Engel’s Angles: Deal Nationals’ Gio Gonzalez for Anything, Acquire Mets’ Michael Conforto and More
Gio Gonzalez is About To Kill Your Squad, NASCAR clarity, and More
Let’s begin this edition of Engel’s Angles with some interviews I recently did for “RotoExperts At the Park” on the FNTSY Sports Radio Network. We open with Washington Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez. He is truly one of the best guys in the game in terms of dealing with the media and one of my favorites to talk to. He is also universally panned by Fantasy Baseball analysts who believe he was incredibly lucky last season and to a degree, early this season as well.
You heard the opposing Batting Average with RISP stat I mentioned to Gonzalez. Fantasy experts pointed to his 81.6 percent strand rate from last year, along with a .258 BABIP, nearly 40 points below his career norm, and an xFIP of 4.24 (his ERA was 2.96) as prime factors for skepticism heading into 2018. This season he is off to a 2-2 start with a 3.04 ERA, but he already has a 1.50 WHIP and there is also the 3.84 xFIP. He has not gone six innings in any of his last four starts and has allowed 17 baserunners in his last 10.1 innings pitched. As you heard in the interview, Gonzalez has remade himself as more of a curve/change-up type over the past two seasons. His fastball usage is down from 64.4 percent in 2016 to 52.1 percent this year, while his curve usage has risen from 19.8 to 24.8 and change usage from 15.7 to 23.1 during that span. Obviously, the scouting reports have now changed when facing Gonzalez. And it appears the league is very close to fully adjusting to his recent alterations that he thanks his teammates for.
Gonzalez is as smart as he is engaging. As you heard in the interview, he is always working to get an edge, and has always been that way, a very nimble thinker, since early in his career. He plays on a team that should be able to bail him out with strong run support frequently. But it appears the time for the league to “catch up to him” is now. Yes, the .346 BABIP is a big unlucky change in the other direction, but that 9.79 K rate is also going to normalize. Many Fantasy owners won’t give you an upgrade for Gio knowing the narrative on him. But if you can trade him for another respectable guy in a one for one, I’d do it. Opposing hitters may be about to pounce on his reworked Gonzalez for a good stretch. You may not want to have him active while it happens. The league is just about to turn his luck around more, now that there has been ample time to adjust to his changing arsenal. He got away with it for a year and almost a month, but regression is about to come very hard. He’s about to really hurt your ratios.
By the way, for Gio’s sake I hope I am wrong. He is a helluva cool guy, a Marvel Comics fanatic who wants to see Deadpool II even more than Avengers: Infinity War.
Make the Move for Mikey
Here’s my recent exclusive interview with Mets outfielder Michael Conforto. While he says he is feeling fine even after missing the beginning of the season, I believe he is truly not in form yet. Last year he hit .321 with six home runs in 56 April at-bats. This season he has hit .213 so far with one HR in 47 at-bats.
The biggest takeaway from this interview for me, however, is that the shoulder surgery now gives him peace of mind that one Mets insider told me in the spring that he just didn’t have before the procedure. So I believe he is just behind schedule in terms of getting his start to the season, and once he gets hot, the power and run production is really going to give your Fantasy team a nice boost. Approach the Conforto owner and don’t let him know you read about his new mindset here. Prey on the fact that he was injured last year and is starting slowly and see if the Conforto owner is willing to deal him via that pitch. Then strap in as 25-plus homers and a .280 or better batting average rolls in the rest of the way. That 28.1 Hard Hit percentage and 7.1 HR/FB rate are two numbers that certainly are about to rise.
Conforto is a native of Seattle and a big Seahawks fan. Of course I like that a lot about him, but that’s not why I drafted him in three leagues. I knew waiting on the return when he rounded into form would be worth it. Time is running out for you to do the same.
Like KISS, I am still very much Alive!
Someone recently asked if I was retired from radio. No, although that is what Gregg Sussman sometimes appeared to hope for, I am not. We have just moved all of my air time into a deluxe three-hour weekend slot, from 9 am to noon ET Sundays on the FNTSY Sports Radio Network. The longest-running Fantasy Sports morning show in the biz, the RotoExperts, is still very much ALIVE! Join me and a familiar lead guitarist, George Kurtz, as we continue to put on the ultimate Fantasy stage show. And seriously, I love Mr. Sussman.
-In this clip from Carton and Friends on the FNTSY Sports Radio Network, Craig, joined by Jim Leyritz, makes the claim that only Mets fans hate the Yankees, and not vice versa. Nonsense. Craig’s new partner in the studio, Corey Parson, is notorious for hating on the Mets, and there are so many like him. As many championships as the Yankees have won, many of their fans hate the Mets, because they will always fear the Mets being more relevant and popular in New York City as they were in the late 1960s, early 1970s and most of the 1980s. Of course, they will never admit such a thing. But the city started leaning to orange and blue for a brief period in 2015, and that’s not what Yankee fans want to see at any time. Bring that up to them, and they will scoff and laugh, but it’s really fear they are displaying. For the record, I do not hate the Yankees myself, but to say Yankee fans don’t hate the Mets is not true in many cases.
-I am done with this malarkey that NASCAR drivers are not athletes. Most of those who make such a claim are comparing it to driving to the supermarket. Driving in NASCAR takes tremendous, skill, reflexes, coordination, stamina and endurance among other abilities. The drivers can lose 10 or more pounds of sweat in a race. The car is nothing like what you drive out of the dealership and it’s tremendously difficult to handle at high speeds, in close quarters with other cars and with no breaks or rests for 500 miles with tremendous G-forces to deal with in extreme heat. By definition, an athlete is someone who is proficient in a sport or other forms of physical exercise. NASCAR is a sport and it is very physically taxing in ways that require more than just brute strength.
-Something else I learned from the Michael Conforto interview: Adrian Gonzalez is regarded as something different than what the Fantasy player sees. He is strong clubhouse presence, and his defense at first base is better than anyone on the team. He is still respected around the league as a hitter. So that Brandon Nimmo in center field/Jay Bruce at first base scenario Fantasy players want so badly may not happen any time soon without an injury.
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Michael Conforto Featured Image: AP Photo/John Bazemore
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