With almost three full weeks of baseball completed there’s been a lot to talk about, and many surprises as well. The Cincinnati Reds lead the NL Central, The Chicago White Sox are ahead of the Cleveland Indians, and the Toronto Blue Jays are the worst team in baseball? Let’s slow down for a second, it’s still only mid-April, the Reds and White Sox will more than likely not sustain their solid starts… The Blue Jays on the other hand might be in trouble, for multiple reasons.
In these early days of the MLB season teams are still trying to figure out their mold, their identity, and what pieces of the puzzle they might need to compete for a playoff spot down the line. Certain teams are already being targeted from the buyer’s market, like the Pittsburgh Pirates who recently saw their starting centerfielder, and one of their best players, get suspended for 80 games after getting caught for using PEDs… Why Marte, why?!?! Many teams are still trying to figure out their optimal everyday lineups; some have good issues like the New York Mets, who seem to have too much positional depth. Others have specific platoon problems to manage that could linger for the entire season. The following are this week’s biggest platoon, depth chart, and injury/suspension based issues that could help or hurt your Fantasy Baseball rosters.
Like I’ve mentioned just before, the New York Mets have some good problems, specifically within their outfield. Starting CF Curtis Granderson has been struggling mightily to open his soon-to-be age 37 season, meanwhile OF Michael Conforto has been taking advantage of his opportunities, batting a respectable .286 in less than half the at bats. Conforto could be a great Fantasy weapon, especially in NL-only leagues, and I do suggest people in all leagues to keep a close eye on him. Granderson is in the last year of his contract and there’s a good chance he gets traded once we get closer to the deadline, especially if the Mets organization believes Conforto can man centerfield daily.
After the disaster that was OF Starling Marte’s 80-game PED suspension, what’s a Fantasy manager to do? Well, if you had Marte, like I do in multiple leagues, you need a replacement. Not just any short-term replacement but you’ll need something for down the line as well. 80 games are roughly half the season, plus we don’t know exactly what will happen when Marte gets back. Those of you in deeper and NL-only leagues could find value in OF Austin Meadows, a first-round draft pick and Top 10 prospect pre-2017 across the board, according to all three major sources. Meadows isn’t necessarily off to a good start in Triple-A, but at the tender age of 21 he has all the tools and raw talent to grow with an organization like the Pittsburgh Pirates. Keep your eyes peeled for a callup to big club in the coming weeks.
Young slugger OF/DH Trey Mancini has gotten off to a ridiculous start for the Baltimore Orioles (four HRs in 23 ABs), pushing aside the likes of outfielder’s Hyun Soo Kim and Seth Smith for now. He’s a must-have in AL-only leagues and someone to watch closely in mixed league formats.
Cleveland Indians SS/3B Yandy Diaz has filled in nicely for 2B Jason Kipnis, but recent activity suggests that Kipnis should be ready to come back as soon as this upcoming weekend series against the White Sox. People in shallower formats may have an opportunity to pick up Kipnis, who’s currently owned around 89 percent in ESPN leagues.
One of the most interesting situations happens to be with one of the most interesting teams, the Colorado Rockies. We all knew the Rockies could rake, and that they are, but I’m sure few of us thought they would be sitting atop the NL West with the best record in baseball along with the Arizona Diamondbacks (who I picked to win the division by the way). Don’t get me wrong; I love the parity we have so far, but can this last? Either way, one of the key components to the Rockies’ hot start is the outstanding offense being provided by “backup” 1B Mark Reynolds… Once again, can this last? With 1B/OF Ian Desmond slated to come back before the month ends, the Rockies will be faced with one of those “good problems” I spoke about earlier. In my opinion, I don’t believe it will be that big of an issue for those of you who currently own Reynolds because if he continues to hit well, they’ll find a way for him to be in that lineup, especially considering the weak production they’re receiving in their left field platoon situation at the moment. But, when the time comes for the return of young stud OF David Dahl, who showed immense talent last season in the minors and the majors, then things might get a bit too crowded for everyone to be happy… Another one to keep tabs on.
The Baltimore Orioles recently had some unwelcome news when last year’s AL Reliever of the Year Award winner Zach Britton went on the shelf for a left forearm strain. Recent updates suggest that he won’t be out for too long, which is great news for Britton owners, but when there’s an injury to the pitching arm you can never really be certain. Manager Buck Showalter hasn’t named a replacement for the interim, however, RP Brad Brach looks to be the logical choice after posting six scoreless innings, 10 Ks, and one hit in the early going of the 2017 season. Those in the deepest of leagues in desperate need of some saves or quality relievers could make use of Brach for the immediate future. He’ll be extremely cheap and could potentially be helpful for a longer period than expected.
In Los Angeles, RP Cam Bedrosian continues to settle in as the closer as his competition fades away- RP Huston Street was recently moved to the 60-day DL and RP Andrew Bailey is, once again, injured and finds himself on the disabled list as well. Bedrosian is owned only 56 percent in ESPN leagues, partially due to the Angels being a lackluster team, but as he builds on his start of zero earned runs, eight Ks, and no walks in six innings, those numbers should steadily rise. Don’t be afraid to pick him up in AL-only and deep rostered leagues alike.
RP Joaquin Benoit was handed the closer role for the Philadelphia Phillies recently due to Jeanmar Gomez’ extremely deficient performance to begin the 2017 season. Many Fantasy owners have now jumped on the Benoit bandwagon, a six percent increase in ownership in ESPN leagues, but by no means has he solidified his new role. He’s already blown his second save opportunity of the season and will not be on a long leash, especially with RP Hector Neris dominating the competition as of late- seven innings, two hits, one walk, and nine Ks. Not to mention Neris’ stellar 2016 campaign, in which he put up a 2.58 ERA, 59 hits, 102 Ks, and 28 holds in 80.1 innings of work as the Fightin’ Phils’ setup man… Trust me when I say he’s the one you want in this bullpen.
Lookout for more platoon and depth chart updates every week.
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