April 11, 2021
By Fantasy Baseball Analysts Matthew Rosser and Curtis Bailey
The great (and never late) Willie Nelson once said “on the road again”, and that we are, with a full fantasy week in the rear view mirror. Just like when you’re on the road, it’s important to look for traffic signals when playing fantasy baseball. When you see a green light, gun it and grab your man. Yellow lights, you need to slow down and think about what you’re doing before you make a decision. If the light is red, you need to stop what you’re doing and drop the player. This early in the season it’s hard to come up with red lights because it’s not a big enough sample size to say someone is bad yet, but it is early enough to see role changes. So, if you drafted someone who was supposed to be in the starting rotation and he isn’t, that would be a red light situation.
Ian Kennedy has been around the block and back a couple times. The man has been in the big leagues for 14 years and is coming off the worst season of his career, but don’t let that distract you from the fact that in 2019 he was the Royals closer and locked down 30 saves for a team that won just 59 games. That season Kennedy had a 3.41 ERA and a 10.4 K/9. Those are the types of numbers you typically have to overpay for in the draft. You need to get out there and grab him before someone else in your league reads this and beats you to him. -CB
It’s tough to know what to make of Solano. He spent his 20’s playing incredibly poor baseball for the Marlins. This led to him bouncing around the minor leagues for all of the 2017 and 2018 seasons. He then reemerged in 2019 with the Giants and promptly looked like an All-Star, batting 330 in 81 games. That average was, of course, propped up by an unsustainable .409 BABIP, which meant he was destined to suck in 2020 right? Wrong. In 2020 he batted .326 and his BABIP fell to just .396. So now we are in 2021, and he is still hitting AND his BABIP is still insane. It’s possible that he will finally regress to the schmuck he is supposed to be, but we are now looking at a 140 game sample size of him being awesome, so at a certain point you need to start believing what you are seeing. I am at that point. -CB
Last year, we did a bunch of draft prep, and we were all over our late outfield guys (like Mark Canha-get-a-witness, and Jesse Winker). Then, as baseball likes to do, we got thrown a completely different late round/waiver outfielder named Raimel Tapia. All Tapia does is hit baseballs, score runs, and be wonderful. Coming into this year, Canha was our 3rd outfielder, Winker was dead to us, Tapia was the new Canha, and we needed to find a new Tapia. Enter Cedric Mullins.
Mullins came up as a toolsy switch hitter, who has had double digit power at every level and can run like the wind. After struggling to hit lefties and consistently being platooned, he completely abandoned the right side of the plate. He is now crushing all pitching to the tune of a .448/.484/.655 slash line, and his Statcast page -shockingly- backs it up more than one would think. Obviously those numbers will come down, but now that he has a full time job, Mullins profiles to be a .270’s-.280’s hitter who can supply over 30 combined home runs and steals. Leave it to a guy named Cedric to make the Orioles kind of entertaining. -MR
If you listened to us during the preseason, you have zero shares of Keston Huira and man, you should feel really really good about that right now. Alternatively, if you somehow missed us dumping on him for his terrible name and even worse plate discipline, then you are in a dilemma. As of this writing, Huira is 1-23 with 11 strikeouts. That is what we in the biz call “really bad”. If you drafted Huira, you likely did so in the first 8-10 rounds and while there is something to be said for invoking the sunk cost fallacy, you knew when you drafted him that he was going to be streaky and strikeout a ton. Nothing has changed except he is starting the season with one of his bad streaks. If he continues like this for a couple more weeks, then we can start looking at putting him in the red light category, but until then you need to trust your flawed draft day thinking and let things play out. -CB
Devin Williams broke onto the scene in the shortened 2020 season with a flabbergasting changeup and an otherworldly .33 ERA. The guy gave up 4 runs on 8 hits in 27 innings. He also struck out 53 batters over that time. That is what we in the biz call “really good”. He went on to win rookie of the year as not only a pitcher, but a middle relief pitcher.
So far in 2021, Williams has given up two runs in two appearances (1.2 innings) and not only looks human, but downright hittable. This may still be the guy who put up a 1388 ERA+ (100 is league average), but currently that number sits at 44. I want to believe the wizard we saw last year is still in there, but it’s definitely time to monitor the situation closely. -MR
This one kind of stings. We love Luzardo here, and when he got called up, we were fighting for custody. In fact, we still think he can be great. Unfortunately, it isn’t likely to be this year. Lizard Jesus came on very strong last year, and had some downright unhittable starts, but was circled, starred, and underlined as a stay away this year. He was/is a prime candidate for an innings/pitch cap, he has injury history, and according to Statcast he pitched well over his head last year.
In 2 starts in 2021, he hasn’t made it through the sixth inning, and while he is still striking people out (12.2 K/9), he is also giving up lots of runs (6.10 ERA), hits, and walks (1.74 WHIP). The 23 year old lord of reptilia is still very much worth a spot in dynasty and keeper leagues, but for redraft, you may want to look to sell after his first, wart-less start. -MR
When the Red Sox won the title in 2018, David Price famously told reporters that he finally “holds all the cards”, saying he has nothing else to prove to anyone in the game. Some people took that to mean he was going to lighten up. I took it to mean he no longer cares about baseball. Fast forward 3 years, and Price has been traded out of Boston as a throw-in and has gleefully fallen out of favor as a member of the Dodgers starting rotation, even saying his main goal is to get the younger guys (Tony Gonsolin, Dustin May, and Luis Urías) developed for the starting rotation. In his few appearances in relief, he has looked bad and carefree. Not what you want on your fantasy team. Price has always been super intense, and very few have had as tumultuous a relationship with the media, so it’s nice to see him taking the California retirement package and ride out into the sunset, just don’t let him enjoy the trip on your roster. –MR
Early in the offseason, Kirby Yates was tapped to be the closer for the Blue Jays. He then went down with an elbow injury that forced him out for the entirety of the season. This, of course, left the door wide open for Jordan Romano to step up and establish himself as one of the game’s premier closers. He marched right through that door only to discover that Julian Merryweather had already crawled in through the window and was now not only the closer, but also a better pitcher. Romano is still pitching well, but Merryweather looks like a superstar of the highest order. If Merryweather stays healthy, Romano will be stuck as the setup man, thus, there is no reason to roster him. –CB
This one is a little obvious, but people believed that Fairbanks would be the closer for the Rays, and he is very much not. He has not pitched past the 7th inning, and Diego Castillo has gotten both of the Rays save opportunities thus far. Also, Fairbanks is hurt now. So he isn’t playing, and when he does, he isn’t getting saves. Let the man go! -CB