FOLLOW US ON TWITTER

LIKE THE FANTASY SPORTS BOSS ON FACEBOOOK

Thursday, April 19, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL TREND OR MIRAGE: DANSBY SWANSON SS ATLANTA BRAVES

What a different a year makes huh?  Last March the fantasy baseball hype for Atlanta Braves shortstop prospect Dansby Swanson was immense to say the least.  Having been the number 1 pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, Swanson carried as big a prospect pedigree as you could get given that selection spot and so he had more than his fair share of suitors during fantasy baseball drafts last spring.  As so often happens though, Swanson failed to live up to the Derek Jeter comparisons as he sank to just a .232 average and it all of 6 home runs in 551 at-bats.  Making matters worse was the fact Swanson was so bad early on during the year that the Braves were forced to send him back to the minor leagues.  With that as a disappointing backdrop, Swanson was mostly a forgotten man as 2018 fantasy baseball drafts got underway but that instantly turned him into a value play who was now in position to be a post-hype sleeper made good.  With the season now more than three weeks old, it certainly looks like Swanson is fitting that post-hype sleeper mode as he goes into Thursday's action with the following numbers:

.358
2 HR
9 R
11 RBI
1 SB

Those are tremendous numbers no matter how you slice it and Swanson is so far showcasing the high batting average talent and moderate power/speed game that was so talked about last spring.  Clearly, moving Swanson down in the order has helped in that is has lessened the pressure to produce but now we have to determine if this is something that can be sustained or if in fact it is just a fluke which will be corrected. 

Digging into the advanced numbers is always the way to go when facing such a dilemma and it is here where things start to get less murky.  What jumps out right away is that Swanson's .440 BABIP is simply ridiculous and is in no way sustainable.  That alone means Swanson's average will take a tumble real soon and it could be stark.  Making this an even bigger concern is Swanson's tiny 5.6 BB/9 which shows impatience on his part and thus, another avenue where the batting average will slide.  While his 21.1 K/9 rate is pretty good for a young player, Swanson's BB/9 and BABIP numbers ensure there will be trouble ahead and he doesn't hit home runs or steal bases at a high enough rate to offset things enough.  So if you are holding stock in Swanson at this moment, talk up his big start and still solid prospect name and see what you can get out of it  Troubling times are going to be ahead before you know it. 

TREND OR MIRAGE:  MIRAGE

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY WATCH: FEARS OF A SECOND BROKEN WRIST FOR FREDDIE FREEMAN

Here we again. Belonging in the "you can't make this stuff up" file, there are fears that Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman suffered a broken left wrist for the second straight season after taking an HBP to the area during Wednesdays game for the team. Freeman headed for testing right after but no official word had been released by the Braves as of this writing. What is telling is that in most cases a delay in getting out information usually indicates something was found on initial X-rays and further testing is needed. That is a potentially very bad sign for Freeman who is almost impossible to replace given his tremendous power and high average ability. Stay tuned on Thursday but expect bad news here. 

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: WEDNESDAY

Chris Iannetta:  1/4 with his second HR while hitting .264.  Iannetta has become quite underrated and engineered a very good second portion of his career.

Miguel Cabrera:  2/4 with his second HR while hitting .255.  Cabrera has been pretty good but still well below his previous monster levels which he was last at in 2016.  Maybe this is the new norm in terms of moderate power and a slipping average but not ready to go there just yet.

Jeimer Candelario:  2/4 with his second HR while hitting .238.  Candelario will get a long look this season given the rebuilding going on in Detroit and so he should be on your WATCH lists at the very least.

Kevin Gausman:  6 IP 9 H 2 ER 0 BB 4 K with an ERA of 5.57.  Never been a fan of his and won't start now.  Being in the AL East kills almost of the appeal and honestly, Gausman is just not that good.

Matt Boyd:  6.1 IP 2 H 1 ER 3 BB 6 K with an ERA of 1.40. Damn this guy.  Right now Boyd's XIP is a 5.67 ERA and his BABIP is .154.  Your going to get burned badly if you keep using him liberally.

Eric Thames:  1/3 with his 7th HR while hitting .231.  Remind me to draft Thames next spring, start him every day in April, and then deal him May 1.

Zach Davies:  6.1 IP 3 H 0 ER 2 BB 2 K with an ERA of 4.84.  He looks like he is 12 but Davies could hold down SP 5 value in deeper leagues.

