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Thursday, May 25, 2017

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: JACOB DeGROM PUSHED TO FRIDAY DUE TO RAIN THREAT

The struggling New York Mets didn't want to potentially waste a start from ace Jacob DeGrom with rain in the forecast Thursday evening and so as a result, the righty has been pushed back to Friday instead,  Rafael Montero will make a spot start in place of DeGrom but he has zero fantasy baseball value.  As an added bonus, the extra day of rest can further help alleviate the blister DeGrom has been battling.


FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: EDWIN DIAZ BACK IN THE NINTH INNINGI

It is like he never left.  Such is the situation involving re-installed Seattle Mariners closer Edwin Diaz who after being removed from the gig last week after a four-walk meltdown, nailed down his 8th save of the year on Thursday.  Giving up just one hit in the scoreless frame, Diaz put his demotion behind him in the best way possible in earning the handshake at the end.  Of course prior to this, Diaz was a closing mess as he battled walks and a sky-high home run rate.  Still the Mariners want to make this work with the fireballer and his plus 11.00 K/9 is tailor-made for the gig.  So anyone holding stock in James Paxos is surely disappointed as he never really had a shot to take the job but those who held Diaz get a second chance.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: AARON HICKS OUTFIELDER NEW YORK YANKEES

One player's misfortune is another player's opportunity.  Nowhere was this more true on Wednesday when on the first pitch of the game between the New York Yankees and Kansas City Royals, the immediate fates of outfielders Aaron Hicks and Jacoby Ellsbury would be impacted.  Ellsbury of course crashed face first while making an acrobatic catch off that first Luis Severino pitch and the result was that he suffered both a concussion and a neck sprain that will require a DL stint beginning Thursday.  The loss of Ellsbury in turn opened up a clear daily starting spot for Hicks who had earned more than a bit of plaudits for his big offensive start to the season.  So with that said, let's dig in a bit more on Hicks as he continues along on what is shaping up as a true breakout campaign.

When it comes to Hicks, the post-hype sleeper tag applies here as the former 2008 first-round pick took quite a bit of time and two organizations to find his offensive groove.  It was the Minnesota Twins who originally drafted Hicks and it was the Twins who gave up on him during the winter of 2016 in trading him to the Yankees for catcher John Ryan Murphy.  The Twins lost patience with the string of nasty batting averages and utter lack of power from Hicks who seemed like more an athlete than a major league hitter.  Enter in Yanks GM Brian Cashman who bought very low on Hicks and who now is earning praise for his foresight.

Still just 27-years-old, Hicks goes into Thursday's games with the following numbers:

.291
8 HR
24 R
20 RBI
6 SB

All of those swell numbers came in fourth outfielder duty for Hicks and so it led many to wonder what he could accomplish with starter plate appearances.  What has really been the impetus for Hicks' big 2017 so far is his major uptick in walks for one.  Hicks currently spots a massive 18.5 BB/9 rate which has helped him put up a monster .426 OBP.  On top of this, Hicks has lowered his K/9 rate from 2016's mark of 18.8 to this year's incredibly solid 16.9.  A .297 BABIP is very much in the neutral zone and so Hicks is totally legit in everything that he is doing.  This is a guy who has 20/20 ability with the requisite amount of at-bats and that seems like it will be happening now with the always slow to heal Ellsbury out of commission.  So if Hicks is still somehow still available in your league, do yourself a favor and bring him aboard quickly.  The numbers don't lie.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: JOSE BERRIOS SP MINNESOTA TWINS

When you make three starts and win all of them, life in fantasy baseball is good for such a pitcher.  That is the current record being carried around by top Minnesota Twins pitching prospect Jose Berrios who already is putting a very ugly 2016 debut in the rearview mirror with his pinpoint power offerings.  Along with the sparkling 3-0 record, Berrios has also recorded a 1.66 ERA and is striking out guys at a high 9.14 K/9 rate.  The former 2012 first-round pick looks like a keeper by the looks of it and again he is erasing the bad memories that came from last season.

