Please see our player page for Dellin Betances to see projections for today, the next 7 days and rest of season as well as stats and gamelogs designed with the fantasy baseball player in mind.

We know spring training is fully underway when a bunch of arms break. We’re sure to see more as soreness becomes less general and more devastating to our early drafts. The four-tier format is back for our closer report. This week, pandemic foodstuff themed tiers. I’d laugh but for fear that might cause me to cough resulting in those nearby turning mob justice on me. Let’s get to some news and notes on the reliever front first.

  • Emmanuel Clase – He of the hardest cutter in baseball is starting his Cleveland career off on a sour note. A back strain will likely sideline him for 8-12 weeks. This opens the door for fellow reliever wunderkind James Karinchak to solidify a leverage role. If you want a job relieving for Cleveland just have a hard to spell name, throw gas, and be in your early 20’s.
  • Jose Alvarado – Don’t look now but Alvarado looks sharp as ever. But Roto-Wan, Nick Anderson is *the* it closer of draft season?!? I have no issue with Anderson’s stuff, just his role. He factors into their ninth inning, no doubt. Let me ask you this, though. He saved some games for them last year since they’re a team that’s the most progressive in leverage roles, right? No? Ok, well he came over from Miami, who’s bullpen was a collection of molding leftovers. He racked up a bunch of saves there, surely? How about one save. Well, at least he’s a young prospect? Turns 30 in June. I don’t mean to rain on your Nick Anderson parade, and by “don’t” I mean I do, but he’s far from a lock. I’m betting on Alvarado seeing some of their saves as the lefty side of a committee in every league I draft that uses RPs.
  • Brandon Kintzler – Things are not off to a great start this spring for the presumptive Marlins closer. Like, walking four straight batters bad. I’d consider a spec play on Ryne Stanek early on.
  • Ryan Helsley – I’m not the Helsley guy but some people I respect (see: Matt Thompson, Nick Pollack) have made it a point to draft the young Cardinal in the late rounds. Their ninth inning is a mess to predict, as usual. Helsley also has an outside shot at the rotation it seems, depending on the health of their assumed starters.
  • Trevor Rosenthal – Rosie is the latest zombie reliever. He’s always been able to light up radar guns. He just has zero command at times, as in most of the time. The command seems to be there this spring, however. KC would love to add any talent it can to baseball’s most mediocre bullpen.
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Contracts, the lifeblood of Major League Baseball. If you’re good enough, after you put in your time making nothing and riding on buses, the team owns you until you run through the rookie contract. Of course teams want to protect themselves from paying the next Jon Singleton, and this is how contracts end up with options. Some favor the team and others the player. It usually boils down to who has more leverage at the bargaining table.

Vested options are typically put on the back end of contracts, especially for older players. Some of these milestones might mean that a guy pushes through a minor injury. Others may put the club in a position where they prefer a player miss their vested option. The team can control the likelihood of completing the option.

For instance, Wade Davis has a vesting option to finish 30 games this season. Given his performance last year, the Rockies are more likely to find an alternative option should he falter or give him more days in between closing opportunities even if he returns to form.

What does this mean for you in fantasy? It means Scott Oberg, Jairo Diaz, and Carlos Estevez become interesting options at the back end of the draft. Oberg had the best numbers last year, but underlying numbers show he might have been lucky and has lost velocity on the fastball the last 3 seasons. Jairo and Estevez both throw upper 90s with sliders.

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I regret to inform you, my fantasy friends, that even fake jedi get the flu. That’s right, Roto-Wan is coming to you today from a Sudafed laced haze that would make Jesse Pinkman proud. Stop interrupting me pink elephant, I’m trying to get a preamble together here. At any rate, we’ve reached the NL in our bullpen previews. Let’s kick it off with the very in flux NL East. My advice is to exercise even more caution with these names than we usually do.

