Well, it's been a crazy two weeks for me, as I was dealing with a head cold over the last two weeks, and just finished up my fifth draft in six days last night, so I should be back to my normal writing schedule this week. I had an industry draft last Wednesday, an NL only auction draft in New York City on Friday night, an AL auction draft in Port Chester, NY on Saturday afternoon, an NL auction that i hosted on Sunday afternoon, and an NL snake draft that started on Sunday night and completed last night. I have to say, i love fantasy baseball, but that many drafts in a short period of time is tiring. Add in watching the Dodgers-Padres Opening Day game and the NCAA Championship game last night (I won my pool!!!), and it's really been a crazy last few days.
Onto Monday's top performers.
Trevor Story goes yard twice vs Zack Greinke
Well, this wasn't the way it was supposed to work out for the Diamondbacks $206 million starter Zack Greinke in his first home start of the season, now was it? Hitting in the two slot in the Rockies lineup, Story had himself a day, going 2-6 with 2 home runs and 4 RBI in the Rockies 10-5 win over the Diamondbacks.
Story won the Rockies starting shortstop job in spring training, and many are still waiting to find out how long Jose Reyes will be suspended by major league baseball after his suit was thrown out of the courts in Hawaii after his wife refused to cooperate with authorities. How long Reyes is suspended will go a long way in determining Story's fantasy value for the rest of the season. There are some who opine that Reyes will get a longer suspension than Aroldis Chapman's 30 games, and I agree. Reyes case will set a precedent for MLB's domestic abuse policy going forward. There is a really good chance he will be suspended for at least 50 games, and how the Rockies handle him after the suspension is anyone's guess, but he will have already missed all six weeks of spring training and two months of the season. At best, Reyes will return by the end of June, or around the All Star break, but there is a part of me that thinks he may not play much this season.
That said, Story set a record for hitting two home runs in his first big league start. Story isn't the next Troy Tulowitzki, and he has a lot of swing and miss in his approach at the plate, so I wouldn't recommend trading a top tier talent for Story. That said, ZiPS project him to hit 18 home runs and steal 17 bases this season, and I don't think that is out of the question, assuming he is the Rockies starting shortstop all season, but that may come with a sub-.250 batting average.
As stated above, this was not how things were supposed to play out for Greinke in his first home start in Chase Field, but he was knocked around for 7 runs on 9 hits, including 3 home runs, in just 4 innings of work in last night's loss. Greinke gave up 7 runs in 4 innings last night, and didn't give up his seventh run until his fifth start of the season in 2015. Greinke won't duplicate his near-Cy Young award winning 2015 performance in 2016, but he is better than he showed last night. If you have an owner in your league with a quick trigger finger, I would make an offer at market value for him knowing that this start is already behind him.
Diamondbacks infielder Chris Owings got the start in center field last night, going 1-5 with a run scored in the Diamondbacks loss. It appears Owings will get plenty of playing time at second base, shortstop and center field this season, and he could be a post-hype prospect play in 2016. He has the potential to hit doubte digit home runs and steal 20 bases with regular playing time this season.
Rockies second baseman D.J. LeMahieu batted in the eight spot in the Rockies lineup last night and will probably stay there as long as Story is hitting, limiting his fantasy value a bit. He should still hit for a high average, but his stolen base opportunities may decrease hitting in front of the pitcher. He is a good contact hitter and should be hitting higher in the Rockies lineup, so I see this as a short term move.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw was in midseason form last night in San Diego, limiting the Padres to no runs on just one hit, a walk and 9 strikeouts in the Dodgers 15-0 win. Kershaw needed 96 pitchers to get through seven innings last night, inducing five ground ball outs and 13 swinging strikes. With so many bad teams in the National League this season, I can see him winning 20 games in 2016.
Leading the Dodgers offensive output last night were second baseman Chase Utley, who batted leadoff, going 3-5 with a run scored and two RBI. Utley should get plenty of playing time this season, as he should play 3-4 times per week, backing up second baseman Howie Kendrick and third baseman Justin Turner, and could play third base a few times when manager Dave Roberts moves Turner to first base to give Adrian Gonzalez a breather.
Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was asked to lose weight this offseason and he reported to spring training 20 pounds lighter than last season. Last night, he went 2-3 with a walk, a HBP, runs scored and an RBI. Puig hit fifth in the Dodgers lineup last night, and I see manager Dave Roberts moving him around the lineup based on match ups, and he could lead off quite a bit this season as well. I see a nice bounce back season from him in 2016, and own him in two of my NL only leagues.
Braves closer Jason Grilli blew a one run lead in the ninth inning last night, giving up a run on two hits and a walk in the Braves 4-3 loss to the Nationals. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez used set up guy Arodys Vizcaino in the eight inning vs the middle of the Nationals lineup, and Vizcaino responded by striking out Ryan Zimmerman and Daniel Murphy after walking Bryce Harper with one out. After the game, Gonzalez announced that Vizcaino is his preferred option as his closer going forward. This comes as a bit of a surprise as I thought the Braves would try to build Grilli's value in the closer role and attempt to trade him before the trade deadline. As of now, that doesn't appear to be the case.
Giants ace Madison Bumgarner earned the win in the Giants 12-3 win over the Brewers yesterday afternoon, but he struggled in the process. Bumgarner, who dealt with an oblique and foot injury in spring training, gave up 3 runs on 5 hits, including two home runs, 5 walks, and 6 strikeouts in 5 innings of work. Every ace starting pitcher will have their bad day every once in a while, but his fantasy owners expected a better performance from him vs this Brewers lineup that will swing and miss quite a bit this season.
The Twins could surprise many teams this season, as they are loaded with young talent, including outfielder Byron Buxton, but they will need Buxton to perform better than he showed in his cup of coffee last season. Yesterday, Buxton batted ninth in the Twins lineup, going 0-3 with 3 strikeout vs Orioles starter Chris Tillman, which is not a good start to the season. Buxton, the #2 prospect among many of the experts, may need more time in Triple A if he struggles in the first month of the season.
Coming off a terrific 2015 season where he hit 35 home runs and stole 20 bases, Orioles third baseman Manny Machado found himself leading off in the powerful Orioles lineup on Opening Day. Machado went 1-5 with a run scored in the Orioles 3-2 win over the Twins. His RBI total could drop a bit if he continues to lead off this season, but his runs scored should increase.
Anyone who questioned whether Cubs ace Jake Arrieta could duplicate his 2015 Cy Young award performance, I know I did, were treated with more of the same last night, as he shut out Mike Trout and the Angels lineup, giving up just two hits and a walk while striking out 6 in 7 innings in the Cubs 9-0 win. Arrieta need just 89 pitches to get through 7 innings, and induced 8 ground ball outs to go with his 6 strikeouts.
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