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Saturday, April 30, 2016

FANTASY BASEBALL TRENDING UP/TRENDING DOWN

Another week gone by in 2016 fantasy baseball as the month of April gets set to be put in the books.  As always let's see who moving up and moving down this past week.

TRENDING UP

Steven Matz:  While he was not totally efficient on Friday night, Steven Matz has given up two earned runs total in his last three starts for the Mets with 21 K's.  The talent is supreme here and some early rust was the only issue Matz had to fight through.  Fully back on track. 

J.T. Realmuto:  I was very high on Realmuto during the spring and still very much am after he has started to drive the baseball over the last week.  Realmuto is capable of a solid average with a handful of home runs and some rare steals.  Get on board.

Tanner Roark:  While I don't buy the recent explosion of strikeouts, Tanner Roark is showing that his very good but not talked much about 2014 performance was not a total fluke. 

Aledmys Diaz:  All the kid has done is hit since getting into the lineup once injury took out Jhonny Peralta.  Diaz was just a .260 hitter in the minors prior to 2016 though so a correction is on the way.

Gregory Polanco:  Hitting at the bottom of the Pittsburgh Pirates lineup, Polanco has scorched the baseball which could get him a promotion back toward the top where his major speed will be an asset. 

TRENDING DOWN

Cody Allen:  Allen continues to ripped on an almost daily basis at the back end of the Cleveland Indians bullpen which is exactly what happened a year ago at this time as well.  Maybe Allen is simply a slow starter but either way his hold on the closer role is growing more tenuous by the day.

Kevin Jepsen:  Speaking of closers who are struggling, throw Kevin Jepsen into that grouping for the Minnesota Twins.  Jepsen has only been average at best since replacing an injured Glen Perkins at closer for the team and the terrific pitching of Trevor May means there is heat on his hold on the gig. 

Dallas Keuchel:  Already spoke at length the other day about how Keuchel has come back down to earth off his outlier 2015 Cy Young campaign.  While I think Keuchel can still be very good, he will not be the ace many assumed he would be. 

Adam Jones:  As a Jones owner, I have been front and center to the annual All-Star outfielder's struggles.  Jones has missed a lot of time with a stubborn oblique injury which robbed him of crucial early season at-bats when guys usually begin getting into a groove.  The last few days have been better but Jones could be on the downside now, especially with his steals vanished forever. 

Hisahi Iwakuma:  Been a big fan of his over the years but Iwakuma has been getting shelled for most of this season and we have to go back and wonder if the injury question marks that made the Los Angeles Dodgers pull out of a prospective deal with Iwakuma could be to blame. 

FANTASY BASEBALL LINEUP NEWS: JOE PANIK OUT SATURDAY WITH SORE GROIN

San Francisco Giants second baseman Joe Panik is out of the lineup on Saturday versus the New York Mets due to a sore groin.  Panik is being listed as day-to-day and couild return Sunday against Noah Syndegaard.

Analysis:  With the Mets throwing Syndegaard and Jacob DeGrom this weekend, Panik owners should be sitting him anyways.  It has been a bit of a slow start for Panik but his bat is proven to be .300-worthy with moderate power. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL STOCK WATCH: EUGENIO SUAREZ 3B CINCINNATI REDS

While a whole bunch has gone wrong for the Cincinnati Reds early in this 2016 fantasy baseball season, one bright spot has been the tremendous play of third baseman Eugenio Suarez.  Only considered a moderate prospect while coming up the Detroit Tigers system, Suarez found new life with the Reds where he came up and opened a bunch of eyes by smacking 13 home runs, stealing 4 bases, and batting .280 in 398 at-bats while playing mostly shortstop.  While on the surface those numbers were impressive, yours truly was not buying them completely as I pointed out Suarez' very lucky .341 BABIP and for the fact his K rate was a high 23.6 percent.  If the luck was more in the average range, Suarez would have had about a .260 average which would have taken shine off the homers.  Be that as it may, Suarez looks like he is determined to get the last laugh as he has been one of the more impressive early season performers as he went into Tuesday's games with 5 home runs, 4 steals, and a .301 average at the age of 24.  While he is playing third base for the Reds Suarez retained the precious shortstop eligibility for another season which was key.  In addition, Suarez has helped himself by vastly improving his K rate thus far to a very low 13.8 percent.  With a .298 BABIP that is right along the mean mark, Suarez' current .301 average is accurate.  Throw in improved power and more aggressiveness on the bases and Suarez is really earning a profit for his fantasy baseball owners.  While Suarez will likely cool a bit from his hot start, I am now feeling more confident that he can sustain his numbers moving well into the remainder of the season. 

 

Friday, April 29, 2016

FANTASY BASEBALL CRISIS POINT: DALLAS KEUCHEL SP HOUSTON ASTROS

For those owning stock in reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel, Tuesday was not a night that brought forth a turnaround to what has been a very shaky start to his 2016 season.  Coming off a dominant 2015 campaign that saw Keuchel shoot past his career-bests by a mile with his 2.48 ERA and over 200 strikeouts, many bought back in again for this season in thinking he was a firm fantasy baseball ace pitcher.  Anyone who has been reading my critiques on Keuchel going back to the beginning of this past winter would know that we advised re-investing in him for more than a few reasons.  Chief among them was the fact Keuchel's 2015 statistical haul was far and away better then anything he had done previously and historically speaking, a player who goes into outlier territory often has a sizable drop in numbers the following season.  So far this is what has gone on with Keuchel as Tuesday's 5 ER bomb raised his season ERA to a very shaky 4.41 and his WHIP to an ugly 1.41.  Pretty much everything has gone wrong as Keuchel's K/9 rate has dropped from 2015's 8.38 to this season's 7.44.  In addition, Keuchel's BB/9 has gone from last season's 1.98 to this year's 3.58.  A .330 BABIP which is in the unlucky range has hurt Keuchel as well but even his XFIP ERA of 3.53 is not great compared to 2015 which goes to show you how less effective the guy has been.  This is no shock to yours truly as I saw this coming and predicted Keuchel would be more SP 2 then ace.  Remember that outlier campaigns pretty much never get repeated as we are seeing once again in this case. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: THURSDAY

Jonathan Villar:  3/4 with 3 steals (5 for season) while hitting .262.  Villar is keeping the shortstop warm for Oswaldo Arcia but at least he is hitting enough to stay viable.  It was doubly nice to see Villar operating out of the leadoff spot where his speed plays at its most optimum.  Those in need of steals can look here for sure in the short-term.

Taylor Jungmann:  5 ER in 3.2 IP with an ERA of 9.15.  By the time you read this Jungmann could back in the minor leagues.  Check out any blurb I wrote on Jungmann and what a colossal fluke he was as he kept getting by on smoke and mirrors and shake you head in understanding as you digest this horror show. 

Jake Arrieta:  5 IP 3 H 1 ER 4 BB 6 K with an ERA of 1.00.  Even Arrieta is not immune due to the start after a no-hitter blues.  Arrieta was fighting his stuff all game as he only went five and once again is a reminder that high K games or no-hitters mean bench the guy next time out. 

Stephen Vogt:  1/4 with his third HR while hitting .268.  I like Vogt as he did some nice things for me last season as a sleeper tout that I wrote about last March.  What was nice is that Vogt's second half fade allows his price to not get out of hand for 2016 so another profit can easily be made. 

Aaron Nola:  7 IP 2 H 0 ER 1 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.55.  I liked Nola heading into this season but I didn't foresee him being this good this quickly.  The K rate in particular has been tremendous as Nola has taken things to another level already.  A high-end SP 2 level.  With the chance to be an ace. 

Tanner Roark:  7 IP 2 H 0 ER 2 BB 6 K with an ERA of 2.03.  Roark actually bucked the trend of bad outings off a very high strikeout game as he was tremendous here after whiffing 15 his last time out.  In fact Roark has been ridiculously good so far but I am not buying the K rate burst.  The guy is young enough for this jump in performance though but maybe not to this extent.  Proceed somewhat cautiously going forward. 

Danny Espinosa:  0/3 while hitting .172.  Pick up Trea Turner.  Like right this second. 

Brandon Drury:  2/4 with his third HR while hitting .311.  Drury has done a nice job in a part-time role early this season but he is only a former 13th round pick of the Atlanta Braves who has no pedigree.  Ignore. 

Rubby De La Rosa:  7 IP 2 H 0 ER 2 BB 10 K with an ERA of 4.18.  De La Rosa has a live arm that can induce a bunch of strikeouts but his inconsistency is more than annoying and makes him tough to depend on outside of rounding out your rotation.  Being more specific, De La Rosa tends to be like A.J. Griffin where he does well at home and is an abomination on the road. 

Giancarlo Stanton:  1/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .253.  Four home runs in five games.  He is strong. 

J.R. Realmuto:  2/4 with his second HR while hitting .284.  Really love the development of Realmuto and now await with vast excitement some steals.  Told you in the winter the kid was looking like a very good catcher value as I once again eschewed drafting a catcher early.  Yup. 

Jose Fernandez:  6 IP 5 H 2 ER 3 BB 8 K with an ERA of 4.08.  Fernandez still is fighting his control a bit but this was much more in like with a typical outing of his.  This arm belongs right there with Clayton Kershaw and Chris Sale in terms of awesome dominance and movement of stuff. 

Kenta Maeda:  6.2 IP 7 H 4 ER 1 BB 5 K with an ERA of 1.41.  Finally Maeda shows he is not a Japanese pitching robot. 

Todd Frazier:  1/4 with his sixth HR while hitting .236.  Told you all to stay patient with Frazier during his early struggles after switching leagues.  This happens almost every time when it comes to a hitter switching leagues which you need to be reminded of when we are at this point next April.  Frazier is fine. 

Manny Machado:  2/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .333.  :)

Chris Davis:  2/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .221.  NEXT!

