Friday, March 31, 2017


Steven Matz understands.  All the New York Mets lefty has to do is look at counterpart Drew Smyly of the Seattle Mariners which would elicit an nod of his head of understanding regarding the latest injury that took down the latter.  Smyly will be out the next 6-8 weeks with what the team is calling a dreaded flexor strain in his elbow and that injury is quite scary as it often is a precursor to Tommy John surgery.  The hard-throwing and still young Smyly fits the bill of a prospective Tommy John candidate as does Matz who already has had the operation.  Also like with Matz, Smyly can't ever seen to stay on the mound given rampant arm/elbow injuries.  While Smyly was a big disappointment last season with the Tampa Bay Rays, his high-K stuff and big ballpark in Seattle made him a bit SP 5 interesting again.  Unlike Matz though, Smyly is not worth keeping around on your roster and so those who have shallow benches need to cut him loose.  Potential only gets you so far in fantasy baseball as we have seen countless times before.



Washington Nationals 2B/3B Anthony Rendon was one of the more polarizing hitters entering into 2016 fantasy baseball drafts and for very good reason.  After Rendon went gangbusters with a monster five-category breakout the previous year, his 2015 fantasy baseball stock went through the roof as the "next big star" seemed to have arrived.  Alas an early oblique in spring training that required Rendon to begin the year on the DL was the first of many health woes that interrupted his season.  In addition, Rendon looked nothing like the top end guy he appeared to be in 2014 when he was on the field.  The end result was a horrific .264 average with a measly 5 home runs and 1 steal in 80 games.  As a result, Rendon was persona non grata to many in the fantasy baseball community in 2016 drafts which was more than understandable given the fact he arguably was the biggest bust in the game the year prior.  As often happens in situations such as this, Rendon bobbed when the rest of the fantasy baseball community thought he would weave and he did more than enough to bring himself back into the good graces last season by hitting .270 with 20 home runs, 85 RBI, 91 runs, and 12 steals in 156 games,  The fact Rendon was able to stay healthy and put up numbers again was key and so in terms of 2017 fantasy baseball, he was back to being a top ten guy at second base and top 12 at the hot corner.

As the 2017 season gets set to get underway though, Rendon may not be able to answer the bell as manger Dusty Baker said the foot injury he suffered last Monday when he fouled a ball off of it was still bothering him.  No DL stint was mentioned but Baker said he could miss a "few days" with the injury.  Of course with Rendon and his penchant for slow healing along the lines of a Jacoby Ellsbury, we can never be too sure about these things.  Ultimately though this looks like a day-to-day thing, no matter that is annoyingly comes at the beginning of the season.  The bigger deal is that Rendon looks as if he can be a help in all five fantasy baseball categories again if he stays relatively healthy and that is the bigger story concerning his outlook.



                                                            Lance Lynn

All systems are a go for St. Louis Cardinals veteran starter Lance Lynn as he tossed 80 pitches without incident during a minor league outing on Thursday.  Lynn is set to begin the 2017 season in the Cardinals rotation and make his return from Tommy John elbow surgery last spring training.  Prior to the procedure, Lynn was one of the better pitchers in baseball that nobody talked aboutas he won 48 games from 2012-2015, while also showing good strikeout stuff to the tune of 180 or more in each season during that span.  Still Lynn had his faults, namely a lack of control that has caused him to carry a very shaky 1.30 career WHIP.  That issue aside, Lynn looks like a really nice buy for 2017 given his health and very low draft cost given the fact many have forgotten about him given how long he has been away from active duty.  In 15 spring training innings on the major league side, Lynn logged a splendid 1.20 ERA and 0.93 WHIP in still showing the power stuff that made him a decent fantasy baseball asset to begin with.  While he still will have trouble with walks (especially after the surgery), Lynn can yield SP3/4 value for the cost of an SP 5.


Leave it to the Oakland A's to continue the dreaded committee approach when it comes to the team's closing setup for 2017.  Manager Bob Melvin hinted as much on Thursday which makes the A's just the latest team with an unsettled closer situation heading into the new season.  Ryan Madson is the incumbent but he didn't exactly light the world on fire in 2016 and behind him are former closers Sean Doolittle, Santiago Casilla, and to a lesser extent John Axford.  With Casilla having just given up five runs in his last spring outing, Doolittle and his always very high K/9 rate would figure to be best positioned to run with the gig if Madson falters.  If you do own Madson, good luck to you there first of all and second of hall, it would be a good idea to back him up with Doolittle right at the onset of the season.  This could be a volatile situation all year long by the looks of it.

Thursday, March 30, 2017


After a very spirited battle that ran for all of spring training, it was the hulking Aaron Judge and not the speedy Aaron Hicks to won the New York Yankees' starting rightfield spot to begin the 2017 fantasy baseball season.  Having come off a brutal rookie debut in 2016 when he struck out at a ridiculous 44.2 K/9 rate, Judge made it his mission to show that he made inroads with that gigantic struggle and in turn, still show off his tape-measure power.  Considering both accomplished as Judge went into Thursday exhibition play with a .345 batting average to go with 3 home runs, 6 RBI, and a stolen base in 58 at-bats.  Now in terms of the power, Judge's abilities there are literally off-the-charts as his 6-7 and 275-pound frame screams out "slugger!"  If Judge can carry over the strikeout gains he made this spring into the regular season, he has a chance to be a terrific 30-home run bat with a solid amount of RBI.  That is pretty much where it ends though in terms of Judge helping in fantasy baseball.  Even if he does in fact hold his strikeout gains, Judge won't likely hit better then .270 at best and he doesn't run much at all.  .250 with the 30 home runs sounds about right and that makes Judge quite limited.  Remember that poor averages take away value from the home runs and Judge also could sit against a lefty which could cut into the counting numbers.  Again great news Judge won the rightfield job but the Yankee tag is likely to keep him overrated.


-The Philadelphia Phillies and manager Pete Mackanin confirmed on Thursday what they had been saying since the start of spring training when it came to the closer role and that was to confirm that soft-tossing veteran Jeanmar Gomez is the guy.  After getting hit around in his first spring outing, Gomez was actually quite good as he put up a 0.93 ERA.  However the story remains the same here in terms of Gomez being a below-average strikeout guy (sub-7.00 K/9 last season) and that as we all know is not a good thing for pitching in the ninth inning.  Eventually Gomez will get exposed and so then the question is whether hard-throwing youngster Hector Neris or aging but still effective veteran Joaquin Benoit get the call.  Either way, Gomez is one of the worst closing options to begin the 2017 fantasy baseball season and any draft pick spent on him must be backed up by either Neris or Benoit.

-Meanwhile there are still shock and surprise being felt from Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker naming not Kodi Glover, not Shawn Kelly, but Blake Treinen as the stopper for the team to begin 2017.  If you were to take a poll regarding the chances of the three to claim the gig, Treinen would have been far in last place.  Glover was pitching the ninth inning all spring before he lost the gig to Treinen with some late struggles and it looks like Kelly never had much of a shot since Baker wanted him in setup.  Treinen throws a hard sinkerball that has been very sharp this spring but he is not exactly a strikeout machine either.  This could be a fluid situation in the Nats bullpen until if/when David Robertson comes aboard via trade.  Until that happens, Treinen is your closer there.


