Fantasy Baseball News
Drawing conclusions from one game out of 162 is a misguided exercise at best, but MLB fantasy owners can't help but speculate on a player's MLB Fantasy Value. Opening Day 2015 certainly gave nervous fantasy owners several things to chew on as the new season kicks into gear.
Tanaka Struggles: After an impressive first two innings, it appeared that Masahiro Tanaka was going to coast to the kind of effortless outing he enjoyed many times in 2014. Things fell apart in the third, however, when he surrendered five runs, four of them earned. Tanaka made little use of his fastball, instead relying on off-speed pitches to mixed results. Like last year, he was most effective working the edges of the strike zone with his slider or getting hitters to chase the ball down, evidenced by the six strikeouts he accumulated over his four innings. When he left his fastball elevated, he got hit hard: see Edwin Encarnación's two-run blast. Tanaka owners can take heart in the fact that he made it through the game by all accounts pain-free, a concern that will persist in light of last season's elbow injury. If he can refine his control going forward, his slider showed enough of its signature bite to keep missing plenty of bats this season.
New-Look Cubs Shut Out: The Cubs didn't fare much better on Opening Night than fans searching for a bathroom amid the renovations-in-progress at Wrigley Field. Cardinals pitching, led by Adam Wainwright through six shutout innings, held them to five hits and no runs in a rather uneventful commencement to the 2015 MLB season. Jason Heyward owners hoping a move to St. Louis would see the young outfielder really start to deliver on his potential were likely encouraged by his performance on Sunday night. He went 3-for-5 with two doubles, stole a base, and scored a run in the victory. Batting second in the Cards lineup should give Heyward ample opportunity to have more days like this where he can showcase his multi-faceted talent.
Colon Shines: Just like everyone predicted, Bartolo Colon outdueled Max Scherzer at Nationals Park on Opening Day. The 41-year-old Mets starter gave up three hits and one run in six innings, fanning eight and walking one against a capable Washington lineup. As usual, Colon kept things simple, working fast and throwing his fastball for over 80% of his pitches. While you shouldn't expect this kind of performance to be the norm, pitching-needy MLB fantasy owners might consider picking up Colon as a one of their fantasy baseball sleepers to see if he can go on a little run to start the season. Though he pitched to a 4.09 ERA last year, his FIP was about a half-run lower at 3.57.
Royals Hammer ChiSox: The reigning AL Champs got off on the right foot, routing the White Sox 10-1. Chicago's big offseason pitching acquisition had a debut to forget, as Jeff Samardzija gave up five earned runs in six innings, walking three to just one strikeout. Mike Moustakas (2-for-3, solo home run) and Alex Rios (3-for-4, 3-run home run) led the way in the Royals' offensive outburst. Moustakas has largely underwhelmed at the big league level but this type of game might persuade MLB fantasy owners that the 26-year-old third basemen is poised for a turnaround batting out of the second spot in the Royals lineup. Also worth noting: Moose's homer was the first opposite-field shot of his career.
Fantasy Baseball Sleepers –
Shortly after the Dodgers struck a 6-year, $62.5 million deal with 30-year-old Cuban superstar Hector Olivera, it was revealed that he has a slight tear in his UCL.
Olivera should be able to play through the injury as the Dodgers opened up the checkbook and beat out all the other potential suitors. Ideally Olivera would make an immediate impact at third base, although the Dodgers already have the reliable Juan Uribe in place for this season at third as well.
Many will criticize the Dodgers for overpaying an undeserving and inexperienced player, but that logic seems unfair. They have the resources and the backup plan. For a lesser organization this may break the bank, but for the Dodgers, it’s low risk high reward.
Olivera has serious potential to be a force in the already forceful Los Angeles lineup. His power must be respected and he should be able to transfer it to the big leagues. Olivera has 96 home runs in 2,800 at bats since 2003 with an OPS of .912 during that time span.
MLB fantasy owners should consider themselves in a similar position as the Dodgers when contemplating Olivera. He’ll likely be a free agent pick up for most teams, and at the very worst eats up a spot on your bench.
You shouldn’t pick him up right away, but monitor him closely to see how he progresses within the organization. But don’t wait too long, moves like these are what win MLB fantasy championships.
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Fantasy Baseball News
Coming off a year-long suspension for steroid use, Alex Rodriguez reported to Yankees camp and even decided to show up a few days early. The controversial player took batting practice and although many believe he will now be a full time DH, he fielded some ground balls from the left side of the infield.
Despite the never-ending questions that surround Rodriguez, the biggest may be what value does he have for your MLB fantasy squad? Not so surprisingly, the answer is NONE. At this point, there's no reason for anyone to believe that his on-filed production will be anything more than a shadow of what he was capable of in the past.
During 44 games in 2013, A-Rod put up his lowest OPS (.771) since he was 20-years-old. Now he’s 39, hasn’t played in more than a year and the Yankees are stuck with him.
Unless a rash of injuries devastate the Yankees lineup, playing chances for Rodriguez at the DH position will likely be few and far between. New York manager Joe Girardi often uses the DH spot to give players a rest from playing their every day positions.
Catcher Brian McCann and outfielder Carlos Beltran will likely see a good amount of at-bats at the DH spot. So will Garrett Jones who the Yanks signed during the offseason. This crowded cast at DH will further diminish A-Rod’s possible role.
The ambiguities surrounding A-Rod’s role with the team are reason enough to avoid him. If he goes undrafted in your league, feel free to leave him on the wire. The Yankees seemingly wish that they didn’t have A-Rod on their team and you certainly shouldn’t be chomping at the bit to get him on your MLB fantasy squad either.
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