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No shortage of storylines this weekend, what with seemingly every team having a player returning from injury.
Josh Hamilton got all the headlines, and he's never lacking for storylines even if he's a shell of his former self. Charlie Morton isn't quite as notable, but with seven strong innings Monday, he seems to have picked up where he left off prior to hip surgery. Sean Doolittle is expected back Tuesday, though not to close right away, and while he's a potential stud in that role, he has to prove his torn rotator cuff hasn't robbed him of his stuff. Matt Wieters still has a ways to go, but at least now he has a target date (June 4), making him more stashable than ever.
But of all the players making their returns, the most impactful one in Fantasy isn't recovering from any sort of injury. He's just back in the role he never should have lost in the first place.
Tanner Roark, SP/RP, Nationals (39 percent owned)
Granted, no one can say how long it will last, what with Doug Fister working his way back from a forearm strain, but at least now we know that when the Nationals have an opening in their starting rotation -- not just a spot start but something a bit longer-term -- they won't turn to a minor-leaguer like A.J. Cole or Taylor Jordan to fill it but to one of their five aces from a year ago.
That's right: I called Roark an ace because, strikeout rate aside, that's what he was last year. Even with the limited number of strikeouts, he still ranked 21st among starting pitchers in Head-to-Head points leagues and 17th in Rotisserie, which should tell you how good his other numbers were. He was a pitcher you couldn't afford to take out of your lineup in any format, kind of what we hoped Fister would be coming into the year. And who couldn't use another one of those?
And again, Fister is recovering from a forearm strain, which is often a precursor to elbow troubles. Maybe he'll be a straightforward case, but the Nationals recently decided he'll need longer than a minimal stay on the DL. As with Alex Cobb, this one has the potential to snowball, which means Roark, now armed with relief pitcher eligibility, may have staying power.
I mean, if it's not Fister, it'll be Stephen Strasburg, right? I'm just saying ...
Mike Foltynewicz, SP/RP (35 percent owned)
I'll admit I was skeptical of Foltynewicz when he first got the call. If he couldn't throw strikes consistently in the minors, why would that change in the majors?
Well, five starts in, the numbers kind of speak for themselves. With his gem Sunday -- one run on three hits with one walk and seven strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings -- he has issued a total of two walks in his last two starts. Better yet, his strike percentage for the season is now above the league average, his first-pitch strike percentage is well above the league average and his swinging strike percentage is exactly what you'd expect for a pitcher with a near 100-mph fastball. But his 9.1 strikeouts per nine innings could have told you that.
He had some control lapses early, but since then, a lack of innings has been the only thing holding Foltynewicz back. If this last start puts an end to that, he could quickly become a big deal.
Mike Bolsinger, SP, Dodgers (62 percent owned)
You know, I didn't want to buy into Bolsinger after he allowed no runs on three hits in six innings against the Rockies in his previous start, striking out six. Sure, he had a 1.42 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 13.3 strikeouts per nine innings in four starts at Triple-A Oklahoma City, but considering his lack of velocity and limited arsenal, he had to be a gimmick -- the product of a throwback curveball that had caught today's hitters by surprise. The league would catch up to him soon enough.
But what if it doesn't? Would that mean more starts like he had Saturday, one-hitting the Padres over eight innings with no walks and eight strikeouts. That's two in a row -- and after a minor-league stint that was nothing short of dominant. Could Bolsinger be the next Mike Fiers?
That may not sound like a ringing endorsement given the way Fiers' 2015 has gone so far, but since Bolsinger will most likely live and die by his curveball, I imagine he'll be as up-and-down as Fiers. He may be worth the headache in mixed leagues, though, for those starts when it's working.