If you were to make a fantasy baseball "All Injury Team", New York Nets lefty Steven Matz would undoubtedly hold down one of the starting pitching spots  Already with a Tommy John surgery under his belt, Matz also has dealt with ongoing elbow trouble (including a bone spur that was surgically repaired) and a slew of other ailments.  Already Matz is injured for 2017 as he will now miss all of April with an ongoing bout of elbow irritation.  Matz will need to build back up again stamina-wise and once again his very high ceiling is being muted by his losing battle to injuries.  The big fallout on the bright side however is that Zack Wheeler returns to the starting rotation for the first time since 2014 and he comes off a decent enough spring where his fastball routinely hit 97 again.  While Wheeler has never been able to generate the high amount of K's anticipated from having such a potent fastball due to poor location, his return is a nice story and it puts him firmly into the SP 5 range.  Remember Wheeler was once considered one of the very best pitching prospects in baseball and while he may be capped at around 120 innings, he is still worth an add for now while he is healthy.


In what can considered a sizable upset, the Washington Nationals will go with sinkerballer Blake Treinen as the team's closer to begin the 2017 season.  Treinen beat out veteran Shawn Kelly and upstart Kodi Glover for the gig and so he obviously needs to be owned in all formats. It is likely Treinen is available in more than a few leagues so take a look. Meanwhile Kelly and Glover can be sent to the wire.  


One of the more sought-after and valuable players in annual fantasy baseball leagues are your sleeper catchers that present upside on the offensive side of things.  Guys like Buster Posey, Carlos Santana, and more recently Gary Sanchez and Kyle Schwarber are some examples of guys who have seen their draft prices soar given small sample sizes of big-time ability with the bat.  As far as 2017 fantasy baseball is concerned, one such example can be found in the low-key environment of San Diego with the Padres as Austin Hedges gets set to begin the year as the starting catcher for the team.  Coming off a big performance in the minors last season where he did good things with the bat (.326 with 21 home runs....but in the PCL league), the former 2011 second round pick has done just fine this spring as well.  Hedges put up an exclamation point outing on Wednesday as he swatted two home runs and raised his spring average to 310.  While Petco Park is a drag, Hedges looks like he knows what he is doing with the bat and given how utterly shallow the catcher position is once again, he should be owned in all formats given the upside he brings to the table.  I myself have picked up Hedges in the Experts League and am expecting some big things this season.


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

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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

Tuesday, March 28, 2017


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, March 27, 2017


The Philadelphia Phillies did the predictable on Monday when they sent top outfield prospect Roman Quinn to Triple-A; with Quinn becoming the latest example of teams wanting to preserve Super 2 status.  This despite the fact Quinn comes off a big 2016 minor league campaign where he hit .302 with 6 home runs and 36 steals at the age of 23.  Quinn looks like a real keeper and someone who will be an instant fantasy baseball asset who can bat .300, steal a bunch of bases, score a high amount of runs, and eventually tap into power.  In other words, Quinn would be the new and much younger version of Denard Span and we all know the latter has been mighty useful over the years in fantasy baseball.  So if you have deeper leagues, stash Quinn if you can in your N/A slot as he will be putting up numbers soon enough.


Having received a fresh start over the winter with the Kansas City Royals after the Chicago Cubs gave up on him, Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler carried some fantasy baseball upside with the hope he would show the power and hitting skills he once did in the minor leagues.  Alas it simply has not happened for Soler in spring training as he didn't hit a lick (.143 average) and now will begin the 2017 season on the DL due to an oblique strain.  Terrance Gore will take Soler's place in the Royals outfield but we already have reached the point where those who have shallow rosters can safely release Soler.


The Kansas City Royals will go with rookie speedster Raul Mondesi as the team's starting second baseman to begin 2017; for better or for worse.  While Mondesi can run like the wind and has the ability to be a big stolen base asset, his struggles with the bat and getting on base are pronounced as he hit just .185 with the Royals in 47 games last season and struggled even at Double-A where he has hit .259 and .243 the last two years.  Still just 21 and having battled injuries in his young career, Mondesi should be looked at in AL-only leagues given the speed aspect of his game.  


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New York Mets lefty Steven Matz is no stranger to getting injured and landing on the disabled list and that will be the case to begin 2017 given his recent bout of elbow "irritation."  GM Sandy Alderson insisted there was no structural damage to Matz' elbow but he also said he was concerned that he continues to get hurt.  Meanwhile Matz' absence means either Seth Lugo or Zach Wheeler will man the fifth starter's spot; with the recently endorsed Robert Gsellman moving to the fourth slot.   This is the same story for Matz in his young career in that he has supreme talent but his fantasy baseball stock gets undermined every season due to injury.


The Colorado Rockies have seen enough good things from Greg Holland this spring that they will now go into the 2017 season with the veteran manning the closer role and not upstart Adam Ottavino.  Coming back from Tommy John surgery, Holland has flashed his old dominant velocity which has led to 6 K's in 3.2 Cactus League innings.  Of course Holland also has a 4.91 ERA but the spring numbers are a small sample size.  The Rockies bought low on Holland who was a consensus top three closer in fantasy baseball prior to his elbow going bad but his experience won out in the end over Ottavino who himself was a recent Tommy John victim.


-Aaron Hicks continues to make it a tough choice for New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi in terms of his rightfield decision which also involves rookie Aaron Judge.  Hicks picked up two hits on Sunday, which included a home run.  At the very least, a platoon could be in order here which will further knock the slipping value of Judge.

-Very good signs for Matt Harvey on Sunday as he hit 97 on the gun for the first time this spring and generally was in the mid-90's in his six-inning outing where he gave up just two runs.  Harvey has been a big fantasy baseball story all spring coming back from thoracic outlet syndrome but this is a nice sign going forward that he may now finally be rounding into shape.

-Robert Gsellman was officially endorsed by Terry Collins as the Mets' fifth starter and maybe the fourth depending on what happens with Steven Matz.

-Chris Sale was dominant Sunday versus the Minnesota Twins as he tossed five shutout innings which included six strikeouts.  For the spring now Sale has a 2.57 ERA and he has been a strikeout machine with 26 in 22 innings.  The move to the AL East is a negative but Sale is one of those very rare fantasy baseball pitchers who will excel no matter where he resides.

-Put the brakes on any Max Kepler breakout as his 0-for-4 outing Sunday dropped his spring average to a pathetic .156.  Kepler has some pop and speed but his strikeouts are a problem and he figures to go through a sophomore slump as opposing pitchers now have a book on him.

