Roto Riteup: March 19, 2014

Welcome to the 2014 edition of the Roto Riteup. The season may not actually begin for another few days, but we’re back early to brief you on some of the goings-on.

If you’re new to the program or need a refresher, you’ll find the Roto Riteup on RotoGraphs every day during the 2014 season. Here, Professor Pony (you may know him as David Wiers) and I cover interesting tidbits going around the realm of fantasy baseball at an ungodly hour of the morning. If you have suggestions for what you’d like to see out of the 2014 Roto Riteup — other than an award, because we’ve already thought of that — please let us know in the comments.

On the agenda
1. Wishing on the Diamondbacks’ SS battle
2. Still a battle in Washington’s rotation

Wishing on the Diamondbacks’ SS battle
The D’Backs came into the offseason with two players battling for the shortstop battle: Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings. Instead of doing the normal thing and actually choosing a player before the season begins, Arizona has decided to carry both players on the roster heading into their dumb-as-balls series in Australia.

Fantasy owners should hope that Owings gets the nod, for he will provide far superior value to Didi. Owings hit .291 in a cup of coffee last year, though he wouldn’t be likely to hit higher than .275 in a full season of work. Owings brings a some speed to the table, and he may be able to reach 10 homers if everything breaks right. Think of him as almost a poor man Daniel’s Murphy in terms of fantasy numbers. Didi, on the other hand, doesn’t carry the same chances for fantasy relevancy. Didi may develop a little more power as he ages, but he’s really a glove-first guy who never put up overly impressive numbers in the minors.

It sounds as if the job is Didi’s to lose, and we likely won’t find out for another week or so.

Still a battle in Washington’s rotation
If I would have told you back in Februrary that Ross Detwiler would be sent to the bullpen, you would have rightly assumed the battle for the Nationals’ fifth starter spot was finished, but it’s clear now that is not the case. Right-handers Tanner Roark and Taylor Jordan are both still fighting for the final spot in Washington’s starting rotation, and there’s been very little indication as to which way new manager Matt Williams is leaning.

Roark really impressed in his five starts late last season, striking out over five batters for every one he walked and allowing a lone homer. Roark isn’t going to strike many hitters out, but he does limit walks and gets a good deal of grounders. In fact, he sort of reminds me of teammate Doug Fister, which is probably Roark’s upside. Taylor’s profile isn’t actually all that different from Roark’s, although Jordan is younger and generated more swinging strikes in his nine starts last year.

If I had to pick one pitcher to come away with the rotation spot, I’d bet on Roark. Jordan has yet to pitch in Triple-A, and because he’s three years younger than Roark is, he’s a much better candidate to go back to the minors, where he’ll await the next opportunity.



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Zach is the creator and co-author of RotoGraphs' Roto Riteup series, and RotoGraphs' second-longest tenured writer. You can follow him on twitter.

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James R.
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Don’t know what time zone you are coming from, but I appreciated having fresh content with my morning coffee. Thanks! One selfish request would be plus on the A.L. news.