Darius Austin is a fantasy writer for Baseball Prospectus.
Darius Austin: Hey everyone, how about those Mariners? Let's get started!
James (New Hampshire): 12 team, Roto, 5x5, dynasty keeper (no penalty for keepers)... Who wins: Carlos Correa, Sandy Alcantara for Al Mondesi, Forrest Whitley. Thanks!
Darius Austin: I think we're looking at the very real possibility that Mondesi is a better fantasy option than Correa, and Whitley is so far ahead of Alcantara for me that Mondesi doesn't have to beat Correa.
Vic (Baltimore): In a 15 team 5 x 5 with my hitters easily among the best in the league, I have limited options to improve my pitching. Jorge Lopez, Tyle Mahle, Jake Odorizzi. Any of these 3 worth adding for the season, not just streaming?
Darius Austin: I don't love any of them, but I'd take the AL Central over the NL Central any day. I would go Lopez over Odorizzi at this point in their careers. I wouldn't hesitate to drop them for more attractive matchups, though.
Buddy (Peoria, IL): When Morrow comes back, does Maddon stick him right back in the closer role?
Darius Austin: I think so. None of the Cubs relievers are covering themselves in glory and I believe a healthy Morrow is still the most dominant reliever in this pen, especially if Strop's velocity loss holds.
rg (work): Harper and Bryant for Acuna, Royce Lewis and Brent Honeywell? Which team would say no? Keep forever dynasty.
Darius Austin: I think you can justify it from either side - if I'm the win-now team then Harper/Bryant obviously gives me more this year, and neither are old. I could see the Acuna owner saying no though, because his stock is (rightfully) crazy high in dynasty.
Alex (Austin): What do you think Joey Gallo's end of season AVG is? Is he worth giving up a top 20 pitcher for?
Darius Austin: It's very optimistic to think it'll be any higher than .220, and .210 is probably the more realistic number. I think back end of top 20 is justifiable, especially if you need the power and you can take the average hit.
Horace (Rome): What does third base look like for the Yankees by the All-star break? Is it crazy to try to "play through" a labrum tear?
Darius Austin: It's a small tear and they sound about as positive as it's possible to sound about such an injury. It seems the throwing on Wednesday went well, and he'll be progressing to swinging a bat today and then throwing from 90 feet tomorrow, so if he can do all that and it's responding well, it doesn't seem crazy at all. They can use him at DH to ease him back in too, of course, but we need to bear in mind that surgery is still a very real possibility. I'll say that he's back out there by the break, but if I was an Andujar owner I'd want LeMahieu, or another very dependable backup.
bob m (philly): Hey Darius,
What are your thoughts on KeBryan Hayes and Sixto Sanchez? How good could they become and when do you think they make their ML debuts?
Also, do you think Longoria is just about done, or do you still think he has some life left in that bat? He's obviously off to a terrible start after a down year, so I'm very concerned.
Darius Austin: Lot to answer here! I think Hayes will be a solid but not spectacular 3B, with a nice floor because of the great hit tool. Of course, we've seen plenty of guys with excellent contact skills produce more pop than expected in this environment, so that's not a terrible thing to bet on. Yuli Gurriel was the comp that Bret put on him in the Pirates top 10 this offseason, and I think that's a reasonable expectation.
Sanchez has phenomenal stuff and the concern is primarily over the durability. A low IP total is less likely to disqualify him from near-ace status than it used to be. I can see him falling into the James Paxton category of electric when he's on the mound but you're never quite sure how often he's going to be there.
As a Giants fan, I'm not confident either. I don't think the swing has been right for quite some time and the decline has been going on for so long that I'd be surprised if he gets back to his old level. It's also a terrible environment for his fantasy value, especially now the lineup around him is so poor.
Big Person (TD Bank): Why isn't every question in this chat about Vogelbach? Please talk at length about this absolute truck of a man!
Darius Austin: I'm delighted that we've finally got to see a Vogelbach run in the team. Destroying Triple-A for another year would have proved very little, and he was out of options anyway, so it was clearly now or never. He's *probably* not going to keep slugging over 1.000, but he's also not doing anything we didn't think he was capable of before - hitting a bunch of dingers was the one thing everyone thought he could do.
That said, if Vogelbach isn't getting on base a ton and slugging over .500 at the major league level then he's probably out of a regular job, because he's not going to give the team any defensive or baserunning value. If he's still a clearly above-average hitter when Kyle Seager gets back, then you'd like to think that Ryon Healy goes down and he sticks around - that is, if Jerry Dipoto hasn't traded him by that point.
Santi (Miami): Eovaldi dropped in my 12 team h2h points mixed league. Worth adding?
