Bulls

Fantasy Baseball Pitcher Stock Watch

Fantasy Baseball Pitcher Stock Watch

By David Ferris
CSNChicago.com Contributor

Buy

Sergio Romo, RP, Giants: With Santiago Casilla doing everything he can to torch the Giants in the ninth inning, save chasers need to look at Romo, the dominant set-up man (0.75 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, better than a strikeout per inning). Bruce Bochy probably doesn't want to give Romo the complete baton in the ninth - Romo isn't ideally suited to pitch on consecutive days - but this looks like a bullpen that's about to blow up given how Casilla is collapsing. Also consider situational lefties Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez as possible handshake vultures in deeper leagues.
Franklin Morales, SP, Red Sox: I'm not eager to use him against the Yankees on Saturday, especially in Fenway Park. Bobby Valentine didn't do fantasy owners any favors by taking Morales out of the Wednesday turn in Oakland, and Morales's cycle has been upset as well. But I love how the recycled lefty looked in his first three starts (especially 24 strikeouts versus just three walks) and I see him as a mixable arm for most assignments going forward. Don't sweat the Colorado starting experience too much; that extreme park is a graveyard for pitchers. Perhaps Morales is going to be a post-hype surprise in his second act.

Sell

Tim Lincecum, SP, Giants: A lot of analysts defend him through still-strong K9 rate, but that's partially tied to facing more hitters. On a per-batter basis, Lincecum's strikeouts are in decline. And I'm not going to give him a golden pass for what some term the "unlucky" strand rate - for all we know, he could be having mechanical trouble pitching from the stretch. There's also a school of thought that suggests Lincecum is struggling to land properly, perhaps due to physical issues. Plenty of theories to choose from. Add it all up and I'd be shocked if he posted a sub-4 ERA in the second half. Even if you have to sell low, I'm selling. Even if you can buy low, I'm not interested.

Jose Quintana, SP, White Sox: He makes a lot of his own luck by throwing strikes and hiding the ball well, but a 5.6 HRFB rate isn't likely to stick in a Chicago summer and Quintana's ground-ball profile is merely average. He's not going to fall off the table going forward but that 2.04 ERA is mostly smoke. Pay for something in the high-3s going forward, and look for other options if you're limited in starts or innings (since the strikeout rate is fairly tame).

Roy Oswalt, SP, Rangers: He was able to stop the Rockies (a dreadful offensive club on the road), but the Tigers and White Sox absolutely pounded him to the pavement. Big league hitters are now bating .422 against Oswalt, and it's mostly supported by a lofty line-drive rate. Normally you'd look at four walks against 16 strikeouts and consider a possible bounce-back, but the jet stream in Arlington (which is especially friendly to left-handed sluggers) is going to eat Oswalt alive. Even in deep mixers, you must do better than this.

Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, Indians: We live in a result-bias world, so the recent ERA drop has some people excited. But when you see 12 walks over Jimenez's last three turns, you realize that he's a long way from turning the corner and fixing those noisy mechanics. I wouldn't play him in any format, even AL-only, for the second half.

Hold

Dan Haren, SP, Angels: After two months of hell the other cleat finally dropped: Haren's been dealing with back problems all year. He bit the bullet and went on the DL, which is what fantasy owners should want: rest, rehab, come back strong for the stretch run. At least the injury isn't tied to the shoulder, elbow or forearm. I can't see why Haren won't be one of the 40-50 best pitchers in the second half; use that rank and apply it to your league. He might be a buy in some formats, a sell in some others.

John Axford, RP, Brewers: He's been a hot mess this year, no one will dispute that: five losses and five blown saves, 4.86 ERA, 1.44 WHIP. But Francisco Rodriguez's ratios aren't really much better, and the Brewers are trying to move K-Rod besides. Axford's latest blown save also came on a fourth consecutive day of work - in those instances, you blame the manager, not the pitcher. Milwaukee will probably stick with the status quo for the balance of 2012.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Kris Dunn build off career night?

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Kris Dunn build off career night?

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski, Kendall Gill, and Kevin Anderson react to a breakout game from Kris Dunn against the Hornets Friday night. They’ll discuss his development and how it impacts rookie Lauri Markkanen. Plus just how long will both the Wolves and Bulls be judged on the Jimmy Butler trade? Is Dwight Howard a hall of famer? And a new era in Philly with Simmons and Embiid. That and more on this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast.

Observations from Bulls-Hornets: Kris Dunn, a sigh of relief and hack-a-who?

Observations from Bulls-Hornets: Kris Dunn, a sigh of relief and hack-a-who?

Kris Dunn did it: You can’t play that position without an edge, without some form of “basketball killer” in you. Kris Dunn showed at the very least, he has that in his DNA in his best game as a Bull with a career-high 22 points, seven assists and five rebounds.

