Fantasy baseball preview: April 18-April 24
This is the first of what I hope will be a weekly feature. I’ll highlight some good two-start pitchers, players to start, players to sit and matchups to avoid.
Edwin Jackson has two road starts — but one’s against a mediocre lineup (Tampa Bay), and the other is in a pitchers’ park (Detroit). He’s on a hot streak, so deploy as usual.
Doug Fister is available in a lot of leagues, and has two home starts (against Detroit and Oakland). He doesn’t offer a lot of upside in terms of strikeouts, but has pretty good ERA and WHIP numbers, especially at home. Then again, he plays for Seattle, so buyer beware. He could be a sneaky pickup this week.
Brandon Beachy’s another two-road start pitcher this week, at the Dodgers and at the Giants. He’s averaging almost a strikeout per inning, and the Braves are good, so cheap wins are always a possibility. That being said, each of his outings has gotten progressively worse:
- 6 IP, 1 R, 7 K
- 6 IP, 4 R, 2 K
- 5 IP, 5 R, 8 K
If that trendline continues on the road, it could be a rough week. I’d stash him on your bench if you have the space to do so.
On Sunday, the Twins announced that Matt Capps was taking over the closer role from Joe Nathan. A demotion this early in the season, off of two bad outings, reeks of motivation. If guys like Matt Thornton and Ryan Franklin are getting trotted out time after time, why not Nathan, who, before Tommy John surgery, was dominant? Nathan should be back in the closer’s role by the end of the season (and probably sooner), so if you have the space, just send him to your bench. However, if you’re a Nathan owner who doesn’t also own Capps, now’s the time to take care of that.
Kyle Farnsworth has run away with the Rays’ closer job, at least for now. He’s allowed one run all season, and has three saves. He’ll also help out with strikeouts, as least as well as a closer can. The buzz is still that Jake McGee will take over at some point, but, for now, deploy Farnsworth in all leagues.
Jonny Gomes is in a straight platoon with Chris Heisey, and he still hit four home runs and drove in six last week. He’s a notoriously streaky player and can’t hit lefties, but if you’ve got him, trot him out while he’s hot. The Reds have four games at home this week, which doesn’t hurt, either.
Another hot name to keep in mind is Colorado’s Jonathan Herrera. He’s platooning with Jose Lopez at the moment, but his hot start (an OPS of over 1.300, one home run, four steals) is something to keep an eye on. If you need 2B help, I’d pick him up and play him daily, as even a hot streak is better than a lot of other options.
Pittsburgh’s Pedro Alvarez was projected for 25 home runs and 100 RBIs by a lot of services, but, so far, hasn’t done anything of note (a sub-.200 batting average, no home runs). He’s getting dropped in a lot of leagues. I think he still warrants a place on your roster, but bench him this week or, at least, until he shows some signs of life.
Chone Figgins is another guy off to a horrible start. He’s batting under .150, with only three runs and one steal. He had 42 swipes a year ago, but that’s most of his value. If he’s not getting on base, he’s obviously not of much use. I’d sit him, or even try to trade him away. With the putrid Seattle lineup around him, he might not rebound.
Finally, it pains me to say it, but I think the time has come to bench Carl Crawford. Boston’s tried all kinds of different lineup spots for him in the first two weeks, with leadoff being the latest experiment. Well, he’s hitting 3-for-34 out of that spot, so the slump obviously continues. While Crawford’s too good and too consistent to not come out of this, we’re really at the point where expectations for the year need to be downgraded accordingly. And, yes, he may have been a top-five pick at your draft, but a player hitting under .150 can’t get a lot of steals or runs if he’s not on base. The Red Sox are also facing some good staffs this week in Oakland and the Angels, so stash Crawford away until he shows he’s back to normal.
Of course, I selfishly hope he hits .700 this week, with 60 steals, but it’s not likely. But, if it does happen, please give me credit for the scoop.
If you need a temporary Crawford replacement, I recommend Sam Fuld. After Manny Ramirez’ expulsion/retirement from the Rays, Fuld becomes a full-time player. He should be able to contribute in runs and steals at least, with average being a tertiary category for him. He’ll be platooning once the mythical Desmond Jennings is called up, but until then, he looks like a good play in all formats.
That’s all for this installment. If you’ve got any feedback on things you’d like to see in this space in the future, leave a comment. May the fantasy gods be in your lineup.