-It was an ugly blown save for Francisco Rodriguez Sunday as he gave up two home runs against the Toronto Blue Jays.  This is the second time Rodriguez has been shelled outside of the WBC this spring and I stand on record saying he is one of the worst closers for 2017 fantasy baseball.  Stay far away.

-Joe Musgrove gave up just one run in five innings versus the Washington Nationals on Sunday as he struck out four.  Musgrove has won 3 games this spring and his excellent control should make him a terrific SP 5 with a smidge of upside.  Just don't look for a lot of K's.

-Francisco Liriano continues to pile up the K's Sunday as he whiffed 7 Baltimore Orioles in 4.2 innings.  He now has an insane 25 K's in just 14.1 innings this spring and is starting to earn some appeal again despite a terrible 2016 and a move into the AL East.

-Jharel Cotton went 5.2 innings of one-run ball on Sunday for the Oakland A's versus the Milwaukee Brewers.  I did a piece on Cotton as a fantasy baseball sleeper back in February and while I wouldn't run out to get him, we could see a move to SP 4 value for the price of a very late round pick.

-Maikel Franco slammed his fifth spring home run on Sunday but he is still hitting just .215 as an all-or-nothing hitter this spring.  The average was a concern last season as well but I still firmly believe he can be a .280 guy with 25-30 home runs.  Keep the faith.


Sunday, March 26, 2017


                                                                   Blake Snell

When it comes to hyping rookie or very young starting power pitchers in fantasy baseball, often the common denominator with this class of players centers on developing control.  Or having to fight through zero control for that matter.  While these pitchers can hit 100 on the gun and rack up the K's, they often can't control where the baseball is going as the walks pile up, outings are cut short early, and the ratios skyrocket.  This is a class that once included BOTH Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw before they became the top two pitchers in fantasy baseball and it also includes green Tampa Bay Rays prospect Blake Snell.  While Snell has the fastball and high K-rate down pat, his control was brutal when he debuted in 2016 (5.16 BB/9) and ultimately it was going to be that issue that would allow him to sink or swim in 2017.  I myself was a big fan of the massive strikeout potential Snell possessed but I always said it with the caveat that the control needed improvement.  Alas that has not happened this spring as Snell currently carries a nasty 6.16 ERA and 1.74 WHIP which really makes it more likely he begins the year in the minors and not with the Rays.  Snell does not look ready and so his immediate fantasy baseball outlook is grim.  Yes the Rays could give him a shot but the way Snell is getting hit and walking everyone, we wouldn't suggest using him in any fantasy baseball league.



On and on it goes with Cincinnati Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco who will begin the 2017 season on the disabled list as he continues to try and fight his way back from serious hip and shoulder trouble.  Mesoraco has been an absolute disaster physically since his big 2014 breakout for the Reds and his very good upside is being completely derailed as a result.  Down the road Mesoraco could gain fantasy baseball relevancy but for now he should only be owned in deeper two-catcher leagues.



Here we go again.  It wouldn't be a fantasy baseball season without Steven Matz being injured and he didn't even get out of spring training before his latest health woe, this time irritation in his left pitching elbow.  Matz has been scratched from his latest spring start as a result and this was the same elbow that the lefty underwent surgery on last summer to remove a bone spur.  GM Sandy Alderson has already stated that nothing is structurally wrong with Matz' elbow but he also went on to say he doesn't understand why he continues to deal with problems in the joint.  What we can pretty much say though is that Matz simply can't stay healthy and that always undermines the very good annual upside he brings to the fantasy baseball table.  A highly-touted prospect, Matz already has had Tommy John surgery and a slew of other ailments that have resulted in procedures or long stints on the DL.  It could be that Matz' delivery is putting strain on his joints and leading to injury much in the way we see from Stephen Strasburg but for now, there is the strong chance he will be on the DL when the season gets underway.  That means Seth Lugo will join Robert Gsellman to round out the Met rotation to begin April.

Saturday, March 25, 2017


-A fast start to his spring has pretty much kept up for New York Mets outfielder Michael Conforto who went 2-for-3 Saturday, including his third home run. Conforto had not homered in weeks but his smooth and compact swing is obvious.  Right now there is still not path for consistent starting status for Conforto given the crowded Mets outfield but the outlook overall remains very bright.

-Tanner Roark was very good on Saturday as he gave up 1 run on 3 hits in his 5.1 innings versus the Houston Astros.  Roark did a long stint in the WBC but he has been terrific overall this spring as he continues his upward plane in his young career.  While you would like some more strikeouts out of Roark, he has more than proven his worth a solid SP 3.

-Lance McCullers did not have his best stuff on Saturday as he gave up 4 runs and 6 hits in 3.1 innings versus the Washington Nationals.  That inflated his spring ERA to a nasty 6.00 but McCullers is still missing a ton of bats and likely working through some rust after all the games he missed a year ago.  Still love the vast power upside here but again the threat of injury is very high.

-Greg Bird is simply insane right now as he the hulking first baseman slammed his seventh spring home run on Saturday and is now up to .444 in exhibition play.  I have to admit that I am surprised at how well Bird has done considering how much time he has missed previous to the new season but it now looks like we could be looking at the new Mark Teixeira.

-Jackie Bradley Jr. went 2-for-3 with his third spring home run but the average concerns persist at he has hit just .244.  Bradley Jr. struggled badly in the second half of last season with his average and that is something I have talked about as an issue for his 2017 value.

-Corey Dickerson continues his spring tear as he swatted his fourth home run and totes a .367 average.  I have said it countless times this spring about the dirt cheap 25-home run potential of Dickerson and that should never be overlooked no matter the fact he doesn't call Coors Field home anymore.

-Tyler Glasnow tantalizes with his strikeout ability which he showed on Saturday versus the Detroit Tigers.  Collecting 9 strikeouts in just 4 innings, Glasnow gave up just two earned runs with just one walk.  That makes it two starts in a row with Glasnow showing good control and once that happens consistently, his top-end stuff could vault him into top-20 territory among starters.

-The prospects of Blake Snell starting the season with the Tampa Bay Rays grew more dim on Saturday as he gave up 4 runs in 4,2 innings.  Snell has walked the ballpark all spring and his big strikeout ability is being completely overshadowed by that problem.  I spoke highly of Snell leading up to the spring training but even I can't make excuses for how rough he has been on the hill.

-Jason Heyward still stinks but at least he went yard in his 1-for-3 day Saturday.  It is amazing that this is the same guy who looked like a future stud when coming up with the Atlanta Braves but Heyward can't hit anymore.  He should not be drafted.

-Albert Pujols is rounding into form after a slow start to spring training due to offseason foot surgery.  He went 1-for-3 with his second spring home run Saturday but his fantasy baseball outlook at the age of 37 is of Pujols simply being a power specialist.

-Taijuan Walker got blasted for six runs (4 earned) versus the Los Angeles Angels Saturday and he remains homer-prone which is a bad matchup in Arizona.  I drafted him very late in the Experts League but I don't plan to use him initially.  He remains a clear enigma.


