March 31, 2017

Fantasy baseball season is finally here, and with its arrival, there are a few late moves that should grab your attention.

Here are the last-minute spring training announcements that will have significant impact on your fantasy baseball team:

BLAKE TREINEN IS THE NATIONALS CLOSER

Like Bill Belichick in football, Dusty Baker hates your fantasy baseball team. The third (and least discussed) option for the Nationals closer role is now the top choice. Treinen will close games out for the Nationals and is an immediate pickup in all leagues and formats. How valuable will Treinen be, though?

Treinen throws a great sinker but struggles with walks. He is comparable to Tony Watson of the Pirates, which doesn't inspire much confidence, as Watson is one of the favorites when it comes to which closer might lose his job first. The good news for Treinen is that he's shown better control this spring with eight strikeouts and zero walks in 4 2/3 innings. Granted, it's a very small sample. However, you don't have to be amazing to be valuable as a fantasy closer. If Treinen can keep the job all year, he's a lock for 30-plus saves, and if he's found a way to limit his walks, he could be a top 15 closer. Treinen will be a hot pickup, and in leagues with free agent acquisition budgets, you likely need to spend 15-25 percent of your funds.

JEANMAR GOMEZ IS THE PHILLIES CLOSER

Speaking of closers, the Phillies announced Gomez will be their closer ... again. The Phillies have seemingly announced Gomez as their closer three or four times already, and it's understandable when you look at his numbers. Gomez rarely strikes anyone out (career 5.5 K/9), gives up a decent amount of walks (2.9 BB/9) and blows a handful of saves thanks to a 4.85 ERA last year and 4.26 mark for his career. There is a reason people clamor for Hector Neris and continually doubt the validity of Gomez as the closer. Nevertheless, Gomez did save 37 games last year, and while the Phillies won't win a ton of games, Gomez is a good bet for 25-plus saves - if he keeps the job all season. The Phillies stuck with him last year, but odds are against that happening again. Gomez is a nice option late in drafts, but he should be no more than your third closer wherever possible.

ZACK WHEELER IS THE METS' FOURTH STARTER

The surprises keep coming, as the Mets announced Wheeler as the team's fourth starter. Robert Gsellman is still in the rotation but as the fifth starter now. With Steven Matz on the DL to start the year, many assumed Seth Lugo would take his spot after his World Baseball Classic performance. However, the Mets chose Wheeler with Lugo having bullpen experience. The team stated that Wheeler would remain in the rotation until he hits his innings limit, which is expected to be around 150-160. Wheeler was once a top prospect for the Giants and has the ability to be a great No. 3 starter in baseball. For fantasy purposes, Wheeler can provide a decent mid-3.00 ERA and around a strikeout per inning, but his walks and WHIP leave a bit to be desired. Wheeler needs to be owned in all leagues, but you should spot start him early in the season against favorable competition before completely unleashing him. Don't forget that his inning limit will prevent much action deep into the season, so if Wheeler has a nice first half sell him before it's too late.

BYUNG-HO PARK IS IN THE MINORS

Another surprise is Park heading to the minors after a torrid spring. The problem here is that Kennys Vargas is out of options, so the Twins made a roster-conscience move. Don't dismiss Park though, and in fact, if you were waiting to grab him off auction waivers, this is a blessing. Now you can grab him for $2-3 instead of $12-13. You should still stash Park, as he has the power for 30-plus home runs over a full season. Whether via injury or subpar play on the major league roster, Park will find his way back up and be a start-worthy corner infielder in all formats.

YANKEES ARE STARTING AARON JUDGE AND LUIS SEVERINO

The Yankees made the smart move and decided to start Judge in right field over Aaron Hicks. They're also seeing what they have in Severino, announcing him as the fourth starter. Judge will hit plenty of home runs and rack up plenty of strikeouts. He's similar to Miguel Sano, who hit 25 home runs and struck out 178 times last year. Both players will hit for a low average and likely top 30 home runs and 200 strikeouts over a full season. Even with that poor plate discipline, 30 home runs means around 80 Runs and RBIs, which makes Judge a valuable fourth or fifth outfielder. As for Severino, he walks too many batters and gives up too many home runs, especially at home. Severino looked a tad better this spring with a 20-6 K/BB ratio this spring, but he did give up two home runs in 18 2/3 innings. He's best served for AL-only and deep mixed leagues, even with his strikeout potential.

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This column was provided to The Associated Press by Jake Ciely of the Fantasy Sports Network, http://FNTSY.com .

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