Rebuilding a Fantasy Baseball Dynasty Disaster

There comes a pivotal point in everyone’s life where one must undergo deep introspection and admit things can’t stay the way they are. This applies to my uncertain career path and complete lack of social life, but I’m talking specifically about a fantasy baseball dynasty squad in desperate need of a complete rebuild.

Apathy is a fantasy baseball manger’s greatest detriment, and I let it bog me down for years. That, however, was when I actually had stuff to do in college. Now I’m home watching Netflix, twiddling my thumbs and staring into the abyss of a barren roster that bottomed out.

I don’t have many talents. Maybe this isn’t one of them either, but I know I’m not terrible at fantasy baseball. In this 18-team head-to-head league, missing the eight-team playoffs constitutes my idea of failure. So when I finished the 2015 season stuck in dead last—I can’t remember finishing last in any league since I joined my dad’s annual re-draft league in middle school—I was smacked in the face with a call to action. It’s time to turn this sucker around.

I also, however, don’t want to make quick, dirty fixes to instead place 12th, so patience is necessary. If I’m going to suck, I’m going to suck while blooming a future winner. After idly watching my roster age for years, it’s time for change. Other than Paul Goldschmidt and Madison Bumgarner, young stars in their prime who will take Godfather offers to move, anyone is fair game.

To show I mean business, I already executed three deals with Opening Day two months away. Here’s my thought process behind each maneuver.

 

Trade 1

I Give: Starlin Castro and Hunter Strickland

I Get: Steven Souza, Mat Latos, Carson Smith, Miguel Castro, Matt Boyd and 5th-round prospect pick

I opened the offseason by rearranging seats rather than burning the building for insurance money. This isn’t necessarily a rebuilding move, as Starlin Castro and Hunter Strickland will be 26 and 27, respectively, on Opening Day, but I landed 20-something talents at positions of grave need.

I’m also getting a lot of spare parts at the tail end. A Round 5 pick in a five-round draft is virtually a scratch-off ticket, but one I can use on a high-upside prospect a year or two away from rising up the rankings as someone a year or two away from making an impact. It’s no guarantee Miguel Castro and/or Matt Boyd make the final cut, but they definitely weren’t making the other guy’s final cut. I didn’t give anything extra to seize them.

A bit early to give up on Starlin Castro in a dynasty? Perhaps, but his value relies heavily on name recognition and a move to the Big Apple. Even after a late surge last summer, he hit a paltry .265/.296/.375 with 11 long balls and five steals. After stealing 25 bags in 2012, he has poached 18 bases in three combined seasons. Sorry if I’m not excited about a guy who can record 13 homers and seven steals.

As for Yankee Stadium fixing him, there’s only so much a small ballpark can do. Playing on a little-league field won’t cure last season’s 54.1 ground-ball percentage and 11.3 pop-up rate. He’s not going to exploit Yankee Stadium’s short porch if he can’t direct the ball beyond the infield.

Besides, I’m not quitting on him as much as investing in other guys I like. I ended the season with Joc Pederson, Nick Markakis, Ben Paulsen and Chris Coghlan as my outfielders, so Steven Souza offers an immediate upgrade with 20-20 upside. If he can fake his way to a .240 average and stay on the field in light of the Tampa Bay Rays acquiring Corey Dickerson—which happened after I got Souza—he’ll match or exceed Castro’s value.

Strickland has a clearer path to a closer’s role than Carson Smith, but Smith sported a 2.31 ERA, 11.81 K/9 and 64.8 ground-ball percentage. He’ll help out my ratios as an elite middle reliever as I cross my fingers for him somehow, somewhere finding his way back into the ninth inning.

Don’t sleep on Mat Latos. I got him as a throw-in, but I’m hoping he makes this exchange worthwhile. The 28-year-old’s stock is way down after accruing a 4.95 ERA and 1.31 ERA in 2015. In a free-agent market where Ian Kennedy netted a $70-million deal, the righty hasn’t found a new home.