A beyond rough spring has now evolved into the realization that Boston Red Sox ace David Price will be out of commission until May.  Having already missed almost all of spring training with the elbow scare that has pretty much shut Price down, he faces likely all of the month of April to tune up for the regular season.  Having already seen his 2017 fantasy baseball draft price sink like the Titanic, Price is looking like one big mess who is not worth getting involved in under any circumstances.  Last season Price saw his fastball velocity decline and his ERA and home run rates soared.  Years of heavy usage early in his career could already be catching up to Price by the looks of it and so he is one you still want to completely avoid this spring.


With the 2017 fantasy baseball season just a week-and-a-half away, the last thing you want to see if one of your prime hitters or pitchers come down with a physical ailment.  That is why it was somewhat disconcerting to see Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco scratched from his exhibition start Saturday with what the team is calling left shoulder soreness.  It appears as though this is just a precautionary move and that Polanco is simply going to be day-to-day, which means alarms should not be blaring when it comes to his prospects to begin the season on time.  Of course you always have to check back on things like this and Polanco carries quite a bit of hype this season as many feel he is sitting on a major breakout.  I like Polanco as much as the next guy and was willing to pay to get him but overall this seems like nothing to concern yourself with.


Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Colby Rasmus will begin the 2017 season on the DL with a stubborn hip injury that has impacted a large portion of his spring training preparation.  The Rays made the news official Saturday as Rasmus still has not played the field yet in exhibition games but they also said he could return somewhere between 7-14 days into the season.  While he was once a highly touted prospect in the St. Louis Cardinals organization, Rasmus has become a journeyman slugger who can only help in home runs and RBI, while also destroying your team batting average.  In other words, only draft him as a backup in deeper mixed leagues.

Friday, March 24, 2017


After giving up 7 consecutive hits in the third inning versus the San Francisco Giants, Colorado Rockies pitcher Jon Gray was forced out of his Friday exhibition outing.  Gray's velocity was also down which added to the alarms as he was soon headed to the dugout after the seventh hit. There was no obvious pain or pointing to any joint on Gray but this is something that needs to be watched closely.  Gray has been one of my favorite sleepers for fantasy baseball this season but this could derail those thoughts.


Detroit Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez will miss the next 3-4 weeks with a Lisfranc sprain in his right foot which was officially diagnosed on Friday.  Martinez will need to be in a foot for 7-10 days and will not be cleared for full baseball activities until mid-April.  Throw in a rehab stint and it could be May before we see Martinez again.  This is what we have been anticipating all along and so at least the shock is muted.  Still this is a big loss as Martinez is a 30-home run bat with a nice average thrown in.  This is not how you want to start the season with any of your players and this marks the second season in a row Martinez has been dealing with injuries.


It has been a strange spring for Chicago White Sox emerging power pitcher Carlos Rodon.  Right at the start of camp and into the first batch of games, the White Sox held Rodon out in order to baby his young arm a bit like with what the Mets did with Jacob DeGrom, Steven Matz, Matt Harvey, and Noah Syndegaard.  Unlike Rodon though, 3/4th's of the Mets' arms were coming off surgery and so there was speculation that maybe something was up.  The White Sox and Rodon never revealed anything though and so spring training went on as scheduled.  Only now we have learned that Rodon is headed for an MRI due to "tightness" in his left biceps.  The White Sox did their best to tamp down any worries here as they said they don't believe there is any structural issues but until the MRI comes back, Rodon is not out of the woods.  Even without any structural damage, Rodon is unlikely to be ready for the start of the season and so a DL stint is in the cards here.  Rodon is one of those classic young and very hard-throwing arms that make for a classic Tommy John case and while this is not the issue here right now, it lends credence to the fact he is quite risky this season.  In addition, Rodon is one of those speculation picks where we anticipate a jump in production but that is not obviously guaranteed.  For now check back for some updates on Rodon's progress but downgrade him if you haven't drafted yet.


Some news and notes on the injury front with the season less than two weeks away.

-Some potentially big news was shared Thursday when Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera admitted he played through a back injury during the WBC and that he may not be ready to go for Opening Day.  Cabrera hit just .190 during the tournament as he was clearly hampered physically and so yet he goes down as another casualty of the exhibition.  Getting up there in age at 34, Cabrera's big body is always prone to breaking down as we have seen from other hefty sluggers like Ryan Howard and Prince Fielder.  This is something to watch closely over the next ten days.

-Luis Valbuena is only of interest in AL-only leagues but he will be down 4-6 weeks with a Grade 1 hamstring strain.  The Los Angeles Angels third baseman has always hit for solid power but his annually horrific batting averages make him an option just in AL-only and very deep mixers.

-Yasmany Tomas continues to say he will be ready to go for the opener despite still being limited by an oblique strain.  Tomas is scheduled to do some higher intensity work in the cage on Friday which will go a long way in determining how ready he is for game action.  A very underrated outfielder in fantasy baseball, Tomas can hit 25-30 home runs for a quite affordable draft cost.

-Having not played since March 12, Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder A.J. Pollock has stressed out his fantasy baseball owners once again.  Coming off a lost 2016 on account of injury, Pollock was a popular buy low outfielder at the draft table.  However his groin injury is a reminder that he always seems to be nicked up and so Pollock is no guarantee to make good on that draft cost.  He still has time to get himself ready to go but he needs to start getting at-bats soon.


80. Alex Wood:  Always interesting given the strikeout ability and worth a late round stab again coming off decent 2016 comeback.
81. Ivan Nova:  Re-upped in Pittsburgh which was smart since Nova pitched great there after coming over in a deal with the New York Yankees.  Soft-tosser for sure but Pittsburgh has turned struggling pitchers like Nova into useful players in the past.
82. Mike Foltynewicz:  Control has been the main issue holding back Folty and his impactful strikeout ability.  Showed signs late in 2016 that he could be breaking through a bit there.
83. Adam Conley:  While the ERA was decent, Conley doesn't strike out many guys and his lucky BABIP last season means his ratios will go up.
84. Trevor Bauer:  Stop chasing the breakout that looks like it will never arrive.
85. Tyler Skaggs:  Returned from Tommy John with decent results and don't forget the fact Skaggs was once a decent prospect.
86. Jharel Cotton:  Joins Sean Manaea as pitching prospect for the A's that are worth checking out.
87. Colin McHugh:  Still capable of 175 K's but McHugh's ratios have been all over the map.
88. Drew Smyly:  Let us down royally as a sleeper pick for 2016 as Smyly couldn't keep the baseball in the park.  Still has a live arm though.
89. Francisco Liriano:  Fell flat on his face last season aftre a string of three terrific years with the Pirates.  Now in Toronto full-time?  Forget it.
90. Jordan Zimmerman:  Was a total disaster for Tigers in 2016.  Velocity continuing to dip and always had mediocre K rate even prior to that.
91. Mike Fiers:  Strikes guys out still but Fiers is old and fading news.
92. C.C. Sabbathia:  Came back with an ERA under 4.00 for the first time in years last season but Sabbathia can't keep the baseball in the park and his overall fastball struggles to hit 90.
93. Dylan Bundy:  Once again carries sleeper intrigue but Bundy has had a rough spring to say the least.
94. Miguel Gonzalez:  Boring but useful ratios.
95. Jose Berrios:  Was not ready for major league hitters in 2016 but Berrios worth another look.
96. Luis Severino:  Could land in the bullpen again but Severino will be given one last chance to stick in the rotation this season.  
97. Anthony DeScalfani:  Injuries have completely derailed DeScalfani thus far with no end in sight.
98. Robert Gsellman:  Will take the fifth starter's spot for the New York Mets but likely as a placeholder for Zach Wheeler.
99. Jaime Garcia:  Solid veteran who always supplies decent ratios.
100.Dan Straily:  Capable of some strikeouts and maybe a decent ERA if all breaks right.

