As March goes out like a lamb, Major League Baseball comes in like a big snarling predatory lion, hungry for a feast!
The big league clubs are trimming down their 40-man rosters to size and the Fantasy Baseball hard core owners should be glued to their news feeds like Flick’s tongue to that flag pole.
This week of Spring training should be viewed as week three of the NFL preseason, the games that really matter, and you need to be ready to pounce on that free agent waiver wire as news breaks.
After Tuesday’s games, the countdown is at five days until the opener.
Grapefruit League Updates!
Tampa Bay (4) at Baltimore (3)
Kevin (take a guess, man) Gausman got the nod on Tuesday and Baltimore keeps us all guessing if he’ll get the starting spot or long-relief gig. The plan was to stretch him out to five innings today which leads us to think that Gausman will be in the rotation, which bodes well for his Fantasy status, however he generally stunk giving up four earned runs off seven hits and a walk in 3.2 innings.
Ubaldo Jimenez may have earned the fifth spot over Gausman with his slightly better stats over the second half of the spring. Everth (don’t call me Everett) Cabrera batted leadoff and will get an opportunity to start for the O’s as JJ Hardy will begin the year on the DL, and stole a base but went 0-4 and is only hitting .260 for the spring. Nolan Reimold hit a solo shot in his only at bat for the birds.
Everett (time for) Teaford started for the split squad Rays and put up a solid performance and retroactively earned a reassignment to the minors on Monday (huh?). David DeJesus went yard and Desmond Jennings had another hit quietly putting up a very impressive spring average of .447 in 38 at-bats.
Pittsburgh (7) at Detroit (3)
Vance (no need to) Worley “lost” the “competition” for Pittsburgh’s final rotation spot to “Jeff Locke” on Monday. The Vanimal will be a long-relief man to begin the year, and put up three solid innings yielding one run to today’s Tigers lineup.
Francisco Cervelli does his best Tony Sanchez impression as he served up another homerun, his fourth of this Grapefruit stand, and improved his spring average to .344. This could be a very nice platoon situation for Fantasy purposes if your league allows daily moves. Andrew McCutchen had another pair of hits including his third double of the spring.
David (at any) Price getting the opening day start over Justin Verlander (and let’s be frank, Vance Worley might deserve it over Verlander at this point), pitched six innings Tuesday and the big lefty gave up a big crooked number, prompting some folks to think they attended a Vincent Price outing instead of David. He allowed seven runs off eight hits but managed five strikeouts with no walks.
Spring numbers certainly sounds scary at times and mean a good deal with players trying to earn spots with teams, but I’m not worried about Price and still feel confident having him as a lower-tier ace. The Tigers’ bats were subdued by the Buccos’ pitchers going a combined 5-28 with a Cespedes triple and James Robbins ninth-inning home run as the only hits of note. Rajai Davis did thieve another two bases today in his quest for playing time supremacy over the young Anthony Gose.
New York Yankees (1) at Minnesota (3)
Masa(big)hiro(6) Tanaka’s elbow may actually be the biggest story of Spring in New York outside of Matt Harvey and Alex Rodriguez’s returns to their respective clubs. And not only has it not fallen apart, Tanaka has thrived. Over his first 10-plus innings he’s only given up a couple runs with 12 strikeouts. Tuesday was a little less exciting in that he got Ta-knocked around a bit to the tune of three runs on seven hits in only 4.1 innings, but escaped as healthy as he started the game, which is all the rage these days.
Tommy (pinball wizard) Milone, after “earning” the fifth starter’s gig in Minnesota over big Mike Pelfrey celebrated by going six strong against the Yanks only giving up one earned and striking out five. It was a quiet day offensively for both sides as Eduardo Escobar had the only multi-hit performance and upped his average to a cool .315 (54 at-bats).
Miami (3) at St. Louis (2)
Henderson (two last names) Alvarez, your Miami Marlins opening day starter, getting his final tune-up of the spring against a full Cardinals squad, had a fine showing Tuesday going six strong innings scattering six hits and only allowing one run with one punchout. Dee Gordon continues to hit the ball which is the ultimate goal of a professional baseball player, with another pair of hits today increasing his Grapefruit average to .339 (over 54 at-bats!).
He has taken as many walks as I have though this spring, scratch that, I took a very solid walk this evening at Lowe’s looking for any snowblowers that may be on clearance. Marcell Ozuna pitched in with a couple hits including a triple, and fourth outfielder, Ichiro Suzuki, caused a ruckus on the basepaths with two stolen bases.
Adam (Rufus) Wainwright is also in line for an opening day start (made official today) by getting his last licks in on Tuesday against the fish who roughed him up in his last outing. He still allowed nine baserunners over his 6.2 innings but limited the damage by only yielding one run. Matt Adams and Pete Kozma both donated a pair of hits to the cause.