Mark Trumbo:  1/4 with his 6th HR while hitting .354.  This is looking like some home run derby between Trumbo Davis, and Machado.  As far as Trumbo is concerned, we all know the average is in major outlier territory but Trumbo is in arguably one of the very best spots in the majors batting behind Machado and Davis. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL ISSUES: DEE GORDON'S 2015 RISE LOOKS LIKE PED AIDED, OWNERS LEFT IN LURCH AFTER 80-GAME SUSPENSION

In what can only be described as monster/blockbuster news, Miami Marlins All-Star second baseman and 2015 batting title winner Dee Gordon was suspended 80 games by Major League Baseball after testing positive for TWO banned steroid substances.  The suspension is effective immediately and as a result, his fantasy baseball owners are shattered over the loss of their stolen base/runs/average dynamo.  Flat out, not only is Gordon a moron for getting caught up in this and being quite possibly the biggest name since Alex Rodriguez to get suspended but clearly one can surmise that his shocking batting title in 2015 was steroid aided like Ryan Braun's MVP award during his spectacular video game campaign before he too went down under a positive test.  Myself and the rest of the fantasy baseball industry spoke often early last season that the sky-high average Gordon was putting up in April and May would eventually correct itself as the guy did nothing but struggle terribly in that department during his early days with the Los Angeles Dodgers.  In fact Gordon was so bad that his future was being questioned as a player and it looked like he would be nothing more than a bench runner for late innings.  After all Gordon batted a pitiful .228 and .234 his first two seasons as a regular before all of a sudden things turned around.  A .289 performance in 2014 was a nice development but then the .333 mark last seasons was crazy good and now can be surmised was due to the juice.  Depended on to rule the stolen base category with his 60-plus thefts while also supplying high numbers in average and runs, Gordon is now done until late summer which takes a sledgehammer to his fantasy baseball owners' outlook.  Again you can't believe how stupid these guys can be sometimes but Gordon looks like the case of a guy whose career was in peril because he couldn't hit but soon turned to something to help keep him in and then develop into a star in the majors.  Stash him but I don't blame anyone if you cut him out of anger. 



 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: KRIS BRYANT HEADED FOR MRI ON ANKLE

While the Chicago Cubs are playing down the severity of the ankle star third baseman Kris Bryant injured during Thursday's game when hit by a pitch, they apparently are concerned enough to send him for an MRI.  Again the Cubs are calling the MRI precautionary but it always is a hold your breath scenario when this occurs due to the idea that something not originally seen can be found during the more advanced testing.  While Bryant is not off to a gangbusters start, he is still a blockbuster fantasy baseball third baseman who can help carry a team for weeks.  Yes Bryant needs to work on his high K rate, his power/speed ability is tremendous.  Check back again tomorrow for an update on this. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING CLOSER NEWS: NATE JONES TO CLOSE WHILE DAVID ROBERTSON AWAY ON BEREAVEMENT

The Chicago White Sox will use setup man Nate Jones as closer for as long as David Robertson is away from the team after a death in the family.  Jones has been nearly unhittable so far this season for the White Sox and has some past experience at closer for the team.

Analysis:  Robertson could be out for as long as week which means Jones could grab a few saves for the cost of a waiver pickup.  In head-to-head formats, Jones could be a sneaky play. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: MORE INJURY FRUSTRATION FOR HUSTON STREET

When it comes to the fantasy baseball stock of Los Angeles Angels closer Huston Street throughout his entire Major League career, the one common theme concerning the outlook of the guy on a yearly basis went something like this:  "very good pitcher but guaranteed to hit the DL at least once during the season."  Yes Street was your classic boom or bust guy in that his numbers were always good to very good but the inevitable DL stint clouded and took a major chunk of his value away.  Things have not changed much in 2016 as the Angels placed Street on the 15-day DL late Wednesday with a dreaded oblique strain.  That means top setup man Joe Smith is back in the closing chair as he has done at times over the last two years while Street has been out with various ailments.  Smith is already off to a good start as he nailed down the save Wednesday night and he is a must own grab in all fantasy baseball leagues due to his high level of performance in setup since becoming a pro.  In fact Smith will likely be saving games for awhile for the Angels as oblique strains for a pitcher usually entail them missing about a month or more.  While it is frustrating to do so, it still is in your best interest to stash Street in your DL spot because he remains a highly effective pitcher. 

-The Detroit Tigers got back closer Francisco Rodriguez from his family emergency leave.  Still no word on what exactly it was that had Rodriguez absent from the team but maybe it explains his rough (6.14 ERA) start.  While Rodriguez successfully gave himself a second major league life the last few years by working more off his secondary stuff than with his fading heater, the fact of the matter is that his margin for error was growing razor thin as his velocity continued to dip.  He did whiff two in a scoreless non-save chance Wednesday so maybe with a clearer head Rodriguez will start throwing better. 

-It has not been a very smooth handoff at the back end of the Minnesota Twins bullpen from injured closer Glen Perkins to setup man Kevin Jepsen.  With a ballooning 4.66 ERA, Jepsen has been hit at a fairly decent clip and has given up runs in four of his last five outings (2 appearances were unearned runs).  Perkins meanwhile still has not even begun throwing which means the closer role is Jepsen's for awhile if he can get his act together.  If he can't, Trevor May is making a case that he should be considered as he has registered a very good 2.66 ERA and racked up an insane 20 strikeouts in just 12.1 innings pitched.  Control is an issue for May (7 walks) which doesn't give a manager comfort in the ninth inning but the high K stuff works in that setup.  Keep May close by.

-Finally still nothing definitive about the setup of the Cincinnati Reds back end of the bullpen since J.J. Hoover was given the boot from the ninth inning.  What we do know is that Tony Cingrani and Brandon Wood have pitched in setup situations while Caleb Cottham has continued to pitch very well with a high K Rate.  That makes him the guy to own even if no save chance has appeared lately to confirm this assessment.

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: WEDNESDAY

Stephen Piscotty:  4/5 and his first SB while hitting .305.  I am in love.

Aledmys Diaz:  2/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .468.  As amazing as this start has been for Diaz, the fact it has come primarily in the number 8 spot makes it even more impressive.  While I am impressed no doubt, keep in mind Diaz was only a .260-ish hitter in the minors with a high of 10 homers.  A correction is coming and it will be key to see if it is a Trevor Story or Tyler White correction or not. 

Adam Wainwright:  5.1 IP 7 H 4 ER 1 BB 5 K with an ERA of 7.16.  Even when he wins he sucks. 

Patrick Corbin:  7 ER in 5.2 IP with an ERA of 7.88.  This sleeper story is not going as planned.  Plant Corbin on the bench in deeper formats and I won't blame you for cutting him loose in more shallow leagues. 

Paul Goldschmidt:  1/3 with his 6th HR while hitting .250.  The average is a little low as Goldschmidt has an unlucky .260 BABIP but that is about all we can find to quibble with. 

Eric Hosmer:  3/4 with his third HR while hitting .333.  Hosmer is going according to script with the high average and just so-so power.  Not a better UTIL or CI bat out there if you double-down on first baseman to fill the slot. 

Mike Trout:  1/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .295.  If Carlos Correa kills it this season as expected you can make the case that Trout is the THIRD most valuable player in fantasy baseball. 

Yunel Escobar:  1/4 with his third HR while hitting .281.  Has the shortstop or third base spot locked up on the All-Boring team. 

Joe Smith:  scoreless ninth for his first save with an ERA of 3.00.  Smith is now the Angels closer in place of Huston Street who is out for likely a month with a strained oblique.  The guy has been one of the best setup men in all of baseball the last four years and he has a solid K rate that works well in the ninth inning.  Could be a very good replacement for the time being. 

Justin Nocolino:  7.1 IP 2 ER 0 BB 2 BB 2 K with an ERA of 0.00.  Nice outing for sure but this is a major mirage from Nicolino who struck out just 23 batters in 74 innings pitched last season.  That is as bad a K rate as one can get which makes Nicolino shoddy even in NL-only setups. 

Jose Altuve:  3/5 with his sixth HR while hitting .330.  Altuve is on pace for 30 home runs.  With a .315 average.  And 40 stolen bases.  I think I need to take a break as I am going to pass out in excitement as an Altuve owner.  Obviously Altuve is above his level in home run rate by a large margin but 15-plus is very much in play.

Robinson Cano: 2/5 with his 8th HR while hitting .247.  I don't have anything else to add to Cano other then the power has been tremendous. 

Adam Lind:  2/4 with his first HR while hitting .259.  I was high on Lind as always due to his very cheap annual power but the adjustment from the NL to the AL took some getting used to.  Pick him up now as that adjustment period could be in the rearview mirror. 

Hisashi Iwakuma:  5 ER in 5 IP with an ERA of 4.65.  Age could be a factor here as Iwakuma has been battered around like never before.  Remember the Dodgers pulled out of a deal with Iwakuma during his past winter because of health concerns.  Related?  Maybe. 

Gregory Polanco:  1/4 with his second HR while hitting .329.  A very lucky .358 BABIP has something to do with the glowing Polanco average but the kid has also made some very positive strides in BB rate and K rate.  In 2015 Polanco whiffed at a high 18.6 percent clip.  This season so far?  Try a tremendous 12.2 percent.  His walk rate last season came in at 8.4 percent.  This season?  Try 16.3 percent.  If Polanco can keep this up, he will be back up near the top of the order which is where his max value lies. 

Trevor Story:  1/6 with his 9th HR while hitting .241. Maybe a day off helped clear Story's head and will get him back on track but he struck out another three times as the average is a joke. 

Nolan Arenado:  3/6 with his 9th HR while hitting .289.  Through all of his recent struggles, Trevor Story has the same number of home runs as this guy.

Gerardo Parra:  2/7 with his second HR while hitting .286.  Parra has been predictably very solid after signing with the Rockies as a free agent and now batting leadoff.  Wish I owned him as guys like Parra who fill out your outfield win you leagues. 

Alex Rodriguez:  3/3 with his third HR while hitting .190.  No one cares. 

Jacoby Ellsbury:  0/4 while hitting .241.  Cut him loose.  I am serious.  If his name was Joe Schmoe you would never have even picked him up with those disgusting numbers. 

Byung-Ho Park:  1/3 with his 5th HR while hitting .241.  Another one who has gone right according to the script with the good power and ugly average.  These guys are a dime a dozen no matter what country they arrive from.

Danny Santana:  3/5 with his second SB while hitting .358.  Santana bombed a year ago at this time but he is back and batting leadoff for the Twins.  The steals and runs figure to be decent and he carries shortstop and outfield eligibility.  Go for it. 

Jose Berrios:  4 IP 6 H 5 ER 2 BB 5 K with an ERA of 11.25.  It is always impossible to predict how a first start will go for any rookie pitcher due to nerves and the like.  Berrios is universally lauded for his big arm so I would not drop him already.  Twins may not give him another start as this was originally slated to be a one outing deal but still hold Berrios to see where it goes. 

Trevor May:  scoreless ninth with 2 K's with an ERA of 2.92.  If Kevin Jepsen continues to struggle, this is the guy to target. 

