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Roto Roundup: Yasmani Grandal, Eric Hosmer, Corey Kluber and others

Ray offers his thoughts on some of the top fantasy performers from Thursday's MLB action, including what to do with Andrew McCutchen, Yasmani Grandal, Eric Hosmer, Alex Rodriguez and others.

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Yamani Grandal has a grand day

Coming into the season, Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal moved up preseason catcher rankings after he was traded from the Padres to the Dodgers in the deal that sent Matt Kemp to southern California. The trade was a positive for Grandal's fantasy value, moving out of Petco Park, the best pitchers park in the game. After a slow start to the season, he has caught fire over the last week. Yesterday, he had the biggest day at the plate in his career, going 4-4 with 2 walks, 2 home runs, 3 runs scored and 8 RBI in the Dodgers 14-4 win over the Brewers.

The big day at the plate improved his slash line to .301-.414-.534 with 4 home runs, 15 runs scored, 12 RBI and an excellent 17-14 strikeout to walk rate in 87 plate appearances. Over his last five games, he is 12-18 with 3 home runs and 10 RBI. He is hitting more line drives and ground balls in the early going, but his fly ball rate sits in the mid-20% rate right now, so he will have to start hitting more fly balls if you need more power from him. His fly ball rate last year was 38%, so an improvement to that level could allow him to approach the 15-20 home run level in 2015.

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

Andrew McCutchen: Ready to turn his season around?

I wrote about Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen in this piece yesterday afternoon, where I recommended that his owners hold onto him as one of the more popular projection systems, Dan Szymborski's ZiPS projection system, is still optimistic on McCutchen going forward. Despite hitting under .200 for most of the season. ZiPS' rest of season projections project him to hit .281 with 19 home runs, score 78 runs drive in 72 runs and steal 15 bases.

Earlier this week, McCutchen expressed his frustration with his slow start at the plate, his knee injury and the Pirates rough start to the season in a media interview, saying he is not happy going 0-4 every night. Last night, he went 3-4 with a walk, 2 runs scored, an RBI and a stolen base in the Pirates win over the Reds. Hopefully, this is the start of a hot streak for him and the Buccos.

For more on McCutchen and the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout, SB Nation's Pirates fan site.

Roto Roundup

Cardinals starting pitcher John Lackey had his best outing of the season yesterday out-dueling Cubs starter Jake Arrieta. Lackey had his way with the young Cubs lineup, limiting them to just one run on 5 hits and a walk while striking out 10 in 7.2 innings in the Cardinals 5-1 win. The win moved his record to 2-1 on the season, with a 3.20 ERA, 3.14 FIP, 3.79 WHIP and a 28-9 strikeout to walk rate in 39.1 innings. His strikeout rate is down a little more than a strikeout per nine innings, so that will be something to watch going forward. Yesterday's ten strikeouts  certainly help though.

After missing most of the 2014 season due to suspension, Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez has surprised many of us with his performance at the plate this season. He isn't hitting for a high average, but he is hitting for power, and that was on display last night, as he passed Hall of Famer Willie Mays on the all time home run list by hitting his 661st home run off of Orioles starter Chris Tillman. ARod went 2-3 with the home run and 2 RBI, raising his slash line to .245-.351-.532 with 7 home runs, 16 runs scored and 18 RBI in 110 plate appearances. It is unlikely he hits these projections,  but according to ESPN, he is on pace to hit 39 home runs this season.

A year after winning the American League Cy Young award, Indians starter Corey Kluber has been a disappointment to his owners, this one included, in the early going. Yesterday, he was knocked around for 5 runs on 7 hits, 2 walks and 7 strikeouts in 5.2 innings in the Indians 7-4 loss to the Royals. The loss moved his record to 0-5 with a 5.04 ERA, 3.18 FIP, 3.12 xFIP, a 1.39 WHIP and a solid 46-11 strikeout to walk rate in 44.2 innings. He has been unlucky as measured by his .364 batting average of balls in play and 62% strand rate, so he has pitched better than his ERA indicates. His advanced stats tell us his ERA should improve in the coming weeks, so don't be quick to give up on him. Add in the fact that he is striking out more than a batter per inning, limiting the walks and inducing ground balls at a 48% rate, and it shouldn't be too long before his ERA is more in line with his FIP. If his owner is panicking after his slow start, feel free to see if he will accept a lesser value for him and reap the rewards.

It looks like both Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas and first baseman Eric Hosmer are in the beginning stage of their breakout season thus far in 2015. Much has been written about Moustakas and how he changed his approach to beat the shift this season (not sure why others don't), and Hosmer is doing his best to reach the potential many saw in him when he was still a prospect. Yesterday, Hosmer enjoyed a nice day at the plate, going 2-4 with a home run, 2 runs scored and 3 RBI in the Royals 7-4 win over Corey Kluber and the Indians. Hosmer raised his slash line to .324-.403-.565 with 5 home runs, 18 runs scored and 23 RBI in 122 plate appearances. A big jump in line drive rate is propping up his BABIP and batting average at the moment, but Hosmer has always had the potential to hit .300. He is on pace to hit 29 home runs and drive in 133 runs right now. I doubt he can stay on this pace, but a 20-25 home run, 90 RBI season would be welcomed by his owners this season.

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