Monday, May 5, 2014

MLB Player Notes: Under-Owned Pitchers & Some Bats from the Past

The closer carousel continued to circle this week, with Hector Rondon of the Cubs staking his claim to the 9th inning at Clark and Addison.  The job has been his to lose for over a week, but the Cubs have been so bad at generating save chances that he had to wait until this weekend to show what he could do with the baton in hand, notching back to back saves on Friday and Saturday.  While the Cubs’ lack of save opportunities is not likely to change, any team can support a fantasy closer if they commit to him, and Rondon has proven to be by far the best option in this bullpen with a 0.59 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 16 K in 15.1 IP so far this year.  He should be owned in far more than the 36% of Yahoo! leagues he currently is.


Roenis Elias really impressed in a start against the Yankees this Thursday, posting 7 innings of one-run ball to go along with 10 Ks in the unfriendly confines of the new Yankee Stadium.  Even more impressive than the numbers, the video of his stuff really jumps off the screen, as he features a put-away curveball the likes of which have not been seen in awhile, possibly since Adam Wainwright entered the league.  His other starts this year have been fairly mediocre, so there’s always a chance this one start was the outlier for him, but it’s clear that he’s got the upside to be a fantasy difference maker this year.  He’ll make two pretty unintimidating starts this week (@OAK, KC), so if you are in need of pitching help, now is a great time to take a chance on Elias.  He’s currently only 7% owned in Yahoo! leagues.

Elias has some curveball!
Mark Teixeira may finally be healthy for the first time in years, as he got the power stroke working with 4 HR in only 19 AB this week.  He also raised his BA from .212 to .269 and had a 3:3 K:BB ratio, so he’s not just providing empty power (as he has in some years past) but displaying good plate discipline and providing some all-around offensive production.  While injuries will probably always be a concern with Teixeira at this point in his career, he says his wrist feels stronger than it has in a long time and the numbers he is putting up back up that statement.  Who knows if he will stay healthy the rest of the year or maintain a non-detrimental BA, but his track record, lineup, and home ballpark make his upside worth taking a chance on if he is available to you.  He’s currently owned in 61% of Yahoo! leagues, but that number should be higher because of the dearth of power in today’s MLB.

Nathan Eovaldi just keeps impressing down on South Beach and, after 6 starts, I think it’s time for the fantasy community to stop worrying and learn to love the Miami fireballer.  He’s currently sitting on some excellent numbers (2 W, 2.58 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 35 K in 38.1 IP), yet is still just 43% owned in Yahoo! leagues.  While that number is rising after his most recent gem (7 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 1 BB, 5 K at home vs. ATL on Wednesday), it is still too low by almost half.  Eovaldi pitches in the NL, with a favorable home park, in a division that is somewhat offensively-challenged, and with an offense behind him that is better than most expected it to be.  He’s also 3rd in all of baseball in average fastball velocity (95.7 MPH), and has a SwStr% 1.5% higher than his career average (a respectable 9.6%), so his K/9 is likely legit and, if anything, still on the way up.  I think we’re witnessing the breakout of a future star here, and wouldn’t be surprised if his second half was even stronger than his first, a la Gerrit Cole last year.  His next start is a docile one, at home vs. NYM on Monday, so now’s the perfect time to make the add if you need some help with your rotation.

If your team is in need of some widely available category juice, it may be time to reopen the book on Chris Young.  He’s been playing every day for the Mets since returning a couple weeks ago, and is currently on a 5-game hitting streak during which he’s raised his BA from .194 to .255.  He’s also got a HR and SB during that span (2 of each on the year in 51 AB), along with 2 doubles, 5 RBI and a 2:3 K:BB ratio, so he’s doing everything right at the moment.  With a career .235 BA he’s not likely to be an asset in that department, but this is a guy with three 20/20 seasons under his belt, and in today’s offense-starved MLB, that kind of production has fantasy utility even if it is accompanied by an unpalatable BA.  He’s currently owned in only 3% of Yahoo! leagues, and he qualifies at all 3 OF positions (useful if your league specifies OF spots).  His upside is likely better than the last player on a lot of teams’ benches right now.

Batting Gloves


Troy Tulowitzki is showing why he is arguably the best player in baseball when healthy, going 16-5-14-.447-.1.424 over the last two weeks, leaving him at an even .400 for the season.  Let’s hope we get to see what he can do over 145+ games this year…Dee Gordon followed up a 1/11 showing in Thursday’s double-header by going 8/11 with 4 SB over his next 2 games, leaving his season line at 16-1-10-19-.357-.851.  While the BA will likely come down, it’s pretty clear now that we are witnessing a breakout season from the speedy Dee.  60 SB are almost a lock at this point (barring injury), and it wouldn’t surprise me a whole lot if he made a push toward 80…In case you needed more proof that catching was deep this year, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Miguel Montero have been making noise over the last week+, and both are fully approved for fantasy use at this point.  This position has become all about upside, as the replacement value off the waiver wire is so strong…With that in mind, keep an eye on Carlos Santana (6/23, 5-3-8, 1.016 OPS over the last week).  I’m still picking him to finish top-3 among Catchers this year, and his buy-low window is rapidly closing.  Make an offer while his season BA is still below the Mendoza line if you need some help at C…Jhonny Peralta might be this year’s JJ Hardy: cheap power out of the SS position.  He started the season painfully slow, but is off and running now (3-3-7-.360-1.167 over the last week).  He’s up to 12-7-15 on the year, and while the BA is still at an ugly .219, it’s on the rise and accompanied by a .775 OPS, good for 8th at the position.


Rosin Bags


Back on the closing carousel, Joe Smith is a perfect 3-for-3 on save chances since being thrust into the role at the start of the week.  I still believe Ernesto Frieri will get this job back eventually, but you’ve got to roll with Smith now while he’s got the job and converting if you’re in a competitive league…Justin Masterson is finally getting stretched out, going 7.1 IP in each of his last two starts.  While the first of those was still a rough outing (5 ER), the most recent one (yesterday) yielded 0 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, and 6 K.  If a buy-low opportunity still exists for him, jump on it…The next run K-Rod gives up this year will be his first, as he’s absolutely flourished in his return to the closer role to the tune of 14 Saves, 0.00 ERA, 0.65 WHIP, and 24 K in 17 IP this year.  While the “draft elite closers early” movement seems to be gaining some steam, and has some sound arguments behind it, K-Rod is just more proof that you can always find good closing options on the waiver wire…Collin McHugh’s first two starts this year have resulted in 12 Ks, then 8.2 1-run innings (with 7 K), yet he’s still only 40% owned in Yahoo!  This is a story you’ll want to jump on before the rest of your league catches up with the guy quickly earning his nickname, McHUGE…Brandon McCarthy had a rough start to the season (6 ER in each of his first two starts), but has really turned it around since then, giving up 3 ER or less in each of his next 4 starts.  His last 3 have been particularly impressive, with only 3 ER and 24 K over 19 IP, with a 1.42 ERA and 1.11 WHIP.  He’s still owned in only 5% of Yahoo! leagues.

Send me any sit/start, trade, or other fantasy related questions (or anything else you want to ask) to @RotoClayton on Twitter.  Thanks for reading.
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