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NFBC Main Event Tracker: Week 7 review

Imanaga's early brilliance with Cubs is no fluke
Fantasy managers who gambled on Shota Imanaga in drafts should hold onto the impressive 30-year-old, who has dazzled through seven starts with a 1.08 ERA.

I’m sorry. I thought that last week was a rough week, but Week 7 wound up taking me to depths of despair that I didn’t even know that I had. After seriously riding on top of the world through the first six weeks of the season, everything actually came crashing down in spectacular fashion in Week 7, leaving nothing but carnage and sadness in its wake.

I ended last week’s column on a very hopeful note. Despite the struggles that we had gone through, we were going to overcome and bounce back with our biggest week of the year. Instead, the exact opposite happened. Abysmal pitching performances, complete lack of offense, zeroes in the lineup from players dealing with illness, and one of the most important members of our team – someone that’s irreplaceable – suffering a catastrophic injury. Any one of those things would be able to derail someone’s week. Putting them all together – and all before we even got to Wednesday – will derail your season and crush your spirit.

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Hitting Review

Week 7 Hitting.png

Rather than following the traditional format that I’ve been using, I’m going to tackle the elephant in the room first. On Tuesday night I wasn’t even following along and watching the games like I normally do, as I play in a softball league at church. I had a break in-between innings and decided to check my phone real quick for any updates and saw a group message from my wonderful colleague George Bissell, saying “Don’t watch the Willson Contreras injury if you haven’t yet. It’s brutal.” Ugh.

It was indeed brutal, as Contreras suffered a fractured forearm as he was hit by the backswing of Mets’ slugger J.D. Martinez. He’s expected to be sidelined for the next 10 weeks while recovering. Lovely.

Here’s the thing. I don’t want to complain about injuries, they are a part of the game and they happen to everyone. Heck, we already dealt with our SP2 Shane Bieber suffering a season-ending injury in week two and moved on just fine from that one. This one hits differently though. It’s no secret that I make it a pillar of my strategy to secure two elite catchers. I’ve talked time and time again in this column about how that elite-level production from both catcher spots can make up for so many other deficiencies on your hitting roster. To invest that type of draft capital in the position, and then to have Contreras performing as he was – slashing .280/.398/.551 with six homers, 20 runs scored, 12 RBI and a pair of stolen bases – and then lose him to injury is devastating.

Remember, this isn’t a shallow league and it isn’t a one-catcher format. There, it would be tough to replace the production that Contreras was giving you, but it wouldn’t crush you completely. Here, believe me when I say that there is nothing available – and certainly nothing that can even sneeze at the playing time and the production that Contreras was providing me. There are 30 catchers starting in these leagues, and occasionally a few others that are rostered as well. Ivan Herrera is expected to step in and start for Contreras and would have made for an excellent substitute – except he is already rostered in this league. What I’m looking at, in a best-case scenario is something like Ben Rortvedt, Yasmani Grandal, Joey Bart, Jose Trevino or David Fry. The pain is very real.

Then you compound the issue, realizing that you simply can’t drop a player of Contreras’ caliber if he’s going to make it back in eight-to-10 weeks. That means carrying a zero on the bench for two-plus months when you only have seven precious bench spots. Terrific.

Obviously, I didn’t have a third catcher on the roster, as few managers ever do, and there was really no need for me to do so when I would have never subbed them in for either Contreras brother. So that also meant that after Contreras went down in the second inning on Tuesday, I took a zero at the position for the remainder of the week.

It wasn’t just there though that I was taking zeroes, I also made a poor decision probably regarding Luis Rengifo. After having a huge week last week, Rengifo sat out on Saturday and Sunday due to illness. It was anticipated that he would return to the lineup on Monday – and he was even in the Angels’ initial lineup, before being a late scratch as he was still under the weather. He was scheduled for four games for the period, so the thought was that he was close to playing on Monday, he should theoretically play the other three games. My other options if I wanted to sub in, were Mark Canha for three games (ended up being one) or either Jarren Duran or Trey Lipscomb for two games each. I rolled the dice with Rengifo, only to see him held out of action the remainder of the period as well, as he’s dealing with hand, foot and mouth disease and broke out in a painful rash on his feet. Another pile of missed at-bats.