Boston (11) at Tampa Bay (8)
A very interesting ninth inning for the split-squad Rays’ relievers as they gave up nine runs on eight hits and three walks. Offensively, the Rays put up a nice number themselves, but still came up short, as teams usually do when they allow a nine-spot in the ninth.
Daniel Robertson provided the pop with two long balls and five rib-eye steaks, and has now homered in a third of his at-bats this spring (he only has six at-bats, you can make anything sound good with spring numbers). Kevin Kiermaier chipped in with a couple hits and sabermetric darling Steven Souza Jr. continues to struggle offensively, but did steal his second base of the spring.
Edward Mujica got the start, and I’m sure a few novice save chasers were a little flummoxed by that news, as the Red Sox just trotted out a lineup of relievers as the Rays did. He still cannot get out of an inning without getting dinged, so those of you who picked him up with the Koji Uehara injury, you can expect heart attack inducing late innings early in the season.
Blake Swihart had a nice day at the dish going 2-3 with a triple, a run and three RBI. He has flashed his potential this spring, and while the Christian Vazquez injury won’t put Swihart in the bigs just yet, the attention is certainly being heightened. Ryan Hannigan, and newly acquired Sandy Leon will be the big league backstops for now in Boston. Rusney Castillo had three more hits in his bid for playing time in the outfield.
Philadelphia (6) at Toronto (10)
Aaron (the Sanchize-eh?) Sanchez hopes to continue the promising outings going into the regular season as he finished this Grapefruit stand strong, is what I so badly wanted to type here. His start to the Spring left a lot to be desired but Sanchez has put up multiple quality outings in a row providing hope to Blue Jays and Fantasy fans everywhere. However, that hope waivered a little on Tuesday as he couldn’t find the plate again, walking six and allowing six hits and five runs over his 4.1 innings.
Luckily on Tuesday, as often happens in Toronto, the big bats bailed out the poor pitching. Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson mashed their sixth and fifth spring bombs, and Edwin Encarnacion got off the schnide hitting his first homer too. Newly crowned Jays closer, Brett Cecil, put up a scoreless inning in relief with one strikeout.
Sean (SOS) O’Sullivan got the start for the Phillies unbeknownst to him. Apparently after being demoted to the minors two weeks ago and only pitching one inning in the last eleven days, puts you right in the thick of things for the fifth starter gig in Philly these days. S.O.S. needed a little help with his rusty control today as he allowed five hits and four walks to go with four run over four innings.
Grady Sizemore, one of the youth on the Phillies squad, went 3-4 today with a couple runs and an RBI. Newly anointed leadoff hitter and centerfielder (who has multi-position eligibility on most sites) Odubel Herrera continued his nice spring notching his first homer and a pair of RBI.
New York Mets (2) at Washington (0)
In the opening series pre-match of NL East rivals, lefty Jon Niese (who will not be facing the Nats) continued his torrid spring by shutting down the Nationals over six strong innings only allowing four hits and striking out three. He lowered his ERA to a miniscule 1.65 over 16.1 solid innings. John Mayberry Jr. provided his fourth Grapefruit long-ball souvenir, and his bench depth may prove beneficial if/when Lucas Duda struggles against lefties this year.
We may see many pitching duels like this between these two clubs for years to come with the rotations they’ll be lining up for a while. Gio Gonzalez, also not pitching in that opening series, as the fourth starter in this rotation, also had himself a decent day, going 5.2 innings and only giving up two runs on seven hits with six punchouts.
Hot speculative waiver-wire pickup Aaron Barrett threw a hitless inning in relief, while fellow waiver wire darling Blake Treinen did not pitch Tuesday. These pickups are in response to Drew Storen’s removal from the game Monday, which turns out was just a toe blister.
Houston (8) at Atlanta (5):
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Asher (spelling bee) Wojciechowski got the nod in his quest for a spot with the ‘Stros this season, and has a great statline to show for his work. In 20 innings this spring, he boasts an ERA of 1.29, a WHIP just over 1.0 and has 16 strikeouts. Not too shabby for someone nobody’s ever heard of. Colby Rasmus was the offensive hero today going 2-5 with a double and his third homer of the spring, with two runs and three RBI. Jose Altuve just keeps hitting, collecting three more today upping his average to .348 (46 at-bats). Jed Lowrie also went yard with his first on this Grapefruit stand.
36-year-old Wandy (they call me the Wanderer) Rodriguez pitched maybe a little too over the plate in his five innings Tuesday striking out eight Astros, but allowing eight hits as well as giving up three runs. He is shockingly going to be in the Braves rotation to begin the season most likely, and may be a decent streaming option in daily move leagues (especially when facing the Astros, like everybody else). The Braves hit a bunch of doubles today, spreading the wealth, and Eric Young Jr. stole his seventh base.
Masahiro Tanaka Photo Credit: Arturo Pardavila III
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