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Thursday, March 30, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: AARON NOLA SP PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

So about that Aaron Nola breakout in 2017.......yeah maybe not.  It has been a very rough spring for Philadelphia Phillies pitching prospect Nola who ended his exhibition run with a nasty 8.38 ERA after giving up 5 runs in 1.2 innings during his final spring start.  One of my biggest sleeper recommendations for the upcoming season, Nola has certainly tested my faith and those who took my advice on him.  We are hearing nothing regarding any other elbow problems for Nola after his 2016 was derailed by pain in the joint but needless to say he has not been good.  Now on the positive side, Nola is missing bats just like he did last season.  He has struck out 23 batters in 19.1 innings this spring which shows that Nola's stuff is still potent enough but the overall results are not good.  So in terms of what to do at the start of the season, your best bet is to lay off using Nola early on to see if his poor spring results continue.  One poor spring will not shake my confidence in Nola yet but it is surely not as strong as it was earlier.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

HIRE THE FANTASY SPORTS BOSS TO BE YOUR PERSONAL 2017 FANTASY BASEBALL ADVISOR

2017 fantasy baseball is almost here and once again yours truly is available to serve as your personal adviser for the entire season or on a monthly basis.  Already a bunch of you have signed up and I even went to a LIVE DRAFT from one of our readers that live somewhat where we operate.  For $100 for the season I will be here to answer any and all fantasy questions and will give you a response within the hour at most and likely within minutes.  We get hundreds of e-mails and tweets a day but only can get to a certain amount unfortunately.  This ensures our commitment to your and hopefully a winning season.  Use the BUY NOW tab below to purchase.



CHOOSE YOUR PLAN

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: LOOK FOR SHAWN KELLY TO BE NAMED NATS CLOSER

While Koda Glover more than earned positive reviews, the Washington Nationals are likely to go with veteran Shawn Kelly to begin the 2017 season for the team in the closer role.  Both Kelly and Glove have pitched well this spring but the latter struggled in two of his last three appearances which included Wednesday's outing where got just one out against three batters faced.  Kelly as the veteran will be the more trusted option for Dusty Baker and this has extra importance on a team that is aiming to go to the World Series.  If you have drafted Glover, we think that cloud is about to burst.


FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: ALL SIGNS POINT TO NO BREAKS IN RANDAL GRICHUK'S HAND (HBP)

While no X-Rays have been done yet, all signs appear to be that St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Randal Grichuk avoided disaster Wednesday when he took a pitch off his hand in the team's exhibition outing.  It is likely an X-ray will still be done at some point but Grichuk likely just escaped with a simple bruise.  As far as what Grichuk's fantasy baseball impact could be this season, his power is unquestioned and could approach 30 home run if he can hit consistently enough to play on an everyday basis.  

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: STEVEN MATZ CONFIRMED TO BEGIN YEAR ON DL



Already facing long odds to be ready for the start of the 2017 season, New York Mets lefty Steven Matz will begin the year on the disabled list with elbow irritation.  Matz was able to throw a side session both Monday and Tuesday but manager Terry Collins and GM Sandy Alderson wanted to take the safe route at the beginning of the season.  As a result, Robert Gsellman moves up to the fourth spot in the rotation and then Zach Wheeler will now have a good chance to claim the fifth spot.  Gsellman is already carving out a nice sleeper upside for himself based on his excellent second half debut in 2016 and terrific spring training and Wheeler of course was once a top power pitching prospect.  Both are worth a look in moderately-sized mixed leagues.  As far as Matz is concerned, same story as always here with regards to his excellent talent being overshadowed by injury.  


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL BRIEF: DeLINO DeSHIELDS A PERSON OF INTEREST AGAIN

The Texas Rangers have not given up on Delino DeShields just yet.  After crashing and burning at the start of 2016 (a struggle that got him eventually sent back to the minors), DeShields took full advantage of another potential chance to stick this spring but unleashing his speed to steal 12 bases and also bat a very good .316.  A 26.6 K/9 rate undermined DeShields last season and that obviously is what will make him sink or swim this time around as well but for now it looks like he will grab hold of the precious leadoff spot for the Rangers.  If DeShields can keep up his walks and hit at least .260 or so, the steals could flow in a massive way.  That could make DeShields a terrific pick up this late in spring training and he serves as another example of how cheap speed is always available and randomly shows up.  There is no guarantee DeShields carries his big spring over into the regular season but he is at least back on the fantasy baseball map for the time being.


FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: JEURYS FAMILIA HANDED 15-GAME BAN

New York Mets closer Jeurys Familia received a 15-game ban from MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on Wednesday, much lower than initial predictions of between 20-30 games.  Addison Reed will finish games for the Mets while Familia is out but a return towards the latter portion of April is set.

