Week one is in the books and it was entertaining around the NL Central. I predicted St. Louis to open the season 6-0, but they fell short going 3-2 with one rain delay against the Cubs. The Baby Bears managed three wins of their own during the first week of the 2015 season. Starlin Castro lead the Cubs, batting .300 with one home run and three RBIs. The fact Addison Russell is nipping at his heals may have lit a fire underneath Castro.
As I mentioned in my team previews, the Brewers struggled mightily in their first week. They finished the week 1-5, surrendering 36 runs to 16 runs scored. Matt Garza, Kyle Lohse, and Mike Fiers were hit hard. Lohse gave up three home runs through his two starts.
Cincinnati turned it on and are at the top of the division with a 4-2 record. Joey Votto and Todd Frazier lead the Reds with three home runs apiece, and Billy Hamilton lit up the base paths, accumulating seven steals in his first week.
Week 1 Fantasy Studs
Joey Votto [1B – CIN]: Maybe Joey Bats was listening to the podcast when I stated he needs to drive the ball more. Well, he did just that and handsomely rewarded those who drafted him. Votto finished week one batting .333 with three home runs and eight RBI. His three home runs see him tied for second in the MLB, behind leader Adrian Gonzalez and his five dingers. Week two takes Votto and the Reds on the road for three games apiece versus the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals. If week one was real, Votto looks primed for a huge season.
Todd Frazier [3B – CIN]: Frazier, along with Votto, had himself a fantastic start to the 2015 season. Frazier hit three home runs of his own, to go along with eight RBI and a modest .292 average. He’s on pace to steadily drive in 70+ RBI with 19+ home runs. For a guy that you can wait for in the middle of drafts, he’s a pretty safe option manning your third base slot.
Adam Lind [1B – MIL]: Lind is available in many leagues. He’s a guy that knows how to hit, and did so this past week. He led the miserable Brewers with a .450 average going for one home run and four RBI. Only two strikeouts in 20 at-bats was huge. He’s a guy I’d watch as the season progresses. I can see him easily turning into a steal for owners that went out looking for a boost in offense. Someone needs to hit in Milwaukee.
Jake Arrieta [SP – CHC]: Arrieta began where he left off last season. During his one start, he managed to win the pitching dual versus Lance Lynn, giving up only three hits in seven innings of work, while striking out a batter an inning. This is the production you love to see out of a pitcher who probably isn’t the number one on your team. The talent has always been there, and it’s looking like the change of scenery from Baltimore is exactly what he needed. Since he was acquired in 2013, Arrieta has gone 15-7, in 35 starts, with a bedazzling ERA around 3.00. This is the production I love to see when players are acquired via the trade.
Johnny Cueto [SP – CIN]: Cueto is off to a fast start and is primed to see a huge payday. Whether it’s from Cincinnati, a team he’s traded to, or working the free agent market, he will be paid. In two games started, Cueto threw 14.0 innings, managing 14 strikeouts to only two walks. This left him sporting a sexy 0.64 ERA. His 0-1 record doesn’t tell the story. He shutout the Pirates through seven on Opening Day. The bullpen wasn’t able to keep the lead, seeing Cueto get the no decision. It was a similar story in his second start. Cueto gave up one earned run in seven innings pitched, but got only one run of support following a solo shot from Todd Frazier. I’m not taking anything against the Cardinals, as Michael Wacha threw 6.1 innings of five hit baseball. His only blemish was the Frazier home run in the first inning.
Aroldis Chapman [CL – CIN]: Out of their first six games, Chapman was featured in five. He went 1-0 with two saves in five innings of work. He only gave up two hits while striking out seven and walking only one batter. He was absolutely untouchable, and this has been the story of his career. This is the perfect example of why he is arguably not only the best closer in baseball, but the best left-handed reliever.
Favorite Matchups Week 2
Jonny Cueto vs. Michael Wacha Round 2 [Friday, April 17]: The second leg of these two takes place in St. Louis this time. As I mentioned earlier, Cueto didn’t get any support from the Reds’ offense. Off to a hot start, this shouldn’t be the issue this time around. Wacha will need to be magnificent again to keep Cincinnati’s offense quiet. This is my number one overall matchup this week.
St. Louis Hitters vs. Milwaukee’s Starting Pitchers: Last week, Milwaukee’s starters were atrocious. I won’t throw Jimmy Nelson or Wily Peralta under the bus, as they had respective games. During the three-game series, the Cardinals get Garza, Peralta, and Fiers. Garza and Fiers each gave up 4+ runs in five innings apiece, and both had ERAs above 7.00. Their bullpen wasn’t any better. For this reason, I like any Cardinals hitter during this three-game series.
Andrew McCutchen: McCutchen had a mediocre first week. His average, .190, didn’t reflect the fact that he drove in six RBI with two homeruns and had an OBP of nearly .300. I look for him to turn it around this week and love Monday’s battle with Anibal Sanchez. He’s hit a respectable .280 off of Sanchez with three RBI. The same goes for Wednesday against Alfredo Simon. McCutchen has had success getting on base against him. Last season, he drew four walks against Simon while hitting a home run. His OBP was an astonishing .462. Into the weekend, McCutchen gets to feast on Jimmy Nelson, Kyle Lohse, and Matt Garza in Pittsburgh. He’s my pick to be the best fantasy asset for Week 2.
Kris Bryant Watch:
Bryant is off to a 5 for 16 start with two home runs coming this past weekend. The Super 2 deadline is Friday, and Bryant could very well make his Wrigley debut Saturday versus the Padres.
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