Jharel Cotton (SP-OAK) - Cotton overcame a 10.38 ERA in his first start last week versus the Angels to toss seven shutout two-hitting innings on the road on Kansas City on Monday. The rookie walked three and struck out six to lower his ERA to a more reasonable 3.97. Cotton posted solid minor league numbers last year, including a 10.3 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, and excellent 12.5% swinging strike rate, this all despite a fastball that averages a relatively low (these days anyway) 92.5 mph. Cotton has already walked five in 11.1 innings, so that's something to watch, but he has struck out 10 batters. Cotton had a 1.40 ERA in three home starts last year, but this one was on the road, so we really don't have enough of a sample size on his H/R splits at this point. There will be some ups and downs given he's still a rookie, but Cotton offers pretty good fantasy intrigue given that K rate.
Sean Doolittle (RP-OAK) - The A's closer situation got even more murky Monday, as Santiago Casilla pitched the eighth with Doolittle closing things out in the ninth. Casilla struck out the side in a scoreless eighth, with Doolittle doing the same in the ninth, though he did allow a pair of baserunners. This looks to be a committee situation with the "closer" being determined by matchups, and at this point, who knows, we could see Ryan Madson in a save situation at some point this week as well. Doolittle has now struck out the side in back-to-back appearances and has yet to allow a run in his 2.2 innings, though Casilla also has a 2.2 inning scoreless streak. This situation should remain fluid.
James Paxton (SP-SEA) - Paxton has arrived. Seven four-hit scoreless innings versus the Astros on Monday included eight strikeouts and a pair of walks, as Paxton notched his first win of the season over the Astros. Paxton has now recorded 13 scoreless innings on the year, all against the Astros, with a 13:3 K:BB. All Paxton is doing is averaging 96 mph with his fastball a year after posting an 8.7 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 a year ago. Paxton, 28, notched a career-high 20 starts last year and he's now looking like an ace southpaw. Paxton has changed his delivery dramatically over the past year, and if it results in his actually staying healthy, there's so much value here.
Mitch Haniger (OF-SEA) - There was a fair amount of hype surrounding Haniger this winter, as the ex-Diamondback was quickly named a starting outfielder after a solid spring. Haniger went 2-for-5 with a run and RBI Monday and is living up to the hype with a .242/.342/.576 start that includes three home runs. Sure, the average isn't quite there, but Haniger has now hit in five straight and he's also contributed a stolen base. Haniger is settled in nicely in the #2 spot in the lineup in front of Robinson Cano, and at this point, there's not a lot of competition for his starting job. Haniger notched 30 home runs and 12 steals between three levels a year ago and could easily hit 20+ this season with solid numbers across the board, though there may be some batting average exposure if last year's 22% K% somehow spikes.
Dylan Bundy (SP-BAL) - At $7,200 for tomorrow's start, Bundy isn't cheap, particularly given he's going in Boston, but there are a couple factors at play here. First is that Jackie Bradley Jr. is on the disabled list. Next, the Red Sox are still working through an illness that has swept the clubhouse. Also, Andrew Benintendi is struggling, so the Red Sox vaunted offense isn't quite firing on all cylinders. Meanwhile, Bundy is relatively affordable after his impressive first start that included seven innings of one-run ball with eight strikeouts against the Blue Jays. Bundy sat at 92.8 mph on average with his fastball in his first start, and that could certainly rise as he settles in. Things could certainly go south for Bundy in this one given he's yet to really establish himself as a big league starter, but with his pedigree, I like him in this one.
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