Noah Syndergaard: After posting a sub-3.00 ERA in each of the past two seasons with even lower FIPs and mostly sustainable peripheral statistics, Syndergaard entered the 2018 season as a lock to be an ace in any fantasy rotation as long as he stayed healthy. Syndergaard pitched in just 30 innings last year and is already dealing with a blister in 2018, and he struggled over his first three starts to the season with a 3.94 ERA over 16 innings. Syndergaard's struggles may be behind him now though as he pitched a gem on Sunday, allowing no earned runs over 5.1 innings to go along with 11 strikeouts. As long as the blister doesn't nag him throughout the season (which it didn't appear to on Sunday), Syndergaard should continue to rebound as the year progresses. His SO/BB ratio and BABIP are in line with his career averages and his relatively high home run and extra base hit percentages should regress towards his career averages as the season continues. Syndergaard's in play percentage is unusually low though, so expect a slight uptick in hits allowed. Either way, Syndergaard should be a reliable ace this year if he stays healthy.
Stephen Strasburg: Strasburg was dominant over his first three starts of the season, posting a 2.21 ERA with 21 strikeouts over 20 innings. He was roughed up a bit against the Rockies on Sunday and allowed four runs in six innings with just five strikeouts, but that type of performance should be something of an anomaly this year. The 29-year-old had an excellent 2017 season and accumulated a 2.52 ERA with a 10.5 K/9, though he should be expected to regress a bit this season as he sported an unusually low .276 BABIP last year. That trend has continued this season as Strasburg posted a .250 BABIP over his first three starts, so expect his ERA to creep up towards 3.00 as his luck runs out. Still, Strasburg is an elite fantasy pitcher as long as he can stay healthy and should continue to be an ace this season.
Jeurys Familia: The red-hot Mets have already given Familia seven save opportunities this season, and the closer has been perfect so far this year. Familia notched his first win of the season on Sunday with a walk, two strikeouts, no hits, and no runs over one inning and has extended his scoreless streak to nine consecutive appearances this season. Expecting Familia to continue at this pace is absurd, but he seems to have gotten his walk rate under control and is allowing 3.0 BB/9 compared to 5.5 BB/9 last year and should rebound nicely this season. At this point, Familia appears ready to replicate the success he found between 2014-16 when he posted a 2.20 ERA and 99 saves over 233 innings. Expect him to be a relief ace for the rest of the season as long as he can keep his walk rate down.
Joey Votto: Votto has gotten off to a slow start to the 2018 season, hitting .250 with just three walks to seven strikeouts and no home runs over his first 14 games. Votto's poor 2018 performance continued on Sunday as the first baseman went 0-3 with a walk and a strikeout. Votto had an incredible 2017 season, hitting .320 with a 1.032 OPS and 36 home runs and although his career best strikeout and in play percentages suggest some regression should be expected in 2018, Votto still projects to be one of the best fantasy assets in the league this year. Despite a high line drive percentage and healthy GB/FB ratio and hard hit percentage, Votto's BABIP sits at a career worst .277 this season. If he continues to put the ball in play as well as he has, Votto should turn his season around in no time and again finish as a top tier first baseman. Buy low if you can.
Ian Desmond: Desmond struggled as a result of injuries last season but is healthy this year and has gotten off to a slow start offensively. Desmond has hit just .177 so far this season, though his power is still an asset as he hit his fourth home run of the season on Sunday. Still, Desmond posted some concerning signs last season including a low hard hit percentage and uninspiring GB/FB ratio that appeared to be related to his injury but could be a sign of a career decline for the 32-year-old. Desmond's BABIP will almost certainly increase from the .200 that had been at over his first 15 games, and his strikeout/walk ratio should regress from 17.00 down towards his 3.83 career average. Even so, Desmond's line drive rate is low and his HR/FB ratio is unsustainably high (even considering that he plays home games at Coors Field), so his struggles last season may have been deeper than simply effects of his injury.
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