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.
With all the attention focused on Gregory Polanco's call-up, and with Andrew McCutchen having another MVP-caliber season, it's easy to forget that there's a third prominent member of the Pirates' outfield: Starling Marte.
The Pirates' 25-year-old left fielder had an encouraging 2013 campaign, hitting .280 and producing 12 homers, 41 steals, 81 runs and 35 RBI. But Marte got off to a brutal start this season -- he wasn't just failing to get on base, but he was striking out at an insane pace. He led all of baseball in strikeouts for much of April and now has 69 strikeouts, which is the eighth highest among MLB hitters. He was also hitting near the Mendoza line through April, and as a result, Clint Hurdle dropped him from the leadoff spot to the lower half of the lineup. He's been relatively better since then, hitting .258 in 30 starts.
With Polanco pencilled in at the two-spot in the Pittsburgh order, it would make all the sense in the world for the right-handed Marte to move back to the leadoff spot, where he should theoretically have the most value. But Josh Harrison has been hitting well there lately, and Marte -- who was recently benched for three-straight games -- clearly needs to go on a surge if he's going to make it back to the leadoff spot.
All this makes Marte an interesting fantasy commodity, though maybe not for this year. In the future, the lineup trio of Marte, Polanco and McCutchen could be a fixture for the Pirates, and hitting in front of Polanco and McCutchen could have him as one of the more valuable leadoff men in baseball. For now though, he's far too inconsistent a hitter, with an unacceptable OBP and strikeout rate for a leadoff man. Owners are only going to get occasionally good stats from him -- which, needless to say, isn't what you want from a fantasy outfielder.
For your consideration
• Jason Vargas held the Indians to three runs over 7.2 innings last night to tally win No. 6 on the year. Yes, when he's been bad this year, he's been unsettlingly awful, with his three blow-ups accounting for seven, seven and five earned runs respectively. But he's been on point in every other start; the only players with more quality starts than Vargas (who has 11) Felix Hernandez, Masahiro Tanaka and Julio Teheran (12). Vargas' 3.30 ERA and 1.21 WHIP belie how dependable he's been this year; the Royals' pitcher is still unowned in 67 percent of Yahoo! fantasy leagues.
• Mike Minor was slaughtered by the Rockies, who pounded him for 11 hits, eight runs and three walks in four innings. Minor's ERA ballooned from 3.07 to 4.31 with the outing, and hitters are hitting .279 against him so far. Minor is an otherwise dependable pitcher, and this line presents owners with a window to buy low on him. Of course, he'll need to pitch significantly better from here on out for that to be worth it.
• Jenrry Mejia pitched a clean ninth inning in a non-save situation on Tuesday, which was good to see, since Mejia had given up runs in his previous three outings. Even now, he's dangerously close to being yanked from the closer's role, although he'll have to self-destruct at least one more time for that to happen. Mejia is the Mets' fourth closer this year, and the team can't possibly be keen on going to closer No. 5. In the event that he does falter, however, Jeurys Familia and his 2.78 ERA would probably be next in line.
• Eric Hosmer went 2-for-5, drove in three and hit his second home run in three games. Hosmer is in the midst of an absolutely brutal season; not only does he only have only three homers this year, but he's only attempted one (unsuccessful) steal and is hitting only .259, so he's basically been unusable in fantasy. Still, Hosmer is young and talented enough to rebound from this at some point, but given how anemic the Royals offense is, he's unlikely to provide too many RBI from here on out. Hoster's not the worst flier in the world either after this humble power display.
• Carlos Gonzalez had a small benign tumor removed from his hand yesterday, and the Rockies outfielder is expected to be able to swing a bat in a few weeks. This was incredibly positive news for his fantasy owners, given there was the real possibility that something was structurally wrong with his wrist, and any additional surgery could've kept him out of the lineup for a significant amount of time. CarGo has a chance to be fully restored when he returns to the lineup in July, although, given his propensity to get hurt, it still wouldn't be the worst idea in the world to try to get someone less injury-prone than him, like Carlos Gomez.