Analysis:  I have to say I am shocked at how little Familia got considering the punishments handed out to Aroldis Chapman and Jose Reyes.  Not sure what to make of that and won't speculate but the fantasy baseball impact on Familia is minor.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL BRIEF: HITTING SECOND GOOD FOR ALEX BREGMAN'S COUNTING NUMBERS

Already one of the most sought-after sleepers for 2017 fantasy baseball, the news that Houston Astros rookie third baseman Alex Bregman will bat second in the order is another boost to his potential impact this season.  Having opened up more than a few eyes in hitting 8 home runs and batting 264 in his 49-game debut with the Astros in 2016, Bregman's high baseball IQ and burgeoning power make him one to target as a major upside play.  Add in the extra at-bats he will get in the second spot in the order and Bregman will challenge Andrew Benintendi as the top rookie hitter in 2017.  

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: SUSPENSION FOR JEURYS FAMILIA LIKELY TO BE 20-25 GAMES

Rob Manfred is set to hand down the suspension to New York Mets closer Jeurys Familia on Wednesday but various reports indicate it should be anywhere from 20-25 games and not the 30 that was previously widely to be rumored.  Addison Reed will handle closing duties for the Mets while Familia is out but all in all it is now looking like an early May return for the latter which is not devastating for his fantasy baseball value in 2017.  


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL BRIEF: MATT BOYD GETS ANOTHER SHOT TO SHOW HE CAN BE FANTASY RELEVANT

Matt Boyd officially won the fifth starter's spot for the Detroit Tigers as announced this past Tuesday and it was a close fight which he won over veteran Anibal Sanchez.  On spring numbers alone, Boyd was deserving as he pitched to a 2.49 ERA and struck out 21 batters in 21.1 frames.  A few things on Boyd though:  one is that he is already 26 and was not considered a top prospect as a former sixth round pick.  The second is that he was hammered last season in his debut in registering a 5.64 ERA.  However Boyd put up some very good numbers in the minor leagues prior to his MLB debut and his stuff is deceptive enough to generate strikeouts.  Right now Boyd is pretty much a name to be aware of in AL-only formats but in mixers it is a good idea to watch early on to see how much improvement he has made this season.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL SPRING TRAINING WRAPUP: TUESDAY

-It was a dominant spring for Tampa Bay Rays starter Chris Archer as he tossed three more scoreless innings on Tuesday to lower his ERA to 1.98 in non-WBC action.  He struck out four and has been a strikeout machine all spring.  I think there are major things in store for Archer this season and another 240 K's is in play.

-Brandon Kintzler is a guy I think is a fraud as a closer but he has thrown well of late with five scoreless outings in his last six appearances.  Once Glen Perkins comes back things may change but Kintzler is the scary guy to own for saves in Minny.

-How about ByungHo Park?  He has been great this spring with a .362 average and his fifth home run on Tuesday.  We all know the massive struggles that Park had as a rookie in 2016 but maybe he picked up some new strategies at the dish this spring.  The power is legit but I am still not interested.

-Robert Gsellman struck out six and gave up 3 runs in 6 innings in his final spring start Tuesday versus the St. Louis Cardinals.  He has been a revelation since the midpoint of 2016 and the Mets now plan to ride him as a firm member of the rotation.  While the strikeouts are just average, Gsellman is a nice SP 5 play.

-Matt Adams has slimmed down this spring and maybe that has given him some new bat speed.  He is up to five spring home runs to go with a .340 average.  Adams has been a major disappointment the last few years as his size never translated to power but it won't cost much more than a last round pick to find out if he his improvement is for real.

-Boy is Freddie Freeman on fire.  He is up to a ridiculous .524 for the spring and has just 5 K's in 42 at-bats.  I am a big fan of Freeman and now am all-in on him being a top fantasy baseball everyday first baseman.

-King Felix punched out four batters in just two innings in a final tuneup Tuesday versus the Arizona D-Backs.  Hernandez has looked sharp this spring and his fastball had ticked up a tad which is nice to say.  Perhaps he is not done yet.

-Zack Greinke was sitting only in the upper-80's with his fastball as he continues to struggle this spring.  Comparisons to Jered Weaver are on par so far as Greinke is fading quickly and he could be in line for some major trouble again in 2017 with diminished stuff.  Stay clear.

-Brian McCann has had a nice spring after a terrible start as he hit his third homers Tuesday and is up to .277 with his average.  McCann has become quite the value in fantasy baseball given the fear of his age but he has another year or two of top five value among catchers.


FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: ALL SYSTEM'S A GO WITH RAISEL IGLESIAS

Cincinnati Reds prospective closer Raisel Iglesias threw a side session with no incidents on Tuesday and it now set to break camp with the team and likely start the year in the closer role.  Iglesias has dealt with a couple of physical scares this spring but his high K rate and success pitching out of the pen last season make him the best bet to finish games.  The upside is sizable here and the draft cost is cheap as well for a closer.  I am buying.  

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: CARTER CAPPS. GREG HOLLAND, AND NATS SITUATION

There are more than a few closer situations taking front and center with the season less than a week away so let's get to the latest:

-The Colorado Rockies plan on going into the season now with Greg Holland and not Adam Ottavino in the closer role which comes as a mild surprise since it was generally assumed the reverse would be in play.  Holland has not exactly been lighting things up this spring but his old velocity is almost all the way back and the fact he has a vast experience edge over Ottavino likely played a role.  However there is still time for Ottavino to go back in front as Holland struggled Monday giving up two runs in on his one inning and he is set to pitch again on Tuesday.  If that outing goes bad, Ottavino may just be able to jump ahead.  Even if Holland stars the season in the closer role, I would absolutely hold Ottavino to see how the early results shape up.

