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Roto Roundup: Ryan Howard, Mike Bolsinger, Stephen Strasburg and others

Ray offers his thoughts on some of the top fantasy performers from Saturday's MLB action, including Ryan Howard, Mike Bolsinger, Anthony RIzzo and others.

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Ryan Howard is fantasy relevant again

I remember back in the preseason reading a Buster Olney article where he mentioned that Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard appeared to be in really great shape coming off his disaster of a 2014 season. He didn't hit well in spring training, and there were rumors earlier in the offseason that the Phillies could waive Howard outright. The Phillies are in a rebuild and his trade value was zero a few months ago.

That has changed after the first two months of the season.

Yesterday, Howard enjoyed a nice day at the plate, going 3-5 with a home run, 2 runs scored and 2 RBI as the Phillies blasted Stephen Straasburg and the Nationals 8-1. On the season, Howard is now hitting .268-.314-.550 with 10 home runs, 16 runs scored and 23 RBI, and is on pace to hit 36 home runs and drive in 83 runs. ZiPS projects him to hit 15 home runs and drive in 53 runs the rest of the season, but he has a chance to reach to 30 home run level with the way he is hitting this season. In 82 plate appearances in May, Howard is hitting .338 with 6 home runs, 10 runs scored and 13 RBI.

Since the Phillies called up third base prospect Maikel Franco back on May 15th, Howard is 14-36 with 3 home runs, 5 doubles and 8 RBI. He is owned in just 33% of leagues right now, and is tied for fourth among all first baseman in home runs right now, so grab him if you need a first baseman, corner or utility hitter.

For more on Howard and the Phillies, make sure you check out The Good Phight, SB Nation's Phillies fan site.

It might be time to drop Stephen Strasburg

Who saw this coming from Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg? No one, but there is something wrong with Strasburg this season. Maybe his shoulder injury is still bothering him Maybe he just doesn't know how to handle adversity on the mound. Whatever it is, he is a broken pitcher right now and the Nationals might do well by placing him on the disabled list to work on his mechanics, because he is not helping the team nor his fantasy owners.

Yesterday, Strasburg faced a Phillies team who he has owned in his career, but he got knocked around on Saturday, giving up 6 runs on 7 hits, a walk and 3 strikeouts in just 3.2 innings in the Nationals 8-1 loss. The loss moved his record to 3-5 with a 6.50 ERA, 3.65 FIP, a 1.69 WHIP, a .316 batting average allowed, and a 45-13 strikeout to walk rate in 44.1 innings. He is striking out more than nine batters and walking less than three batters per nine innings thus far. Solid peripheral stats, but there is no denying there is something wrong with him on the mound. Only Rockies starter Kyle Kendrick has a worse ERA than Strasburg among all qualified starters in the game right now.

Since he left his start against the Marlins back on May 5th with a shoulder injury, Strasburg has given up 17 runs, 15 earned, on 20 hits and 4 home runs in just 12 innings across three starts, facing the Diamondbacks, Padres and Phillies. Strasburg is owned in about 97% of leagues right now, and I recommend dropping, or benching, him right now. He isn't helping your fantasy team right now and has zero trade value unless you own him at a very cheap price and play in a keeper or dynasty league.

For more on Strasburg's struggles and the Nationals, make sure you check out Federal Baseball, SB Nation's Nationals fan site.

Roto Roundup

The Dodgers have endured season-ending injuries to pitchers Hyun-Jin Ryu to shoulder surgery and and Brandon McCarthy to Tommy John surgery. To fill their rotation spots, the Dodgers have promoted pitchers Mike Bolsinger and Carlos Frias, and both have pitched well in the early going. Last night, Bolsinger pitched a gem, allowing a leadoff single to Yangervis Solarte, and then retiring the next 20 batters in a row. Bolsinger shut out the Padres on just one hit, no walks and 8 strikeouts in 8 innings in the Dodgers 2-0 win over the Padres. In his four starts since his call up, Bolsinger is 3-0 with a 0.71 ERA, 2.74 FIP, a 0.79 WHIP and a solid 22-6 strikeout to walk rate in 25.1 innings. He is striking out just under eight batters per nine innings, walking around two batters per nine, and inducing ground balls at a 58% rate. This may just be a hot month for Bolsinger, but he has the skill set to be a solid pitcher the rest of the way. He is owned in just 36% of leagues right now, and I assume that number jumped after his gem last night. He should be owned in mixed and NL-only leagues right now.

The Rangers are playing good baseball right now, having won the series vs the Red Sox in Fenway Park earlier this week, and have won the first two games vs the Yankees in Yankee Stadium this weekend. Part of the reason for their resurgence has been due to the hitting of first baseman Prince Fielder who I wrote about yesterday, and outfielder Shin-Soo Choo. Yesterday, Choo went 2-5 with a walk, home run, 3 runs scored and 4 RBI in the Rangers 15-4 rout of the Yankees. Choo is now hitting .238-.319-.456 with 7 home runs, 19 runs scored and 22 RBI. After a horrendous April, Choo is hitting .316 with 6 home runs, 8 doubles, 15 runs scored and 17 RBI in 95 May at bats. He is owned in just 68% of leagues right now, and although he isn't stealing bases this season, he should provide a solid batting average and counting stats for his owners, so I would grab him if you need an outfielder or someone to fill your utility position.

Who is the best fantasy first baseman? Miguel Cabrera and Paul Goldschmidt are the two easy choices, but don't leave out Cubs first baseman Anthony RIzzo. Last night, Rizzo went 2-5 with a home run and 6 RBI in the Cubs come from behind 9-6 win vs the Diamondbacks. He came very close to hitting a grand slam earlier in the game, but it bounced off the wall for a bases clearing double. His home run came in the 9th inning with the score tied at 6. The big night at the plate improved his slash line to .322-.444-.586 with 9 home runs, 27 runs scored, 29 RBI, 9 stolen bases and he is walking more than he is striking out right now. He is on pace to score and drive in over 100 runs, and to hit 35 home runs and steal 35 bases. Like Goldschmidt, his fantasy value increases due to the fact that he is stealing bases this season. I remember panning someone for taking him with the 7th overall pick in one of the expert league drafts this season, but now that pick is looking very smart. Kudos to that owner.

Fantasy Rundown

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