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Week 26 Hot Topics: Holy Shatner Edition

Welcome back to the SCFE Week 26 Hot Topics column. By the time this column hits the interweb, the last week of the Fantasy Baseball season will be underway. Championships are being decided, or have already been won in some leagues. No matter how your season turned out, I hope you enjoyed the ride.

Week 26 Hot Topics
Photo Credit: Lorie Shaull

Welcome back to the SCFE Week 26 Hot Topics column. By the time this column hits the interweb, the last week of the Fantasy Baseball season will be underway. Championships are being decided, or have already been won in some leagues. No matter how your season turned out, I hope you enjoyed the ride.

I’d like to start out this week’s column by thanking all the readers out there (assuming I have any). With the prevalence of virtually instant access to information, reading has become something of a lost art. Thanks so much for taking the time to read an old-fashioned written column.

I hope I’ve been able to provide some useful information while being somewhat entertaining along the way. I you’ve enjoyed the Hot Topics column this season, I really appreciate it. If it wasn’t for the readers, I’d just be talking to myself. Of course, I do that sometimes anyway.

For the final Hot Topics column of the season, it’s time for some trials and tribble-ations. That’s my favorite Deep Space Nine episode. You guessed it; it’s Star Trek time. You may be saying to yourself, however, “wait a second, Dave. You’re clearly a Star Wars guy. Isn’t a Star Trek column some kind of sacrilege?” I don’t think it is.

Now that all things nerd and geek are socially acceptable, certain preconceptions need to be challenged. Despite the impression that Fanboys (if you’re a Star Wars fan, your life is incomplete if you haven’t seen it) might give, Star Wars and Star Trek don’t need to be mutually exclusive. This isn’t the Cubs and the White Sox. Or being an Elvis man or a Beatles man (thank you Pulp Fiction Collector’s Edition).

Despite those who believe it’s blasphemy and lies, I believe you can enjoy both Star Wars and Star Trek without being a traitor. For those old enough to remember when you couldn’t discuss sci fi openly without the likelihood of being mocked, it’s a brave new world. Instead of focusing on old rivalries, let’s all just celebrate living in a world where sci fi is cool.

Once J.J. Abrams (an avid Star Wars guy) directed the Star Trek reboot and then directed The Force Awakens, the divide was bridged. Sure, I’m a Star Wars guy first and foremost and always will be. Star Trek, however, also makes up some of my favorite movies and tv of all time. If you’re a stubborn purist on either side, I say give the other a chance.

For this week’s column, I’m using quotes from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. This is my favorite Star Trek movie, although it’s probably not the best. Wrath of Khan will likely always hold that title. But for me, Star Trek IV is the most fun. It’s basically a group of actors being so comfortable with characters they’ve played for decades that they just have a blast playing them.

The reason I love Star Trek IV is the same reason I love Fantasy Baseball; they’re fun. Even if you’re dealing with the strain of competing for a Fantasy Baseball championship (and congratulations if you are), you need to keep it fun. If you want some sci fi fun, Star Trek IV is just what you need.

Let’s set phasers to the SCFE Fantasy Baseball Week 26 Hot Topics.

Week 26 Hot Topics

Hot Topic No. 1: “You, ah, realize of course that if we give him the formula we’re altering the future. Why? How do we know he didn’t invent the thing?”

Luis Severino, SP, New York Yankees

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This exchange between DeForest Kelley’s Dr. McCoy and James Doohan’s Montgomery Scott is quite possibly my favorite time travel quote. Forget about potential paradoxes or altering the timeline (a major sci fi no-no); just go with it. In that vein, I’m sure there’s lots of owners who’d like to go back in time and draft Luis Severino late or grab him off the waiver wire before somebody else did.

I’m not sure Luis Severino even qualifies as a post-hype sleeper this season, since he may as well have had his own cloaking device on draft day. After his 2016 stinkbomb, however, you can hardly blame Fantasy Baseball owners for being skeptical about Luis Severino’s chances.

