Roto Roundup: Yordano Ventura, Zack Wheeler, Jose Abreu and others

David Banks

Ray highlights some of the top fantasy performers from Friday's roto action, including Yordano Ventura, Zack Wheeler, Jose Abreu, Chris Davis and many more.

Fake Teams offering Daily Fantasy Baseball League advice for Draft Kings

In case you missed it, I added Dug Fister as the Fake Teams DFS expert for daily fantasy baseball leagues played on Draft Kings. Dug is not his real name, but that is his name on Twitter and Draft Kings, so he elected to stick with that name for consistency.

Dug will be offering advice a daily basis on what players you should consider when setting up your rosters over at Draft Kings. Here is his advice for today's games:

DFS Draft Kings Lineups for Saturday April 26th

And here is an introduction to daily fantasy sports over at Draft Kings:

Introduction to Daily Fantasy Sports

Let us know whether you are playing daily fantasy leagues, and where you are playing.

Fake Teams offering Shandler Park monthly league advice

Dave Morris Jr. came to me with an idea on offering advice on the new monthly fantasy baseball leagues that are hosted over at Shandler Park, the new site created by industry expert Ron Shandler. I thought it was a great idea, so Dave will be offering his advice on a monthly basis for the monthly leagues over at Shandler Park.

Below is a link to his introductory article on the monthly leagues:

Shandler Park Monthly Game Overview

Danny Espinosa: Starting second baseman?

2013 was a lost season for Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa, as he hit just .158-.193-.272 with three home runs, 11 runs and 12 RBI in 167 plate appearances in the big leagues, and just .216-.280-.286 with two home runs, 32 runs and 22 RBI in 313 plate appearances in AAA. So, yeah, he was one of the worst hitters in baseball last season, and had to take a real long look in the mirror and work on fixing his swing this offseason if he wanted to win back a starting job at the big league level.

Espinosa did re-work his swing this offseason and it is paying off for him thus far in 2014. The injury to third baseman Ryan Zimmerman opened the door for him to play second base on a regular basis, with Anthony Rendon moving from second base to third base. Prior to his 0-5 night at the plate last night, Espinosa had five hits in his previous eight at bats, so the hope is that the new swing will cut down on his swing and miss ability and allow him to make more contact. Through 68 at bats, he is hitting .294-.351-.485 with two home runs, seven runs and four RBI, but he has struck out 17 times, or 25% of his at bats. That rate will have to come down, but in the meantime, he is playing every day and is owned in just 2% of leagues right now. He still owns the skills to be the 20 home run, 20 stolen base hitter he was a few seasons ago.

In the past, Espinosa hit left-handed pitchers much better than right-handed pitchers, but this season, he is hitting well against both. I am curious what the Nationals will do with him once Zimmerman returns from the disabled list, as he could bring a decent return in a trade come July.

For more on Espinosa and the Nationals, check out Federal Baseball, SB Nation's Nationals fan site.

Yordano Ventura: Looking like a future ace

The Royals decided not to re-sign Ervin Santana this offseason and by the way he has pitched so far, maybe they should have. Then again, they knew what they had in pitching prospect Yordano Ventura. Baseball Prospectus ranked him as their 12th ranked prospect coming into the 2014 season, and Ventura is starting to show that he is the real deal.

Last night, he shut out the Orioles in Camden Yard, giving up just seven hits, two walks and striking out eight in eight innings of work in the Royals 5-0 win. Ventura is now 2-1 on the season, with a 1.80 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and a 27-9 strikeout to walk rate in 25 innings. He is currently striking out 27% of the batters he faces and inducing ground ball outs at a 51% clip, so all he needs is to get his walk rate under 3.00 BB/9 to enter the #1 starter and ace conversation in the coming years.

For more on Ventura's brilliant outing, make sure you check out Royals Review, SB Nation's Royals fan site.

Round'em Up

Mets starter Zack Wheeler had his best outing of the season, limiting the Marlins to one run on four hits, three walks and ten strikeouts in the Mets come-from-behind win over the Marlins last night. Wheeler did not figure in the decision, but is now 1-2 with a 3.99 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and a 31-11 strikeout to walk rate in 29.1 innings this season. Wheeler has pitched better than his ERA through five starts, and has shown improvement in his control. so we could see a breakout season from him in 2014.