Somehow, despite the doom and gloom, the offense managed to pull itself together and rally around the Contreras injury. Even though we only got five at-bats total from the C2 position on the week and took a complete zero from Rengifo for the first half – we still managed to get 298 at-bats on the week, which is a testament to how the offense is coming along.

William Contreras had another monster week, hitting .400 (10-for-25) with a whopping eight runs scored and three RBI. That will most definitely play.

Paul Goldschmidt sat out a pair of games during the first half of the week to work on his swing, then returned to go 0-for-4 with four strikeouts on Friday. He finally snapped an awful 0-for-31 spell on Sunday with his third home run of the season, and even tacked on an RBI single in his next at-bat. The production has still been terrible, but hopefully he’s on his way out of the funk now.

Jose Ramirez continued to lead the charge on offense, with three homers, six RBI and five runs scored on the week. Randy Arozarena picked up where he left off last weekend, with a pair of homers, two stolen bases, six RBI and three runs scored while hitting an acceptable .250. We need more of that.

Jo Adell continued to murder baseballs, crushing three home runs, driving in six and scoring five times on the week. He’s looking like an excellent addition to the outfield mix. Speaking of excellent additions, Max Kepler continued to swing a very hot bat – hitting .400 (10-for-25) with a homer, six RBI and six runs scored. Since returning from the injured list, he’s hitting .413 (26-for-63) with three homers, 17 RBI and a stolen base in 19 games. Pretty, pretty, pretty good.

Jon Singleton only had three hits on the week, but one of them was one of the longest home runs that you’ll ever see – off the facing of the third deck at Yankee Stadium. He also drove in a pair and scored five runs on the week. Jurickson Profar had his first down week, but still homered and drove in four runs. We’ll take that.

Josh Rojas hit .308 over 26 at-bats and swiped a base. The counting stats weren’t much though. Same can be said for teammate Jorge Polanco who went 4-for-25 (.160) with just one measly run scored.

Ezequiel Tovar bounced back this week, hitting .308 (8-for-26) with a homer, three RBI and three runs scored. No complaints there.

My two Red Sox – Tyler O’Neill and Jarren Duran – who had been leading the charge on offense, both had down weeks. Let’s hope it’s just a blip on the radar.

We wound up stranding a Mark Canha grand slam and a stolen base from Jake Fraley on the bench over the weekend.

Overall when looking at our weekly targets, we actually did alright on offense this week. We bested our target in runs scored by +2.8 and now have a surplus of +10.0 runs on the season. That’s always nice to see. We also beat our target in home runs finally, finishing +1.8. We’re still eight homers behind the number on the season, but this was a good week there. We also beat our pesky RBI target for perhaps the first time all season, even if it was only by +0.1. We’re 30 RBI behind the pace there, but at least we didn’t fall further behind.

The one place that we did struggle on offense for the week was in stolen bases, coming 5.5 short of our goal. That erases all of the good work that we did in the category last week, and puts us four swipes behind the number overall on the season. Not in a danger area, but we’d like to see a correction this week.

The batting average continues to fall behind the number overall. We were .248 this past week and .249 overall on the season. While the target is starting to come down, it’s still way above us at the moment at .259. I’m looking at you Goldschmidt, Polanco and Arozarena.

Pitching Review

Week 7 Pitching.png

Sigh. Every fantasy manager knows that rolling out questionable pitchers in two-start weeks is playing with fire, and eventually you’re going to get burned. That happened on Monday. Our final FAAB pickup from last week, Mike Clevinger, was destroyed in his first start of the week against the Rays, giving up three runs on 10 walks+hits in just two innings of work. That’ll mess with your ratios. He also didn’t contribute a single strikeout. Perfect.

Fortunately, we had another pitcher toeing the slab on Monday as well, with Kyle Gibson taking on the Mets. While that one wasn’t a complete disaster – a 3.00 ERA and 1.50 WHIP over six innings – Gibson added four strikeouts and didn’t earn a victory.

Already off to a bad pitching start on the week, everything really hinged on Tuesday night. We had four pitchers scheduled to take the hill – including our top three arms in Corbin Burnes, Kutter Crawford, Justin Verlander – alongside FAAB addition Colin Rea. We set our sights low, hoping just for solid ratios, a pile of strikeouts and at a minimum one win, but we really wanted at least two.

