So that’s a wrap for our first round of interleague baseball and I have to say, we saw some pretty good ball played this weekend. There were plenty of standout hitters, some amazing pitching performances and even a few stokes of the ol’ rivalry fires. The White Sox shows the Cubs who the boss of Chicago was, the Reds took down the Yankees in 2-of-3, and how about the Mariners opening a can of whup-ass on the Rockies this weekend? Fantasy-wise, we saw plenty of action from the usual suspects and a few shining moments of surprise as well. Sunday certainly didn’t disappoint as the capper for the weekend, so let’s get to the highlights, shall we…?
|Jonathan Lucroy, C MIL||3-5, 3 R, 2 HR, 7 RBI|
After a few days of pitchers lighting up the fantasy scoreboard, we’re back to a position player topping the charts. Jonathan Lucroy, batting clean-up for apparently the first time since high school, had a career day with seven RBI and helped lead the Brewers past the Twins on Sunday, preventing a sweep by what appears to be the worst team in baseball, both in real life and on paper. Now, I’m not going to sit here and tout Lucroy as some big power threat or someone that you just gotta have, but he makes for an excellent choice in NL-only, deep mixed or shallow, two-catcher mixed leagues. His current .342 average is being supported by a healthy .374 BABIP, and while things should stabilize as the year goes on, he’ll still probably land somewhere close to the .270-.280 range this year. His walk rate could still use some help, but he has dramatically cut his strikeout rate from last year (21.2% to 13.6%), including a third straight year of reducing his SwStr% which is now down to 5.0%. So while we’ll likely see some overall regression, I don’t see the drop-off being as dramatic as it was last season after his hot start.
|Mike Trout, OF LAA||3-4, 2 R, HR, RBI, 2 BB, 2 SB|
|Corey Hart, OF MIL||3-5, 3 R, HR, 2 RBI|
|Ryan Ludwick, OF CIN||3-5, R, 2B, HR, 3 RBI|
|Max Scherzer, SP DET||W, 2.57 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 15 K|
|Colby Lewis, SP TEX||W, 1.13 ERA, 0.63 WHIP, 6 K|
One thing that I finally heard recognized on MLB Network’s Quick Pitch Sunday night was the fact that Mike Trout is having a much better start to his season than Bryce Harper is having. I believe the general consensus was that they were numbers one and two on the prospect list, but when they were called up on the same day, it was Harper who received much of the attention. Harper may have a better strikeout rate, but look a little deeper and notice that Trout’s SwStr% is about half that of Harper. He’s showing a little more plate discipline overall and not just swinging away wildly. For fantasy purposes, Trouts numbers, across the board, are better. Better slash line, better power numbers, better average, and while we could point to Trout’s .426 BABIP as a driving force behind his average and OBP, we also need to take into account that his BABIP has always been high through every level at which he’s played. So not only does he have an above-average contact rate, but when he does make contact, it is rock solid. Both should go on to have very illustrious careers, but I'm liking Trout’s overall performance a little more right now.
Corey Hart and Ryan Ludwick make another appearance here and both should be doing so throughout the year. Obviously we’ll see Hart here a little more as he plays full-time while Ludwick still remains part of a platoon in the Cincinnati outfield.
Forgive me for not getting excited over Max Scherzer’s 15 strikeout performance, but I’ve been burned on this road before. In my home league, we call it “getting Scherzer’d.” There are days like this where he just looks absolutely masterful on the hill which sucks you in with a false sense of security. Then he turns around and faces the Royals or the Mariners or some other perennial bottom-feeder and the next thing you know, you’re looking at your live scoring page and a pitching line that reads seven earned runs in 2.2 innings. He’s not a terrible guy to own, but if he runs a string of two or three really good starts in a row, watch out. It’s coming. I’d start shopping him immediately and let someone else get Scherzer’d after that.
Kudos to Colby Lewis for putting that early-May swoon behind him. After allowing 12 earned runs in 13.2 innings against Cleveland and Baltimore, Lewis bounced back and gave up just three in his last two starts, another 13.2 innings. Of course those starts were against Kansas City and Houston, so be a little wary of his next start against Toronto.
