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Featured MLB – FantasySP Blog

Keep An Eye On Zach Britton

Baltimore lefty Zach Britton has been pitching extremely well as of late and it might be time to put this guy on your radar.

Analysis: Zach Britton is 3-0 in his last three starts with fifteen strikeouts while only allowing three earned runs and fourteen hits. Britton has been a streaky pitcher this year but he has been great over the last two weeks against the Twins, Yanks and Rays. His next start is another game against the Yanks and if he pitches well in that contest- he is a must add. Even if he only pitches average against New York you have to keep in mind that their offense is top notch. Britton is still young and developing and must be more consistent to become a legit lower tier SP but he has all the tools to do so. Pitching in the AL East is no small task especially with the little run support the O’s provide but he has three solid pitches. His low 90s fastball is above average, his change is major league caliber and his slider is certainly a plus pitch. Time will tell with this lefty but you have to keep an eye on him for the time being.

Strasburg Joins Nationals

Stephen Strasburg is set to make his first start of the season September 7th against the Dodgers. There has been much speculation on whether Strasburg would start on the sixth, however, what really matters here is picking this guy up off the waiver wire.

Analysis: Strasburg is still available in about twenty percent of leagues nationwide and in two days time it will be virtually impossible to own this guy. Strasburg’s average fastball velocity last year was a shade over 97 MPH and this year he’s averaging about 95-96 in his minor leagues appearances. He has command, break and velocity on all his other pitches and he looks the part of an ace once again. He’s a great addition for any fantasy squad and he will provide ERA, WHIP and strikeout help but he won’t be going deep into games to get as many wins as you would like.

As for next year, you have to consider Strasburg a second tier SP1. He does have all the tools to be the best pitcher in the game but we need to see him eat some innings like a Halladay or a Verlander to be considered a first tier SP1.

What’s wrong with the Red Sox?

 

For the first time since World War II, the Boston Red Sox have started the season 0-6. This comes to a shock given the hundreds of millions the club spent in the off season to an already formidable roster.

Need help at the corner? Sign free agent Adrian Gonzalez formerly of San Diego. Just entering his prime, Gonzalez’ swing is tailor made for the dimensions of Fenway. Gonzo posted terrific numbers in cavernous PETCO Park and  has BoSox fans salivating at the possibilities in bean  town. Short on speed and athleticism? Sign former Tampa Bay All-Star Carl Crawford. Crawford, arguably the most athletic player in the majors, seems a perfect fit in left field with the green monster to his back.

So what’s all the fuss? The talk shows are rampant with discussion as Boston stumbles out of the gate. Is it too much to overcome is the question I keep hearing. Are you kidding me? 156 games and six months of baseball remain. Baltimore leads the AL East and there start couldn’t have been better. Right behind are the Yankees, who are conveniently at Fenway for a three game series this weekend.

Bottom line, the Red Sox will be fine. I will go out on a limb and say they will win the American League pennant. Not just the AL East, they will be in the World Series! Boston is adjusting to the new superstar additions and the cold start could be attributed in part to the miserable weather during the Cleveland series. In the three game season opening series, they ran head first into a white hot Texas offense, arguably the best in baseball.  Jacoby Ellsbury, who endured an injury plagued 2010 campaign is working his way back into shape. A healthy Ellsbury, along with second baseman Dustin Pedroia and Crawford will create nightmares for opposing managers on the base paths.

There is plenty more to fuel the Boston offense. While they collectively slumped in week one, their lineup is so stocked with  hitters, don’t expect many slumps of this nature. With the addition of Gonzalez, Kevin Youkalis, the heart and soul of the Red Sox, slides over to third base. Need more left handed power for the short porch at Yankee Stadium and down the line in Fenway? How about a rejuventated David Ortiz at DH and a healthy JD Drew in right field.

Boston did make a substantial change replacing team captain Jason Varitek behind  the plate with Jarrod Saltamaccchia. Varitek is  still with the team, but this change was necessary and could be contributing to the slow start. Saltamacchia was a huge  prospect with Atlanta, and was the key to  the Braves rental of Mark Texeira, traded over from Texas several years ago.

Boston has a slump buster in the rotation in Jon Lester. He was masterful in Thursday’s loss at Cleveland and it most cases will have plenty of offensive support. Josh Beckett, John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka round out the top of a rotation that can carry Boston deep into the post season. Jonathan Papelbon leads the bullpen, with Bobby Jenks now on board for insurance. Daniel Bard is a prototype setup reliever possessing 100 mph heat.

Red Sox nation should breath a collective sigh of relief, unless of course they get swept by the Yankees. Then, the meltdown will truly begin.

Closer Update

 

Many auctions and drafts are won by identifying cheap saves. For many bullpens, its a guessing game when baseball moves from spring training in Florida and Arizona into the long six month regular season.

There are the “sure things”, the old veterans and the young upstarts. There are also the dreaded bullpens by committee. While things will certainly change, we have already seen some trends that may be lasting in less than a week of play.

We start with the elite that appear to remain safe. Jonathan Papelbon remains reliable with Daniel Bard and Bobby Jenks simply setting up. Matt Thornton will thrive in his new found closer role with Chris Sale better served as a starter, for now. Chris Perez is the real deal in Cleveland and  should be a target if you can get him via trade. He isn’t as sexy as the other sure things and will come much cheaper. Joakim Soria struggled last night, but is as solid as there is and numbers could sky rocket if traded to a contender. Go ahead and take any question marks or red flags away from Joe Nathan, while Matt Capps value drops to middle man status. Will Mariano Rivera ever slow down, doesn’t seem anywhere on the horizon. Neftali Perez is the must keep or must get, nasty stuff with the only drawback a potential conversion to starter.