About that 2016.  Berrios quickly showed last season he was not ready to face major league lineups as he got absolutely lit up to the tune of a 8.02 ERA as pretty much everything went wrong.  For starter's, Berrios had zero control as evidenced by his ungodly 5.40 BB/9 and he allowed home runs by the bunches as shown by his 1.85 HR/9.  This season?  Try 1.66 and 1.25 respectively.  The former number is excellent but the latter is still too high as we saw in his outing Wednesday against the Baltimore Orioles when Berrios surrendered three solo shots.  Be that as it may, Berrios is racking up the strikeouts and not beating himself this season with walks.  Keep in mind though that a .105 BABIP is insanely lucky and when adjusted, the ERA story changes here with Berrios FIP of 3.77 and XFIP of 4.03 bears out.  Now we are not saying Berrios will pitch to those latter numbers but a 3.25 ERA seems much more plausible than anything he is doing now.

Right now if you are a Berrios owner, I would try to capitalize on the big start and sell high.  Fatigue will be a factor in the late summer as it would be for any young starter and the home runs will further inflate the ERA as we move on through the season.  I like the arm for sure but Berrios is doing his best stuff now and will likely see a sharp drop in value as we go into the summer.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: WEDNESDAY

Chris Davis:  1/4 with his 10th HR while hitting .239.  Davis will be at .229 by next week.

Johnathan Schoop:  1/4 with his sixth HR while hitting .269.  Schoop is one of those boring non-speed guys who get a short leash by the fantasy baseball community.  He was quiet for awhile which is why Schoop ended up on so many waiver wires but this is a decent home run hitter at a shallow position who at least should be on a bench.

Jose Berrios:  6.1 IP 4 H 3 ER 2 BB 7 K with an ERA of 1.66.  Boy did Berrios skate by here as he gave up three solo home runs.  Another runner or two on and this outing would have looked a whole lot different.  Be that as it may, three wins in three tries and a fully reclaimed status as a top power pitching prospect has been a tidy development.  

Domingo Santana:  1/3 with his sixth HR while hitting .268.  I really like what Santana has been doing with is six homers and 4 steals but the average is headed downward soon due to a lucky .348 BABIP.  In his favor though, Santana has cut his K/9 rate from 32.4 a year ago to this season's 26.6.  

Kevin Pillar:  1/5 with his seventh HR while hitting .303.  When he is not acting like a fool, Pillar can really hit and run.  Everything looks good here as Pillar is drawing walks (7.1 BB/9) and not striking out at all (13.2 K/9).  With just slight .329 BABIP, Pillar is absolutely legit.

Devon Travis:  1/5 with his third HR while hitting .238.  Man Travis has been such a tease the last two seasons that it is tough to get pumped about this just yet.  

Jose Bautista:  2/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .241.  Bautista has been hot of late and as typical of these kind of players, keep him entrenched in the lineup until the K's pile up again.  That is where we are at with the veteran.  

Keon Broxton:  1/3 with his 5th HR while hitting .271.  Looking forward to seeing where his numbers end up by the end of the season.  Thinking .265/14 HR/30 SB.  

Jose Abreu:  4/5 with his 10th HR while hitting .291.  So I said back in April Abreu would be hitting .290 with power like he always does.  Yup.  Patience as always is needed.  

Jake Lamb:  1/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .287.  Lamb has been beating the BABIP curve all season so maybe he can dodge this for a bit more.  It won't last totally but Lamb at the very least is firmly cementing his status as one of the very best power hitters in baseball.  

Fernando Rodney:  scoreless ninth for his 12th save with an ERA of 7.13.  I have to admit that Rodney has been money of late.  This guy is the envy of cats everywhere for as many lives as he has.  
Jose Quintana:  8 ER in 4.1 IP with an ERA of 4.82.  Quintana's BABIP has been in the unlucky territory all season and so that is partly to blame here.  However Quintana is not helping himself either with the homers.  

Khris Davis:  1/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .220.  Well April was nice.  May not so much.

