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Spring Training Battles to Watch + Bold Predictions (Fantasy Baseball)

Mar 11, 2021

 
Even though it should be taken with a grain of salt, Spring Training is our first chance to get a look at how things may transpire this season. It’s primarily the initial major league proving ground for stud prospects, an eye-opener as to what roles each player will be tasked with, and a glimpse into which athletes are most deserving of playing time during a position battle. Players on the cusp of making the roster or working their way into the lineup take the field every day trying to impress their club, which can make for some intense internal competitions across each team. Check out which position battles our featured analysts are most excited to monitor this spring. As an added bonus, they will each also give one Spring Training bold prediction for the upcoming season.

View real time recommendations for each pick with our Draft Assistant >>

Q1. What position battle are you most intrigued to watch during Spring Training and what outcome do you predict?

“The Cardinals’ rotation is worth monitoring with Miles Mikolas looking doubtful for the start of the season. Showing decreased velocity early on this spring, it’s at least worth wondering if Carlos Martinez might just be more viable out of the pen at this point. Regardless, he most likely gets a spot too. That leaves one spot open and an opportunity for Daniel Ponce de Leon, who impressed at the end of last year with an excellent 31.5% K rate through eight starts. I’ll say he beats out John Gant and gets an extended look in the Cardinals’ rotation to start the season. And while Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said that Alex Reyes, who has looked incredible during the spring so far, was pen-bound, you’d figure he enters the conversation later on in the season as they try to juggle managing his workload while pushing for a playoff spot.”
– Ryan Amore (Pitcher List)

“You could name a half dozen closer battles to watch, but I am eyeing the battle for the Yankees’ fifth starter role between Deivi Garcia and Domingo German. Garcia was solid but unspectacular last year while German was suspended for the season. German was a quality starter in 2019, with a good strikeout rate (25.8%) and extremely manageable walk rate (6.6%). His price is incredibly low, and if he wins the job (and he’s having a good spring), he is going to be an extreme value in drafts. The Yankees want to limit Garcia’s innings, and if they do start him in the minors, German may run with the fifth starter’s role all season if he gets it out of the spring. I’d draft German everywhere I could for now, but I’d be watching the battle closely.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

“In both my dynasty and redraft leagues, I have my eyes on the Padres’ second base battle. My hope is that Ha-Seong Kim, in his first Spring Training with San Diego after coming over from Korea, displays some of the power/speed combination and advanced approach at the plate that made him a star in the KBO. Unfortunately, I think Kim is destined for a super-utility role in 2021, splitting time at multiple positions while rotating with Jake Cronenworth and Jurickson Profar.”
– Mike Maher (FantasyPros)

“The Reds’ closer role is intriguing. Lucas Sims has the profile of a closer in terms of stats, but he’s behind in camp due to injury. That leaves Amir Garrett with the first crack at the job. He has been a very strong reliever the last few seasons and has the closer mentality so many lack. If Garrett has a strong spring, he should be the closer on Opening Day and if he doesn’t falter, he may never look back. Sidebar: Sean Doolittle has been awful in Spring Training and is not a realistic option.”
– Joe Pisapia (FantasyPros)

Q2. What is your one bold prediction for Spring Training and the upcoming season?

Madison Bumgarner pitches himself back into becoming a reliable fantasy starter. You’ve probably already heard about Bumgarner’s first outing of the spring where he struck out six across two innings. Yes, it was against few major league veterans, but Bumgarner’s fastball sat at 90 MPH, after sitting at 88.4 MPH during the 2020 season. In addition, he threw his cutter and curveball about 70% of the time, a big jump over what he had been doing in the prior season. It’s one start and it’s a bold prediction, but if Bumgarner gets back to 90-91 MPH consistently and leads into his secondary stuff a la late-career C.C. Sabathia, he can find his way back into relevance from a fantasy perspective.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

Ty France plays his way into an everyday job with the Mariners. France has a strong minor league track record. His position flexibility and torrid spring pace (3 HRs and 2.128 OPS over 13 ABs) coupled with Jarred Kelenic’s injury should create great late-round value on France. The Mariners have no reason to hold him back and he’s practically free in drafts.”
– Joe Pisapia (FantasyPros)

Ronald Guzman is out of minor-league options and had a sort of renaissance this past offseason in the Dominican Winter League. The Rangers acquiring Nate Lowe this past offseason has pushed Guzman out of position as he’s been getting reps in the OF. I’ll say, Guzman, who has been making some loud noise this spring, earns a regular spot and easily clears his career-high of 18 home runs. As an aside, this scenario could squeeze Willie Calhoun’s playing time.”
– Ryan Amore (Pitcher List)

Spencer Howard is going to force his way into the Phillies’ rotation with a strong Spring Training. 2020 was a strange season for everyone, but it was especially difficult for young pitchers like Howard who made the jump to the big leagues for the first time. He didn’t look ready last season and he dealt with shoulder soreness. He’ll probably have a hard cap of 150 innings this season, but I fully expect Howard to earn a spot in the rotation by showing he is healthy and ready to take the next step.”
– Mike Maher (FantasyPros)


Thank you to the experts for their training camp battles to watch and bold predictions. Please give them a follow on Twitter for more great advice and subscribe/listen to our latest podcast below for more fantasy info.


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