2017 Fantasy Baseball, Spring Training Position Battles – NL West
As we reach the closing days of spring training, the battles remaining are less cloudy and in regards to the NL West, aren’t particularly significant. But there’s also a chance some of the guys still trying to work their way into playing time will have some fantasy value.
So we’ll dig deep and round up the one outstanding division’s spring battles.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The one thing the Dodgers have (besides billions of dollars) is deep starting pitching. The best in the game in Kershaw, followed by Japanese star Kenta Maeda and big contract earning Rich Hill.
Scott Kazmir was expected to take the fourth spot before injury derailed that.
So the remaining two spots were challenged by Hyun-Jin Ryu, Alex Wood, Brandon McCarthy and Julio Urias.
The job of guessing who it would be was made easier when the Dodgers announced Ryu would be the fourth starter and Urias won’t be in the majors to start the year. So that leaves two pitchers and one spot.
Considering Ryu, Kazmir, McCarthy and Wood have all logged more time in the treatment room than on the field in the last couple of years, I don’t think you can really count on any of them to help your teams. Hill has hardly been a standard bearer for health.
So the intrigue remains with the Dodgers star prospect, Julio Urias. As a teenager in 2016, Urias threw 77 innings for the Dodgers and recorded just a 3.39 ERA. At 19 I wasn’t pitching in the majors and I doubt you was either.
Now 20 Urias will likely be limited still as to how many innings he pitches. But given the more senior arms the Dodgers are paying, Urias was unlikely to throw more than 100-120 innings for the Dodgers anyway.
It’s difficult to know when he’ll come up to the majors again but given the health of the other options, it’s likely to be sooner rather than later. Even then it’s still sketchy if he’ll make more than a few starts at a time. It’s more likely he’ll just be a pick-up off waivers in shallow leagues.
But in deeper leagues, especially if you have big rosters, I’d still be taking Urias before Ryu, Wood, Kazmir or McCarthy.
San Diego Padres
Now before you laugh, let me tell you this is a spring battle you should NOT be paying attention to. The Padres are auditioning Ryan Schimpf and Cory Spangenberg for the second baseman job. And unless you are in a very deep league, neither is worth drafting.
The reason I put this hear is Schimpf has garnered lots of attention as a late “sleeper” power source. Given he hit 20 homers in less than 300 at-bats last year, it’s understandable. And I’ll admit; I was intrigued until I looked a bit deeper at his numbers.
Firstly, Schimpf is 28 so can’t be considered a prospect. Now look at his minor league stats the previous 3 years;
2013 (Double A) – 126 games, 23 homers, .210 avg, 138 K’s
2014 (Double & Triple A) – 117 games, 24 homers, .227 avg, 115 K’s
2015 (Double & Triple A) – 107 games, 23 homers, .250 avg, 77 K’s
Granted things have improved, but hardly to a stage where Schimpf was being talked about as a starter for Toronto before he headed over to San Diego.
After Schimpf’s call up to the majors, he hit his first 16 homers in his first 198 at-bats before a September fade resulted in 4 homers from 78 at-bats and a .179 batting average. So other than two months of power, he’s done nothing to warrant consideration.
But there’s one more issue to consider. Even with last year’s hot Triple-A season, Schimpf is a career .212 hitter against lefties. Even with the Padres, Schimpf hit .157 against southpaws. At best, Schimpf will earn a platoon role. Given Spangenberg’s superior defense, that might not even last long.
San Francisco Giants
When the Cubs won the World Series, they not only lay to rest a century old curse but they also ended the whole “Giants even year” jibberish. Thanks Cubs!
In all seriousness, the Giants have a couple of spots open which might present some late round value. The fifth spot in the rotation.
It’s not often that the fifth starter will have any fantasy value and for the Giants it’s not much of an exception. The battle in question is between Matt Cain and Ty Blach.
If Matt Cain wins it, I’m not going near him. If Ty Blach comes out of spring in the Giants rotation, I’m listening……. again in deeper leagues only.
Blach is very much a command and control pitcher, with a career 6.2 K/9 rate. But his career ERA is 3.46 which includes 17 innings for the Giants last year, yielding just 2 runs. Now 26, Blach in the minors doesn’t make sense.
Whether he makes the rotation though is another thing, he’s hardly got the dominating stuff most teams seek from the bullpen.
For fantasy purposes, Blach could conceivably be a nice addition to keep in check your ERA and WHIP with your last pick. Especially if you draft the Robbie Ray’s and Michael Pineda’s of the world.