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Luke Voit Goes Under the Knife
The Yankees Opening Day lineup took a bit of a hit on Saturday when manager Aaron Boone announced that first baseman Luke Voit would undergo surgery to repair a partially torn meniscus in his left knee.
Voit recently underwent an MRI after complaining of soreness in his left knee and the results revealed the partial tear. He’s going to be sidelined for a minimum of three weeks before he’s cleared to resume baseball activities. You figure he’s probably going to need at least a few days after that to ramp back up and face live pitching again before he’s thrown right back into the Bombers’ lineup. The early estimates have him returning in late-April or early-May -- assuming he avoids any setbacks along the way.
The 30-year-old slugger enjoyed a breakout season in 2020, clubbing a league-leading 22 home runs while slashing .277/.338/.610 with 41 runs scored and 52 RBI in 56 games. Prior to Saturday’s announcement, Voit had been flying off of fantasy draft boards at an average draft position of 75 overall. Since the news, he has seen his stock plummet all the way down to pick 207 on average. If you’re of the belief that he’s only going to miss a month of action -- and then return and perform as he did during the truncated 2020 campaign -- then Voit looks like a tremendous value in the middle rounds.
In the meantime, Boone told reporters on Saturday that Jay Bruce would serve as the team’s starting first baseman in Voit’s absence, with Mike Tauchman also landing a bench spot on the team’s Opening Day roster to provide depth there. Bruce, 33, still has plenty of pop in his bat and his left-handed power stroke should play nicely with the short right field porch at Yankee Stadium. He’s a player that has seen his average draft position surge since the announcement, going from well outside the top 600 picks overall to around pick 390. If you’re light on power in the later rounds of your mixed league draft, adding Bruce for the first month of the season isn’t a terrible idea.
All that Jazz
The 23-year-old really struggled during his time at the big league level in 2020, slashing a miserable .161/.242/.321 with two homers, six RBI, two swipes and a 19/5 K/BB ratio in 62 plate appearances. He has done a nice job during Grapefruit League play though, hitting .268 (11-for-41) with three homers, six RBI, four stolen bases (in six attempts) and a 13/4 K/BB ratio.
Chisholm possesses the dazzling blend of power and speed that most fantasy managers covet, though it comes with plenty of batting average risk. He also isn’t expected to deliver a whole lot in the counting stats, as he’s slated to hit either sixth or seventh in the lineup. Homers and stolen bases are what we’re looking for though, which gives Chisholm intrigue as a late-round middle infield option. Over 13 NFBC Main Event drafts since Saturday, he has gone anywhere between pick 258 and pick 391 -- with an average draft position of 327.
Name a Closer!
In the fantasy baseball landscape, there are few things worse than having to speculate on saves all season long, and by the looks of it the 2021 campaign is going to be a massive headache throughout the season. With just four days left until Opening Day, it seems as though more jobs are in flux than ever before and more teams seem to be leaning toward using a committee approach in the ninth inning.
A few managers came out on Saturday and gave updates on their closer role by simply saying they are not naming a closer. Thanks a lot.
Reds manager David Bell told reporters on Saturday that he would not name a closer prior to the start of the regular season. Fantasy managers have been drafting Amir Garrett like he’s going to be the guy and he has looked phenomenal this spring -- retiring all 12 hitters that he has faced with 10 strikeouts (including the first nine that he faced). He should be given every opportunity to win the job, but it sounds like he’ll have to earn it. Bell specifically mentioned Lucas Sims and Sean Doolittle as others who are capable of handling the ninth inning.
Rather than giving a vote of confidence to Joakim Soria on Sunday, Diamondbacks manager Torey Louvullo came out and announced that he doesn’t believe the D’Backs have a clear-cut closer right now. Grumble. Soria, 36, was signed to a one-year, $3.5 million deal over the winter with the expectation that he would function as the team’s primary closer. His struggles during Cactus League play though seem to have the team nervous, as he’s registered a 9.64 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 4/1 K/BB ratio across 4 ⅔ innings. Stefan Crichton finished the 2020 season in the closer’s role and could share save chances with Soria -- though he has posted a miserable 15.75 ERA and 3.00 WHIP over four innings during Cactus League play himself.