Burnes was alright, giving up three runs over 6 1/3 with six strikeouts, but didn’t find the win column. Kutter Crawford was actually quite good, allowing just two runs over six innings against the Braves with six strikeouts, but he too was denied a victory. As an aside there, the two runs that scored against him in that game came on a two-run homer from Jarred Kelenic. The same Kelenic that we just dropped this past FAAB period after six weeks of doing nothing. Literally his first at-bat off of our team, and he clubs a two-run homer off our pitcher. Wonderful.

So decent ratios and strikeouts from the first two, still needing to secure some wins though. Verlander decided to go the other direction, with a seven-run, 2.20 WHIP nightmare against the Yankees with only two strikeouts to boot. Woof. Rea wasn’t much better, giving up four runs against the Royals in 4 2/3 innings with only two punchouts. Cool, cool, cool.

We did get some good news to finish the night on Tuesday, as the Brewers rallied on their final out to take a one-run lead, and Trevor Megill came on and pitched a perfect ninth inning to close it out. Damage through the first two days of the week: 31 innings of 6.10 ERA/1.71 WHIP with zero wins in six starts and only 21 strikeouts. Yikes.

Did things improve as the week went on? Thankfully, yes, though it still wasn’t everything that we needed.

After the disastrous start to the week, we had no starting pitchers going again until Saturday, so it was just a continued drop in wins and strikeouts while waiting for something to happen. Fortunately, the closers came to play. Josh Hader picked up saves on back-to-back nights for the first time all season and didn’t allow a run in either outing. Alexis Diaz even managed to get a save and keep the opponent off the scoreboard.

Saturday finally rolled around, and we had round two of the Gibson and Clevinger doubles to take in. Gibson did his part and actually pitched well, allowing two runs on three hits over five frames against the Brewers while striking out seven. He even exited with a 2-1 lead – that grew to 3-1 shortly afterwards. It wasn’t to be though, as Rhys Hoskins clubbed a go-ahead three-run homer in the seventh to propel the Brewers to victory. Fortunately, Megill came on and picked up his second save of the week and now has a stranglehold on the Brewers’ ninth-inning gig.

Clevinger also looked much better in his second start, there was plenty of frustration to be had though. The right-hander allowed just one run on four hits over 4 2/3 innings while striking out five. He was pulled after allowing a two-out single in the fifth inning, sitting on 73 pitches on the day. It’s irritating, because the White Sox were leading at the time – and went on to hold that lead the rest of the game – meaning Clevinger would’ve secured our first win of the week had he been able to get one more out.

We were supposed to have two more starts on Sunday, but last week’s FAAB disaster Colin Rea was pushed back after the Brewers brought up Robert Gasser to start on Friday. That left just the second of Verlander’s two starts – taking on the Tigers in the friendly confines at Comerica Park. He turned back the clock in that one, firing seven innings of shutout baseball with eight strikeouts, and on our final start of the week we nabbed victory #1.

It’s also a bit frustrating, especially the way that things played out in the wins category this week, that both of the single starts on our bench (Erick Fedde and Michael Wacha) each pitched well and won their respective starts.

The improved ratios over the weekend were a big help, as they finished just in the bad area for the week instead of the disaster zone. Looking at the rest of our weekly targets though, it was more of the same. We fell woefully short in strikeouts at -10.8 and are facing a deficit of eight punchouts overall on the season. We obviously didn’t make the mark in wins, coming a laughable 3.2 wins short which puts us seven full wins behind the number on the season. It’s never good to be almost two full weeks behind in any category this early in the season.

We did manage to make up some ground in saves though for the first time, finishing +1.6 in the category. We’re still six saves short on the season, but rolling three closers we should hopefully be able to continue to whittle that number down.


We know the elephant in the room is that we have to replace Willson Contreras at the catcher position, but first we have to find out just how much roster flexibility we have and how many spots we are working with this week.

As of now, we don’t plan on dropping Contreras, even though the timeline sounds like it’s closer to 10 weeks that he’ll be sidelined for – rather than the six-to-eight week estimate that the hard-hitting backstop gave himself initially. It’s tough to a carry a zero on the roster for that long, and perhaps we’ll need to re-evaluate that spot at some point, but at least for this first period we’re going to try to hold onto him.