Jacob Barnes:  scoreless 2 IP with 3 K for second save and ERA of 1.50.  It looks like Craig Counsell is done with Matt Albers already and is rotating between Josh Hader and Barnes for two innings saves. Very unconventional and quite stupid.

Shin-Soo Choo:  1/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .224.  Choo is at the age we have to worry about him becoming an all-or-nothing slugger and the early signs are not promising.

Mallex Smith:  1/4 with his third SB while hitting .373.  It is a high crime and misdemeanor that Smith is not leading off for the Rays.

Whit Merrifield:  1/5 with his first HR while hitting .250.  Merrifield is yet another example of a spring training hero turned regular season zero.  I think he will pull out of this rut and be a very solid 10/20 guy but was never buying last season's average.

Jorge Soler:  2/4 with his first HR while hitting .267.  Another guy whose big spring has not carried over.  Then again, Soler has not carried over anything from Cuba.

Curtis Granderson:  2/4 with his second HR while hitting .318.  Hey it would not shock me in the least if Grandy hit 25 homers in his MLB swan song before he goes into politics or takes over the MLB Player's Union.

Yangervis Solarte:  2/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .296.  Always one of the better hitters in the game during his San Diego Padres days, we are now getting to see Solarte's power in a launching pad of a ballpark.  Could be a career season on tap.

Teoscar Hernandez:  4/6 with his first HR while hitting .421.  Hernandez has been a decent power prospect for awhile and he has a good park matchup in Rogers Center.  Worth an add to see where it goes.

Ryan Zimmerman:  3/4 with 2 home runs (3 for season) while hitting .161.  Few everyday hitters have been worse to this point but Zim seems to be coming out of it.  Either way, there was no chance he was replicating both the major uptick in numbers last season that literally came out of nowhere, nor the good health that NEVER is part of the equation.  Anyone who sought out Zimmerman this spring bought really high.

Yoenis Cespedes:  2/5 with his 4th HR while hitting .217.  The strikeouts have really spiked this season which is concerning and something to watch.  No issue with the power by any means but Cespedes can't go back to being a .260 hitter over the .280 one he has been with the Mets if he wants to realize his old OF 1/2 value again.

Tanner Roark:  7 IP 2 H 2 ER 3 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.24.  Roark continues to produce on an almost yearly basis with no one giving a crap. It is these kinds of undervalued players that put fantasy baseball rosters over the top though and Roark at the very least will lend plentiful chances to win.

Yoan Moncada:  2/7 with his third HR and third SB while hitting .222.  Its something at least.  The White Sox seem determined to see this all the way through with Moncada as they should but the K's are just hideous.  On the positive side, the power/speed game is obvious and remains the strong allure.  Still hold him.

Jed Lowrie:  2/7 with his 6th HR while hitting .346.  Good health and being an aging veteran is what is at work here.  We all know Lowrie won't keep this up so a sell high is absolutely the call here.

Andrew Triggs:  6 ER in 1.1 IP with an ERA of 5.82.  I feel like a parent now where I say I told you not to bother here and you learned a harsh lesson for not listening.

Edwin Encarnacion:  2/7 with his 4th HR while hitting .153.  Maybe Edwin realizes May is just around the corner. Still struck out twice though and that has been the major problem.

Miguel Sano:  1/7 with his 4th HR while hitting .235.  Standard operating procedure here.

Carlos Carrasco:  7 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 7 K with an ERA of 2.60.  The movement on this guy's stuff is insane and Carrasco is doing everything expected so far for his fantasy baseball owners except get injured.

Jose Berrios:  7 IP 3 H 0 ER 0 BB 5 K with an ERA of 1.63.  Wow what a talent.  My AL darkhorse Cy Young pick looks pretty damn good right now.

Dansby Swanson:  2/3 with his second HR while hitting .358.  We could be looking at a serious and classic post-hype sleeper campaign underway.

Evan Longoria:  3/4 with his third HR while hitting .241.  Nobody cares anympore.

Brandon Belt:  1/4 with his 2nd HR while hitting .255.  I swear no team has more borings in all of fantasy baseball than San Francisco.

Rafael Devers:  2/5 with his third HR while hitting .273.  I feel like I haven't mentioned Devers much but he is holding his own which is all you can ask for a young kid being thrown right in it.