Leave it to Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg to point out a forgotten stat: one turnover in 26 minutes.

“That’s the biggest thing I’m proud of,” Dunn said. “Everyone knows I’ve had a lot of careless turnovers in the season. It’s one thing I’ll take credit for.”

Dunn scored 13 with six assists in the fourth quarter alone as the Bulls outscored the Hornets 40-28 for the comeback victory. More than anything, it was his competitive spirit and aggressiveness that stood out. Kemba Walker stood across the way and gave Dunn—and the Bulls—every bit of 47 points.

“He tested my conditioning, for sure,” Dunn admitted. “He’s a great player. He’s been in the league for so long. It was good to go out there and compete with him.”

It could’ve went a different way had Walker not been bothered by Lauri Markkanen’s challenge at the rim, blowing a layup that would’ve given the Hornets the lead back with seconds remaining but he missed it and the narrative changed at least for a night.

And when teams are talking about learning experiences, it’s good to have them in a win every now and again. Markkanen’s challenge at the rim followed by his closing free throws right after, along with a quietly effective 16 points and seven rebounds, proved huge on this night.

Dunn finally having a confidence booster was imperative.

Dunn scored but it wasn’t an easy 20 or a smooth 20. It was an attacking 20, a necessary 20. He did hit some elbow jumpers, especially in the fourth as the defense laid off him.

But his biggest basket was a slithering drive to the rim for a layup with 2:24 left, because he attacked and was under control.

“That’s huge growth for Kris,” Hoiberg said. “He made the right play darn near every time he had the ball in his hands. Rose up with confidence, knocked down huge shots. Defensively got them going, got steals.”

What a relief: Nobody wanted to say it, but it bore out on the floor, the sheer desperation the Bulls played with.

Coming in with a five-game losing streak and headed out west to for four games in the next week, they were staring in the face of a possible double-digit losing streak to end November.

Confidence was sparse after three bad losses, and it’s a dangerous time for a team that will struggle to win games all season.

The United Center crowd got into it, particularly late when the Bulls began climbing back into contention to start the fourth quarter. The fans wanted this win too, even with the eyes being on a larger prize coming in mid-2018.

The relief was written all over Hoiberg’s usually-stress ridden face and he even cracked a couple jokes that weren’t aimed in his direction, as self-deprecation is normally his escape of choice.

“It is important but I asked the guys: is it hard to play with that type of effort? When you play with that type of energy and effort and swagger, it’s fun,” Hoiberg said. “When you play low energy and hang your head, it’s a drag. It’s hard to play at this level with that mentality.”

Starting change: Justin Holiday returned after his quick leave with his wife delivering a baby girl recently and his game-high 27 points showed he missed the Bulls as much as they missed his shooting, hitting four triples and going 10 for 15 from the field.

“Guys were serious about getting their jobs done,” Holiday said. “It was a lot of energy, a lot of energy, competitiveness. That’s how we have to play every night for our team to do well.”

Denzel Valentine, although he didn’t want to say it, wants to be a starter. Hoiberg chose Quincy Pondexter over him recently and then made the change Friday to insert Valentine for more scoring.

Valentine scored 18 with six assists and five rebounds in 32 minutes of run—and with those two starting as scoring options, the Bulls surpassed that seven-point first-quarter mark really early and scored 26 overall.

He hit a big triple in the fourth with 2:49 left to give the Bulls a 110-109 lead on a set play the Bulls actually executed between Valentine, Dunn as a setup man and Robin Lopez as a screen to pop Valentine open.

If he continues to hit 3-pointers at a 40 percent clip, especially with the way the Bulls have struggled to start games, he’ll have the right to feel he belongs in the first five.

“It’s definitely more confidence,” Valentine said. “You feel you’re an NBA starter, you get to go in and feel it out for a second and bring some energy to start the game.”

He didn’t mince words about starting, with a little honesty saying, “I think it’s huge being a starter.”

When asked if he felt validated by his performance and the result being a high-scoring win, it was just as telling.

“I think I deserve…I think I deserved a starting role,” Valentine said. “At the same time it’s different combinations, different people that need to be on the floor at certain times, so if he feels like I don’t need to start, I won’t start. But I feel very comfortable starting as well.”

Hack-a-Dwight: It could be Hack-a-Dwight, hack-a-Drummond, hack-a-Wilt or Shaq or Charles Shackleford.

The Bulls went to it and Howard went two of four from the line but it took a little rhythm from the Hornets and probably slowed Kemba Walker down just enough before he got cooking in the last 90 seconds and almost pulled a win out of his keister.

But…

I hate it. Get it out of the game completely.