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Roto Roundup: Gerrit Cole, Joc Pederson, Joey Gallo and others

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Ray offers his thoughts on some of the top fantasy performers from Tuesday's MLB action, including Gerrit Cole, Nolan Arenado, Joey Gallo, Mike Pelfrey and others.

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Gerrit Cole: Top 10 Starting Pitcher

I was pretty high on Pirates ace Gerrit Cole coming into the season, ranking him as my #14 starting pitcher in our preseason consensus starting pitcher rankings. I went into one of my NL only keeper league drafts targeting him, and was in the bidding till he got to $20 and I didn't say $21, so I don't own him anywhere. I wish I did and that is my loss.

On Monday night, Cole faced a red-hot Giants lineup on the road and showed us that he is a legitimate ace and a National League Cy Young award candidate, as he limited the Giants to just two unearned runs, on 5 hits, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts and 9 ground ball outs in the Pirates 4-3 win. The win moved his record to 8-2 with a 1.90 ERA, 2.41 FIP, 2.53 xFIP, a 1.08 WHIP and an excellent 79-16 strikeout to walk rate in 71 innings. He is striking out  10 batters per nine, walking just over two batters per nine and inducing ground balls at a 54% clip.

Make sure you check out this piece from Dave Cameron over at FanGraphs, as he breaks down the reason for his success this season. In the piece, Cameron shows that Cole has had a lot more success vs left handed hitters this season than in previous seasons. Here is an excerpt, but make sure you check it out:

And as Cole has moved his slider more towards the up-and-down type, his results on the pitch against lefties have improved dramatically. Last year, his slider generated a whiff rate of 32% against LHBs, but this year, it's 51%. And when LHBs do make contact with his slider, they're putting it on the ground 58% of the time.

With a single breaking ball that now seems far more effective against lefties than his two-pronged approach used to be, Cole no longer looks like a guy who will destroy righties and try to pitch around the lefties. Now, he's a guy with a legitimate out-pitch against LHBs while also still pushing 100 with his fastball. The change-up hasn't ever really developed, but with a lefty destroying breaking ball, he probably doesn't need one after all. At least not right now.

Welcome to being an ace, Gerrit Cole. It may have taken a while, but you now look like one of the very best pitchers in all of baseball.


Yes, Cole is a legitimate ace.

For more on Cole and the Pirates, make sure you check out Bucs Dugout, SB Nation's Pirates fan site.

Roto Roundup

Twins starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey has been one of the worst starting pitchers in baseball over the last few seasons, making just five starts last season with an ERA near 8.00, 29 starts with a 5+ ERA in 2013, and 3 starts in 2012. Prior to that, he won 48 games over approximately five seasons as a New York Met. That is why his performance through ten starts this season has been so surprising. Last night, he limited the Red Sox to just one run on 6 hits, 2 walks and one strikeout over 7 innings in the Twins 1-0 loss. The loss moved his record to 4-2 with a 2.59 ERA, 4.11 FIP, 4.60 xFIP, a 1.24 WHIP and a 27-18 strikeout to walk rate in 59 innings. It's obvious he isn't striking out anyone, but he does keep the ball on the ground at a near 56% clip, limits the walks and keeps the ball in the park.

He has given up two runs or less in eight of his ten starts this season, and has given up one run or less in six of those starts, so he has been a different pitcher this season. He has significantly reduced how often he throws his fastball, and has increased his use of the sinker, slider and splitter this season with great results. Whether he can continue pitching like this is something I was willing to risk as I grabbed him off the waiver wire in my AL only keeper league before his start last night. He is owned in just 22% of ESPN leagues right now, so if you need a starter, grab him but know that he won't provide strikeouts.

The Rangers called up third base prospect Joey Gallo yesterday with many, including me, thinking he would struggle in his cup of coffee. Well, Gallo didn't see it that way as he went 3-4 with a double, home run, 2 runs scored and 4 RBI in the Rangers win over the White Sox. He won't hit like this every game, no one does, but it is a terrific start for the young slugger. He will have days where he strikes out a bunch, but his power could keep him with the big league team if he can hit while Adrian Beltre is on the disabled list.

About a month ago, Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann was giving his owners, me included, all kinds of fits with his poor start, and his reduced velocity in April. He ended April with a 1-2 record and a 4.88 ERA. Not what we expected out of the top 15-20 starter. Since then, Zimmermann has pitched like the ace that he is, including yesterday afternoon, where he shut out the Blue Jays on 6 hits, a walk and 4 strikeouts over 8 innings in the Nationals 2-0 win. The win moved his record to 5-2 with a more respectable 2.88 ERA, 3.10 FIP, 4.17 XxFIP, 1.22 WHIP and a 45-15 strikeout to walk rate in 68.2 innings. His strikeout rate is down from last season, but his velocity is creeping back up, so that could change going forward.

I was high on Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado coming into the season after his power breakout in 2014. He hasn't disappointed me yet, as he is one of the top fantasy third baseman through the first two months. Yesterday, he went 2-4 with a double , 2 runs scored and an RBI in the first game of the double header yesterday. In the second game, as of this writing, he is 1-2, and is now hitting .296-.335-.581 with 13 home runs, 12 doubles, 28 runs scored, and 38 RBI in 95 plate appearances. He is on pace to hit 41 home runs and drive in 121 runs this season. As an Arenado owner in several leagues, I was projecting him to hit 25 home runs and drive in 90 runs, so he is well on his way to meeting, or eclipsing, those projections, assuming he can stay healthy.

Dodgers rookie center fielder Joc Pederson came into the season coming off a AAA season where he hit 30 home runs and stole 30 bases, and some were projecting him to hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases this season. Well, after the last two days in Colorado, Pederson is well on his way to meeting the 20 home run projection, as he has hit three home runs, all over 450 feet, over the last three games in Coors Field. He now hitting .257-.382-.577 with 16 home runs, 31 runs scored, 30 RBI, 2 stolen bases, and a 63-34 strikeout to walk rate in 209 plate appearances. He is on pace to hit 50 home runs, but we all know he won't do that. That said, he is now the favorite to win the NL Rookie of the Year award.

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