He’s an ideal low-risk gamble for fantasy and MLB franchises alike. Despite the down year, he recorded a 3.72 FIP while masking red flags from 2014. While he wasn’t the ace of old, he upticked his average fastball velocity, strikeout percentage and swinging-strike percentage after enduring career lows in all categories the previous years:

  • 2014: 90.7 MPH FB, 17.6 K %, 8.1 SwSt %
  • 2015: 91.5 MPH FB, 20.2 K %, 9.9 SwSt %

I don’t have much in my rotation beyond Bumgarner, Taijuan Walker and Rick Porcello. (At least I’ll get another few months of Bartolo Colon on the Mets.) In the right environment, Latos can make a solid No. 4 or 5 starter in an 18-team league. Just keep him away from the Braves.

 

Trade 2

I Give: Brandon Phillips

I Get: 2016 3rd round pick (No. 52 Overall) and 2017 4th

A successful fantasy manager weeds out personal biases, operating as a cold-calculated machine rather than an irrational fool.  Then again, fantasy baseball is a silly game. It’s supposed to be fun, and rooting for people whom you don’t like is no fun.

I don’t like Brandon Phillips.

It’s baffling to see a professional baseball hitter—albeit a successful one—say he doesn’t pay attention to on-base percentage. This is no longer an advanced stat for Moneyball nerds blogging in their mom’s basement—I have my own room upstairs, thank you very much. It’s a rudimentary stat included in TV broadcasts and traditional box scores.

My league uses the traditional five-by-five categories, but reaching base more means more base-stealing and run-scoring opportunities. Phillips drew walks in 4.3 percent of his plate appearances. Then there was callously cursing out a Cincinnati Reds reporter doing his job by pointing out the veteran’s his indifference to plate discipline. What a class act that Brandon is.

Phillips’ .315 weighted on-base average (wOBA) and 96 weighted runs-created plus (wRC+) both depict his 2015 campaign as slightly below average at the plate. From a fantasy perspective, however, he provided considerable value by hitting .294 with 12 homers and 23 steals.

I’m not buying it. Don’t think a career .274 hitter flirts with .300 again. Can’t see him sniffing 20 steals again during a season in which he turns 35. He poached seven combined bags in 2013 and 2014 and averaged 15 from 2010-2012.

How did I end up with a guy I obviously dislike? He was part of a convoluted trade last July where I parted with a few veterans (Matt Holliday and Dan Haren among others). He wasn’t the key return, and I planned to flip him all along. So I shipped him out to the first willing buyer, acquiring two picks in our five-round prospect draft. (Available MLB players are also on the table. Other than a reliever stumbling into a closer’s gig, there’s usually no veterans of significant interest.)

Neither the No. 52 pick this year nor a fourth-rounder next year is much of a loss for a contender looking for a stop-gap upgrade. Yet I have nothing better to do than copiously research prospects in hopes of hitting the jackpot late. Some names taken outside the top 50 last year: Alex Reyes, Brett Phillips, Manuel Margot, Gleyber Torres and Orlando Arcia.

In retrospect, I’m worried I might have made this trade just for the sake of doing something. When you know something needs fixing, taking any action feels better than remaining a hopeless spectator. Of course, not every move is for the better.

Yet inaction has put me in this pickle. If I held out and didn’t receive a suitable offer, a .265, 12-12 season would rob the veteran of any remaining luster. On the other hand, I mistakenly thought Ketel Marte or Asdrubal Cabrera still had second-base eligibility, and I also sent Castro packing. Looks like I may open the season with Wilmer Flores (part of the trade where I acquired Phillips) as my starting second baseman. Whoops. This was my most Sam Hinkie move of the trio. Trust the process.

 

Trade 3:

I Give: Adrian Beltre

I Get: Jorge Soler

*I also give a conditional 2017 3rd round pick if Soler hits more than 22 home runs this season

From both a real-life and fantasy perspective, Adrian Beltre rarely receives the respect he deserved. A career .285/.377/.477 hitter with a stellar glove at the hot corner, he’s a deserving Hall of Famer who found new life as a top-shelf fantasy third baseman from 2010 onward. He spent all those years raking for my club, and for that I am truly grateful.

He’s also an old man. Beltre will turn 37 in early April, and I’m not contending any time soon. His slugging percentage and home-run tallies have dipped each of the past three years, and he hit below .295 (only .287) for the first time since 2009. As a productive veteran with existing, yet gradually diminishing value, he had to go. Given my lack of marketable veterans, getting a significant return for him was crucial to my rebuild. I hope to have found my man in Jorge Soler.