Sonny Gray:  7 IP 3 H 1 ER 1 BB 11 K with an ERA of 3.34.  Wow.  So Gray is clearly not done yet and full health has him rejuvenated.  There is no trade market for Gray so those who drafted him very late this spring need to see how long he can do this.  I am optimistic.  

Adam Duvall:  1/4 with his 10th HR while hitting .264.  Duvall is now like old news with Scott Schebler doing his thing but the former is not doing too shabby himself.

Carlos Santana:  3/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .230.  Maybe shifting Santana into the outfield for a few games snapped him back to attention.  Listen by now you should know the ends justify the means when it comes to owning Santana.  A rampant hot and cold player, you need to have the patience to see through the struggles so you can be there when the homers begin to fly out.

Carlos Gonzalez:  3/5 with his 4th HR while hitting .252.  It seems like CarGo crested the second half of 2015 and has been fighting uphill since.  By now his owners have had him plastered to the bench but now could be the time to dust him off.  The big threat though is a second half trade that would send Gonzalez away from Coors Field.

Jeremy Hellickson:  7 ER in 5 IP with an ERA of 4.28.  Brutal start no doubt and it is outings like this that get a borderline guy like Hellickson sent off your roster before the next sunrise.

Didi Gregorious:  2/3 with his third HR while hitting .330.  Man Gregorious has done nothing but hit going back to last season.  He truly has reached another level since coming to the New York Yankees.  20 home runs would have been likely if not for the DL stint but still Gregorious is fully validaing 2016.

Luis Severino:  8 IP 4 H 0 ER 1 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.11.  I don't want to read anymore "should I drop Severino" questions ever again.  Like ever.

Anthony Rendon:  1/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .277.  Three home runs in two games now for Rendon.  2014 is becoming a distant memory now but Rendon still has changed as a player in terms of not running much at all and the average not as potent as his minor league or early major league tenure.

Tanner Roark:  7 IP 8 H 1 ER 0 BB 8 K with an ERA of 4.32.  Good bounce back for Roark who went through some struggles for a bit.  I am a fan and actually an convert of his since the K's began to show up.  Stick with him as Roark will be a nice SP 4 the rest of the season.

Albert Pujols:  1/3 with his sixth HR while hitting .244.  I think the end is going to be very ugly for this guy.

Steven Souza:  2/3 with 2 home runs (7 for season) while hitting .255.  Visions of Souza's big April after taking May almost completely off.  By now Souza is back to his mediocre average ways to go with decent power/speed.  In other words, no breakout.

Brad Hand:  scoreless ninth for first save with an ERA of 1.73.  Bam!  Told you guys to pick up Hand a week ago in predicting the demotion of Brandon Maurer.  In Padres fashion, it took that long for a save chance to confirm this but Hand is now the fully deserving guy.  What I really loved here is that Hand loaded the bases with no outs and then picked up two strikeouts and a fly out to end it.  That my friends is a closer who is mentally ready for the gig.

Mike Napoli:  2/4 with his 11th HR while hitting .198.  Napoli has like 16492645 home runs over the last 10 days and they represent almost the same amount of total hits in that span also.

Chris Sale:  7.1 IP 6 H 3 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 2.34.  No double digit K's?  Come on you bum.

Adam Frazier:  2/2 with his second HR while hitting .370.  Leadoff spot and hitting =pick him up.

Anthony Rizzo:
 3/3 with 2 home runs (11 for season) while hitting .238.  Hope you bought low when I said to do so.  Group Rizzo in with Manny Machado as first round monsters whose unlucky BABIP's are making it seem like they are struggling.

Alex Bregman:  3/4 with his third HR and fourth SB while hitting .261.  Bregman doesn't do good starts and so the outlook the rest of the way seems rosy given that he is hitting for power now.  He was too talented to stay down for long anyway.

