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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL SPRING TRAINING WRAPUP: MONDAY

-While there is no disputing his dominance the last three seasons, Chicago Cubs ace Jake Arrieta was on my DO NOT DRAFT list this season for a number of reasons.  With his health always a major topic, Arrieta began to lose velocity last season which causes his hit rate to jump sharply.  In addition, Arrieta fought his control like never before which made him a very shaky pitcher the second half of last season.  His outing on Monday was not great either as Arrieta gave up two earned runs in two innings which included five hits and a home run.  There has been a ton of innings piled on Arrieta's arm the last few seasons and that makes me especially leery his stuff has lost some juice.

-Jason Heyward talked at the start of spring training about a new swing he was going to unveil to help reverse what has been a horrific slide in his offensive numbers the last two years.  Things got so bad that Heyward was benched for some of the games in last year's World Series.  He got off to a nice start Monday when he slugged a home run as part of his 2-for-4 day.  Who knows if this is just a one-game blip of the start of a trend but Heyward's value can't go any lower right now.  If you want to draft him as a backup outfielder by all means but that is as far as it should go with him right now.

-Jose Ramirez was 2-for-2 with an RBI and a run Monday for the Cleveland Indians.  Coming off a nice breakout in 2016, Ramirez qualifies at third base and shortstop and contributes in all five of the ROTO categories without blowing any one up.  Solid player but don't automatically assume Ramirez has another level to tap into.

-Wow it was ugly for Corey Kluber in his Monday start as he was rocked for 6 runs in 2.1 IP.  Keep in mind a few things here:  one is that Kluber historically gets hit hard in the spring and April.  More concerning though is that Kluber has pitched as TON of innings the last three seasons and like with Jake Arrieta, the arm could be loosing some steam.  Also Kluber has in fact lost a bit of velocity since 2014 and that is not a trend you want to see.

-Yoan Moncada is really struggling as he went 0-for-4 Monday and is almost certain to begin the year in the minors.  The Chicago White Sox released potential road block Brett Lawrie which is a plus but Moncada is a strikeout machine right now who needs more seasoning.  What a talent he is though so get on board here despite the start in the minors.

-Adam Ottavino looks good so far as he punched out 2 of the 3 batters he faced in his one inning of work Monday.  Greg Holland has the history as a top closer to be a real threat for saves in Colorado but for now Ottavino is the guy unless he blows up the rest of spring.

-Drew Smyly could be a nice post-hype sleeper in spacious Seattle where his home run problems will be mitigated a bit.  He tossed 3 scoreless frames Monday as he whiffed 3 and gave up just one hit.  Smyly has been a good strikeout guy in his still young major league career and so there are some interesting SP 5 variables at work here this season.


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