Pollock Painting a New Picture in Arizona (and other notes from 5/20/15)

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In the pre-season, I highlighted Arizona Diamondbacks center fielder A.J. Pollock to be “This Year’s Michael Brantley.”  So follow the link for a more in-depth analysis on Pollock as not much has changed my views on him since then.  But let’s talk about what he has done so far this season to paint a new picture in the lineup for the Diamondbacks.

There were a lot of fantasy baseball people who liked Pollock for 2015, but I think that I liked him a bit more than most so I drafted him (or paid) a bit earlier (or more $) than I would have liked because I did not want to miss out on his predicted breakout season.  So far he has not let me down and I am not minding the the earlier picks (extra $) that I spent on him as I am enjoying the season that he is having.  Pollock hit a game-winning pinch-hit HR this past Tuesday and then on Wednesday he made the baseball diamond his canvas and turned in quite the masterpiece as he went 3 for 4 with a walk, leading to 4 runs scored and 3 stolen bases.  The strong game brought his season line up to a .298 AVG, 4 HR, 15 RBI, 27 R, and 9 SB — he is doing a little bit of everything.

While he is not likely to have a huge breakout in the same statistical way that Michael Brantley had in 2014, Pollock is on pace for a great season.  One thing that is different than I anticipated is that Pollock has gotten the majority of his at-bats in the 2-hole with the emergence of Ender Inciarte as a viable leadoff option.  I like the 2-hole more for Pollock as it gives him a little bit more RBI opportunity without changing his upside in any other aspect.  He is still getting some time in as the leadoff hitter, and actually is also occasionally in the lineup as the cleanup hitter versus lefties because he has great splits against them southpaws.  Pollock is getting rested more than I would like to see due to the Diamondbacks having a crowded outfield situation, but he usually does find his way into the game as a pinch-hitter if he wasn’t in the starting lineup and this perhaps can actually aid him in staying more fresh and healthy.  What prevented Pollock from a true breakout season last year was his health, but with good health on his side and being protected by Paul Goldschmidt in the lineup, the outlook for him can be amazing.  For the rest of the season, I’ll give him:  .290 AVG, 10 HR, 48 RBI, 63 R, 23 SB

Now on to the rest of the Wednesday daily report.

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BLOW-PEN REPORT: Ramos the New King Fish, Addison Reed-ing the Writing on the Wall?

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MIAMI MARLINS

Earlier this week, we saw the first real blow-pen situation of the season go down with the Marlins on their west coast road trip to San Francisco and Los Angeles.  Steve Cishek took the blown save and loss on Sunday versus the Giants and I promptly was calling for A.J. Ramos to be picked up in fantasy leagues in the post “Fish Out of Water:  Cishek Leading the Blow-pen.”  Very much to my surprise, the very next day Cishek received the ball in the bottom of the 9th inning after the Marlins took the lead over the Dodgers in the top of the inning.  I figured Cishek would at least be given the day off after having worked in two of the previous 3 days, throwing 34 pitches the day before.  But apparently, Marlins manager Mike Redmond was very eager to lose another game.  Cishek was called upon and laid a hanger to Scott Van Slyke who deposited it into the bleachers in walkoff fashion to hand Cishek his 4th blown save in 7 opportunities and his 3rd loss of the season.  The defeated look on Cishek’s face when it happened told it all, and you just knew that he knew at the very moment he would no longer be closing games for the Marlins.

So the following day, Redmond informed the media that Cishek had been removed from the closer’s role and that he would go with a committee approach with Ramos figuring to get the first crack.  Then heading into Wednesday action, there were rumblings that the Marlins were interested in a free agent relief pitcher with lots of closing experience, Rafael Soriano.  Soriano had a good run as a closer from 2009-14 with the Braves, Yankees, and Nationals, but it just didn’t make sense for the Marlins as they would be taking on more payroll after having already increased payroll 50% from last year, and they already had a cheap, viable (and probably better) option in Ramos who has been nothing short of dominant this season.  It was then later reported that the Marlins were no longer interested in Soriano with the cost being an issue.  Well, wouldn’t you know it that the Marlins were presented with another save situation on Wednesday and it indeed was Ramos who got the call and he protected a one run lead by striking out 2 in a perfect inning.  I don’t foresee Ramos running into too much trouble with the way that he has been pitching with improved control this year, so he is indeed a must own in any fantasy format and hopefully you were able to snag him. Continue reading