Mike Leake:  8 IP 4 H 1 ER 0 BB 5 K with an ERA of 1.91.  A .236 BABIP is fueling things for Leake who looks like he is aiming for a Cy Young.  Like I always say with players like this, the boring veteran label tag applies so there is not going to be fair value given back in any trade.  Ride it out.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: CODY BELLINGER 1B/OF LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Well that has gone swimmingly.  Now 26 games and 110 at-bats into his rookie debut, Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman/outfielder Cody Bellinger has been nothing short of an instant hit.  Going into Wednesday's games, Bellinger was carrying around the following numbers:

.280
9 HR
24 RBI
22 R
1 SB

Those numbers built on the 5 home runs and 7 stolen bases with a .343 average Bellinger had at Triple-A prior to his promotion and since that time, the team's top hitting prospect has shown nothing but star ability.  Still just 21, Bellinger is positioning himself to be the next great five-tool category producer and there is no way the Dodgers can even think of sending him back to the farm no matter when Justin Turner/Adrian Gonzalez return.

Now as far as the numbers are concerned, the one blaring issue with Bellinger even in the minor leagues has been a massive strikeout problem.  While he did hit .343 at Triple-A, Bellinger posted an unsightly 28.6 K/9 rate that needed insane .450 BABIP luck to keep the average afloat.  Be that as it may, Bellinger was already a power/speed dynamo and given those skills, any immediate average hit would be muted somewhat.  Well since coming to the majors, Bellinger has struck out at an even worse 30.0 K/9 rate and his .280 average has been on a steady decline since his debut.  A .328 BABIP is still in lucky territory but not out of this world which is why his average has dipped since he was in the minors.  Still Bellinger is hitting the baseball hard and it is only a matter of time before he begins running.  Think Grady Sizemore here as a comparison, with the former Indians outfielder having his own massive power/speed ability but also some strikeout woes.

Ultimately Cody Bellinger already is shaping up as a huge value play to those who got his hands on his a few weeks ago and his future is very bright.  Also count on Bellinger making progress with his strikeouts as he continues to mature and so five tool production is surely a strong possibility.  This will be a fun ride to say the least.



2017 FANTASY BASEBALL WELCOME TO THE SHOW: DINELSON LAMET SP SAN DIEGO PADRES

It was a busy day for prospect promotions as not only did the Boston Red Sox bring up first baseman Sam Travis but the San Diego Padres added top arm Dinelson Lamet to make his first major league start Thursday against the New York Mets.  Right off the bat Lamet is very interesting given the cushy home ballpark and decent initial matchup against a Mets team that is not swinging the bats well outside of Michael Conforto.  Lamer also brings with him some very potent strikeout stuff as evidenced by the 24-year-olds 11.54 K/9 rate at Triple-A which is a very eye-opening number for a starter.  Lamet also has registered a solid 3.23 ERA as well which means now is the time to try him out while the going is good.

Again the strikeouts are the name of the game here as Lamet also put up 10.97 and 11.02 K/9 rates at Triple-A and Double-A last season but the one big problem he has is with walks.  Like with most young hurlers who throw hard, Lamet gives up too many free passes as his nasty 4.62 BB/9 rate shows this season.  Be that as it may, the K's and home ballpark make Lamet a nice pickup in most fantasy baseball leagues and he could easily stick if he starts out strongly.  


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: TUESDAY

Charlie Blackmon:  2/4 with 2 home runs (11 for season) while hitting .325.  Since he doesn 't run anymore, ideally now you would want Blackmon in the middle of the Rockie lineup to pick up some more RBI.  Be that as it may, the guy is amazing in that he seems to add new tricks each and every season.

Gerardo Parra:  2/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .263.  This is Parra telling David Dahl he is not giving up his spot without a fight.

German Marquez:  6 IP 7 H 1 ER 3 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.86.  Another piece of evidence that the end is near centers on the fact that you were probably best left off drafting all Colorado Rockies starting pitchers back in March.  If you had done so, you would be near the top of your league in ERA/WHIP.  (Commence opening dryer door and trying to figure out how to turn it on with you inside.)

Jorge Bonifacio:  1/4 with his 6th HR while hitting .267.  Fourth home run in last five games fr Bonifacio who yes should be owned everywhere.  Just keep in mind this is not some huge breakout happening here.  Instead Bonifacio is your typical high-K slugger who is hot.

