Owned in fewer than 50% of league polled
RP Andrew Bailey, Boston Red Sox
If you caught Hot off the Wire yesterday, you saw that John Farrell hinted at the importance of the BoSox relievers sliding back into their "normal roles." Hmm. Bailey's normal job involves closing games, right?
Ramirez is back in bigs
One big fix has fine-tuning his important breaking pitch: His cutter had backslid into a slider this spring, and a tweak made by him and the coaching staff a few weeks ago restored it to look like a cut fastball once again.
The righty hasn't yielded a run or walk over his last three outings (4 1/3 frames). As well as Koji Uehara has done in the role, Bailey's reputation, regardless of his struggles, works in his favor for working back into save chances. Here's a chance for a sneaky, difference-making grab.
SP Ivan Nova, New York Yankees
Since rejoining the rotation four starts ago, Nova has compiled a 2.45 ERA with 28 K's, six walks and a 0.92 WHIP in 29 1/3 innings following an eight-frame, one-run gem Wednesday. He's now fanned 54 in 52 frames this year. In throwing 17 innings in his last two starts, he's used just 207 pitches.
Efficiency has been missing from his talent, which resembles that of a front-end starter. He's still posting solid first-strike attack rates and has displayed a positive, downward trend in opponents' contact over the last three years. His fastball velocity is up nearly 1 mph, per PITCHf/x, and his curveball has become lethal in terms of producing empty hacks.
It's hard to think Nova loses his spot in the quintet if he keeps going at this pace. David Phelps (forearm) seems like a better fit for a swingman, anyway, and the off-chance of a Phil Hughes trade would protect both anyway. Nova may be hovering near the doorstep of combining the positives from his 2011 (3.70 ERA) with those from 2012 (8.08 K/9) over a full campaign, and that would bolster many a fantasy staff.
SP Erasmo Ramirez, Seattle Mariners
The Eraser's first start Thursday versus the Boston Red Sox isn't the optimal time to try him, but putting him on your bench to test him out puts you ahead of others scared to grab him.
The 23-year-old has been lauded among the fantasy community as one of the next big things, with just cause. Of his tosses, 53.1 percent hit the zone, which if he had qualified would've sat among the league leaders last year. He touches the mid-90s with his four-seamer, and Ramirez boasts a diverse arsenal, including a jaw-dropping changeup. The 8.66 K/9 he posted at Triple-A Tacoma says he can at least sustain the 7.85 he showed in the rotation in 2012, a vast improvement on his farm record.
He could stand to generate more ground balls and tends to try climbing the ladder once too often, which could cultivate homer issues. (Safeco Field hasn't played as pitcher-friendly as it had been in recent times thanks to its renovations, either.) It'll take careful navigation and conservative sequencing to revisit the excellent 14.8 percent rate of infield cans of corn from last year.
How quickly will that happen? It'll seem that pundits will peg him as the second coming of Pedro Martinez, but for this summer, his ceiling will more resemble a tempered, abridged incarnation of Kris Medlen v.2012, which still deserves some love.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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