AL East AL Central AL West

NL East NL Central NL West

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Hyun-Jin Ryu signed with the Jays. That’s…interesting. *scrambling to see Ryu’s interleague ERA vs. AL teams* 3.84 ERA in 86 2/3 IP with a 8.8 K/9 and this is still too small a sample. Plus, as I always say, you can’t just say a guy’s away stats are what he’d now do when he’s calling a place home. Also, what is going on with Ryu’s early draft price? Maybe it’s still early for ADP and I shouldn’t assign any real truth to where guys are going, but like Hugh Jackman’s marriage to his grandmother, it’s very real how late Ryu’s been going so far this year. I get it, I get it, I GET IT! He’s not a 1-something ERA pitcher, so y’all are compensating for that, but like me with my Happy Socks in my pants, you’re overcompensating. He didn’t just have a Cy Young-type year last year. He had a 1.97 ERA in 2018, too. In six seasons, his career ERA is 2.98. Okay, fine, ERA is stupid. He has a 1.01 WHIP two years in a row. WHIP’s stupid too? Fine, but these are two of the categories you’re hoping to get from your starters. Wins are just stupid stupid. Nothing can be figured from those. So, that leaves us with Ks. He has a 8 K/9 and a 1.2 BB/9, so, you got it, you’ve figured out a reason to not absolutely love Ryu. He’s merely a 2.75/1.01/150 guy. Shucks, what a shame. For penance, I will dye my skin whiter and cat-o-nine-tails my back like a villain in a Dan Brown book. Even if you think the AL could be less kind for Ryu, how much worse will he be from a 2.75/1.01 ratio guy? Fifty points on ERA? Sixty? Five points on WHIP? Ten? He suddenly won’t have one of the best walk rates in baseball? I’m going to be conservative with his projections and they still look great. For 2020, I’ll give Ryu projections of 13-6/3.32/1.09/153 in 167 IP. Anyway, here’s what else I saw this offseason for 2020 fantasy baseball:

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Rarely does a fantasy season derive itself from an actual fantasy. An honest-to-goodness, real-life, sleepwalking-in-your-pj’s fantasy. A I-walked-in-on-Marisa-Tomei-and-she-was-like-come-join-me fantasy. Ronald Acuña Jr. aka Tildaddy comes home with Brillo pads you have to use your favorite shirt to clean the dishes aka The Truth is having a fantasy fantasy season. Can’t even remember the last time someone was a top fantasy player and seemed to be trying to accumulate stats. That is an absolute treat. Yesterday, he hit his 40th homer, and now his likely sole goal is to get to 40/40. Who wants to get stats for us, fantasy baseballers? No one usually! They’re all bastards!  But Acuña does! He has 123 runs and 99 RBIs from predominantly the leadoff spot. I’m sorry, I’m going to kiss my computer screen where you reside. He’s averaging 418 feet per homer; Trout and Gallo ‘only’ averaged 419 feet. Speaking of Trout, Acuña or Trout for 2020? On the Player Rater, it’s clearly Tildaddy. At an ADP of 5 this year, he was a steal! If only I owned him in one league…*wavy lines starting a dream sequence* Hey, look, I have Acuña on all of my teams. *turns to mirror* Oh my God, I’m bald! Damn you, O. Henry! *wavy lines* I hate ironic dreams. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Andrew McCutchen is out for the year with a torn ACL.  To borrow a phrase often quoted in the White Sox bullpen box score, that’s A. Bummer.  On the bright side, Cesar Hernandez (1-for-5) isn’t some obscure Roman emperor, you’re thinking of Nero Antivirus and Flavor Flavius!  Last year when Cesar Hernandez had 563 at-bats in leadoff, he was a sneaky top 50 bat.  Before last night, he had only 5 at-bats at leadoff.  Well, all that’s about to change for the better.  Then you have the new Phils’ outfielder, Jay Effin-Up-My-Paddack Bruce (3-for-4, 3 runs, 6 RBIs and his 15th and 16th homers).  Also, Adam Haseley (0-for-4) suddenly has value as the Phils’ center fielder, when two days ago you thought Haseley was the singer of Ghost.  You say you’re no good for me, I like it ANYWAY! What, I have to work the five-lady crowd too.  As I said yesterday, “(Haseley is the) Phils’ 2017 1st round pick. Prospectonator doesn’t love Haseley, giving him 15/7 with little average over the course of a season (by the way, if you click on Haseley’s name, his projections are there for free — like every player). I will say this for Haseley, he looks ready to contribute in the landmark case of sooner vs. later since he played college ball.  In NL-Only leagues, I’m interested since McCutchen looks out for a while, but wait and see in mixed.”  And that’s me quoting me!  The Phils also said (This Phil character has a lot to say!) Scott Kingery (2-for-4, 2 RBIs and his 4th homer) will be getting regular starts at 3rd.  When asked about Maikel, they said, “…”  Oh, now you have nothing to say!  But Maikel hit a pinch-hit homer, his 9th.  Still nothing?  “…”  Damn.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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On a new true crime podcast, Murdered By The Numbers, the host and a former FBI agent discuss the murdering of baseballs.  A serial offender coming into this year was Martin Perez. “The recidivism rates for Perez were due to his 5-ish K/9 and high-3 BB/9,” the host points out.  Then the FBI agent takes us through a personal anecdote about how he captured The Golden State Killer, which ends in a Blue Apron ad.  “The bloody body laid there like a halibut in a summer tomato bouillabaisse, which is just one of their great options!”  Yesterday, Martin Perez showed us once again that no one is too old to be new again.  Except Felix Hernandez, he’s not getting new again.  Perez went 7 IP, 0 ER, 4 baserunners, 9 Ks, ERA at 2.83, as he changes all preconceived notions.  His velocity is up 2 MPH and his cutter looks filthy, a pitch he is throwing nearly 35% of the time this year, because of the results he’s getting.  A pitch he added just this year.  See how obvious this narrative is?  Pitcher adds filth and gets results.  He’s not quite an under-3 ERA pitcher, but he’s usable for all leagues.  He left his old crew in Texas that was a bad influence and he’s now done murdering baseballs.  From RIP to rehabilitated FIP.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Not Your Grandfather’s Top 100 Starting Pitchers… It was established in the first edition of 2019 Top 100 Pitchers: starting pitchers are much like grandparents. Exciting when they’re young and healthy, disheartening when they’re old and feeble. No reasonable mind would dispute the likeness between our elders and dudes who grasp and thrust balls for […]