Whit Merrifield:  2/5 with his 5th HR while hitting .257.  Merrifield has been trying to get our attention for the last two weeks or so and he has it now.  The guy can run some and hit a few home runs at a shallow position.  Sign me up for a trial run.

Lorenzo Cain:  1/3 with his second HR while hitting .266.  Very little power from Cain this season and to this point he has been just helping in steals and runs.  He has been signed an cut about 6 times in the Experts League already as well which speaks out to his fantasy baseball standing.

Aaron Hicks:  1/3 with his 8th HR while hitting .293.  Hicks is killing it this year and remember he was a former first round pick by the Minnesota Twins who took awhile to find his major league footing.  He has that footing now but is stuck in an outfield rotation that has him a part-time player.  Like with Michael Conforto with the Mets (and we all see how that is turning out), Hicks has to start playing on a daily basis given how well he is hitting.  Sorry Jacoby.

Danny Duffy:  7 IP 6 H 2 ER 3 BB 7 K with an ERA of 2.92.  Second straight good strikeout game for Duffy who was very slow out of the gate on that front.  Good times seem to be ahead and through the K barren desert in April, he still kept the ERA down.  That shows you a guy who knows how to pitch.

Brian Dozier:  1/4 with his 6th HR while hitting .247.  So yeah I said over the winter that Dozier had the double-whammy of coming off a career-year which is a major no-no in terms of investing and he also was in major outlier territory with the home runs which led me to believe he was going to slide back there.  Right on both fronts.

Ervin Santana:  9 IP 2 H 0 ER 2 BB 6 K with an ERA of 1.80.  How about the AL trotting out Santana first and Jason Vargas second during the All-Star Game?  This is getting beyond insane now with Santana and sorry but it needs to be pointed out he was a PED guy in the recent past.  If you don't think that is how he is doing this, how about the ridiculous .136 BABIP.  .136!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  That simply does not happen since the mean is .300.  Also how about a under-mean 6.43 K/9 which sucks?   Of the fact that despite the glowing ERA, Santana is walking guys at a high 3.47 BB/9 rate?  Quite possibly the biggest fluke ever.

Dylan Bundy:  7 IP 6 H 2 ER 3 BB 7 K with an ERA of 2.92.  Bundy is another fluke guy with underwhelming K numbers and a very lucky BABIP but if he can up the strikeouts like he did in this one, the erosion may not be as steep.

Kyle Schwarber:  1/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .186.  Schwarber out of the leadoff spot in this one and is firmly showing himself to be all-or-nothing which is not what you expected when you overpaid at the draft table like I told you not to do.  Also if Schwarber had no "C" attached to his name, be very well would be waiver trash.

Jason Heyward:  1/3 with his 4th HR while hitting .257.  The bar has been set so low now for Heyward that his season so far can be considered progress.

Anthony Rizzo:  1/3 with his 9th HR while hitting .224.  If you haven't bought low yet, you are not paying attention.

Johnny Cueto:  6 IP 5 H 4 ER 1 BB 8 K with an ERA of 4.64.  So now we find out that Cueto has been battling multiple blisters which is no doubt to blame for the bloated ERA considering he should be dominating in the NL and in that park.  This puts the breaks on a buy low because blisters continue to wreak havoc in any given start once they show themselves.

Jon Lester:  9 IP 4 H 1 ER 0 BB 10 K with an ERA of 3.19.  Lester always gets stronger as the season goes along so no shock here.

Anthony Rendon:  3/4 with 2 home runs (7 for season) while hitting .278.  Almost all of Rendon's homers have come in like 3 games.

Bryce Harper:  1/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .346.  A .371 BABIP has to be answered for and zero steals is a bummer but overall Harper has been the monster stud we all expected despite the so-so 2016.

Jayson Werth:  1/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .286.  I personally always root for Werth because he got unfairly beat on due to the contract the Nats gave him almost 7 years ago.  He has produced throughout and is going out strong there.

