April can be the toughest part of the fantasy season. Not only are you trying to decipher fast starts from unknown players to see if they are Spectacular, but conversely, you are trying to decide what to make of slow starts from proven commodities. Do you abandon ship? Do you jump of that ledge? Do you release or trade a struggling player who you might have invested a high draft pick on on draft day? Or, do you grab a bucket and start shoveling water overboard? Do you you take a step back from the ledge? Maybe you swoop in and “rescue” another owner from that sinking ship with a nifty buy low trade? Let’s take a look at some of the slow starts in the AL West and decide what to do with these guys.
George Springer, OF/Evan Gattis, C,DH/Chris Carter, 1B, – Birds of a feather… The heart of the Astros lineup was expected strike fear into opposing pitchers in 2015. The heart of the Astros lineup has ended up, in the early going, to be a treat for opposing pitchers in 2015.
Springer is sporting a .180 BA with 1 HR. Gattis is struggling more at .118 BA and 1 HR. Carter takes the cake, hitting (if you can call it hitting) .089 with zero HR. The trio has struck out a disgusting 21 times apiece. We knew these guys would all strikeout a ton, but the allure of potential from Springer, the temptation of a 30 HR catcher in Gattis, and the proven power of Carter lead many owners to invest a valuable draft pick in this power hitting trio. In the case of Springer, a third or fourth round pick. These guys will all continue to strikeout like it was going out of style, but they will also get scolding hot at some point, like all power hitters do. These guys will not deliver more than home runs with the exception of Springer delivering steals. Verdict: Springer; If you own him, trade him to the owner who was mad that he just missed him in the 4th round and still believes the hype. Gattis; Hold him. You probably didn’t invest too heavily, and the options for you at catcher are probably no good. Carter; Hold him if you have other options to play until he heats up, but shop him as well to see if you can get yourself a more well rounded player.
Robinson Cano, 2B, SEA – Cano has not played bad, batting .293, but he only has 1 HR and 6 RBI. This has left his owners, who invested an early second round pick, wanting more. At the age of 32 it is fair to wonder if he is in decline. Cano has batted .297 or better nine out of ten seasons in his career. He is the most constant star in the fantasy game having played no less than 157 games the past eight seasons. He is also getting to hit next to Nelson Cruz now, and when they both heat up, LOOK OUT. Verdict: If you own him, enjoy the season. If you don’t, see if the guy who drafted him is sour, and steal him away.
Taijuan Walker, SP, SEA – I have had to eat my words after Walker’s first couple of starts. It was ugly. Walker is sporting a 10.66 ERA and a 2.29 WHIP after three starts, despite his 8 K, 4 H, 1 R effort on Tuesday. Taking a deeper look, 10 BB in only 12.2 IP is the culprit. Like many young pitchers with incredible stuff, he is struggling to find the strike zone. His .223 BAA in 2014 and his elite SO/9 rate of 9.9 this season, show the promise is there. Verdict: Do not give up on all that talent based on two bad starts. Hold him on the bench until he shows at least one QS.
Fernando Rodney, CL, SEA – With a 10.13 ERA and a 2.06 WHIP, there are rumblings of a closer change coming out of Seattle. Do not buy it. Relief pitcher numbers can look awfully terrible at this time of the season if a guy has had one bad outing. He has saved 133 games over the past three seasons and thats all you need to know. Verdict: Do not change your draft day stance on him.
James Paxton, SP, SEA – Another Mariner off to a slow start. With a 5.40 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP, he has not lived up to the preseason hype. The 12 K and 3 BB in 15 IP are promising, but the 19 H and 3 HR are troubling. Verdict: Cut him loose. If you can’t swing a trade, there are better options on the waiver wire in most leagues.
Adrian Beltre, 3B, TEX – Off to a .158 BA, 1 HR, 1 RBI start, the 36-year-old 3B is scaring the daylights out of owners who invested 3rd round picks on him. He is a proven slugger, having hit no less than .296 in the last five seasons with at least 28 HR in four of them. The other side of the coin shows an aging ball player who struggled with injuries leading to only 19 HR in 2014. Verdict: Trade his butt. ONLY if you can get equal draft day return. DO NOT SELL LOW. If not, hang on and hope age does not catch up.
Jered Weaver, SP, LAA – After three starts weaver has a 6.61 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP. With
only 9 K in 16.1 IP, owners are panicking. They should not. Weaver is not a stud, but is one of the steadiest pitchers in baseball. His last start was a QS and there are more to come. Verdict: If you need a solid pitcher to round out your rotation, go get him from the Weaver owner. He probably will not be too expensive because of the low K totals.
