Roto Riteup: April 12, 2016

We’re not going to do this again, are we, Justin Verlander? Et tu, David Price? We were hoping for more, Taylor Jungmann. And Yo…OK, we expect this from you, Yovani Gallardo. It wasn’t a sunny day for the pillars of your pitching staff.

On the agenda:
1. The Hazelraker
2. Play me a song, Tropeano man
3. Various News and Notes
4. Streaming Pitcher Options

The Hazelraker
The St. Louis Cardinals continue to find hitters. The latest is Jeremy Hazelbaker. The 28-year-old rookie had four hits on Monday, going a home run shy of the cycle with a run scored and a run knocked in. He’s now 10-of-23 on the season with two homers and five RBI, improbably producing a 269 weighted runs created-plus. All of the small sample size caveats in the world apply here in the season’s second week, but would anyone really be surprised if the Cardinals had unearthed another completely unheralded but entirely useful hitter?

Hazelbaker has shot to 33-percent ownership despite being drafted outside of the top-200 outfielders. ZiPS actually likes him to approach 10-20 with ample playing time, and he’s been hitting second, so kick the tires if you’re in a deeper format.

The trickle-down angle here is that Hazelbaker’s hot play could keep Randal Grichuk on the bench some. Grichuk is owned by more than twice as many teams and sat over the weekend amid an early-season slump. The good news? Grichuk singled and doubled in five plate appearances Monday. Stephen Piscotty smacked a pair of doubles, too. The Cardinals, man.

Play me a song, Tropeano man
Expected to have a shot at a rotation spot out of spring, Nicholas Tropeano lost out to Matt Shoemaker but quickly re-entered the mix when Andrew Heaney hit the DL. If he pitches like he did Monday, it’ll be Shoemaker on the outside looking in when Heaney (or C.J. Wilson) returns – the three-percent owned Tropeano struck out six, walked two, and scattered six hits over five innings against the Athletics. That’s hardly a taming of a beast, but it’s a solid first outing, one he had a 16.3-percent swinging-strike rate in. He’ll draw Minnesota on the weekend.

Various News and Notes
Zack Cozart exited Monday’s game with quad tightness, which may not mean a whole lot but could push Billy Hamilton back to the top of the order temporarily. If Cozart were to hit the DL, Jose Peraza would be an intriguing addition for speed.

It’s too early to be out on Marcell Ozuna if you, like me, took a couple of end-of-draft fliers on a power breakout. It’s been a slow start, but thankfully, Ozuna belted his first of the year. We all feel like Barry Bonds feels.


Evan Gattis comes off the DL today, and Matt Duffy will be sent down. This is a hit to the playing time of Preston Tucker, who’s had 17 plate appearances from the DH spot and has hit pretty well. Tyler White’s been even better, likely insulating himself in his role. Tucker’s an interesting player, there just aren’t going to be enough PAs the way things look right now.

Charges against Jose Reyes have officially been dropped, according to The Associated Press. This was expected a while back, and it’s not actionable news, as Ron Manfred still has the power to hit Reyes with a suspension. It seems unlikely Reyes has much 2016 utility if suspended, but his status is worth watching for its potential impact on one of 2016’s favorite things, Trevor Story.

Nomar Mazara, who replaced Shin-Soo Choo and debuted Sunday, hit second on Monday and had a pair of hits, a run, and an RBI. In other prospect news, Mallex Smith debuted and was busted open by his helmet getting thrown out stealing, which could shelve him for a few days.

Felix Doubront will have Tommy John surgery Tuesday and is done for the year. For the time being, Eric Surkamp is Oakland’s fifth starter, but he’s a bad start or two from making way for the far more interesting Jesse Hahn.

It’s probably a bad sign that Byung-ho Park was pinch-hit for as the designated hitter by Eduardo Nunez in the ninth inning. Park’s at .143/.250/.286 through his first six games. #SSS and all, but woof.

Chris Davis smacked a three-run home run off of Craig Kimbrel to keep the Orioles undefeated. Nobody should panic about Kimbrel. In other bullpen news, Tony Cingrani put two on in the eighth and Jumbo Diaz was hit with a blown save when he couldn’t get him out of the jam, surrendering a home run to Addison Russell. Tony Zych struck out the side with the Mariners trailing four – I’ve invested in a few spec shares of Zych as an eventual closing candidate.

Streaming Pitcher Options
If you enjoy streaming pitchers or play DFS, tune into the Roto Riteup for recommendations each and every day.

A pitcher for today: Juan Nicasio @ DET (Anibal Sanchez)
An ownership tag of 71 percent is normally a little high for this space, but I wanted to use this as a sort of final call on Juan Nicasio, and his ownership is criminally low on ESPN. He had a terrific spring and a great first outing, with an enormous spike in strikeout rate. He needs to refine his changeup to stay successful, but the first time he sees team, he’ll be worth a look.

A pitcher for tomorrow: Adam Conley @ NYM (Logan Verrett)
Tabbed as a sleeper by some, Adam Conley was absolutely rocked in his first start of the season, a one-inning affair. That should depress his DFS price and has him at seven-percent Yahoo ownership, and I think he showed enough in spring to warrant another look. He’ll draw the Mets, who have been baseball’s worst offense in a ridiculously small sample so far.



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Blake Murphy is a freelance sportswriter based out of Toronto. Formerly of the Score, he's the managing editor at Raptors Republic and frequently pops up at Sportsnet, Vice, and around here. Follow him on Twitter @BlakeMurphyODC.

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Thoughts on Mallex Smith? In an OBP league, how much of an $80 budget should be spent on him?