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Sunday 18th Feb 2018

What a goofy start to the new season, huh?

Arms falling apart, guys wrecking themselves sliding into bases, instant replay controversies, and woo hoo, more problems with closers than in all the doors of all the houses in which I have lived.

For now, let's try and forget all that insanity, and turn our focus onto the players I want to look at this week in the never ending search for players who might give us a fantasy boost over the remaining 24 weeks of the season.

Remember back when Danny Duffy was the toast of the draft universe after being drafted in the third round in 2007? And then he whiffed 120 hitters over 81.3 innings in the Midwest League in 2008, and slammed through four levels in 2010 and became a top 100 prospect? Then came 2011 and the now inevitable TJ surgery and like so many glossy prospects, Duffy disappeared from our radar. Well, a full year removed from that surgery, and Duffy seems like he might be back.

After five pretty good 2013 performances (2-0, 1.85 over 24.3 frames), the lefty began this season at Omaha, but back he is and if you think Bruce Chen will prove to be the answer as the Royals #5 rotation guy, I want to be in your league. Add in Duffy to that mix, and suddenly the Royals rotation starts to really look dangerous.

Now that Josh Hamilton has injured himself for his 4-6 week spread over 2014, J.B. Shuck is back. I was really surprised that Shuck did not keep the fourth outfielder slot this year, coming out of spring. That is because the 26-year-old did pretty well last year over 129 games and 437 at-bats, hitting .293-2-39 with 60 runs and eight swipes, not to mention good contact numbers of 27 walks to 54 whiffs. He is back and in a deep league, I would jump all over him.

OK, raise your hand if you noticed that Kevin Kouzmanoff hit .370-3-12 over 54 spring games? If your hand is up, does that mean you selected the 32-year-old, who has not played in the Majors since 2011? I thought not. Well, with half the Rangers infield in traction, he could be a good selection in a deep format. A few homers on a team that knocks the ball around, irrespective of personnel, it seems.

In the National League, with A.J. Ellis down, Drew Butera, son of former catcher Sal Butera, seems to be getting the bulk of playing time. He is hitting .286 over his first couple of games, but this is a guy with a .183 average over 500 Major League at-bats. Maybe the Dodgers have enough offense to be happy with Butera's defense alone, but personally, I would gamble with Tim Federowicz. Or, I would either look elsewhere, or leave Ellis active.

The Rockies recalled second sacker Josh Rutledge, who performed so well in 2012 (.274-8-37 over 74 games) and disappointingly in 2013 (.235-7-19 over 88 games). Rutledge really does not belong in the Minors with his .329-27-138 line with 33 swipes and a .387 (74 walks to 197 whiffs) over 288 games. I like Rutledge so much more than DJ LeMahieu that it is not worth mentioning much more.. Get him from the free agent pool if you can, even in a mixed format.

At present, the Nationals have eight players on the DL, and that could spell opportunity for itinerant utility player Kevin Frandsen. This year, he has played a couple of games in the outfield, plus one at first, but expect Frandsen to get plenty of at-bats covering second and third some while the Nats try to get past their early-season injury woes. Frandsen has a .261-14-94 line, with 59 walks to 99 whiffs, and as a 32-year-old vet, he could do quite well simply as a band-aid in the capital over the course of the season. In an NL-only format, he is more than worth a pickup.

Let's close with a couple of pitchers, starting with 6'8", 260 pound Dellin Betances, one of those Yankees pitching prospects we all imagined would be killer a few years back. Lots of struggles later, Betances got it together at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last year, saving five while going 6-4, 2.68 over 94 innings, with 108 punchouts to 42 walks and 52 hits (1.191 WHIP) and has 723 minor league strikeouts over 641.3 innings. If you want a sleeper for closer duties in New York, he is your man.

Finally, I have been a Dustin McGowan fan since his 2007 12-10, 4.04 season, when the righty looked like he was going to take a step up and become one of the best starters in the American League. The former first-round selection in 2000 has simply struggled since that time, mostly with injuries, including that Tommy John surgery that has become so chic. Well, he is now 32, and I am guessing McGowan has learned to pitch now. If you can grab him in a deep AL format, it's worth a shot. I mean, I tried to get him in my Scoresheet League and failed, so somebody else must be watching.

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