Who will be the starting LF?
Khris Davis showed great power numbers in limited action at the end of the 2013 season. Davis was able to hit 11 HR's in only 136 AB's. That projects out to 40 HR's over the course of an entire season. Davis will more than likely be the starting LF for the Brewers, as Braun has moved to RF to make room for him. Davis has not had a strong spring to date, .235 AVG with 10 K's to only 1 BB. Roenicke wants to get Davis more at-bats and believes that Davis will start seeing success soon. Davis represents a player with strong upside, but could also be a platoon player in 2014. Davis's 28.9% HR/FB ratio is not sustainable. However, Davis is a strong candidate with regular playing time to crack the 20 HR plateau.
Milwaukee Brewers 1B Battle: Is there a clear cut candidate?
It was not too long ago that Prince Fielder was manning first base for the Brewers. Since Fielder left for Detroit, the Brewers have had a hard time finding a replacement for him. This year they have Mark Reynolds, Lyle Overbay, and Juan Francisco all in the mix for playing time. None of these options make Brewer fans feel confident about the 2014 season. Mark Reynolds is good at two things, hitting homers and striking out. Since he is the only righthanded option of the three, he will most likely form a platoon with either Overbay or Francisco. Overbay is a declining veteran that does have some pop and plays above average defense. Francisco is very similar to Reynolds in that fact that he hits for power and strikes out a lot. It looks like the Brewers will be going with a platoon of Reynolds and Francisco in 2014. Together they will provide power, but on the flip side, they will also rack up the strikeouts at an alarming rate. Unless you are in a NL only league, none of the Brewers first base options are worth owning.
Johnny Cueto: Will he stay healthy?
Johnny Cueto has been dominant when on the mound in recent years. The trouble has been staying healthy. He missed a significant portion of the 2013 season dealing with shoulder and back injuries. Cueto added a turn in his delivery during the 2011 season. This helped him become one of the top pitchers in the National League. However, Cueto has been to the disabled list numerous times with latissimus dorsi and oblique injuries. Both of those muscles are heavily strained by Cueto's twisting delivery. The Reds want to see Cueto make a change in his delivery for the 2014 season. The Reds and fantasy owners will be much better off if he can stay healthy for the entirety of the season. Cueto is a solid #2 SP on your fantasy team, with the possibility of being a #1 SP.
Homer Bailey: Developing Ace?
Bailey signed a six-year, $105 million contract with Cincinnati. He is coming off a 2013 season in which he set career highs with 209 IP, 199 K, and a career low 3.49 ERA. Bailey was the Reds top pitching prospect for years. Bailey saw a bump in velocity last year. In 2012 his average FB was 92.5 mph and in 2013 it bumped up to 94.1 mph. Bailey also started to mix his pitches better in 2013. He relied on his FB a career low 60% of the time. To sum up Bailey's 2013 season, he was able to throw harder and keep hitters off balance more often by mixing his pitches with greater regularity. It will be interesting to see if Bailey will maintain the increase in velocity for the 2014 season. Bailey keeps his FB% in check, which is important, because he pitches half of his games at Great American Ballpark. Bailey remains a very strong #2 SP for the 2014 season. He will produce a very solid ERA that is accompanied by above average strikeout numbers.
St. Louis Cardinals
Final Rotation Spot- Joe Kelly or Carlos Martinez?
Kelly has been the favorite to win the 5th and final rotation spot since the beginning of camp. He posted a 12-5 record with a 2.69 ERA in 2013. However, if you look beyond those numbers, you see trouble. His xFIP was 4.03, which indicates that Kelly was lucky in 2013. His elevated xFIP is supported by his low strikeout numbers and unsustainable 82.4 LOB%. Kelly is a power sinker pitcher that relies on pitching to contact. For fantasy purposes, Martinez is the more intriguing option. He has the power fastball and wipeout curveball. He has registered strong strikeout rates in the minor leagues. Martinez has had the more impressive spring, but it looks like Kelly will be the 5th starter when camp breaks. Kelly had a strong performance on Saturday, allowing one run over 5-1/3 innings.
Adam Wainwright: Working on developing sinker.
