We like to give some teams credit for working their magic with struggling pitchers. The Giants come to mind. The Rays have worked some miracles.
Perhaps the Brewers have some special sauce with hitters.
Willy Adames became a star after joining Milwaukee last year. We know what Christian Yelich turned into after the trade from Miami; alas, Yelich has been a fantasy conundrum the last couple of years.
And now we look at Rowdy Tellez. He might be the new success story here.
With his beard and jovial-sounding name, Tellez — who would have fit the Harvey’s Wallbangers of the 1980s — a traveling circus type of team that looked like a softball wrecking crew. And Tellez’s game is power, especially since he moved to the NL in the middle of last year. He’s slashed .270/.335/.524 in 80 Milwaukee games, with 14 homers, 49 RBIs.
Tellez was the biggest fantasy winner in Wednesday’s 18-4 thumping of Cincinnati, collecting four hits, two homers, eight RBIs. The final hit (a two-run double) came off a position player in mop-up duty, so I guess that comes with an asterisk. Still, the stats aren’t being removed from anyone’s fantasy log.
Tellez is primarily a platoon player, a lefty-swinging cornerman who slots fifth when the Brewers face a right-handed opponent. In some formats, that’s easy to play and maneuver — in other formats, not as much. You know your league better than we do. The Brew Crew is set to face just two southpaws in the next two weeks, so we’ll see plenty of Tellez through the middle of May.
Believe it or not, Tellez has been a little unlucky, per his Statcast page. His expected batting average is .317, 50 points higher than his actual number. The new math says he should be slugging .815, a whopping 202 points higher than the front door number. Perhaps this fun story is going to become deliriously fun.
The Wednesday outburst pushed Tellez up significantly in the Yahoo roster tags, but he’s still available to claim in about 72 percent of our world.
Mariners have choices to make with Matt Brash, Jarred Kelenic
If you want to make an omelet, you have to break some eggs. And right now, Matt Brash looks like a broken egg. His raw stuff can be amazing, but right now he simply can’t control it.
Brash took his third loss of the year Wednesday, falling 7-2 to the Astros. He’s walked 17 batters against 19 strikeouts over his 20 innings. There’s never been a time in the fantasy era when that ratio is acceptable, and certainly not now. Not that you need much help cutting a player whose ERA is over 7 and his WHIP is over 2.
Seattle fancies itself a contender. Brash will likely be back in Triple-A shortly, for some tutelage, a tuneup, maybe a boost of confidence. And perhaps Jarred Kelenic won’t be far behind. Kelenic is slashing .127/.213/.268 through his opening 24 games, and Kyle Lewis is almost ready to be activated.
“Play for Today” is one of my simplest, but most repeatable, fantasy credos. The Mariners are probably going to sign off on that shortly.
Auditing the Pirates bullpen
Pittsburgh isn’t a contender this year, and we don’t know when the organization might decide to get more serious with its plan. The Bucs for the moment sure look like a team content to spend minimally and ensure a small profit through revenue-sharing subsidy. It’s not a good look for baseball, but it is what it is.
Still, they’ll have some saves, like the other 29 teams. And perhaps David Bednar can be the primary source of those handshakes.
Bednar worked two innings for his save at Detroit on Wednesday, and his seasonal stats are excellent: 11.2 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 17 K. He has a 0.77 ERA and a 0.957 WHIP. The Pirates are also getting sharp work from Wil Crowe (1.08/0.90), who also has one save. Meanwhile, Chris Stratton, Bednar’s main competition for the ninth, is getting hit plenty (5.23 ERA, 1.65 WHIP).
Obviously, a team doesn’t have to reserve its best reliever for the ninth inning; there’s something to be said for using your wipeout aces whenever a game seems to dictate their entrance. We’ve been shouting this stuff from the rooftops for decades. And any Pittsburgh reliever with strong numbers is likely to be shopped around the trading deadline. We see that yearly, losing teams getting poached by the contenders.
In the meantime, I still think Bednar will be around double-digit saves when mid-July rolls around. And Crowe is also welcome on my fantasy teams, one of the Michael King all-stars. Bednar is long past the 50-percent threshold we target for a pickup recommendation, though his value might be on the rise. Crowe rosters at a modest 11 percent.