Cash in on Sean Manaea’s hot 2022 start

Have you ever been part of a botched surprise party when the “good” surprise was accidentally wasted on someone it wasn’t intended for?

Like that time everyone yelled “surprise” at a random party guest instead of at Grandma Esther on her 85th birthday. Or that time Uncle Robert got too drunk too fast and welcomed the guest of honor to their “surprise party” while sitting outside smoking a cigarette.

The beginning of the fantasy baseball season is full of surprises — some good, some bad and many unexpected. (Pablo Lopez’s league-leading 0.52 ERA? Kevin Gausman’s league-leading 20.7 percent swinging strike rate?)

Be sure you don’t waste the good surprises, especially if it can bring you a piece that offers your team more long-term upside.

San Diego’s Sean Manaea entered the weekend 2-1 with a 1.42 ERA, 19-5 strikeout-walk rate and a 0.79 WHIP. Among qualified pitchers, the 30-year-old lefty ranked eighth in opponent average (.152), 10th in ERA, 24th in strikeouts per nine (9.00) and 28th in walks per nine (2.37). He also ranked 19th in swinging strike rate (13.1 percent) and 16th in strand rate (88.2 percent).

Though Manaea, who owns a career 3.80 ERA and 1.19 WHIP, has long been a Roto Rage favorite, it’s hard to believe the southpaw is now a top-20 fantasy option. This feels like an opportunity to capitalize on a hot start.

Sean Manaea’s hot 2022 start might not be sustainable.
Getty Images

Not only does Manaea own an unsustainable .196 BaBIP, he also has a 2.19 xERA, 2.53 FIP and 3.16 xFIP — numbers that point to some early season luck. Opponents are hitting .111 against his sinker, a pitch he throws almost 60 percent of the time, but his velocity is down almost 2 mph on the pitch and opponents have a .115 BaBIP against the pitch.

None of those numbers mean that Manaea is incapable of being a quality rotation option. He is, and will continue to be, a viable fantasy option — just not at the level at which he is pitching right now. Part of that is because of the competition he faced over his first three starts: Arizona, San Francisco and Cincinnati.

Though the Giants’ pitching staff is no joke, their offense barely qualified as mediocre over the first two weeks, hitting .217 entering Friday. The Reds were hitting .177, good for the second-worst mark in the majors, with 129 strikeouts and a league-worst .524 OPS. Any guesses which team has the worst offense in the majors? If you guessed the Diamondbacks, you understand the concept of foreshadowing. They were hitting .176 as a unit with 124 strikeouts.

It is great to see Manaea dominate teams hitting near or below the Mendoza Line, but how will he fare against stronger competition? How will he do against divisional foes such as the Rockies or the loaded Dodgers, who he’ll face Sunday? (If he does well against the Dodgers, maybe it’s a sign to hold … or an even bigger sign to raise your asking price.) He is also lined up to face the Pirates, Marlins, Cubs, Phillies and Brewers in upcoming starts, and that will be telling, too.

Sean Manaea
Sean Manaea
AP

Manaea is a solid SP3 or SP4, but it is worth testing early season trade waters with owners who are panicking over struggling aces such as Zack Wheeler (0-2, 9.39 ERA), Charlie Morton (1-2, 6.32), Jose Berrios (1-0, 6.35), Aaron Nola (1-2, 5.52) or Trevor Rogers (0-2, 12.15), all solid buy-low options.

Manaea’s hot start, mixed with being in a pitcher-friendly park on a contending team, may be enticing enough to your competition where you can get a better piece that will help you for the long term. It’s worth a try.

Clayton Kershaw, who lines up to face Manaea on Sunday, is 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA, 20-0 strikeout-walk rate and .143 opponent average. The early success is not surprising for the three-time Cy Young winner, but Roto Rage has concerns of his injury-prone body holding up the entire season. Selling while he is hot and healthy isn’t a bad idea.

St. Louis’ Tommy Edman entered the weekend hitting .342 with a 1.048 OPS, three homers and one stolen base. The main reason Edman was a mid-round draft-day target was because of his multi-position eligibility and speed from him, not this sudden power burst. He is a career .274 hitter who has never topped 11 homers in a season. If someone is willing to pay up believing this is a power breakout, Roto Rage would sell.

big hits

CJ Cron 1B, Rockies

In his first 12 games, he was 16-for-48 (.333) with 16 RBIs, 10 runs, 1.178 OPS and a league-leading six homers. Five of those six homers came at Coors Field, where he is hitting .350 with 13 RBIs and a 1,172 OPS.

Carlos Carrasco SP, Mets

Allowed just three runs over his first three starts, going 1-0 with a 1.47 ERA, 0.60 WHIP, 20-2 strikeout-walk rate and a .141 opponent average.

Carlos Carrasco
Carlos Carrasco
Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

Patrick Wisdom 1B/3B/OF, Cubs

Entered Friday with a six-game hit streak, going 9-for-17 (.529) with two homers, seven RBIs, six runs, two walks and a 1.755 OPS in that span.

Merrill Kelly SP, Diamondbacks

Pitched 15 scoreless innings to start the year, and is 1-0 with a 0.59 ERA, 18 strikeouts, five walks and a .224 opponent average in three starts.

Big Whiffs

Julio Rodriguez OF, Mariners

Over his first 12 games, he was 6-for-44 (.136) with two RBIs, .367 OPS and a league-leading 22 strikeouts. He did steal four bases, though.

Charlie Morton SP, Braves

After winning his first start, the veteran is 0-2 with a 7.84 ERA, 9-6 strikeout-walk rate, three homers allowed, .333 opponent average and 1.078 OPS in his past two starts.

Ryan Mountcastle 1B/OF, Orioles

Since homering April 9, he did not go deep in his next 11 games while hitting .209 with 14 strikeouts and a .494 OPS. He hitting .208 at home.

Ryan Mountcastle reacts after striking out.
Ryan Mountcastle reacts after striking out.
Getty Images

Nick Pivetta SP, Red Sox

Entered Friday tied with Marcus Stroman for a league-leading 13 ER allowed while going 0-3 with a 10.03 ERA and a .333 opponent average.

Check Swings

  • Despite walking almost 10 percent of the batters he faces, the Giants’ Charles Rodon has looked dominant over his first three starts. He is 2-0 with a 1.06 ERA, 44.6 strikeout percentage, 16.8 percent swinging strike rate and .140 opponent average (second-lowest mark in the majors).
  • yankees slugger joey rooster had five hits (all singles) in his first 37 at-bats (.135) with no homers or RBIs and a 37.2 percent strikeout rate. Yikes!
  • Oakland’s Sean Murphy, the fifth-most added player in ESPN leagues this week, is a solid addition to fantasy rosters — more so against lefties. Versus right-handers, the backstop was 7-for-40 (.175) with no homers, three RBIs and a .527 OPS in his first 14 games, but was 7-for-14 (.500) with three homers, eight RBIs and a 1,890 OPS against southpaws.
  • Jurickson Profar of the Padres, who is available in more than 30 percent of ESPN leagues and eligible at multiple positions, had four homers, 11 RBIs, a stolen base, seven runs and a 1,017 OPS in his first 12 games.

Team Name of the Week

rooster beak

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