Devin Mesoraco (C-CINN) Devin Mesoraco entered the game hitting .500 and he continued his strong performance with a double and a walk in the game. Relegated to a part time role under Dusty Baker in the beginning of his career, now with Baker gone, Mesoraco was finally slated to be the starting catcher for the Reds this year. Unfortunately he missed some of Spring Training and early season games with an injury. As the #2 rated prospect in the Cincy farm system in 2011, behind Aroldis Chapman, he projected to have a high offensive ceiling with excellent power and a very good hit tool. Playing in a very strong hitter's park in Cincy, he could be this year's Jason Castro. If you suffered though the loss of Wilson Ramos like I did, Mesoraco could be a very good pick up. I grabbed him last week and I recommend that you look closely at him as a replacement catcher for your team.
Jeff Samardzija (SP-CUBS) Jeff Samardzija pitched a very strong game against the Cardinals allowing only 1 ER, walking no one, striking out 4 and giving up 6 hits in 7 innings of work in a no decision outing. He is primed for a significant step forward this year. His early numbers, 0-1, 1.29 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, with only 5 walks and 15K's in 21 innings of pitching is proof of this possibility. Last year, Samardzija, suffered from an exceptionally bad 2nd half punctuated by an unlucky BABIP and a very high FB/HR rate. But if you look at the year in its entirety, his xFIP of .345 was almost 90 points lower than his 4.34 ERA, and he had a strong Swinging Strike rate of 10.5. If early indications hold, Samardzija could significantly reduce his ERA and WHIP, put himself in position for more wins, while maintaining a strike out per inning. At 29, this could be the year that he enters the ranks of the top 20 pitchers.
Joey Votto (IB-CINN) Joey Votto has had a slow start to his season with very few opportunities to drive in runs. He did hit a HR today for only his 2nd RBI of the young season. While this year, it is the guys hitting in front of him that are muting his statistics, but last year RBI's were also hard to come by for Votto but for a different reason. He displayed extraordinary patience at the plate, often to the detriment of his offensive production. 73 RBI's for the season is about 25 less than he should produce. He just won't swing at balls outside of the zone, even when men are in scoring position. Votto only swings at 20% of the pitches outside the strike zone (O-Swing%) while on the opposite side of the spectrum someone like Chris Davis may reach for almost 40%. With an extraordinary 27% LD rate, 18% HR/FB rate, and a strong ISO, his offensive upside is always very significant. He should produce more RBI's this year to go along with 25-30 HR's and a .300+ BA. I'm not complaining, but Joey please swing that bat.
Adrian Gonzalez (1B-LAD) Adrian Gonzalez smashed his third HR of the young season, going 3-4 while driving in 5 to more than double his RBI total to 9 for the season. The encouraging news is that he is now another year removed from his shoulder injuries and I think his power numbers should improve measurably from the 22 HR he hit last year. In this potentially dynamic LAD offense, Gonzalez will continue to thrive. With a very strong LD% of almost 23%, which overcomes a more pedestrian contact rate, Gonzalez will remain a top 5 option at the 1B position this year.
Francisco Liriano (SP-PITT) One of the best feel good stories of 2013 was the return of Francisco Liriano to fantasy relevance. He did suffer his 2nd loss of the season today, but he did not pitch that badly giving up 4 ER and only 4 hits while striking out 7 in 6 innings of work. He entered the game with a 3.00 ERA. The issue for Liriano will be how much of his improvement he retains after moving to the NL last year. His ERA last year was 3.02 which was largely supported by a strong 3.12 xFIP. The danger signs are that his 8.3% HR/FB rate was significantly below his 10.4% career norm. Even If he gives up a few more dingers, his K rate should remain strong enough since it is fueled by a very strong slider. He will be an effective #3 starter but not an ace for your team.
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