Fantasy baseball News & Notes: Tanaka impresses at Fenway Park
In our daily fantasy baseball news and notes column, we'll be discussing hot topics in the fantasy baseball world, as well as offering up tidbits of information to help you set your lineup. Comments are welcome below.
In order to fully appreciate Masahiro Tanaka, you have to consider what he doesn't have. He doesn't have a jaw-dropping fastball. He doesn't blow hitters away with a 100-mph fastball like Aroldis Chapman and Craig Kimbrel; in fact, he rarely even throws it over 94. But over the course of a game, Tanaka will impress the hell out of you.
Tanaka knows that his stuff looks hittable, and he knows exactly where to throw his pitches to likely get a swing from the batter. He also knows that his split-finger pitch is almost unhittable. It changes speed and direction so rapidly that hitters are swinging and missing at it, even if it winds up in the dirt. So with every throw, he's slowly luring hitters to their doom, all the while tricking them into thinking that he's throwing easy-to-hit fastballs. And just as the hitters adjust to the splitter, he'll toss the fastball and catch them completely by surprise.
At first, Tanaka reminded me of Greg Maddux, a fellow great pitcher who managed to dominate hitters mostly through trickery, but Maddux was mostly a groundball pitcher and only collected 200 strikeouts in a season once. Tanaka is somehow able to not only get by despite an average arm, he's striking people out at an elite clip. In his four starts, he has 35 strikeouts, which is the eighth highest total in baseball. He also has a 2.15 ERA and a 0.82 WHIP while we're on the topic.
Tanaka's numbers in Japan were so spectacular last year (24-0, 1.27 ERA, 0.94 WHIP) that the first impulse may be to question their authenticity. After all, we've seen mediocre NBA players head overseas and suddenly put up numbers so amazing that you'd think they were the greatest players ever. But through four starts, Tanaka has proven that he's real deal. He's not just good -- he's going to be a Cy Young candidate, this season. If you can somehow pry him from the hands of a still-skeptical owner, do whatever you need to to get him (within reason). And if you do happen to own him already, congratulations.
For your consideration
• Scooter Gennett went 2-6 last night with a home run and a stolen base. Thanks to Rickie Weeks' utter collapse as a hitter, Gennett is getting regular at-bats at second base and has moved up to the No. 2 spot in the lineup, thanks to Jean Segura's horrible hitting of late. Gennett is hitting .322 on the year and is currently sandwiched between Carlos Gomez and Ryan Braun in the Brewers' awesome lineup. He's not a bad deep league option at second base, if you're searching for one.
• Josh Fields recorded his second save of the season for the Astros on April 22. With Matt Albers dealing with shoulder tightness and Chad Qualls being Chad Qualls, Fields has the closer job all to himself in Houston. And hopefully, you don't need to own him. Whenever a guy is available on the wire who can provide saves, you almost always need to run out and get that guy, because the number of people able to record saves in fantasy baseball is just so small. But in this case, the Astros are so, so, so awful that Fields isn't getting to net you very many saves at all, even if he pitches splendidly. If you don't have a single closer, Fields may be worth a looksy, but otherwise, he's hardly going to do anything to even assist in saves, let alone win you the category.
• Luke Gregerson blew his second save in three chances, and with Jim Johnson having thrown 5.2 straight scoreless innings, it appears that a change in closer is inevitable in Oakland. The A's didn't give Johnson $10 million so he could waste away in a meaningless middle relief role; they gave him the moola so he can close, and Gregerson is making it easier for them to reinsert Johnson as the closer. If you're desperate for a closer, (desperate enough to add Josh Fields), then you may as well take a low-bid shot at Johnson, who'll wind up closing games again before you know it.
• Dayan Viciedo went 4-4 on Tuesday and is now 10-16 from the plate over his last four games. Viciedo has admirable power, and while it appears that he's never going to put it together where he's a consistent mixed leagues add, he's capable of being a very cheap source of power. He's hitting .361 so far and is worthy of consideration in standard leagues, at least for the time being.
You can follow David Pincus on Twitter @Reetae_.