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American League Quick Hits: The Twins signed Randy Dobnak to a five-year, $9.25 million contract extension with three club options. The deal, according to Jeff Passan of ESPN, can max out at $29.75 million with the options and can grow beyond that with performance incentives. … Astros manager Dusty Baker announced Sunday that Myles Straw, Garrett Stubbs and Abraham Toro were being held out of camp due to health and safety protocols. They’re expected back in the next few days… Red Sox skipper Alex Cora indicated that there are eight Red Sox players currently sidelined due to COVID contact tracing protocols. … Spencer Turnbull (COVID-19) is expected to miss at least the first few series of the regular season. … Franchy Cordero will play back-to-back games for the first time on Monday and is trending towards being ready for Opening Day… Rangers manager Chris Woodward was non-committal when asked if Rougned Odor would make the team’s Opening Day roster. … Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Sunday that Jameson Taillon is likely to be skipped the first time through the rotation, making his debut in the Yankees sixth game instead. … Wade Davis secured a spot in the Royals Opening Day bullpen. … In a surprise move, the Rays optioned Josh Fleming to minor league camp on Sunday after firing 8 ⅔ scoreless innings during Grapefruit League competition. … T.J. Zeuch is expected to fill Robbie Ray’s (elbow) spot in the Blue Jays rotation to begin the season. … The Angels optioned key bullpen contributor Ty Buttrey to minor league camp in a surprise move on Sunday. … Alejandro Kirk officially made the Blue Jays Opening Day roster. … Bobby Dalbec sat out Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest with a right index finger injury. He’s considered day-to-day. … Red Sox manager Alex Cora officially announced that Enrique Hernandez will bat leadoff to begin the season. … Anthony Santander (oblique) is expected to return to the Orioles lineup on Monday. … Rafael Dolis (back) is expected to be ready for Opening Day. … Mike Tauchman checked out fine after fouling a ball off his shin during Sunday’s game. … George Springer (oblique) took swings off a tee on Sunday and has yet to be ruled out for Opening Day. … The Angels signed right-hander Noe Ramirez (who they traded to the Reds for Raisel Iglesias over the winter). ... Shohei Ohtani will start for the Angels in their third game of the season -- on Sunday Night Baseball against the White Sox. … Tarik Skubal struck out three over five innings of one-run ball in his final Grapefruit League start… Kevin Kiermaier homered and doubled as the Rays routed the Braves. … Joey Gallo clubbed his sixth home run -- a three-run shot off of Jake Arrieta -- in a victory over the Cubs. … James Karinchak walked three and recorded just two outs in a rough outing against the Padres. … Matt Olson swatted his sixth Cactus League home run as the A’s crushed the Giants. … Adalberto Mondesi went 2-for-3 with a two-run bomb and a stolen base in a victory over the Rockies. … Mike Minor struck out six and allowed just one earned run over five frames against the Rockies. … Mike Trout went 2-for-3 and drove in two as the Angels topped the Dodgers.
National League Quick Hits: Mets owner Steve Cohen had dinner with Francisco Lindor on Saturday night to discuss a long-term contract extension. … The Phillies optioned the struggling Scott Kingery to minor league camp after hitting just .159 (7-for-44) during Grapefruit League play. … German Marquez has been tabbed to start Opening Day for the Rockies while Chi Chi Gonzalez secured the fifth and final spot in their rotation. … Justin Topa left Saturday’s simulated game with elbow discomfort and will undergo an MRI. … Rex Brothers earned a spot in the Cubs bullpen by fanning nine hitters over eight shutout innings in Cactus League play. … Eric Sogard and Matt Duffy earned bench spots on the Cubs Opening Day roster. … Nick Ahmed (knee) is expected to be ready for Opening Day. … Madison Bumgarner will start for the Diamondbacks on Opening Day against the Padres. …Mallex Smith, Jose Peraza, Jerad Eickhoff and Arodys Vizcaino were among the players cut from Mets big league camp on Sunday. … Jonathan Villar (groin) is expected to be ready for the start of the regular season. … The Cardinals placed Kwang-Hyun Kim (back), Miles Mikolas (shoulder) and Harrison Bader (shoulder) on the injured list. … Tommy La Stella is considered day-to-day with a left knee contusion. … David Price was scratched from Sunday’s Cactus League start due to an undisclosed illness. … Zack Wheeler fanned four over three shutout innings in his final spring tune-up. … Jesus Aguilar went 3-for-3 with a homer and a double in a victory over the Mets. … Freddie Freeman went 2-for-3 and smacked his first home run of the spring in a loss to the Rays. … Ryan Zimmerman blasted his sixth home run of the spring to go along with an impressive .480 average (12-for-25). ... Victor Robles continued his strong spring, going 3-for-5 with a double and a pair of runs scored on Sunday. … Avisail Garcia blasted a three-run homer and stole a base in Sunday’s victory over the Reds. … Corbin Burnes punched out nine over five innings of one-run baseball against the Reds… Joc Pederson walloped a two-run homer -- his eighth round-tripper of the spring -- in a loss to the Rangers. … Merrill Kelly fanned six over five innings of one-run ball against the White Sox. … Joe Musgrove fired five shutout innings while striking out six against the Indians… Mike Yastrzemski smacked his fourth dinger in a losing effort against the Athletics. … The Mets released Mike Montgomery after a rough Grapefruit League start on Sunday. … Josh Fuentes went 4-for-4 with an RBI in a loss to the Royals. … Max Muncy blasted a pair of home runs in a losing effort against the Angels. … Corey Seager crushed a 441-foot home run -- his seventh homer of the spring -- in a loss to the Angels.