Wainwright remains one of the games top starting pitchers. Wainwright posted a 2.94 ERA with 219 K over 241 innings last season. Wainwright is a true work-horse. Wainwright derives a lot of his success from the use of his cutter. He threw the pitch 28.5% of the time in 2013. He realized that he might have gotten cutter crazy last season and has made an effort this spring to mix his pitches better. He has focused on his sinking two-seam fastball to go along with his cutter, curve, and changeup. Wainwright is true top five fantasy SP. He is extremely consistent and reliable. He also seems to get better each year. He will be gone early on draft day.
Around the League
Corbin left his start with the team trainer in the middle of an at-bat. The original news was from the team was that he had forearm tightness. This usually means that the pitcher is headed for lengthy rehab and more than likely Tommy John surgery. On Sunday it was revealed that Corbin did in fact suffer damage to his UCL and is deciding between rehab and surgery. At this point, it would be wise to avoid Corbin for the foreseeable future. Tough break for Corbin, after he had a breakout 2013 campaign and was slated for the opening day start for Arizona.
Yordano Ventura and Danny Duffy are competing for the final rotation spot for the Royals. Ventura has had a strong spring, while Duffy has struggled (11.00 ERA). Ventura in his most recent start was focusing on not throwing too hard and wound up hitting 100mph three times. He has an electric arm and arsenal of pitches. He will be very appealing if he is able to crack the rotation. However, Ventura will more than likely go through growing pains, as he is not a finished project. He will also most likely be on an innings limit.
Paxton has routinely been one of the Mariners top pitching prospects. He is a lefty that has a power fastball (95mph), sweeping curve, and changeup. Paxton is currently penciled in as the 4th starter for the Mariners. He is a sleeper to keep your eye on for 2014. He does not strikeout batters out at a high clip, but he does get a high percentage of groundballs and does pitch in one of the more pitcher friendly parks in the league.
The Tigers received bad news on Saturday, Jose Iglesias is expected to miss most of 2014 because of shin injuries. Iglesias was able to play stellar defense and hold his own with the bat last year for Detriot. The Tigers now have a gaping hole at one of the most important positions on the field. There is speculation that the Tigers will go after Stephen Drew to fill in for Iglesias. The Tigers would be a nice fit for Drew. This would give him a slight fantasy boost.
Weaver allowed three runs and nine hits in five innings of work against the Rockies on Saturday. Weaver has seen a drop in velocity each year since 2010. Last year Weaver registered a pedestrian 86mph on his fastball. This has led to a decline in strikeouts and effectiveness. Weaver did post a 3.28 ERA in 154 innings in 2013, but I would be very wary of Weaver reproducing those numbers in 2014.
Price was able to strikeout seven in 6-2/3 innings of work against the Red Sox over the weekend. Price has had a strong spring so far. It will be interesting to see if the Rays will keep Price all season. He is in the prime of his career. Price is a workhorse with excellent control. His strikeouts were down last year, but I fully expect to them to return to career norms.
Parker is visiting Dr. Andrews about his arm, which is never a good sign. The A's believe that there is no structural damage to his arm, but we will have to wait and see what Dr. Andrews has to say. Parker is a control pitcher, which relies on his defense. Stay away from Parker until he proves that his arm is healthy.
Bourn had to leave Sunday's game against the Giants because of mild tightness in his left hamstring. Bourn's fantasy value comes almost solely from his legs. So any lower body injury, especially a hamstring is a pause for concern. Bourn only stole 25 SB last season and will be a candidate to rebound in 2014, provided that he is 100% healthy. Keep an eye on the situation.
Walker had been shut down because of a shoulder injury. Walker was able to throw a 40 pitch bullpen over the weekend. This was his second bullpen since being shutdown. It is encouraging that Walker felt great afterwards. He will start the season on the DL, but will more than likely be a key piece in the Mariner rotation in 2014. He has #3 SP potential, but must learn to harness his arsenal and limit damage.
Wilson was able to strikeout seven in five innings of work on Sunday. Wilson was able to put together a very solid 2013 season with the Angels. He posted a 3.39 ERA with 188 K's in 212 innings. Wilson has been able to stay healthy year in and year out. He is a very solid pick in the middle rounds of your drafts. He can be counted on to take the ball every fifth day and provide above average strikeout numbers.