An international free agent signing of the Yankees in December of 2011 at age 17, Luis Severino rocketed through the Yankees’ farm system (2.51 career minor league ERA). He was promoted to the big club on August 5, 2015, and his first MLB cup of coffee exceeded all expectations. With a 5-3/2.89 ERA/1.20 WHIP/56 K stat line in 62.1 IP, Luis Severino was a popular name heading into 2016 drafts.

Unlike Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, which is a sequel that actually exceeds the original, Luis Severino’s 2016 performance did not live up to his 2015 promise. His stat line for 2016: 3-8/5.83 ERA/1.45 WHIP/66 Ks in 71.0 IP. Ouch. Luis Severino’s 2016 was like the second season of Lost; a meandering journey that ultimately led nowhere. Like Lost going into its third season, however, the promise was still there.

In 2016, Luis Severino not only dealt with injuries, but was also only yo-yoed from MLB to the minors and shuffled back and forth from the rotation to the bullpen. Like Ricky Vaughn in Major League 2, this is never a good thing for a pitcher.

Heading into 2017, it was uncertain whether Luis Severino would even make the Yankees’ roster, or even be in the rotation if he did. It was understandable that Fantasy Baseball owners, especially those who took a flyer on him in 2016, would avoid Luis Severino like civilized beings avoid Romulan Ale.

After potentially having my rotation destroyed in my auction league by Noah Syndergaard’s April departure, I grabbed Luis Severino off the waiver wire on April 21. With respect to Noah Syndergaard, can we stop letting pitchers diagnose their own injuries from now on? Just saying. As for Luis Severino – he’s one of the reasons I’m playing for the championship in my auction league right now.

For 2017, Luis Severino has posted a 13-6/3.03 ERA/1.05 WHIP/221 K stat line in 187.1 IP through September 24. How about them apples? If you gave up on Luis Severino in a keeper/dynasty format, you’re probably kicking yourself right about now.

Is Luis Severino a long-term rotation stud and Fantasy Baseball ace? Time will tell. Either way, if he’s on your roster this season, he’s a must-start. Like Star Trek IV, just enjoy the ride if you’re a Luis Severino owner.

Hot Topic No. 2: “It is difficult to answer, when one does not understand the question.”

Lucas Giolito, SP, Chicago White Sox

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When all else is in doubt, default to the wisdom of Leonard Nimoy’s Mr. Spock. This quote sums up trying to analyze Lucas Giolito’s performance numbers versus his unquestionable skills. It’s hard to figure out where the problem lies.

Lucas Giolito’s early career is like the DC movie universe. You can see the potential is there, but prior failures make you wonder if it’s ever going to add up to anything. Like the DC movie universe, as a Fantasy Baseball owner you want to see Lucas Giolito succeed.

Just like Marvel needs an effective counterpoint from DC to keep them on their creative toes, Fantasy Baseball needs productive AL pitchers. Lucas Giolito can be one of those. If you were rooting for Wonder Woman to salvage DC, you should be rooting for Lucas Giolito to hopefully be part of an AL SP renaissance. If the AL can provide more viable SP options, it gives owners more to work with on draft day. This is a good thing.

Lucas Giolito was the Washington Nationals’ first-round (16th overall) draft pick in 2012. Heading into 2016, he was the Nationals’ top pitching prospect, and was considered by many to be the top pitching prospect in all MLB. Like Snakes on a Plane, there was a lot of hype. Just like Snakes on a Plane, however, the actual performance did not live up to the hype.

After posting solid numbers in the minors in 2016, Lucas Giolito was first promoted by the Nationals on June 28, 2016. He spent the rest of the season being shuffled back and forth between the Nationals and the minors. With the MLB numbers he posted, you can see why: 0-1/6.75 ERA/1.78 WHIP/11 Ks in 21.1 IP. Not so good. Was there a mechanical problem? Was there an injury? It was definitely a conundrum.

When the Nationals traded Lucas Giolito to the White Sox as part of the Adam Eaton deal, it made you wonder if the Nationals knew something no one else did. It almost seemed as if they were giving up on Lucas Giolito. A young pitcher heading from the NL to the AL wasn’t exactly encouraging either.

