Roto Riteup: March 24, 2016

Spring training is mercifully drawing closer to a conclusion, but it’s just about to pick up for yours truly. I arrive in Sarasota this weekend for a few days, so if you have any must-dos or, more importantly, must-eats in the area, please let me know.

It was a bit of a quiet Wednesday, so I’ll try to be more brief than I was in my RR debut last week. Let’s get this money.

On today’s agenda:
1. Troy Tulowitzki takes one on the hand
2. Drew Pomeranz impresses again
3. So does Tyler Naquin
4. Carl Crawford and Scott Van Slyke to platoon
5. Matt Bush and Justin Masterson


Troy Tulowitzki takes one on the hand
I remember a time when one of my 10 Bold Predictions was that Troy Tulowitzki would stay mostly healthy, making him the top fantasy play at shortstop. I’m not sure I’d make that durability prediction again, as he’s now played more than 128 games just three times in nine seasons, and only once in the last six years. That’s not necessarily his fault, as things like a teammate breaking his scapula in a collision can hardly be pinned on him.

Nor can his latest minor setback, Bartolo Colon cracking him on the right hand and bruising his knuckles.

There’s no radar gun reading, but Colon averaged 88.3 MPH on his fastball last year. Out of curiosity, I looked up the hardest and easiest (if such a thing exists) hit-by-pitches from last year on Baseball Savant. Rubby de la Rosa hit Cristhian Adames with a 100.1 MPH pitch in September, while David Phelps hit Lucas Duda with a 41.2 MPH offering, which feels like a radar gun mistake. Jered Weaver also hit James McCann with what was classified as a 67.1 MPH curveball, another likely mistake, since 67.1 MPH is a Weaver fastball.

Anyway, Tulowitzki is day-to-day. He’s the second shortstop off boards on average and ranks third by Rotographs composite, and your feelings on him depend almost entirely on your risk profile.

Drew Pomeranz impresses
Drew Pomeranz and his new third pitch (a cutter) had a solid outing on Wednesday, surrendering one home run with a walk and four strikeouts over four innings. He needed that strong performance if he’s to have any chance of landing one of the final two spots in San Diego’s rotation, and his spring ERA is still an unsightly 5.73 (though, as always, we’re talking tiny innings, and an 11:4 strikeout-to-walk mark is fine).

Robbie Erlin is probably doing enough to hold on to a rotation spot and Colin Rea has been decent, so Pomeranz may find himself back in the bullpen despite Brandon Morrow being behind the eight-ball to start the year. Now 27, this may be Pomeranz’s last chance at a rotation gig, which wouldn’t necessarily be the worst outcome for him. Sure, it’d be great to see how his third pitch works out and find out if he can recapture some of his 2014 success as a starter, but he’s also been quite good out of the bullpen the last two years. I’m holding a Pomeranz share in an NL-Only where he’d still have value as a reliever, but it’s tough to make that gamble in other formats – he’s being drafted as the 118th starter and Rotographs composites don’t have him in the top 150.

So does Tyler Naquin
Tyler Naquin hit a pair of home runs and smacked a double on Wednesday, pushing his spring training line to .447/.500/.842 through 42 plate appearances. All of the usual spring caveats apply, but Naquin’s a 24-year-old former first-round pick who was once considered the team’s potential long-term centerfielder. He’s probably more of a combo-outfielder in the long run, as his defense is said to project as middling in center and his arm could play in right.

With a beautiful left-handed swing and a tendency for good contact despite a strikeout rate that pushes the 20s, Naquin might be able to produce a decent BABIP-fueled average while chipping in some home runs and steals. We’re not talking a 20-20 threat, necessarily, but if he carves out the larger side of a platoon with Rajai Davis, for example, then he might make a push for the back end of the top-100 outfielders. It sounds like his case for a larger role is getting noticed.

“He’s really doing everything you can do,” manager Terry Francona said Wednesday. “We’ll get to the point where we will start to do things (about the roster)…There is a time to start saying things about guy…and he has done a really good job.”

Carl Crawford and Scott Van Slyke to platoon
In the wake of an injury to Andre Ethier, the Dodgers will likely platoon Carl Crawford and Scott Van Slyke for the next 10-to-14 weeks. As luck would have it, I wrote about the fantasy relevance of this development yesterday.

Matt Bush and Justin Masterson
A couple of quick, quirky notes:

Matt Bush, the No. 1 pick in 2004, was released from prison in October and signed by the Rangers over the winter. It’s unlikely the 30-year-old is in the team’s major league plans, as he hasn’t pitched in the minors since 2011, but he registered heat ranging from 95-97 MPH in his first action since incarceration on Wednesday. That’s…something, I guess? Ugh.

Justin Masterson is also throwing, but not until Monday in Phoenix, per Jon Heyman. Masterson hasn’t been good since 2013. In fact, he’s been downright bad, and he wasn’t especially great in 2012, either. But anyone with a starting rotation spot is worth keeping an eye on, and Masterson, who’s reportedly pain-free, may be able to sell that snake oil.





Blake Murphy is a freelance sportswriter based out of Toronto. Formerly of the Score, he's the managing editor at Raptors Republic and frequently pops up at Sportsnet, Vice, and around here. Follow him on Twitter @BlakeMurphyODC.

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baltic wolf
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baltic wolf

Outrage! Jered Weaver will tell you that he easily hits 69 MPH with his fastball!

Nice work. I think the Bush story deserves a little more attention; apparently the manager of the Rangers was quite impressed with his performance.