Fantasy trends: Billingsley stars, Aceves flounders in opening week
The Red Sox could tab Daniel Bard as closer following the Alfredo Aceves' woes
Chad Billingsley dazzled in his first start and could be a legitimate fantasy ace
Hector Santiago, Kyle Lohse are frequently added players after the opening week
Sometimes the best-laid plans need to get scrapped in a hurry. The Red Sox learned that the hard way when they thought they had two closers, Alfredo Aceves and Mark Melancon, but actually had none.
Now they might be out a fifth starter, too. But add Daniel Bard in fantasy if you haven't done so already. A closer for the Red Sox is far more valuable than a No. 5 starter who may not be suited to hold that role for a full year anyway.
Aceves was supposed to be Bobby Valentine's answer, at least in the short term. Instead, he has turned into Boston's biggest question mark, hitting a batter and giving up four hits in two outings without recording a single out. Mark Melancon, the fallback guy, was no better, absorbing a pair of losses and a 36.00 ERA over the weekend. Aceves and Melancon are the most hittable pitchers in baseball right now.
Bard, potentially, can be the most unhittable. When asked if Bard might become an option to close, Valentine said, "might be."
"I know I'm making the start in Toronto Tuesday night," Bard told the Boston Herald. "Beyond that, I don't know what's going to happen. But, yeah, it could happen, I suppose."
Aceves will get another chance, if only because Bard is starting and Melancon is a disaster.
"I don't think they can keep getting hits like that against Aceves," Valentine told the paper. "A bloop, a grounder and a great hitter hit a pretty good 96 mph fastball off the plate inside."
Bobby V is going to give him some rope, but Bard's start on Tuesday could dictate their path.
"We're trying to figure out what to do," Valentine said. "And we'll keep it a work in progress. We're three days into this thing since we lost [Andrew Bailey]."
Here's the takeaway: Closers lose and gain value so quickly in fantasy. You have to stay on top of them.
Chad Billingsley: Miguel Cabrera and Matt Kemp got off to the best starts at the plate, but as two of the top four picks in almost all leagues, they were expected to produce. The more noteworthy monster was Billingsley. He is ready to take the next step to fantasy acedom, a status he should have achieved years ago. He came at a bargain in drafts this spring but could win 17-plus games and potentially compete for an NL Cy Young.
It was incredible to see that he was still available in 20 percent of CBSSports.com's leagues going into his great first start. He isn't available anywhere now and trading for him should be near impossible. Billingsley is a legitimate breakthrough out of the gate.
Colby Rasmus: It is tough to have a worse first week than Boston's Melancon. He pretty clearly can be cut in all leagues, particularly if Bard is one-and-done in the rotation. Max Scherzer and Yovani Gallardo were also disappointing, but we will go here with Rasmus, if only to suggest this might be an opportunity to buy low and stash a potential breakthrough. Rasmus is off to a 1-for-15 start at the plate (.067). Don't give up on him, however, because a bad spring and slow start could mean that a hot streak may soon be coming. Rasmus is still an unquestionable big-league talent.
Most added: Hector Santiago
Santiago went from a Double-A lefty starter to the White Sox's surprise closer coming out of spring training. He was picked over Matt Thornton and Jesse Crain, who will serve as the lefty-righty setup men, and Addison Reed, who will provide additional bullpen support.
The move even surprised the Rangers.
"I got up there and I started warming up," Santiago told MLB.com. "And in between warm-up pitches, I looked over to them, and they were all kind of up on the top step seeing what I have or whatever they were looking at.
"They were probably wondering who I am and, 'Who is this guy? I've never heard of this guy.' They didn't remember I started against them in Spring Training."
Manager Robin Ventura kept his choice a mystery until the White Sox were in a save situation. But there will be no surprises going forward after Santiago looked strong, picking up the save.
"We got toward the end [of spring training], and you start looking at what he has and what he brings," Ventura told MLB.com. "Instead of making him be the long guy, we started looking at him more at the end of the game. You don't have to move anybody around and still keep Jesse and Matt in the seventh and eighth, which are very important innings."
Santiago is a young prospect and could very well could hold down this role long term, supplanting the once-thought closer-of-the-future Reed.
"About the middle of Spring Training, [bullpen coach] Juan [Nieves] said, 'Hey, you're in the talk about the closer role,'" Santiago told the Chicago Sun-Times. "Then [pitching coach Don Cooper] said, 'Hey, we might be considering you for that ninth inning.'
"Now two people are telling me. I was kind of in shock. In Houston [last week], it became a big thing. And [Saturday], it really happened, you know?"
The rest of the most added
1. CL Hector Santiago, White Sox -- This one looks like it will stick and make him an AL ROY candidate.
2. CL Alfredo Aceves, Red Sox -- This one might be short-lived.
3. CL Fernando Rodney, Rays -- He looks like the leader of a bullpen committee with Joel Peralta and J.P. Howell until Kyle Farnsworth is ready, which might not be until mid-May at this point.
4. SS Rafael Furcal, Cardinals -- He entered the season as a forgotten man, but add him while he's hot.
5. SP Kyle Lohse, Cardinals -- He was outstanding on opening night in Miami and is routinely underappreciated in fantasy.
1. CL Andrew Bailey, Red Sox -- He is out at least through the All-Star break. Could he come back as Bard's setup man?
2. SP Brett Cecil, Blue Jays -- Ousted from the rotation late in spring, he might never win 15 games again.
3. CL Kyle Farnsworth, Rays -- A recent report says that he will miss four-to-six weeks. He might not close again this season, particularly if young Jake McGee shapes up quickly. McGee is a darkhorse closer stashee for you.
4. SP Tim Stauffer, Padres -- He won't require Tommy John surgery, but he isn't worth owning in mixed leagues, either.
5. RP Matt Thornton, White Sox -- He is a victim of his own reliability as a left-handed setup man.
Buy, sell or hold
1. SP Michael Pineda, Yankees -- He is throwing again, but the Yankees are going to take their sweet time with him. Hold.
2. C Jesus Montero, Mariners -- He is not off to a great start and all four games have come at DH, in case you're waiting for catcher eligibility. Sell.
3. SP Cole Hamels, Phillies -- Pitching for a contract in free agency next fall, he is plenty motivated for a career year. Buy now!
4. SP Jeremy Hellickson, Rays -- Those stat geeks are dumb. This is a great talent that was somehow downgraded by BABIP baloney. Buy.
5. SP Zack Greinke, Brewers -- Year two in a new home always tends to be more fruitful in fantasy. Greinke is off to a great start and seems to be headed for a great year. Buy.
Eric Mack writes fantasy for SI.com. If you miss his Monday baseball trends, Wednesday prospect report or Friday pitching review, you can also find him on Twitter, where you can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice@EricMackFantasy. He reads all the messages there (guaranteed) and takes them very, very personally (not really).
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