Fantasy Baseball Rankings Risers and Fallers: Luis Castillo and Tyler Glasnow are rising
Heath Cummings looks at risers and fallers in his rankings after the first two weeks of the season.
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I am not a fiddler. Not with my lineups, and not with my rankings.
Especially not in April.
But that doesn't mean you can ignore everything that happens the first two weeks of the season. Enormous potential is flashed, disappointing results are tallied, and most importantly, playing time is not always what we expected.
For those reasons, there are risers and fallers in the rankings, even this early. Here are 10 pitchers and 10 hitters who have moved significantly in my rest-of-season rankings.
- Luis Castillo (No. 23 SP) - He's been everything we could have hoped for and more. He's getting ground balls like he did as a rookie (57%) and swinging strikes like he never has before (16.7%). He's averaging more than 95 miles per hour on his fastball and using his change up more often, which is one of the best in baseball. Castillo has enough inconsistency in his career to question how real this is, but if it's real, he's a top-10 starting pitcher.
- Tyler Glasnow (No. 24 SP) - We always thought Glasnow had elite upside, and he showed glimpses in 2018, but what he's been in 2019 has been remarkable. Glasnow has struck out 32.1% of the batters he's faced and more importantly, walked just 4.7%. The control has always been Glasnow's Achilles' heel but so far he's throwing more strikes than ever.
- Matthew Boyd (No. 40 SP) - I've never been a big believer in Boyd, so I may be a little behind everyone on this one, but you can't ignore his first three starts. He's struck out 40% of the batters he's faced and has a 2.60 ERA despite a .389 BABIP-against. He's done it with a heavy dose of his slider, which he's thrown 36% of the time.
- Trevor Richards (No. 41 SP) - There's hype around several of the Marlins young starters, but Richards was my favorite at the start of the year and he's done nothing to change that. His changeup was his best pitch in 2018 but so far he's getting it done with his fastball. Despite averaging less than 91 MPH on his "heater", Richard has a 43% whiff rate on the pitch.
- Zach Eflin (No. 42 SP) - We were excited about Eflin coming into the year because of his increase in velocity, but it's been his increased slider usage that has been the key so far. He's thrown more sliders than four-seam fastballs for the first time in his career and it's worked, with batters whiffing on a third of them.
- Yoan Moncada (No. 10 2B) - Moncada was once one of the top prospects in all of baseball so it doesn't take a lot to start believing in him. While it seems counterintuitive, a more aggressive approach is helping him cut down on his strikeouts. He's also lifted the ball more which has led to better power numbers, with eight extra base hits in his first 11 games.
- Willians Astudillo (No. 12 C) - Playing time was the big concern for Astudillo but he's hit so well the Twins don't have much of a choice. He's an extreme contact hitter and only has four strikeouts in 123 career plate appearances. He doesn't have to play every day to be relevant as a catcher, because none of them do. But he's going to hit when he plays.
- Pete Alonso (No. 14 1B) - Alonso isn't going to be this good, that should go without saying. But he's made incredible contact so far in the major leagues. His barrel rate is the second-highest in baseball and his average-exit velocity is tied with Cody Bellinger for 15th. The key thing to watch will be the strikeout rate. Early in the season he's struck out at a much higher rate than he did in the minor leagues.
- Daniel Vogelbach (No. 9 DH) - We've always wanted to see Vogelbach get a shot at every day playing time in the majors and an injury to Kyle Seager made that happen. And boy, has Vogelbach taken advantage. He's crushing the baseball and showing the same elite plate discipline he did in the minors. There's still concern over what happens when Seager comes back, but Vogelbach may not give the Mariners a choice.
- Domingo Santana (No. 36 OF) - Santana is another Mariner off to a blazing start with four home runs and three stolen bases in his first 14 games. He's also cut his strikeout rate and swinging strike rate significantly. If that actually holds up, I still have him too low.
- Chris Sale (No. 8 SP) - I haven't dropped Sale too far yet, but it's hard to do this column without at least mentioning him. The velocity is still down and the command isn't great either. I still believe he'll be an ace again at some point this season but I don't know how long we're going to have to wait for it.
- Yu Darvish (No. 44 SP) - The good thing is, Darvish has looked a little bit better each start. The bad thing is he hasn't actually looked good yet. His four-seam fastball has averaged 92.5 MPH and opposing batters have teed off on it. I'm still holding Darvish, but it's hard to start him.
- Nick Pivetta (No. 45 SP) - Once again Pivetta is not living up to his peripherals. He's allowing a .447 BABIP and stranding just 56% of those who reach base. Normally I'd tell you about regression, but Pivetta is building a career on a high BABIP and low strand rate. The stuff is still good, so I'm holding until the end of April.
- Jose Quintana (No. 50 SP) - I really expected Quintana to bounce back but so far he's had no control at all. He has a career-worst 15.4% walk rate; his previous high was 9.2% in 2018. When batters have had occasion to swing, they've murdered the baseball to the tune of a 96.9 mphaverage exit velocity.
- Alex Reyes (No. 110 SP) - It was disappointing enough when Reyes started the season in the bullpen. Then he was so bad in that role he was sent to the minors. I'm fine with dropping Reyes, but just keep an eye on him in the minors. If they stretch him out down there and he has success, he needs to be rostered immediately.
- Jurickson Profar (No. 18 2B) - Profar looked like he broke out last year but a lot of that may have been aided by his hitter-friendly home park. He has no such luck in Oakland, and his performance is suffering.
- Jose Peraza (No. 19 SS) - A lot of Peraza's value in 2018 came from hitting in the top two in the order for most of the season. So far in 2019 he's hit sixth or later in every game. At this point he's just a steals specialist who may give you a boost in batting average if things go right. In points leagues, he's almost useless.
- Marwin Gonzalez (No. 26 3B) - One of the Fantasy down sides of Astudillo's playing time is Gonzalez has not been an everyday player. He has started just seven games so far this year and his performance isn't calling that into question. The 2017 season looks like a clear outlier at this point in his career and he's droppable in a 12-team points league.
- Jake Bauers (No. 20 1B) - I'm not giving up on Bauers by any stretch. He's improved the quality and frequency of his contact, just not yet to the degree I was hoping for. It's tough to hold an extra hitter in a points league if you don't plan on starting, him but Bauers is one I'll make an exception for.
- Franmil Reyes (No. 70 OF) - Reyes actually seemed to win a starting job in camp. But everything went wrong after that. He's had some bad hitting luck, Hunter Renfroe caught fire, and Reyes lost playing time quickly. I wouldn't even be surprised if he's sent down soon so he can get regular playing time. There's certainly still monster upside here, but you can't use him until the playing time changes.
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