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Bridges of Fantasy County: Week 3 Roundup!

It’s good to be back, Three Up Three Downers. Did you miss me? Here’s a live shot of everyone’s face upon learning of my first post in nearly two weeks.

Minute Maid Park, Houston TX by Roy Luck is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Bridges of Fantasy County: Week 3 Roundup!

Estimated Reading Time: 14 Minutes

It’s good to be back, Three Up Three Downers. Did you miss me? Here’s a live shot of everyone’s face upon learning of my first post in nearly two weeks.

That’s Paul Finebaum. More on him later. Before we get going, I’ll start with a small anecdote, but I promise it won’t be as laborious or grandiose as a Matthew Berry intro.

So, this past week, I went back to my hometown of Birmingham, Alabama for a childhood friend’s wedding. When I go back to the homestead, it’s my chance to relax and reconnect with family and old friends. More importantly, it’s also a chance to get back behind the wheel of a car. You see, I live in New York City now, and so I don’t get many chances to do this anymore. I relish the opportunity when it comes.

So there I am heading out to my dad’s driveway ready for a few days of adventure in the Magic City. I’ve loaded about a week’s worth of baseball podcasts on to my phone, and I am ready to fire up the ol’ Kia Sportage. Hell Yeah! BABE MAGNET. Then it dawns on me. I realized that I had forgotten the headphone jack dongle thingy for my new iPhone 7 back in NYC, which meant that it was going to be 5 days of Birmingham’s sports airwaves for me. Now, this isn’t nearly as bad as it sounds seeing as how I grew up on a steady diet of SEC football, and that’s about 90% of what you find on sports talk radio in Alabama. I’m ok with a little football talk in the spring so long as we give the other sports their due. Oh, and naturally, my default all week was Paul Finebaum and 94.5’s Jox Roundtable. Respect. But I digress…

“This is a great week for sports! I bet they’ll be LOADS for them to talk about besides football,” I thought. On one hand, I was right. They did talk college football. But on the other hand, I was very wrong. They only talked about college football. Specifically, they talked about the attendance of SEC spring games. A lot. All week. The attendance. Here we are in the start of the baseball season, the NHL and NBA playoffs, and they are talking non-stop about how many people showed up to watch SEC school’s scrimmages. With the exception of Ed Orgeron’s “Cajun Rules Football,” the quarterback couldn’t even be touched in these games!

Now, here’s a disclaimer. Paul gets paid to talk SEC football 24/7. I’ll give him a pass on that. It’s what the people want from him. But the Roundtable is supposed to be an all-encompassing sports show. Having grown up there, I guess I shouldn’t be all that surprised. These are my people, I know them, and it’s always been college football 24/7, 365 days a year. I love the South and always will because it is my home, but my home state will never change in it’s undying passion for the Deep South’s greatest gift to sports. It was foolish to assume anything otherwise. That doesn’t change the fact that I spent 5 days shouting at my radio “IT’S STILL REAL TO ME, DAMMIT*!”

*supposed to read “It’s BASEBALL SEASON DAMMIT!” but I needed an excuse to post this glorious clip.

And now finally, some fantasy content.

The Slow-Starts

Former LSU Tiger Kevin Gausman…sensing a theme?

Kevin Gausman finished last year with a pretty decent season that had fantasy ballers salivating for that proverbial next step forward in 2017. He improved his ERA from 4.25 in 2015 to 3.61 in 2016 with almost double the amount of starts, and his WHIP and K/9 stayed consistent from the year before. He was trending upward, and if Gausman could continue to build off of 2016, well then I’d look like a genius after boarding the hype train during the 2017 draft.

Well, jokes on me. Egg on my face. Whatever you want to say because fast-forward to now, and it’s been a disaster for Gausman as he has been wrecked through his first 5 starts. He has gotten lit (not in the good, turned up way) to the tune of a 7.50 ERA with a 2.04 WHIP and a horrendous 17/15 K to BB ratio. The cherry on top is that he’s given up at least 8 hits and 4 runs in 3 of his last 4 starts, and he has only 1 quality start to show for his efforts in 2017.

Alex Chamberlain from Fangraphs focused on Gausman in an article last week saying the O’s pitcher has been leaving some fat taters over the heart of the plate this season. Not an actual quote, but that’s a pretty solid summary of his piece. In short, his mechanics and control are all wonky right now, and that’s historically not a sign of good things to come for hurlers. You’re getting nickels back if you try to trade him at this point, and teammate Wade Miley is probably the best you can do on the waiver wire. I am interested in neither of those scenarios, so it looks like I’ll stick to this holding pattern hoping that Gausman can get it Geauxing. If you catch that reference, you are a champion of all things.

Moving north of the border now. If you drafted Russell Martin, you did not do so expecting him to hit 30 dongs and bat .280. You knew you were getting a guy with 20 HR power who would hit anywhere from .220-.240, but this start has been leaving us wondering if the Mendoza line is even possible. Thankfully, the Canadian backstop has started ticking upward after a good week, but he still sports a .189/.339/.320 triple slash with 2 HR and 2 RBI. Ouch.

