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Roto Roundup: Josh Donaldson, Mark Teixeira, George Springer and others

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Ray offer his thoughts on some of the top performers from Tuesday's MLB action, including Craig Kimbrel, Jordan Zimmermann, Mark Teixeira, and others.

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What is wrong with Craig Kimbrel?

If you aren't reading Daniel Kelley's weekly closer rankings every Monday, then you should be, as he offers some real life stories with his analysis. In Monday's article, he ranked Padres closer Craig Kimbrel as his fourth ranked closer in both of his "Right Now" rankings and his "Rest of Season" rankings, and offered this for our readers:

I just want a nice week from Kimbrel so I can start believing in him again. This has been frustrating.

Frustrating. That one word describes perfectly Kimbrel's season to date. After saving 185 games over the last four seasons, with a sub-2.00 ERA in three of those four season, Kimbrel has not be as dominant this season. He has saved 11 games, which is great, but he has been much more hittable this season, and has given up three home runs in just 16 innings after giving up just two in 61.2 inning last season. His strikeout and walk rates are in line with his performance last season, but he has been ridiculously unlucky in the first two months of the season, as his .389 batting average of balls in play currently indicates.

He has given up runs in 7 of his 18 appearances thus far, and after dominating hitters over the last four seasons, batters are hitting .270 off of him so far in 2015. Here is his batting average against over the last four seasons:

2011: .176

2012: .126

2013: .166

2014: .139

2015: .270

The high batting average reflects the unreasonably high BABIP, so both should regress going forward, and with it, his ERA should drop as well.

I recently traded for Kimbrel in one of my NL only leagues, giving up John Lackey and Carmeron Maybin for Kimbrel and Christian Yelich. Both Kimbrel and Yelich have underperformed this season, but I am betting that both perform better going forward.

For more on Kimbrel and the Padres, make sure you check out Gaslamp Ball, SB Nation's Padres fan site.

Roto Roundup

Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann disappointed his fantasy owners to start the season, putting up a 4.88 ERA in April. He has turned things around in May though, and is now pitching like the pitcher we drafted back in the preseason. Last night, Zimmermann limited the Cubs to one run on 6 hits, 3 walks and 5 strikeouts in 7 innings, but left with a no decision. He has given up two runs or less in four of his last five starts, and is now 4-2 on the season with a 3.26 ERA, 3.23 FIP, a 1.27 WHIP and a 41-14 strikeout to walk rate in 60+ innings. He seems to be back on track after a rough April.

One of the bigger surprises to the 2015 season has been the performance of Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira. Last night, Tex went 2-4 with a double, home run and 4 RBI in the Yankees 5-1 win over the Royals. Teixeira is now hitting .243-.365-.588 with 14 home runs, 24 runs scored, 35 RBI and an excellent 22-28 strikeout to walk rate in his 176 plate appearances. Teixeira currently ranks in the top 5 in the American League in home runs, RBI, walks, OPS and slugging percentage. He is hitting more fly balls this year, and more of them are leaving the yard, as his 25.5% HR/FB rate reflects.

Could Teixeira lead the American League in home runs this season? He will need Mariners DH Nelson Cruz to slow down a bit, but there is a real chance he could the way he is hitting this season.

With Jose Altuve slumping in May, Astros manager A.J. Hinch has moved slugger George Springer into the leadoff spot over the last few games, and it appears that Springer is taking a liking to the new role. Last night, he went 2-4 with a walk in the Astros 4-1 loss to the Orioles. Since moving into the leadoff spot on Sunday, Springer is 6-13 with two walks, raising his season slash line to .231-.354-.442 with 7 home runs, 22 runs scored, 17 RBI and 11 stolen bases in 12 attempts. After hitting just .200-.300-.365 with a 31-13 strikeout to walk rate in 98 plate appearances in April, Springer is hitting .259-.411-.534 with a 19-15 strikeout to walk rate in 73 plate appearances in May.  Should this be the new Springer, we could see him enter the conversation about first round picks in 2016.

When the Blue Jays traded for third baseman Josh Donaldson in the offseason, many felt he could be the top fantasy third baseman in 2015, and he hasn't disappointed to date. Last night, Donaldson had a huge night at the plate, going 4-4 with 2 home runs, a double. 5 runs scored and 4 RBI in the Blue Jays come from behind 10-9 win. HIs second home run came with two on in the ninth inning off of White Sox closer David Robertson. He is now hitting .315-.379-.582 with 12 home runs, 40 runs scored and 33 RBI, and is on pace to hit 41 home runs, score 135 and drive in 111 runs. I don't see him reaching those projections, but could see him approach 35 home runs, 110 runs scored and 110 RBI.

If it wasn't for Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, Rangers designated hitter Prince Fielder might be the hottest hitter in the game right now. After going 11-19 with 4 home runs, 8 runs scored and 14 RBI over his last four games, Fielder continued his hot hitting last night, going 3-4 with a home run and 3 RBI in the Rangers win over the Indians. The hot streak has raised his slash line to .373-.424-.600 with 10 home runs, 24 runs scored and 38 RBI. Can he return to the 30 home run club this season? I think he can, especially playing in Texas. He is 100% healthy this season, and reports indicate he is rejuvenated after missing most of the 2014 season to neck surgery.

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