Jeremy Hellickson:  7 IP 2 H 0 ER 3 BB 8 K with an ERA of 3.81.  Hellickson has generally been very good this season but his career is filled with inconsistency and underwhelming results.  The one thing we can be positive about going forward is the fact Hellickson is pitching in the much easier NL after spending most of his career with Tampa Bay.  As long as he is nothing more than your SP 5, he Hellickson works there. 

Jeanmar Gomez:  scoreless ninth for his sixth save with an ERA of 2.08.  There were about five other guys we thought would be closing games for the Philadelphia Phillies then Gomez but he has been surprisingly very good.  The K rate is mediocre which is scary long-term in the gig but for now ride this out and see where it goes.  I am.

Jose Quintana:  6 IP 4 H 0 ER 3 BB 10 K with an ERA of 1.47.  Incredible.  When I wrote some examples of guys I love more than you and who have a spot in the Fantasy Sports Boss Hall of Fame, I forgot to mention this gem of a value.  Quintana is actually getting BETTER as he plants himself firmly in his prime and yet nobody wanted him in the draft.  Except for me. 

Khris Davis:  2/4 with his third HR while hitting .233.  Davis is as horrible contact hitter but is among the cheapest power sticks in the game.  Still would prefer an Adam Lind. 

Victor Martinez:  1/2 with his 4th HR while hitting .302.  Figures Martinez is now hitting for power again when the whole fantasy baseball community was done with him.  That's how it goes in this always maddening game. 

J.D. Martinez:  2/3 with his third HR while hitting .293.  Most of Martinez' owners thought they would be looking at 8 home runs right now but that just means he will go ape crazy now. 

Sonny Gray:  2 IP 2 H 4 ER 4 BB 2 K with an ERA of 3.81.  Gray has struggled more than usual this season and truth be told his ERA should be WORSE as his BABIP is lucky at .276 which shows in his FIP ERA of 4.35.  The problem here is that Gray is fighting his control as his BB/9 has skyrocketed to 4.76.  Also Gray is near 1.00 in HR/9 which is also very high for him.  Now I am thinking personally about the high total of innings Gray has already thrown in his young career which could be partly to blame or it could have nothing to do with it.  Just a thought. 

Zack Cozart:  2/4 with his second HR while hitting .397.  Keep in mind here that before he went down for the season with injury a year ago, Cozart was hitting like this.  A late bloomer or post-hype sleeper, Cozart is absolutely worth an add due to his shortstop eligibility and 15/15 ability. 

Neil Walker:  2/3 with his 9th HR while hitting .300.  Crazy stat of the day as told by SNY's Gary Cohen.  Neil Walker is already 56 percent toward his 2015 TOTAL in home runs. 

Matt Harvey:  6 IP 7 H 2 ER 1 BB 7 K with an ERA of 4.76.  The K rate is inching up now which is good to see but Harvey is still putting a bit too many guys on base.  Ultimately I think he will be all right but maybe in an SP 2 sense due to the bounce from so many innings in 2015. 

Matt Moore:  7 IP 3 H 3 ER 2 BB 9 K with an ERA of 3.66.  Now another season removed from Tommy John, Moore looks like the star in the making many thought he would be when he first arrived on the scene with horrible control years ago.  Again we say this a million times with young pitchers who throw hard and have terrible control.  Once they start curbing the free passes, the jump to stardom is instantaneous.  Such as the case as it appears now with Moore. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL WELCOME TO THE SHOW: MICHAEL FULMER SP DETROIT TIGERS

With the Detroit Tigers having placed SP Shane Greene on the 15-day DL earlier on Wednesday with a blister, the team made it five the number of top pitching prospects summoned from the minors leagues over the last two weeks when they confirmed prized arm Michael Fulmer would get the call to start in his place.  At only 23 years old, Fulmer was the main get for the Tigers from the New York Mets in last July's Yoenis Cespedes trade.  While the trade worked out for the Mets, they reportedly agonized over dealing Fulmer due to how much they valued his promise.  His performance last season in the minors at Double-A justified this belief as he registered an ace-like 1.88 for the Mets farm club with terrific peripherals (8.69 K/9, 2.41 BB/9).  Those peripherals improved at Double-A for Detroit after coming over to the Tigers (9.38 K/9, 1.99 BB/9) despite a slight jump in ERA to 2.84.  In short, while Fulmer may not have had the pure strikeout heat of Noah Syndegaard or Matt Harvey coming up the New York Mets system, he was still considered to be one of the best pitching prospects in that team's ridiculous system and that means he should be picked up in all formats.  With Greene on the DL, Fulmer has a real shot to lock down a rotation spot for good.

 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

FANTASY BASEBALL LINEUP NEWS: BOTH YOENIS CESPEDES (LEG) AND CURTIS GRANDERSON (DAY OFF) OUT WED. FOR METS

The New York Mets will be down two outfielders on Wednesday night as both Yoenis Cespedes and Curtis Granderson will be on the bench.  Cespedes will not start for the fifth straight game due to ongoing soreness in his right knee despite hitting a huge pinch-hitting home run Tuesday night.  Meanwhile Granderson will get a routine day off.  Alejandro De Aza and Juan Lagares will start in their place.

Analysis:  It is very annoying for Cespedes' owners, especially in head-to-head leagues, to continue being without their prime home run masher but the Mets are being very cautious here.  The fact they let him pinch hit Tuesday means a Friday return is expected.  Granderson meanwhile just gets a routine day off, although it is odd timing considering the Mets are off Thursday as well.. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL WELCOME TO THE SHOW: SEAN MANAEA SP OAKLAND A'S

For the fourth time over the last week-and-a-half, a Major League Baseball outfit promoted a top pitching prospect, this time being the Oakland A's tabbing 24-year-old lefty Sean Manaea.  The A's plan on Manaea to make his debut Friday night versus the Houston Astros and this is yet another actionable move in almost all fantasy baseball leagues due to the ability the kid brings.  The main return in the Ben Zobrist deal with the Kansas City Royals at last season's trade deadline, Mananea has dominated in 2016 at Triple-A as he has posted a 1.50 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and 21 strikeouts in only 18 innings (3 starts).  Manaea certainly has some major juice being his arm as he has struck out a high number of batters throughout his minor league career.  2015 was no different at Double-A as Manaea posted a splendid 10.76 K/9 Rate in 42.2 innings while with Oakland and that part of the game will be his calling card right away like with Jose Berrios and Blake Snell.  Like those two, Manaea has some issues with control (3.36 BB/9 last season) but he keeps the baseball in the park which is key and lessens any danger the free passes could yield.  Pick up Manaea where available. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY NEWS: CHARLIE BLACKMON TO PLAY FULL GAME IN A-BALL

Colorado Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon will play a full game at High-A for the team on Wednesday as he continues to take steps towards returning to the lineup.  Blackmon has been out with a toe injury but barring any setbacks should be activated from the DL this weekend. 

Analysis:  Blackmon is very close to returning where he can then start returning some investment that his fantasy baseball owners paid for him.  The skills are still very much there as Blackmon is in his prime so his slow start numbers-wise only has to do with missed games to injury. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL STOCK WATCH: TYLER WHITE 1B HOUSTON ASTROS

Ahhh the ghost of Chris Shelton lives on.  When it comes to April stars turning to May duds and then out of the game altogether, former Detroit Tigers first baseman Chris Shelton stood as the most shining example of why you should never overreact to early season offensive numbers from previously unknown players.  Already in 2016 we are seeing two such examples in Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story and Houston Astros first baseman Tyler White.  With Story mercifully getting a day off Tuesday by the Colorado Rockies as his average sank to .247 under mammoth K rate, the Houston Astros proceeded to drop White to the sixth spot in the order for that same night's game given the massive struggles he has gone through since his own hot start.  White was right there with Story as one of the biggest stories of the first two weeks of the season when he proceeded to smash 5 home runs and hit well over .400.  However we quickly warned you all not to overreact here as White was only considered a moderate prospect heading up the Astros farm system and while he as a good .300 hitter, his power was considered just average as his rates suggested nothing but 20 being his highest possible yield there.  Opposing pitchers soon adjusted to White as we saw when he hit just .083 with 14 strikeouts and zero home runs in his last 41 at-bats.  With top prospect A.J. Reed waiting in the wings, it is entirely possible that White will be moved to a backup role or even sent to the minors if this keeps up.  Again it goes to show you how early sample sizes from unknown players are more likely a mirage then anything and White is proving that point in stark terms. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: TUESDAY

Vince Velasquez:  6 IP 5 H 3 ER 3 BB 4 K with an ERA of 1.78.  Second straight ragged outing for Velasquez after his 16-K gem.  Remember this the next time someone you own strikes out 15 or more batters.  Run for the hills.

Max Scherzer:  6 IP 7 H 3 ER 4 BB 7 K with an ERA of 4.35.  The WHIP is 1.35 as Scherzer is getting hit like never before.  I pointed out how the crazy inning totals and TWO no-hitters last season was a major load on his arm and it may not be a coincidence that Scherzer is now all of a sudden struggling like this coming off that workload. 

Mike Moustakas: 1/3 with his 7th HR while hitting .267.  As always with Moustakas, a bunch of his value depends on where the average comes in as it has been all over the map.  The power is growing this season on a rate per game basis however but Moustakas just doesn't carry much excitement to his name what with the explosion of dominant third baseman lately. 

Edinson Volquez:  8 ER in 5 IP with an ERA of 3.64.  The WHIP is scary right now at 1.38 as Volquez is bringing forth bad memories from his earlier days. 

Giancarlo Stanton:  1/5 with his sixth HR while hitting .246.  Third straight game with a home run as Stanton puts forth the crap average/power hitter's special. 

Clayton Kershaw:  5 ER in 7 IP with an ERA of 2.43.  Yes he is human after all.

Robinson Cano:  2/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .238.  Cano very well might be following the path he took last season where his average perked up as the season went along.  That would be fine as his power has been tremendous early on which when combined with the increasing average. 

Dallas Keuchel:  5 ER in 6 IP with an ERA of 4.41.  The WHIP is now 1.41 as Keuchel has pretty much done as I said when I was in the clear minority in calling him a BUST candidate for 2016.  Yes sir nailed this one but honestly it was not too hard as Keuchel pitched WAY into outlier territory last season and to a level it was not to be approached.
 