All things considered, Martin is the veggie pizza of catchers right now. He’s not pepperoni, and he’s not sausage, but he’s still pizza. And having pizza at all is better than having no pizza, yes? He’s topped with veggies but you’re still happy you have pizza. Also, if he’s veggie pizza, then the options on the waiver wire are pizza place salads. Family Guy fans know what I’m talking about.

Next up, we have the workhorse Jose Quintana. Normally as consistent as they come, he currently sports an unusual 0-4 record (not his fault his team can’t score runs) to go with a 6.17 ERA and 1.54 WHIP. The walk rate is nearly double what it was last year, but on the positive side, he’s still striking guys out at his consistent mid 7s K/9 rate. After getting rocked by the Twins, he bounced back with a quality start against Cleveland, but it doesn’t erase the fact that he’s been hit hard for the most part this season. I expect him to normalize in short order, and if he lands with a contender later this year, I’d be even more excited about him. Nothing gets a dude going like a sexy little pennant race, right Johnny Cueto? He’s not on any of my rosters, so I know I’ll be trying to buy low if I can.

Anybody out there still think Byron Buxton will be more than a pretty good every day player?

Closers! Who Needs ‘Em?!

Not Dusty.

Let’s start with the carousel of Phillies. Good luck figuring this one out. First, we were gifted Jeanmar Gomez who pitched way above his head last season before crashing back to reality in the first few games of 2017. Then, knowing the Phillies should give the job to Hector Neris, we were blessed with Joaquin Benoit’s carcass, which lasted all of about 3 or 4 days. Finally, the Phillies handed the keys off to Hector Neris. He had started the season by giving up just 2 hits and 0 runs in 7 1/3 innings of work. But not to be outdone by his predecessors, he promptly started giving up runs as soon as he was named the closer. In his 3 appearances with the job, he’s saved 2 very ugly games and pitched cleanly in another. I guess it’s his job to lose for now, but your guess is as good as mine as to what happens from here.

Going back to Baltimore, Zach Britton went to the DL with a sore left forearm early last week, which is never a good thing. His MRI last Friday gave all his owners relief from their nervous farts as no structural damage was revealed. He’s now visiting a hand specialist for some reason. My guess is Britton is building his strength because the Orioles routinely engage in frenetic rounds of grab-ass in the clubhouse.

What is it with Dusty Baker and pitchers by the way? If he’s not ruining a young pitcher’s arm, he’s making all the wrong strategic moves late in the game. Oh, Dusty. Anyways, before the season he says the team doesn’t have a closer on the roster. He then surprisingly gives Blake Treinen the job, and after Dusty’s comments, Treinen had to have been brimming with confidence heading into 2017. After Treinen sucked, Shawn Kelley got three save chances in a row before Dusty spun the closer carousel and gave Koda Glover the next two saves. Maybe it was just Kelley needing rest, but I have zero confidence rostering any Nationals closer at this point. If I HAD to choose one, it would be Kelley though. NTDBE.

(NTDBE=Never Trust Dusty Baker Ever)

Then, we come to the Angels. I kind of group them in the same boat with their AL West foes, the Athletics. I want no part of either bullpen. The Angels had a solid option in Cam Bedrosian, who they lost to injury, and now Bud Freakin’ Norris looks like he may be in line for some chances. Blake Parker has the lights out, closer stuff, but it looks like the Angels will be on the Norris train for the time being. It’s Bud Norris though, so I don’t expect that to last long. I’m avoiding regardless.

Hot Starts aka The Good Guys

That Eric Thames guy is pretty good, huh? Since coming over from the KBO, he has done nothing but jack dongs for the Milwaukee Brewers. He jacked a lot of dongs in Korea, but some people were skeptical because it’s harder to jack dongs in the MLB. However, Mr. Thames is jacking dongs with ease nonetheless. So far, he’s jacked 10 dongs and doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon from jacking more dongs. Dick jokes aside check out this sexy line: 24 R/10 HR/17 RBI with a .373/.481/.910 triple slash. That’s right. .373 average, .481 on-base, and a .910 (!!!) slugging. I’m gettin’ all hot and bothered just looking at those numbers.

UPDATE: He just jacked another dong tonight. Off Reds pitching again. He has now jacked 11 dongs. Mostly Red dongs.

2 weeks ago, I told you all that you were crazy for reaching on James Paxton. Side note: Paxton is the second native Canadian mentioned so far in this article. Maybe it’s the NHL playoffs that have gotten me in the mood. So yeah, about that Paxton reach. It took him until his fourth start of the year to finally give up a run, and even after the 5 run outing last Thursday, he still owns a 1.78 ERA, a 0.86 WHIP and a sterling 10.7 K/9 ratio. I guess that whole “he changed his delivery and lowered his arm slot” thing that I kept reading was pretty on point…

The Prospects

Let’s check in on our prospects. There’s a whole Super 2 thing you can google as to why some of these guys are still being “Kris Bryant-ed” down in the minors. It’s a shrewd but smart move by owners, but the good news is that some of these guys will pass that threshold some time in May or June meaning it could be go-time soon. That was a really clunky summary of Super 2 status, but it means you should be keeping a close eye on some potential call-ups.