White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu has plenty of power, and was a better hitter than Yasiel Puig in his time playing in Cuba. Last night, his power was on display, and it came in the biggest of spots too. Abreu went 3-5 with two home runs and six RBI in the White Sox come from behind win over the Rays. Abreu's second home run came off of Rays closer Grant Balfour, a grand slam, with two out in the bottom of the ninth inning. Abreu is now hitting .263-.336-.632 with 9 home runs, 18 runs and 27 RBI in less than 100 at bats. I recall reading several very positive reports on Abreu in the offseason, with FanGraphs Dave Cameron opining in one chat that he could be one of the top 10-20 hitters in the game.

Abreu's nine home runs in April are the most by any rookie in baseball history, so there's that.

Orioles first baseman Chris Davis left last nights game with a strained oblique and more than likely will land on the disabled list. Foxsports Ken Rosenthal tweeted that the Orioles have called up Jemile Weeks, but have yet to make a roster move on Davis. He will probably need more than the 15 days to recover from an oblique strain, so plan accordingly. Davis is coming off a huge 2013 where he hit 53 home runs and drove in 138 runs. He was off to a slow start power-wise, hitting .250-.372-.382 with just two home runs, 14 runs and 13 RBI in 76 at bats this season. I wonder if he was injured before this injury as his slugging percentage was down quite a bit.

Speaking of injuries to big stars, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper had a big game at the plate last night, going 2-2 with a run scored and 4 RBI in the Nationals 11-1 win over the Padres. He drove in three on a bases loaded triple in the third inning, but left the game after injuring his left thumb sliding into third base. X-rays taken after the game were negative, so hopefully he can avoid a trip to the disabled list. His owners are looking for more power from him, as he is slugging just .422 with one home run through Friday's game.

If you are looking for a cheap starter, look no further than Dodgers starter Josh Beckett. Beckett turned in his best outing of the season last night, limiting the Rockies to two run on four hits and six strikeout in eight innings of work in the Dodgers 5-4 loss in extra innings. Through four starts, Beckett has yet to earn a decision, but has a 2.45 ERA, a 0.91 WHIP and a 22-8 strikeout to walk rate in 22 innings. He is owned in less than 81% of leagues right now, so grab him if you are in need of a starter to replace Ivan Nova or another injured starter.

Closer Roundup

In case you missed it, the Angels demoted closer Ernesto Frieri from the closer role and named Joe Smith as their closer. Frieri imploded once again in Wednesday night, giving up four runs on five hits and a walk in one-third of an inning, prompting the change. Frieri has now given up five home runs in 9.2 innings thus far. Smith is striking out a batter per inning, walking less than three batters per nine, and inducing ground balls at an elite 74% rate. That is all based on 10 innings of work, and may be due for some regression. I picked up Fernando Salas as a speculative play in my AL only league where I own Frieri.

Pirates closer Jason Grilli didn't lose his closer role, but he did land on the 15 day disabled list with an oblique strain, so Mark Melancon is now closing in Pittsburgh. Melancon is not a dominating pitcher by any mean, as he strikes out just six batters per nine, but he does three things very well: he rarely gives up a home run, he induces ground balls at an elite 66% rate, and walks less than one batter per nine. Grilli on the another hand has seen his peripheral stats drop across the board this season. Could we see Melancon retain the closer role when Grilli returns? I wouldn't put it past manager Clint Hurdle.

The A's are inching closer to moving Jim Johnson back into the closer role, as he appears to have righted the ship since his early-April implosions. Since April 9th, Johnson has not given up a run in his last five appearances. Luke Gregerson pitched last night in a tie game in the 8th inning, so it appears manager Bob Melvin was saving Johnson for a potential save opportunity.

Fantasy Rundown

For more fantasy baseball (and football) news and rankings, make sure you check out Fantasy Rundown, your one stop for all the fantasy news you need on a daily basis.

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