Nathan Karns:  7 IP 2 H 0 ER 3 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.63.  Karns struggled early on this season but that is not a total shock as a guy being dealt to another team with little MLB experience.  There are always adjustment periods to go through but now it looks like Karns is settling in.  I liked him last season and thought he was good value for 2016 considering his new home and stand by that assessment. 

Johnny Cueto:  9 IP 7 H 0 ER 1 BB 11 K with an ERA of 2.65.  Cueto is making an early play for the NL Cy Young as he has been every bit the ace he was with the Reds.  I was not perturbed one bit by Cueto's struggles in Kansas City last season as it was a guarantee the ERA would jump moving to the DH league.  Now in his best home ballpark ever, Cueto is back to his top ten fantasy baseball ace ways. 

Stephen Piscotty:  2/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .273.  Yeah, yeah I admit it.  Piscotty is now quickly becoming one of my favorites and is knocking on the door already to Torii Hunter territory. 

Brandon Moss:  4/5 with his 5th HR while hitting .231.  You had to figure that Moss would do well this season after he almost was out of the game in 2015.  After all he signed with St. Louis where everyone is an All-Star. 

Jake Lamb:  1/3 with his third HR while hitting .284.  When your a solid but unspectacular third baseman like Jake Lamb, it is easy to get lost in the shuffle in the Nolan Arenado-Josh Donaldson-Manny Machado world.  While 15 home runs is about as good as you can get, Lamb is an excellent backup to keep handy in case of injury.

Yasmany Tomas:  2/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .303  We are seeing some real development going on with Tomas who is combining power and average. 

Carlos Martinez:  8 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 4 K with an ERA of 1.93. Speaking of making a play in this early going for the NL Cy Young, Martinez is staking his claim.  The kid is a real gem of an arm and is now 4-0 on the season with a shoulder that is holding up nicely.  I won't say we are out of the woods yet as Martinez' shoulder went bad as the innings piled up last year but at this point you couldn't ask for anything more. 

Shelby Miller:  5 ER in 5 IP with an ERA of 8.69.  You can make the argument that Miller has been the WORST pitcher in fantasy baseball based on expectations along with teammate Zack Greinke.  We all know Chase Field is a launching pad but this is ridiculous.  Miller was never as good as his numbers indicated last season but right now he is not even worth keeping around. 

Jason Kipnis:  1/4 with his second HR while hitting .282  Tough to get a firm read on Kipnis as he has traded numbers across the five categories the last few seasons.  He is holding his own again in 2016 as a solid but unspectacular play but truth be told we thought he would be much more than this. 

Kevin Jepsen:  third blown save with 1 ER in 1 IP but got the win with an ERA of 4.66.  Jepsen has not been good since replacing Glen Perkins at closer.  With Perkins not coming back for awhile, Trevor May is becoming more interesting. 

Andrew McCutchen:  3/5 with 3 home runs (5 for season) while hitting .238.  Yeah the month of May is days away so this is right on schedule.  MVP production the rest of the way. 

Starling Marte:  1/5 with his third HR while hitting .322.  Marte has been incredible and been so much better then McCutchen so far this season.  Alas the sleeping giant has awoken and Marte has a battle on his hands to see who is the most productive fantasy baseball outfielder on the Pirates. 

Nolan Arenado:  2/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .273.  I can watch this guy hit all day.  And tomorrow too.

Jimmy Nelson:  5.1 IP 2 H 1 ER 4 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.16.  I mention Nelson again in a losing effort because I really do like the ability here which points to high-end stuff. Nelson has to work on his control like most other young starters but his hit rate is excellent and so one can easily envision him as high as an SP 2 if he works that out.  Trust in the arm and trust me on this. 

Ian Desmond:  2/3 with his third HR while hitting .211.  Man the average continues to suck for Desmond who is now pretty much all-or-nothing even in Texas. 

A.J. Griffin:  8 IP 4 H 1 ER 1 BB 5 K with an ERA of 2.52.  Yes this start came at home where Griffin rivals Cy Young.  I am telling you that playing trends like this is a very quietly effective way to win your league. 

Luis Severino:  6 ER in 3 IP with an ERA of 6.86. Major trouble here as the Yankees will have to send Severino back down very soon as they won't let him continue getting his head beat in. 

Adam Eaton:  2/4 with his first HR while hitting .309.  After years of waiting, Adam Eaton has now settled in as a pure leadoff man for the White Sox with solid across the board ability.  While you would like to see a bit more when it comes to steals, the decent enough power makes up for it.

Edwin Encarnacion:  1/3 with his third HR while hitting .282.  Like with Andrew McCutchen, the month of May is when Edwin Encarnacion starts to do the Home Run Derby on a daily basis. 

Chris Sale:  8 IP 4 H 1 ER 2 BB 6 K with an ERA of 1.66.  Not sure if he is doing it intentionally but Sale's K rate is down more than a bit which could be a concession to a bit of age and experience.  No reason to rear back and try to strike everyone out when you can use offspeed stuff to get the job done.  Excellence all around. 

Travis Shaw:  2/5 with his second HR while hitting .324.  Nice story developing here in Boston as Shaw has done nothing but hit the baseball and hit it hard since coming up to the team in 2015.  He seems to have worked through his minor league K problems and at the very least is a top backup in fantasy baseball terms as the power is not top-notch yet. 

David Price:  8 IP 6 H 2 ER 2 BB 14 K with an ERA of 5.76.  Typical of Price dominating off a rough start but remember my warning about a next outing when a guy strikes out 14 or more batters. 

 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

FANTASY BASEBALL LINEUP NEWS: YOENIS CESPEDES (LEG) OUT AGAIN TUESDAY

Updating an earlier item, New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes is out of the lineup again on Tuesday which marks the fourth straight game he has missed with a bruised right leg/knee.  He will be replaced by Juan Lagares.

Analysis:  We said earlier in the day that Cespedes will miss the rest of the Reds series so this is not a surprise but he has to show some positives by tomorrow or else the Mets might have to put him on the disabled list. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: TRAVIS D'ARNAUD ONCE AGAIN TAKES UP RESIDENCE ON DL

It never ends.  Some players no matter how old or young, fit or out of shape, invariably make it a major habit to always land on the disabled list each and every season for one thing or another.  These players can't ever seem to make it through a season without at least one injury issue and the missed games ultimately take a major chunk of value from their bottom line and frustrate their owners constantly.   Some names who come to mind under this premise are Troy Tulowitzki, Jacoby Ellsbury, David Wright, and more.  Joining this ugly group is New York Mets catcher Travis D'Arnaud who once again took up residence on the disabled list on Tuesday due to a strained right rotator cuff which he suffered in Monday's game.  D'Arnaud will be replaced by backup Kevin Plawecki who has a decent bat but who has yet to really put up any impactful numbers due to inconsistent playing time.  Meanwhile D'Arnaud can't ever stay healthy as this is now his fifth stint on the DL in the last two-plus seasons and to make matters worse, he was not hitting much before he got hurt as evidenced by his putrid .196 with a bagel in the home run column.  Needless to say, D'Arnaud has not come close to being the impactful bat he was expected to be as a hyped prospect coming up the Toronto Blue Jays system.  We have reached the point with D'Arnaud where cutting him loose is the best course of action as he simply has not produced.   

FANTASY BASEBALL WELCOME TO THE SHOW: JOSE BERRIOS SP MINNESOTA TWINS

On the heels of Aaron Blair and Blake Snell getting early promotions to the big leagues over the last week, the Minnesota Twins joined the party on Tuesday when it was learned they would call up top pitching prospect Jose Berrios to make his first MLB start Saturday.  At only 21-years-old, the very young but also very powerful Berrios is ranked number 16 in Baseball America's top 100 Prospect List on the strength of a fastball that touches the upper 90's and has led to a very high number of strikeouts while he was coming up the minor league ladder.  Just this season at Triple-A, Berrios dominated in his three starts to the tune of a 1.06 ERA and a very impressive 10.59 K/9 IP rate.  Yes the 4.24 BB/9 rate was a bit high but that number is a bit of an anomaly as Berrios was at a much more impressive 2.38 and 1.67 at Double-A and Triple-A in 2015 in a much larger sample size of outings.  As we said earlier, Berrios is your classic power arm who can rack up K's from the jump as he journeys into the major leagues and he should be added in all formats where available.  He has a good chance of sticking in the Minnesota rotation considering how bad this group collectively has been thus far this season. 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING PROSPECT NEWS: JOSE BERRIOS BEING CALLED UP BY TWIINS

The Minnesota Twins will promote top pitching prospect Jose Berrios on Tuesday in order to reinforce a starting rotation that has been hit very hard during the early part of the season. 

Analysis:  Here we go.  Berrios is universally considered one of the top pitching prospects in baseball who can reach the upper 90's with his fastball and strike out a high number of batters.  He needs to be added right this very moment as he can hit the ground running with the high K rate and posting some useful ratios.  He likely will draw his first start on Saturday in place of Ervin Santana. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL CRISIS POINT: KYLE SEAGER 3B SEATTLE MARINERS

For those who are religious followers of yours truly (and you should since you would win your league if you did), you would know that I have my favorites.  Guys who I make it a point to draft each and every season and who I forever have a soft spot in my heart.  Some guys who come to mind who have been in this illustrious group include Cole Hamels, Paul Konerko, Adrian Gonzalez, Ian Kinsler, any New York Met (yes I have a fan perspective bias), and perhaps most glorified, the Minnesota Twins' Torii Hunter.  Well also included in this group is Seattle Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager who has been the poster child for underrated and productive which gets him a place on my roster each and every season.  Now with the massive influx of superstar third baseman, I admit I moved away from Seager due to my striking it gold with Manny Machado in 2015 but I would still own him in a second if given the opportunity.  All the guy has done for the price of pennies on the dollar was be a guaranteed source of 25 home runs, 80 RBI, a handful of steals, and a .265-ish average.  Enough to be a firm top ten fantasy baseball third baseman year in and year out. 

Well 2016 has certainly had its early challenges for Seager as an epically cold start at the plate has many questioning his fantasy baseball worthiness.  Of course one can understand that thinking when you look and see Seager toting around a comical .134 batting average with 3 home runs and 9 RBI in 75 at-bats.  Saying Seager is a bit slow out of the gates would be a gross understatement but perspective of course is needed in situations like this.  The first thing to note is that Seager is only 28 and still early in his prime years.  That means we can rule out any age-related decline.  Even more important is the fact Seager is suffering from some incredibly poor BABIP luck as one can see with his hard to fathom .118 mark in that category.  I for one can't remember seeing such a low and unlucky BABIP this late into the season before and it goes to show you that Seager has not gotten one iota of a break when he puts the bat on the ball/.  Want more evidence?  Seager's 17.3 percent K rate is not much out of line with his career norms so again we can say he has gotten unlucky and nothing more.  Thus I can make the argument that Seager actually represents a tremendous BUY LOW candidate for all the reasons I just talked about.  The luck will surely change before you know it and the average will climb to go along with the power.  Seaher is much too good a player to continue on like this and he no doubt is a victim of bad luck and nothing more. 
 

