This is a glorious time of year for sports fans: baseball is now in full swing, the NBA playoffs have begun, and the NFL draft is just over a week away. I’m glad to see you’re using some of your sporting allotment on this morning’s Roto Riteup.
Nelson Cruz suffers third-degree burns
Cruz had to head to the hospital after yesterday’s game against the Rangers after touching his red-hot bat — the same one that produced two homers and a game-winning single. Cruz’s three other ABs yesterday resulted in strikeouts, but he’s putting together a season to remember. Despite playing most of his games in pitcher’s parks, Cruz leads the majors with eight dingers, and has forced the ball to leave the yard more than quite a few teams. Heading into 2015, the prognosis wasn’t great; Cruz was leaving a hitter’s paradise after a career year to play in Safeco, but perhaps it doesn’t really matter. I projected Cruz for about 24 homers in 2015, and the masher is already a third of the way there. If you made the bet on Cruz in your drafts, congrats. You’re likely looking at a 30-HR hitter. Cruz is looking like a daily fantasy machine right now, especially when he gets a chance to hit outside of Seattle — which won’t happen again until April 27.
Justin Verlander still on the shelf
The Tigers longtime ace has been sidelined with a triceps injury and has yet to begin a throwing program. Verlander is still feeling pain in his throwing arm, and although he has not undergone any testing recently, persistent pain would suggest further evaluation is a top-notch idea. I would be dropping Verlander as soon as you need the DL spot for someone else, but I didn’t believe in a bounceback before the year started, so I am admittedly slightly biased on this issue. If you were expecting Verlander back in April, that is out of the question now. At the earliest, look for Verlander to return in mid-May.
James Paxton struggles
The Mariners’ lefty was smacked around by the Rangers yesterday afternoon, giving up seven runs (two earned) in less than three innings of work. Paxton didn’t walk a batter, so control wasn’t an issue, but his stuff was; Paxton usually sits comfortably at 94-95 with his fastball, but was around 92-93 against Texas, and his offspeed stuff was also down a tick. Paxton didn’t have much of a spring to prepare for the season, so there’s a chance this is just a minor hiccup that we’d otherwise see in March. After looking excellent against the Angels in his first start, Paxton hasn’t looked so hot in his last two. If you can, bench Paxton and find someone else to slot into your lineup until we see some more of the large Canadian.
Streaming Pitcher Options
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A pitcher for tomorrow: Wade Miley at TBR (Chris Archer)
Miley faces a worthy opponent in Archer, but other than Evan Longoria, which right-handed bat in the Rays lineup is going to give Miley trouble?