by Will Overton
A good bit of the attention in the sports world was fixed on last night’s NCAA Basketball Championship, but there was plenty of action on the diamond as well. If you missed any of that action we are going to be breaking down 10 important stories of the day all fantasy owners need to know:
1) Nicholas Castellanos Could be on His Way to a Breakout Year
The Tigers will likely be struggling to find bright spots this season, but one guy that might be their brightest shiner is Nick Castellanos. The converted outfielder is coming off a breakout of sorts last year when he tallied 26 HR’s and 101 RBI, but this year could be even better for him. Castellanos is still just 26, so it’s not impossible that he’s yet to reach his ceiling. He’s also now been moved to the cleanup spot where he should have even more run scoring and producing opportunities. Castellanos was 2 – 4 yesterday with 2 R and 1 RBI, and he now has 7 hits in his first 17 AB’s with six runs scored.
2) The Cincinnati Reds Deal the Chicago Cubs their Second Straight Shutout Loss
I’m not going to panic about the Cubs offense because of two shutouts, but they clearly are still trying to find their groove at bat. That’s not to take anything away from the Reds, specifically 23 year old rookie Tyler Mahle. The Reds rookie finished with a line of 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB and 7 K. Throughout his minor league career Mahle has been very good, with a sub 2.0 BB rate consistently and while not overpowering, he can be a 7 – 8 K/9 guy. Mahle is definitely someone to watch. It’s also worth notice that Rafael Iglesias had a four out save where he struck out two, so any worries after the first outing HR allowed can be probably be calmed.
3) Maybe Paul DeJong’s 2017 Season Wasn’t an Outlier
Folks in the fantasy baseball world were a little surprised by Paul DeJong’s 25 HR’s last season and I didn’t hear a whole lot of optimism about a follow up performance. He’s off to a pretty nice start with proving doubters wrong though. DeJong was 3 – 4 yesterday with 2 R, 1 HR and 3 RBI. DeJong has now hit safely in all four games this season and has 3 HR’s already. DeJong’s propensity for the K will certainly become a problem eventually if he keeps striking out more than once every three trips to the plate, but it certainly seems this is a guy with legitimate power at a non-power position.
4) An Impressive Season Debut for Jameson Tallion Against the Twins
Things started going south a little bit in the sixth inning for Jameson Tallion as he allowed a pair of runs before being pulled after 5.1 IP. The overall work was still impressive though as he allowed just the two runs on four hits, not giving up a single walk and striking out nine. Injuries have slowed the progression of Tallion a bit, but he’s showed some of the big upside the last two seasons, not he just needs a full season to put it all together. If he can push his K/9 up over 9.0 he’s going to make a big jump in fantasy rankings this season.
5) A Pair Of Dings For Wellington Castillo
The Chicago White Sox brought in Wellington Castillo this offseason to be an offensive weapon at catcher and bring some power, he did his job last night. The White Sox lost, but Castillo did his part hitting two solo HR’s last night. Last season Castillo had 20 HR’s in just 365 AB’s while platooning in Baltimore. Now in Chicago, Castillo is on track for more AB’s and is hitting in the middle of the liuneup, 5th spot last night. At a weak catcher position Castillo could produce enough power to be a top 5 catcher this season.
6) Could 2018 Be a Bounce Back Season For Tanner Roark?
When you look at Tanner Roark’s career numbers you’ll see a pattern. For the last four year Roark has alternated between having a sub 3.00 ERA and a 4.30+ ERA. Last year he struggled his way to a 4.67 ERA, despite a career high K/9 rate of 8.24 and his usual stellar walk rate as well. Roark got things off to a nice start last night with a win going 7 IP, allowing 1 R on 4 H, 1 BB and 6 K. There are signs for improvement with an xFIP last year on pace with his other seasons and a LOB rate of just 66% with a career average of 75%. Roark isn’t overpowering and so the K numbers leave a bit to be desired, but if he has his best stuff this seasons, he’s worth being owned in more than 30% of leagues.
7) Derek Fisher Trying to Make the Most of His Current Opportunity
Yuleski Gurriel is set to return from his suspension on Tuesday and that is going to likely cut in on the playing time of Derek Fisher with Marwin Gonzalez set to join the outfield rotation. Fisher is doing what he can to prove his merit though with a 2 – 3 game last night, scoring a run and driving in two more. Fisher has the talent to be a fantasy contributor, but it’s going to be hard for him to get enough AB’s to make it happen.
8) The Rangers Bats are Shut Down by Andrew Triggs
The Oakland A’s are going to need some unexpectedly good pitching this year to be better than their projections. They got that pitching last night from Andrew Triggs, 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 2 BB and 7 K to get the win. Triggs is a converted reliever now starting for Oakland who was starting to look pretty good last year before a hip injury took him out the remainder of the season. Triggs is traditionally more of a ground ball pitcher, but he had some swing and miss stuff going last night. If he can keep up a decent K rate he could be a fantasy sleeper for deeper leagues.
9) Yasmani Grandal Coming Out of the Gates Hot
The Dodgers are talking about wanting a bit more of an even time share between Grandal and their other catcher Austin Barnes this year. Grandal may make that harder to do if he keeps the hot bat going. Last night Grandal was 3 – 6, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI and 2 BB. The walk rate is something to watch because his ability to take a walk has always been a nice part of his game to offset his K rate, but the walks took a significant drop last season. The power also seems to continue as he is coming off two straight years of 20+ HR’s. Grandal, like Wellington Castillo earlier, has a real shot at being a top 5 C if he can keep his walks up and keep the HR’s coming.
10) Four HR’s Already for Charlie Blackmon, and He Hasn’t Been to Coors Field Yet
We saw Charlie Blackmon take a jump from good power, to top end of the league power last season, hitting a career best 37 HR’s. Colorado hitters power often gets credited too them as just a perk of the home field, but Blackmon is proving otherwise. The Rockies leadoff man was 3 – 5 last night with 2 R, 1 HR and 1 RBI. This was his fourth HR in his last three games now, all of which have been road games thus far. Blackmon was drafted as a first rounder in fantasy this season, and as long as he stays healthy, I don’t think fantasy owners will be disappointed.