FANTASY BASEBALL LINEUP NEWS: YOENIS CESPEDES TO SIT THROUGH REDS SERIES, COULD STILL HIT DL

New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes has his right knee drained of fluid on Monday and will sit out the remainder of the series versus the Cincinnati Reds as a result.  Also GM Sandy Alderson said there was still an outside chance Cespedes could be put on the DL and backdate it if there is no solid improvement by Wednesday. 

Analysis:  What looked like a day-to-day deal with Cespedes is now a bit more than late.  The fact he is out the rest of the Reds series if annoying but as long as Cespedes avoids the DL this will work out all right. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: MONDAY

Albert Pujols:  2/4 with 2 home runs (5 for season) while hitting .171.  Pujols is starting to get into his power groove which is a good place to be fantasy baseball-wise but he is more Justin Smoak with the average liability and pure power now then anything. 

Mike Trout:  1/3 with his 4th HR while hitting .300.  Obviously I would love to own Trout in any league but the almost complete elimination of steals already is a bummer. 

Garrett Richards:  6.2 IP 3 H 0 ER 5 BB 5 K with an ERA of 2.35.  Part of what made Richards have that big 2014 season when he almost turned into an ace starting pitcher overnight was him finally fixing his career-long control issues.  They weren't fixed. 

Giancarlo Stanton:  2/3 with his 5th HR while hitting .250.  Typical Stanton power surge in its present form and no HBP's to discuss yet. 

Yasiel Puig:  1/4 with his second HR while hitting .292.  More glimpses of big ability from Puig but when that becomes the main narrative of your still-young career, we have problems. 

Kyle Seager:  1/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .141.  Wished Seager would have waited a day to do this due to the fact I fired out a "Crisis Point" last night.  Stay tuned.  You will like it. 

Leonys Martin:  1/2 with his fourth HR while hitting .210.  Figures that Martin can't hack at near the top of the lineup and use his legs so now he has to go all-out to send some baseballs over the fence to have relevancy.  Not much might I add. 

Tajuan Walker:  7 IP 6 H 1 ER 1 BB 11 K with an ERA of 1.44.  There it is.  The official unveiling post-hype and potentially top-notch power ability of Tajuan Walker.  The wait will be worth it by the looks of it. 

Buster Posey:  2/4 with his third HR while hitting .279.  Boring and great.  Yawn. 

Hunter Pence:  1/3 with his 4th HR while hitting .263.  The steals likely are dried up for good but Pence's power still holding steady. 

Madison Bumgarner:  6.2 IP 6 H 2 ER 2 BB 9 K with an ERA of 3.64.  Yeah all that early control talk is now a moot point.  Bumgarner too can be thrown into that slow start in April deal although his usually only goes the first two weeks and not the entire month.

Drew Pomeranz:  4.1 IP 7 H 3 ER 3 BB 6 K with an ERA of 2.86.  The WHIP is high at 1.36 which indicates some trouble could be on the way but if you just start Pomeranz at home, you could get SP 3 numbers.

Matt Carpenter:  2/5 with his third HR while hitting .239.  Gone are the days of a .315 average or even .300. 

Jean Segura:  4/6 with his fourth HR while hitting .352.  This is crazy and you wonder where all this was the last two-plus seasons in Milwaukee after Segura had that incredible breakout.  Clearly the ability was still there under the surface which we are seeing now with a clear head in Arizona. 

Zack Greinke:  7 ER in 6.2 IP with an ERA of 6.16.  Speaking of Crisis Point, this one needs to be addressed.  Honestly though Greinke picked a bad destination for his stuff which I will quickly explain.  For one thing, Greinke's velocity has been on a steady decline the last three years which of course lessens his margin for error and could lead to home runs.  Speaking of home runs, Greinke has always had that tendency even going back to his K.C. beginnings but Los Angeles and their spacious ballpark kept them at bay.  Now in Chase Field, there is no longer any home run buffer as he is giving them up by the boatload which included two last night.  Not good.  Not good at all. 

Gerardo Parra:  2/5 with his fifth SB while hitting .288.  If Parra was somehow dropped by an impatient owner in your league, it looks like he is now cemented at the top of the lineup after some initial bouncing around.  A career-best in steals looks like a lock. 

Trevor Story:  0/2 while hitting .247.  And right about now you may see a "T. Story" appear on your waiver wire. 

Jacoby Ellsbury:  2/5 with his first HR while hitting .268.  Hey I screwed myself the second I drafted Ellsbury despite my strong anti-posts on him all winter.  Only reason I did so is that he dropped to the 11th round of the Experts League draft where everyone was against him and rightfully so and he actually represented some value there.  Looking back now I think he didn't fall far enough.

Starlin Castro:  2/4 with his third HR while hitting .290.  Castro has been all over the lineup but the one common theme is that he hits the most when he is below the cleanup line. 

Nathan Eovaldi:  7 IP 2 H 0 ER 2 BB 9 K with an ERA of 4.38.  There is no doubt that Eovaldi ramped up the K Rate when he picked up a slider midway through last season but generally he has been good this season.  It is possible he could graduate into a more prominent fantasy baseball role but his underachiever status holds strong until we see more evidence. 

Yan Gomes:  1/3 with his second HR while hitting .245.  The average is inching up and the power is there in the bat of Gomes.  Watch this closely and get ready to add him.

Kevin Jepsen:  got the win with a scoreless ninth with an ERA of 4.15.  With Glen Perkins not even throwing yet, the closer gig is Jepsen's for awhile.  Like I said when this first went down. 

Michael Saunders:  3/5 with his second HR while hitting .345.  Bummer that Saunders was not in the leadoff spot but he remains worth adding where available for all the reasons I have spoken about. 

Miguel Cabrera:  4/4 with 2 home runs (3 for season) while hitting .254.  The home runs are coming less frequently and the average is down quite a bit which adds to the legitimacy of Cabrera being on the decline.  Don't fully count him out however. 

Victor Martinez:  2/4 with his third HR while hitting .281.  Listen when it comes to Martinez, just go with whatever he is doing in the moment and while he is health.  Guy has bucked every prediction the last four years or so. 

Michael Conforto:  3/3 with his third HR while hitting .333.  Threes all around for Conforto and guess what?  He bats third!!!! And is awesome at it! 

Neil Walker:  2/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .301.  There was once a guy named Daniel Murphy who manned second base a year ago.  Hit a bunch of home runs in the postseason.  No seriously.  Walker is on some silly run right now with no end in sight which means you don't ask questions and kick back and enjoy. 

Lucas Duda:  2/4 with 4th HR while hitting .265.  Boy does this guy do extremes with the power swings.  Meanwhile there may not be a stronger pure power hitter in the game then Duda who will drive you crazy with his fluctuations but who will have his 25-30 home runs by the end of the season like usual. 

Raisel Iglesias:  5 IP 8 H 3 ER 2 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.49.  Iglesias' WHIP is 1.45 as he has pitched a bit ragged but he has more K's then innings pitched which speaks to the power of his arm. 

Noah Syndegaard:  6.2 IP 7 H 3 ER 0 BB 9 K with an ERA of 1.69.  Now has an insane 38 K's in 26.2 innings.  Giving up 7 hits is about as good as your are going to get against Thor as he heads through what is shaping up to be a Cy Young-worthy season.

Chris Archer:  6.2 IP 5 H 0 ER 0 BB 10 K with an ERA of 5.47.  Told you all to buy low on Archer and now look.  That window has slammed shut. 

 

Monday, April 25, 2016

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: X-RAYS NEGATIVE ON BRANDON PHILLIPS' HAND

X-Rays taken of Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips' hand/fingers came back negative after he was hit by an earlier pitch in the area from New York Mets starter Noah Syndegaard.

Analysis:  While aging, Phillips continues to serve as a very solid fantasy baseball second baseman who is actually holding his numbers pretty well.  The fact there were no breaks was obviously the key and he should be back in a few days or sooner. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL LINEUP NEWS: IAN KINSLER OUT MONDAY WITH THE FLU

Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler is out of the lineup on Monday due to the flu.  He is being labeled as day-to-day and is expected to return as soon as Tuesday.

Analysis:  Adjust your lineups accordingly.  Kinsler has been tremendous this season as he continues to hit for a better average the more he ages which makes up for the slippage in speed.  Either way Kinsler continues to make the grade as a slam dunk top five fantasy baseball second baseman. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY NEWS: NICK HUNDLEY ACTIVED FROM CONCUSSION DL

The Colorado Rockies activated catcher Nick Hundley from the 7-day concussion disabled list on Monday as he passed all of the baseline tests.  Hundley has missed the last week with what the team termed a minor concussion and he will immediately be re-installed as the starting catcher.

Analysis:  If Hundley was dropped in your league, by all means pick him up.  He has 10-12 home run power and a good batting average stick given his home ballpark. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: CARLOS CARRASCO DOWN 4-6 WEEKS WITH HAMSTRING

The news is in on Cleveland Indians budding ace Carlos Carrasco and it is not good as it was learned the hard-thrower would miss the next 4-6 weeks with a serious hamstring injury.  An MRI conducted on Carrasco's knee ruled out any damage in the joint but still he likely is dealing with at least a Grade 2 strain and maybe a 3 which is why he will be out so long.  Obviously this is a hue blow to those who own stock in Carrasco which includes this writer as his high-K ways were supplemented by one of the best hit rates in fantasy baseball and vastly improved control that pointed to him fulfilling ace promise in 2016.  Obviously you want to hold Carrasco due to his vast ceiling and already SP 2 numbers but the fact of the matter is that his loss is a big one.  Trevor Bauer will now move back into the rotation where he will likely continue with his all-or-nothing ways.  Bauer's control is always the biggest issue but he remains a potentially big strikeout pitcher who can help in short order.  Worth another stab to see if the gains he made this past spring training can carry over into the season. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL LINEUP NEWS: MICHAEL SAUNDERS (HAMSTRING) BACK IN LINEUP, RUSSEL MARTIN (NECK) SITS AGAIN

The Toronto Blue Jays will get back leadoff hitting outfielder Michael Saunders for Monday night's game but will be without catcher Russell Martin again on Monday as he continues to battle neck soreness.