Joe Ross:  8 IP 5 H 1 ER 0 BB 6 K with an ERA of 5.32.  Injuries have really derailed the progress of Ross the last two years but the talent is obvious.  The wins will be there at the very least so Ross should be added.

Christian Bergman:  10 ER in 4 IP with an ERA of 6.30.  Shame on your trying Bergman out against the Nats.  Unless you have an ace, avoid the Nats lineup at all costs.

Francisco Lindor:  1/4 with his 10th HR while hitting .274.  The K/9 rate is up here which is why the average has slipped a bit and that could be Lindor falling a bit in love with the long ball.

Edwin Encarnacion:  2/4 with 2 home runs (9 for season) while hitting .215.  Yes it is still May and so Encarnacion has another week to fully get his season on track like he always does this month.  Re-evaluate him in mid-June.

Yan Gomes:  1/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .255.  Gomes has been hitting well of late and this is all it takes for a catcher to gain immediate value.  Sad.

Eugenio Suarez:  1/1 with his 10th HR while hitting .302.  Pinch-hit HR.  So for those who forgot to edit their lineup, all's well that ends well.

Carlos Carrasco:  6.1 IP 5 H 4 ER 4 BB 6 K with an ERA of 2.93.  I watched this game and Carrasco didn't look healthy.  His stuff lacked bite and so the hits/walks piled up.  I am not liking the immediate outlook.

Cameron Maybin:  1/5 with his 3rd HR while hitting .243.  Maybin has been red hot of late and he is leading off for the Angels which carries value in and of itself.  He has never reached his ceiling as a former top prospect but Maybin can swat 10 home runs or so, steal 20 bags, and bat .270.  That works as your OF 3.

Mike Trout:  1/3 with his 15th HR while hitting .342.  The numbers speak for themselves.

Matt Shoemaker:  6.1 IP 3 H 0 ER 3 BB 5 K with an ERA of 3.97.  For like the 100th time, Shoemaker is making himself interesting again.  This always plays out badly though so be careful.

Michael Conforto:  3/4 with 2 home runs (13 for season) while hitting .333.  If this keeps up, Conforto will be challenging Yoenis for the nod as the top non-steals outfielder in fantasy baseball for 2018.

Ryan Schimpf:  1/3 with his 11th HR while hitting .169.  Adam Dunn is a fan.

Matt Harvey:  5 IP 3 H 2 ER 4 BB 6 K with an ERA of 5.36.  Over 100 pitches to get through 5 and Harvey walked Craig Stammen to lead off the third with a 7-2 lead.  Not happening.

Yasmani Grandal:  1/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .298.  K/9 rate is down to 20.4 after being 25.4 last season.  Maybe Grandal is tapping into the average skills from his minor league days.  Combine that with the huge power and Grandal could be set to challenge for the number 3 spot among all catchers behind Posey and Perez.

Clayton Kershaw:  9 IP 3 H 1 ER 0 BB 10 K with an ERA of 2.10.  Insane.

Joey Gallo:  2/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .193.  If not for the initial prospect hype, Gallo would be almost completely ignored outside of AL-only formats.  Funny how this works.

Ender Inciarte:  3/4 while hitting .289.  Go ahead and pick up Inciarte for the third time this season.  8-for-his-last-9.

Matt Adams:  3/5 with his third HR while hitting .311.  Opportunity is everything.  Especially moving into suddenly one of the best home run parks in the majors.

Tony Watson:  second blown save with 2 ER in .2 IP with an ERA of 3.54.  Things are coming a bit unglued here as Watson now enters into the circle of closing concern.  Was not enamored of him from the jump but a terrific April quieted doubts.  No longer.

Kendrys Morales:  1/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .244.  I dropped Morales weeks ago and he is still sitting on the wire in the Experts League.

Jonathan Villar:  1/4 with 3 steals (12 for season) while hitting .220.  Maybe Villar is starting to realize he has to run like mad to even come into the same hemisphere in terms of what his foolish owners paid for him this past March.

