Fantasy Football Rankings
In case you missed it, we will be covering fantasy football this season. Actually, we have already started our offseason coverage with rankings and fantasy team previews. Below you will find our early offseason position rankings:
2014 Position Rankings
Jake Arrieta flirts with a no-hitter......again
Cubs starter Jake Arrieta has been one of the many surprises this season, as I am pretty sure I did not rank him in my top 100 starting pitchers in the offseason. Arrieta was coming off a 2013 season where he 5-4 with a 4.78 ERA and 1.37 WHIP in 14 starts. He did pitch better after his trade to the Cubs, going 4-2 with a 3.66 ERA in nine starts, but no one could have predicted his success so far this season.
In his last start vs the Reds, he had a no-hitter through six innings, then gave up two runs on three hits in the seventh inning, but it was enough to win his fourth game of the season. Last night, Arrieta flirted with a no-hitter for the second straight start, leaving with two out in the eighth inning after giving up a single to Stephen Drew. He left after throwing his 120th pitch. He walked just one and struck out 10 in the Cubs 2-0 win. The win moved his record to 5-1 with a 1.81 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and a 74-16 strikeout to walk rate in 64.2 innings. He has given up one run or less in 8 of his 11 starts, and two runs or less in 9 of his 11 starts.
The question for fantasy owners is how long he can keep this up. I have to think he will regress from here, but I always say, you have to ride the hot pitcher or hitter while they are hot, or try to deal him.
For more on Arrieta and the Cubs, check out Bleed Cubbie Blue, SB Nation's Cubs fan site.
Like Arrieta, Athletics starter Scott Kazmir has been another one of the pleasant surprises this season. Last night, Kazmir had to leave his start vs the Tigers due to an undisclosed injury, but it appeared to be his side. He was coming up on his 100th pitch, so he was close to coming out prior to the injury. He left after giving up one run on 4 hits, 3 walks and 7 strikeouts in 5.1 innings in the A's win. He did not figure in the decision, but he is now 9-3 with a 2.61 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and a 91-24 strikeout to walk rate in 104.2 innings. He has given up two runs or less in 11 of his 17 starts this season.
Kazmir and Arrieta have been a couple pleasant surprises/outperformers thus far in 2014, but Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo has been one of the many underperformers to date. Choo went 0-4 with two strikeouts in the Rangers 7-1 loss to the Orioles, and is now hitting just .251-.368-.382 with 7 home runs, 41 runs scored, 29 RBI and 3 stolen bases. He put up a 20-20 season in 2013, but he is on pace for just 14 home runs and 6 stolen bases at this point. I don't see him stealing 20 bases this season, but he could approach 20 home runs with a few good power months.
Braves beat reporter Mark Bowman reported last night that catcher Evan Gattis would be placed on the disabled list with a back injury:
Gattis is going on the DL with a bulging thoracic disc.— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) July 1, 2014
The Braves won't know how long he will be out till they see how he responds to the epidural injection he received yesterday. Gattis has hit well this season, hitting .290-.342-.558 with 16 home runs, 29 runs scored and 39 RBI in 63 games played. The Braves called up Christian Bethancourt to replace him on the active roster.
Mariners pitching prospect Taijuan Walker made his first start in the big leagues this season, giving up 3 runs on 5 hits, 2 walks and 6 strikeouts in 6 innings in the Mariners win over the Astros. Walker gave up two home runs, to George Springer and Marwin Gonzalez, accounting for all three runs, so he pitched pretty well otherwise. In addition to the 6 strikeouts, he induced 10 ground ball outs,which is what you want to see from your starting pitchers. His next start comes in Chicago to face the White Sox on Sunday.
Bryce Harper came off the disabled list to make his first start since April, and he played left field, his regular position last night. Harper batted sixth and went 1-3 with a walk, run scored, and an RBI in the Nationals 7-3 win over the Rockies. With Harper in left field, Ryan Zimmerman manned third base, going 3-4 with 2 doubles, 2 runs scored and an RBI, and is now hitting .248-.314-.409 with just 3 home runs, 15 runs scored and 20 RBI in his 137 at bats. If the Nationals can get these two guys on track in the second half, they could run away with the NL East with the way the Braves struggle to score runs.
Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond came into the season with two 20 home run, 20 stolen base seasons under his belt, and he is well on his way to repeating that feat in 2014. Last night, Desmond went 2-4 with 2 doubles, a run scored, 3 RBI and a stolen base in the Nationals 7-3 win over the Rockies. Desmond raised his slash line to .235-.288-.419 with 14 home runs, 32 runs scored, 49 RBI and 9 stolen bases, and is on pace for a career high 28 home runs and 97 RBI. He strikes out way too much, is on pace to strike out 198 times, and rarely walks, so I wonder if his inability to make contact will prevent him from setting a career high in home runs or not.
If you are looking for some speed, look no further than Mariners outfielder James Jones who is available in 82% of leagues right now. Last night, his speed was on display, as he went 4-5 with 2 runs scored and 3 stolen bases, and is now hitting .289-.320-.351 with 30 runs scored and 17 stolen bases in 55 games thus far. He is playing every day, so he should continue to run when he gets on base.
The Cardinals have had trouble scoring runs this season, unlike 2013 when they hit over .300 with runners in scoring position, and have once again called up outfield prospect Oscar Taveras, and this time it might be for good. Taveras will play right field, with Allen Craig going to the bench. Craig has struggled this season, hitting .255-.305-.368 with just 6 home runs, 32 runs scored and 40 RBI, but his lack of power might be the reason why he is going to the bench. His lack of power is evidenced by the fact that Dee Gordon and Billy Hamilton currently have a higher ISO than Craig.
Fantasy Sports Network is Coming Soon!
That's right, there is a new Fantasy Sports Network that is close to going live, and will be available on your cable providers real soon.
FNTSY Sports Network is the first television network to have live studio programming, call-in shows, panels, celebrity and expert drafts, reality programming and on-site commentary from sports venues, all specifically targeted towards the estimated 40 million people who play fantasy sports annually and on a daily basis.
Make sure you check out their site Fantasy Sports Network and check out all they have to offer.
If you are looking for more fantasy baseball, and football, content, make sure you check out Fantasy Rundown, as they provide links to some of the best fantasy content on the internet on a daily basis.