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10 Fantasy Baseball Burning Questions: Ronel Blanco, Christian Yelich, Nolan Jones

10 Fantasy Baseball Burning Questions: Ronel Blanco, Christian Yelich, Nolan Jones

One burning question that won’t be answered in this article is ‘Is it football season yet?’ That was a popular question among fantasy enthusiasts this week as it was a brutal news cycle. It’s been a tough start to the season for fantasy teams. It’s hard to imagine any fantasy teams aren’t already dealing with multiple injuries.

That’s a very unfortunate silver lining. Don’t be discouraged because you lost an early pick. Every fantasy manager is dealing with the same issues. The season is a grind. Those who persevere through the challenging times will be the ones who work their way toward the top.

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A good starting point is to consume as much FantasyPros content as you can. First, read the 10 burning questions below that touch on injuries, demotions and more for fantasy baseball this week.

10 Burning Fantasy Baseball Questions

Do we keep holding Esteury Ruiz?

Esteury Ruiz was sent to Triple-A last week. It wasn’t due to a lack of performance early in the season. He was 3-for-7 with a double, a triple and a stolen base. The Athletics sent him to the minors to work on his on-base skills.

Now fantasy owners are left trying to figure out how long they keep rostering Ruiz. The answer changes depending on what type of league you play in. He can be moved on from in points leagues. That isn’t the ideal format for his skillset. Plus, points leagues are often won on who has the most at-bats, and he will be accumulating none at the big league level for a while. Category leagues are a tougher decision. Even if he spends a month in the minor leagues, he could still steal over 50 bases. It’s enough to hold him in any five-outfielder leagues for the potential payoff.

Should we be adding Ronel Blanco?

Ronel Blanco threw one of the more surprising no-hitters we have seen in recent memory. The 30-year-old minor league pitcher struck out seven batters and only walked two against the Toronto Blue Jays. He followed that with another impressive start against Texas. He allowed only one hit in that game over six innings.

Blanco has drastically upped his changeup usage from last season. It makes sense as he currently has a 35% whiff percentage on that pitch. Of his 11 strikeouts this season, 10 have been credited to his changeup. Through his first two starts, he has found a repeatable formula for success. Blanco should be added in fantasy leagues if he isn’t already. However, he is less of a priority than early breakout starting pitchers such as Jared Jones, Garrett Crochet or Jordan Hicks.

Where do the White Sox turn for offensive production?

On Friday last week, the White Sox lost arguably their two best offensive weapons in Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert. Jimenez was placed retroactively on the injured list (IL) with an adductor strain. Later that evening, Luis Robert exited the game early with a hip flexor, which also landed him on the injured list.

It makes an already struggling lineup even weaker. The White Sox will turn to Gavin Sheets and Kevin Pillar to fill the vacated spots. Pillar can be left on the waiver wire in all but AL-only leagues. Sheets can provide power production while he fills in for Eloy Jimenez. In most leagues, he will already be eligible at outfield and first base. While he is getting consistent playing time, Sheets can be used in 15-team leagues.

Is Christian Yelich back to hitting home runs?

Christian Yelich hit 36 and 44 home runs in his first two seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers. He has never hit more than 21 home runs in any other season. He already has hit four this season.

It’s not that Yelich had stopped hitting the ball hard. He has been in the top 10 percentile in hard-hit % every season but one since Statcast began being used. His issue has always been a low launch angle. Last season, his launch angle was 3.5 degrees, fifth-lowest in all of baseball among qualified batters. While it’s a very small sample, his launch angle this season is currently 11.8 degrees. It’s an encouraging sign of Yelich providing more power production.

Which pitchers were injured this week?

Unfortunately, this isn’t an exhaustive list of all the injured pitchers from this past week. Rather, these are three top-tier pitchers who we lost for extended periods.

Reports had seemed to be positive on the comeback efforts of Eury Perez. That’s why it was so surprising when it was revealed Perez was having Tommy John surgery and would miss the remainder of the season.

