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2018 Week 7 Hot Topics: Szechuan Sauce Edition

2018 Week 7 Hot Topics
Photo Credit: hj_west

Greetings from SCFE’s 2018 Week 7 Hot Topics. Fantasy Baseball is in full swing, and the weather is finally beginning to cooperate. No matter how your teams are doing, you have to be grateful that MLB stadiums no longer resemble ice rinks. Let’s face it; the first month of the season was as cold as Fox cancelling Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Like a phoenix rising from its ashes, however, NBC has stepped up and resurrected Brooklyn Nine-Nine for at least one more season. And there was much rejoicing. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is one of those shows where either you get it or you don’t. There’s really no middle ground.

The same could be said of Rick and Morty; hence the title of this week’s column. It’s not because I’m obsessed with McNuggets. I’ve actually given up on McNuggets for the time being, and not because of the lack of Szechuan sauce. It’s because McDonald’s got rid of the hot mustard sauce. That’s a crime against humanity as far as I’m concerned.

If you wondered last year why Szechuan sauce (last seen in 1998) suddenly became an internet sensation, Rick and Morty is the answer. If you’re not familiar with it, Rick and Morty is an animated series on Adult Swim. As you might imagine from the title, the show chronicles the adventures of Rick Sanchez and his grandson, Morty.

The best description I have heard of the Rick character is that he’s like a degenerate Doctor Who. You read that right. Rick is a boozing, nihilistic, hyper-intelligent scientist who can travel through space, time, and multiple realities. He typically insults everyone along the way and creates chaos and destruction wherever he goes. He usually drags Morty along, and there’s a twisted reason for that the show reveals later on.

Rick and Morty was created by Dan Harmon, who also created Community. Community is perhaps the best example of a show that people either got or they didn’t. Fans of shows like Community, Rick and Morty, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine consider it a badge of honor that they got it. These shows aren’t for everyone; and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Like Rick and Morty, Fantasy Baseball is something people either get or they don’t. A comedian once said that it’s not really Fantasy Baseball; it’s Fantasy Accounting. There’s some truth to that. After all, Fantasy Baseball success or failure all comes down to the numbers. We still love it, however, no matter how other people might be mystified by the attraction. Just like Rick and Morty.

If you’ve never seen Rick and Morty, you should check it out at least once. It may not be for you, but you’ll probably laugh yourself silly at least once. Even if you feel sick for doing so. There are much worse ways to spend half an hour.

Of course, you’re here for Fantasy Baseball info. Let’s get to it with SCFE’s 2018 Week 7 Hot Topics.

2018 Week 7 Hot Topics

Hot Topic No. 1: “Geez Morty, purge it down a little.”

James Paxton, SP, Seattle Mariners

If you’re wondering about the sense of humor behind Rick and Morty, this quote sums it up. In one episode, Rick and Morty visit a purge planet. These are planets that maintain law and order by making everything legal for one night. You know, like the movie The Purge (pop culture references are a staple of Rick and Morty). Apparently on some planets, they just call it Murder Night.

This quote also applies to the fact that we’ve already had three no-hitters this season. Who would’ve thought we could have no-hitter fatigue? Maybe it’s a reflection of MLB’s transformation into a true three-outcome game, where even Jeremy Hellickson and James Shields are flirting with baseball history these days. I can’t believe I just wrote that.

On May 8, James Paxton threw the third no-hitter of the season. For baseball trivia aficionados, those three no-hitters were in three different countries. Also, James Paxton is the first Canadian to throw a no-hitter in Canada. That will probably be a Jeopardy question someday.

Facing the Toronto Blue Jays on May 8, James Paxton earned his place in the record books with a 9.0 IP/0 ER/0 H/3 BB/7 K performance. He was also efficient; needing only 99 pitches to complete the masterpiece. James Paxton dominated the Blue Jays like cat videos dominate the internet. Can someone please explain to me what the fascination is with cat videos? But I digress.

James Paxton’s nickname is “The Big Maple.” I’m guessing that’s a Canadian thing. Hey buddy! Say, guy! Sorry; I had to go South Park there. A fourth-round pick of the Mariners in 2010, James Paxton is a 6-4 lefty with a blazing fastball and a wicked curve. For most of his career, however, he’s been an undeniable talent plagued by injury woes.

After making his MLB debut in 2013, James Paxton has spent time on the DL in every season since. Because of his skills, however, he’s always been a popular target in drafts. Despite two trips to the DL in 2017, he finished last season with a 12-5/2.98 ERA/1.10 WHIP/156 Ks in 136 IPs. Heading into this season, the only question was health.

After a poor first start this year, some panicky owners actually dropped him. One of my fellow owners told me this in a league where I had first waiver priority back in April. Thanks, Joel. Needless to say, I snatched him up immediately and haven’t looked back.

Through May 14, James Paxton has posted 2-1/3.52 ERA/1.12 WHIP/71 K stat line in 53.2 IPs. Forget about the wins and the ERA. His ERA is skewed by two bad April starts, and skills are more important than wins. He’s already had two 10 K performances and a 16 K outing. And those were before the no-no. James Paxton has the skills to pay the bills.

Although the health issues will always be a concern, James Paxton can shut down MLB lineups and is a friend to bald eagles everywhere. If you haven’t seen that footage from earlier this season; you need to check it out. Watching that, you know James Paxton is cool under pressure. We’re talking Chilly Palmer-level cool here. If you need SP help, maybe you can sucker a fellow owner into “selling high” on James Paxton.

For all you need to know about SP decisions, head over to the Pitching Planner provided by Michael Tomlin.