Lance McCullers:  5 IP 1 H 0 ER 2 BB 5 K with an ERA of 2.43.  I like how the Astros are managing McCullers' innings so he can not be on fumes in September.  When on the mound though, few have been better.


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL WELCOME TO THE SHOW: SAM TRAVIS 1B BOSTON RED SOX

After a big slump to begin the season, Boston Red Sox 1B Mitch Moreland reeled off three straight games with a home run as May began to turn for home; with the idea that he was now fully comfortable in his new locale after coming over to the East Coast this past winter from Texas.  That is what makes the Red Sox' decision to promote top first base prospect Sam Travis on Tuesday all the more shocking.  Coming into his promotion. the team's former 2014 second-round pick was batting .286 with 4 home runs and 2 stolen bases in 139 at-bats,  Not earth-shattering numbers by any means but Travis has been lauded as a hitter who is advanced beyond his years; highlighted by his ability to draw walks and limit K's.  Moreland is still around however and so at least initially, Travis is likely to only play versus lefties.  That puts a cap on any immediate fantasy baseball upside value for Travis and it honestly makes him more of a story in deeper leagues or AL-only setups.  While Travis has a nice outlook, he is not considered a major thumper and really is more of a potential story for 2018.  

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL CRISIS POINT: MASAHIRO TANAKA SP NEW YORK YANKEES

When you have given up 7 home runs in your last 7 innings pitched, Houston we have a very big problem.  That is exactly the amount of long balls New York Yankees "ace" Masahiro Tanaka has given up in his last two outings and needless to say, he has arguably been one of the biggest pitching busts of the season.  Of course yours truly once again told you to avoid drafting Tanaka this season, with his ADP putting him in SP 2 territory.  Ever since a partial tear in his UCL was discovered, Tanaka has been a ticking time bomb where one pitch could send him right to Tommy John surgery.  While there has been zero talk about Tanaka being hurt, the fact of the matter is that he is more hittable than ever before as he sits with a ghastly 6.56 ERA and an unfathomable 2.44 HR/9 rate.  Also it stands to reason that maybe the tear has grown and that Tanaka's stuff has lost some more pop like it first did when the tear was discovered.

At first glance, the obvious issue are the home runs and this has been a problem for Tanaka going back to his rookie year.  Already Tanaka has given up 13 home runs in just 48 innings pitched and thus every single start is now at risk for blowing up due to a few misplaced pitches,.  Again going back to when the tear in his UCL was first discovered, Tanaka has given up 25 and 22 home runs in the two complete seasons since and he is on pace to approach 30 in 2017.  That simply won't work for any pitcher in fantasy baseball and that is especially true for those who had such a lofty draft price.

In addition to the home runs, Tanaka continues to leak strikeouts as his K/9 has gone from an ace-like 9.31 as a rookie, down to 8.12 in 2015, and further down to 7.44 a year ago.  This season?  Try 7.31 as Tanaka is clearly on a downward trend.  Combined with the home runs and Tanaka is a major liability in all fantasy baseball leagues and if not for his name brand, likely would have been rotting on the waiver wire.

When you put it all together, Masahiro Tanaka has to be benched in all leagues for those who are still holding onto him.  I have zero shares in Tanaka and have not owned him since he was a rookie and this is what I was afraid of.  It doesn't look like it will end well either so feel free to cut him loose if need be.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: MONDAY

Nolan Arenado:  1/5 with his 12th HR while hitting .291.  Here is what you really have to admire about how dominant a player Arenado is as a hitter:  he is just as good on the road as he is at home.  Not a Coors Field creation a la Vinny Castilla.

Jeff Hoffman:  7 IP 3 H 1 ER 0 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.29.  The end has to be coming.  After all the Rockies have the best starting staff in the majors.

Jorge Bonifacio:  1/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .268.  Bonifacio strikes out in more than a quarter of his at-bats but he has a nice HR swing for those in AL-only formats and has been hot the last week.