AL West Headlines
The King is alive; Spotted in Seattle! After being pulled due to injury in his previous start after 5 IP and 8 H, Seattle fans and fantasy owners held their collective breathe. After a dazzling 7 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 12 K performance on Saturday, rest assured, The King lives. Hernandez has a stat line of 19 IP, 2.37 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 23 K, 5 BB and 12 H. With respect to the emerging Sonny Gray, King Felix remains the divisions best pitcher.
Angels play hardball while Hamilton plays with 8-ball. The Angels are trying to use language written into Hamilton’s contract to void it and get out of the remaining years and money owed to Hamilton. For fantasy owners, this means nothing. Hamilton will be back when healthy…for some team. If the Angels are successful, another team will surely pick him up to start in their outfield once his shoulder is healthy. If he is occupying your injured reserve slot, clutch that lottery ticket closely.
Nelson Cruz saves the World. Batting a blistering .333, Cruz also leads MLB in HR (8) and RBI (16). The stats are not meaningless as he is hitting walk-off homers and walk-off singles, and generally carrying the Mariners offense. If you own him, enjoy the ride that started last season in Baltimore.
Waiver Wire Rescue
Chris Taylor, SS, SEA – Taylor was going to win the SS job for Seattle out of spring training, until he got hurt. Taylor has been activated and is getting acclimated to game action in AAA. Brad Miller is not doing much offensively for a lineup that desperately needs guys on base in front of Cano and Cruz. Taylor has hit for average and stolen bases at every level play, including MLB with a .287 BA and 5 SB in a late 2014 audition.
Jack Marisnick, OF, HOU – If you need a solid OF option for depth or if you are the Christian Yelich owner and need an OF due to injury, Marisnick is your guy. He is available in most leagues and is slashing .361/.415/.556 with 4 SB. He should not be on waiver wires. If he is in your league, correct that.
Danny Farquhar, RP, SEA – This is simply a speculative add based on the grumblings in Seattle of a closer change. I stated above, that I do not believe Rodney is losing his job. But, if you have bench room, any potential closer is a good place holder.
Craig Gentry, OF, OAK – If you picked him up hoping to catch lighting with the A’s starting Cf, the dream is over. Sporting a BA of .000 is something a MLB player couldn’t do if they tried. Cut this guy lose if you own him, as there is no track record to suggest good things are coming.
Brad Miller, SS, OAK – As I mentioned above with Taylor, Seattle has a better option coming. I would drop Miller for Taylor, if I was desperate enough to own Miller to begin with.
Colby Rasmus, OF, Hou – Those who grabbed him hoping the bandbox in Houston would help his stats have seen early, it is, was, and always will be the same ol’ Colby. He is not the power hitter that his low BA teammates are making it worthless to keep his .212 BA rostered.
“And Boggs Never Walked Again”
Josh Hamilton, OF, LAA – Shoulder, expected return in May.
Garrett Richards, SP, LAA – Returned on Sunday.
Ryan Rua, OF, TEX – Sprained ankle, bum heel, no timetable for return.
Derek Holland, SP, TEX – Shoulder, expected return early July.
Yu Darvish, SP, TEX – Tommy John Surgery, out for the season.
Jurickson Profar, 2B, TEX – Shoulder surgery, out for the season.
Coco Crisp, OF, OAK – Elbow surgery, expected return late May.
Ben Zobrist, 2B/SS/OF, OAK – Knee, day-to-day.
Jesse Hahn, SP, OAK – Blister, will miss next start on April 23rd.
Sean Doolittle, RP, OAK – Shoulder, expected return early to mid May.
Jarrod Parker, SP, OAK – Tommy John Surgery, expected return late May.
Chris Taylor, SS, SEA – Activated at AAA.
Tom Wilhelmsen, RP, SEA – Hyperextended elbow, no timetable for return.
Felix Hernandez, SP, SEA – Didn’t miss any time.
@coreylogan500 Tweets “Do you think Arod will finish the season with All-Star caliber statistics?”
This is a tough question. “All-Star caliber statistics” is relative, depending on position and the team you are on, as every team gets at least one All-Star. Everyone is aware of Arod’s blistering start including multi HR games and 471 foot monsters. He is also leading the league in walks and now batting 3rd in the Yankee lineup. The lineup is not what it used to be, but it is still a productive position. Alex is one of the greatest players EVER and has ALWAYS hit when healthy. I feel that health is the only question. Could the season off have rejuvenated those old bones? I always assume health when projecting players. A healthy Arod will be All-Star caliber, though he is unlikely to actually get chosen for the game.
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Major League Fantasy Sports Show: Join Ej Garr and Corey D Roberts on Sunday April 26th from 7pm-8:30pm EST for this week’s episode of the Major League Fantasy Sports radio show sponsored by the Sports Palooza Radio Network. Call in at 646-915-8596. This week will be discussing all things fantasy related in the A.L. East and the N.L. Central.