Fantasy Baseball: Pitcher stock watch

Fantasy Baseball: Pitcher stock watch

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Kris Medlen, SP, Braves: While there was nothing wrong with his relief work this year, Medlen has specifically taken off as a starter, giving us five dominant turns (4-0, five walks, 29 strikeouts, 0.83 ERA). No one can be expected to keep that sort of KBB ratio, but Medlen doesn't sweat contact either, given that he induces a ground ball 52 percent of the time. Get in on this story now if you can, especially with the Padres (in Petco) waiting for next week.

John Axford, RP, Brewers: The Milwaukee bullpen has been a carnival ride all year, but Axford seems to have righted the ship of late: he's recorded two saves this week and regained the endorsement of manager Ron Roenicke. And there's nothing special chasing Axford: Jim Henderson is a career minor leaguer with no pedigree, and Francisco Rodriguez hasn't fooled in 2012. By default, it looks like the club will sink or swim with Axford the rest of the way. How badly did you say you needed saves?

Jaime Garcia, SP, Cardinals: No one expected immediate miracles when Garcia returned to action last week - he missed a couple of months with a shoulder problem - but a 10-strikeout performance against Pittsburgh immediately pushes Garcia back into our plans. The NL Central is a nifty place for a pitcher, where you see a bunch of exploitable opponents (Houston, Chicago, even Milwaukee), and the Cardinals also offer the deepest lineup in the Junior Circuit. Look for a strong finishing kick over the next six weeks.

Jeremy Guthrie, SP, Royals: The thin air of Colorado didn't permanently break his spirit - Guthrie has been sharp in six AL turns (3.23 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, KBB ratio just under four). The Royals aren't giving him much help with offense or bullpen, but you take what you can get. Guthrie posted a sneaky 3.83 ERA and 1.16 WHIP with the Orioles back in 2010, and the AL Central isn't nearly as demanding. There's an underrated arm here.

Sell

C.J. Wilson, SP, Angels: It's been a mess for most of the big-name LA pitchers, with Wilson a notable crash over the last two months. He hasn't won a game since late June, posting a 6.09 ERA over 11 starts. The strikeout clip is still good for Wilson, but when you allow 31 walks and nine homers over 65 innings, you're not going to be successful. Batters are also squaring up Wilson with little trouble, producing a line drive 21 percent of the time. In mixed leagues, you need to do better. This game is about the numbers, not the names.

Hold

Daniel Straily, SP, Athletics: He didn't look out of place during his three-game trial in Oakland (3.12 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 12 strikeouts, four walks), and he figures to have a rotation spot for good now that Bartolo Colon has been suspended. Straily won't come back to the majors for one more turn - he needs to spend 10 days in the minors unless an injury creates an opening - but he's mixed-league worthy for September, especially in Oakland's roomy home park.

Casey Janssen, RP, Blue Jays: His ordinary save total (just 16 handshakes) is tied to how Toronto's season has gone - the Jays are a losing team to begin with, but a lot of their victories have been lopsided ones. Janssen's 2.22 ERA and 0.80 WHIP get your attention, and he validates the love with his strikeoutwalk rate (50 punchouts, just eight free passes). As volatile as the closer market can be, we expect Janssen to be a safe stopper into 2013.

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Caps assistant Lambert reportedly a finalist in Colorado

Caps assistant Lambert reportedly a finalist in Colorado

Capitals assistant Lane Lambert is a finalist for the Avalanche’s vacant head coach position, The Denver Post reported Wednesday night.

Following a round of extensive interviews, it appears Colorado GM Joe Sakic has pared his list from the original list of six candidates, according to the report, and that Lambert and Cleveland Monsters (AHL) head coach Jared Bednar “were back on top of the evolving list.” Blackhawks assistant Kevin Dineen also remained a “strong candidate.”

Colorado’s head coaching position opened when Patrick Roy unexpected resigned earlier this month.

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In order to interview Lambert, the Avalanche needed the Capitals’ permission. 