The Chicago Cubs outfielder likely wouldn’t have been available last year after generating a .573 slugging percentage in 97 rookie plate appearances. Yet in a larger sample size, he clubbed a tame .262/.324/.399, hitting 10 homers in 101 games with an alarming 30.0 strikeout percentage.

I used those season setbacks as a buying opportunity. A small sample size tricked re-drafters into overpaying last year, so they’ll treat his postseason dominance (9-for-19, 3 2Bs, 3 HRs, 6 BBs) with skepticism. But hey, it happened. Blend those stats with his 404 regular-season plate appearances, and his slash line soars to .273/.340/.434.

He doesn’t get cheated at the plate, belting a 27.8 line-drive percentage and 35.9 hard-hit percentage during the regular season. Although he won’t hit for a high average without fixing his strikeout woes, he’ll make the most of his batted balls, which puts him in line to hit around .270-.280.

That conditional third-round pick—an interesting idea issued by my trade partner—is no mere throw-in. The first two deals demonstrated my desire for accumulating assets, and another horrid season will make that an early third. Joe Ross and Raisel Iglesias were among two of the last winter’s opening third-round selections. Then again, if Soler smashes 23 or more dingers, I’ll be too ecstatic about landing a young building block to mind the loss.

So long, old friend. Hello, new pal. Hopefully we form a strong bond over the years as you one day lead a new battalion back to the Promised Land. Or at least the playoffs.

Note: Advanced stats courtesy of FanGraphs 

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Would New York Yankees Play Better without Derek Jeter at Shortstop?

Derek Jeter has executed his patented jump-throw several times over his illustrious career. Now this range at shortstop has deteriorated, is it now time to remove him from the field? Video courtesy of MLB.com.

 

There is an absolutely zero percent chance of the New York Yankees having the guts to remove the legendary Derek Jeter from shortstop during his final season. While the future Hall of Famer is no longer a stupendous player at the plate or on the field, the alternative won’t propel the sinking Bronx Bombers to a postseason appearance.

The Yankees are still in striking distance of the final Wild Card spot, but their chances are fading. They’ve dropped six of their last 10 games, including a tough loss against the Houston Astros on Tuesday night behind the strength of Chris Carter’s 30th home run. Because some Yankees fans are the most fickle people on the planet, they even booed David Robertson—he of a 13.60 K/9 rate and 2.43 FIP—because revisionist history tells them Mariano Rivera never blew a save or allowed a home run, or baserunner.

If this was any other team in Major League Baseball, we can shrug, accept that they’re not that good and move on. After all, they sport a minus-40 run differential that ranks 21st in baseball behind the likes of the sub-.500 Tampa Bay Rays (+21),  New York Mets (-8) and San Diego Padres (-12).

Plagued with a cavalcade of injuries to their starting rotation, the Yankees are fortunate to sit over .500 at 63-60. The fact that they lurk four games out of a postseason spot is remarkable, but they’re unlikely to slitter any closer before September ends. I hate to be a Nelly Nihilist, but Yankees fans might be better joining Green Day in slumber for the next six weeks.

Of course, “Meh, screw it” isn’t the best organizational philosophy, so the club is trying everything it can to find a jolt of inspiration. Brian Cashman acquired some nice veterans (Brandon McCarthy, Chase Headley, Martin Prado) last month, but it probably won’t be enough to leapfrog the Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners up the standings.

Well, have no fear, ESPNNewYork.com’s Wallace Matthews is here to the rescue! His plan for a late-season turnaround will cause New York’s faithful to assemble their pitchforks while everyone else smirks at his expert trolling. After watching Jeter play a couple of games at designated hitter last week to ease the 40-year-old’s burden, Matthews determined that lineup is the way to go for the remainder of 2014.

As the game unfolded, it became increasingly clear that this infield, seen for the first time all season, was the best collection of gloves the Yankees can put out there for their remaining 40 games.

And as anyone who has watched this team play its first 122 games could tell you, there is now so little margin for error that Girardi really can’t justify using anyone else.

He went on to state the obvious: Joe Girardi is (rightfully) terrified of stripping the most beloved Yankee since Mickey Mantle of the terrain he’s manned for 18 years.

Asked after the game if he agreed that the infield he put out there Sunday was the one that gives his team the best chance to win, Girardi gave as revealing an answer as any manager could while at the same time maintaining the decorum and diplomacy necessary in dealing with the final days of a legend.

