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Roto Roundup: Shelby Miller, Mookie Betts, Bartolo Colon and others

Ray offers his thoughts on some of the top fantasy performers from Tuesday's MLB action, including Charlie Blackmon, Stephen Strasburg, Bartolo Colon, Mookie Betts and others.

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Charlie Blackmon: Same as he ever was

Coming into the season, the common narrative that many had on Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon was that he had one good month last season -April - where he hit .374 with 5 home runs, 23 runs scored, 18 RBI and 7 stolen bases -and that you should stay away from him in 2015 drafts.
The other narrative was that he had a "bad" second half. Looking at his "bad" second half tells us he hit .260 with 5 home runs, 29 runs scored, 20 RBI and 10 stolen bases in 264 plate appearances. Certainly not bad in my book, just not as good as his first half, where he hit .305 with 14 home runs, 53 runs scored, 52 RBI and 18 stolen bases in 384 plate appearances.

I think myself and Mike Gianella from Baseball Prospectus were the only two guys in the industry who went against the grain and recommended him this season. Blackmon isn't your typical leadoff hitter, as he doesn't walk much and isn't a speed-first hitter. What he does do is hit for average, hit for middling power, steals 20-30 bases with surprising speed skills, and oh yeah, he plays half of his home games at Coors Field.

Through 23 games this season, Blackmon is hitting .316-.365-.579 with 5 home runs, 14 runs scored, 14 RBI and 2 stolen bases. In the early going, he is hitting for more power and drawing more walks, but to be fair, we are talking about 104 plate appearances. He is striking out more -21% this season vs 15% last season. His batting average may be propped by a .362 batting average of balls in play, so that may regress some. His power stats are up compared to last year, but he has benefitted from a 20% HR/FB%, so that may not be sustainable.

That said, after hitting just .241-.269-.348 with 6 home runs, 23 runs scored and 24 RBI in 300 plate appearances on the road last season, Blackmon is hitting .328-.365-.603 with 4 home runs, 10 runs scored and 8 RBI in just 63 plate appearances on the road this season. He has almost matched his road home run total from last season in 240 fewer plate appearances, and his runs scored and RBI should follow suit as well.

If Blackmon can continue to hit well on the road, and repeat his home performance from 2014, he could actually exceed his season stats from 2014. Can you say 20+ home runs and 30+ stolen bases?

For more on Blackmon and the Rockies, make sure you check out Purple Row, SB Nation's Rockies fan site.

Stephen Strasburg exits with an injury

Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg might be one of the more polarizing starting pitchers in the game. At least for me he is.

I was watching some of this game while eating dinner, and he didn't appear comfortable on the mound. At one point, catcher Wilson Ramos and shortstop Ian Desmond joined him on the mound after he threw a pitch. It seemed odd at the time, and the Marlins announcers hinted at the same thing as well.

Later, I read on Twitter that Strasburg had been wincing after throwing a few pitches early in the game. Then we get this tweet from Mark Zuckerman from Comcast Sportsnet:

Strasburg left after three innings, giving up 2 runs on 4 hits, 2 walks and 2 strikeouts in 3 innings of work. He is currently 2-2 with a 4.73 ERA, 1.61 WHIP and a 32-10 strikeout to walk rate in 32 innings. Certainly not what fantasy owners thought they were buying on draft day. Some speculated that his back may have been the issue, but we should learn more about the status of his injury later today.

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

Roto Roundup

I drafted Mets starter Bartolo Colon in the Tout Wars NL only auction draft back in late March, as I had focused my auction dollars on one ace, Jordan Zimmermann, two closers - Jonathan Papelbon and Kenley Jansen, and needed some cheap starters late in the draft. I can't say that I saw this type of performance from Colon in 2015, but am happy that he has pitched well to date. Last night, Colon limited the Orioles to one run on 6 hits, no walks and 9 strikeouts in 7.1 innings in the Mets 3-2 win. The win moved his record to 5-1 with a 2.90 ERA, a 0.94 WHIP and an absurd 34-1 strikeout to walk rate. You read that right....he has issued just ONE walk all season. He has given up three runs or less in five of his six starts, and one run or less in three of those starts. He may not pitch this well all season, but enjoy it while it lasts.

It appears the Braves got the better end of the Shelby Miller for Jason Heyward deal, at least to this point they have. Last night, Miller faced the inept Phillies lineup and tossed a complete game shutout, limiting the Phils to 3 hits and a walk while striking out 8. He is now 4-1 with a 1.66 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and a 31-13 strikeout to walk rate in 38 innings. He has given up two runs or less in each of his six starts this season, and has gone six innings or more in each of his last four starts. I am starting to think that he just needed a change of scenery out of St. Louis, as he has pitched great thus far in 2015.

Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts had a big day in his major league debut, hitting a home run and scoring two runs, but he has struggled since then. Last night, Betts accounted for both Red Sox runs, hitting two solo home runs to back the shutout pitching from Rick Porcello. Actually, Betts has been hitting better of late, with hits in seven of his last eight games, raising his slash line to .234-.306-.411 with 4 home runs, 15 runs scored, 17 RBI, 5 stolen bases and a solid 19-11 strikeout to walk rate in 118 plate appearances. Despite the early slump, he is on pace for 24 home runs and 30 stolen bases. Dreamy numbers, but highly unlikely in my opinion.

Coming into the season, many baseball writers felt that the Yankees would be a last place team in the AL East. I am not sure how they would come to that decision when making predictions, especially with the questions marks in the Red Sox and Blue Jays rotations. The Yankees have their own rotation questions, but thus far this season, their starters have exceeded expectations. One starter who has pitched well, but is meeting my expectations is Michael Pineda. Last night, he shut out a strong Blue Jays lineup, giving up just 5 hits, a walk and struck out 6 in 8 innings of work in the Yankees 6-3 win. The win moved Pineda's record to 4-0 with a 2.97 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and a tremendous 38-3 strikeout to walk rate in 39.1 innings. He has given up two runs or less in four of his six starts this season, is striking out just under nine batters per nine innings, walking less than a batter per nine innings, and inducing ground balls at a 54% clip. If he can stay healthy, he could be the Yankees ace this season.

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