Thursday, March 23, 2017


Another day and more injuries in and around the world of fantasy baseball as the new season is now less then two weeks away.  This time we have Milwaukee Brewers prospective starting catcher Andrew Susac heading for tests on his neck which has been bothering him since camp opened.  Susac complained of worsening pain in the neck on Thursday which prompted the battery of tests and the Brewers apparently don't feel good about the situation as evidenced by the announcement that third-string catcher Manny Pina will make the team.  Susac was not on a bunch of fantasy baseball sleeper lists this spring but in two catcher formats he had some value as a guy who can run a bit and also hit the odd home run.  Forget that now as Susac will likely open the season on the DL and both Pina and Jeff Bandy have little to no value.


41. Steven Matz:  Health is the only thing that holds the lefty Matz back as he has averaged a K/IP and posted 2.27 and 3.40 ERA's his first two years in the league.  Honestly though Matz can't be counted on to supply a full season which means he can't be ranked any higher than this.
42. Jameson Taillon:  Now two full years out from Tommy John surgery, the big strikeout potential of Taillon could start to show up this season.  Big upside.
43. J.A. Happ:  Yes Happ has been a different pitcher since overhauling his approach beginning in 2015 but he got a very lucky .268 BABIP to help him post a tough to repeat 3.18 ERA.  Add in the awful home park and Happ is a very solid bust candidate.
44. Tanner Roark:  Take away Roark's brutal bullpen stint at the start of last season and what we have is a 3.00 ERA starter.  The K rate is mediocre but Roark will win a bunch of games in Washington with solid ratios.
45. Carlos Rodon:  Starting to put it all together now as Rodon pitched like a number 2 the second half of last season.  With improving control, Rodon's explosive stuff could really launch him into something special.
46. Robbie Ray:  I bet you didn't know Ray struck out 218 batters in just 174.1 innings last season.  Yes the 4.90 ERA was ghastly but Ray was unlucky BOTH in his strand rate and BABIP.
47. Sean Manaea:  Batters hit just .263 against the lefty last season and Manaea recorded a splendid 2.44 ERA his last 13 starts.  This is one stock heading upwards and you have to love the home park.
48. Matt Shoemaker:  Has been a quietly impressive strikeout artist since becoming a starter with the Angels and the draft price will be low coming off that scary HBP to the head at the end of 2016.
49. Jerad Eickhoff:  Doesn't get talked about as much as Aaron Nola or Vince Velasquez but Eickhoff might have the best polish of the three.  While he doesn't have the K rate of those two, Eickhoff's control is very impressive for a young pitcher.
50. Marco Estrada:  Has now beaten the BABIP curve two years running and somehow is carving out good numbers in Toronto of all places despite a tendency to give up home runs.  You get the feeling a blowup and correction is on the way.  I won't go near him this season.
51. Kevin Gausman:  Hate the AL East which is why I have Gausman here despite some continued growth in 2016.  Upping the K rate as he goes along as well which adds to the positive outlook.
52. Joe Ross:  Dealt with injuries which hurt his 2016 campaign but Ross has registered ERA's of 3.64 and 3.43 each of the last two years.
53. Lance Lynn:  Great buying opportunity here for a guy who always wins games and has struck out 200 batters as recently as 2014.  Lynn has looked great this spring as well to add to the upside.
54. Vince Velasquez:  Another young kid who can really deliver the heat.  Unfortunately Velasquez may not be able to physically hold up as a starter given his health woes.
55. Taijuan Walker:  Gets a fresh start in Arizona but that is not a good match for a guy who gives up home runs.  Walker was very hyped coming up but that light has dimmed.
56. Michael Pineda:  Struck out 207 batters last season and dealt with some horrid BABIP luck as well which points to a turnaround.
57. Daniel Norris:  Overshadowed by Michael Fulmer but shouldn't be.  Jon Gary clone who could really take off this season.
58.  Jeff Samardzjia:  The old high-K rates from his Chicago Cubs days are no more but Samardzjia works well in a spacious park as your SP 4.
59. Eduardo Rodriguez:  Once over his knee problems, Rodriguez looked like a different pitcher for the better last season.  Hate the division however.
60. Matt Moore:  Moore has some of the old bite back on his stuff moving further away from TJ surgery but control woes still undermine him.
61. Sonny Gray:  I sounded the alarms here starting in early 2015 as Gray began to lose velocity.  The bottom completely fell out last year and while it is impossible to imagine such a horrid repeat, Gray's K/9 has dropped each of the last three seasons.  Look on by.
62. Julio Urias:  Likely will start the year in the minors as the Dodgers look to keep Urias' innings down but the outlook is very bright for this strikeout-inducing kid.
63. Gio Gonzalez:  Still striking guys out at a solid clip but Gio is becoming more hittable than ever.
64. Jeremy Hellickson:  Quality back-end arm who won't hurt you.
65. Zach Davies:  Opened eyes with very solid pitching for a bad team in 2016.  K rate better than advertised as well.
66. Jason Hammel:  Made a career out of being a first half gem and a second half dud.
67. Ian Kennedy:  Getting into the boring but effective veteran hurlers now.
67. Jake Odorizzi:  See above.
68. Drew Pomeranz:  Had a typical drop across the board going from San Diego to Boston and had elbow woes as well.  Yet another scare took place this spring so Pomeranz is sinking fast.
69. Adam Wainwright:  Age and severe drop in velocity now make Wainwright nothing more than a back-end innings eater.
70. Blake Snell:  It simply has not happened for Snell who continues to walk the ballpark and now his rotation spot is not a given. Big disappointment thus far.
71. Joe Musgrove:  Poised and polished pitcher who lacks to-end K stuff.
72. Steven Wright:  Do you really want to trust a knuckleball pitcher?
73. Chris Tillman:  Always good for wins and a modest ERA  but Tillman has to get back onto a mound which has not happened this spring.
74. Ervin Santana:  Santana pretty much the same pitcher as Tillman but just older.
75. Alex Cobb:  Another year removed from TJ surgery could help Cobb go back to being the interesting sleeper he was prior to the surgery.
76. Hisashi Iwakuma:  Losing velocity and numbers inching up everywhere.
77. Tyler Glasnow:  Another young hurler for the Pirates who can strike guys out.  Needs to stop walking so many hitters though as Glasnow is in the same boat as Snell.
78. Scott Kazmir:  Is is past time to move beyond this guy.  Always injury prone and starting to get hit hard again.
79. Bartolo Colon:  We have learned never to doubt Colon's ability to post useful ratios but he will struggle to strike out 125 batters.
80. Junior Guerra:  Former Mexican League product surprised with his overall 2016 results but he screams out one year wonder.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


-Matt Carpenter already seems like he has his swing in order as he missed a huge chunk of spring training with back problems.  He went 2-for-3 on Wed. and has a homer at 5-for-15 overall since his return.  Carpenter has a very smooth swing and has really upped the power the last two years.  I am on board.