“That’s not a discussion that I really want to have right now,” he said. “With Carlos [Beltran] being able to play the outfield, I can obviously do some different things. But Jeet’s my shortstop.”

That answer says so many things in so few words, but the gist of it is simple: I, Joe Girardi, am not going to be the one to tell Derek Jeter he is no longer my best option at shortstop.

As an emotionless robot who torments myself by rooting for the Mets, I’d have no qualms touting such a move if it tangibly made the Yankees a better baseball team. Such a move, however, won’t make a significant enough improvement to justify the intense backlash that will flood New York during Jeter’s farewell tour.

Under Matthews’ suggestion, which included no attempt at providing statistical evidence to his claim, the recently acquired Stephen Drew would slide over from second base to shortstop, his natural position. Utility man Martin Prado would leave the outfield to play second, with Carlos Beltran vacating the dugout to start in right field instead of at DH.

First things first, Drew is a better defensive shortstop than Jeter. Go ahead and wave around The Captain’s five Gold Gloves, but that just displays the ludicrously of past Gold Glove voters valuing offense over the actual skill getting awarded. Over his career, Jeter has fared terribly in two key defensive metrics. He has cost several runs on the field with minus-158 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and a minus-74.9 Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR).

While he has become a more sure-handed fielder later in his career, he has also lost some range, because of course a 40-year-old shortstop won’t have the quickest pep in his step. Drew, on the other hand, posted a 5.3 UZR at short last year for the Boston Red Sox. This season, he has has saved four runs in limited work at his accustomed position.

But it doesn’t matter as long as Drew ‘s abysmal hitting offsets his stellar glove-work. Both shortstops in questions haven’t hit a lick, but Drew has looked so abysmal at the plate that Jeter gets an edge just by accumulating a few singles.

Jeter: .267/.316/.321, 3 HR, 38 R, 32 RBI, 5.9 BB%, 14.1 K%, 78 wRC+*, -11 DRS, 0.1 fWAR

Drew:  .170/.241/.302, 4 HR, 18 RBI, 14 R, 8.5 BB%, 25.1 K%, 46 wRC+, 4 DRS, -0.4 fWAR

*Weighted runs created, which measures all-around offensive production while normalizing park factors. It’s measured on a scale of 100, meaning both are below-average, but Drew is especially terrible at 48 percent equivalency of an average player. 

If Drew can return to his 2013 offensive output, when he slugged .443, he’s the far superior choice. For now, any value amassed with his glove is neutralized, and then some, by his lethargic bat.

Then again, Drew is currently playing regardless. Prado helps the infield, but he’s not significantly better at second than at right field. Yes, New York can improve its infield defense by keeping Jeter away from it, but what about the outfield? Beltran, who has been relegated almost exclusively to DH duties, has cost the Yankees five runs when patrolling the outfield. Once a tremendous center fielder, the 37-year-old is now a liability even when hidden in Yankee Stadium’s short right field. He needs the protective shield of the DH spot just as much as Jeter.

Matthews is suggesting they solve one problem while ignoring the other problem it creates.

If upgrading their defense is the the Yankees’ No.1 priority, they can play Ichiro Suzuki instead.  But come on, do they want to give regular playing time to another 40-year-old with a .648 OPS? No, no they don’t. Heck, they could even play Brendan Ryan alongside Drew in the middle infield despite his .264 slugging percentage. Offense is for losers! Too bad their offense is already in dire condition.

Offense is actually a greater concern for a team that has prided itself on breaking the bank for top sluggers. They rank 20th in OPS and 21st in runs scored and wRC+. They’re not great defensively either, but they’re slightly better at 17th in Defensive WAR. If Drew doesn’t soon find his st

There’s also the matter of how everyone will perform in changed roles. Rationally speaking, the defensive position should bear no impact in the batter’s box. Human beings, however, are not wired to function as completely rational beings.

Beltran has welcomed the extra rest associated with DHing. When playing the outfield, he’s hitting .204/275/.357. When only concerned with batting, he’s sporting a .244/.298/.437 slash line. Not great, but still better than the alternative since he has belted 11 of his 14 homers when not playing the field.

Jeter’s six games at DH, during which he’s hitting .222, isn’t nearly enough of a sample size to draw a reasonable conclusion. Yet his reluctance to any such move could cause resentment, creating a negative mindset curtailing any benefits the extra down-time generates.

