Baseball is back!
There has already been a lot of great action and a lot of things to digest for Fantasy owners. I will touch on many of these things below, but I will also say be cautious not to take anything you see this week too far. Certainly take note of player trends, especially ones you invested in highly to make sure there is no major change in their game that makes them less (or in some cases more) valuable.
One thing that is worth taking note of is where players are batting in lineups and roles that managers have designated for certain players. That is where some of the biggest and most sustainable news comes from this early in the season.
Finally, another thing that must be taken into account is injuries. This is an unfortunate part of any sport, but to be a good fantasy player one must be able to react to injury and see which players will benefit.
All of these topics will be discussed below in the first edition of Hot Topics for the 2016 season.
Fantasy Baseball Hot Topics
Ken Giles and Luke Gregerson – RP, Houston Astros
After acquiring Ken Giles and giving up a hefty amount to get him, the Astros have faked everyone out and named Luke Gregerson as their closer. So now the question is should we trust Gregorson in the role, and if so, what do we do with Ken Giles.
The common narrative is that Giles will claim the job at some point in the season, but I’m not so sure that’s going to happen. The Astros cited “familiarity” as the reason for Gregerson remaining in place as the closer which shows that they are loyal to him and likely to give him at least some leeway if he struggles. Struggles haven’t been common for Gregerson, however, as he has never had a season long ERA above 3.25.
More importantly, Gregerson seemed to embrace the role as the Astros closer last year after struggling in brief auditions for the position in years past. Giles is the classic fireball closer with a massive strikeout rate, two things Gregerson doesn’t possess, but Gregerson has seized the role and I expect him to hang onto it.
With that said, if I was an owner of Giles I would jump on offers that provided any value to my team. It is possible that Giles takes on a similar role to Dellin Betances and still provide mixed league value, but if a trade offer comes through that will benefit your team, I would take it. Of course, this panic is avoided in saves and holds or just holds leagues. Giles should pitch late in games and earn plenty of holds along with his strong strikeout numbers.
A.J. Pollock – OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
A.J. Pollock suffered what is presumed to be a season-ending elbow injury in one of the last Spring Training games. However, until more information is available about the complete extent of the injury, I would hang onto him in a DL spot just in case there is some unexpected positive news. No matter what, he will miss significant time and there are big Fantasy implications due to his injury.
After the injury to Pollock, there was a lot of speculation about how the Diamondbacks lineup would look in their effort to replace him. In their first game, they faced left-handed pitcher Jorge de la Rosa. Chris Owings took the place of Pollock in center field and batted second in the lineup. Owings has intriguing power/speed upside but will be on the short end of the platoon and had poor results last season as a full-time player.
Socrates Brito will play center field against right-handed pitchers, and he also hit second in the order. He had received a ton of hype throughout Spring Training and there was buzz that he would overtake Yasmany Tomas in left field. That is no longer an option, but Brito should receive the majority at-bats in center field.
However, I look elsewhere for the “winners” of the unfortunate injury. The first is Tomas, who will now be the everyday left fielder. Though it is only two games, Tomas has already shown some promising pop in his bat with two doubles. Wellington Castillo is the other winner, as he batted fourth and fifth respectively in the Diamondbacks order in their first two games and should bat with plenty of players in scoring position. With his power, he now has the potential to drive in a lot of runs.
Madison Bumgarner, Zack Greinke, Matt Harvey, Felix Hernandez, Corey Kluber, and Tyson Ross were all drafted with high expectations but didn’t deliver (to varying degrees) in their opening outing.
Starling Marte is yet to record a hit and Trevor Story isn’t going to win MVP.
The list could go on but it’s incredibly early in the season. We all love Opening Day because baseball is back, but in reality there isn’t all that much that can be taken from performances this early.
Most important right now is to not panic and make a bonehead trade or drop that will cost you a Fantasy championship later in this long season. Check back as we continue with more Fantasy Baseball hot topics next week.