As the calendar shifts to May, slow starts become all the more real. In one league, despite homers being hit at a great pace seemingly everywhere, my team is off to a very slow power start (last in total HRs). For the first few weeks, I chalked it up to “It’s April” and as I look at the calendar reading: “May 1,” it suddenly becomes a much starker reality that I may have overprojected my team’s power capabilities. If you are struggling in any area, it is now time to start get concerned.
On the one hand, I do think that today is a line of demarcation where you can begin to discuss serious moves. However, yesterday’s performance by Anthony Rendon (which I was a victim of as a Mets fan and fantasy owner) serves as a reminder that things can still change very quickly for slow starters. While 6-6, 3 HR, 10 RBI days are historic, a two homer day for a slugger can instantly change his outlook from slow to on-pace with projections. A great or bad start can change a pitcher’s ERA by a run and a half or more. The cautionary tale here is be careful with who and how you sell.
Manny Machado is an extreme example since he was valued so highly pre-draft, but he’s also the easiest example to use. Machado has struggled out of the gate with 4 HRs and a .227 AVG. He is among the only first round picks that has truly started slowly. However, Machado is walking more than ever before, not striking out any more than he has in the past and making hard contact 51.5% of the time. Machado has no red flags whatsoever. It is a slow start and he will turn it around.
One first round caliber series from Machado and suddenly, his numbers will be on pace with where you would expect them. Remember, not everyone can hit ten homers in a month every month. Almost all players will have slumps and it’s important to identify players that are slumping, as opposed that have displayed poor skills. You can identify poor skills simply by doing a little digging (Is a batter striking out more? Has a power hitter’s profile shifted more towards grounders and away from flyballs?).
In short, “it’s April” no longer applies, but “it’s early” still does. Except for the back-end of your roster, I would still hold on most of the guys I believed in unless there is a glaring red flag. That said, if you think you have a need in a certaint area, it’s not a bad time to get out in front of the market and start exploring what you can do to address it. Just think carefully before you do anything drastic.
-Adam Eaton’s injury is a bummer for one of the most unheralded, great all-around players in the game. Although Eaton is a jack-of-all trades, the one area, where it will be very difficult for owners to replace him is in run total. Hitting at the top of Nationals lineup, Eaton was going to post an elite run total. There are several replacement options available via either trade for free agency: Odubel Herrera, Kevin Kiermaier, Ender Inciarte, Brett Gardner, Josh Reddick, Kevin Pillar will all provide a semblance of the power, speed (and in some cases, AVG/OBP) combination that Eaton produces, but there is no replacing that run upside outside of possibly Reddick, if he sticks at the top of the Houston lineup.
-Michael Pineda’s numbers are extremely impressive early this season. Since he had put together a few good starts and I like to keep an open mind, I decided to tune into Pineda to his start on Saturday and I still don’t see it holding up long-term. Several balls in play were stung, he’s still in the zone way too much. I would definitely sell while his value is at a peak because after that first bad start, most people will want none of him. You have a nice window here to turn your profit on Pineda, I would take it.
-Don’t look now Cam Bedrosian owners, but Bud Norris may have snagged the closer role in the Angels’ bullpen. Norris has converted 5 saves in the last 8 days including yesterday when he went 1.1 innings, getting all four outs via strikeout. For the year, Norris has 19 Ks in 14 innings and a 2.57 ERA. This might be beginning of the second act of Norris’s career. I dropped Francisco Rodriguez earlier this week to add Norris and have not looked back since.
-Early reports on Noah Syndergaard indicate that he has suffered a partial lat tear. Although no official timeframe has been offered, I think this puts him out about as long as Madison Bumgarner (6-8 weeks). You can pretty much cut and paste the Bumgarner analysis for Syndergaard. If you opt to ride a free agent, some names owned in 50% of Yahoo! leagues or less to consider include: Francisco Liriano (45%), Patrick Corbin (26%), Jesse Hahn (22%), Alex Wood* (16% *Hold on rotation spot is tentative), Charlie Morton (9%), and J.C. Ramirez (7%).