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Roto Roundup: Jacob deGrom, Clayton Kershaw, George Springer and others

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Ray offers his thoughts on some of the top fantasy performers from Thursday's MLB action, including Jacob deGrom, Clayton Kershaw and others.

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Jacob deGrom dominates the Cardinals

There probably wasn't a starting pitcher who received more love this offseason than Mets starter Jacob deGrom. deGrom was coming off a sensation rookie season where he went 9-6 with a 2.69 ERA, 2.67 FIP, a 1.14 WHIP and a 144-43 strikeout to walk rate in 140.1 innings. He struck out more than a batter per inning, walked less than three per nine innings and induced ground balls at a 45% rate, so he had the ingredients to pitch like a near-ace starter in 2015.

After Thursday's dominating performance, he could enter the ace conversation if he can continue to keep pitching like this. Yesterday, deGrom shut out the Cardinals on one hit, no walks and 11 strikeouts over 8 innings in the Mets 5-0 win. He moved his record to 5-4 with a 2.75 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP and an excellent 54-13 strikeout to walk rate in 55.2 innings this season.He has given up two runs or less in six of his nine starts this season. As long as he stays away from the long ball, deGrom is going to be one of the top 10 starting pitchers in the National League this season.

For more on deGrom and the Mets, make sure you check out Amazin' Avenue, SB Nation's Mets fan site.

Clayton Kershaw: Now is the time to target weak owners

What is going on with Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw this season. Back in the offseason, I stated that one could make the argument that he could be the #1 pick in fantasy drafts, and at this point, that is looking like a silly prediction. It's no secret he hasn't pitched like a first rounder or a second rounder to this point in the season. After two consecutive Cy Young awards with a ERA under 2.00, Kershaw has struggled this season, but I think he is a good trade target.

Yesterday, he faced the Giants and Madison Bumgarner for the third time this season, and this is the third time he has come away with a loss, as he gave up 4 runs on 7 hits, 2 walks and 7 strikeouts in 7.1 innings. The loss moved his record to 2-3 with a 4.32 ERA, 2.88 FIP, 2.26 xFIP with a 73-16 strikeout to walk rate in 58.1 innings. He is striking out more than 11 batters per nine, walking less than 2.5 batters per nine and inducing ground balls at a 53% rate. The strikeout and ground ball rate are career highs, while the walk rate is up from last year. What is hurting Kershaw to date is the home run ball. He has given up almost a home run every nine innings, his HR/FB% given up sits at 20% vs a career rate around 7%, so the home runs allowed will come down. We saw this play out with Phillies starter Cole Hamels earlier this season, and I see the same result for Kershaw. His strand rate sits at a well below average 66% right now, so that should regress as well.

I just made an offer for Kershaw in the Tout Wars NL only league, offering Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado for him. Will let you know how it plays out.

For more on Kershaw and the Dodgers, make sure you check out True Blue LA, SB Nation's Dodgers fan site.

Robinson Cano: Start of decline phase?

The Mariners are struggling to score runs this season, and part of the reason is due to struggles of second baseman Robinson Cano. I wasn't particularly high on Cano coming into the season, ranking him lower than most in the industry. Yesterday, Cano went 2-4 with a walk, raising his slash line to .264-.305-.356 with one home run, 19 runs scored and 11 RBI in 174 plate appearances. After his power, as measured by ISO, drop to a career low of .139 last season, he is once again not hitting for power, as his ISO sits at .092 right now. One has to wonder if age and playing second base on an every day basis is catching up to him. Maybe his bat is getting slower? ESPN's David Schoenfield wrote about Cano recently and showed that he is struggling vs offspeed pitches and fastballs this season. Here is an excerpt:

So the basic story: In 2014, his power was down; in 2015, everything is down.

But is it just struggles against offspeed stuff? Not necessarily. In looking through his numbers, Cano has never been a great fastball hitter. From 2011-2013, he ranked 96th in the majors in wOBA against fastballs, sandwiched between Nate Schierholtz and Desmond Jennings. In 2014, he ranked 44th, with a .377 woBA against fastball. So far in 2015, he ranks 112th with a .338 wOBA. His strikeout rate against fastballs is 15.8 percent, up from 6.9 percent a year ago.

Maybe he is just in a slump. But, if he doesn't improve by this time next month, then it is time to worry. The decline phase may have come early.

For more on Cano and the Mariners, make sure you check out Lookout Landing, SB Nation's Mariners fan site.

George Springer showing growth at the plate

I think you know that I am pretty high on Astros outfielder George Springer. He has struggled to start the 2015 season, but there are signs that he is starting to turn things around at the plate. Yesterday, he went 2-4, with a walk, strikeout, run scored and an RBI in the Astros 6-5 loss to the Tigers.

The two hit game was his second game in a row with two hits, and over his last five games, I know small sample size, he is 5-13 with 7 walks and 4 strikeouts, and over his last ten games, he owns a 10-9 strikeout to walk rate, so it appears he is making some adjustments at the plate. He has walked in four of his last five games, including games with 2 and 3 walks.

On the season, he is hitting .205-.340-.409 with 6 home runs, 20 runs scored, 16 RBI and 10 stolen bases in 11 attempts and a more palatable 44-27 strikeout to walk rate in 156 plate appearances. His strikeout rate is below 30% now and he is walking in 17% of his plate appearances, so the stolen base total should rise from here. He is currently on pace for 23 home runs and 39 stolen bases, but I think he has more power in his bat. I could see him approaching a 30-30 season as soon as this year.

For more on Springer and the Astros, make sure you check out The Crawfish Boxes, SB Nation's Astros fan site.

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