Boss Skaggs, Baker Mayfield and News You Can Lose



Knowledge Drop — April 24, 2018 – the Dave Concepcion Edition*

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* Concepcion was a 9-time All-Star and two-time Golden Glove winner. With a lifetime .267 average, 101 HR, 950 RBI and 321 Stolen Bases in 17 seasons, the Reds shortstop illustrated a player’s true value always goes beyond mere numbers. A great #13 and fierce competitor.


News You Can Lose …. A woman had a baby in the UK recently. Oh, he’s latest addition to The Royal Family and is fifth in line to the throne. And by throne I mean being king. Of a country. Which is ruled by a Parliament and a Prime Minister.

In the eyes of Big Mac, there is nothing less important than The Royal Family. With no real power and a ton of wealth, they are basically Kardashians who drink tea with their pinkies out. And if your pinkie is out, you really should tuck it back in.

To us, any story having to do with The Royal Family is News Your Can Lose. Fantasy sports, in a similar manner, is loaded with News You Can Lose. Let’s take a look at some recent examples:

• The NFL is considering doing away with kickoffs. This is an important story for player safety, as kickoffs produce two things – penalties and injuries – far more than scoring. And most often they are touchbacks anyway. It’s interesting but special team touchdowns can’t be forecast in Fantasy Football, so don’t worry about it.
• The Jets are considering Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen (assuming Sam Darnold is taken by the Browns at #1). What’s going to happen will happen anyway and like Fantasy players weeks before draft day, we’re all focused on the first round. Jets fans should be concerned about pass rushers that are left in the third round; they’ll get who they get at #3.
• Josh Allen is falling down the draft board. Again with the first round. Look, here’s what’s going to happen: Allen falls way down, the Patriots will pick him, Tom Brady will teach him the art of throwing to Danny DeVito-sized WRs in the slot so they can go outrun the Jets old and slow linebackers for the two easy wins they need to secure home field in the AFC playoffs anyway.
• Joey Votto and Anthony Rizzo are slumping. Yawn. They’ll both easily be .300 hitters. Worry about who your back-up shortstop is – that is far more important than when and if Votto and Rizzo will heat up.
• Gleyber Torres is called up. Shocking – the Yankees hyped a prospect and everyone expects Mattingly-level production by Memorial Day. Pick him up, don’t pick him up – just let him be a rookie and figure it out. Mike Trout ruined every rookie storyline for me. I know, dynasty leagues blah blah blah.
• John Axford placed on the bereavement list. Is he going away to grieve the loss of his career?
• Kevin Gausman goes eight innings in loss to Cleveland. Don’t. No. Step away from the Gausman. You’ve done this before, don’t you remember that summer of hurt? Please don’t make me take you out for Jager shots again this year. He’s really not that good.
• Mac Williamson and Giancarlo Stanton nearly break Statcast; You’ll never believe this Carlos Carrasco slider. Stop. Please, just stop. Sure all that is fun. But there have been 97,816 pitches thrown this year. Do we really have to drop our bowl of Cheerios to see Stanton hit (another) 435-foot HR? Dee Gordon hits one 500 feet to shatter a hotel room window in Sky Dome? Sign me up. A Carrasco slider breaking three inches more than the last one? Pass the milk.

If you’re going to absorb news that doesn’t affect your Fantasy team, read up on Danny Farquhar’s recovery from his brain aneurysm, or Jenny Cavnar being the first woman to call play-by-play since 1993,  or how Jesse Quist, a kid born without arms or legs was inspired by “42,” the movie depicting Jackie Robinson’s breaking of the baseball color barrier.

Boss Skaggs? … Tyler Skaggs has been a solid starter for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the United States as Part of the Universe so far in 2018. Last night, he shut out the Astros for 6.1 innings, allowing just three hits, striking out five, and walking none. Skaggs has walked only eight batters in 27.1 IP, and four of them in one of his five starts. He’s 3-1 with a 2.96 ERA

Name a body part and Skaggs has injured it. He’s had Tommy John. He’s never started more than 18 games in a season or pitched in excess of 113 innings. And he’s been a bit lucky this year, though he’s shown promising improvements. Even at 3-1 this season he’s 16-22 in his career.

We think you should pick up Tyler Skaggs. We also think you should trade Tyler Skaggs. (We’re complicated that way.)
So let’s look at his 2018 output so far this season, compared to his career average (62 starts):

K/9: 7.90, 7.69
BB/9: 2.63, 3.07
HR/FB: 4.0%, 11.0%
GB%: 50%, 45%
LOB%: 76.7%, 70.6%
SwStr%: 10.5%, 8.7%
Z-Contact% (in strike zone): 80.7%, 87.2%
O-Contact% (out of zone): 71.1%, 69.0%

All of those numbers are better this season than last, though you might say some (HR/FB) are good fortune so far. We agree. Tyler Skaggs is not a 2.96 ERA pitcher, and he won’t boost your Fantasy team’s K totals beyond the stratosphere.

But we don’t think he’ll be anywhere near his 4.66 career ERA either. We tab him to be, conservatively, 3.75 ERA pitcher this season, but he can be better than that.

And, of course, he can get hurt again, which has been his true skill.

The biggest difference in Skaggs this season is that he is throwing his sinking fastball more, 14 percent versus 5.1 percent last season. Mixing that with a four-seam fastball (41.9 percent this year, down from 47.4 percent last year) is keeping hitters honest and generating more ground balls, which was something Skaggs was already good at.

It is just April, but this chart shows good trends that, if continued, could make Skaggs a key part of any Fantasy rotation:


When contact in the zone (Z-contact) and contact out of the zone (O-contact) head towards each other, as they do at the top of this chart, that’s a good thing. That means weak contact and more swings-and-misses.

We are encouraged by Skaggs. But we know even if he stays healthy, he’ll be a first-half star only. He hasn’t pitched nearly enough to give us confidence over 140+ innings. So sign him up now, watch his progress and if he continues to impress, trade him to another team, emphasizing his 2018 stats, not his career numbers.

You have the knowledge on Skaggs now; grab him and take advantage of others who don’t.





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None of you otherwise smart people correctly guessed the “hourglass” riddle from Sunday. To boil the egg in exactly 15 minutes: Turn over both the 7- and 11-minute timers. When the 7-minute timer runs out, turn it over immediately. In four minutes, when the 11-minute time expires, turn over the 7-minute timer (which has been turned over for four minutes). When the 7-minute timer runs out, it will be exactly 15 minutes. Got it?


Because bad jokes fuel our world.

Where does a general keep his armies?

In his sleevies.


A few weeks ago, we stumbled onto a used bookstore in downtown Chicago and discovered John Feinstein’s “Living on the Black: Two pitchers, Two Teams, One Season to Remember” which follows Tom Glavine and Mike Mussina through the 2007 season. It’s a fascinating read, as are all of Feinstein’s efforts, but we admit we are reading slowly because we know Glavine gets lit on the season’s last day, causing the Mets to miss the playoffs. Dear God, make it stop…..


Knowledge Next Drops Thursday, April 26.

Know More, Win More
Tom McFeeley and the Big Mac Fantasy Sports Team

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