J.D. Martinez:  4/5 with his 4th HR while hitting .313.  With all the things the Houston Astros have done right over the years, I still can't figure out what they missed on this guy.

Rick Porcello:  6 IP 6 H 0 ER 0 BB 6 K with an ERA of 1.40.  Ride it out but I have seen way too much slop here over the years to trust Porcello.

Kenta Maeda:  5.2 IP 8 H 4 ER 2 BB 10 K with an ERA of 3.77.  Maeda was pretty electric in this one but he also is now carrying around a red flag 1.74 WHIP.  Be careful here in the next few outings.

Gerrit Cole:  7 IP 5 H 0 ER 2 BB 5 K with an ERA of 0.96.  I would have to say the move to Houston has gone about as well as it could have based on the early returns.



Wednesday, April 18, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING INJURY NEWS: TOMMY JOHN SURGERY FOR TAIJUAN WALKER

Updating an earlier item, Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Taijuan Walker will undergo Tommy John surgery for a torn UCL in his elbow and be done for the 2018 season.

Analysis:  I said yesterday this is what would happen and here we are.  Walker is just the latest in the epidemic of young and hard-throwing pitchers who have gone under the Tommy John knife and it has reached a point where drafting them is becoming a tremendous risk probably best left avoided. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY WATCH: ANIBAL SANCHEZ HITS DL WITH STRAINED HAMMY

                                                                

Atlanta Braves veteran starter Anibal Sanchez was placed on the 10-day DL Wednesday after suffering a strained hamstring during a pregame running session.  There was an air cast placed around Sanchez' leg as he was tended to which sparked fears of a break but subsequent testing revealed the strain.  This is a tough blow as Sanchez was pitching very well with a 1.29 ERA and 14 K's in 14 IP this season before suffering the injury but now he is likely to be out beyond the 10 days given the fickle nature of hamstring problems.  Only in very deep leagues should Sanchez be stashed. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: MORE FRUSTRATION FOR BYRON BUXTON OWNERS AS HE HITS DL WITH MIGRAINES

                                                                

Now he knows how we all feel.  That would be the collective response to anyone who has owned Minnesota Twins outfielder Byron Buxton over the last few seasons as he has made it an art form to disappoint the masses with his annually ugly offensive numbers despite possessing a world of natural talent.  2018 apparently looks like it will be no different as Buxton was placed on the 10-day DL on Wednesday with persistent and what the team has called severe migraines.  Having had some big hype and expectations once again attached to his name coming into the season after putting forth a big second half of 2017, Buxton goes into the DL stint with just a .195 average with 0 home runs and a 25.6 K.9 rate.  While the latter is improved from his 29.4 mark a year ago, Buxton is once again struggling to hit offspeed stuff and we are right to wonder if it will now ever happen.  Add in the DL stint and Buxton is doing his best to drive everyone crazy this season. Obviously, Buxton needs to be stashed considering what it cost to get him but the early returns on this season are not promising. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL TREND OR MIRAGE: NICK PIVETTA SP PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

The Philadelphia Phillies are still in the stages of a massive rebuild that began when they phased out former All-Star but aging veterans Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz, and company but they have tried their best to reinforce their rotation with home-grown or young pitchers who can lead them back to prominence.  While there have been some sizable busts in that effort, it seems like the team has found a gem in the form of Nick Pivetta who is off to a smashing start to the 2018 season.  The former 2013 fourth-round pick now stands with the following eye-opening numbers after his first four turns through the rotation:

1-0
2.49 ERA
0.97 WHIP\
8.72 K/9

Clearly, the ERA and K/9 rates stand out right away and Pivetta has the added bonus of being a young and hard-throwing pitcher in the NL and not the tougher AL.  So are the numbers legit and can Pivetta be a guy we can throw out there every time his turn in the rotation arrives? Let's dig in a bit more and find out.

Looking back at the history here, Pivetta has been a strong strikeout guy in his minor league tenure such as in 2017 when he was at 10.41 before summoned to the Phils where he struggled badly (6.02 ERA).  With an average fastball of 94.7 the last season-plus in Philly, it is easy to see that Pivetta is an adept strikeout artist which of course plays well in fantasy baseball.  Even better it was that Pivetta has yet to give up a home run and that is especially crucial when you all the launch pad in Philadelphia home.  The walks do tend to come and go here (mostly go so far with a 1.00 BB/9) but Pivetta has really been impressive so far with sustainable advanced indicators.

