Hopefully, you are still coming along for the magical ride called fantasy football. Hopefully, also you’ve been listening, because we here at Wayniac Nation have been en fuego. If you need reaffirmation as to why we should be your playoff go to, look no further than last week, and the start and sit of the week at each position.
The Chicago White Sox have had a nice 48 hours, haven’t they? A day after getting four solid prospects for Chris Sale, they sent Adam Eaton to the Washington Nationals for three more. Their top five prospects now rival anyone’s in baseball, and that says a lot.
Oh, and the New York Yankees went New York Yankees once again.
Dave Dombrowski doesn’t like to keep prospects around for too long. Despite it seeming that the Washington Nationals were ready to have a Max Scherzer and Chris Sale one-two punch atop their rotation as late as last night, the Boston Red Sox swooped in and now have a frightening Big Three in their rotation. Chris Sale changes the color of his Sox and is now atop a rotation that has David Price and the 2016 Cy Young winner Rick Porcello.
The Miami Dolphins are consistent. Every time they do something right, and I go and try to give them credit, they show how awful a football team they truly are. They started a six-game win streak with an impressive win over the Steelers, and then reeled off five in a row against some pretty bad football teams. Dunton and I put them in our Power Rankings as the Honorable Mention and lo and behold, they don’t even show up.
I’m done trying to believe in these guys. You won’t hear any more positive from me on the Phins, I promise.
Remember, our Power Rankings break down the best five teams per conference until the playoffs start, in which it becomes a comprehensive NFL Power Rankings.
Who made the cut this week?
It’s quite the curious case, isn’t it? The Today’s Game Committee, formerly the Veteran’s Committee, selected John Schuerholz of the Atlanta Braves (and Kansas City Royals) acclaim and Bud Selig in to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Nothing is surprising about Schuerholz. He twice was the mastermind behind World Champions. He built the 1985 Kansas City Royals team and then again the 1995 Atlanta Braves team, although some would argue that those teams fell a bit short by ONLY winning one World Championship. Anyway you look at it, Schuerholz is more than deserving.
Selig? You can argue that he is hands down the single greatest commissioner in MLB history. You can also argue, he was involved in the most detrimental era in the sport… twice.
By the time we arrived in Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania, I had accepted the fact that being the geographical equivalent of an army brat was my life now. This was the fifth house and fourth time I had to start over in a mere five years, and I was sick of it.
It made me slightly numb to the challenge of having to fit in, to the point that I just didn’t care anymore, because whether I would be accepted or not in this new “home”, we would eventually be on the move somewhere else. So, what was the point? If this move didn’t go well, it wouldn’t matter much, since I’d be doing it all again in a year or two anyway.
It was a beautiful day in Louisiana on the last day of that rocky 4th grade year. I had found a home. School was fun again. I had great friends, with construction site battle scars we’d be laughing about, in countless reunions we’d share over a lifetime of memories. Redi-med was announcing a grand opening of a new location, and calling it the Jared & Ryan Law Emergency Center. Not really. But they probably could of with the bills we paid.
Well, the Atlanta Braves have certainly changed the face of their starting rotation this offseason. After aging themselves a combined 85 years in a one-week span in November with the signing of 43 year old Bartolo Colon and 42 year old RA Dickey, they started December off obtaining another veteran. The Braves picked up Jaime Garcia from the Cardinals for Luke Dykstra, Chris Ellis, and John Gant.
Garcia, of course, has had an injury-plagued run with the Cardinals. The now-30 year old lefty has been up and down in his eight years with St. Louis, at times — when healthy — showing signs of brilliance and other times being in the doghouse for inconsistencies. He made his first 30-start season last year in four seasons and after coming off of an impressive 2015, he struggled to a 10-13 record, with a 4.67 ERA and 1.38 WHIP with just 150 strikeouts in 171.2 innings pitched.
Any haul for an oft-injured pitcher could be considered a good one, so who did the Cardinals get?
The Braves acquired Rob Whalen and John Gant at the 2015 trade deadline for Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe. After Whalen left for Seattle in last week’s Alex Jackson deal, neither are in the Braves’ future plans.
