You thought it’d be cool, calm and collective, didn’t you?
When it comes to fantasy sports, there is no such thing.
Week 1 of the fantasy baseball campaign is in the books, and let me just say, it was incredible. Watching MLB Network, following with the game companions on my computer, checking my lineups. What could be better? Ok, maybe if Ken Griffey Jr was still playing, but that’s about it. Fantasy owners saw plenty of early storlyines that are already drastically impacting fantasy leagues. However, none is bigger than the closer carousel, as bullpens are in disarray. Get this. Thus far, there have been 21 blown saves out of 46 potential opportunities.
Closer situations to monitor heading into Week 2:
- New York Mets
- Colorado Rockies
- Philadelphia Phillies
- Chicago White Sox
- Milwaukee Brewers
Now on the other side, we have seen a ton of headlines surrounding some bats to kick off the season. For instance, how about the start from Emilio Bonifacio? The guy set a major league record for hits during the first two games of the season (9) and is currently batting .579. Totally sustainable, right? He definitely needs to be added, as he has dual eligibility, but don’t be surprised when he comes crashing back down to Earth. It could very well be this week, too. He faces the Pirates and Cardinals, two teams with great defenses and better pitching depth.
In my undervalued players column, I listed Brandon Belt. An immense, young talent at first base, Belt belted (puns)17 home runs, but showcased some untapped power potential, hitting a ridiculous 39 doubles. So far this season, his power is coming to fruition, as the 25-year old has launched three dingers in five games. He looks very, very good and continues to improve on his plate discipline. I’m more than comfortable rolling him out there again this week with three matchups against the Diamondbacks and three with the Rockies.
Finally, as always, there are injuries. One superstar is returning from injury, as Matt Kemp made his season debut on Friday afternoon, finishing 1-for-4 with a double RBI. Kemp is still a great talent in this league and has the power, bat speed and skills to hit 30 home runs. However, don’t bank on his steals, as he continues to deal with hamstring and ankle issues from seasons past. And as Tristan Cockroft of ESPN points out, when Kemp had his magical season in 2011 that saw him finish atop the Player Rater, about 23 percent of his value was based off steals. Don’t assume he’s the Kemp of old, but he’s surely a sight for sore fantasy eyes. Meanwhile, Ryan Braun has started his 2014 campaign 1-for-11, but it was announced that he is dealing with a nerve issue in his thumb. It appears he is going to try to fight through it for the time being, but surgery is still being considered. This scares me a ton because a thumb injury can really impact a guy’s swing, while forcing them to change it. I’d look to deal Braun while you can. Perhaps try to grab his teammate, Carlos Gomez,who will be healthy and gets three matchups against the Phillies in Philadelphia, a venue that saw a league-leading 1.517 home runs per game a season ago.
Two-Start Pitcher Rankings
|1||Gio Gonzalez||vs MIA, @ATL|
|2||Michael Wacha||vs CIN, vs CHC|
|3||Scott Kazmir||@MIN, @SEA|
|4||Tony Cingrani||@STL, vs TB|
|5||Homer Bailey||@STL, vs TB|
|6||Matt Moore||@KC, @CIN|
|7||C.J. Wilson||@HOU, vs NYM|
|8||John Lackey||vs TEX, @NYY|
|9||James Paxton||vs LAA, vs OAK|
|10||Mark Buehrle||vs HOU, @BAL|
|11||Hiroki Kuroda||vs BAL, vs BOS|
|12||Felix Doubront||vs TEX, @NYY|
|13||Corey Kluber||vs SD, @CWS|
|14||Ubaldo Jimenez||@NYY, vs TOR|
|15||Tim Hudson||vs ARI, vs COL|
|16||Ivan Nova||vs BAL, vs BOS|
|17||Zach McAllister||vs SD, @CWS|
|18||Jose Quintana||@COL, vs CLE|
|19||Jason Vargas||vs TB, @MIN|
|20||Dan Haren||vs DET, @ARI|
Players to Watch
Zach McAllister, Cleveland Indians (vs SD, @CWS): It’ll be interesting to see how McAllister fares in his third season in the majors. Last year, he lowered his ERA by surrendering less home runs, but took a step back with his walk and strikeout rate. However, not many people care about that if they are just looking to add McAllister to stream for Week 2. The Indians pitcher is owned in just four percent of Yahoo! leagues, and has a legitimate shot to win two games next week. He gets a home start against a Padres unit that is striking out almost 30 percent of the time to start the season, followed by a White Sox lineup that isn’t very scary.
Jason Vargas, Kansas City Royals (vs TB, @MIN): Vargas was very efficient in his first start of the season, striking out six, allowing one run and five hits over seven frames. 69 of his 106 pitches found the strike zone and now the veteran left-hander gets two favorable matchups for the second week of the season. Last season, the Twins finished second in all of baseball in strikeouts with a whopping 1,430. Meanwhile, the Rays lineup is so hit or miss, and often get no-hit. I’m not saying, but I’m just saying. In five starts against Tampa Bay over the last three seasons, Vargas is sporting a 2.59 ERA with three wins, 25 strikeouts and just one home run allowed. He, too, is owned in just four percent of leagues.
7 games: BOS, CWS, CLE, HOU, NYY.
6 games: BAL, KC, LAA, MIN, OAK, TB, TEX, TOR, ARI, ATL, CHC, CIN, COL, MIA, MIL, NYM, PHI, STL, SD, SF, WAS.
5 games: DET, SEA.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.