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Roto Roundup: Mat Latos, Chase Utley, Jose Valverde, and Others

Ray Guilfoyle highlights the top fantasy performers from Wednesday's MLB action, along with other fantasy news and notes.

Joe Robbins

Before I get into the Roto Roundup, I wanted to let you know that if you ever have questions, feel free to post them in the comments section of the daily Roto Roundup or any other article posted by the other Fake Teams writers. Someone will answer your question, so please do not hesitate to ask any question you may have.

Saves Galore

Is it me or are there a lot of one run games this season? One run games means more save opportunities, more saves and more blown saves. We currently have one closer with 9 saves, three closers with 8 saves, one with 7 saves, seven with 6 saves and four with 5 saves, for a total of 16 closers with 5 or more saves. So, projecting their saves out over a full season, we could see 16 closers with 40 or more saves.

Mat Latos: Reaching a new level

Reds starter Mat Latos has been on the cusp of becoming an ace starter for over a year. What has held him back has been his tendency to start the season pitching like Francisco Liriano. Over his 4+ year career, he owns a 2-8 record, with a 4.92 ERA and a 1.381 WHIP in April, but his ERA is 3.80 or lower, and his WHIP is 1.206 or lower, in every other month.

Yesterday, he shut out the Cubs for 7 innings, giving up just 4 hits, a walk and 4 strikeouts, and is now 1-0 with a 2.16 ERA and 1.05 WHIP, with a 33-5 strikeout to walk rate in 33.1 innings. He has gone at least 6 innings in each of his five starts, and has given up one run or less in three of his five starts.

If he can pitch like his career monthly average ERA and WHIP going forward, he could be in the NL Cy Young award conversation this season. He is making progress toward becoming a fantasy ace.

Here is what else happened on Wednesday in fantasy baseball:

Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia is having himself quite a first month of the season. He went 3-5 with a HR, 2 runs and 2 RBI yesterday afternoon and is now hitting .268-.286-.634 with 8 HRs and 15 RBI. Arencibia hitting .268 is like anyone else hitting .330, so don't expect him to hit above .268 all season. But he has legit power and should hit 25+ with regular playing time.

Pirates outfielder Starling Marte would probably play center field on about 25 other major league teams, but with Andew McCutchen manning center for the Buccos, he is their starting left fielder. He is having a solid start to his rookie season, and is hitting .329-.382-.500 after going 2-4 with a run, RBI and stolen base last night to help the Pirates defeat the Phillies 5-3. Marte has chipped in with a HR, 13 runs, 9 RBI and 5 stolen bases thus far. I see him stealing 25-30 bases, but see the batting average dropping as he won't sustain his .429 BABIP.

For those of you who were worried about the injury risk that came with drafting Phillies second baseman Chase Utley, his hot start to the 2013 season has to make you feel somewhat justified for taking that risk. Utley went 2-5 with a HR last night, raising his triple slash line to .308-.353-.551 with 4 HRs, 11 runs, 16 RBI and 3 stolen bases thus far. I know it's early, but he is on pace for a 20 home run, 20 stolen base season.

How that Astros team can score 10 runs with the lineup they run out there everyday is beyond me. But yesterday they did just that, and were led by first baseman Brandon Laird who went 3-4 with a HR, 2 doubles and 4 RBI, and is now hitting .294-.333-.765 with 2 HRs and 5 RBI in 17 at bats since his call up. He should see regular playing time with Brett Wallace optioned to AAA last week.

Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury is probably playing his last season in a Red Sox uniform, and depending upon how well they play this season, he could become trade bait by the end of June. Yesterday, he went 1-4 with a run scored and a stolen base, and is now hitting .286-.337-.440 with a HR, 16 runs, 9 RBI and 10 stolen bases. He is getting the green light quite a bit from new manager John Farrell.

Closer News

The Tigers didn't waste any time giving Jose Valverde a save opportunity, as he was handed the ball with a two run lead in the ninth inning vs the Royals last night. Valverde responded by pitching a clean inning, walking none and striking out none to earn his first save.

A day after J.J. Putz blew his third save of the season, I felt the need to ask Diamondbacks beat reporter Nick Piecoro, on Twitter, whether Putz was in danger of losing the closer job, and here are his responses:

But, late yesterday afternoon, I came across an article where DBacks manager Kirk Gibson (aka #GRIT) fully endorsed Putz as his closer. It helps that David Hernandez blew the save in yesterday's game vs the Giants, but did get the win. He has given up runs in three of his last five appearances and has been giving up more base runners than usual.

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke stated yesterday that former closer John Axford has pitched well enough lately that he could regain the closer job real soon. Jim Henderson owners take note.

Cardinals closer Edward Mujica seems like he has a vise grip on the closer job in St. Louis now. He earned his third straight save yesterday afternoon, pitching a 1-2-3 ninth inning in the Cardinals 4-2 win and series sweep in game three of the three game series vs the Nationals in Washington. Mujica now has 4 saves since taking over the closer role.

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