Capitals

Fantasy Baseball Category Killers: Saves

Fantasy Baseball Category Killers: Saves

Saves

Javier Lopez, Giants: Its been a productive week for Lopez, as he's collected three saves and a hold during his previous four outings. Sergio Romo looms, as does Jeremy Affeldt, but Lopez looks to be the hot hand and name to own in the San Francisco pen.

John Axford, Brewers: The Axman appears to have worked his way back into ninth inning duties, picking up two saves last week. He faltered in his most recent outing against the Pirates, giving way to Kameron Loe, who collected his second save of the season. While Axford should continue seeing chances moving forward, he's very risky.
Wilton Lopez, Astros: Closers on bad teams are always low ceiling, especially when they are relatively new to the role, like Lopez is with the Astros. He's been up and down this month, going 2-2 with two saves in three opportunities. He's pitched very well this year (2.31 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 465 KBB), and looks to be building momentum heading into next year, which should start with him as Houstons closer.
Andrew Bailey, Red Sox: Andrew Bailey gets a save opportunity. As a result, Alfredo Aceves throws a tantrum, and is suspended for three games. The writing is on the wall here, and in bold letters it says 'Add Bailey Now. There is a strong chance he finishes the year as the closer, and heads into '13 with the job securely in hand (good healthy provided).

Glen Perkins, Twins: Perkins picked up another save on Sunday, and now has three during the month of August. He still shares chances with Jared Burton, but as long has he's collecting handshakes, he has value in all fantasy formats.

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The next great hashtag, give props to Stephenson and Carlson can't stop scoring

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USA TODAY Sports

The next great hashtag, give props to Stephenson and Carlson can't stop scoring

Game 1 of the World Series was completely overshadowed by the big matchup in Calgary between the Capitals and Flames...OK, so that’s not entirely true, but while the Nationals were battling in Game 1, the Caps extended their win streak to four games including two wins to start their five-game road trip.

Here is everything you need to know from Tuesday's 5-3 win.

Observations from the win

Another big-game for Carlson

The NHL points leader scored another two goals to give him 20 points in his first 11 games. He now has a career-high eight-game point streak.

Yawn. Seen it. It's all routine at this point.

All kidding aside, if you’re not on the Carlson hype train, get on board. This is quickly turning from a great start to a special one.

Reirden is showing a lot of trust in his fourth line

Brendan Leipsic, Chandler Stephenson and Nic Dowd only played about 6:45 together as a line on Tuesday, but the vast majority of that time came in the third period when the Caps when it really mattered and with the Caps protecting a lead.

Six minor penalties in the first two periods limited their ice-time to less than seven minutes. You may look at that as a sign of distrust, but if you dig deeper and see that the fourth line took six shifts in the third period alone, you start to realize it’s not how much they were used but when that really matters.

Big props to Stephenson

At no point in the offseason did I think Stephenson would be a regular in the Caps’ lineup this year. That’s not just me, the Caps essentially broadcast that they were not satisfied with his play when they signed him to a contract just under the maximum cap hit that can be buried in the AHL. At that point, I thought he should have started packing his bags for Hershey. Instead, he worked his butt off, had a great training camp and has stuck on the roster ever since.

Stephenson’s goal was not just pure luck. No, I don’t mean he meant to bank the puck off Rasmus Andersson. What I mean is he followed the puck on a dump-in, sped in to steal it from Cam Talbot behind the net and then banked it in. He didn’t give up on the play and created a goal out of nothing.

There are times I think Reirden shows Stephenson a little bit too much faith as I think Dowd should not be scratched as much as he is, but it is hard to argue with Stephenson continuing to play a fourth-line role considering how much he continues to work for it.

Give credit to Vrana

Tom Wilson scored the game-winner on a goal that was assisted by Lars Eller and Michal Kempny. But do not discount the role Jakub Vrana played on that goal.

Eller picks up the puck when Travis Hamonic failed to control it and Vrana immediately went hard to the net. Noah Hanifin went with him which left Wilson wide open for the goal.

Vrana may not get a point for it, but he was instrumental in setting up that play.

Turning point

Calgary battled back from a 2-0 deficit to tie the game at 2 late in the second. That tie lasted...10 whole seconds.


Play of the night

Brendan Leipsic dumped in the puck and Talbot went behind the net to corral it. You see this multiple times per game, every game. Nothing ever comes from it. This time, however, Stephenson never gave up on the play and caught Talbot by surprise.

Stephenson stole it from Talbot and fired a centering pass off Andersson into the empty net.


Stat of the night

First, the obligatory Carlson stat:

Now another bonus stat just to make sure this does not get monopolized by Carlson.

Nicklas Backstrom picked up an assist on Ovechkin’s goal in the second period. That assist was the 649th of his career which moves him one past Daniel Sedin for the fifth-most assists all-time by a Swedish-born player.

Quote of the night

Ovechkin on Carlson’s incredible start to the season:

“#Johnny4Norris. That’s a hashtag right now. Let’s keep it going.”