Sakic and Lambert crossed paths (briefly) as teammates on the Quebec Nordiques in 1988-89—Sakic’s rookie season.

Lambert, 51, has been an assistant under Capitals head coach Barry Trotz for five seasons, including the past two in Washington. He’s held head coaching positions in junior and the AHL, where he served as the Milwaukee Admirals’ bench boss from 2006-2011. The Admirals won 41 or more games and made the playoffs in each of Lambert’s four seasons as head coach.  

With the Capitals’ training camp stet to begin in less than a month, the prospect of losing an assistant is not ideal. But it could be a situation Trotz and Co. will be forced to confront. Stay tuned.

MORE CAPITALS: WHAT ARE THE CAPS UP TO THIS OFFSEASON?

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Nationals acquire LHP from Oakland

Nationals acquire LHP from Oakland

Updated: 12:06 p.m.

In desperate need of bullpen help, particularly a left-hander, the Nationals pulled off a trade Thursday morning to acquire southpaw Marc Rzepczynski from the Oakland Athletics. In order to get him, they paid a big price by parting with minor league infielder Max Schrock, who was a rising talent in their system.

Rzepczynski, 30, joins the Nats with a 3.00 ERA in 56 appearances this season. He has 37 strikeouts in 36 innings, but also 24 walks and a 1.722 WHIP. Due to his long and unusual name, his nickname is 'Scrabble.'

An eight-year MLB veteran, Rzepczynski will be a free agent after this season. This is the fifth time he's been traded in the last six years, having also spent time with the Blue Jays, Cardinals, Indians and Padres. He holds a 3.87 ERA in 405 career MLB appearances. Rzepczynski also has 18 postseason appearances under his belt.

Rzepczynski throws a fastball in the low- to mid-90s and relies heavily on a slider/changeup combination. Among relievers with at least 30 innings pitched this season, he has the second-best groundball percentage to only Orioles closer Zach Britton. Nats right-hander Blake Treinen is sixth.

Rzepczynski will help the Nats in the short-term as they currently have a bullpen beaten up by injuries, rain delays and short outings by their starters. He is also now their best lefty reliever with Sammy Solis on the disabled list and Oliver Perez suffering through a long stretch of ineffectiveness.

But in the long-term, losing Schrock could be a tough pill to swallow. The Nats took him in the 13th round of the 2015 draft and signed him despite concerns he would return to school at the University of South Carolina. The 21-year-old has emerged as a star in the minors with a .333/.378/.456 slash-line and nine homers, 68 RBI and 22 steals at Single-A this season. Schrock is a year or two away from the majors, but when he gets there he could be a valuable offensive player.

Rzepczynski, though, is just what the Nats need at the moment and they have to do all they can to take advantage of the opportunity in front of them this season to potentially win a World Series.

RELATED: WHAT CAN'T TREA TURNER DO?

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Projecting how Eastern Conference will shake out: Chicago Bulls

Projecting how Eastern Conference will shake out: Chicago Bulls

No. 5 Chicago Bulls

2015-16: Finished over .500 at 42-40 but missed out on the playoffs in ninth place.

Best additions: PG Rajon Rondo, SG Dwyane Wade, C Robin Lopez, SG Jerian Grant, G Denzel Valentine. It was a busy offseason as they remade the roster around All-Star SG Jimmy Butler. It might be much to ask for a rookie, but Valentine could be the linchpin for exactly how good they can be. 

Poised for breakout: F Bobby Portis. In his second season, he’s still angry that he was drafted No. 22 overall despite being SEC player of the year. Now he doesn't have to play behind Joakim Noah or Pau Gasol, both of whom departed in free agency.

Question marks: As with any team that adds a few veteran All-Stars who are passed their prime, how Rondo and Wade mesh with Butler will determine if this team succeeds or fails. And if coach Fred Hoiberg can’t get hold of his locker room that could turn more volatile with Rondo alone, he can be out of a job quickly.

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