Sell High on Brewers Christian Yelich, Deal for Rays Tommy Pham
Your latest Sell High and Buy Low Fantasy Candidates
The MLB trade deadline has come and gone. Now it is time to consider who are good targets in Fantasy baseball trades, whether it be buying low or selling high on them. There has been insane production from some players over the past few weeks that is unsustainable, making them worthy trade candidates. Also, I mention players that seem primed to break out of their slumps and see positive regression the remainder of the season.
Christian Yelich Owned July
The hottest hitter in baseball right now is Christian Yelich. In his last 25 games, he owns a .396 batting average with four home runs and three stolen bases. That upside should have Fantasy owners watering from the mouth. Do not get me wrong, I think Yelich will continue to put up good numbers, but his recent success is unsustainable, as he is not known for his great power. In his four-year career he has yet to hit over 21 home runs, and his 27.6 percent home run to fly ball rate is 10 percent higher than his career average. What he has done recently is more than likely a big flash in the pan, as his last four home runs have come via a 50 percent home run to fly ball rate in those last 25 games. He is also benefiting from the highest BABIP in baseball, and could see some regression to his batting average. I am not sold that Yelich can keep up this elite production, and if other Fantasy owners want to believe so, go get a great return on your investment.
Is Ryan Zimmerman Ready to Produce?
Zimmerman was one of the best hitters in baseball last season, but has been derailed by injuries so far in 2018. His 91.8 mph exit velocity was the 11th highest in MLB. In 2018, it has actually increased to 94.2 mph. I think that Zimmerman has the ability to get close to what he was doing last season now that he is healthy, and his numbers point to positive regression. His BABIP is currently the lowest it has ever been throughout his 14-year career and should improve. The power numbers can certainly go up as well. He made a conscious effort last year to hit more home runs and is hitting the ball too hard to not see an increase in his .188 Isolated Power. That would be a big drop-off from his .269 Isolated Power. I would target Zimmerman in a trade before he starts to turn it on with good health.
Kole Calhoun’s Power Surge
Another player that is scorching hot at the plate recently is Kole Calhoun. In his 22 games played in July, Calhoun has hit nine home runs to go with a .301 batting average. It is very hard to imagine Calhoun can keep this success up, especially with how bad he has been against left-handed pitchers. He is hitting .132 against them and has yet to hit a home run vs. LHPs. So for Calhoun to keep up his recent success, he will have to be insanely good against right handed pitchers, and he does not seem up to the task. The full season numbers are not pretty for him, possibly making it tough to sell high on him, but his numbers over the past month could entice a Fantasy owner. Calhoun can be a very streaky hitter and should be traded before he falls into another slump.
Ronald Acuna’s Overwhelming Talent
Acuna burst onto the scene when he was called up by the Braves, but had a slow month in July. In the month, his strikeout rate has jumped to 30.6 percent and batting average is an unappealing .234. He is a player with immense talent that can post big Fantasy numbers with his above-average power and speed. I believe Acuna will settle in the remainder of the season and post big numbers to help lead the Braves to a potential playoff berth. Go and take a chance on the young star that has huge upside.
Tommy Pham’s Fresh Start
After being traded to the Rays, Fantasy owners might have a worse outlook on Pham. On top of that, he has been really struggling at the plate after a hot start to the season. In his first 25 games, Pham held a .341 batting average but has now dropped to .248. Overall, his numbers across the board are down a sizeable margin from 2017. The good news for Pham is that he should be due for positive regression. He has the ninth highest hard-hit rate of 47.5 percent, but a .065 drop in his BABIP from last year looks to be part of the cause in his disappointing numbers. The trade to the Rays gives him a fresh start to get back to his success from last year. I expect Pham to turn it around and his numbers to trend back closer to what he did last season.
Update on Vegas odds: Luis Severino was the favorite to win the AL Cy Young award on July 9 (+175). On July 1, Severino led the AL w/ a 1.98 ERA. His ERA has gone up nearly a full run over his last four starts (2.94) after giving up 19 ER in his last 19.1 innings. #SportsBetting
— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) July 28, 2018
Luis Severino’s Rough Stretch
It has not been pretty for Severino in his last four starts. He has let up an average of eight hits and has an ERA of 8.95 in the four starts. However, Severino has been too good of a pitcher this season to not bounce back from his rough stretch. The last two starts where he gave up six runs in each of the games, he held just a 47.6 percent strand rate. He will definitely be able to improve on that. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild told Newsday, “A lot of it has to do with the fastball command, I think that’s been the No. 1 thing”. A big part of Severino’s pitching is the difficulty to decipher between the fastball and slider coming out of his hand, so if he is not locating the fastball well he is going to struggle. Even the best pitchers can go through stretches where the command is off, and I am not worried about it continuing to be an issue. He has been one of the best pitchers in baseball this year, and his recent struggles gives him an opportunity to buy low on him.
Can Tyler Anderson Keep Up His Success?
A pitcher that looks due for regression is Tyler Anderson. He is already in a tough situation at Coors Field, and analytics show he is pitching worse than his ERA might show. He holds a career low BABIP of .258, down from his career average of .292. He is also producing less ground balls this year, but benefiting from a lower home run to fly ball rate allowed. His ground ball rate is down 5.5% from his career average, and his 13 percent home run to fly ball rate is down 19.5 percent from last year. I expect Anderson to struggle to keep the home run to fly ball rate down with him generating less ground balls. He has been dominant in July with a 2.16 ERA, and is a prominent sell-high option before regression hits.
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