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Fantasy Baseball: Angry Jays

After an offseason of addition, the Blue Jays sputtered out of the gates, dropping a pair of games to the Indians. The Blue Birds decided to bring their big bats to the yard on Thursday, mashing five long balls en route to an 10-8 victory. Jose Bautista (ankle) led the way, connecting on a first inning homer off of opposing starter Brett Myers. The blast marked Joey Bats’ second in as many games, and though he did exit the contest early with an ankle injury he appears to have escaped serious damage. Edwin Encanacion and Colby Rasmus also got into the mix with the long ball and catcher J.P. Arencibia went yard twice.  Eight of the Jays’ 10 runs on the came via the home run. It’s really just more of the same from a team that hit the sixth most home runs in baseball last year despite missing their biggest slugger for almost half of the season.

We’re all well away of the power potential of both Bautista and Encarnacion and there not all that much analysis for the pair of universally owned players. The other two names who went deep Thursday though, could warrant some attention moving forward. Rasmus is a pretty difficult case to make. If we cobble some ceiling number together–career-best totals that Colby has hit over multiple season–we find a player capable of a .276-85-23-75-12 season, and if you squint just right, perhaps there’s a bit of Alex Gordon-type appeal in those numbers. The problem though, is a declining walk rate (11.8% in 2010, 9.5% in 2011 and just 7.5% in 2012) coupled with a strikeout rate of over 22% in each of those three seasons. A deeper look reveals a ridiculous .354 BABIP (.288 career) during that strong 2010 campaign when he batted .276 and that makes us wonder whether Rasmus even has a shot to hit .250 this year.  It’s tough to shy away from a guy who is just finally entering his prime years (turns 27 in August) but until Colby shows some sort of improved eye at the plate, he’s not worth the trouble.

J.P. Arencibia represents a pretty similar risk in the batting average department, and perhaps more-so given the career .221 average posted, with similar upside for 20+ homers. What Arencibia adds to the equation is the valuable C next to his name in your lineup. The problem is that with the depth at catcher at this point, 20 taters at the position just isn’t that special. Last year, nine different backstops joined the 20-homer club. Still, four of those nine players batted .230 or worse, so perhaps J.P.’s performance was in-line with what is to be expected. It still remains tough to buy into a guy who is going to drag down that average so very much. Arencibia’s 44% ownership rate is sure to be on the rise following his multi-homer game, but with the likes of Alex Avila, Tyler Flowers and Wilson Ramos sitting on waivers it may be wise just to pass on the Jays’ backstop if considering a pickup and in deeper leagues, flip him while the value is high.

Around the League

  • Jose Valverde inked a minor league contract with the Tigers’ to provide them with some veteran depth in the bullpen down the line. We’ll recall that the team did not trust Valverde down the stretch last season, opting to use Phil Coke in the playoffs after Jose lost his mojo, but perhaps an extended offseason will do the 35-year-old a world of good. He’ll need some time to work into shape, but if a closer doesn’t emerge from that pen in the next two weeks, expect the veteran to get a crack at the job. He’s worth a stash for you saves-chasers with a deep bench.
  • Indians’ starter Trevor Bauer will get the not for Cleveland on Sunday in place of injured Scott Kazmir. Walks have troubled the 22-year-old Bauer in the past, but he was able to a decent job of limiting walks during his time in the spring.
  • Shin-Soo Choo collected a pair of hits including his first home of the season and scored twice to lead the Rds past the Angels. Choo has been batting out of the leadoff spot so far this season and while will depress his RBI totals a bit, Choo will perhaps get to show off his speed a bit more and his high OBP at the top of that lineup will lead to a boatload of runs.
  • Cubs’ closer Carlos Marmol had a shaky outing on Thursday, even for him. Manager Dale Sveum was true to his word in bringing the erratic reliever back in a save situation, but it’s tough to imagine that the manager had a comfortable inning even with the three-run lead. Marmol allowed a single and a walk before Andrew McCutchen drove in the Pirates first run. A second runs crossed the plate to push the score to 3-2 before Marmol struck out Pedro Alvarez and induced a double play ball from Neil Walker to end the game. The escape act may not have been pretty, but a save is a save for fantasy owners and perhaps the outing is just what Carlos needs to right the ship.
  • Royals’ starter Jeremy Guthrie struck out nine over six inning of one-run ball, earning his first victory of the year against the free-swinging White Sox. Still, the guy posted a WHIP over 1.34 in each of the past two season and can only be trusted to stream in the friendliest of matchups.
  • Chris Davis put together another monster effort, smacking his third home run of the year and third double of the year and finishing the day 2-for-3 with a runs scored and four RBI. Through three games, Davis has tallied 11 RBI and is batting a cool .636.
  • Cuban sensation Yoenis Cespedes is quelling fears of a sophomore slump, connecting for his second home run of the season. Josh Reddick, however, carried the A’s offense to victory, with a home run, four RBI, two runs scores and a 2-for-3 night.
  • Cespedes performance could’t quite keep up with Mike Morse in the other dugout who drilled his fourth home run on the young season. Morse remains available in 15% of Y! standard leagues and that really need to change. He’s .290-30-90 in the bank.
  • Sophomore starter A.J. Griffin pushed his career record 8-1 with his first win of the 2013 season, a quality effort (6.0 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 3 K, 2 BB).
  • The DC train just kept on rolling through opening weekend as the Nats capped off a sweep of the Marlins. Starter Jordan Zimmermann took a step back for a Nationals rotation, allowing a run in 6.0 innings pitched, failing to continue the series long shutout that Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and the dynamic DC bullpen had been tossing. The quality starts and wins should be plentiful for Zim this year, but his strikeout totals are absolutely erratic. He struck out just one in the effort and its hard to explain his Jekyll and Hyde demeanor in that department. Last season, Zimmermann had 11 games with three or fewer strikeouts and 14 starts with 6+ strikeouts. If he could just keep that strikeout up…
  • Old-man Andy Pettitte tossed 8.0 stellar innings, allowing one run on eight hits with a walk and three strikeouts  He then passed the ball to the ageless Mariano Rivera who racked up his first save since tearing his ACL last May. Rivera collected the 609th save of his career and looks primed for another fantastic season.
  • Our NL Cy Young favorite didn’t get to start on Opening Day like many of the other no-brainer contenders for the award, but that more of a hat-tip to his rotation mate Cole Hamels than an indictment of Cliff Lee. Lee dominated the Braves powerful lineup for 8.0 IP, allowing merely two hits with nary a walk. Cliff was excellent, putting down eight braves via the strikeout and grabbing his first win of the season and putting himself months ahead of the pace he was on last season (first win of 2012 came on July 4).

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