-It was an encouraging outing for Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer on Wednesday as he went 4.2 innings and gave up two runs versus the St. Louis Cardinals.  The big thing is that Scherzer was able to use his customary two-finger grip on his fastball and all systems seem to be a go.  It has been a trying spring and a nervous one too for Scherzer's fantasy baseball owners but at least he is now on track to be ready for the start of the season which seemed impossible a week ago.

-Carlos Martinez got the nod to start the opener for the Cardinals this season and he showed why by tossing five shutout innings versus the Nationals Wednesday.  As always, the shoulder risks are sizable here as Martinez has a tough delivery and goes max force on every pitch.  Also his K/9 dipped sharply last season which was disturbing when you consider shoulder trouble can sap numbers there.  Martinez is someone to watch closely early on when it comes to the K's but for now he seems good to go.

-Daniel Norris gave up two runs in five innings and struck out five Toronto Blue Jay hitters and so far he has a 3.00 ERA in 18 innings.  I have been on record touting Norris all spring as he seems like the next big power pitcher for the Tigers and his very affordable ADP makes his especially one to target.

-There may not be a worse pitcher this spring then Phil Hughes.  He was destroyed again on Wed. to the tune of 5 ER and 9 H in 2 IP and he looks completely shot as a pitcher.  It is getting ugly.

-The velocity is still not up to his Cy Young season in 2015 but Dallas Keuchel has thrown well this spring which included his 2 ER outing in 5 innings on Wednesday.  The damage was severe last season and so Keuchel should only be graded as an SP 3 at best.

-Maikel Franco has really struggled this spring as his average has dropped to .208 after an 0-for-3 outing Wednesday.  Remember that Franco is still just 24 and will go through some more growing pains but he already has a 25-home run season under his belt and remains with tremendous upside.

-Jeanmar Gomez is doing his best to show he deserves to still be the closer for the Phillies as he tossed another scoreless inning on Wednesday and for the spring he has given up just 1 run in a total of 8.2 frames.  Yes he is a soft-tosser and will eventually get exposed but he seems safe to begin the season in the ninth inning.  Sorry Hector Neris owners.

-Vince Velasquez has been striking out batters at a very high clip this spring as he punched out 7 in just 5.2 innings on Wednesday versus the NY Yankees.  While he did give up four earned runs, Velasquez has now punched out 18 batters in just 14.2 innings which speaks to how potent his stuff can be.  Of course there will be an innings limit and Velasquez has trouble staying healthy so that is an issue and overall he should be drafted as an SP 4 only.

-Greg Bird celebrated his official coronation as the Yankee first baseman to begin 2017 but homering TWICE Wednesday which brought his spring total to six.  Bird is also hitting well over .400 as he has drastically cut down the strikeouts that undermined him to a degree in his 2015 debut.  Upwards we go.

-It is getting ridiculous with Masahiro Tanaka who tossed another 5.1 scoreless innings on Wednesday versus the Phillies.  For the spring now Tanaka has not given up a run in 18.2 innings and his K rate has ticked up as well.  The UCL issue in his elbow is a non-story for now and he has put himself into low-end ace level this season.



Thank you Captain Obvious. The New York Yankees made the easiest confirmation of the spring when they officially endorsed Greg Bird as their starting first baseman to begin the 2017 season.  Having come back from missing the entire 2016 season due a shoulder injury that required surgery, Bird has been on a year from the jump in spring games as he currently totes a crazy good .421 average with 4 home runs in 16 games.  Bird has shown no issues whatsoever in terms of the shoulder and his selectivity at the plate has been markedly improved this spring compared to his strikeout-prone ways when he debuted in 2015.  Alas Bird is no Aaron Judge in terms of having massive strikeout problems and he has a history of rapidly improving the second go-round at a given level.  With natural 30 home run power, Bird is looking like a terrific upside sleeper for 2017 fantasy baseball.  I admit I was lukewarm on Bird coming into the spring but he has fully won me over as a slugger who can destroy righty pitching.  The average may still lag a bit this season given that Bird still has issues against lefties (in fact Chris Carter is likely to play first base when a southpaw is on the mound) but his power is tremendous and .275 is not out of the question.  Upwards we go.

UPDATE:  Two more home runs during Wednesday's exhibition game!  


