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Roto Roundup: Jimmy Nelson, Alex Guerrero, Masahiro Tanaka, and others

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Ray offers his thoughts on some of the top fantasy performers from Wednesday's MLB action, including Jimmy Nelson, Mike Moustakas, Alex Guerrero and others.

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Albert Pujols struggling out of the gate

When I took a look at the Angels boxscore from Tuesday night, a night where their offense put up 14 runs, I expected to see that first baseman Albert Pujols had a good night at the plate. His boxscore line was a disappointment though: 0-5 with 2 strikeouts. On Wednesday night, Pujols came up with the bases loaded early in the game, and from one account, he looked like Josh Hamilton at the plate, flailing at pitches from Athletics pitcher Sonny Gray. He went 1-4 with a run scored in the Angels 9-2 loss on Wednesday, and 0-2 with a walk on Thursday, and is now hitting just .190-.277-.379 with 3 home runs, 8 runs scored and 7 RBI in 62 plate appearances.

His power appears to still be fine, as his isolated power (ISO) currently sits at .196, up from .194 last season. Of course, we are only talking about 65 plate appearances. His slugglng percentage, though, is down from .466 last season to .379 early in 2015. His low batting average can be directly correlated to his extremely low .174 batting average of balls in play, so it should return to the .270 range before long.

This season I was willing to draft Pujols in drafts as I felt that he wasn't being over-drafted based on his name, unlike previous seasons where his ADP was living off of the Pujols of old. Pujols is struggling at the plate to start the season, but all he needs is a couple good weeks at the plate, and his average, on base percentage and power should be back to expected levels. Granted, his age and nagging injuries could impact his overall numbers, he should be able to come close to repeating his 2014 performance, where he hit 28 home runs and drove in 105 runs. If you have an owner in your league who is ready to give up on Pujols after his slow start, by all means make an offer of 80 cents on the dollar and see if he bites.

For more on Pujols and the Angels, make sure you check out Halos Heaven, SB Nation's Angels fan site.

Mike Moustakas: Building on his strong playoff performance

It is no secret that Royals third baseman has power, as he led the minor leagues with 36 home runs way back in 2010. But, since that time, Moustakas has been a disappointment at the dish for the Royals, as he has never hit more than 20 home runs or driven in 73 runs in a season, and he did that in his first full season in the big leagues in 2012. Since then, he has hits just 27 home runs and struggled at the plate, hitting in the .210-.235 range. Not good.

But something seemed to change with Moustakas in the Royals surprising playoff run last season that ended with a loss in game 7 of the World Series. Moustakas came up big for the Royals in the playoffs last season, hitting 5 home runs. This season, he appears to be building on that playoff performance, as he has begun to hit the ball the other way according to his spray charts over at FanGraphs.

Through his first 15 games this season, Moustakas is hitting .305-.388-.508 with 3 home runs, 13 runs scored and 5 RBI hitting in the top third of the Royals lineup. He is hitting more fly balls in the early going, so we could see a 20+ home run season from Moustakas this season. He has cut his strikeout rate in half in the early going as well.  If he can keep his batting average in the .260-.270 range, and maintain the solid plate discipline, we could see a breakout season from him in 2015.

For more on Moustakas and the Royals, make sure you check out Royal Review, SB Nation's Royals fan site.

Jason Heyward: Bust Candidate?

I have said more than a few times here on these pages that I am not a fan of Cardinals outfielder Jason Heyward. Without looking, i might have been the low man on him in our  consensus outfielder rankings in the preseason. Since his breakout season in 2012, where he hit .269-.335-.479 with 27 home runs, 93 run scored, 82 RBI and 21 stolen bases, Heyward has disappointed his fantasy owners looking for him to repeat that power breakout.

He dealt with a shoulder injury in 2013, limiting him to 104 games, and it appears there have been lingering affects of that injury as he has had to work on his swing mechanics in each of the last two seasons. This offseason, he was traded from the Braves to the Cardinals in the deal that sent Shelby Miller to the Braves. Many felt the trade to St. Louis would benefit Heyward, but he is disappointing those who had faith in him once again. The fact that the Braves traded him a year before he becomes a free agent, and after signing several core players to long term deals should tell you how much confidence they have in him returning to the hitter he was back in 2012.

Through 14 games and 62 plate appearances, Heyward is struggling in a big way, hitting just .213-.226-.328 with one home run, 5 runs scored, 3 RBI and one stolen base. His strikeout rate has increased from 15% to 19% while his walk rate has nose-dived from 10% to just under 2% thus far. Heyward is penciled in at the two hole in the Cardinals lineup presently, but with Kolten Wong hitting .325-.396-.475 out of the eighth spot in the Cardinals lineup, we could see manager Mike Matheny move Wong into the second spot in the lineup, where he belongs in my opinion, and moving Heyward down to the sixth or seventh spot.

