By Matt Cott and Matt Schwimmer of RotoAnalysis
While in past weeks we have broken down specific situations for your fantasy league, this week at RotoAnalysis we wanted to focus on some of the big stories that have been going on around across MLB. A perfect game and two stud rookies have provided some player highlights in recent weeks, while others are bouncing back from injury and the Red Sox are well, the Red Sox. Here are some of the most important stories from around the league.
No-Hitters and Perfection
The steroid era has clearly laid way to an era for pitchers.This week, R.A. Dickey and Matt Cain were two examples of pitcher’s dominance, with Cain giving us the second perfect game of the season and Dickey providing a masterpiece of his own. The two have been phenomenal this season, and not just on Wednesday. Cain has broken out to have a career year, striking out more than a batter per inning (9 K/9), while for his career he has only been over 8 K/9 once. He has combined that strike out success with improved control. Cain is walking only 1.5 batters per 9 innings, placing him in the top 10 in the league. Not far behind is Dickey, with the same amount of Ks and only slightly more walks. He has emerged from being a wily knuckleballer to being a legitimate impact pitcher, and both Cain and Dickey should continue to work on their career years as the season goes on.
Everybody knew that Mike Trout and Bryce Harper were incredible talents. But nobody expected them to be called up and make this much of a difference so early in their careers. Both have been fun to watch, with Trout’s speed and Harper’s power on display for all to watch. At only 20 years old, Trout leads the AL in stolen bases while batting an incredible .341 with above-average power. He has what it takes to be a first-round pick in the near-future, and could be a top 10 outfielder for the rest of the way; he’s that good. Harper carries a little more risk (he is 19, after all) as more of a pure power hitter, with more holes in his swing. He is making history though as a 19 year old in the mold of A-Rod and Ken Griffey Jr., helping carry the Nationals to one of the best records in the National league. His average should come down, but the power will be there for the rest of the season, and these kids will be fun to watch and own on your fantasy teams for a long, long time.
Injured Pitchers Bouncing Back
Two great right-handers, Brandon Morrow and Jered Weaver, were off to strong starts before injuries landed them on the disabled list. Weaver, who hasn’t thrown since injuring his lower back in the first inning of a start against the Yankees on May 28, finally threw earlier this week. Owners should expect Weaver to return in 7-10 days and be the fantasy ace he had been before the injury in which he had posted a 2.61 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP. The news on Morrow isn’t nearly as promising. Morrow was officially placed on the disabled list Wednesday with a left oblique strain. Oblique strains can’t be rushed and often take a month or more to heal. Morrow had finally been putting it all together this season after showing glimpses of greatness for years before. There was nothing fluky about Morrow’s start to the season, and owners should expect the same when he returns from the DL, but that might not be before the All-Star Game.
The Outfield in Boston
While Cody Ross, Ryan Sweeney, and Daniel Nava have held their own filling in for the injured Red Sox outfielders, they are certainly not the marquee names Red Sox fans are used to. That should change soon enough for Red Sox fans as Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury have begun baseball activities. Ellsbury should return to Boston before the All-Star Break, with Crawford just a few short weeks behind him. Ellsbury played 7 games this season before getting hurt, and failed to record a home run or a steal while hitting under .200. However, owners should not be too worried about Ellsbury coming off a season in which he hit .321 with 32 home runs and 39 steals. The power may not return at the same level, but Ellsbury should be in every fantasy lineup. Fantasy owners are still sour over Crawford’s first season in Boston. After eight successful seasons in Tampa Bay, however, Crawford deserves a second shot with fantasy owners. He’ll need to relax at the plate; playing off the turf will likely hurt Crawford’s average but the short fences should allow Crawford to show off some power. Take a shot at Crawford in most leagues due to his star-level potential.
Agree? Disagree? Questions? Tweet @RotoAnalysis and be sure to follow Moe @MoeProblems and Matt @KidCotti21. Check out their work on RotoAnalysis.com, as well as The RotoAnalysis Fantasy Sports Podcast.