Our own John Sickels labeled the 6-foot-5, 205 pound righty one of his sleepers coming into the season, and he did reach the big leagues this season pitching primarily out of the bullpen to somewhat lackluster results sandwiched around a nearly month-long DL stint. Drafted by the Mets in 21st round back in 2011, it took Gant awhile to get above Low-A ball — four years to be precise — but pitched well in both the High-A FSL and Southern League of Double-A once he came over to the Braves.
Gant doesn’t have knock-you-out stuff, but he seems like he can make it work behind his uniquely awkward delivery. He has a fastball that falls in the 88 to 91 mile per hour range, a sinking change up and an ever-evolving curve, all of which he has learned to throw for strikes. As already mentioned, his big league debut wasn’t spectacular — 1-4, 4.39 FIP, and an 8.82 strikeout per nine rate to a 3.78 walks per nine rate, as well as a frightening 1.26 home run per nine rate — but the 24 year old did show he had big league stuff.
He could still be a serviceable back-end of the rotation guy, but a future out of the bullpen seems more likely. Expect him to compete for a roster spot immediately.
Dykstra played through an injury-riddled 2016 for the SAL Champion Rome Braves. Thus far he has proven to be a solid contact hitter, who can put the bat on the ball very regularly. There simply isn’t a lot of power behind it.
Despite being a solid contact hitter, Dykstra has had his critics over the years. He doesn’t strikeout a ton, striking out just eight percent of the time since being a seventh rounder back in 2014. He also doesn’t walk a whole lot, as evidence by his .335 career on base percentage, drawing just 23 career walks in his first 749 plate appearances. Thus, he consistently gets the bat on the ball, carrying a career .300 average, but just 25 percent of his career hits have gone for extra bases, with just two of them being home runs.
He’s quick enough (17 stolen bases in 23 career attempts) and scrappy like his father before him. I caught up with Dykstra the night before he went on the DL to end his season in August and liked what I saw and heard. He has the drive to succeed, the question is whether he will. Still just 21, there isn’t much hope that more power will develop, but if he can improve his on base skills, he could etch out a role as a solid utility infielder in the not so distant future.
Ellis, like Whalen and Gant, didn’t get to spend much time acclimating himself to the rebuilding Braves. The Los Angeles Angels 2014 third rounder came over with Sean Newcomb in the Andrelton Simmons deal. The 24 year old righty had a solid 2016 in Double-A Mississippi this year before struggling a bit in a promotion to Gwinnett.
The 6-foot-5 right-hander has a three-pitch arsenal. John describes his fastball as one which sits in the 90 to 94 range with some sink, despite the fact that Ellis seems to have settled in as a fly-ball pitcher behind a career 0.67 ground out to air out rate. He mixes in a very effective power slider along with a changeup, both of which seem to garner mix results depending on whom you speak with.
Ellis’ big concern is his command, and that didn’t change in 2016. He can certainly miss bats with a career 8.16 strikeout per nine rate, but he has constantly struggled with consistency with a 4.70 walks per nine rate. He posted the best ERA of his young career this season in Mississippi at a 2.78 mark, however a 3.63 FIP tells the better story. There is certainly promise for Ellis, and he wouldn’t be the first pitching prospect to find success in the Cardinals system, but he will likely need more time in Memphis to start the season.
He pitched out of the bullpen for two seasons at University of Mississippi, so despite 56 of his professional appearances being starts, he could be better served out of the bullpen with some past experience there. Expect to see his big league debut at some point this year.
(This article ran on John Sickels’ Minor League Ball).
Here we are, ladies and gentlemen. The final week of the 2016 regular season. You have survived the most injury-riddled fantasy season I can remember in my 19 years of doing this. Now, you either have the playoffs locked up, or are fighting for your playoff lives in one last game.
Every move counts this week. Who, oh who, should you start?
As always, we got you covered.
So we were teased a few weeks back that he was going to come back, and then we waited. It feels like we have been waiting for an entire PGA season, two really when you consider he shut it down 15 months ago. Well now the wait is over and today, Tiger Woods will play in a competitive (use that term loosely, but more on that later) tournament for the first time since shutting it down and having another back surgery.