This could just be an early season slump, but I think we will look back at Heyward's 2012 season as his career year. If he doesn't start hitting in the next month or so, we could slap an early season bust label on Heyward for 2015.

For more on Heyward and the Cardinals, make sure you check out Viva el Birdos, SB Nation's Cardinals fan site.

Jimmy Nelson: Underowned in most leagues

I have to say I whiffed on not including Nelson in Wednesday's Streamer report, as I just assumed he was owned in more than 50% of leagues, but that is not the case.

And that is a mistake. Grab him off of your league waiver wire now. Now.

In a season where the Brewers are off to their worst start ever, Nelson has been one of the only bright spots. On Wednesday night, Nelson limited the Reds, fresh off scoring 16 runs the previous night, to just one run on 3 hits, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts, and 8 ground ball outs in the Brewers 2-1 loss. On the season, Nelson is now 1-1 with a 1.35 ERA, 2.27 FIP, a 0.70 WHIP and is holding opponents to a .161 batting average. He is striking out around 8 batters per nine, walking less than two batters per nine, and is inducing ground balls at a near-elite 57% rate. Nelson has all the skills you look for in a starting pitcher, and if he can keep this up, he could put his name in the conversation for top 30-40 starter by mid-season, and should get plenty of National League Rookie of the Year votes, except there is that guy named Kris Bryant over in Chicago.

Have you picked him up off of your league waiver wire yet? What are you waiting for?

For more on Nelson and the Brewers, make sure you check out Brew Crew Ball, SB Nation's Brewers fan site.

Roto Roundup

One of the more shocking trades this offseason saw A's GM Billy Beane deal his cost controlled third baseman Josh Donaldson to the Blue Jays. After the deal, I ranked Donaldson as my #1 fantasy third baseman for 2015, and he has not disappointed in the early going this season. Yesterday, he went 2-4 with a double and a home run, with 2 runs scored and 2 RBI in the Blue Jays 7-6 win over the Orioles, raising his slash line to .349-.400-.635 with 4 home runs, 13 runs scored and 13 RBI in 68 plate appearances. He has hit all four of his home runs in his last six games, and has a good shot at 30+ home runs this season.

The Pirates probably have the best outfield in baseball with Andrew McCiutchen, Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte, but all three have struggled at the plate to start the season. But, over the last week, Polanco has caught fire raising his average from .200 to .300. Yesterday, he went 3-4 with a double, run scored, 2 RBI and a stolen base in the Buccos 5-4 win over the Cubs. On the season, he is now hitting .300-.323-/450 with a home run, 7 runs scored, 6 RBI, 5 stolen bases and a 19-5 strikeout to walk rate in 62 plate appearances. The stolen bases are great, but the low walk rate and high strikeout rate are troublesome, especially since he had much better plate discipline in the minors.

After hitting a pinch-hit 2 run home run off of Giants ace Madison Bumgarner on Wednesday night, Dodgers utility hitter Alex Guerrero earned the start at third base on Thursday afternoon, and proceeded to show that he deserves more playing time, either at third base over Juan Uribe, at second base to give Howie Kendrick a day or two off at some point, or in left field. Guerrero went 2-3 with a solo home run in the Dodgers 3-2 loss to the Giants. He has just 19 plate appearances, but has done nothing but hit when he does get a chance to play or pinch hit. He raised his slash line  to .474-.450-1.211 with 4 home runs, 4 runs scored and 12 RBI.....all in 19 plate appearances. With starting third baseman Juan Uribe hitting .250-.289-.278 thus far, the Dodgers should do the right thing and see what Guerrero can do in a starting role. They know what they have in Uribe, a good fielding third baseman with a little bit of pop. They don't know what they have in Guerrero, but we know he isn't that good in the field, but he appears to be the better option due to his bat.

It was just a few weeks ago when many were saying that Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka looked so bad that he should go ahead and have Tommy John surgery now as he won't be able to escape the inevitable. After giving up 4 runs on 5 hits, 2 walks and 6 strikeouts vs the Blue Jays in his first start of the season, he has given up just four runs over his last three starts, and is looking more and more like the ace starter he was before his injury last season. Tanaka stated before the season began that he will be changing his approach on the mound due to his partially torn UCL, and he appears to be just as dominant as he was last season. Yesterday, he limited the stacked Tigers lineup to just one run on 3 hits, 2 walks and 6 strikeouts in 6.1 innings in a game the Yankees eventually won 2-1. Tanaka is now 2-1 with a 3.22 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and a 24-7 strikeout to walk rate in 22.1 innings. So much for the Tommy John surgery talk.

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