Buy, Buy, Buy: Alex Wood, Matt Kemp
Buying players at the right time is one of the key tenants to winning a Fantasy baseball championship. Two guys who could easily outpace the price required to bring them aboard are Alex Wood and Matt Kemp.
Over the course of a long Fantasy baseball season, championship owners find a way to take advantage of buying opportunities when they present themselves. Here are a few guys that I'm looking at adding in all leagues moving forward.
Once the Braves saw the rotation return to full health, they had to make a tough decision and squeeze a starting pitcher out of a rotation spot. That led to Alex Wood being sent to the bullpen, where he pitched for a month starting on May 8 before being sent to the minors. While this is a familiar usage pattern for struggling pitchers, that moniker doesn't belong anywhere near the talented Braves youngster. Though he did struggle in one start, giving up seven earned runs on April 29, his other six starts featured no more than two earned runs by Wood. His 44:9 K:BB ratio in 45 innings isn't just good; it would be the eighth-best mark of all qualified starting pitchers if Wood had the starts to qualify.
Wood is on his way back to the Atlanta rotation Wednesday after giving up just one earned run in 8 2/3 innings over two starts with Triple-A Gwinnett. He'll replace Gavin Floyd, who will likely be sidelined for the remainder of the year with an elbow injury, thereby freeing Wood to remain in the rotation as long as he's successful. Based on his track record from earlier this season as well as his excellent rookie season, success should be quick in coming.
The range of pitchers I would offer up for Wood is very wide: I'd certainly surrender Justin Verlander at this point, and players like Homer Bailey and Matt Cain would also be traded away in a 1-for-1 if that's what it took. Wood has the ability to be a game-changer over the remainder of the season.
The struggles of Matt Kemp have been well documented. He went from a top-two MVP candidate in 2011 to a replacement-level player in 2013 -- that is, when he actually played. The early portion of 2014 was more of the same for the outfielder, and his OPS had sunk to a lowly .689 mark by June 4. Kemp took that mark into a three-game series in the thin air of Colorado, and that's when he began to find his swing.
In his last 14 games, Kemp has exploded for a .417/.491/.708 line with four doubles, two triples, two home runs and 13 RBI in 48 at-bats. He's managed to draw eight walks while striking out 11 times during that stretch, a vast improvement on his 55:14 K:BB ratio through June 4.
One hidden reason for the improvement at the plate could be his new defensive position. Kemp did a poor job manning center field day in and day out this season, and he certainly wouldn't be the first player to let defensive struggles affect him at the plate. The team shifted him to the less-taxing left field position at the end of May, and he's yet to commit an error at his new position. While the Dodgers could face a logjam in the corner outfield spots once Carl Crawford is ready to return, Kemp certainly won't be the one to take a seat if he continues to perform. It's worth checking in with the Kemp owner in your league to see if he or she is convinced that this recent nice stretch for Kemp is a flash in the pan from a fading star. If it's not, you could land an elite OF at a discount price.
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