Roto Riteup: September 29, 2016

Tim Tebow homered on the first pitch of his professional baseball debut. You’ll want to bump him from No. 1 to No. 1!!! for your 2017 keeper league drafts, naturally. After all, “He’s such a winner,” as Terry Collins said.

Unrelated, I was trying to think of what the baseball equivalent of Tebow’s NFL run would be, from a fantasy perspective. Tebow wasn’t good, but he ran enough that he was valuable in most formats. I guess maybe 2015 Billy Hamilton is close? I’m going to put something together for this for tomorrow, I think.

On the agenda:
1. Trout hit by pitch
2. Various News and Notes
3. Streaming Pitcher Options

Trout hit by pitch
By all accounts, John Axford seems like a good dude. He’s Canadian, he has a great Instagram, and so on. On Wednesday, though, he hit MVP hopeful Mike Trout in the left shoulder with a fastball. That knocked Trout from the game, and while Mike Scioscia said he expects Trout to play Friday, there’s little reason for the Angels to push it, given how little it matters. Maybe they’ll want their star to get one last MVP push in, though? With a 172 wRC+, 9.2 WAR, 29 home runs, and 27 stolen bases in 156 games, he should have that on lock regardless, but maybe they think a 30-30 would look nice. If Trout doesn’t win, he’ll have just one award for five MVP caliber seasons on his resume.

He’s also been more or less the fantasy MVP since his first full season in 2012.

Year – Fantasy Rank
2012 – 1
2013 – 4
2014 – 2
2015 – 9
2016 – 2

Various News and Notes
Trout’s contemporary, Bryce Harper, missed a third consecutive game with an injured left thumb yesterday. The Nationals are playing it cautious ahead of the postseason, but expect Harper to get some time in over the next few days. Harper has disappointed by his own lofty standards this year, hitting 24 home runs with 85 RBI and a 114 wRC+ in 144 games. To compare to Trout, here’s how Harper has ranked over the same span.

Year – Fantasy Rank
2012 – 69
2013 – 123 (118 games)
2014 – 552 (100 games)
2015 – 5
2016 – 82

Updating an item from the last two days, Corey Kluber should be fine for the ALDS, according to Terry Francona. He’s still done for the week, though, and this is a reminder that you can drop pretty much any starter after their next outing at this point in redraft leagues.

If you’ve been holding Shin-Soo Choo in a DL spot, it hasn’t been for naught. The Rangers outfielder could return this weekend, as his rehab has picked up and he wouldn’t mind getting a few swings in ahead of the postseason. It’s been a tough go for Choo all year, as multiple DL trips have limited him to 45 games. He’s slashed .247/.369/.416 in those outings.

Streaming Pitcher Options
If you enjoy streaming pitchers or play DFS, tune into the Roto Riteup for recommendations each and every day.

A pitcher for today: Daniel Norris vs CLE (Ryan Merritt)
If the control (and fastball command) improvements made by Daniel Norris are legitimate, there really could be something here. I’ve long been a fan, and he’s been flashing some nice upside with a 22.9-percent strikeout rate in 62.2 major-league innings this year. The Indians aren’t exactly a cherry match-up for a left-handed pitcher, but their power is somewhat subdued against southpaws, and they only grade out as average against them overall, though they also don’t strike out a ton. Owned in under a quarter of leagues, Norris seems like a good play. Robbie Ray and Albert Suarez are also decent options here.

A pitcher for tomorrow: A.J. Cole vs MIA (Andrew Cashner)
I warned yesterday that A.J. Cole had been suspended and may not make this start, but it appears as if his appeal is going to allow him to take the bump. When he does, he’ll be opposite the worst offense of the last month, a Marlins team with a 72 wRC+ and a .122 ISO in that span. Even for the whole season, the Marlins only own a 91 wRC+ against righties. Cole isn’t all the way there yet, but the strikeout bump since making the majors is encouraging, and the setup here is great. Robert Gsellman and Matt Boyd are solid options, as well.

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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