As far as drops go, there’s not a whole lot that’s clear-cut. Both Mike Clevinger and Kyle Gibson pitched well in their second starts of the week, and in a perfect world they’re both the types of arms that I’d like to carry on my bench, to stream from in case of doubles or good matchups. Unfortunately, Contreras isn’t the only zero that we’re carrying right now. We’re also dealing with Luis Rengifo and Ryan Pepiot on the injured list, leaving us with only four bench spots to work with. That makes things extremely difficult. It looks like both Clevinger and Gibson will need to be dropped this week, as there’s little wiggle room elsewhere.

The only other spot that looks like a drop to me is Trey Lipscomb. He hasn’t done anything to deserve being cut again – and even swiped a pair of bases on our bench this week – but he’s the low-hanging fruit if we’re looking on the offensive side. I only think that he’ll be a drop though if we’re able to land an impact addition on offense, or perhaps one of the top two starting pitching targets available – depending on how we wind up structuring the bids.

The one spot that we obviously need to add is at catcher. I mentioned some of the options above while ranting about losing Contreras, and they haven’t improved a whole lot as a group since then. The one option that is actually the most interesting to me is David Fry. The versatile 28-year-old just finished up an extremely impressive week with a pair of homers, five runs scored and three RBI. He did so while starting four games for the Guardians – one at catcher, one at first base and two in left field. Catchers that are seeing at-bats at other positions are always appealing, as plate appearances are king. With the struggles of Bo Naylor at the plate, there’s even an opportunity for him to see more action behind the plate. There shouldn’t be too many other teams in the market for catching help this week, but we’ll go a few dollars higher than we probably need to on our bid for Fry just to be safe.

Behind him, it’s Ben Rortvedt who gets seven games against right-handers next week, Jose Trevino off of his double dong performance on Sunday and Yasmani Grandal who clubbed his first home run of the season on Saturday night. There will be other names below them on the bid list because we need to come away with someone, but it would be shocking if we didn’t end up with one of those top four options – at least as a weekly streaming play as we attempt to piece things together.

On the pitching front, obviously coming off of a week in which we won a total of one game, we need to try to maximize starts again to make up ground in the category. While rolling out three closers, the only way to do that is by adding doubles. The top double available in my mind is Matt Manning, who will be joining the Tigers’ rotation on Monday to fill in for Kenta Maeda (illness). It’s a mixed bag in terms of matchups, as facing the Marlins at home on Monday is excellent, but having to take on the Diamondbacks in Arizona on Sunday isn’t exactly appealing. Randy Vasquez doubles for the Padres, and has similar matchups – home against the Rockies and at the Braves. Spencer Arrighetti hasn’t been great overall during his time in the Astros’ rotation, but he’ll take on the Athletics and the Brewers, both at home.

There are also a couple of appealing pitchers available that don’t double. The Brewers promoted their top pitching prospect, Robert Gasser, this week and he was outstanding in his debut with six scoreless innings in a victory over the Cardinals. He draws the Pirates at home this week, the Marlins in Miami next week and then he’ll double with starts at home against the Cubs and White Sox the following week. All three of those weeks look very appealing, so much so that Gasser will be my top target on the pitching side. Let’s just hope we’re in the right range for the bid.

Mitchell Parker is another interesting name that probably shouldn’t be available with how well he has thrown the ball. He’ll take on the White Sox in Chicago on Tuesday, then double against the Twins and Mariners (both at home) the following week. That’s probably worth chasing as well.

When looking at offensive options aside from the catcher position, the one name that really stands out to me is TJ Friedl. He’s available in just 21 percent of Main Event leagues and returned from the injured list on Monday. He plays everyday for the Reds – hitting leadoff against RHP – and is coming off of season where he hit 18 homers and swiped 27 bases. He was also removed from Sunday’s game – after stealing a base and scoring a run – due to a left thumb contusion after he was plunked in the first inning. I’m thinking about a substantial bid, but am a bit leery after the Sunday injury as I really can’t afford to have him miss a couple of games given the short bench we have at the moment. Under normal circumstances, you’d think he would fetch a triple-digit bid here. I’ll probably be slightly under that mark. After Friedl, there’s some interest in Kyle Manzardo, but the fact that he hasn’t been a regular in the Guardians’ lineup against right-handed pitching is frightening. Whit Merrifield looks like a nice streaming option for next week and it would be nice to have a piece of that Phillies’ offense. Andy Ibanez looks like a nice streamer as well as the Tigers have three left-handers on tap next week. There will be others mixed in, but that’s really what I’m looking at there.