Let’s start with Yoan Moncada. The 22-year-old Cuban slugger has done nothing but rake this year at AAA Charlotte and looks to be the most obvious call-up in May. 13 R/4 HR/5 RBI with 4 SBs to go with a .300/.382/.517 slash says he’s handling AAA quite nicely. Owners would love to see those strikeouts come down, but growing pains are to be expected at this point. I, like so many others, have stashed him away in a few leagues believing he will make an immediate impact both in power and speed.

HEY! It’s a Raimel Tapia sighting in the majors! POOF! Now he’s gone and back in the minors. He was never expected to stay up long, but at least we know the Rockies are thinking of him. Slashing .340/.397/.509 in AAA right now, so stay patient my dynasty friends.

One dude I snagged in the middle of my prospect draft this past season that I’m pretty jazzed about is Franklin Barreto. I have absolutely zero confidence in the A’s middle infield right now, and with Marcus Semien out for at least 6-8 weeks, I anticipate a Barreto callup sometime this summer. He’s raking in AAA with 3 HR and 11 RBI to go with his .333/.387/.545 triple slash, but his 1 steal is certainly falling short of the speed projections he had coming into this season. Chad Ponder got the call after Semien went down, but I have a feeling the A’s will want to see what Barreto can do sooner rather than later.

Cody Bellinger was officially called up as I was writing this piece, so I will touch on him briefly. You all can’t see it, but I am caressing his shin bone on my computer screen right now. Poor jokes aside, Bellinger looks like he’s going to see time in the outfield with Joc Pederson injured, and I can only assume they’ll also use him to rest Old Man Gonzalez every now and again too. The power is legit, and if he can find playing time, I don’t forsee him spending much more time shooting hoops with Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City. Poor Russ with nothing to do until next season…

Injuries. Ugh.

Did I ever tell you guys about the time where 10 of my first 11 picks spent significant time on the DL in my dynasty league a few years back? No?! Well, gather round, and you shall hear the story of fantasy disaster. Jokes. We don’t have time for that story, but we do have time to talk about some injured dudes.

David Price threw a 45-pitch bullpen session on Monday, and if everything checks out this week, he could be on track to face live hitters in the very near future. Still no timetable for his return. COUGH…LAST YEAR’S MICHAEL BRANTLEY….COUGH COUGH. (drinks water) Ah. Much better. Don’t know what happened there.

Josh Donaldson injured his calf last week, and the Blue Jays say he will be out until early May. Sounds like he should be fine, and he probably just wants some alone time to go fishing with his fellow DL buddy Troy Tulowitzki. That’s my theory at least.

I already touched on Marcus Semien earlier, but like Cody Bellinger, you guys couldn’t see me doing it. I would cut bait on Semien in most leagues. I just don’t feel his skillset (low average, above average pop, average speed) is worth waiting on until at least mid-to-late June assuming no setbacks.

Zipping right along to Adrian Beltre’s head, which IS NOT TO BE MESSED WITH!

Beltre should be back in early May. The Rangers are being conservative with him, so it’s best to sit tight at this point. Hope we don’t hear about Beltre being all risking and stuff by sliding down any…Bannisters. Get it? Oh god I’m so lonely.

Ian Desmond took batting practice on Monday, and though the Rockies haven’t announced an official date for his rehab assignment to begin, I would totally advise youngsters in AAA-Albuquerque to get those baseballs and pens ready for some autographs. No, not you creepy 45 year-old Ebay dude. Go Isotopes!

Heading out to the West Coast, what can be said that hasn’t already been said about Madison Bumgarner? He injures his AC joint in a dirt bike accident being the country boy he’s always been, and who can blame him? Dirt bikes are fun as hell! They also can be dangerous as hell. Alas, I have a gaping hole in my fantasy rotation now. He doesn’t need surgery, though, which is great news. He’s still out until at least late June or early July which is terrible news.

And finally, Starling Marte injured his gluteus maximus by sticking a needle straight into his tuchus. He will be out for 80 games, which brings him back sometime in July. Get better soon, Starling! It’s a big blow to the Pirates outfield, and unless you are willing to part with top 5 round talent on your roster, there’s no easy way to replace his power-speed combo. Don’t do drugs, and stay in school kids.

So there we go. It’s not everything that’s happened in the last three weeks, but it’s a nice roundup I think. My beloved Braves can’t seem to make up their mind on whether or not they want to be good this year, which kind of reminds me of my own writings about fantasy baseball. Have fun watching baseball this week, and remember that we are only 121 days until college football kicks off. That was for you, JOX ROUNDTABLE. I leave you all in the dust…

Jake is an NYC based actor who loves to put off daily responsibilities by writing and researching about all things fantasy baseball and college football. He is a life long Auburn Tigers fan, and yes, he does have the same SEC bias as ESPN. Most days, he can be found reminiscing about the 1990s Braves teams or complaining about their rebuild. Auburn 26 Alabama 14. #WDE

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