Analysis:  Get Saunders back in as he remains intriguing as a leadoff hitter for the Jays and their potent ballpark.  As far as Martin is concerned, he has gotten off to a beyond brutal start to the season and looks completely shot at the age of 33. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL LINEUP NEWS: YOENIS CESPEDES MISSING IN ACTION AGAIN MONDAY

New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes will sit out again on Monday as he continues to try and come back from soreness in his right knee that has kept him out since Friday.  Alejandro De Aza will start in his place in centerfield over Juan Lagares. 

Analysis:  Those in DSF should check out De Aza as he has hit well when he has played this season.  Meanwhile Cespedes could return as soon as Tuesday so no worries here. 

FANTASY BASEBALL STOCK WATCH: NOMAR MAZARA OUTFIELDER TEXAS RANGERS

Some big early season injuries are already engineering the call up of some decent MLB prospects around the game, with one such situation taking place in Texas with the Rangers after the team lost outfielder Shin-Soo Choo for 4-6 weeks for a strained right calf.  Taking Choo's place in the lineup and in the outfielder has been Nomar Mazara who has been considered one of their better hitting prospects.  While not a can't miss guy, Mazara has already shown the hitting ability that made him a talked about guy when coming up the Texas minor league system.  Through Monday's games, the incredibly young at 20-years-old Mazara was hitting .356 with 2 home runs and 6 RBI in 45 at-bats.  While a ridiculously small sample size, Mazara scorched the baseball in Double-A and Triple-A in 2015.  Here are the numbers Mazara put up while still not legally able to drink:

Double-A:  .284 13 HR 56 RBI 57 R 2 SB in 470 at-bats
Triple-A:  .358 1 HR 13 RBI 11 R 0 SB in 88 at-bats

Clearly Mazara knows how to handle the bat and his power is burgeoning as well.  Consider that again Mazara won't turn 21 until later in the month of April and he has at least four years of growing physically that will only add some more pop.  In addition, Mazara has a low K rate for a young hitter at just 19.6 percent at Double-A last season and that should allow him to hit for a very solid average to go with the power.  The only negative here is that Mazara is not going to steal many bases at all which makes him a four category guy and not a five.  Still Mazara is going to get a long look with Choo out and he has the chance to cement a starting position even when his counterpart gets back into action.  Add him where available. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL CRISIS POINT: RUSSELL MARTIN C TORONTO BLUE JAYS

When it comes to aging catchers in fantasy baseball who have been able to hit during their careers, there is always a chance for a complete fall off the statistical cliff from one year to the next as this player enters his mid-30's.  With all of the wear and tear and injuries associated with the position, catchers can vanish as key contributors just like that.  While it is still early in the season, we could be seeing such a scenario developing with Toronto Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin.  After Martin signed a very rich four-year free agent deal with the Blue Jays, he still was considered a shaky investment entering into the 2015 season due to his age.  However Martin took full advantage of the offensive leanings of Rogers Center as he hit a career-best 23 home runs, scored 76 runs, and drove in 77 batters.  While the .240 average was ugly, Martin reminded many that he could still be a solid fantasy baseball catcher given his home ballpark and protection in the potent Blue Jays lineup.  Well at the age of 33 and with a crazy amount of mileage on his body as a major leaguer, we are seeing nothing but ugliness all around for Martin this season as he went into Saturday's games with a .146 average (not a misprint), 0 home runs, and a 3 in both the runs and RBI column.  Martin has been epically bad and there are even some whispers about whether he should be playing as much as he is given how putrid his bat has been.  What quickly stands out is that Martin is striking out in 40!!!!! percent of his at-bats after he was at 20.9 percent a year ago. No doubt Martin won't continue striking out as such a crazy rate but this could be an indication he is struggling to catch up to fastballs which again would not be a total surprise given his age.  Also a .259 BABIP is pretty unlucky for sure but Martin's walk rate has shot down to just 7.3 percent which is nasty by his standards.  Either way Martin has been as bad a hitter as one could be this season and he already is showing up on various league waiver wires which one can understand.  Right now I would bench Martin in all formats and I certainly would not try to buy low.  Catchers at Martin's age just don't hold up with their numbers and we could very well be seeing him approach the end of the line as an offensive player. 
 

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: TOM BRADY 4-GAME BAN REINSTATED ON APPEAL

The never-ending saga of DeflateGate took another turn on Monday when an appeals court reinstated the four-game ban on New England Patriots QB Tom Brady that was originally placed on him by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.  The original suspension was overturned on appeal filed by Brady weeks before the season began in Week 1 of 2015 but the NFL vowed to fight on to get the suspension put back into place which eventually turned out to be the case.

Analysis:  Here we go again.  Brady saw his fantasy football value plummet in most drafts last summer with the suspension hanging over his head and once he was reinstated, he turned out to be a monster value.  The same situation looks to be in play for now but Brady might have run out of options. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL STOCK WATCH: KENTA MAEDA SP LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Wow.  Unbelievable.  Crazy good.  All of these adjectives can firmly be planted onto the back or better yet the arm of Los Angeles Dodgers Japanese lefty pitching import Kenta Maeda.  After being in the running to toss a no-hitter on Saturday, to dominating in every single one of his starts this season, Maeda has been the definition of a fantasy baseball ace.  Want to know how good Maeda has been?  Try having a WHIP (0.87) that is higher than his ERA (0.36).  Talk about being dependable, Maeda has pitched 6 or more innings in all four of his starts and he has rung up 23 strikeouts in only 25 frames for a solid 8.17 K/9 rate.  Control?  How about just 5 walks for a 1.78 BB/9 Rate.  Also Maeda and his vast four pitch arsenal has given up just 17 hits in his 25 innings as he continues to prove a handful for major league batters.  So did we see all of this coming?  Truth be told we downplayed Maeda compared to some of his fellow countrymen who arrived in the States such as Daisuke Matsuzaka and Yu Darvish.  We had Maeda down as an SP 3 but where we did hit with Maeda is when we said his middling K rate in Japan could uptick in the States due to the unfamiliarity factor.  Clearly Maeda is fooling batters who are not used to his stuff and right now there is no denying he is pitching like a fantasy baseball ace.  Those who invested a mid-round pick on Maeda are being handsomely rewarded but him keeping up this pace obviously won't continue.  Still Maeda can at the very least be an SP 2 the remainder of the season by the looks of things. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: SUNDAY

Kyle Seager:  1/4 with his third HR while hitting .143.  Wow Seager has been absolutely brutal this season but I am the wrong person to knock him as I have championed is cause for years.  That is a well-deserved tactic as Seager has been arguably the best third base value in the game.  He will pull out of it eventually and maybe this is the start as Seager is still in his early prime years. 

Leonys Martin:  1/3 with his third HR while hitting .200.  Batting eighth, there is no reason to get involved with Martin who you want for the speed aspect of things. 

Albert Pujols:  2/4 with his third HR while hitting .153.  Hey all the props in the world to Pujols for reaching 40 homers a year ago when everyone including us left him for dead.  Even through that power surge however, the average was ugly and now even more so.  Like with Alex Rodriguez in 2015 and now through a horrid start to 2016, we might have seen the last hurrah a year ago. 

Matt Shoemaker:  6 ER in 3 IP with an ERA of 6.87.  Well what do you know.  Shoemaker had a start ruined with home runs as he gave up two.  Even prior to last season when he was a popular sleeper, we told you to avoid this potential disaster in any start Shoemaker. 

Nomar Mazara:  1/3 with his second HR while hitting .356.  Hey it is almost April and Mazara continues to rake.  He is more Stephen Piscotty in terms of being a .300 hitter with modest power but that still works just fine as your OF 3.

Mat Latos:  6 IP 7 H 1 ER 2 BB 2 K with an ERA of 0.74.  Now 4-0, it is clear the transformation of Latos from former hard-throwing strikeout artist to present day soft-tosser who relies on defense is now complete. 

Ryan Braun:  2/4 with his 5th HR and first SB while hitting .364.  Braun can't miss the baseball right now and he threw in a steal to show he can at least pick up one now and again.  All positives right now. 

Scooter Gennett:  1/4 with his fourth HR while hitting .258.  Wouldn't be a shock if Gennett grew into some power as he now settles into his prime but that has to be proven over the long haul.  Until then he remains mostly NL-only territory. 

Jered Eickhoff:  5.1 IP 9 H 7 ER 0 BB 7 K with an ERA of 4.07.  Young pitchers can be a dicey fantasy baseball proposition on the road as we found out here with Eickhoff in this one.  Still he struck out seven on a day he got bombed which is actually a big positive.  Location as the issue today and not the stuff.  Try to steal him away.  Like right now. 

Eric Hosmer:  2/3 with his second HR while hitting .314.  Yeah the usual 2-3 home runs and .300 average from Hosmer per month.  Nothing has changed and nothing will.

Alex Gordon:  2/3 with his second HR while hitting .246.  When they talk more about your defense then offense, we have fantasy baseball issues. 

Yordano Ventura:  7 IP 3 H 1 ER 2 BB 4 K with an ERA of 2.35.  I am actually happy to see just a few strikeouts here as Ventura all along needed to take some juice off his fastball to succeed fully.  If this keeps up then we could be seeing the full potential at work. 

Drew Smyly:  7 IP 6 H 1 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 2.51.  Unreal.  I mean Smyly has been absolutely ridiculous this season with his extreme K rate and low hit rate.  This is what the Rays saw though when they dealt for him in the David Price deal.  Damn I wish I took my own advice in touting him this season. 

Michael Pineda:  7 ER in 5 IP with an ERA of 6.95.  Pineda has had nothing all season and for a guy with a long history of injuries, one has to wonder if there is a physical ailment at work.  Another one who has never come all the way back from shoulder trouble. 

Josh Reddick:  2/4 with his 4th HR and first SB while hitting .250.  I don't have to tell you again how great a value Reddick always is.  This does it for me.

Khris Davis:  1/3 with his second HR while hitting .197.  Have a soft spot for Davis after he went on a major power binge for me in the second half of last season that clinched a league title for me in the Experts League but in Oakland he should remain waiver junk.

Chris Coghlan:  1/3 with his 4th HR while hitting .192.  Always seems that no matter who is there, Oakland hitters can't bat over .230. 

