by Will Overton
The schedule has been a bit weird so far this baseball season, but last night we had all 30 teams scheduled and all 30 teams actually take the field which feels like a near miracle. So there was plenty of action for us to break down and find the fantasy relevance in, so let’s get to work:
1) Blake Snell Racks Up the Strikeouts
After a rough outing last week against the Yankees, Blake Snell bounced back in a big way yesterday versus the White Sox. Snell went six innings, allowing just one run and one hit, walking five and striking out 10. Snell has seemingly been on the verge of taking the next step in his career and I feel like this could be the breakout year. Snell’s upside as a big strikeout pitcher has been there, but control has been the achilles heel. The walks are alarming, and it’s not great that it took 114 pitches to get through six innings, but he had the White Sox all kinds of off balance. The hype around Snell is subsiding, but there is still a whole lot of upside and reason to like him. I think he is worth a roster spot in all formats.
2) Can a Pair of HR’s Snap Javier Baez Cold Start?
The Cubs second baseman started out this season going 4 – 27 at the plate and struggling from the eighth spot in the Cubs lineup. Last night we hopefully saw the beginning of the turn around though. Baez went 2 – 4 against the Pirates with a pair of solo home runs, his first two long balls of the season. With the slow start Baez has dropped from owned in every league to being dropped in about 10% of leagues. If you are in one of those leagues I would be trying to make room. Baez had 23 HR’s and 10 SB’s last season while hitting .273 and he’s only 25 years old. This slow start is just that, a slow start.
3) Mookie Betts Sets the Stage for Red Sox Offensive Explosion
It’s been a fantastic start to the season for Mookie Betts and he had a banner night last night. Betts had a jam packed line last night with 4 – 4, 5 R, 2 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI and 1 BB. Betts was just a triple shy of the cycle and hit a grand slam in the game leading the charge for the Red Sox 14 runs. Betts now has a remarkable 13 runs scored so far, has an OBP of .533 and an OPS of 1.263. There was a little concern with Betts taking a small step backwards last year, but this guy is a legitimate top 10, and probably top five fantasy player.
4) The Reds and Phillies End Up In a Pitching Showdown
Aaron Nola of the Phillies ended up on the better end of the pitching battle with a line of 8 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 3 BB and 6 K to pick up his first win of the season. It wasn’t Homer Bailey’s fault he couldn’t come out on top though. Bailey put up his own impressive line of 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB and 7 K, only to see his bullpen get hit around. The takeaway here is that Nola is on his way trending towards the upper tiers of pitchers and may end up being a fantasy SP2 this season. For Bailey, I think he’s worth keeping a close eye on. Things have been rough for him since arm injuries struck in 2014, but I maybe going on blind faith saying it, but I think he has the possibility for a bounce back in him and he looked fantastic last night.
5) Fantasy Owners May Be Overlooking Asdrubal Cabrera
10 games into the season now and Asdrubal Cabrera has now reached base safely in all 10 games and had at least one hit in his last nine games. Cabrera stepped it up a notch last season hitting a pair of solo HR’s, giving him three HR’s in his last three games and multiple hits in three of his last four. Cabrera is 32 and gets overlooked for the younger, higher upside, shortstops, but he’s going on seven straight years of 14 HR’s or more in a season, and now he’s hitting in the middle of the Mets lineup leading to even more run scoring opportunities. Cabrera isn’t the flashy option, but he might be the right one and being owned in fewer than 40% of leagues is wrong.
6) Speaking of Hot Hitting Shortstops…How About Andrelton Simmons
Another stellar game turned in by Andrelton Simmons who is hitting the cover off the ball so far this season. Last night Simmons was 2 – 5 with 2 R, 1 HR and 1 RBI, bringing his average for the season to .365 and leading to his first HR. Simmons has five multi-hit games already this season and has scored five runs in his last two games. Simmons broke out last season with 14 HR’s and 19 SB’s, his first sign of his potential shining through since his second season in the league. Simmons is a top 10 SS right now who should be able to put up around 15/15 with what seems like it will be a solid run total.
7) Stephen Strasburg Will Be Hard to Beat This Season
The Atlanta Braves had absolutely no answer for Stephen Strasburg last night as he threw a nearly flawless eight innings. Strasburg scattered three hits and two walks over the eight innings, not allowing any runs and striking out eight. We all know Strasburg is an elite pitcher, but he is looking to build on the success of last season and put his name firmly in the conversation for best pitcher in the league this season.
8) Joey Lucchesi Has to be On Your Radar Now
The San Diego Padres brought Joey Lucchesi to the big league team in a surprise move this spring. Lucchesi started last season in A Ball and only had 9 starts in AA before the end of the season, but the Padres liked what they saw. It is looking like they may have made a good call with this one too. Lucchesi took the mound last night and put up a line of 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB and 8 K. This comes on the heels of his outing last week where he had five scoreless innings of one hit baseball too. It’s just three starts, but Lucchesi has a 1.02 WHIP and 1.72 ERA, while posting 16 K’s and only four BB in 15.2 IP. Lucchesi has the make up of the real deal and you really should be watching him closely or adding him.
9) The Hits Are Piling Up Quickly for Jean Segura
The Mariners number two hitter has been doing his job thus far this season setting the table for the big bats that follow him. Segura was 3 – 5 last night with a pair of runs scored and a pair of runs batted in. Segura has multiple hits three times in his last four games and five times in seven games. Segura took a bit of a step back last season from 2016, but he’s still a proven .300 hitter now and with some power and a good amount of speed, a pretty solid combination still.
10) A Strong Bounce Back Start from Hyun-Jin Ryu
In his first start of the season Hyun-Jin Ryu got beat up a bit by the Diamondbacks, allowing three runs in just 3.2 IP and struggling to find the strike zone with five walks. He looked like a completely different pitcher last night though throwing six scoreless innings of one hit ball and striking out eight with only one walk. Ryu was up and down all of last season, but as we saw last night when he is really on the top of his game his stuff is great, he just has to do it more consistently.
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