Let them play!: meddling teams stifle fantasy potential
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Baseball managers have a game plan that doesn't involve helping our fantasy teams. That doesn't mean it isn't frustrating when our players don't get the role they deserve.
There's a scene in the 1977 film "The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training" in which the crowd at the Houston Astrodome chants "let them play" after the umpires call a game due to time constraints (the crowd at the 2002 MLB All-Star Game in Milwaukee also chanted this when commissioner Bud Selig called the game a tie).
Oftentimes, meddling managers make us want to yell the same thing. "Let them play, let them play!"
Here are seven players whom we wish managers would just turn loose.
Todd Frazier, 1B/3B, Cincinnati Reds - As fellow Sports Network fantasy columnist Jesse Pantuosco wrote last week, Frazier is tearing the cover off the ball in Cincinnati. However, the Reds' website indicated Wednesday that manager Dusty Baker said Frazier would see his playing time decrease in favor of Scott Rolen once Joey Votto returned from the DL. This isn't the first time Baker has driven fantasy owners mad this season -- he took nearly two months to make flamethrowing Cuban Aroldis Chapman the team's closer -- but that doesn't make it any less surprising. Frazier is batting .469 (23-for-49) with five homers, 13 RBIs and a 1.375 OPS in his last 14 games, but Baker said Rolen (.245/.323/.405) will start due to his strong glove work.
Kris Medlen, RHP, Atlanta Braves - Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has been using a six-man rotation since Tommy Hanson returned from the disabled list, but he said he'll switch back to a five-man group once August ends. Gonzalez insisted that the best five starters will stay in the rotation; based on that criteria, Medlen should be ensured a spot (he has been the Braves' best starter in the past month, after all). But we aren't so sure it will work out that way. Out of Tim Hudson, Hanson, Ben Sheets, Paul Maholm and Mike Minor, only Medlen has extensive relief experience. That could mean Medlen -- 4-0, 0.83 ERA in five starts since joining the rotation -- will relocate to the 'pen in September.
Tyler Skaggs, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks - Skaggs became the latest prized arm in the Diamondbacks' organization to make his debut with the team this season, following Trevor Bauer and Patrick Corbin. Skaggs won his first start with 6 2/3 innings (3 H, 2 ER, 5 BB, 4 K) against the Marlins Wednesday. Thursday brought news (per the Arizona Republic) that Skaggs will remain with the big league team, but it is unknown if he'll stay in the rotation. Skaggs was ranked 16th overall on MLB.com's latest list of the top 100 prospects, and he went 9-6 with a 2.87 ERA and 116/37 K/BB in 122 1/3 innings over 22 starts between Double-A and Triple-A this season. We'd like to see what he can do, but there doesn't seem to be a spot in the rotation for him unless the team demotes Corbin (3.60 ERA) or Joe Saunders (4.22 ERA, $6 million salary).
Jacob Turner, RHP, Miami Marlins - Turner made his Marlins debut Wednesday in opposition of Skaggs and tossed a quality start in a losing effort. Most importantly, however, is that Turner didn't walk a batter in six innings after issuing 11 free passes in 25 innings over six starts with the Tigers in the last two seasons. The Palm Beach Post reported Thursday that Turner, the No. 10 prospect on MLB.com's top-100 list who was acquired from Detroit for Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante several weeks ago, will remain in the rotation. The right-hander went 2-0 with a 1.98 ERA in five starts with the Marlins Triple-A affiliate after coming over in the trade.
Dan Straily, RHP, Oakland Athletics - Minor league strikeout king (175 in 138 1/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A this season) was called up earlier this month and tossed two quality starts in three attempts, but he was sent down in favor of the returning Brett Anderson this week. Now that Bartolo Colon has been suspended for 50 games for testosterone use, we could see Straily return to the rotation, though the team may also choose A.J. Griffin when he comes off the disabled list (Oakland recalled Tyson Ross (2-8, 6.35 ERA) to start Thursday but we can't see him sticking around).
David Murphy, OF, Texas Rangers - Murphy is a platoon player who mainly plays against right-handed pitching, but he's batting .408 in 49 at-bats against lefties this season and .315/.394/.497 overall. The outfielder has 11 homers, 49 RBIs, 46 runs scored and eight steals and is batting .354 (68-for-192) with six homers and 33 RBIs since June 1. Perhaps the team is preventing Murphy from being exposed in a full-time role but we think he's earned more playing time with his success against lefties this season.
Stephen Strasburg, RHP, Washington Nationals - And then there's Mr. Strasburg, an NL Cy Young contender who is likely to be shut down in September by a team leading the division. Wait, what? Yes, it sounds crazy, but Washington GM Mike Rizzo has insisted the team will cap Strasburg's innings this season and will not let him pitch in the playoffs once he's shut down. Strasburg had Tommy John surgery two years ago and only threw 24 innings last season, so we understand that the team wants to protect it's heavy investment. However, if Strasburg is going to get hurt again in the future it's really not going to have anything to do with him throwing 20-30 more innings than the team wants him to throw this season.