So when you add it all up, it looks like Pivetta can continue to be a guy who can be of service to you in fantasy baseball and I would sign off on liberal usage until things turn for the worse.

TREND OR MIRAGE:  TREND


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: TUESDAY

Mike Moustakas:  2/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .339.  Moustakas has been killing it and clearly has the motivation angle working.  That's almost always a recipe for fantasy baseball success so go with it.

Lucas Duda:  2/4 with his third HR while hitting .302.  Listen we all know the average is coming down sharply but Duda is a quality 25-home run first baseman who plays especially well as a UTIL or CI guy in deep leagues.

Yangervis Solarte:  2/3 with his third HR while hitting .311.  Another quality veteran but as opposed to Duda, Solarte can hit .300 and qualifies all over the diamond.

J.T. Realmuto:  2/4 with his first HR while hitting .500.  Welcome back.  Realmuto is the Robinson Cano of catchers but the ultimate hope is that he gets moved ANYWHERE else to help the counting numbers.

Giancarlo Stanton:  0/4 while hitting .197.  Stanton is getting snippy with the NY media already which is a bad sign and he is not hitting a lick at home which is another major red flag.  It is not going well. 

Jarlin Garcia:  5 IP 1 H 0 ER 5 BB 2 K with an ERA of 0.86.  The A.J. Burnett special.

Brad Ziegler:  1 ER in 1 IP with an ERA of 8.22.  Please just go away. 

Masahiro Tanaka:  6 ER in 5 IP with an ERA of 6.45  It is almost like Tanaka is trying to top his hideous first half of 2017.  He is succeeding.  A clear case of a guy with really good stuff whose crazy penchant for home runs overshadows everything. 

Gio Gonzalez:  5.1 IP 8 H 2 ER 2 BB 5 K with an ERA of 2.49.  Be careful of the bottom falling out here as Gio's WHIP is nasty at 1.52.  Getting way too lucky to sustain things the way they are. 

Danny Duffy:  6 IP 2 H 0 ER 3 BB 8 K with an ERA of 3.86.  The velocity has steadily gotten better here since the beginning of spring training which explains the jump in K's and overall effectiveness.  It may be time to see if Duffy is available.

Trey Mancini:  2/4 with his second HR while hitting .299.  Mancini has quickly established himself as one of the better pure hitters in all of baseball and hitting leadoff seems to be sticking which is nothing but a positive. 

Victor Martinez:  3/4 with his first HR while hitting .313.  Not sure how much power is left in the tank but V-Mart is showing he will hit at a high rate right into retirement.  One of the more underrated careers we have seen of late.

Chad Bettis:  7.1 IP 5 H 0 ER 2 BB 3 K with an ERA of 1.44.  There is little margin for error here given the lack of strikeouts but I and everyone else should be rooting for the cancer survivor. 

Francisco Lindor:  1/5 with his second HR while hitting .238.  The fly ball rate has gone up the last season-plus which explains the average dip compared to 2016 but Lindor should be right in line with customary 5-category production.

Jose Ramirez:  3/5 with his 4th HR while hitting .200.  I guess there was no reason to worry about this guy's power uptick being sustainable from 2017.

Yonder Alonso:  1/4 with his third HR while hitting .196.  While he had a big spring, Alonso needs to get the average going or else he falls into backup first base territory given how much power is out there. 

Edwin Encarnacion:  0/4 while hitting .135.  Geez its getting worse.  Others have correctly pointed out to me on Twitter that April is always rough on Edwin but the major spike in K rate is more an indicator of age eroding the skills.  It is beyond time to be worried.

Michael Brantley:  3/5 with his first HR while hitting .346.  Now that Brantley's ADP has sank into the gutter, I have use for him as a plug-in and never look back OF 3 who will boost your team average and supply decent enough numbers across the board on the rare occasions he is healthy.

Corey Kluber:  6.2 IP 5 H 1 ER 2 BB 6 K with an ERA of 1.52.  Scary to think where this is headed since Kluber is now dominating in April which is always his worst month.

Shin-Soo Choo:  1/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .219.  Choo has really hit the skids of late so the hope is the homer will get things back on track.

Wilson Ramos:  1/4 with his first HR while hitting .220.  If someone dropped Ramos in your league, he is well worth picking up as he tends to get hotter the longer the season goes on.