1.  Clayton Kershaw:  Simply the best with no debate.  The only question is whether you want to spend a first round pick on a starting pitcher.
2.  Madison Bumgarner:  One day Bumgarner’s arm is going to fall off after all of these very high inning yearly totals but not yet.  Punched out a career-best 251 batters last season.
3.  Max Scherzer:  Believe it or not, Scherzer is not that far behind Kershaw as he is more durable and has the same type of massive strikeout stuff.  I did drop him down behind Bumgarner though given the fractured knuckle that has dominated talk around Scherzer this spring.
4.  Corey Kluber:  Already has a Cy Young and was worthy of a second one last season.  Rock solid and dependable ace. 
5.  Noah Syndegaard:  There is always the worry that Syndegaard’s elbow will explode on any one pitch given the fact he throws harder on average than any pitcher in the game but on stuff alone this guy is a monster.
6.  Johnny Cueto:  The numbers don’t lie here as Cueto consistently puts up miniscule ERA’s and WHIP’s but with a K rate that falls slightly below the aces listed above him.
7.  Chris Sale:  Has proved more durable the last few years and you can count on one hand pitchers who have such unhittable stuff.  Keep in mind though Sale goes into the offensive haven that is the AL East and into the launching pad that is Fenway Park.  Also Sale’s K/9 rate declined sharply last season as he admitted pitching more to contact.
8.  Jake Arrieta:  We told you to avoid Arrieta going into last season and that proved good advice as his ERA went from 1.77 to 3.10 and Arrieta lost his control in posting a gross 3.47 BB/9.  There is legitimate concern that Arrieta is a major injury waiting to happen given his very high inning totals the last few seasons.
9.  Stephen Strasburg:  Same story as always:  wonderful and dominant power pitcher but also as big an injury risk as you can get.  We suggest you avoid him based on the latter.
10. Justin Verlander:  Came back with a vengeance last season when us and many others wrote him of.  Kudos to Verlander but we still get the feeling his arm is going to bounce soon after so many innings. 
11. Jacob DeGrom:  It was a frustrating year for DeGrom last season as he had an ulnar nerve repaired in his elbow but his 3.04 ERA and K/IP still show ace ability.  His comeback this spring has been phenomenal however as DeGrom has hit 97 routinely on the gun and been as dominant as any starter in exhibition play.  
12. Jon Lester:  There have been a ton of innings on Lester’s arm as well the last few seasons but he is holding up well coming off a career-best 2.44 ERA campaign.  Keep in mind that Lester got a decent amount of BABIP luck last season and his adjusted ERA was a full run higher.  Draft him as a 3.30 ERA guy. 
13. Yu Darvish:  Darvish came back from Tommy John surgery and immediately began striking everyone out like he did before.  While his walks are always very annoying, Darvish looks ready to reclaim his fantasy baseball ace status. 
14. Chris Archer:  Go get him.  Archer is a strikeout machine whose 4.02 ERA might scare some people.  Don’t let that fool you as Archer had some poor BABIP luck and the 233 strikeouts and youth at the age of 28 show how potent he can be.
15. Carlos Martinez:  You always have to worry about the shoulder as Martinez has had yearly problem with the joint but the numbers (3.01 and 3.04 ERA’s the last two years) are beyond impressive.
16. Kyle Hendricks:  Already have talked at length about how Hendricks will be drafted too high this season as his 2016 was not as good as the surface numbers indicate.  Hendricks got a great deal of BABIP luck last season and his K/9 rate was just slightly above average.  More of a 3.20 ERA guy which is where you should have Hendricks penciled in when it comes to his draft spot.
17. Masahiro Tanaka:  Speaking of TJ risk, Tanaka continues to pitch with a tear in his UCL but is doing just fine coming off a 3.07 ERA and 1.08 WHIP.  He literally has almost been unhittable this spring and Tanaka's strikeouts have come back to very impressive levels in the small sample size.  
18. Cole Hamels:  Still pitched like an ace despite moving into an offensive haven that is Texas last season but keep in mind Hamels’ 3.45 BB/9 was a career-worst performance there. 
19. Danny Duffy:  Like with Carlos Carrasco, a curbed walk rate has allowed Duffy’s potent strikeout stuff to get launched.  Get on board.
20. David Price:  Now we may know why Price's fastball dropped 2 mph last season and his ERA straddled 4.00.  An elbow injury this spring will have Price beginning 2017 on the DL but the big thing is that no Tommy John was needed.  That is YET.  
21. Gerrit Cole:  Tread very  carefully here as Cole had more arm problems last season (second time in three years) and his K/9 rate cratered.  Sizable Tommy John risk.
22. Jose Quintana:  No this is not a typo as the durable Quintana continues to get better and comes off a 2016 campaign where he reached high's in ERA (3.07), WHIP (1.16) and strikeouts (181).
23. Kenta Maeda:  MRI shows all sorts of elbow trouble that could blow up at a moment's notice but Maeda's 9.29 K/9 rate shows how much he fooled batters as a rookie.
24. Aaron Sanchez:  I suggest avoiding Sanchez this season as his K/9 is mediocre and he comes off a MASSIVE uptick in innings compared to 2015.  This almost always leads to depressed numbers and health woes the following season.
25. Lance McCullers:  Massive strikeout upside here but McCuller's control was hideous last season and his high-octane stuff makes health iffy.
26. Rick Porcello:  Love the durability here but Porcello got some sizable BABIP luck last season and the benefit of the Red Sox lineup supplying a bunch of run support.  Decent pitcher no doubt but Porcello is more an SP 3 than a Cy Young winner.
27. Felix Hernandez:  This is a huge drop in the rankings for Hernandez but understandable as he comes off two rough seasons in a row.  The fastball velocity is down 5-mph and counting and Hernandez is also losing his control (3.82 BB/9).  Avoid.
28. Michael Fulmer:  Was the definition of ridiculous at times during his rookie season for the Tigers but keep in mind Fulmer is a not a huge strikeout guy.  Beware of a slight sophomore slump as well.
29. Jon Gray:  all the advanced indicators are suggesting Gray is going to be a 200-K ace-level starter as soon as 2017; home ballpark be damned.
30. Carlos Carrasco:  Few in the industry were more bullish on this guy than I was and for good reason.  Unfortunately Carrasco is going the other way now as his velocity dipped last season, the home run began flying out at a very high rate, and now he has gotten destroyed this spring before injury issues sidelined him.  Avoid.  
31. Marcus Stroman:  Many will shy away from Stroman after his tough (4.37 ERA) campaign last season but his vast FIVE pitch arsenal and splendid control point to SP 2 status.
32. Danny Salazar:  The poor control reared its ugly head again last season and Salazar's rough delivery got him injured as well.  While we love the extreme strikeout stuff, Salazar is a big boom-or-bust pitcher.
33. John Lackey:  Actually reached a new career-high in strikeouts last season at the age of 37 and Lackey is as dogged as a pitcher gets.  Can still be quite useful as an SP 3 for another season.
34. Aaron Nola:  Again this is me being a firm believer in the ability that Nola has.  Like with Jon Gray, all the advanced metrics say Nola will be an ace-like starter and he was every bit of that the first two months of last season before injuries hit.
35. James Paxton:  Group Paxton in with Nola and Gray for vast upside.  Advanced numbers suggested Paxton has upper-level stuff which he has shown in spurts the last two seasons.
36. Rich Hill:  What a story this guy is as Hill is defying every trend or prediction at the age of 37.  Hill still strikes guys out at a level that an ace would and a 2.12 ERA last season pretty much says it all in terms of current ability.
37. Julio Teheran:  Good pitcher on a bad team so wins will be tough to come by.
39. Dallas Keuchel:  Correctly said Keuchel would go bust last season and boy did he as the ERA spiked to 4.55 and the health went bad.  While I think Keuchel will be better this time around, he is still nothing more than SP 3/4.
39. Matt Harvey:  Coming back from thoracic outlet syndrome, Harvey has struggled badly and his velocity is sitting in the low-90's which is a problem.  Scary times for Harvey whose stock continues to sink.
40. Zack Greinke:  The velocity is still slightly leaking and Grienke was torched at Chase Field all of 2016 which are big potential problems.  Downward we go as Greinke's fastball was sitting only in the high-80's this spring until his last outing.  Bad signs all around.  