Over the weekend, we would lose two more premiere starting pitchers to elbow injuries. First, reports of Spencer Strider dealing with elbow problems surfaced. An MRI would reveal damage to his UCL. We’re still waiting for an official timeline but he will miss extended time.

Hopefully, it won’t be as long as Shane Bieber. Over the weekend, we learned he also would need Tommy John surgery. It will keep him out for the remainder of this season. It’s too bad as he was off to a phenomenal start through two games.

Should we be worried about Max Fried?

Max Fried finished with a FantasyPros average draft position (ADP) of 49 overall. Through two starts, his season couldn’t have started much worse. In total, we’ve seen five innings pitched. He has struck out six batters but has allowed 11 earned runs already, which equates to a 19.8 ERA.

Anyone can have back-to-back bad starts, but there are some concerning signs early in the season. His velocity is down across all his pitches. It’s not a lot though so it could be explained as just getting stretched out early in the season. He has struggled with control, which is part of the reason why he has allowed 16 baserunners already. However, the .524 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) and 34% strand rate are the biggest factors. Don’t sell low on a likely top-20 starting pitcher option.

What is the concern level for Nolan Jones?

Nolan Jones was a polarizing figure throughout the draft cycle. Last season, he was a 20/20 player in only 106 games while hitting nearly .300. It’s not hard to extrapolate those numbers a bit and get a top fantasy contributor. The underlying numbers were scary, though, with nearly a 30% strikeout rate and an over .400 BABIP.

To start this season, those who faded Jones have to feel they were correct. Jones’ strikeout percentage has increased to 36% and the BABIP has regressed to .304. It has caused his actual statistics to look unappealing early with zero home runs and just one stolen base to go along with a .179 batting average. The copout answer is that he falls somewhere in the middle of last season’s greatness and his abysmal start to this season. It’s also the most likely answer. He well could go 20/20 again this season but the average is likely going to hover around .230 than the near .300 he hit last season.

Is Brice Turang fantasy viable?

There was some excitement going into last season for Brice Turang as a middle infield option. He delivered with a .585 OPS, which had him completely off draft radars this offseason. His start to the season has fantasy managers checking again.

Turang’s AAA batting averages in the past two seasons have been .286 and .298. It makes his .218 season last year feel like some positive regression is in order. Even with that poor average last season, he stole 26 bases. He’s off to an even better start in that department with seven stolen bases this season. Blessed with 95th percentile sprint speed and a new manager who has been aggressively stealing bases, Turang is an add for categories leagues if you need stolen bases.

Were we all too low on Tyler O’Neill?

Your early season leader in slugging percentage and OPS is Tyler O’Neill of the Boston Red Sox. He already has five home runs and a stolen base to go along with his .357 average. That’s an excellent start for a player whose consensus ADP ended at 227. Early on it appears that value is a boon for fantasy owners.

One reason his ADP stayed so low was health concerns. He has played over 100 games just once in his first six seasons. While he is healthy now, that can always change. Another concern is that he has often struggled with maintaining a usable average for fantasy baseball as he has struggled with strikeouts. At this point, he has more walks than strikeouts this season as he has dramatically cut his chase rate, which has led to a career-best strikeout rate. If it sustains, O’Neill offers power and speed upside fantasy owners crave.

What is happening with the Kansas City Royals’ bullpen?

We have seen four saves for the Royals divided up among three different pitchers. James McArthur has two saves. Will Smith has one save. Chris Stratton has one save. John Schreiber hasn’t earned any saves but he also hasn’t allowed an earned run yet this season.

As the person who has earned two of the past three saves, McArthur has to be considered the favorite for saves going forward. His current 7.71 ERA is misleading as he currently has a .500 BABIP against. He has the lowest FIP of the group at 1.68. If you’re looking for saves, he is the top add of this group.

Stratton is the second-most likely candidate for saves after earning a save on Saturday. He has quietly been a very dependable pitcher the past few seasons. His highest FIP since 2019 is 3.76. At this point, he doesn’t need to be added, but he is someone to keep on the watch list.

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