Matt Moore:  7 IP 5 H 0 ER 2 BB 6 K with an ERA of 5.59.  Still no!

Eric Thames:  1/4 with his sixth HR while hitting .224.  It will all go downhill once May arrives.  In all seriousness, we have seen more than enough here to concretely conclude Thames is just another in an endless line of average-averse sluggers. 

Josh Hader:  2 scoreless IP with 3 K for second save and ERA of 1.54.  Not sure about these consecutive two inning saves but will take it as a Hader owner who will jump for joy if this arrangement becomes permanent. 

Paul DeJong:  1/5 with his 5th HR while hitting .242.  Yeah so I did say after DeJong's first couple of big games that the average would dip severely real soon.  Yuppers.

Javier Baez:  3/4 with his fifth HR while hitting .235.  This is Paul DeJong with some speed.

Greg Holland:  2 ER in 0 IP with an ERA of 11.57.  All Bud Norris owners are smiling today.

Tyler Chatwood:  4.2 IP 1 H 2 ER 7 BB 7 K with an ERA of 4.60.  I said after his last start to cut Chatwood loose.  Hope the 7 walks convinced you to finally do it.

Eric Hosmer:  1/5 with his second HR while hitting .265.  Welcome to Petco Park dude.  3 home runs a month is what you signed up for.

Kenley Jansen:  second blown save with 2 ER in 1 IP with an ERA of 810.  The velocity REMAINS down almost two full mph and now I am very concerned here.  There has been high usage the last few seasons as the Los Angeles Dodgers were advancing deep into the playoffs and we could be seeing the effect of that by the looks of things.  Jansen is now more susceptible to the home run than ever before and Pedro Baez should be added at the very least.  Yet again you should never pay for closers no matter how good the guy is. 

Matt Kemp:  1/3 with his third HR while hitting .333.  Stable and dependable as Kemp continued on toward his mid-30's.  I have to admit I was ready to write him off a few seasons ago but the back-nine of his career has been very solid. 


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY WATCH: TAIJUAN WALKER LIKELY HEADED FOR TOMMY JOHN

Every spring we compile a list of the classic prospective Tommy John elbow surgery pitchers and that group predominantly is made up of guys who are both under the age of 28 and who also throw their average fastball in the middle-to-upper-90's.  Such a player that made the list this season was the Arizona Diamondbacks' Taijuan Walker who came up as a big power pitching prospect with the Seattle Mariners with an upper-90's fastball and who is just 25 for the 2018 season.  Well Walker didn't even make it out of April before damaging the UCL in his pitching elbow according to a Tuesday report and so he very well could be headed to season-ending Tommy John surgery.  Right now, Walker is waiting for a second opinion but we all know how this will likely end.  Those who own stock in Walker should already be looking for a solid replacement. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL LINEUP ISSUES: MARLINS ACTIVATE CATCHER J.T. REALMUTO (BACK) FOR TUESDAY

                                                                 

The Miami Marlins welcomed back All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto on Tuesday after the team activated him from the disabled list where he has been since the start of the season due to a bone bruise in his back. 

Analysis:  The Marlins are desperate for any spark to help them in this miserable rebuilding season and Realmuto can at least help a bit on that front due to his tremendous pure hitting ability at catcher.  Realmuto is a slam-dunk top fantasy baseball catcher who brings back memories of Jason Kendall with his high batting averages and contributions in stolen bases but his lineup support will make things very challenging this season. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL LINEUP ISSUES: ANTHONY RIZZO (BACK) ACTIVATED FROM DL

                                                                   

Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo was activated from the 10-day DL on Tuesday ahead of him starting that night's game.  Rizzo went on the DL with back soreness that was persistent in nature but he is now 100 percent ready to go and looking to get his season more on track after previously being off to a bit of a slow start.

Analysis:  Rizzo is one of the most consistently dependable players in all of fantasy baseball so no worries on this end in terms of production,.  The miserable early weather in Chicago has not helped Rizzo's back but this is no long-term issue by the looks of it.  Put him back in there with no reservations. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL LINEUP ISSUES: YOENIS CESPEDES/JAY BRUCE BACK IN LINEUP FOR METS, MICHAEL CONFORTO IS OUT

                                                                 

After a mental health day on the bench Monday, New York Mets star outfielder Yoenis Cespedes returned to the team's lineup on Tuesday versus the Washington Nationals.  He will be joined on the returning front by Jay Bruce who has missed a few games with a nagging case of plantar fasciitis in his foot.  In addition, Michael Conforto will take a seat against lefty Gio Gonzalez as Brandin Nimmo takes his place.

