Full playing time in Colorado turns an uninteresting player (LeMahieu) into an intriguing option (AP Photo/Barry Gutierrez)
Josh Rutledge was optioned to the minors, which means DJ LeMahieu is the Rockies starting second baseman. The Rockies do not have any viable options on the major league roster that will push LeMahieu for at-bats so he’s going to play every day. Any time a player gets consistent playing time in Colorado, fantasy owners must take notice.
LeMahieu has a career slash line of .251/.286/.313 on the road versus .314/.341/.427 at home, which makes him a great streaming option in 15-team mixed leagues. In fantasy, if he was platooned with another middle infielder with dramatic home-road splits such as Jed Lowrie you could have a nice player. Last year you would have had a player with a .306 batting average, 70 runs, 58 RBIs, 16 stolen bases and nine home runs. Those numbers could have been better if LeMahieu played a full season.
My only reservation about LeMahieu is the 66% SB success rate in the majors. He has a career 70% success rate in the minors so there is a chance for positive regression, but even at 70% it’s only a matter of time before the stolen base opportunities decrease. I’m projecting 17-23 stolen bases if he plays a full year. As long as he doesn’t have an extended cold streak he will keep the job because Josh Rutledge is not that good, really nothing more than a bench player.
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Doug Fister left Thursday’s minor league game with a lat strain. If Fister begins the year on the DL Tanner Roark and Taylor Jordan will begin the year in the rotation. Of the two, Roark has the most upside. For more information about their fantasy viability please go here.
Fernando Rodney has a 10.50 ERA with seven strikeouts and four walks in six innings and has allowed two home runs and 10 hits. Rodney’s new contract gives him a longer leash than most closers and given the dysfunction in the Mariners organization, who knows how they will proceed when Rodney struggles.
With Gordon Beckham starting the season on the DL with an oblique strain, Marcus Semien will the starting second baseman for the White Sox. Semien is an intriguing fantasy player because he hit 21 home runs and stole 26 bases last year across the majors and minors. It’s important to remember minor league numbers don’t always translate in the majors, but the scouting reports suggest he has a 15/15 ceiling. He struggles against right handed pitching so he’ll likely be a batting average risk. Unless Semien plays over his head right out of the gate he’ll go back to the bench when Beckham comes back.
Devin Mesoraco is questionable for Opening Day because of an oblique issue. Mesoraco is regarded as a sleeper in two catcher leagues, but I don’t think he can hit right handed pitching so he’ll always have a lower batting average.
Before spring training the likelihood of Yasmani Grandal making the Opening Day roster was small because he was only eight months removed from ACL reconstruction surgery. Padres manager Bud Black said Grandal isn’t ready to catch games back-to-back, which means he’ll be in a platoon with Nick Hundley. As the season progresses Grandal should get stronger and become the primary catcher. If Grandal stays healthy is a sneaky play in two catcher leagues because he’ll hit .270-plus with 10-15 home runs. Yan Gomes is currently going as the 12th catcher in NFBC and Grandal has the upside to put up the same numbers as Gomes.