-The debut of Carter Capps on Monday did not go well on Monday as he walked two and gave up two hits for the San Diego Padres.  Capps got just one out in the appearance but honestly there is no shock he struggled given how much time he has missed.  Prior to the surgery, Capps was as dominant a bullpen arm as there was in the league and that is still his ceiling once the rust comes off.  Brandon Maurer is a joke as a closer and he will soon be exposed.  That will open the door to Capps who has the massive K stuff to be a gem in the ninth inning.  Hold him on your roster.

-The Washington Nationals were said to be sitting down to discuss their closer situation Monday but still no official word from the team in terms of what they are going to do.  Koda Glover retired all four New York Met hitters he faced on Monday and he has been nearly unhittable all spring.  However he has no experience finishing games and so manager Dusty Baker may prefer veteran Shawn Kelly instead.  Check back later for an expected update.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL SPRING TRAINING WRAPUP: MONDAY

-Obviously one of the biggest stories of this fantasy baseball season so far has been in the insane draft cost of Washington Nationals infielder/outfielder Trea Turner.  Based solely on a half season of splendid work and upside, Turner is going as as late first round pick in many fantasy baseball leagues.  His spring has unfolded nicely as well, what with Turner hitting two home runs Monday to bring his total in exhibition play to 3.  On top of that, Turner is running at will as he has six steals.  While I am still not completely sold on the power, Turner is a major threat to lead baseball in steals and could cross the 50 mark with a .300-plus average and 90-runs scored.

-So you think Bryce Harper is having a nice spring?  How about two more home runs Monday to drive the point home.  Seemingly healthy for the first time in forever, Harper now has 8 spring home runs and seems ready to go back to his insane 2015 numbers.  The fact Harper made it to the late stages of Round 1 in some leagues is ridiculous.

-Yeah it looks like Max Scherzer is ready and his fractured finger was all much adieu about nothing.  He struck out 7 New York Mets in his five shutout innings and is primed to begin the season on time.  Nothing to see here for the number 2 starter in fantasy baseball.

-Zach Wheeler tossed a five inning shutout in his best outing since coming back from a two-year absence due to Tommy John surgery.  He walked two, gave up two hits, and struck out three while looking like the Wheeler of old in terms of not striking out as many guys as his 98-mph fastball would indicate.  With Steven Matz injured, Wheeler could start the season in the fifth spot in the Mets rotation but overall he is capped at around 120 innings which limits the fantasy baseball impact.
-Up and down we go with Eduardo Rodriguez who gave up four earned runs in six innings Monday.  Rodriguez' young career has been filled with inconsistency right on down to the strikeouts and so he remains volatile in fantasy baseball terms.

-Jon Lester now carries a 5.73 ERA this spring after yielding four runs in six innings versus the Cleveland Indians but slow starts from the veteran are nothing new.  Lester is getting a tad up there in age though and he went through very heavy usage seasons the last two years.

-Danny Salazar has the K stuff working as he whiffed 9 Chicago Cubs in just 5.2 innings.  For the spring Salazar finished with a high 4.85 ERA but he struck out a massive 37 in 26 frames to show why he is annually so tempting to draft.

-Wilson Contreras was one of the my "go get him" players this year given the extreme shallow nature of catcher and for his smooth and powerful swing.  He showed that Monday when Contreras slammed two home runs to bring his spring total to 5 with a .340 average,  Upwards we go.

-This is going to sound a bit like quibbling but Carlos Martinez continues to lack in the K department this spring as he struck out just 2 in 5 innings Monday versus the Houston Astros.  Martinez has a sparkling 1.38 spring ERA but you want the strikeouts to go along for the ride like they did in 2015.  Shoulder issues persisted again last season and I don't have to tell you this type of injury historically robs strikeouts from a pitcher.  Something to watch early on in the season.

-Wil Myers is up to 3 home runs and 3 steals on the spring with a .385 average after going yard on Monday  I still doubt whether he can make 2016's power/speed combination that went over 20 in each category but I also wouldn't be shocked if I were wrong based on how well Myers has hit this spring.

-Carter Capps predictably struggled in his first spring outing coming back from Tommy John surgery as he gave up 2 hits and 2 walks with 1 run.  Capps only was able to get one out but keep in mind rust needs to be worked off from a very young power arm.  I still think Capps is the best bet to lead the Padres in saves this season so stash him on your roster.

-Daniel Norris reported feeling a "dead arm" Monday which would help explain giving up 13 hits and a walk in just 3 innings.  Norris had been very good this spring leading into his Monday outing but at least this is something to watch early on in the season.

-Greg Holland gave up two runs in his outing on Monday and he is scheduled to pitch again on Tuesday as his final post-Tommy John hurdle.  The Rockies are prepared to go into the season with Holland closing but a rough outing on Tuesday could change the plan.