Analysis:  Cespedes has been mired in a huge slump that includes a slew of strikeouts and has gone back over a week now.  That followed an insanely hot spring training and first week of the season but the strikeout spike is a bit alarming.  As far as Bruce is concerned, the foot has flared up going back o last season but he is less volatile of the two in terms of production.  Finally, Conforto has pretty much sat versus most lefties going back to last season which makes him sitting out Tuesday no shock.  The bigger story is that he looks to be pain-free and swinging the bat well. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: HANDICAPPING ALEX COLOME REPLACEMENT

Tuesday is Closing Time day where we delve further into the world of the fantasy baseball closer.  Let's get right into it:

-While the start of the 2018 fantasy baseball season has been filled with its usual array of closer chaos, it is shocking that the Tampa Bay Rays have not pulled the plug yet on beyond struggling stopper Alex Colome.  Colome has been nothing short of a disgrace this season as he went into Monday's action with the following numbers:

0-2
10.80 ERA
3.20 WHIP
7.20 K/0

No these numbers are not a misprint and so Colome may already be stripped of the closer role before you read this.  It seems like the Rays are giving Colome the benefit of the doubt after he pitched very well (2016:  1.91 ERA) and pretty well (2017:  3.24 ERA) for them the last two season.  Be that as it may, I saw right through Colome as I wrote in this year's Fantasy Sports Boss Draft Guide that the guy was a major bust waiting to happen and should be avoided at all costs.  The reason I had these feelings was due to Colome having below-average strikeout stuff for a closer and also for the fact his control was getting worse by the year.  With such a lesser margin for error and now a bit of a dip in velocity this season added in, Colome is acting like a batting practice machine.  No matter where you look, the numbers are disgusting and so benching Colome outright should have been done by now if you haven't cut him already.  Attention should also turn to who will step up to possibly replace him and that centers on setup men Sergio Romo and Jose Alvarado.

Now in terms of Romo, he has been one of the best setup men in MLB for the better part of the last five years but when given the chance to close in the past, he has struggled.  With that said, Romo has been very good once again in setup this season with a 1.69 ERA and a massive 13.50 K/9.  With Romo clearly showing his stuff is as potent as ever, he could easily slide in to close at the age of 35.  Or the Rays could turn to Alvarado who at 22 represents being a possible future closer for the team and who himself has pitched very well with a 1.29 ERA and just as impressive 11.57 K/9.  Alvarado has had the better control of the two as well so that could give him a leg up there.  If I had to choose just one option though, I would pick Romo given how young Alvarado is and due to his experience as a longtime veteran of the majors.  Either way, you want no part of Colome by any means given how pathetic he has been.

-Another interesting is happening in St. Louis where the Cardinals opened up with great uncertainty in the ninth inning with almost every member of their bullpen being mentioned as a possible closer but then they went out and signed former All-Star Greg Holland to presumably be the guy once he got his legs under him.  In the meantime, free agent signee Bud Norris handled save chances while Holland was in the minors and even when the latter came up more than a week ago.  Unfortunately, any bet on Holland looks like a bit of a dicey one as he walked 4 batters in his first appearance and generally has been shaky as he went into Monday's action with 5 walks in 2.1 IP to go with a 3.86 ERA and 2.57 WHIP.  Meanwhile, Norris has been good with a 2.35 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and 14 K in 7.2 IP as he logged three saves.  Norris was pretty good when given a chance to save games for the Los Angeles Angels a year ago and so he could be holding the spot for awhile longer the way things are going.  Norris should be owned in all leagues but Holland should be held as well since he has the better long-term prospects in the ninth inning.






2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: MONDAY

Nomar Mazara:  2/4 with his second HR while hitting .311.  Mazara has gotten off to good starts three seasons in a row now and we still don't know how high the ceiling goes here just yet.  What is obvious is that the swing is smooth and Mazara hints at being a perennial 25-home run hitter.  Add in the fact he is still not in his prime yet and Mazara is still very interesting on a lot of fronts. 

