The fantasy baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint. Just because a pitcher struggled in his first outing doesn’t mean he’s destined for a down year, and a hitter on a roll in April won’t necessarily be batting .400 in June.
In short: We shouldn’t read too much into early season successes or failures. But opening week performances still are worth noting. After all, spotting an early trend could help put you ahead of the curve down the line.
With that, let’s take a look at a few guys who have raised or lowered their stock in the first few days of the 2017 campaign.
Ervin Santana, SP, Minnesota Twins. Santana spun a gem on Opening Day, limiting the Kansas City Royals to one run on just two hits in seven innings. Santana is the de facto ace on a Twins club that might not be as awful as it was in 2016, and he’s still available in 46 percent of Yahoo! leagues. If your league is in that 46 percent, he’s worth serious consideration.
Eduardo Nunez, 3B/SS, San Francisco Giants. Nunez has been a stat sheet stuffer this week, tallying seven hits in 13 at-bats while scoring six runs and swiping three bases. He was a high-.200s hitter in Minnesota, and his first full season in San Francisco could pay off in the form of solid average and speed stats.
Dylan Bundy, SP, Baltimore Orioles. Bundy bounced between the rotation and bullpen last year, but his first start of 2017 — one run allowed over seven innings with eight strikeouts — suggests he’ll have a permanent starting job for Baltimore this season. Bundy is owned in just 37 percent of Yahoo! leagues, so he’s worth keeping an eye on if you need pitching depth.
Jharel Cotton, SP, Oakland Athletics. The 25-year-old was a trendy late-round pick after his strong rookie debut last season. He laid an egg in his first start of 2017, though, getting roughed up for five hits on eight runs in 4 1/3 innings against the Los Angeles Angels. Cotton won’t get a ton of run support, so he’ll need to be much more sharp to be a serious fantasy contributor.
Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates. Subscribers to the “McCutchen is past his prime” theory have received early validation, as the 30-year-old outfielder is 0-for-9 through two games with three strikeouts. Facing Rick Porcello and Chris Sale in April obviously is no easy task, but this is an ominous start for a guy already entering the season with question marks.
Sam Dyson, RP, Texas Rangers. Talk about a nightmare start. The Rangers closer has allowed eight earned runs over his first two appearances: three on Opening Day and five more on Wednesday. Manager Jeff Banister insisted he’s sticking with Dyson in the ninth inning, but if the right-hander has one or two more bad outings, the closer job could get interesting in Texas.
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