Lucas Giolito’s 2017 AAA numbers didn’t exactly set the world on fire. His minor league stat line for 2017: 6-10/4.48 ERA/1.41 WHIP/134 Ks in 128.2 IP. There was some encouraging news, however. In his last 8 AAA starts, Lucas Giolito posted a 2.86 ERA and 9.6 K/9 ratio.

Perhaps because of that recent success, after the White Sox cleared out their roster at the trade deadline like the jobbers being taken out during the Royal Rumble, the White Sox promoted Lucas Giolito on August 22. Needless to say, Fantasy Baseball owners were leery about getting burned.

So far, Lucas Giolito’s 2017 MLB numbers have been solid: 3-3/2.38 ERA/0.95 WHIP/34 Ks in 45.1 IP. Although the Ks are unspectacular, he did have a 10 K performance on September 3. Keep in mind that Lucas Giolito just turned 23 in July; it’s still soon to label him a stud or a bust.

For now, Lucas Giolito is on a pretty good run (with the usual small sample size warning). He has one more start scheduled for the season, and is currently owned in 46% of ESPN leagues and 52% of Yahoo leagues. If you’re looking to stream some starts during championship week, Lucas Giolito could be your guy.

Hot Topic No. 3: “You mean I have to die to discuss your insights on death? Forgive me, Doctor. I am receiving a number of distress calls. I don’t doubt it.”

Michael A. Taylor, OF, Washington Nationals

The exchanges between DeForest Kelley’s Dr. McCoy and Leonard Nimoy’s Mr. Spock are some of the most legendary in Star Trek lore. If you’re ever frustrated with someone, just say “you’re out of your Vulcan mind.” Maybe they’ll get it; maybe they won’t.

In 2017, the Washington Nationals sent out distress calls due to OF injuries (Adam Eaton, Bryce Harper). Back in my Week 5 Hot Topics Column, I channeled my inner Woody Harrelson and said it was time for Michael Taylor to nut up or shut up. As someone who officially reached former prospect status, this was Michael Taylor’s last shot at Fantasy Baseball relevance.

So, has he done it? Has Michael Taylor earned the “A.” in his name like Wham! earned the exclamation point (thank you Captain Deadpool)? I’d say he’s had his moments. Like Alfonso Soriano in days of yore, Michael A. Taylor can carry you for weeks at a time, and then become one of the Walking Dead for the next month.

Taking into account he started the season in the minors and spent the better part of July on the DL, Michael A. Taylor’s .271 AVG/51 R/16 HR/49 RBI/14 SB stat line in 373 ABs is perfectly acceptable. Like the episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise, however, the performance is wildly inconsistent.

After returning from his July DL stint, Michael A. Taylor posted a cringe-worthy .222 AVG in August. September, however, was a different story. As of September 23, Michael A. Taylor has a .290 AVG/6 R/4 HR/11 RBI/2 SB stat line for the month. This includes an inside-the-park grand slam. You read that right. He’s also second on the team in SBs. Of course, he’s trailing Trea Turner (42 to 14). Kind of like Apollo Creed finished second to Ivan Drago in their fight. Too soon?

So why is Michael A. Taylor consistently inconsistent (I really meant to say that)? Because he strikes out more than the old guy at the club (thank you Chris Rock). The 31.4% K rate and 7% BB rate demonstrate a player who doesn’t walk much, and he swings and misses a whole lot.

That being said, Michael A. Taylor has the power/speed skillset to light up a box score when he’s hot, and he’s in a loaded lineup that regularly puts up big numbers. Michael A. Taylor is hot right now, and he’s owned in only 25% of ESPN leagues and 22% of Yahoo leagues. If you need some OF help during championship week, Michael A. Taylor could cure what ails you.

For all your hitting decisions during championship week, check out the SCFE Hitting Planner provided by Aaron Hinckley.


There are the Fantasy Baseball Week 26 Hot Topics. Once again, thanks for reading the column this season. It’s been a lot of fun for me; I hope it’s been the same for you. If this was your first season as a Fantasy Baseball owner, stick with it. If you’re a veteran, keep on keeping on. Until next time, it’s been real.

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