Fantasy Baseball Mailbag: Tuesday 7/5/16

Brandon McCarthy was spitting hot fire in his return to the Los Angeles Dodgers' rotation Sunday. Is it time to add him in season-long leagues?

We're here to try and help you navigate the ever-changing landscape that is fantasy baseball. It's not easy to keep up with all of the day-to-day fluctuations, so it can help to have someone to bounce ideas off of. That's what our daily mailbag will look to do.

Feel free to shoot us any questions you may have throughout the day on Twitter, and then we'll try to answer as many as we can in the form of a post. If you prefer, you can also send an email to These questions can be anything fantasy baseball related. That means daily fantasy baseball, season-long, dynasty, and everything else are all in play.

Obviously, we won't be able to get to all questions because there's a lot to cover. For additional questions, be sure to check out our new MLB DFS tools along with our daily and season-long projections, which should help out more times than not.

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

Never. Never stop those tears from flowing when the reason is this just, and there aren't many better excuses than an injury to the greatest. Heck, even if you didn't own Clayton Kershaw, a good ol' heave cry would be justified for being deprived of watching him pitch for an extended period of time. We're pouring one out for you, Mike.

Luckily for Mike and all the other scorned lovers of Gucciness out there, a few guys may be chilling on the waiver wire who can help fill that void. Two of them are even on those same Los Angeles Dodgers that have brought us so much pain this year.

Brandon McCarthy made his long-awaited return to the rotation over the weekend, and dude lit things on fire. He twirled five shutout innings, allowing only two hits with one walk while striking out eight Colorado Rockies batters. The game was in Los Angeles, but the Rockies are at least respectable on the road, sitting 15th in wRC+ against right-handed pitching. McCarthy had a big-time strikeout rate last year before Tommy John surgery, and at just 12.4% ownership on ESPN and 32% on Yahoo!, you should be scooping him up where possible.

Before McCarthy next takes the mound, though, Hyun-jin Ryu will finally make his return to the big leagues following shoulder surgery that cost him all of 2015 and the first half of 2016. Ryu made five rehab starts after a May setback, and he racked up a 21.0% strikeout rate while walking only 1 batter in 18 2/3 innings. It's hard to tell what to expect from Ryu given the nature of his injury and how long he has been out, but after posting a 3.17 SIERA in 2014, we should be picking him up just in case he's anywhere near what he was back then.

Where in the world did this version of Ian Desmond come from? Not only is he back to swiping a boatload of bags, but he's popping dingers like it's 2012, and he's actually playing some solid defense in the outfield. His success this year is legit -- as outlined by numberFire's Ben Bruno in May -- but his forward-looking outlook may not be quite as rosy.

There aren't many hitters who can strikeout 23.7% of the time and still post a .321 batting average, yet Desmond has done that this year. Most of that is thanks to a .393 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) that is well above his career mark of .328. If he had suddenly seen some major shift in his batted-ball stats, it's possible that he would be able to bump up his BABIP. However, his batted-ball stats are pretty much in line with his marks from 2012 through 2014, and there isn't anybody who should be expected to have a BABIP that high for the entire season.

The other frightening aspect of Desmond -- and this is just as it relates to the rest of 2016 -- is that his strikeouts are trending the wrong way in a hurry. The table below compares his plate discipline stats from April and May to what he has done since. Desmond was ineffective in his final year with the Washington Nationals due to a crippling strikeout rate, and it seems like he may be regressing to old habits. "O-Swing %" refers to the percentage of pitches outside the zone at which Desmond swings, and "SwStr %" is the percentage of strikes that come via swings and misses.

MonthsStrikeout %O-Swing %Contact %SwStr %

He's swinging at more bad pitches, and it's leading to more strikeouts. Yet, for some reason, his batting average has gone up to .360 from .297. If that seems unsustainable, it's because it is.

This would all lead to a conclusion that you should be selling Desmond hard if you can right now. He's a great asset with his shortstop eligibility, spot in the order, and park factor, but his value isn't going to exceed where it's at right now any time in the near future. If you can spin a fair trade for him, then you absolutely should.

When discussing the keeper aspect, you almost must consider that he's not likely to have that shortstop eligibility in 2017. That's a pretty major component in Desmond's value, and it'll leave him for next year. He's an impending free agent coming upon his age-31 season, so we may not even be able to count on his tremendous park, either. Pretty much everything about this says to sell, even if the eighth-round keeper isn't terrible in a vacuum.

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