Other highlights that didn’t make the leaderboard include:
Yet another closer change as Dusty Baker continues his onslaught on bullpens. He’s now removed Sean Marshall from the closer’s role and has decided to go with a closer-by-committee approach, but his first choice is Aroldis Chapman. Kind of a no-brainer with Chapman as we all anticipated it once they said he wouldn’t make the rotation, but Dusty is going to find a way to screw this up. He always does. Let’s start off with the fact that Marshall really wasn’t all that bad. Sure, he doesn’t make it pretty sometimes, but for actual blown saves, he only has two. What…? You’re going to fault a lefty closer for struggling against a strong left-handed Yankees lineup in a ballpark that favors left-handed power? Come on. Let’s be realistic here. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like Chapman better….because I do. However, what’s up with Dusty saying that he doesn’t want to over-work his bullpen guys and says that Chapman isn’t available on Sunday because he pitched three days in a row and then goes right to him in the ninth? We’ve seen it tima and time again, so just be wary of Dusty’s use of his relievers. Someone’s getting over-worked and someone’s getting hurt.
Congratulations to Dodgers outfielder Scott Van Slyke who ripped his first major league home run on Sunday. Van Slyke had been tearing it up down in Triple-A and really earned this call-up. However, given that James Loney is entrenched at first and the Dodgers have a good number of experienced outfielders already, Van Slyke probably won’t see as much playing time as it would take to make him a worthwhile fantasy option. Perhaps he forces his way into a few extra at-bats, but once Matt Kemp comes off the DL, it’s likely back to the bus leagues.
It looks like the time off for head-clearing helped Jesus Montero. The “catching” prospect has slumped mightily as of late and has been the subject of many “is it too early to give up on him now?” emails, so the home run on Sunday was a welcomed occurrence. I can’t see giving up on him here. You had to expect a certain amount of growing pains, so your patience will be necessary for most of the first half here. However, I think things click for him sooner than later and he still finishes the season as a top 10 catcher.
With a 4-for-4 day, Melky Cabrera has his average up to .353 on the year. As expected, the power isn’t what it was last year, but he’s making great contact, working his way on-base regularly and flashing some decent speed when he has the chance. AT&T Park will likely sap most of his power all year, but if he can remain a high-average hitter with decent speed, then he’ll continue to remain a valuable fantasy asset.
Another home run for Adam Dunn puts him at nine for the month of May and 14 for the season. Safe to say he’s back? I’d say so…
And another home run for Jose Bautista to give him eight for May and 11 for the whole year. Yeah, I’d say that slow start is behind him.
|David Freese, 3B STL||0-4, 4 K|
|Brandon Belt, OF SF||0-4, 3 K|
|Todd Helton, 1B COL||0-5, 3 K|
|Andrew McCutchen, OF PIT||0-4, 3 K|
|Jason Marquis, SP MIN||L, 43.20 ERA, 5.40 WHIP|
Somewhat surprised to see Todd Helton here as I thought the fantasy gods forbid him from ever going 0-for-5. I guess things change. He may not have the power he once had, but he’s still always good for help in the batting average department…atleast until Sunday.
Wasn’t going to put Andrew McCutchen here given his recent upswing in production, but I just traded for him, so an acknowledgement of his day-to-day failures from me seems to be what he needs to stay motivated. If it means getting another run of multi-homer games out of him, I’m more than happy to make that “poor man’s Carl Crawford” crack again.
The usual dings and dents are pretty much the same as they’ve been for the last couple of days, but two new ones you’ll have to deal with right now are Lance Berkman hitting the DL again, this time with a knee injury, and Tim Lincecum being questionable for his next start with a thumb injury, something that likely happened after Colin Cowgill drilled him in a home plate collision. Guaranteed backlash from Giants fans coming as they still believe Scott Cousins intentionally went after Buster Posey.
First game of the week starts at 7:05pm (ET) so make sure you get those lineup changes in for the week.
Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over ten years on a variety of web sites including his own, The Fantasy Baseball Buzz. You can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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