Fantasy Baseball Mailbag: Wednesday 6/8/16

Marcus Stroman has struggled over his last few starts. Is it time to cut bait with the youngster in shallow leagues?

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Now, enough of that. Let's dig into today's mailbag and see what's popping in the world of fantasy baseball.

The good news: Marcus Stroman is better than his current 4.82 ERA would state. Hooray! The bad news: we should still be worried about his short-term and long-term outlook. Welpity welp.

Let's start things off with the good because the flipside is lame, especially when it pertains to such an exciting young pup. No matter which advanced ERA predictor you look at, it's clear that Stroman's due for some progression in the near future. He holds a 3.73 fielding-independent pitching (FIP), 3.88 expected FIP, and 4.01 skill-interactive ERA (SIERA), all of which are nearly a run better than his current ERA. That's going to come down.

The other positive is that Stroman has kept up his worm-killing ways with a grotesque 59.8% ground-ball rate. Especially when he's playing in a park as dinger-friendly as the Rogers Centre, that's a necessity in order to keep the ball in the park. That's the rosy view of Stroman. His inability to get strikeouts is where things start to get a bit grimmer.

Stroman's strikeout rate for the season is a lowly 16.2%, well below the league average for starters of 20.2%. A look at his 8.4% swinging-strike rate and 81.3% contact rate will tell you that this low strikeout rate isn't due to flukiness, but rather a legitimate lack of a quality strikeout-inducing repertoire.

Stroman could get by with a lower strikeout rate and his ground-ball rate if he were able to be stingy with his walks, but that hasn't been the case. His walk rate for the year is 7.4%, up from 5.2% in his breakout 2014 season, and he issued five free passes in his last outing. This is a combo that's going to lead to way too many base runners, and Stroman doesn't necessarily have the strikeouts to prevent those runners from scoring. As things stand right now, it's hard to see him posting the same numbers he did two years ago without some improvements.

That said, I do still think that Stroman is worthy of a roster spot in 10-team leagues. He posted an 11.9% swinging-strike rate and 70.7% contact rate in his last start against the Boston Red Sox, both of which were among his best marks of the year. Against a lesser offense, we may have seen some encouraging movement in his peripheral stats. Because we've seen what Stroman can do when he's on, it's worth it to hang on and see whether that start was simply a blip on the radar or a legitimate shift in his abilities.

If the slight optimism isn't enough of a reason, at least keep him for his phenomenal hair game.

You're not going to find lettuce that sweet on the waiver wire. I'd wait this out a few more starts, and if you don't see any improvements in his walk rate or strikeout rate, then it may be time to reconsider.

It largely depends on what you're looking for here. If you're set in the middle infield and don't need the occasional steal that Rougned Odor will add, then, yes, I would move him for Jose Abreu.

If you had asked this same question two weeks ago, the answer would have been different because Abreu's batted-ball profile was absolutely abysmal. However, since then -- as you can see in the table below -- things have shifted fairly dramatically in the positive direction.

TimeframeSoft-Hit RateMedium-Hit RateHard-Hit Rate
Through May 23rd24.3%47.1%28.6%

Over his last 52 plate appearances, Abreu has nearly cut his soft-hit rate in half, pushing all of that excess over into the hard-hit category. It has resulted in just one home run over that time, so we haven't seen the full results of his batted-ball improvements, and there's still a window to buy low. That window isn't likely to remain open long, so we should be trying to bring him in while his year-long stats still look gross.

The other factor working in Abreu's favor is the weather. Power hitters are better able to thrive in warm conditions, and as we transition into the summer months, Abreu will likely start to see more favorable hitting conditions in Chicago. It shouldn't be a shock that Abreu's best months for slugging percentage in his career have been June and July, and we're just entering his time to eat.

More often than not, Odor's a guy I'd want to hold onto as he plays in a great park, hits in a quality spot in the order, and is just a generally talented individual. If you can bring in Abreu without giving up Odor, I'd try to do. However, if that is the cost as it stands right now, it's a deal you should likely be willing to execute in order to buy Abreu while his market value is low.

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