Jose Bautista:  1/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .250.  The power has not been at the usual Bautista standards this season but the weather is heating up and the balls will start shooting out.  We all know this. 

Anthony Rizzo:  2/4 with 2 home runs (8 for season) while hitting .203.  Rizzo has like all eight of his home runs in the last week.  And all 8 of his hits.  Not really but pretty much.

Jason Hammel:  6 IP 3 H 0 ER 2 BB 7 K with an ERA of 0.75.  Wow Hammel always pitches like Cy Young the first half of the season.  I mean check out the first half splits the last two-plus years.  Insanity. 

Jacob DeGrom:  5.2 IP 8 H 1 ER 0 BB 3 K with an ERA of 1.54.  DeGrom was understandably rusty in his return as he had not pitched in two weeks so no reason to go into this.  Most important thing is that his son is healthy. 

Aaron Blair:  5.1 IP 6 H 3 ER 2 BB 1 K with an ERA of 5.06.  Typical nervous first outing for a top pitching prospect.  Only one strikeout was about the only bummer but Blair should get another look.  

Colby Rasmus:  1/5 with his 7th HR while hitting .293.  How is it that Rasmus is now hitting for BOTH power and average for the first time in his career?  One only has to look at his sky-high 21.3 percent BB Rate which is tremendous but obviously unsustainable.  Even if he drops to around 10 percent, that will help Rasmus avoid the .250 averages that have plagued him. 

Henry Owens:  3.1 IP 5 H 3 H 4 BB 4 K with an ERA of 8.10.  When you come up the Boston Red Sox farm system, you are a bit more hyped that usual when it comes to being a prospect.  Such was the case with Owens who I never thought was in the elite prospect level.  Control has been horrific since he has turned pro and the overall package is lacking right now. 

Craig Kimbrel:  first blown save with 2 ER in 1 IP with an ERA of 5.00.  Kimbrel has gotten a bit unlucky thus far but he also has been more hittable.  The fact of the matter is that Kimbrel is a clear level or two below his early Atlanta Braves days.  There have been a few injury scares along the way which looks like it may have sapped his arm enough to result in more and more outings such as this. 

Joc Pederson:  1/1 with his third HR while hitting .278.  Pederson also drew three walks as his OBP once again is very good.  The power is the clear name of the game here but Pederson has not even been that impactful there yet either.  Lets not even get to the complete absence of steals.  That's a lot of qualifiers. 

Trevor Story:  0/5 with 2 more K's while hitting .253.  I am not even kidding when I say Story could be back in the minors by the end of May.  This looks as close to Chris Shelton right now then I have seen since. 

Jake McGee:  blown save with 5 ER in .2 IP with an ERA of 9.53.  Look away McGee owners.  Look away.  No change would be thought of yet but you know how this works.  Back-to-back dud and the alarms blare. 

Jeremy Hazelbaker:  0/4 while hitting .280.  Downward and back to reality we go. 

Jedd Gyorko:  3/5 with his fourth HR while hitting .289.  I refused to talk about Gyorko until now because I was so tired of the boring ugly average and no speed narrative but in St. Louis magical things happen.  Go for it.

Aledmys Diaz:  3/5 with his third HR and first SB while hitting .480.  Well then.  Ruben Tejada I hope we never see you again.  You too Jhonny Peralta.  Just keep in mind though that Diaz batted just .264 at Double-A in 2015 but with 10 home runs and 6 steals.  A bit of category juice and upside keeps him very interesting.

Giancarlo Stanton:  3/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .230.  Listen you love the power and the average has been up and down but plus-.260 is where we are aiming. 

J.T. Realmuto:  4/4 with his first HR while hitting .250.  So in the Experts League I paired the comebacking Devin Mesoraco with the upstart that is J.T. Realmuto and needless to say I have gotten next to nothing out of them.  That is still in play because get who I started yesterday? 

Hunter Pence:  2/4 with his third HR while hitting .260.  Good, old reliable Hunter Pence. 


 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: TRAINWRECK DAY FOR CARLOS CARRASCO, ALEX RODRIGUEZ SUNDAY

In Biblical terms, Sunday has always been considered a day of rest.  Fantasy baseball is no different when it comes to this belief as scores of big-name players often take a seat on Sunday in order to recharge the batteries in the endless season.  No doubt the fantasy baseball owners of Cleveland Indians SP Carlos Carrasco and New York Yankees DH Alex Rodriguez wished they could turn back the clock and plant both of their players on the bench prior to Sunday's games as both guys pulled up lame before their outings were through.  For Carrasco, he apparently suffered what could be a serious hamstring injury when he tried to cover first base during the third inning of his outing on Sunday.  Carrasco was in serious pain and could put no weight on his leg which means we could be looking at a Grade 3 strain which of course is the worst case scenario.  A grade 3 could sideline Carrasco for two months so this is a very crucial diagnosis.  This is also a potentially HUGE loss for Carrasco's fantasy baseball owners which includes yours truly.  Going back to the second half of 2014, Carrasc was pitching like he was ready to become a firm fantasy baseball ace who pushed past the hallowed 200-K level.  Carrasco was off to a very good start again in 2016 and so his loss could be tremendous.  Meanwhile Rodriguez has been simply awful this season as he is barely hitting over .100 before he suffered what is believed to be an oblique strain during Sunday's game.  An oblique is an automatic DL situation which is making a brutal season even worse for Rodriguez who looks completely shot despite coming off a shockingly good 32-homer campaign in 2015.   Cut Rodriguez loose in all formats as he is not worth waiting on one bit.  Meanwhile stay tuned on Carrasco.  This could be very bad for his owners. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: CARLOS CARRASO TO BE PLACED ON DL WITH POTENTIALLY SEVERE HAMSTRING STRAIN.

The Cleveland Indians will  place SP Carlos Carrasco on the disabled list due to the potentially severe hamstring injury he suffered in Sunday's start.  Carrasco suffered the strain trying to cover first base in the third inning and was in Immense pain.  Trevor Bauer figures to replace him in the rotation.  Carrasco meanwhile will get more testing to find out if it is a dreaded Grade 3 strain.

Analysis:  Not good at all as Caarasco could be down awhile.  This looked bad and is potentially a major blow to his owners as he was looking like he was ready for an ace season.  

FANTASY BASEBALL CRISIS POINT: FREDDIE FREEMAN

Well we warned you didn't we?  For the last two seasons-plus, we have strongly and in many different forms, tried to convince you all to completely ignore Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman.  While Freeman showed some very appealing power and overall hitting upside going back to 2012 and 2013, a drastic strip down of the franchise prior to the 2015 season left the first baseman with ZERO protection in the lineup.  As a result, there as never any reason  for opposing pitchers to give Freeman anything to hit or to drive and his offensive numbers tumbled terribly both in 2014 and 2015.  In addition to not getting anything to drive, Freeman also had no one to drive in or to have anyone drive him in which hurt his runs and RBI totals.  Things went downright disastrous last season as Freeman hit just 18 home runs, scored only 62 runs, collected 68 RBI, and batted .276.  Numbers that didn't even really qualify Freeman as a fantasy baseball-worthy first baseman and instead more like a UTIL or CI guy.  Well 2016 has been even WORSE and actually by a sizable margin as Freeman went into Saturday's games with a truly horrific .167 average with a single home run in 66 at-bats.  With a lineup surrounding him that is somehow even worse then 2015, Freeman is getting pitched around and he also is hurting himself by trying to force his swing to generate offense for his team.  As a result, Freeman's K Rate has ballooned to a ridiculously high 27.3 mark as he chases pitches all over and outsize the strike zone.  Freeman also has walked in a very impressive 15.2 percent of his at-bats but that just goes to show you how opposing pitchers continue to be careful giving him anything to hit with no one else around him in the order capable of doing damage.  Now Freeman's struggles have been assisted by a staggeringly unlucky .229 BABIP but again he also is beating himself as well with some ugly hacks.  The bottom line is that Freeman will be lucky to even reach the upper teens in home runs at this rate and you can forget anything more than 75 in both the runs and RBI column.  Throw in what is looking like a career-worst average this season and Freeman's owners are clearly in a pickle with him this season.

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: YOENIS CESPEDES HEADED FOR TESTING ON LEG MONDAY

Updating an earlier item, the New York Mets will send outfielder Yoenis Cespedes for testing on his injured right leg after he has not shown enough improvement there Sunday.  Cespedes has been out since hurting the knee during Friday's game but is continued to be listed as day-to-day.

Analysis:  Hmmm.  You never want to hear anything having to do with testing an injured body part but that is what we are dealing with now with Cespedes.  It is likely the Mets are being cautious but we have seen more than a few cases of things cropping up on testing that initially were not discovered.  Stay tuned. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: CHARLIE MORTON (HAMSTRING) PLACED ON DL

The Philadelphia Phillies placed SP Charlie Morton on the 15-day DL with a strained hamstring.  Morton hurt the hamstring while running the bases on Saturday and he could wind up missing longer then the 15 day minimum. 

Analysis:  Morton has shown himself to be a very solid SP 5 pitcher over the years but his lack of strikeouts continue to undermine his overall value.  You can stash him in NL-only formats but in mixers move on. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL LINEUP NEWS: YAN GOMES AND JONATHAN LUCROY BOTH OUT SUNDAY

Both Cleveland Indians catcher Yan Gomes and Milwaukee Brewers backstop Jonathan Lucroy are out of the lineup Sunday as they will get a simple day of rest. 

Analysis:  Like most starting catchers, Sunday is a typical day off for these players so no shock there.  Both Gomes and Lucroy are off to slow starts as is pretty much every catcher in fantasy baseball the first few weeks of April. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL LINEUP NEWS: YOENIS CESPEDES (LEG) OUT AGAIN SUNDAY

New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes is out of the lineup again on Sunday as he continues to rest a sore leg that was aggravated during Friday's game.  He will once again be replaced by Juan Lagares. 

Analysis:  Cespedes should be back on Monday as the plan all along was to have him rest for the weekend after he hurt his leg again sliding into second base during Friday's game.  Lagares is worth a look as a worthwhile speed fill-in for Cespedes on Sunday. 
 

FANTASY BASEBALL LINEUP NEWS: DESMOND JENNINGS, DEXTER FOWLER OUT SUNDAY

Both Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Desmond Jennings and Chicago Cubs outfielder Dexter Fowler will be out Sunday due to being given a day of rest. 

