that Gavin Williams will embark on a rehab assignment Wednesday for the elbow injury that’s sidelined him since spring training. That’s enough to move him up about five spots, all the way to … 86th. While I love the upside, the league context right now requires that a pitcher prove himself first, and Williams is largely unproven. Besides, his rehab assignment figures to be a lengthy one.
  • Ben Brown, Michael Wacha, Ryan Weathers, Tylor Megill and Matt Waldron have all moved into the rosterable range (87-94) for 12-team leagues with their good work of late. In years past, I might have chased upside a little harder with someone like Brown, but this pitching-rich environment doesn’t promote a hearty investment in anyone with rough edges to smooth out.

Catcher

  • David Fry is the big riser this week, climbing from 29th to 16th. He may not be (OK, he isn’t) as good as his .357 batting average and .492 on-base percentage, but his consistent good work at the dish is earning him more opportunities, with five starts in the Guardians’ past six games. He plays first base and the outfield in addition to catcher, which should keep him a regular part of the lineup, and he even brings an element of speed with four stolen bases. In many ways, he’s the player we thought we were getting from his teammate, Bo Naylor, who continues to bleed playing time and now comes in 26th in my catcher rankings.
  • Sean Murphy has climbed to ninth with his return from the IL, putting him ahead of Jonah Heim. Playing time is still a concern with Travis d’Arnaud in the mix, but with the Braves now having two less-than-appealing bats in the outfield following the injury to Ronald Acuna, Murphy will often be used as a pinch hitter when he isn’t starting. The Braves have a third catcher on the roster (Chadwick Tromp) just for that reason.

First base

  • My patience has worn thin on Yandy Diaz, who has fallen to 17th, behind Rhys Hoskins and Jake Cronenworth. That’s true even in points leagues seeing as he isn’t walking as much as in years past. He’s still making his usual hard contact, suggesting that it’s not a matter of him falling off at age 32, but he was never likely to repeat his .330 batting average and 22 home runs from a year ago given that each was a career best.
  • Just behind Diaz is Luis Arraez, who’s up about five spots, ahead of Spencer Torkelson, Nate Lowe and Ryan Mountcastle. He seems revitalized now that he’s batting leadoff for a contender, batting .379 since joining the Padres, which is even more impactful with batting averages lagging across the league.

Second base

  • It’s time to wave the white flag on Nico Hoerner, at least in terms of him being anything close to what he was last year. He’s just not making the same sort of impact on the base paths and is back to hitting in the lower half of the lineup as well. I’ve dropped him to 15th at second base, putting him behind Jake Cronenworth, Luis Arraez and Luis Rengifo.
  • Nick Gonzales may be emerging as an impact bat for the Pirates, which is what he profiled as when they selected him seventh overall in 2020. He lost his way in the minors but has made some adjustments this year that have him striking out much less and barreling the ball much more. I’ve moved him up to 29th, alongside other intriguing bats like Edouard Julien and Luis Garcia, but of those three, Gonzales has the most room to rise given that he’s playing every day.

Third base

  • In addition to all the home runs, Gunnar Henderson has brought his strikeout rate down to size over the past couple weeks, which has finally convinced me to move him ahead of Rafael Devers, who’s been hot, and Austin Riley, who hasn’t. I’m not totally convinced he’ll be better than those two the rest of season, but at the very least, he’ll be just as good.
  • I’ve grown increasingly disenchanted with Nolan Arenado, whose one trick of lifting the ball to his pull side makes for a modest ceiling even if he does recapture it over the final four months. I’ve moved him behind Royce Lewis, who’s nearing a return from a strained quadriceps, and Maikel Garcia, whose 3.32 Head-to-Head points per game are actually less than Arenado had last year.
  • Matt Chapman’s hot hitting has moved him up about five spots, ahead of Jake Burger and Michael Busch. I don’t think the improvement is especially durable, though, and am more intrigued by the upside offered by Joseph Ortiz.

Shortstop

  • Ezequiel Tovar’s strong performance over the past couple weeks has him pacing for better numbers than last year in all five Rotisserie categories. The poor plate discipline is reason for pause, but I’ve moved him into the top 25 at a deep position, ahead of notable stashes like Xander Bogaerts and Jackson Holliday.
  • Dylan Moore continues to find playing time for the Mariners even with J.P. Crawford back from injury. He was excellent as a fill-in, contributing both power and speed, but his track record at age 31 leaves much to be desired. Still, his multi-faceted skill set and multi-eligible role makes him more rosterable than Vaughn Grissom and Orlando Arcia at this point, and his new ranking (32nd) reflects it.

Outfield

  • With Steven Kwan well into a rehab assignment for a strained hamstring, I’ve decided it’s past time to move him back where he was before the injury, which is 19th in categories leagues and 14th in points leagues.
  • It’s also time to give more credit to Giancarlo Stanton, whose home run output has been especially impactful in this power-starved environment. You can’t really knock him for his .235 batting average either given how batting averages are lagging across the league, though his bloated strikeout rate suggests it’s more likely to slide than climb from here. He comes in at 38th.
  • Joshua Lowe’s return to the IL for an oblique strain, the same injury that sidelined him for roughly the first six weeks, has dealt his Fantasy stock a considerable blow. He went from being inside my top 20 to barely inside my top 40, sandwiched between two players on the mend from injury, TJ Friedl and Lane Thomas. Thomas is already back from his injury (sprained knee). Friedl could return from his (fractured thumb) as soon as this weekend. Lowe didn’t even attempt a stolen base in his 14 games, so Friedl and Thomas figure to be more reliable sources of that statistic anyway.
  • Speaking of stolen bases, Brenton Doyle and Jacob Young continue to supply them in ample amounts and have climbed into my top 55 for categories leagues, just behind Jackson Merrill. Why not higher? Well, both have considerable shortcomings as hitters, with Doyle struggling to make contact and Young possessing zero power, that could potentially cost them playing time in the future. All systems go for them now, though.
  • Wilyer Abreu has become such an integral part of the Red Sox lineup that he’s even starting against the occasional left-hander now. That’s enough to bump him up 15 spots in the rankings, ahead of notables Anthony Santander, Andy Pages and Alex Verdugo, none of whom has a skill set quite as diverse as Abreu.
  • I’m not fully on board with any of Tommy Pham, Jake Meyers, Wenceel Perez, Dylan Moore and Eddie Rosario yet, but they’re making enough of an impression at a weak position that they need to be more visible in the rankings. You’ll find them in the 68-72 range. Of the five, I’m most hopeful for Pham and Meyers — the former because he’s been a Fantasy asset in the not-so-distant past and the latter because his expected stats, as depicted by Statcast, are actually quite strong.

Relief pitcher

  • Jordan Romano’s recent struggles have dropped him behind Paul Sewald. He can ill afford to squander save chances for a Blue Jays team that looks like it’ll struggle to stay out of the cellar in the AL East. Romano probably belongs behind Jhoan Duran, too, given that Duran is back to full-time closing duties with a save in each of his past five appearances, but Duran himself hasn’t been lights-out in securing those saves.
  • Among low-end closers with full-time roles, Jason Foley and Carlos Estevez have struggled of late, compelling me to move them behind Kenley Jansen and James McArthur.





Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top