Over in the National League, any question marks surrounding Jonathan Broxton may be removed. Broxton struggled in the second half of 2010, but new skipper Don Mattingly has all the confidence in the world in the big guy. Add Heath Bell to the sure thing list, like Soria in the AL, his numbers could improve drastically with a trading deadline move. Carlos Marmol looks to add to his breakout season of a year ago, throwing smoke and getting it done. Francisco Rodriguez will return to elite status this season. Last season was simply a hiccup, you are safe with K-Rod. Brian Wilson has returned from the disabled list, and while very solid, overvalued due to the hype. If you have him, trade him once he gets going as you can demand more than he is worth. Despite some early bumps, Ryan Franklin is not threatened in St.Louis.

Jordan Walden leads the lists of emerging closers. Walden came up at the end of last season and showed why he was such a high draft choice. Walden has starter ability but for now appears to be “the man” in Anaheim. Craig Kimbrel with a pair of early saves appears ready to deliver on the hype, but Jonny Venters will steal a few. Houston Street had some bumps last season, but three early saves appear to have him back on the safe list. John Axford is new on the scene, while having promise, keep a close eye on his progress. Joel Hanrahan has delivered with four early saves, he throws very hard, with his only drawbacks, a lack of wins to support and a potential trade to a contender, where he might setup. JJ Putz returns to prominence, he has the stuff to get it done. Andrew Bailey is new enough for discussion as emerging, but first he needs to emerge from the DL. I’m going to sing the Jake McGee praise, Kyle Farnsworth has the job for now, but there is a reason he has been with practically every team in baseball.

Ah, the questions marks, the area you don’t want your closers to be discussed. We start in Cincinnati where Aroldis Chapman is lurking behind Francisco Cordero. Washington has no idea who its man is, Drew Storen figured to have the edge but hasn’t been reliable. Brad Lidge’s injury has Jose Contreras and Ryan Madson the candidates, I am still not comfortable with either. Brandon Lyon appears to have a solid hold, but he is scary, with Leo Nunez in the same boat. Kevin Gregg may split opportunities with Koji Uehara. Jose Valverde is very similar to Cordero in my book, his advantage is he doesn’t have Chapman looking over his shoulder. Frank Francisco is supposed to be “the guy” but his injuries have 6’11” Jon Rauch getting the looks, for now. Injuries have also propelled Brandon League into the closer role, but that may change to committee.

If you are were on target with saves, now is the time to move them, if you are short, you may want to consider bagging the category before opening up other problems by overpaying  for a closer.

Are the Orioles for real?

 

Are the Baltimore Orioles back? A 4-0 start has fans buzzing!

It started with the surprising three game sweep of  the Rays at Tropicana Field. Sure, Tampa isn’t the same team with the departure of Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena and Matt Garza. Throw in third baseman Evan Longoria on the disabled list and not much Devil remains.

The Orioles returned to Baltimore for their home opener and kept it going. A sold out Camden Yards on hand to watch the Detroit Tigers go down.

Thus far, the O’s have been doing it with pitching, something Baltimore has plenty of. As we told you in our draft previews, their starting pitching is loaded with potential breakout fantasy players. So far, the team ERA is 1.00! Opening Day starter Jeremy Guthrie who got things going with a gem is in the hospital with pneumonia, but he set the bar. Allowing only one run in each of their first four games, the Orioles become only the 2nd team in American League history to achieve such.

Brian Matusz, thought by many to be the best O’s starter, went down with injury, no problem. Enter Zach Britton who looked Great! Get it…. Great Britton? Also dominating from the hill,  fellow “Young Guns” Jake Arrieta and Chris Tillman.

The Orioles are also getting timely hitting, led by Brian Roberts. The speedy second baseman bouncing back from an injury plagued 2010 campaign. Outfielder Nick Markakis is also getting it done early, both at the plate and with his glove. While the return of Roberts is huge, the Orioles are hoping for huge numbers from catcher Matt Wieters. The most hyped backstop entering the 2010 season, Wieters disappointed but appears to have taken the next step. Throw in exciting center fielder Adam Jones and left fielder Luke Scott and the Birds have more than enough hitting to support the emerging aces.

Can Baltimore keep it going? Off season pickups of veterans Vladimir Guerrero, JJ Hardy, Derek Lee and Mark Reynolds are providing leadership and experience in the club house. There is also help down on the farm. Minor league play begins on Thursday, with the O’s Triple A affiliate in Norfolk with three hitters destined for the Yard this summer. First baseman Brandon Snyder, Third baseman Josh Bell and outfielder Nolan Reimold all figure in the Orioles plans. Troy Patton is ready and waiting should they need another arm. Staying in the minors, watch the progress of shortstop Manny Machado, the O’s top pick in the 2010 amateur draft is going to be a great one someday.

The overwhelming reason the Orioles are back? Manager Buck Showalter.  Since departing his gig on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight, Buck has the best record (38-23) over the last 61 games since he took the helm in August. Yes, better than Boston, the  Yankees, Toronto and Tampa as well. Projected out over a 162 game season, Baltimore would win 101 games! With New York and Texas up next, we shall soon find out.