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Roto Roundup: Gary Sanchez, David Phelps, Robbie Ray and others

MLB: New York Yankees at Los Angeles Angels Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

2016 Fantasy Football Rankings

Fantasy football season is here and our fantasy football writers have published their early position rankings, some breakout candidates and some ADP analysis from the early mock drafts, and you can find all of these articles in one spot. Check out the articles in the link below.

Early 2016 Fantasy Football Rankings

In addition, Robert Kohnfelder took a look at the top fantasy players for each NFL team in the fantasy football team previews linked below.

Fantasy Football Team Previews

Robbie Ray: Diamondbacks strikeout machine

Last offseason, I wrote a piece where I discussed 12 starting pitchers who you could draft relatively cheaply and who could help you in the strikeout category in 2016:

Twelve unheralded and dominating starting pitchers to consider in 2016

In that piece, I wrote about Rockies starter Jon Gray, Reds starter Raisel Iglesias, Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks, Marlins starter Adam Conley, Blue Jays starter J.A. Happy and Red Sox starter Rick Porcello. All have been pretty good this season, especially Hendricks and Happ. Another starter I wrote about in that article was Diamondbacks starter Robbie Ray. Here is what I wrote about him:

The Diamondbacks made some noise this offseason, signing ace Zack Greinke to e $206.5 million contract, and trading for Braves starter Shelby Miller. Their rotation will be much improved in 2016, with Greinke, Miller, Patrick Corbin, Rubby de la Rosa and Ray or Chase Anderson filling out their starting five. Ray was solid in his 23 starts last season, pitching to a 3.52 ERA while striking out more than eight batters per nine. In the second half, his strikeout rate was better, he kept the ball on the ground, but walked too many batters. He was also unlucky with the BABIP in the second half. I will be interested to see if he makes the Dbacks rotation out of spring training. If he does, he can be a cheap source of strikeouts in deeper mixed and NL only leagues next season.

Ray made the Diamondbacks rotation and has been pretty dominating on the mound as well. Last night, Ray dominated the Padres, limiting them to one run on one hit, a walk and striking out 13 in the Diamondbacks 2-1 win. The win moved his record to 7-11 with a 4.31 ERA, 1.41 WHIP and a 174-50 strikeout to walk rate in 140 innings. Ray has been hurt by the long ball this season, giving up more than a home run per nine innings, but he has cut his walks to a respectable 3.21 BB/9 and has upped his strikeout rate to 11.19 K/9, an increase of almost three strikeouts per nine innings this season.

Ray is somehow still available in more than 70% of leagues right now, so he should be picked up. He ranks third among all starters in K/9, and in his last seven starts, all in the second half, he leads the majors with a 12.45 K/9 and is pitching to a 3.16 ERA and 2.75 FIP.

Roto Roundup

I wrote about Marlins starter David Phelps last week after he pitched well in his third start of the season. In his fourth start of the season last night, Phelps was dominant, shutting out the Pirates on 2 hits, 2 walks and striking out 9 in 6 innings of work in the Marlins 3-1 win. Phelps excelled in the bullpen role, and it appears that is carrying over in his starting role. In his four starts, covering 20.2 innings, Phelps is 2-1 with a 1.31 ERA, 1.016 WHIP and an excellent 26-7 strikeout to walk rate. He has maintained his 11 K/9 strikeout rate and is limiting hitters to a .192-.263-.288 triple slash line in his four starts. His ownership rate rose last week, but he is still available in more than 70% of leagues right now.

Astros third baseman Alex Bregman tore up Double A and Triple A pitching this season, earning a call up to the big league club. Upon his call up, he struggled, but he has begun to turn things around at the plate over the last two weeks. Last night, he went 3-6 with a home run and 3 RBI in the Astros 12-2 win over the Orioles. Over his last 10 games, Bregman is 16-45 with 3 home runs, 4 doubles, 10 runs scored, and 11 RBI, raising his batting average from .150 to .238. So he is back to bashing. Grab him while he is hot.

Speaking of the Astros, they are calling up infielder/outfielder Yulieski Gurriel today, and reports indicate he will be the Astros designated hitter. He should play some outfield and third base as well, but grab him if you need a bat.

Joon Kim attempted to project what we can expect from Gurriel in the linked article below, comparing him to Jose Abreu and Yoenis Cespedes.

Is the World Ready for Gourriel

Mariners catcher Mike Zunino was all the craze a few seasons ago and was probably rushed to the big leagues. After a couple stints in Triple A, it appears Zunino has figured things out at the plate. Last night, he went 2-4 with a home run and 3 RBI in the Mariners 8-2 win over the Brewers. It has been only 81 plate appearances, but Zunino is now hitting .282-.402-.690 with 8 home runs, 10 runs scored and 18 RBI. This is either a very nice hot streak or he has figured things out after hitting below .200 the last two seasons. Let’s see how things play out for him over the last six weeks of the season.

The Yankees are in a partial rebuild right now, as they have called up catcher Gary Sanchez, first baseman Tyler Austin and outfielder Aaron Judge over the last month or so. Sanchez appears to be the most ready after several sub-par seasons in the minors, but reports indicate he improved his work ethic in the last year, and it is showing up upon his call up to the big leagues. Last night, Sanchez went 1-4 with a solo home run in the Yankees 5-1 win over the Angels. Sanchez is now hitting .379-.419-.776 with 6 home runs, 11 runs scored, 12 RBI and a 14-4 strikeout to walk rate in 62 plate appearances. He won’t continue to hit for a high average, but he is a catcher who should hit for a .250-.260 average with double digit home runs in a full season of plate appearances.

Every season, a bunch of major league players make us fantasy writers look foolish, as they outperform our expectations and rankings. It happens every year and goes with the territory. One of those players is Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius. He batted clean up for the Yankees last night, so that is one indicator that his breakout season is for real. After going 1-4 last night, Gregorius is hitting .285-.313-.470 with 17 home runs, 25 doubles, 53 runs scored, 56 RBI and 5 stolen bases. He is making more hard contact this season than last, hitting more fly balls, and more of those fly balls are landing in the seats at Yankee Stadium. He is swinging at a lot of pitches out of the zone, but it has yet to affect his production this season, as he swinging strike rate has actually dropped. He ranks in the top 10 among all shortstops in home runs and batting average, and currently ranks 13th in runs scored and RBI, so he will get plenty of consideration as a top 10 shortstop heading into the 2017 season.

Fantasy Rundown

If you are looking for more fantasy baseball and football coverage, make sure you check out Fantasy Rundown, where you can find links to all of the best fantasy coverage on the internet.

My personal Twitter account

I have been meaning to add a personal Twitter account for awhile and I finally decided to create one recently. You can find my personal Twitter account at @RotoRay_LAD. I will be free to tweet about many subjects, but the focus will be on fantasy baseball, and the teams I cheer for. In addition, I may tweet about current events, the stock market, politics, beer among other subjects.