The Astros took another game from the Yankees on Wednesday night in Houston, again led by center fielder Dexter Fowler, who has five extra-base hits -- two doubles, a home run, and a triple -- in just eight plate appearances with his new team.
Houston acquired Fowler this offseason from the Rockies for starting pitcher Jordan Lyles and outfielder Brandon Barnes. Fowler was always a poor hitter on the road in his time with Colorado and feasted at home in the hitter-friendly confines of Coors Field, so the thought was that he’d struggle in a different environment. And maybe he still will. But at this moment the dynamic 28-year-old looks like a potential fantasy steal at his Yahoo average draft position (ADP) of 225.0.
The Astros are an easy club to mock because of their dreadful record last year and pitiful payroll, but the top of the lineup isn’t so bad and Fowler is expected to lead off in most games. He should score a good amount of runs hitting in front of the likes of Jose Altuve, Jason Castro, and Chris Carter, and he averaged stealing 21 bases per 162 games in his five full seasons with the Rockies. That’s a whole lot of fantasy production for a guy that could have been had around Round 20 in most drafts.
Bonifacio Breaking Out With Cubs?
Speaking of hot starts. Cubs newcomer Emilio Bonifacio went 4-for-5 with a double and a stolen base in Chicago’s season-opener against the Pirates on Monday and then provided a sensational encore on Wednesday night, finishing 5-for-7 with a walk and two steals in a 16-inning affair. It should be noted that the Cubs lost both games. It should also be noted that no player in baseball's modern era has collected nine hits in the first two games of a season.
Bonifacio can handle second base and all three outfield spots, so new Cubs manager Rick Renteria can move him around and keep his bat and speed in the lineup on a regular basis. He stole 40 bases alongside a .360 on-base percentage in 2011 with the Marlins -- if you want an idea of the kind of fantasy upside he brings in an everyday role.
The Cubs aren’t going to be contenders this year, so it’s not like a slump will get Bonifacio booted immediately from the batting order. Grab him off the waiver wire if he’s still available.
It’s Valverde Time In Queens
Mets closer Bobby Parnell was placed on the disabled list Wednesday after being diagnosed Tuesday with a torn medial collateral ligament. He was given a platelet-rich plasma injection and is hoping to avoid going under the knife, but Tommy John surgery is a real possibility. A decision on that front won’t be made for another six weeks.
This opens the door for 36-year-old right-hander Jose Valverde, whom manager Terry Collins officially named Wednesday as the Mets’ fill-in closer. Valverde was a mess last season in Detroit, posting a 5.59 ERA in 19 1/3 innings, but he struck out three batters over 1 1/3 impressive frames in his debut with New York on Monday and is worth owning in all standard fantasy leagues until he falters. The Mets don’t really have many better options.
Darvish Given The Go-Ahead
Rangers ace Yu Darvish threw an 86-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas and felt no lingering discomfort in his neck on Wednesday morning, so he has been cleared to make his 2014 regular-season debut Sunday in Tampa Bay.
Darvish, 27, registered a fantastic 2.83 ERA and an MLB-best 277 strikeouts across 209 2/3 innings last season for the Rangers and he has 29 wins in two years. There are few better fantasy starters.
National League Quick Hits: Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos is out 4-6 weeks after undergoing hamate bone surgery on Wednesday … Matt Garza tossed eight innings of one-run ball in his Brewers debut Wednesday against the Braves … Reds manager Bryan Price has hinted that Jonathan Broxton (forearm) could immediately step into the team’s closer role when he returns from the disabled list next week … Tony Cingrani shut out the Cardinals over seven innings, striking out nine, in his 2014 debut on Wednesday night … Carlos Gonzalez was pulled from Wednesday’s game versus the Marlins due to dizziness … Cole Hamels (biceps) has been cleared to begin a minor league rehab assignment on Sunday at High-A Clearwater and is aiming to join the Phillies’ rotation around April 26 … Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon blew a save in his first appearance of the season Wednesday versus the Rangers … Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy is expected to return from paternity leave for Thursday’s series-finale against the Nationals … Jimmy Rollins left the Phillies on Wednesday to be with his wife, who is giving birth … Braves third baseman Chris Johnson hit a solo home run in Wednesday’s win over the Brewers … Gio Gonzalez held the Mets to one run over six innings Wednesday to earn his first win of 2014 ... Craig Kimbrel earned his second save in as many days with a perfect ninth inning Wednesday against the Brewers … Pirates closer Jason Grilli blew a save late Wednesday night against the Cubs … Aaron Harang carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning in his Braves debut Wednesday versus Milwaukee … Doug Fister (lat) is expected to resume throwing on Thursday … Tim Hudson threw 7 1/3 scoreless innings, striking out seven, in his Giants debut Wednesday against the Diamondbacks … Mets outfielder Chris Young left Wednesday’s game with quad tightness and could be headed to the 15-day disabled list … Giancarlo Stanton finished 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBI on Wednesday against the Rockies … Cardinals starter Michael Wacha fired 6 2/3 scoreless innings in a no-decision in Cincinnati on Wednesday night.
American League Quick Hits: A’s closer Jim Johnson yielded three earned runs on three hits and two walks to blow the save in the second half of Wednesday’s doubleheader with the Indians … 2013 American League Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer struck out seven batters over eight scoreless innings Wednesday against the Royals … Jose Bautista slugged two home runs Wednesday in Tampa Bay … Scott Kazmir fired 7 2/3 scoreless innings against the Indians in his A’s debut on Wednesday afternoon … Mariners starter Taijuan Walker (shoulder) is scheduled to begin a minor league rehab assignment Friday at High-A High Desert … Ian Kinsler went 3-for-5 with a home run and a walkoff RBI single in the Tigers’ victory Wednesday over the Royals … Twins closer Glen Perkins took a blown save in Wednesday’s loss to the White Sox … Jonathan Diaz will serve as the Blue Jays’ starting shortstop while Jose Reyes (hamstring) is on the shelf … Astros starter Jarred Cosart earned the win after throwing five shutout innings Wednesday versus the Yankees … Rays outfielder David DeJesus (bruised foot) is aiming to return to the starting lineup on Thursday … Alexei Ramirez finished 2-for-3 with a two-run double and two walks Wednesday against the Twins … Royals starter Jason Vargas held the Tigers to one run over seven innings on Wednesday but was stuck with a no-decision in Kansas City’s extra-innings loss … Ubaldo Jimenez surrendered four runs in six innings Wednesday against the Red Sox, taking a loss in his Orioles debut … Joe Nathan blew a save Wednesday but the Tigers won in extras … Derek Holland threw off a mound on Wednesday for the first time since undergoing microfracture knee surgery in January … Indians starter Corey Kluber was shelled for five runs in just 3 1/3 innings Wednesday by the A’s … Dustin Pedroia had his first four-hit game since 2012 in Wednesday night’s win over the Orioles … Mark Buehrle shut out the Rays for 8 2/3 innings Wednesday in the Blue Jays’ second win of the season.