Joey Gallo:  1/4 with his 6th HR while hitting .216.  Gallo is up to .216.  He is on fire. 

C.J. Cron: 2/5 with his second HR while hitting .232. Tampa Bay is the land of opportunity for previously retread players and Cron still carries some interesting power.  The average still needs a lot of work.

Blake Snell:  6.1 IP 5 H 1 ER 0 BB 9 K with an ERA of 2.95.  All the hype I had for Snell a year ago is now being realized so far and it all has to do with vastly improved control.  He began showing this during the spring which got the excitement meter going and now this.  If Snell can keep this going and with his potentially big K/9 rate, there is a path for SP 3 numbers.

George Springer:  2/3 with his 4th HR while hitting .223.  Now let's get that average up so we don't have to worry about that becoming a problem again like it was in the past. 

Nelson Cruz:  1/3 with his third HR while hitting .222.  Of course Cruz hit a home run in his return.  What else would he do? 

James Paxton:  6 IP 3 H 1 ER 3 BB 7 K with an ERA of 4.57.  Second straight dominant outing by Paxton which perhaps shows the ship has been righted here.  When Paxton is operating like this, he has the goods to be a fantasy baseball ace as we saw in 2017. 

Dallas Keuchel:  8 IP 6 H 2 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.52.  The WHIP is still ugly at 1.48 but I don't worry about Keuchel who seems to have found his stride now. 

Howie Kendrick:  1/5 with his second HR while hitting .309.  If your looking for a guy who can keep himself afloat in daily deep league lineups, Kendrick can still swing it. 

Bryce Harper:  2/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .315.  Do yourself a favor and queue up the homer on YouTube as Harper's bat shattered in half but yet the ball still went over the fence.  Never saw that before. 

Asdrubal Cabrera:  4/5 with his 4th HR while hitting .356.  My theory of aging veteran players always seemingly getting off to very good starts in bore out here as well since Cabrera is hitting everything in sight.. Ride it out. 

Jacob DeGrom:  7.1 IP 6 H 3 ER 1 BB 12 K with an ERA of 3.24.  Gave up one run in 7 before he went out for the eighth and was involved in the epic Mets pitching meltdown.  Prior to that, DeGRom was tremendous and he no doubt is a top fantasy baseball ace without debate.  Still, all of DeGrom's owners had to worry when he went out for the eighth and it turned out to somewhat hurt a terrific overall night. 

Charlie Blackmon:  2/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .314.  Some home run battle brewing between this guy and Harper.  Also it looks like Blackmon's days of leading off are through.  Good for RBI and slightly bad for runs scored.

Trevor Story:  2/3 with his 4th HR while hitting .200.  Story is still young enough to address the annually ugly K rates and average but so far he is not being successful there. 

Aaron Judge:  2/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .351.  Hey Giancarlo!  This is how you hit for a scorching average despite striking out a ton.

Didi Gregorious:  2/4 with 2 home runs (5 for season) while hitting .357.  Is it me or does it seem like whenever Didi homers, he then adds a second in the same game?

Luis Severino:  6 IP 1 H 0 ER 1 BB 8 K with an ERA of 2.63.  As a Severino owner, I was giddy when the Detroit series got postponed which then put Severino in line to face the garbage Marlins.  Yeah that was a nice turn of fortune. 

Julio Teheran:  6 IP 5 H 1 ER 3 BB 9 K with an ERA of 5.40.  Listen every pitcher has a good day at some point but even after this gem, Teheran still has a 5.40 ERA and1.65 WHIP.  No thank you.

Jose Abreu:  1/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .250.  Honestly unless he gets hurt, there is nothing to add here like ever.

Matt Olson:  1/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .242.  So far Olson is losing to Chapman to see who is the best hitting Matt on the A's. 

Reynaldo Lopez:  6 IP 4 H 2 ER 4 BB 10 K with an ERA of 1.42.  So I told you all last week to add Lopez given the fact he GAINED 2 MPH on his fastball and so now we get the uptick in K's here.  This is a top power arm who is poised to open some eyes. 

Christan Villaneuva:  3/4 with his 6th HR while hitting .333.  This has already gone on longer than I thought it would given the minor league numbers so maybe it has some legs to it. 

Matt Kemp:  2/2 with his second HR while hitting .333.  While he may need a cane to get to first base, the guy can still hit with authority.