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Well the first for-sure, definite, 100% confirmed, future Yankee free agent signing has signed with the Padres. And this kid is now every Yankee fan:

That was definitely me back in the early 90’s when my favorite player was Don Mattingly (because he lead the league in having a walrus mustache just like my Dad. Runner up: Dennis Eckersley.) Like all Yankee fans and the bandwagon Yankee fans, I then went through the arrogant highs of the late-90’s dynasty. Followed by the dark, lonely era of the Aughts which turned me into the bitter, jaded fan who grew sick and tired of the high-spending, future-sacrificing ways of the overpaid Yankees that I am today. My writer photo above is a sarcastic response to the Yankee fans who never grew out of the dynasty era and still yell “COUNT DA RINGS BRO! DEREK JETAHHH BABBYY!!!” Despite the Yankees only winning one championship in the last 19 years. But there is now a light at the end of that tunnel! Five of the players in the Yankees starting lineup are home grown players! Our ace came up through our own developmental system and wasn’t just plucked from some poor, small market, podunk team like the Reds! Our bullpen is TERRIFYING!

The eyes of Yankee Nation are set on only one thing: adding another championship ring to the trophy case. The team, fans and front office will accept nothing less. Right now, many experts have the Bombers tabbed as the World Series favorite — we’ll see how that all shakes out in October. I talked to Callen Elslager from the Fantasy Life Blog who just had his 2019 Yankees Team Preview published. Here are his thoughts on a few key questions the 2019 Bronx Bombers are facing:

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The best 2019 fantasy baseball team is a misnomer.  Thankfully, none of us know what misnomer means.  Sounds to me like someone tentatively wants to date the Travelocity Gnome’s daughter, “Miss Gnome, er, you wanna grab some boba and chill?”  Miss Gnome brushes back her hair and bats her eyelashes that are almost as long as her two-and-half foot body, “I’d love to,” but her voice is high-pitched, which is a turn-off, so you cancel plans with her repeatedly until she gets the hint.  Sorry, Miss Gnome, I like my women’s voices low like their stature.  Any hoo!   So the title is a bit of a superlative.  What was I gonna say, “The Mostly Kinda Good Fantasy Baseball Team?”  You’ll get over your scoffing; I have faith in you.  This is the best 2019 fantasy baseball team that I can put together when drafting from my top 100 for 2019 fantasy baseball and top 500 for 2019 fantasy baseball.  Honestly, I could draft another 25 teams from those lists, and they’d all be different, but equally terrific… Well, one of the twenty-five would only be sorta terrific, but it would be really hard to tell which one that is.  If I took Adalberto Mondesi in the 2nd round, everything after would change.  If I took Javier Baez in the 1st round, everything after would change.  I’ve previously gone over my 2019 fantasy baseball draft prep for the first few rounds and pitchers pairings.  For this exercise, I’m taking Trea Turner first, because, well, people complain I always did this post by taking Mike Trout first, so I’m switching it up, like when you combover right instead of left.  Until pick 100, I’m taking one guy somewhere in every fifteen picks.  It would be nice if I was in a league where someone drafted Scherzer and deGrom in the first two rounds and I was able to take Bryce Harper in the 2nd round (which is very likely), but since Treat Urner and him are in my first 14 picks, according to the rules I’ve set up for myself, I can’t take them both.  Then, as we all know, once you get into the 100s, there’s wide gaps between ADP and where players are actually taken.  People tend to look at team need over value.  So for this exercise, once I get to pick #101, I’m going to pick two players every twenty picks.  Finally, because there is so much latitude in the last 300, I gave myself free reign to fill up my team.  Throughout the draft, I also gave myself the ability to reach to a lower draft pick, but not reach forward.  Or reach around, if you’re feeling frisky.  It should still be my ideal team… Or not.  Let’s see, shall we?  Bee tee dubya, this team is a 12-team, 5×5, one catcher, 5 OFs, MI, CI, 1 UT, 9 P, 3 bench, just like the Razzball Commenter Leagues (go sign up).  Anyway, here’s the best 2019 fantasy baseball team:

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