Let’s just hope for the best.

FAAB Review

Unwrapping the winning FAAB bids on Sunday night certainly didn’t feel like Christmas this time around. We actually climbed into the low triple digits with our bid on T.J. Friedl, but it wasn’t even good enough for the runner-up bid. He pulled in the highest bid of the week in our league at $182 with a runner-up bid of $143. Sigh.

We were the runner-up bid on our top pitching target in Robert Gasser at $77, but that was only half of the amount that was needed to secure him ($154).

The next five players off the board we didn’t have bids in for – Sean Bouchard $37 ($6), Kyle Manzardo $36 ($8), Jalen Beeks $33 ($18), Eddie Rosario $29 ($2) and Jeff McNeil $29 ($13).

We did have interest on the next one though, and wound up landing Matt Manning for his two starts with a bid of $29 ($13). Went a few bucks higher than I probably should have, but it’s nice to get one of our top targets. Gibson was the drop on that one.

We had some interest in Alec Marsh, but he wound up going for a perfect bid of $19 ($19) elsewhere. The hitter that we pulled in for Trey Lipscomb wound up being Whit Merrifield for $16 ($4). Again, a bit of an overspend, but I’m fine with it in this instance. With Rengifo sidelined, we didn’t have coverage for a mid-week injury to any of our middle or corner infielders. Now with Merrifield in the fold, we have that flexibility. He also plays seven games this week and brings plenty of speed to the table – with the first four coming on the easiest team to run on in all of baseball in the Mets. As a bonus, they’ll start two southpaws during that four-week period to begin the week.

Old friends Joey Meneses $13 ($8), Jarred Kelenic $12 ($1) and Javier Baez ($1) were scooped up elsewhere and we wish them well.

I did have plenty of interest in Mitchell Parker, and my conditional bids would have been high enough to win him had I not already secured Manning. He went elsewhere for $12 unopposed.

We were also able to land our top catching target, though we did so by overpaying for David Fry $9 ($2). The fact that there was at least a conditional bid on him and someone else trying to acquire him this week makes me feel a bit better about going the extra couple of dollars. Yasmani Grandal was the only other catcher picked up this week for $1. There were no bids on Ben Rortvedt.

Andy Ibanez was picked up by the top team in the league for $6 ($3). Had I missed on Merrifield, Ibanez was next on my bid list at $8.

Taking a quick glance through at the drops, there’s nothing that stands out as immediately interesting to me this time around. Colt Keith maybe with his 2B/3B eligibility if he ever starts hitting. Miguel Amaya maybe if Fry doesn’t work out. Jose Soriano is mildly intriguing. That’s about it though.

Looking at overall FAAB spend, we’re now down to just $589 remaining of our $1000 starting budget. That’s significantly lower than we wanted to be at this point in the season, though we have added some major impact players in Kepler, Profar, Adell and Megill. Could throw Rojas and Singleton into that mix too potentially.

That puts us as the sixth lowest total remaining in our league. From top to bottom, we’re looking at: $986, $812, $801, $742, $692, $669, $657, $628, $622, $589, $478, $457, $386, $334 and $322. It’s not dire overall, but I don’t like seeing Phil Dussault armed with $812 and being able to get anyone he wants in the second half of the season.

Looking Ahead

So what do we do heading into Week 8? Well, with three players stationed on the injured list our overall options are much much thinner, so there aren’t as many decisions to make. Whether or not that’s a good thing remains to be seen.

Looking at the pitching side first, we obviously need to find nine pitchers that we can use. That’s nine pitchers out of a grand total of 10 options, so we only need to sit who we think is the worst option for the week. Should be easy, right?

The three closers are in for sure. We always use Burnes, and he doubles anyways (vs. Jays, vs. Mariners). We always use Crawford and he doubles as well (vs. Rays, at Cardinals). Even after his blow-up to start this past week, we’re still committed to Verlander. His matchup isn’t as good, taking on the Brewers in Houston, but we probably use that, right?