Darius Austin: Yeah, I'd still take a shot. I was impressed with what the cutter did for his repertoire last year and I don't think he's lost that. A third of his fly balls have also gone for home runs, which clearly won't hold up. I might be a little cautious until I see him get the walks under control.
Cole Whittier (Pasadena, CA): Did you get a chance to watch Pedro Avila's start for the Pads? He kinda came out of nowhere, eh? What can you tell us about him?
Darius Austin: I've only seen a few clips, but it was impressive stuff! They're clearly not afraid to bring these guys, like Paddack and Margevicius, quickly to the majors. For Avila, the curve and changeup are plus and there are more questions about his fastball command, plus his size, which means he may be a reliever long-term. There's a chance he can be a pretty solid starter if that command improves, though. I'd expect him to go back down initially, but I'm sure we'll see him again this year.
Kevin (Monaca Pennsylvania ): Are Seattle Mariners for real? Can they keep it going? I have quite a few of them in my lineup
Darius Austin: See above for my view on Vogelbach. It's very unlikely they can challenge for the division and I think they'll ultimately have a hard time sticking around in the Wild Card race. I think the offense is fine - not this good, but fine. It's the pitching staff that's a concern: the bullpen is a real mish-mash of underwhelming parts and the starters gets mediocre real quickly. I also think their defense is pretty bad, which doesn't help with a pitching staff that doesn't get a ton of strikeouts.
matt (MD): who do you think are the next two/three impact pitchers to come up?
Darius Austin: Does Mike Soroka count? I know he already made his debut, so perhaps not, but I don't think it'll be too long before he works his way back into this Braves rotation.
If not then I think Jesus Luzardo is in the big leagues as soon as the A's are confident he's fully recovered from his injury. It wouldn't surprise me if Angels soon decide that they could really use Griffin Canning, who had a nice first start of the year at Triple-A. Whitley is the wild card - I could see him being up in a few weeks or staying down for 3 or 4 months.
Vic (Baltimore): Seth Lugo? I know he's had a rough start, but he could wind up starting and therefore worth holding in a deep league?
Darius Austin: If you just look at the Mets pitching depth, it seems like a good bet - there isn't a lot behind that front five, so and one of those five is Jason Vargas. That said, Lugo hasn't started for them since last June and I don't know that he has more than two good pitches, which isn't a good sign. I think the results in the bullpen will be much better than this going forwards though, so if that's still valuable in your league then I'm fine with holding him.
Kevin (Monaca Pennsylvania ): Thanks. I feel the same way especially their defense. Beckham is awful in the field. Thanks again
Darius Austin: No problem! I think JP Crawford is up to play shortstop as soon as they start to fall out of it.
Rashislop (Brooklyn): Hey Darius! Fantasy question for a 14 team mixed keeper league. I am thinking about making a trade where I let go of a closer to upgrade my rotation. Do you have any ideas for buy low mid level starters? Im thinking of flipping matt barnes/ryan brasier (i have both) or blake parker. Thanks!
Darius Austin: Someone like J.A. Happ is probably about the right level of target based on a slow start, if the owner is desperate for saves. You could gamble on an injured-but-good-when-healthy type like Rich Hill. If you are a Nick Pivetta believer, there's always him. I think he's probably the latest Pineda who teases us with great peripherals and the occasional gem and never develops the consistency, but it's not like Blake Parker is Blake Treinen.
AJ (Boston): Thoughts on whether Feltman and Darwinzon appear in the big leagues this year? If yes, in what role?
Darius Austin: I fully expect Feltman to be in the bullpen this summer, at least as like a 6th/7th inning guy. There's closer potential in there, of course, and it's not like the path is super tricky right now. Darwinzon is tougher because I think they'll make every effort to see if he can stick as a starter first, which isn't even a question with Feltman. The prospect guys here (and most places, I'm sure) will tell you he's likely to end up in the bullpen too, but just for the time the Red Sox spend trying the alternative, I'll guess we don't see him until 2020.
Dusty (Colorado): Hey Darius, I've been meaning to have a heart to heart with you. My heart says Wander Javier's upside is generational superstar. What does your ticker say? Thank you, and I hope when this question gets answered on April 12th, that you are still competitive in your league. Good luck.
Darius Austin: My heart says that long after we're all gone, these questions will still appear in chats somewhere - on eSports streams, perhaps, where Wander's grandson will be considered the world's best StarCraft 17 prospect.
boatman44 (Liverpool): There is only one burning question this season,will Dan Vogelbach steal a base? Or will Dan Symbiorski be a laughing stock?
Darius Austin: MLB keeps saying 'let the kids play', and if that doesn't mean Vogelbach stealing a base, I don't think it means anything at all.
Darius Austin: Thanks for joining me everyone, that'll do it! Good luck with your seasons, and I'll see you next time.