Analysis:  Sunday's are filled with veteran players getting the day off so it always is a scramble in terms of filling out a lineup.  Jennings remains nothing but a bench guy as his career has never panned out, while Fowler is off to a hot start with some added power.

 

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSER NEWS: JUSTIN WILSON TO HANDLE SAVES WHILE K-ROD (EMERGENCY LEAVE) IS OUT

The Detroit Tigers will turn to Justin Wilson if a save situation presents itself while closer Francisco Rodriguez is way from the team due to a family emergency.  No mention of the specifics of the emergency concerning Rodriguez' family but Wilson will get the nod over Mark Lowe when it comes to saves while he is out. 

Analysis:  Pick up Wilson is you are short on saves as he won't hurt you in the ratio department.  As along as K-Rod is not dealing with a serious situation, this arrangement should last just a few days. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL LINEUP NEWS: MICHAEL SAUNDERS (HAMSTRING) OUT AGAIN SUNDAY

Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Michael Saunders will sit out again Sunday with ongoing soreness in his hamstring.  Saunders has not played since Thursday but there are no plans for him to be placed on the disabled list. 

Analysis:  Saunders being moved to the leadoff spot carries with it some decent fantasy baseball appeal as he can hit for some power and steal bases but the average remains a liability.  Adjust your lineups. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL LINEUP NEWS: JUSTIN UPTON, MIGUEL CABRERA GETTING DAY OFF SUNDAY

The Detroit Tigers will rest veteran first baseman Miguel Cabrera and outfielder Justin Upton for Sunday's game.  They will be replaced by Andrew Romaine and Mike Aviles respectively. 

Analysis:  Adjust your lineups accordingly.  No injuries to speak of here but both Cabrera and Upton are off to a bit of a slow start this season. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: SATURDAY

Tanner Roark:  7 IP 2 H 0 ER 3 BB 15 K with an ERA of 2.63.  No this is not a misprint.  We all knew the Minnesota Twins were setting early records for strikeouts but this is ridiculous that they stuck out 15 times against a soft-tosser like Roark.  Don't even think of overreacting to this as Roark is a middling K/9 guy and one game won't change that.  Instead sell him off if you are an owner as he had zero trade value before this and might have a bit right now. 

Brett Gardner:  3/5 with his second HR and third SB while hitting .313.  Right now it should be Gardner and not the awful Jacoby Ellsbury hitting leadoff.  Let's hope Joe Girardi comes to his sense and boost up Gardner's value. 

Blake Snell:  5 IP 2 H 1 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 1.80.  Well that was impressive.  Rays were conservative here with Snell's innings but his overpowering fastball did its thing.  Told you all to pick him up right after the news of his promotion and this deserves another look by the Rays. 

Masahiro Tanaka:  7 IP 5 H 2 ER 1 BB 7 K with an ERA of 2.92.  The Yankees said all along that Tanaka would get going once the weather warmed up and that has happened in his last two outings so I will go with that assessment for now. 

Josh Donaldson:  3/4 with 7th HR while hitting .307.  Nolan Arenado and Josh Donaldson will be a fun comparison this season.

Troy Tulowitzki:  3/4 with 2 home runs (4 for season) while hitting .188.  The average is horrible but at least the power is coming back to Tulo-normal numbers after a bomb of a 2015. 

J.A. Happ:  7 IP 7 H 3 ER 1 BB 1 K with an ERA of 2.42.  One K in seven innings while giving up just one run is the classic smoke and mirrors outing.  This is going to get real nasty soon enough.  Cut bait. 

Jarrod Saltalamacchia:  1/3 with his sixth HR while hitting .282.  The offensive numbers coming out of the catching fraternity has been record-setting bad which has meant that a retread like Salty is a tp ten 6-8 guy right now with his power. 

Yan Gomes:  3/5 with his second HR while hitting .240,  Hopefully this is a sign that Gomes is coming around as we desperately need some catching alternatives. 

Corey Kluber:  8 IP 2 H 1 ER 0 BB 10 K with an ERA of 4.67.  The velocity is still down some but this is a very encouraging sign.  Remember that Kluber was terrible last April also so hopefully he heats up with the weather as well.  Good start there. 

Ian Desmond:  1/2 with his second HR and 2 steals (3 for season) while hitting .164.  You still have to play Desmond in the shortstop spot given the lack of depth there and games like this remind you of how potent he was from 2012-14.  Alas it has been terrible since and the pop in moving to Texas has not materialized yet.  It is still early though and Desmond has plenty of time to turn things around.  This is a nice start.

Melky Cabrera:  3/4 with his second HR while hitting .344.  Almost wish Cabrera was still on the juice because then he would be somewhat interesting to discuss. 

Todd Frazier:  1/5 with his 5th HR while hitting .200.  Frazier has been a bit too like Chris Davis so far this season with his all-or-nothing power hitting but that can be chalked up to the change of leagues.  I am confident the numbers will be there like usual with maybe a slight average concession. 

Colby Rasmus:  2/4 with his sixth HR while hitting .302.  Ramus will be the case study about a fantasy baseball hitter not being able to change his stripes.  Let's see if he can even remotely hold the average but I doubt it. 

Nelson Cruz:  1/3 with his 4th HR while hitting .273.  Cruz is predictably going on a power binge after swatting one on Friday which he matched yesterday.  I don't own Cruz anywhere but boy does he supply a huge dose of any team's overall power. 

Mike Trout:  2/3 with his third HR while hitting .302.  Not since Miguel Cabrera a few years ago has Mike Trout been challenged for the number 1 spot overall in fantasy baseball.  In fact with Trout not stealing much anymore, Bryce Harper currently holds that mantle no matter how much you may dislike him.

Hector Santiago:  6 IP 4 H 2 ER 2 BB 7 K with an ERA of 2.70.  Santiago has now struck out 7, 7, and 10 batters in three of his last four starts.  What is funny with Santiago is the word is clearly out on the guy being a three month and one asset as he was on the wire in the Experts League until I picked him up the other day for this start.  Will hold him until late June and then goodbye. 

Jeremy Hazelbaker:  1/2 with his 4th HR while hitting .311.  Hazelbaker pinch hit here and he has not been playing every day as even the Cards now his early hot start is somewhat of a fluke.  Now Hazelbaker can help a bit in power and steals but there was not a chance in hell he was going to carry on with his first two week April binge. 

Stephen Piscotty:  3/5 with his third HR while hitting .270.  Not sure why Piscotty doesn't get more pub as he is a very gifted young hitter who has another ceiling he can reach in his overall game.  Love guys who can hit 20 home runs and bat .300 and Piscotty is that kid.

Michael Wacha:  6 IP 4 H 2 ER 4 BB 0 K with an ERA of 2.82.  Wacha is being a smoke and mirrors pitcher right before our eyes.  Remember how tremendous a prospect Wacha was and how great he initially pitched?  Then the shoulder went bad and now look.  We told you as soon as Wacha grabbed his shoulder that this could happen as an injury there is death to the fastball and some pitchers' careers like Tommy Hanson (may he rest) and Josh Johnson.  Get the hell out from under this if you are an owner as the 1.42 WHIP suggest nasty days ahead.

Jose Fernandez:  6 IP 7 H 4 ER 3 BB 5 K with an ERA of 4.37.  The WHIP is up to 1.28 as Fernandez continues to scuffle.  He showed no noticeable Tommy John hangover when he returned midway through 2015 but this is certainly not the dominant ace who took the game and made it his patsy at 21.  I ultimately think Fernandez will be fine as he moves further away from the procedure but look at how bad Matt Harvey is struggling right now and he had the procedure around the same time as Fernandez. 

Kenta Maeda:  6.1 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 8 K with an ERA of 0.36.  Maeda was flirting with a no-hitter and hands down has been one of the most dominant pitchers in fantasy baseball despite not coming over from Japan with the same level of hype as a Yu Darvish or even Daisuke Matsuzaka.  What is crazy here is that Maeda was not a big K guy in Japan and here he looks like a rookie Hideo Nomo.  I did say when Maeda first came around that unfamiliarity with his stuff could lead to a spike in K's and we are getting that and then some.  Wow what a debut. 

David Peralta:  1/4 with his second HR while hitting .274.  Said yesterday now that Peralta got the first home run out of the way, the flood gates would open there.  Yup.  Love this guy.  Wedded to the end of the season. 

Juan Nicasio:  5 IP 3 H 2 ER 4 BB 4 K with an ERA of 4.50.  Well that spring story died a quick death I would have to say. 

Odubel Herrera:  3/4 with his second HR and 2 steals (4 for season) while hitting .283.  Did a sleeper post on Herrera during the winter in talking up his Carlos Gomez-lite game.  All Herrera needed to do was gain some patience which he has done this season thus far.  Very bright future here both for Herrera and the Phils. 

Maikel Franco:  3/5 with his fifth HR while hitting .299.  I did say on record during the drafting season that a good idea would be to let your league mates spend first round picks on Josh Donaldson, Nolan Arenado, and Manny Machado while you waited until Round 5 or 6 to get the budding superstar that is Franco and get numbers in the same ballpark.  Boy I am killing it this season.  Am I not? 

Ryan Braun:  3/5 with his 4th HR while hitting .355.  Braun has been locked in since the start of the season as his scorching average can attest and the power is steady but will never go back to his pre-steroid days.  Still hate his guts. 

Chris Carter:  2/3 with his 5th HR while hitting .281.  Yeah slamming home runs when nobody is watching is Carter's specialty. 

Jeremy Jeffress:  3 ER in 1 IP with an ERA of 3.52.  Whoops.  Yeah Jeffress has this closer thing down all the way to sucking when throwing in a non-save appearance. 

Neil Walker:  1/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .288.  First Yoenis Cespedes and now Neil Walker go to the Mets and spacious Citi Field of all places to put up career-best rates in their offensive numbers.  What is next?  Chad Betts winning the Cy Young in Colorado? 

Asdrubal Cabrera:  2/5 with his first HR while hitting .322.  Cabrera is now somewhat underrated as he can go 15/15 and be acquired for nothing.  He is still getting knocked for never matching that one outlier superstar season he had as fantasy baseball players tend to hold strong grudges but the guy can still hit. 

Steven Matz:  6.1 IP 9 H 2 ER 0 BB 8 K with an ERA of 5.40.  That is now 17 strikeouts in his last two outings as Matz is rounding into the stud future ace-level starter he was always going to turn out being.  The kid is a tremendous pitcher already which is saying a ton.