While the most recent story on Texas Rangers outfielder Carlos Gomez was a bit concerning due to the veteran injuring his shoulder on a slide into third base during an exhibition game Tuesday, the bigger theme here centers on the big spring performance the former first round fantasy baseball star has had.  In terms of the injury, team brass have said they think Gomez will be fine and it sounded like a precautionary deal.  Tests will be performed but it seems like Gomez avoided disaster.  On the hitting front, Gomez has been terrific this spring as the triple he hit that led into the injury raised his exhibition average to a scorching .344 to go with 3 home runs and 9 RBI.  Gomez has hit with authority from the jump in spring training and it continues the very good work he did with the Rangers during the second half of last season after he washed out in Houston with the Astros so badly that it led to his release.  Still quite young at the age of 31, Gomez was talked up by this peanut stand as a comeback player for 2017 fantasy baseball given both his ballpark and the fact he was finally healthy after battling stubborn injuries the last few seasons.  It was likely those injuries led to the abysmal numbers Gomez put up in 2015 and the first half of 2016 that led to the release but it seemed like he was back to his old self as a big fantasy baseball help once he latched on with the Rangers during the second half as he batted .284 with 8 home runs in just 33 games.  The Rangers liked what they saw enough that they brought Gomez back in free agency and he has done nothing but hit since.  So again what we have here is a healthy and still young player who is operating in one of the best offensive parks in baseball and whose power is still very much in play given what we have seen.  Gomez also still picked up 18 stolen bases last season so his legs are working just fine as long as he is healthy.  As long as the shoulder checks out, Gomez should be drafted in the middle rounds as a nice comeback and rare veteran upside play.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


Wow.  The news is not good when it comes to New York Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorious who came down with a shoulder injury during his stint with Team Netherlands in the WBC.  Further testing while back in Tampa with the Yanks confirmed that Gregorious suffered a right shoulder strain that will likely keep him out for most or all of April.  Coming off a nice breakout season in 2016 when he reached the 20-home run plateau, Gregorious will now be replaced by Tyler Wade to begin the year.  While Gleybar Torres has been insane in hitting well over .400 this spring for the team, GM Brian Cashman has been adamant that his shortstop prospect will start in the minors.  Clearly the Yanks are concerned about rushing Torres but they also want to save an arbitration year as we see with almost all top prospects.  Not a good situation for Gregorious owners but nothing disastrous either.


It has been somewhat of a scary few weeks for the fantasy baseball owners of Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager, what with the young hitting dynamo battling a stubborn oblique injury that at one time looked like it was going to derail him from taking part in Opening Day.  Alas all seems well on the Seager front now as manager Dave Roberts announced on Tuesday that he would man the DH spot for the team in their exhibition game on Thursday and all goes well, eventually progress to returning to the field next week.  This is great news in that Seager still has a bit less than two weeks to get himself ready for the opener and while a slow start to the 2017 season may be likely given all the spring workouts he has missed, there is nothing overall holding him back from being a stud fantasy baseball star.  The only knock on Seager may be that he doesn't run much but this is a future batting champion waiting to happen who also can threaten 30 home runs and 90-plus runs and RBI.  Yes the late first round price tag is extreme given the fact Seager has minimal MLB experience but consider that money well spent.  


We should have seen this coming that's for sure,  As soon as Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker began using reliever Koda Glove in a string of ninth inning appearances in spring training exhibition games, it was becoming easy to see what the man had in mind in terms of his closer situation.  With the Nats having not re-signed Mark Melancon during free agency, the assumption all along was that hard-throwing Shawn Kelly would be the man to close games for the NL East contenders.  Alas Baker had a lot of good things to say about the 23-year-old Glover right from the start of camp and his usage has suggested he is very much leaning toward using the kid to finish games at the start of the season.  Glover has been dominant this spring as he has a 1.13 ERA, 0.63 WHIP, and 11 K's in just 8 innings pitched so far.  Having a fastball that approaches triple-digits, Glover seems like a natural fit in the ninth and so those who already invested in Kelly have to be more that a bit perturbed by this.  Kelly has certainly pitched very well himself the last two years but his experience closing games has been dicey at best.  So as of right now, Glover has to be considered the guy to own as far as saves are concerned for the Nationals and that qualifies as a big upset for sure with the season two weeks away.

Monday, March 20, 2017


-Johnny Cueto got off to a late start this spring with the San Francisco Giants due to a visa issue but he looked like his old ace self Monday by throwing five innings of one-run ball.  Cueto gave up just one hit and struck out 3 against the White Sox and already sees up to speed.  Going back to the NL worked wonders for Cueto going back to his dominant ace ways in fantasy baseball and that should be his calling again in 2017.

-Reynaldo Lopez is an unrefined young power pitcher who really struggles with control and that will make him more of a fantasy baseball story in 2018 then this season.  He looked good Monday though as he gave up just two hits in throwing six scoreless innings for the White Sox against the Giants, while striking out four.  Lopez also did not walk anyone which is huge as his horrid control is what is holding him back from being a bigger sleeper this season.  We wouldn't run out to draft Lopez but a last round pick makes some sense given the pedigree.

-Francisco Liriano has been a strikeout machine with the Toronto Blue Jays this spring as he picked up 10 more K's Monday in his outing versus the Minnesota Twins.  Liriano did give up two runs in four innings but overall he has 18 K's in his three spring outings.  Tremendous stuff for Liriano who is showing he is not done yet from being a fantasy baseball help off his awful 2016 but his home park in Rogers Center make him very scary every time he goes out in a start in his new home.

-Wow it just has not been good for Blake Snell this spring as he was shelled again Monday to the tune of four earned runs in five innings versus the Pittsburgh Pirates,  Snells control has been disgusting as well with 8 walks in just 14 innings.  I was a big booster of Snell and his extreme strikeout potential but at this rate, he may not even make the team out of camp.  Snell's next start is a big one but I would now hold back on drafting him.

-While the talk of Yankee camp has been their insane collection of young players, outfielder Matt Holliday has been terrific this spring as he slammed his third home run of the spring Monday.  Holliday is ancient at 37 but he is hitting .306 and seems a good bet for 25 home runs for the cost of a very late round pick.  Again veterans are always good values if they are healthy since no one wants to draft them and a great hitter like Holliday seems to still be able to offer something.

-Koda Glover may just be winning the closer derby for the Washington Nationals as he pitched in the ninth inning on Monday.  While manager Dusty Baker has not said what his thoughts are on the subject, we do know he likes having Shawn Kelly in setup and Glover has been nearly flawless this spring.  Pick up Glover immediately if you drafted and move him up your boards if you haven't done so.

-It was a mixed-bag outing for Matt Harvey Monday as he gave up 3 runs in 4.1 innings but he struck out four and hit the mid-90's with his fastball for the first time this spring.  This is a positive as far as the velocity is concerned but Harvey is still in big uncharted territory in terms of his outlook coming back from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.

-Matt Kemp went 0-for-3 Monday and is hitting just .231 without a single home run.  This is what you call a non-spring story though as Kemp is a veteran still in his prime who will be just fine hitting behind Freddie Freeman in the Atlanta Braves lineup.

-Another closer development is in Colorado where Greg Holland could be getting set to steal the gig away from Adam Ottavino.  Holland struck out two Monday in his scoreless outing and if you didn't know any better, you would have no idea he is making his way back from Tommy John surgery. Holland his 94 on the gun Monday and his K's are already popping.  Go get him.