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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL SPRING TRAINING WRAPUP: WEDNESDAY

-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.

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