Brett Gardner:  1/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .281.  Now I guess Gardner is a 25-home run hitter.  Nothing surprises me anymore in this crazy fantasy baseball season.

Didi Gregorious:  2/3 with his second HR while hitting .333.  Gregorious has fallen right in with the rest of the New York Yankees lineup this season by coming off the DL and spraying line drives all over.  He has become so much more than the defensive specialist he once looked like with the Diamondbacks and while Gregorious has never run as much as we had originally hoped, he is absolutely a daily league starter.

Michael Pineda;  6.1 IP 6 H 2 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.35.  Home runs remain a huge problem for Pineda but this is his best season by a mile so far.  His free agent to be status likely is playing a major role in that but there has never been any doubt about Pineda's strikeout ability.  Still do you ever feel secure in any one Pineda outing?  The answer is no.

Max Kepler:  3/5 with his 5th HR while hitting .271.  You yawn when you look at Kepler but he has done his best work of the season the last few weeks and in AL-only formats especially he needs to be on a roster.

Miguel Sano:  4/6 with his 11th HR while hitting .319., Sano is having an MVP start to his season, with massive power surprisingly being joined by a scorching average.  Keep in mind though that his 34.5 K/9 and truly insane .429 BABIP won't allow the latter to continue.  In fact I will go out on a limb and predict Sano will be at .265 by the end of June.

Adam Jones:  1/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .275.  This is now a standard Jones line:  good but not great power and an average that won't go much above .280 if it even gets there.  The loss of steals a few years ago sent Jones to OF 2 status but it is high OF 2 status.

Jason Kipnis:  1/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .226.  No thank you.

Scott Schebler:  1/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .255.  Got to love being a Reds slugger in that home ballpark.

Scott Feldman:  6 IP 4 H 1 ER 2 BB 9 K with an ERA of 3.99.  Double kudos for Feldman pitching like this in calling Cincy home.  He has always been a deceptively good SP 5 in fantasy baseball with ratios that never rally hurt you and with a decent enough K/9.

Cameron Maybin:  2/3 with his second HR while hitting .244.  Maybin has fully transitioned into being a waiver guy you pick up when he comes back from his yearly DL stint and begins swinging it well.

Corey Dickerson:  1/4 with his 12th HR while hitting .345.  So yeah Dickerson is far and away leading the pack to claim my personal "Value Play Recommendation of the Year."  Recent winners of course were Mark Trumbo last season and A. J. Pollock in 2015.  (Commence patting myself on back).

Logan Morrison:  1/4 with his 12th HR while hitting .248.  I think the Rays have convinced Twitter-addicted Morrison that they will let him fire off 1,000 tweets for each home run.  Whatever works.

Jake Odorizzi:  6 IP 5 H 2 ER 3 BB 8 K with an ERA of 3.14.  Not sure why this guy doesn't get more credit than he deserves?  I mean he is a starting pitcher in Tampa which is a designation where everything goes swimmingly.

Bud Norris:  scoreless 1.1 IP with 3 K for 9th save with an ERA of 2.66.  Sorry but Norris needs to keep closing even when Cam Bedrosian gets back.

Brandon Phillips:  2/4 with his third HR while hitting .296.  Phillips had gone cold for awhile so this homer was timely.  He is fading in the power/speed categories but Phillips is still maintaining his average nicely.

Matt Adams:  2/4 with his second HR while hitting .286.  Adams already is taking advantage of a fresh start with the Atlanta Braves and the home run leanings of the park. I said to pick up Adams given that aspect of things and starting him in deeper leagues is not the worst idea.

Jim Johnson:  scoreless ninth for his ninth save with an ERA of 2.84.  If you waited until the last few rounds to take Greg Holland and Jim Johnson this past March in the draft, you win.

Brandon Belt:  2/5 with his 9th HR while hitting .241.  On a per game basis, Belt is on a career-best home run pace which is about the only nice thing I can say about him.

Joe Panik:  3/4 with his second HR while hitting .268.  Panik is finally healthy after a complete disaster of a 2016.  I never doubted the swing here and so in NL-only Panik should be added.