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Friday, March 3, 2017

FANTASY BASEBALL SPRING TRAINING WRAPUP: THURSDAY

-Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander was hit hard in his first spring outing as he gave up 3 earned runs and 2 home runs in his 2 innings.  Verlander posted a big comeback campaign in 2016 but there are a few red flags that throw cold water on that performance.  After very rough 2014 and 2015 campaigns, Verlander's surface numbers were excellent but it needs to be known that he had by far a career-worst 1.19 HR/09 rate and his .255 BABIP was VERY lucky.  Decent regression season in 2017 could be on the way.  I am not paying.

-Jedd Gyorko is off to a 5-for-9 start to his spring as he comes off a breakout 2016 when he hit 30 home runs.  Alas Gyorko also batted .243 and his annually ugly averages and lack of any speed makes him very limited to own.  

-Well I guess Hanley Ramirez' shoulder is all right after he collected 5 RBI and homered while manning the DH spot Thursday.  Ramirez has been scratched from the WBC due to the injury that has also kept him from playing the field.  However the fact Ramirez is being allowed to DH means the Red Sox don't thin it is anything serious.  Let this be a reminder though that Ramirez is very injury prone after reaching his mid-30's and this could be a warning of what is to come soon during the season.  

-Big day for Jackie Bradley Jr. who hit two home runs and collected 5 RBI in the team;s exhibition on Thursday.  Bradley Jr. really broke out in a big way last season as he hit 26 home runs but he slumped terribly in the second half which could have been an indication that opposing pitchers will catching onto him.  It is imperative that Bradley Jr. hit for a somewhat decent average as he doesn't run much but 22.5 K/9 rate went up as 2016 moved on.  

-With David Price injured, it is more imperative for the Red Sox that Eduardo Rodriguez be healthy and pitch well.  Both were accomplished on Thursday as Rodriguez threw two perfect innings in his spring in his spring debut and coming back from knee trouble.  Rodriguez runs a bit too hot and cold for my liking and of course I hate the division but he has some remaining upside.  Only draft as an SP 5 though.  

-My favorite sleeper pitcher this season as you all know is Aaron Nola and he got off to a good spring start Thursday in tossing two scoreless innings with 1 K.  Nola is completely recovered from the elbow injury that ruined a big start to his 2016 season but his upside is massive with good health.  

-Jose Bautista clubbed a home run as part of his 2-for-2 day.  I have never been an owner of Bautista and won't start now that his average is even more nasty than it was before and his body continues to break down.  Yes another 30 home runs is very possible but Bautista is more trouble than he is worth given his advancing age.  

-Walks have always been what has held back Cleveland Indians hard-throwing pitcher Danny Salazar and last season included an elbow scare as well.  Combine those two together and Salazar makes me very nervous in terms of an investment.  His first spring start showed that the walks could be an issue yet again as Salazar walked 3 in his two-inning stint while giving up one run.  161 K's in 137.1 innings last year show the upside but again I am leery of making a play here.

-Clayton Kershaw tossed two scoreless innings with one strikeout in his first Cactus League start which is standard operating procedure for the top pitcher in fantasy baseball by a mile.  You always have to weigh using a first round pick on any pitcher but Kershaw would be the only guy to do it on.

-Jose Peraza is now 5-for-9 this spring after his 2-for-3 day for the Cincinnati Reds.  The team's new second baseman has been an obsession of yours truly and he could easily go out and hit .315 with 40 steals without blinking an eye this season.

-Brandon Kintzler finally tossed a scoreless inning Thursday after giving up a run in each of his previous tow outings.  I told you all I think Kintzler will be a disaster as the Minnesota Twins closer and that Glen Perkins is the only guy I would own here as I think he gets the gig back if he can return.

-Shelby Miller stuck out six and hit 99 with his fastball in three shutout innings Thursday and you have to think he came to camp determined to put that horrific 2016 performance behind him.  Miller has been a quality pitcher in the past who has helped in fantasy baseball and his heater humming again could mean a bounce back is on the way.


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