Could the Yankees be better off enacting this lineup renovation? Possibly, but only by a slight margin that won’t make a substantial difference in the standings. The potential benefit of removing Jeter from short far outweighs the dastardly cost to the teams’s business model. Even if it simply maintains status quo, fans will cite it as the reason they missed the postseason and call for Girardi’s job.

It’s not the outlandish proposal a Yankee fan thinking with his or heart likely perceives it to be, but a new defensive alignment won’t save the Yankees from missing out on the playoffs again. As long as their top pitchers sit on the DL while their offense dwindles, the goldest of gloves won’t salvage their season.

 

Note: All advanced statistics, updated as of Wednesday (8/20) afternoon, are courtesy of FanGraphs.

Yankees Winning Trade Season, Ryan Howard’s Downward Spiral and Other MLB Thoughts

The New York Yankees are ruthless spenders who clear their pockets in exchange for victories. That’s fine; they have the influx of cash and are willing to part with it for championships. Every fan wants his or her team’s owner to proceed the same way.

In exchange, we all get to laugh when an expensive transaction falls on its face. With lavish spending comes lavish overpays, as players made available via free agency or trades are usually old and past their peak while still commanding a hefty price tag.

Carlos Beltran making $15 million while registering a minus-0.8 WAR? Yikes. Brian McCann slugging .373 in the first season of a five-year contract as a 30-year-old catcher? Ruh roh. Jacoby Ellsbury getting top dollar to run less and provide average defense while Yankee Stadium fails to uptick his power production? Zoinks!

See how much fun that is, provided you’re not a Yankees fan? That’s why it stinks to see them make two savvy trades for under-appreciated players worth more than the general public believes.

In desperate need of a starting pitcher to procure some innings, they sent Vidal Nuno and cash considerations to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Brandon McCarthy. Nuno, 26, wasn’t cutting it in New York’s rotation, so the Bronx Bombers instead snatched a quality arm quietly having a nice year.

I can hear the cranky old talk-show host yelling now about McCarthy’s 5-10 record and 4.49 ERA. How on earth is that a nice year? They should take Ferris Bueller’s advice and look around once in a while, as there’s a bunch of other juicy stats to chew into.

Usually a poor strikeout pitcher, McCarthy has amped up his K/9 rate to a career-high 7.71, all while maintaining his typical pinpoint command. He’s utilizing his fastball at a much-higher rate (63.1 percent) than during previous years, which has worked since he’s also firing it at a higher velocity.

Over the past three years, his four-seam velocity has hovered slightly below 91 miles per hour. This year, he’s reaching at average speed of 92.9 on the radar gun.

The Diamondbacks wouldn’t have realized that, since none of these metrics are included on their special grit box scores. Sure, his 55.3 ground-ball rate elicits multiple easy outs and his 2.90 xFIP is excellent, but how dirty is his uniform?!?

The move has yielded immediate results. Through three stars, McCarthy has tallied a 1.45 ERA, 17 strikeouts and three walks in 18.2 innings. He’s also a 31-year-old in a contract year, but Brian Cashman made a rare Yankees move by accepting damaged goods to save the farm system.

 

Speaking of damaged goods, Chase Headley is hitting .233/.297/.356, which represents career lows in all three categories. The 30-year-old will never duplicate his MVP-caliber production from 2012, when he delivered 31 homers, 115 RBI, 17 stolen bases and a 7.2 WAR, but this season has transpired much worse than he hoped for as he prepares to embark on the free-agent process this offseason.

Since the San Diego Padres failed to sell high two years ago when they had the chance, they accepted a dull return from the Yankees. Rather than landing substantial future pieces, they settled for Rafael De Paula—a 23-year-old pitcher with a 4.15 ERA in high Single-A—and Yangervis Solarte, a 26-year-old infielder who fell back down to earth after a monstrous start.

While Headley is a shell of the star that briefly shined a couple years ago, he still provides Gold Glove defense at a position New York needed to upgrade. He’ll also play half of his games in Yankee Stadium instead of Petco Park, a monumental shift that should spark an offensive revival.

During his career, Headley has hit .286/.360/.444 on the road. Petco’s spacious confines have drastically suppressed his power, but he could morph into a 15-20 homer hitter if he stays with the Yankees for a full season. Aside from the 2012 outlier, he has never exceeded 13 long balls in a given year.

