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Fantasy baseball pitching stocks

Fantasy baseball pitching stocks

By David Ferris
CSNChicago.com

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Jeremy Affeldt, RP, Giants: The team had no choice but to demote Santiago Casilla from the closer role (see below), and it looks like Affeldt is going to be the head of the new committee, no matter that he's a left-handed reliever. Affeldt has a solid 2.56 ERA and 1.14 WHIP to start things off; he's capable of retiring righties and lefties; and he's more durable than righty Sergio Romo. Figure on Affeldt getting the majority of San Francisco handshakes going forward, with Romo the second option.

Wei-Yin Chen, SP, Orioles: He wasn't the buzzy overseas signing of the year, but Chen has handled the AL East very well as a rookie (3.46 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 109 strikeouts in 135.1 innings) and he's been especially sharp since the All-Star Break. A 12-strikeout game against Oakland grabs your attention, and he backed that up with seven scoreless frames at Tampa. Congrats, Baltimore, you found a No. 2 starter here.

Jim Henderson, RP, Brewers: He's closed out the last two Milwaukee wins, and he's been crisp in seven big league innings this far (1 ER, 1 BB, 10 K). Possession of the closing baton is 90 percent of the battle in our numbers racket, and it's telling that Henderson received Wednesday's assignment after John Axford worked the eighth inning. Henderson's story is out of nowhere, sure - he's a 29-year-old journeyman who was actually drafted by the Expos back in 2003 - but Axford's story was just as miraculous and crazy.

Hold

Zack Greinke SP, Angels: He's posted a 5.68 ERA and 1.63 WHIP over his first three Anaheim turns, and he's hasn't faced an elite offense yet. It's an extreme set of results but it illustrates the broader point: there aren't many soft landings in the hitter-friendly AL, where the bunt is all but abolished and every team gets an extra piece of daily lumber in the lineup. Greinke's magical 2009 season sticks out like a sore thumb, but otherwise this is someone who's never had an ERA under 3.44 or a WHIP under 1.20. GM's better be careful with the checkbook this winter; Greinke is routinely talked about like he's an ace, but he's really a No. 2 type of arm.

Mike Fiers, SP, Brewers: He's been crazy-lucky with the homers (3.3 HRFB rate), but when you strike out a batter per inning and walk less than two men per nine frames, you're going to be successful. We all know Fiers won't keep this 1.80 ERA for the balance of the year, but he should be in the 3.00-3.50 range for the final third of the season, with a good WHIP, and that will play in any format. It's surprising Fiers didn't get a shot before this year, because his minor-league profile was excellent from 2009-2011.

Bartolo Colon, SP, Athletics: Several of the Oakland starters have a home-park bias, but Colon has actually done his best work on the road (2.81 ERA, five wins in nine starts). To be fair, it might be partially fluke-driven - his WHIP is considerably lower at home. But at the end of the day there's a lot to like about Colon, even at age 39: he plays on a surprising contender, his outfield is terrific defensively, and he's still working quickly, throwing strikes, playing baseball as it should be. Score one for science.

Sell

Santiago Casilla, RP, Giants: He has no one to blame but himself for the closer demotion. He's blown five saves over his last 17 appearances, along with eight walks and a 7.82 ERA. The Giants have designs on the playoffs and they have better relievers in house; they don't need this mischief. Cut Casilla immediately in all mixed-league formats.

Notes from the rewatch: What stood out about the goals in Fire's win against Union

nikolic-1017.jpg
USA TODAY

Notes from the rewatch: What stood out about the goals in Fire's win against Union

Normally when revisiting games there are trends or performances that stick out, but the most notable plays from Sunday's Fire win against Philadelphia were the goals.

Here's what stood out from the four goals that were scored from open play in the Fire's 3-2 victory.

Nikolic gives Fire early lead on long ball

Believe it or not this pass was a direct assist on the first goal of the game:

Brandon Vincent is barely beyond his own penalty box when he launches one for Nemanja Nikolic. The ball bounces three times before Nikolic gets his first touch on it. His second touch is a goal.

The pass itself is nothing special and a defensive error plays a part, but it's hard to believe a pass from that far back can result in an assist.

Philly’s first goal is a chain reaction

On the first goal for Philly, the play begins when Matt Polster is caught way too high in press. Philly was building out of back and Polster, the Fire's right back, pressed well past midfield to win a ball and didn't.

When he doesn’t win it, the ball falls to Fafa Picault behind him on the left wing. Next it's off to the races for the Union.

Center back Johan Kappelhof moves wide to cover for Polster and defend Picault, who makes a nice switch to Chris Pontius after the Fire appeared to be getting back in position. C.J. Sapong beats Joao Meira, who a minute before shook off a leg injury that forced him to have a significant limp after the match. Sapong probably had the edge in the first-step department at that point to get some separation. Kappelhof had to try to slide it away because Picault was waiting at the back post for a tap-in.


The Fire had a chance to recover, but it all started with Polster getting caught too high up the field.

Union string passes together to take lead

A Dax McCarty turnover gave Philadelphia possession and the Union combined passes for an impressive team goal. First it was eight straight passes before one was broken up, but Philadelphia immediately regained possession and connected 12 more passes. After an initial cross is headed away, the second pass after that is Haris Medunjanin chipping a pass to Alejandro Bedoya for the goal. Just an impressive team goal from the Union.

Nikolic shows his instincts for game-winner

As for the Fire’s third goal, just watch Landon Donovan and recently-fired New England Revolution coach Jay Heaps explain what happened:

Bobby Portis punches Nikola Mirotic, breaking bones in Mirotic's face

Bobby Portis punches Nikola Mirotic, breaking bones in Mirotic's face

Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic were involved in an altercation that resulted in Mirotic suffering two broken bones in his face after Portis punched him, according to sources.

Mirotic, who’s out indefinitely, was evaluated for a concussion and taken to a hospital, where he was released but was apparently a bit out of it, according to a source. The altercation began with pushing and shoving between the two before Mirotic lunged forward at Portis and Portis hit Mirotic, sending him to the floor.

“I’ve seen worse,” a witness said.

Mirotic was taken to the training room and Portis went to the other side of the floor.

Apparently the two have had testy moments since Portis entered the league in 2015. The two play the same position and have battled for minutes, with Portis often getting the short end in the rotation.

Where this leaves Portis with the Bulls for the immediate future as far as a suspension is unknown.

But what was supposed to be a so-called nondescript season has suddenly put the spotlight on the players and the coaching staff, who’ll have to navigate the relationship between the two teammates.