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Roto Roundup: Carlos Rodon, Dallas Keuchel, Troy Tulowitzki, and others

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Ray offers his thoughts on some of the top fantasy performers from Thursday's roto action, including Dallas Keuchel, Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Rodon and others.

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Dallas Keuchel: Top 12 Starting Pitcher

I was reading Mike Podhorzer's American League Starting Pitcher tiers over at Rotographs yesterday morning, and was very surprised with his ranking of Astros ace Dallas Keuchel. For me, Keuchel is a top 12 starting pitcher in baseball right now. But, Mike ranked him in his fourth tier, with the following starters:

Danny Salazar

Jeff Samardzija

Scott Kazmir

Anibal Sanchez

Collin McHugh

For me, Keuchel should be ranked ahead of each of these starters. I would rank Keuchel over each of these starters, along with Yankees starter Michael Pineda, who he ranked in his third tier, and Indians starter Carlos Carrasco, who he ranked in his second tier and in his top five starting pitchers in the AL.

Yesterday, he limited the Orioles to 2 runs on 6 hits, a walk, 7 strikeouts and 8 ground ball outs in 6 innings of work in the Astros 3-2 loss. Keuchel didn't factor in the decision, and is now 7-1 with a 1.85 ERA, 2.79 FIP, 2.93 xFIP, a 0.92 WHIP and a 67-22 strikeout to walk rate in 87.2 innings of work.

I argued my opinion that ranking Carrasco ahead of Keuchel was a mistake on Twitter with Mike and Chad Young yesterday, and their argument was that the strikeout rate difference between Carrasco and Keuchel was too large, so Carrasco should be ranked higher. What they fail to see is that Keuchel pitches more innings per start than Carrasco, so his projected strikeout total (according to ESPN) of 197 isn't that far off Carrasco's projected total of 231. Keuchel is projected to toss over 250 innings this season, so while his K/9 is below 7 K/9, his strikeout total could approach 200 this season. Not too bad for a starter who induces ground balls at an elite 64% rate. He ranks second in the American League in wins and ERA right now, and leads the AL in WHIP, so combine that with close to 200 strikeouts, and I think you have a top 12 starting pitcher right now.

For more on Keuchel, check out The Crawfish Boxes, SB Nation's Astros fan site.

Troy Tulowitzki is getting back to being Troy Tulowitzki

I wrote about Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki recently, recommending that owners should not panic and that Tulo should be back to being his old self very soon. Here is what I wrote back on May 15th:

Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has seen his name floated in trade rumors over the last few days as there was speculation that he might request that the Rockies trade him. The Rockies are suffering through another bad season, and it probably behooves them to deal him while he is healthy and still has trade value. The Rockies are struggling to score runs this season, ranking in the bottom five in baseball at the moment, and as a result, Tulo is having a sub-par season, for him. Heading into his game last night in Los Angeles, he was hitting .303-.310-.477 with 2 home runs, 16 runs scored, 11 RBI and a terrible 25-2 strikeout to walk rate in 113 plate appearances. His strikeout rate is up from 15% last season to 22% this season, while his walk rate has plummeted from 13% last year to under 2% this season. Tulowitzki is coming off offseason hip surgery, so I wonder if pitchers are challenging him more, and he is seeing more first pitch strikes (62% vs 58% last season), and is swinging at more pitches inside and outside the zone. So, it appears he is seeing more strikes in the early going, partially explaining his low walk rate. His home runs are down a bit too, as his HR/FB% has also plummeted from a career 15% rate to just under 6% this season. It's early, but it bares watching to see if his recovery from hip surgery is negatively impacting his power.

Since that article, he has begun to hit for more power, but the walks are still few and far between. Over his last five games, he is 10-22 with 4 home runs, 7 runs scored, and 10 RBI, and is now hitting .293-.317-.489 with 6 home runs, 27 runs scored and 28 RBI in 183 plate appearances. It appears he has his power stroke back, and hopefully the walk rate follows soon enough.

Roto Roundup

The White Sox called up Carlos Rodon back in late April and put him in their bullpen for a few appearances before placing him in their starting rotation. To say that he has struggled since joining the rotation would be an understatement. Like many other young starting pitchers, he has struggled with his control walking almost six batters per nine innings. But, he didn't walk a batter in his last start vs the Astros, giving up just one earned run (3 total runs) on 8 hits and 4 strikeouts in 6.1 innings. Last night, he showed us that he might be getting comfortable in the big league rotation, as he dominated the Rangers lineup, giving up just one run on 5 hits, 3 walks and striking out 10 in six innings of work, but left with a no decision. In his five starts, he is 1-0 with a 3.12 ERA, 3.38 FIP, 4.33 xFIP, but a 1.64 WHIP and a 35-22 strikeout to walk rate in 34.2 innings. Rodon has the potential to be a #2 starter over time, and is owned in just 32% of leagues right now, so if you are looking for a high ceiling starter and are willing to take on the risk of a blow up start here and there, go out an grab Rodon, as he should provide solid strikeout totals at the very least. If he is over his walk problems, he could put up solid ERA and WHIP ratios as well.

The Red Sox spent a lot of money this offseason, most of it on third baseman Pablo Sandoval and left fielder Hanley Ramirez. Ramirez started the season on fire, but since running into the left field wall at Fenway Park, he hasn't been the same hitter. Since the beginning of May, Hanley is hitting under .240 with just 2 home runs and 6 RBI in just over 100 at bats. Sandoval, on the other hand, has been bad all season. Yesterday, he was just awful, going 0-4 with two errors in the Red Sox 8-4 loss to the Twins, and is now hitting just .239-.306-.352 with 5 home runs, 18 runs scored and 17 RBI in 188 plate appearances this season. Coming into the season, many felt that the move out of San Francisco to Boston would boost Sandoval's numbers this season, but he reported to camp out of shape....shocking....and is off to a slow start through the first two plus months of the season. I see him returning to form in the coming weeks, as the Red Sox lineup is better than they have shown thus far, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them start scoring runs in bunches real soon. With that, Sandoval might be a solid buy low candidate, as he, too, is better than he has shown thus far.

I am beginning to think that this season could......COULD.....be the last season we see Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton as an every day player. The guy is a very good defender, but he just cannot hit. He has a few excellent skills, his speed and defense, but nothing else, and that could begin to matter in short order. Yesterday, he went 1-3 with a run scored and 2 RBI in the Reds 6-4 win over the Phillies, and is now hitting just .222-.263-.314 with 3 home runs, 27 runs scored, 17 RBI and 23 stolen bases in 27 attempts. I am curious if he could be sent down to AAA to work on bunting as he needs to put the ball on the ground more than 43% of his plate appearances.

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