By FanGraphs’ measure, a struggling Headley has still contributed 1.6 wins above a replacement-level player in 2014. That places him third among New York’s position players behind Brett Gardner (3.0) and Jacoby Ellsbury (2.5).

 

Ryan Howard: $138 Million Platoon Hitter

Ryan Howard’s career continues to descend steeper than Great Adventure’s new Zumanjaro ride. Once a top power bat who hilariously wrung a five-year, $138 million extension out of the Philadelphia Phillies, the 34-year-old is no longer even an everyday player.

The slugger, who is MLB’s highest-paid position player this year at $25 million, has tested the team’s patience with a .224/.305/.377 slash line. Skipper Ryne Sandberg has put his foot down, benching the first baseman over the past couple of days in favor of Darin Ruf.

Everyone who bemoaned the lavish extension signed in 2012, when two years still remained on the former MVP’s deal, took a victory lap with the news of Howard’s latest shaming. After all, Howard has accrued a minus-0.7 WAR over the past three years while getting paid like a superstar.

But all three elements of his slash line dipped in both 2010 and 2011, during which he respectively hit 31 and 33 homers after averaging 49 long balls per season in the prior four years. Throw in a colossal strikeout rate, poor contact skills, no speed and anemic defense, and everybody besides Ruben Amaro Jr. knew that deal was terrible.

So let’s move on to another question: Should the Phillies leave Howard on the bench? He’s certainly not performing like a quality major league starter, but Darin Ruf touts the same incomplete repertoire.

Last season, Ruf essentially acted the part of a lesser Howard, batting .247/.348/.458 with 14 homers through 73 games. Like Howard, he whiffed often with a 31.1 strikeout percentage while providing negative value on the basepaths and field. At age 27, he’s also not much of a prospect the organization needs to scout with a big league audition.

Assuming Howard’s at-bat against southpaws conceivably makes sense, but the righty Ruf sports a career .217 average against them. Considering his .785 OPS against them, it could be worth trying out to shield the veteran from lefties from Howard. Then again, he’s not faring any better against righties this season, posting a .682 OPS compared to a .681 versus lefties.

In terms of actual production, Ruf can’t do much worse than Howard. If the Phillies are serious about ignoring sunk costs and leaving financial commitments out of the discussion, he at least warrants a platoon unless Howard can regain his stroke at the plate.

 

Tigers Trade for Amazing Closer, Will Continue to Use Terrible Closer

Looking for a boost in a tough American League, the Detroit Tigers bolstered their bullpen by trading for Joakim Soria. The All-Star reliever, who is enjoying a resounding comeback after missing all of 2012 and most of 2013 after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his injured elbow, represents a significant upgrade for a bullpen currently brandishing a 4.37 ERA.

Much of Detroit’s late-inning woes fall on the arm of Joe Nathan, a once proud shutdown closer who is now posting a hideous 5.73 ERA. After coming back from a significant injury of his own in 2012, he also rebounded spectacularly, notching a 2.09 ERA and 80 saves in 2012 and 2013.

This year, however, he has been a train wreck due to a decreased velocity and career-worst walk rate (3.82 BB/9) as a reliever. Soria, meanwhile, is standing strong with a 2.07 ERA, 1.07 FIP and 42 strikeouts to just four walks.

One would have reasonably expected the former Texas Ranger to usurp Nathan, another former Texas star, in the ninth inning. Nope. Detroit is sticking with Nathan, a move that would be infuriating if closers held as much importance as many fans believe.

In truth, it doesn’t make a huge difference whether Nathan stinks in the sixth, seventh, eighth or ninth inning. Due to his long track record of success, Brad Ausmus won’t cease using him altogether. Meanwhile, a pristine eighth inning from Soria serves just as well as a superb ninth.

The bothersome part about this development: Few, if any MLB managers share this sentiment. If Ausmus asked himself which heralded reliever is more qualified for the prestigious role and concluded Nathan deserves the better assignment, wow.

Unfortunately, he probably fell prey to the familiarity bias, sticking to his guy rather than switching allegiance to Detroit’s new acquisition. One more blow-up outing, however, could cost Nathan the role he has slayed for the past decade.

 

Note: All advanced stats are courtesy of FanGraphs. Contract information obtained via Cot’s Baseball Contracts.