This summer you can win up to $250,000 in the FantasyAces.com World Baseball Championship, and there will be a live event final at Angels Stadium. Enter a qualifier and get in on the action for a quarter of a million dollars!
Shane Greene appeared in 15 games for the Yankees last season (14 starts) spanning 78.2 innings. In that time he wound up posting a 5-4 record with a 3.78 ERA, 1.40 WHIP and 9.27 K/9. Not too shabby for a rookie pitching in the AL East; even better for a player relatively unknown by most, aside from Fantasy owners playing in extremely deep dynasty leagues.
An offseason three-team deal landed him in Detroit, which was a boon for his value. His new ballpark is pitcher-friendly and US Cellular Stadium in Chicago is the only hitter’s park in the AL Central. Greene is a groundball pitcher, but this move will undoubtedly allow his few mistake pitches to finish up on the warning track instead of over the wall.
Because of this Greene was largely thought of as a deep sleeper this year, particularly among dynasty leaguers. As an owner of Greene in a 20-team dynasty league full of some very good experts, he was the player most asked for off my roster all offseason. While I received some fair offers, I held him, I’m very happy with my decision thus far.
Greene allowed his first earned run on Sunday against the White Sox but pitched well once again to earn his third consecutive victory to start the season. The obvious question here becomes whether or not he can keep this up and remain Fantasy relevant for the remainder of the season, and my answer is yes.
The big knock against him so far is going to be his K/9 of 4.30. Yes, this is extremely low, but his velocity is exactly where it was last season and his swinging strike percentage is actually up, leaving me plenty of room for optimism that this number improves. Throw in the fact that he is walking fewer batters and inducing more groundballs and the recipe for success is in the oven.
The other thing I love is the fact that he has his changeup working. Greene mostly relied on his fastball and slider last year. It served him well, but we all know that successful starters need three quality options. Greene’s Achilles heel has been left-handed batters. His developing changeup provides him with an out pitch against them when he has it working. Through three starts he is holding them to a .189 batting average and just one extra base hit over 39 plate appearances. Looks like it’s working to me.
To say Trevor Bauer has had an interesting start to his season would be an understatement. For the most part he has been unhittable. He currently leads the league in K/9 at 14.25 and also BB/9 at 6.75 while also holding opposing batters to a .100 batting average. This two-start sample is a microcosm of what his career as a pro has been thus far. He works much too hard for the strikeout, nibbling at corners instead of challenging hitters with his very good stuff. Last season, he was a six-pitch guy, offering a fastball, slider, cutter, curveball, changeup and splitter. This season, he dropped the cutter and has invested more in his slider and has seen his swinging strike percentage jump up 5.2 percentage points from last year. There is a lot to be excited about here from a Fantasy perspective. His strikeout numbers will keep him on rosters, but walks will determine whether he takes a step forward to become an automatic starter or remain a streaming option.
Those of you out there in shallow AL-only leagues or two-catcher leagues need to closely start monitoring Blake Swihart. He is currently batting .389 at Triple-A Rochester with nine RBIs and at least one hit in every game he has appeared in this season. With Christian Vazquez done for the year after Tommy John surgery only Ryan Hanigan and Sandy Leon stand between Swihart and a starting job. The 34-year old Hanigan is a career .256 hitter with 25 homers in 558 games while Leon has just 25 homers in 712 games since turning pro at 18. Unlike most catchers that can hit, Swihart is also a very strong defensive option as well. Two strong months with the bat at Triple-A will likely earn a call, especially if Boston remains in the thick of the AL East.
When Nelson Cruz signed with Seattle the entire Fantasy community discounted him despite leading the league with 40 homers last year with Baltimore. With two homers on Sunday at Safeco Field, he now has eight in his first 48 at-bats of the season. These may have been the first two homers he has hit at home, but they leave him on pace for a cool 108 dingers. I personally don’t care if he’s 34 years old. His power is legit, regardless of where he plays. Throughout his career he has always hit; he just got a late start and typically has at least one DL stint per year. You are going to see a bunch of people jumping on the sell-high bandwagon on Cruz over the next few weeks. Do yourselves a favor and hold tight. He is fully capable of hitting another 30 homers over his next 140 games. You drafted him for power, why doubt him because of a hot start?
Things haven’t exactly gone well for George Springer to start the season. Currently he is batting .163 with a homer and three RBIs over his first 51 plate appearances. The only positive thus far is his three stolen bases. He stole just five in 78 games last year. The bad, though, is much worse. His batted ball profile is atrocious. He currently sports a 61.1 percent contact rate and a 17.0 percent swinging strike rate. Want to hear the best part, though? Those numbers are nearly identical to what he posted last year. That’s right, folks. He is exactly the same player. Springer’s swing and miss tendencies mean he is much more prone to some pretty nasty cold spells. When he’s on, though, he has the potential to carry your Fantasy team. A quick look back to last May should be all the proof you need. Hang on for the good times, they will come.
All indications point towards the White Sox calling up Carlos Rodon from Triple-A Charlotte on Monday to pitch out of their bullpen. He is arguably the second-best pitcher on the team behind Chris Sale, but the team seems hell bent on keeping his innings at a manageable level. Hector Noesi, the man with a career 5.15 ERA over 367.1 innings pitched, is all that currently stands in Rodon’s way for a rotation spot. Dating back to college, Rodon has never tossed more than 132.1 innings in a season. A move to the bullpen will keep his innings from creeping up, but could also hurt his long-term value. Because of this, it is my belief that his stay in the bullpen will be a brief one. Rodon will start a game for the White Sox before the calendar changes to May; just don’t expect to see him pitch anything more than six innings per outing regardless of pitch count. If by some chance he is available, make the move immediately to pick him up.
Adam Wainwright pitched a gem on Sunday night in front of a national audience, holding the Reds to just one run on seven hits over eight innings. Through his first three starts, he now boasts a 2-1 record with a 1.71 ERA. This, ladies and gentlemen, very well be your best sell-high moment of the season on Wainwright. His 6.00 K/9 is more than a full strikeout lower than his declining mark from last year. Combine that with the fact that his fastball velocity is down nearly a full mile-per-hour to 89.3 this year and the long-term outlook doesn’t look great. You can’t argue the fact that he can win without premium velocity; what you can argue is that without it he is no longer a Fantasy ace. There are some owners out there that are still willing to pay top dollar for Wainwright. Go out and cash in now before everyone figures out that he’s no longer an ace.