The recent surges from April's fantasy slumptrucks.
A couple weeks ago, we discussed some unexpected early-season fantasy studs and asked how they had fared since their brilliant starts to the season. An intrepid commenter suggested a follow-up article that highlighted some players who had accelerated their performance after spinning their wheels out of the gate. This is my humble acquiescence.
The 25 players you might want to put on your fantasy bench for help down the road.
The Graduates: Oscar Taveras (2), Tyler Skaggs (3), Corey Hart (10), Jeremy Hellickson (HM)
This is what happens when Allen Craig has a .657 OPS. Of course, Taveras is hitting far worse right now, but his 11 strikeouts in 60 plate appearances suggest that he’s not being overmatched. If he’s given time to work through his initial struggles, look for Taveras to start hitting for more average in the second half—even if the power takes a little longer to come. Skaggs looked fantastic in his return from the hamstring injury, going into the eighth inning and allowing only two runs on the road in a tough hitters’ park. Hart returned on Friday and hasn’t done a whole lot with his at bats thus far. He’ll be OK, but not the pre-injury version. The fact that Hellickson went less than five innings in his 2014 debut, but it still can be considered a success (only one run allowed), shows how low expectations probably are for the disappointing right-hander.
The Departed: Jaime Garcia (23)
And in the span of a week, we’ve gone from wondering whether Garcia will be back on the mound in July to wondering if we’ve seen the last of him in a Cardinals’ uniform. In fact, it’s fair to wonder if we’ll ever see Garcia start another game in the majors again, as the surgery he will have to try and fix his thoracic outlet syndrome is the second major procedure he's had on that left shoulder of his.
Rick Porcello keeps the ball on the ground to notch a shutout, and the Angels sweep a doubleheader, plus more from Tuesday and what to watch today.
The Tuesday Takeaway
After walking off against Sean Doolittle and the Athletics in dramatic fashion on Monday night, the Tigers quickly disposed of the American League West leaders on Tuesday to clinch a series win. The game breezed by in just two hours and 13 minutes, as Rick Porcello tossed his second consecutive shutout and needed just 95 pitches to complete it.
What has ailed the league's best player this month? The problems start with his swing.
There is nothing average about Mike Trout. People built like Brian Urlacher shouldn’t be able to scale walls, run like a scared deer, all while squarely hitting a round ball with a round bat. The 2014 season has seen Mike Trout put up a slightly more earthbound line than usual. The question is why? The sample size is rapidly getting too large for the saber community to claim this is all due to a small sample of games.
Eyes on Ben Lively, Ryan Wright, and Matt Anderson, along with the Cubs' high-profile international signings from last summer.
Ben Lively, RHP, Reds (High-A Bakersfield)
Broad shoulders, thick legs, muscular build; 6-foot-4, about 210; body to log innings; repeatable delivery; gets downhill well; hides the ball behind his torso and snaps it on the hitter with a quick arm; plenty of deception; three-quarters; fastball 88-92; runs it and cuts it; true ghostball; explodes on the hitter; if I didn’t have gun readings I’d guess 95-plus based on the swings; hitters weren’t comfortable all night; third time through the lineup was still pumping the fastball and jamming guys; gets 92 with runners on; amped up after striking out a batter to escape a jam; good control with it, pounded the zone for the most part (got squeezed) but the command was hit or miss; up the zone and challenged guys often; he won most battles, but going forward he needs the get the ball down.
Curveball 71-76; lacked bite early; loopy and hangs over the plate; tightened it up and it flashed late; much better around 74-76 mph, and had some two-plane break; dropped it in for some first-pitch strikes; scout said he had a hammer his last appearance, but didn’t see an above-average CB on this night ; SL 82-84 mph; sweepy break; not much bite; lengthened it with two strikes; used it vs. lefties and righties; commanded it well; better against righties; pounded the outside corner and just off the plate; CH around 85; some dive and tumble; thrown only a handful of times; used it right after his FB to keep the hitters off balance.
A division can't be won or lost in the first week, but these teams did have relatively hefty playoff-odds swings already.
Last year, the Patriot-News of Harrisburg, PA issued a correction for a piece it had written on the Gettysburg Address, 150 years earlier. “We pass over the silly remarks of the President,” they had written in 1863. “For the credit of the nation we are willing that the veil of oblivion shall be dropped over them and that they shall be no more repeated or thought of." It took some time, yes, but Patriot-News staff eventually did check themselves before they wrecked themselves.