We’ve basically gotten one week’s worth of games under our belts now and although the samples sizes are still very small at this point, that doesn’t mean that you as a fantasy player shouldn’t be paying attention to who’s coming out of the gate fast, who’s struggling and which players you might want to put on your radar. Like most fantasy players, I spent a good portion of the last few days checking out the live standings for my various leagues, and with such a large slate of teams this year, it’s a longer process than usual for me. It also is a game of ups and downs, as I inevitably have conflicting match-ups, one guy’s highlight often spells trouble for one of my pitchers somewhere. But, for the most part my teams have gotten off to decent starts, which are always nice, and my major injuries seem to be localized in only a league or two. For some reason I kept drinking the Kenley Jansen and Addison Reed Kool-Aid this year and compounded matters by tabbing Andrew Bailey in multiple leagues as well. I’m now chasing saves in more places than I planned on and every clean save Javy Guerra and Hector Santiago racks up has me questioning my own logic as it pertains to closers. But that’s a story for another column I guess.
Most here know that I am a die-hard Indians fan, so naturally I checked in on their Opening Day game against the Blue Jays. Justin Masterson was brilliant, striking out ten in eight innings of work, leaving with a 4-1 lead thanks to an early home run from Jack Hannahan. Chris Perez comes on in the ninth to close things out and send the sellout crowd home happy. Yeah, did I mention I’m an Indians fan? Well, Perez owners know the rest, but if you missed it a couple line drives, a walk and an Edwin Encarnacion double later the lead was gone. They of course teased me by getting the winning run to third base with one out in the bottom half of the inning, but two ground balls later it was on to extra innings. The game would end up going 16 innings, when J.P. Arencibia finished the deal with a three-run jack. No soup for you, Indians fans. On the bright side, Masterson showed that when he has his sinker working, he is tough to beat and can provide ample K’s from the middle of your fantasy rotation. Chris Perez will have better days, but the Vinnie Pestano watch has officially started. Perez struggled to hit 91 and his changeup was flat. If you drafted him, you’ll just have to ride it out and hope he can provide you a decent amount of saves before the inevitable happens.
Perez wasn't the only closer blowing up fantasy ratios in the early stages. Jose Valverde and Mariano Rivera both coughed up games to start the season. New Blue Jays stopper Sergio Santos blew his first two chances. Hot pickups Alfredo Aceves and Jonathon Broxton had spectacular meltdowns and Joe Nathan joined the club last night when he flushed Colby Lewis's second gem of the young season down the drain. The afformentioned Santiago was the hottest pickup of Week One, going for big money in NFBC leagues. Kyle Farnsworth has landed on the disabled list with a bum elbow, and everybody's speculative guy, Joel Peralta was terrible in his stead. Fernando Rodney racked up his third save yesterday, and as much as I hated to do it, I grabbed him in a couple leagues. Saves are saves after all, and Rodney looks like he's going to get the chance to rack up a few before he's remembers he's Fernando Rodney. Joakim Soria and Andrew Bailey are waiting for company, who will be the next closer to join them in the fantasy graveyard? I still say it's Perez, but God knows it would sure help me out if Santiago would just turn into a pumpkin sometime in the next two or three weeks.
Yoenis Cespedes is going to be a fun player to own this year. I am happy that I was able to roster him in one league this year, because it makes watching replays of those monster home runs more enjoyable. However, for as good as he has looked when he makes contact with the ball, he has looked almost as bad at times swinging at breaking balls and pitches out of the strike zone. Cespedes is going to strike out an awful lot and I think he’s going to start seeing a steady diet of curveballs until he can prove he’ll lay off them. Still, the power is real, and he should have a real shot at eclipsing 30 homers as long as he stays in the lineup. The batting average might not be pretty though, just saying.
Yu Darvish made his much anticipated debut and needless to say it wasn’t quite what most were expecting or hoping for. He gave up four runs in the first inning as he struggled with his control and nerves the first time out. He threw a whopping 42 pitches in the first inning alone. But the tall righty settled down after that, lasted until the sixth, long enough for the Ranger offense to pummel Hector Noesi to secure Darvish the win. If you own Darvish, relax, everything will be fine. His pure stuff and repertoire of pitches were as good as advertised and this game showed that having an offense like they have in Arlington behind you is a nice recipe for lots of wins.
Ricky Romero was much better in his second start of the year against Boston yesterday, shutting the Red Sox down for 8 1/3 innings. While I’ve heard some question whether he can repeat last year’s success, I am still a believer. He’ll get two starts next week against TB and KC.
Jesus Montero got his first start behind the plate yesterday. Mike Carp’s injury is making it easier for Eric Wedge to keep Montero at DH, which will unfortunately likely keeping him from crossing the eligibility thresholds until sometime in May.
Alejandro De Aza was a player I warmed up to more and more as draft season progressed. Part of it was the site’s projection, and another was the fact he kept presenting himself as an attractive option late in my drafts. Two games in a row with a home run have all of his owners giddy right now.
Scott Baker is out for the year and will have surgery to repair his elbow. All you can do is drop him now if you were holding out hope that he would pitch again this year. Anthony Swarzak will take his place in the rotation, and does have some upside in AL-only leagues.
A.J. Pierzynski has two home runs and 6 RBI’s in the last two days (against my Indians, of course) and continues to reward those who waited and scooped him up as their C2.
I talked myself out of benching Colby Rasmus this week after he looked totally lost at the plate last weekend. I am still holding out hope he’ll get things sorted out, but I’d be lying if I said I was feeling that confident about him right now.
Danny Duffy was a plug in play for me in a bunch of leagues this week where I had injuries. He turned in a brilliant start against Oakland, but you might want to think twice about throwing him out there with the red hot Tigers on the docket next. Still, he looks like he’s going to stick in the Royals rotation, and he’ll be a nice spot starter if he can continue to build on his early success.
As I write this, news broke that Johnny Damon has agreed to sign with the Indians. It’s good news for both parties, as Damon can continue his pursuit of 3,000 hits and the Indians can get some much needed help for their lineup. Damon will get the bulk of his playing time in LF at the expense of Shelly Duncan.
And last but not least, the Captain, Derek Jeter is off to a really nice start so far, which is great news to anyone who took the plunge again on the future Hall of Famer. I “settled” for Jete in a couple of my most important leagues, and while he’s still hitting too many ground balls, he’s going to keep scoring a bunch of runs at the top of the Yankee lineup.
You can find Ryan most days in the Forums or follow him on Twitter @ryanpcarey