Hot Topic No. 2: “Why don’t you ask the smartest people in the universe, Jerry? Oh yeah, you can’t. They blew up.”

Scooter Gennett, 2B, Cincinnati Reds

Embed from Getty Images

If you got laughed at for drafting Scooter Gennett, this is probably what you’re saying to the Scooter Gennett haters right about now. Scooter Gennett is a legitimate Fantasy Baseball contributor used to seem about as likely as Rick and Morty getting picked up for another 70 episodes. But both those things have happened.

The first episode of Rick and Morty’s third season featured a screed from Rick which caused the Szechuan sauce craze. As Rick explained the show was getting darker (carrying on the Community tradition of obliterating the fourth wall), he also declared he wanted his Szechuan sauce even if it took nine seasons. Now it looks like Rick and Morty is going to get nine seasons. Six seasons and a movie at the very least. That’s for the Community fans out there.

Rick and Morty’s success is like the rise of Scooter Gennett. Not many people saw it coming. A one-time prospect of the Milwaukee Brewers, Scooter Gennett was originally known for his speed. After failing to reach 10 SBs in any MLB season, however, he was put on waivers by the Brewers after the 2016 season.

The Reds claimed him in 2017 but did not have a starting position for him. Although he spent the majority of his time at 2B, Scooter Gennett also spent time at 3B and OF last year. He finished 2017 with a .295 AVG/80 R/27 HR/97 RBI/3 SB stat line. He also became a DFS legend with a 5 for 5/4 R/4 HR/10 RBI performance on June 6, 2017.

Heading into 2018, there was obvious skepticism about a repeat performance. After all, Scooter Gennett’s prior best season total for HRs at any level was 14. After a slow start to this season from a power standpoint, Scooter Gennett went four straight games with an HR and sports a .329 AVG/19 R/6 HR/24 RBI/1 SB line through his first 39 games.

Maybe last season wasn’t a fluke. Also, keep in mind that Scooter Gennett has a career MLB .286 AVG along with a solid 19% K rate and 80% contact rate. He can make contact, and now he’s making contact for power. Playing half his games in Great American Ball Park doesn’t hurt either.

Although Scooter Gennett is only eligible at 2B in ESPN leagues, he also has 3B and OF eligibility in Yahoo leagues. Although it seems like he’s been around forever, Scooter Gennett just turned 28. There’s still growth potential there. He’s currently owned in only 48% of ESPN leagues and 74% of Yahoo leagues. If you’re looking for MI help, you could do worse. And how often do you get to say “Scooter” in a conversation? That’s just a bonus.

Hot Topic No. 3: “Why was Knight Rider called Knight Rider? The car’s name was KITT. Nobody rode Michael Knight. You’re overthinking it, Summer.”

Michael Brantley, OF, Cleveland Indians

Embed from Getty Images

Overthinking is what probably kept most people away from Michael Brantley on draft day. When you get right down to it, he’s a good player with health issues. Sometimes you just have to take a risk.

Although it may seem like ancient history, Michael Brantley won a Silver Slugger award in 2014 with a 200-hit season and a .327 AVG/94 R/20 HR/97 RBI/23 SB stat line. He followed that up with a .310 AVG/68 R/15 HR/84 RBI/15 SB line in 2015.

Unfortunately, Michael Brantley spent more time on the shelf in 2016 and 2017 than Jar Jar Binks merchandise. Two right shoulder surgeries wiped out his 2016 season, and he was limited to 90 games in 2017 with a right ankle injury that also required surgery. Despite missing almost half the season, however, Michael Brantley still posted a respectable .299 AVG/47 R/9 HR/52 RBI/11 SB stat line.

Heading into this season, Michael Brantley was still rehabbing from the ankle surgery and only played 3 preseason games. Understandably, there was a lot of skepticism on draft day. That skepticism, however, demonstrates the dangers of overthinking things.

Michael Brantley is a career .294 hitter with an elite 88% contact rate. While he’s never hit more than 20 HRs in a season, you can find power pretty much everywhere these days. On the other hand, a player who hasn’t had more than 76 Ks in a single season is now as rare as movies that aren’t sequels or remakes.

Through May 14, Michael Brantley has posted a .331 AVG/16 R/5 HR/27 RBI/1 SB stat line in 30 games. I’d say he’s back. He can contribute across the board, and he’s locked in at the top of the Indians’ lineup.

Michael Brantley is currently owned in 79% of ESPN leagues and 71% of Yahoo leagues. There’s still an injury risk based on the last two years, but you shouldn’t overthink it. If he’s available in one of your leagues, can you really say everyone in your OF is giving you better production? Just saying.

If you need to add a player to your roster, check out SCFE’s Waiver Wire column by Josh Morgan.

 

There are the Fantasy Baseball 2018 Week 7 Hot Topics. There’s still a lot of season left, so a slow start doesn’t mean all hope is lost. Players are heating up along with the weather, and hopefully, your faith on draft day is being rewarded. Like Rick, you should never give up on that Szechuan sauce. Just don’t riot when they bring it back and there’s not enough to go around. Was that too soon?

Until next time, always never forget to check your references.

David Rubin

Dave started playing fantasy sports during the dark ages of pen and paper. He is also an avid reader and watcher of sci fi, fantasy, horror, and other escapist pursuits. He cannot be found on social media, and he is proud of that.

Dave started playing fantasy sports during the dark ages of pen and paper. He is also an avid reader and watcher of sci fi, fantasy, horror, and other escapist pursuits. He cannot be found on social media, and he is proud of that.

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