Matt Manning was picked up for his double, so he’s in. Colin Rea is set for two starts after being pushed back a day last week. He now lines up for vs. Pirates and at Houston. Not the worst matchups possible, and we always like the extra start. After all, what could possibly go wrong?

If we use all of those, that gets us to eight. That would leave us to decide between Wacha at the Mariners (who strike out more than any offense in the league), or Fedde vs. the Nationals. They’re actually both solid matchups and I don’t mind either. Do I like them enough to play both over Rea’s double though? Or the Verlander single (vs. Freddy Peralta)? That’s the question.

The lean right now is toward sitting Wacha, but who knows how this one will play out.

On the offensive side, we have three extra options to work with.

The catchers are locked in and we have to hope that Fry continues to see playing time and produces something for the Guardians. Tovar, Ramirez, Arozarena, Adell, Profar, O’Neill, Kepler and Duran should all probably be locked in, as should Singleton and Rojas. That doesn’t leave us with much. That leaves the struggling Goldschmidt and Polanco as options to take out to work Merrifield into the lineup. Goldschmidt gets the Angels for three in Los Angeles (Soriano, Detmers, Canning) while Polanco gets the terrific pitching of the Royals (Singer, Wacha, Marsh). It’s probably Polanco that has to sit.

That also leaves Fraley on the bench. He gets four games, but two of them are against LHP, so it’s hard to work him in. Canha is the other bench bat. He gets three games against the Marlins, with two of them coming against LHP. He’s a decent enough option, and could get in there if we see anything funky with lineups on Monday, but for now he’s out. Kepler gets a left-hander to begin the week, but we’ve learned our lesson not to sit him even if he’s out of the lineup for that one.

Where we Stand

We entered the week with 102.5 league points, second in our league and in 114th place in the overall standings. Through Wednesday we had fallen to around 92 league points and out of the money completely in the league while tanking in the overall standings. A strong rally over the weekend helped to stop the slide though. We finished the week with 100.0 league points, still in second place and 2.5 ahead of third. We’re chasing 14.5 on first now. In the overall standings we dropped to 141st out of 855.

One of the most demoralizing things about this pitiful week, wasn’t just the fall for this team. I had several teams all tank this week, with multiple teams losing Contreras as well. For the past month or so, I had been running just inside or just outside of the top-15 in the standings for the NFBC Champions League Qualifier.

If you’re unaware of what the Champions League Qualifier is, you can read more about it here. In a nutshell though, it’s a competition designed to crown the best player in fantasy baseball over several different disciplines. There are three legs that you’re competing in, a Main Event, a 12-team Online Championship and a 15-team, 50-round Draft Champions (no free agent moves) league. Each fantasy manager – when signing up for those leagues – needed to designate one entry in each one of those contests as their CLQ entry. You had to choose that before finding out your league assignment or draft spots, meaning that you couldn’t draft a bunch of teams and then select your best one to be your CLQ entry.

There are 201 fantasy managers competing in this inaugural league. Their stats in all 30 categories (each of the 5x5 in each of the three leagues), are ranked against each other. The goal is to finish in the top-15 in the standings. Those lucky managers will compete in a live auction league in Las Vegas next March with a prize pool over $50k with over $25k going to first place. Not bad for an investment of $250. Then, whoever wins that league, will keep their place in the Champions League next season, with the top 14 in the standings from the next season joining them at the auction table.

As soon as I heard about this new format, I dedicated my season towards qualifying for that auction league. I want a seat at that table. Checking the standings daily for the past month and seeing my name inside the top-15, or just outside the top-15, was exhilarating. After everything that went wrong through the first three days of the week, I fell all the way down to 49th place. The rebound bump over the weekend wasn’t quite as good here, as we only moved back up to 38th place.

It wouldn’t be fun if it was easy, but now we really have to get back to grind mode. There is no quit. There is no wallowing in the sorrows from this week. Now is the time to put it behind us, step our game up and get going. There’s nowhere to go but up from here.

As always, I would love to hear your feedback on what you think of the article, the team, my poor decision making – anything. Those that have reached out so far, it has been very appreciated. Just drop me a line on X (@DaveShovein) and I would be happy to discuss.