Fan predictions

I don’t know whether to be more impressed by how many predictions you got right or the window.

Calling a Stephenson goal is pretty damn bold.

Nailed the score.

Caps in 5.

Anything to avoid going to Edmonton.

I’m kidding! I hear Edmonton is lovely this time of year….

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Bradley Beal enters 2019-20 season in an unfamiliar role, says patience will be key

Bradley Beal enters 2019-20 season in an unfamiliar role, says patience will be key

WASHINGTON -- Bradley Beal ran his palm across his left cheek as he spoke, highlighting the new style of facial hair he has maintained throughout the preseason. Though it is trimmed symmetrically, it's not exactly what he dreamed of when he started growing it out.

"I've got my chops. I'm still trying to get them to connect," he said. "I'm 26 and I still can't grow a beard."

Some of that scruff may turn gray by the end of the 2019-20 season, Beal's eighth in the NBA. He has a new role, one of franchise player, something he has never been to this extent entering a season before. Though he has played plenty with John Wall sidelined due to injuries, he has never gone into a season as 'the guy.'

And, though he knows what it's like to be on a rebuilding team likely headed south of the playoffs from his early days in the NBA, he hasn't done that while being an established, All-Star player. This year could test his resolve if things go as many have predicted.

Not only could there be more losses than victories, but Beal will have to get used to playing with teammates a lot younger and less experienced than him. The Wizards' opening night starting lineup, for instance, has three players Age 22 or younger.

"It's definitely going to be a patient, long year. I will be saying that word a lot. Just being patient and understanding," he told NBC Sports Washington.

"It's a growing year, just realizing that I can't expect everybody to be perfect. I can't expect them to know what to do in every situation."

Beal plans to do his part both in games and in practices to make sure the young players fall in line. The fact he just signed a contract extension keeping him in Washington through at least the 2021-22 season shows everyone in the organization he is committed long-term. That should boost the respect he already commands as a star player.

Now, when young players look at him during frustrating times, they know he isn't pondering an exit strategy. He is here to stay and they have to follow his lead.

Beal has developed into a vocal leader and he can be hard on young players behind the scenes, especially the ones he expects the most out of.

"I know these guys are young, but I know they aren't going to fulfill their potential unless I push them there," he said.

It will be interesting to see how that plays out during and after games. There are probably going to be nights where he plays in lineups with four players who could still be in college. They may make mistakes and possibly at crucial times. Beal will have to let those teaching moments slide and choose how to categorize them to the media afterwards.

Though the Wizards have some veterans on their team, head coach Scott Brooks is planning to rely more on younger players than he has in the past. He was criticized by fans last season for not playing Troy Brown Jr. even when it appeared obvious he could help. There were some in the front office who wondered what was taking so long.

Those types of disagreements happen within organizations and within coaching staffs. But this year, Brooks may have no choice.

"The opportunity is definitely going to be there this year," Brooks told NBC Sports Washington. "Troy's going to have a great opportunity to make an impact."

Brooks will be tasked with doling out minutes and, for young players, he says there is a "sweet spot" between having them earn their playing time and getting the chance to play through mistakes.

"This is not an 'everybody get a ribbon' league. You can't play everybody," he said.

Brooks mentioned the Capital City Go-Go as a resource to use to ensure guys get game experience, even if it is not at the NBA level. But overall, for coaches like Brooks and leaders like Beal, they will have to take a nurturing approach. Brooks said that for him that could mean having lunch with young players or taking them out to coffee at a local restaurant. Maybe Beal will have to lead in more creative ways, beyond just setting an example.

There is no question a lot is going to be on Beal's plate. For the foreseeable future, the Wizards are his team. Wall may be back at some point this season, but he could miss it all due to his ruptured left Achilles injury. 

For the newcomers on the Wizards' roster, Wall's absence won't mean much because they haven't played with him before. Beal is the one who will have to adjust and take on a larger role. That could be as simple as taking more shots.

Beal has set career-highs in shot attempts each of the last three seasons. He ranked seventh in the NBA last year with 19.6 shots per game and that number could increase this year.

"I definitely know that my shot attempts probably have to go up," Beal said.

He may even approach a goal Brooks has publicly set for him; to shoot 20 threes in a game. 

"I might get to it this year, I don't know. But I don't want to just be considered a chuck," he said. 

"That's just not me. I'm an efficient guy. I'm not a bad shot taker. I play the right way no matter what the score of the game is. I know this year I'm definitely going to have be a lot more aggressive. There might be times where I have to take some heat checks and when I'm not hot, but I've gotta take them."

Though it may not feel natural for Beal to take a ton of shots, the opportunity is there for him to be the focus of an offense like few players in the NBA are. He could take 20-plus shots per game and chase a scoring title if he wants to.

Most players would love to have that type of green light. But Beal also wants to win and he may fall frustratingly short of doing so this season. Let's check back in on him in a few months.

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