Apr 6, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel (60) delvers a pitch during the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
While there are classic overreactions to things that happen in the first couple games of the MLB season, there are also some potentially meaningful things happening that could affect the fantasy landscape. While I am not saying that Jake Lamb of the Arizona Diamondbacks will lead the league in RBI’s, he is at least worth adding to your watch list or maybe even taking a flyer on him.
On the other hand, we have seen the stock rise of three relievers as Jenrry Mejia and Joe Nathan have landed on the DL and Craig Kimbrel is in San Diego. Everyone is well aware that Jeurys Familia, Joakim Soria (probably already owned in a decent amount of leagues because Nathan was so awful in 2014), and Jason Grilli are now must own players.
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Beyond the obvious, I feel like there have been a few meaningful things that have happened, such as the decreased velocity of Masahiro Tanaka. His stuff is still absolutely nasty and players can still succeed without incredible fastball velocity, but it does raise a tiny red flag for me. I am not selling all Tanaka stock (I actually do not own him in any league), but I would want to watch him going forward.
If I was a Tanaka owner, then I would try to watch at least some of his next start or two and find out for yourself if you should be concerned. You could possibly even buy a little low on the Japanese ace from a disgruntled owner who is afraid of the lower velocity. Tanaka is still a world-class pitcher who could still dominate even without 2014’s speed.
Rougned Odor has hit ninth, ninth, and eighth for the Texas Rangers in the first three games. He has received some sleeper hype from both Billy Moy and a few others in the fantasy baseball industry, but I hate this spot in the lineup for him. If Odor stays near the bottom of the order, then he could lose about 100 plate appearances over the course of the season. That would be devastating to his counting stats and you could kiss a fantasy breakout goodbye.
I watched the entire Corey Kluber vs. Dallas Keuchel duel on Monday, and I thought that both pitchers were absolutely phenomenal. Kluber’s skills made it pretty obvious that he would be among the best pitchers in the game, but he made the Astros look foolish 98% of the time he was on the mound. The movement on his pitches was electric, and he mostly capitalized on a very strikeout prone lineup.
Keuchel won the battle against the reigning Cy Young winner, and it helped me confirm my beliefs that his groundball inducing skills are legit. I was blown away with how amazing Keuchel was at his job even though I was fully aware of his league-leading 63.5% GB rate in 2014. I was happy to enjoy his start on two of my three teams, and I would not be a drop surprised if he repeats his sub 3.00 ERA.
You should really own Rajai Davis and/or Anthony Gose if you want steals. Rajai Davis hit leadoff for the Tigers in their first game on Monday. Yes, he stole a base. Today, Anthony Gose was at the top of the lineup and went 3-6 with a run and three RBI’s. I wish I could just own the Tigers’ CF spot and collect 60 stolen bases. Both are terrific streaming choices and cheap daily plays.
It appears as if Davis and Gose will platoon in centerfield, which is advantageous to Anthony Gose. Gose is a lefty, so he would start against RHP while the right-handed hitting Davis will take the field against LHP. Obviously, there are more righties than lefties, so Gose should receive about 2/3 of the starts if I had to guess. If you could combine the two, then I would take the Tigers CF spot over Billy Hamilton.
Besides some of these possibly meaningful fantasy observations, I am just happy baseball is back. There have already been some thrilling moments, such as Jimmy Rollins and Todd Frazier hitting late homers to take the lead, Sonny Gray getting dangerously close to a no-hitter, and Yoenis Cespedes robbing a HR. Above all, I am just really looking forward to another great season.