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Roto Roundup: Jake Arrieta, Troy Tulowitzki, Chase Headley and others

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Ray highlights some of the top fantasy performers from Sunday's roto action, including my thoughts on the future of Troy Tulowitzki and Jason Heyward, and how Matt Kemp has been productive for his owners despite a down season.

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Roto Roundup

I recently ranked my top 50 starting pitchers for 2016, ranking Cubs ace Jake Arrieta at #10. That is probably too low, especially after he tossed a no-hitter last night vs the Dodgers. Arrieta dominated from start to finish, and I had a feeling a no-hitter was possible after the fourth inning. Arrieta allowed just one walk and struck out 12 to win his 17th game of the season. He is now 17-6 with a 2.11 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and a 190-44 strikeout to walk rate in 183 innings. He has given up just 12 earned runs in his last 14 starts, and has given up just two earned runs in his last six starts. The National League Cy Young award race might be the closest race in quite some time with four legitimate pitchers who could win the award, including Arrieta, Dodgers aces Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, and Giants ace Madison Bumgarner.

Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg has been pitching very well over the last month or so, and here is what I wrote about him last week:

Since returning from the disabled list, Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg has looked like the Stephen Strasburg from 2014 instead of the Stephen Strasburg from the first three months of 2015. Last night, he limited the Padres to 2 runs on 2 hits, a walk and 7 strikeouts in 6 innings in the Nationals win. The win moves his record to 8-6 with a 4.14 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and a 95-21 strikeout to walk rate in 87 innings. His season stats now look a lot more respectable. In his last four starts, Strasburg has given up just 5 earned runs in 26 innings or work, with a 32-3 strikeout to walk rate. He appears to be over his first half struggles on the mound, as he has lowered his ERA by 2.5 runs going back to the end of May.

I may have spoken too soon as Strasburg struggled on Sunday, giving up 4 runs on 7 hits, no walks, 3 strikeouts in 4 innings of work and just 60 pitches thrown. Does it seem odd to you that he threw only 60 pitches? I get that he was getting hit around, but 60 pitches? Very strange.

After the game, MLB.com's Bill Ladsen tweeted the following:

This guy will be one of the more polarizing players to rank in the coming offseason. He is becoming the east coast version of Brett Anderson, no?

The Toronto Blue Jays are without question the hottest team in the game right now, and yesterday, they hit four more home runs in their 9-2 win over the Tigers. They traded for ace David Price and also traded for former Rockies shortstop Troy TulowItzki. Adding Tulo to a lineup that already has Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Donaldson makes them a scary lineup to face in any playoff series in October, but since the trade Tulowitzki has not been the player the Blue Jays traded for. He want 1-4 with a run scored and 2 strikeouts in the Blue Jays win on Sunday, but is hitting just .228-.328-.377 with 4 home runs, 25 runs scored, 11 RBI and a 311-13 strikeout to walk rate in 131 plate appearances. His season stats are more palatable: .281-.342-.446 with 16 home runs, 72 runs scored and 64 RBI. He has been healthy all season for the first time since 2011, but it has been the worst year of his career. I can't help but think that the hip surgery he has last season is having an affect on his performance at the plate this season. Maybe this is the the new Tulowitzki. Still valuable in fantasy circles, but not a hands down first round pick any more.

Could this be the start of the decline phase in Tulowitzki's career?

All that said, I traded a $12 Scott Kazmir for a $29 Tulo in my AL only keeper league yesterday afternoon.

The Cardinals have a glut in their outfield heading into the offseason and will have to decide whether they want to offer a long contract extension to outfielder Jason Heyward or not. With young outfielders Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty performing well in their rookie seasons, the Cardinals can stand to allow Heyward to walk and receive a draft pick as compensation. Yesterday, Heyward went 3-5 with 2 runs scored and an RBI in the Cardinals 7-5 win over the Giants. The three hits raised his slash line to .291-.349-.442 with 11 home runs, 65 runs scored, 48 RBI and 20 stolen bases. Re-read that stat line and ask yourself how much you want to pay for that production next season. Right now, there are about 30-32 hitters in MLB with a better batting average than Heyward, there are 45 hitters with more runs scored, 93 hitters with more homers, and 100 hitters with more RBI. Sure, he can hit for average and steal 20+ bases, but the rest of the stat line is well below expectations. He has hit more than 18 home runs just once in his career, his career year in 2012. I think he is one of those players who are more valuable in real baseball than in fantasy baseball.

The Yankees teed off on the Braves pitching this weekend, scoring 38 runs in the three game series in Atlanta, including 20 runs on 21 hits yesterday. Leading the offensive outburst on Sunday was third baseman Chase Headley who went 3-3 with 2 walks, a home run, double, 3 runs scored and 4 RBI, and is now hitting .277-.339-.404 with 10 home runs, 66 runs scored and 57 RBI in 124 games this season. I really felt that he would benefit from the move to New York and Yankee Stadium on the offensive side of his game. I have to admit that I expected more than 10 home runs from him hitting in Yankee Stadium this season.

I recently wrote about how wrong I was on ranking Padres outfielder Matt Kemp too high in my outfielder rankings last offseason, as he has disappointed fantasy owners this season. Yesterday, Kemp went 1-5 with a home run and 2 RBI in the Padres 9-4 win over the Phillies. He is now hitting .265-.312-.424 with 16 home runs, 63 runs scored, 80 RBI and 10 stolen bases in 127 games thus far. I felt, coming into the season, that he could be a .280-.290 hitter with 30 home runs and 90 RBI, so he has underperformed my batting average and home run projections. That said, there are only about 15-16 hitters with more RBI this season, and like last season, he is having a strong second half, hitting over .300 with a .500 slugging percentage, with 8 home runs and 33 RBI in 143 at bats. He is on pace for a 20 home run, 100 RBI season with double digit stolen bases. Last season, there were only two hitters to hit 20 home runs, drive in 100 runs and steal more than 10 bases. Their names: Mike Trout and Giancarlo Stanton.

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