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10 Burning Questions: Ranger Suarez, Luis Arraez, Alec Bohm (Fantasy Baseball)

10 Burning Questions: Ranger Suarez, Luis Arraez, Alec Bohm (Fantasy Baseball)

We had our first major trade of the 2024 fantasy baseball season. Padres’ General Manager A. J. Preller lived up to his reputation and traded away multiple prospects to acquire Luis Arraez. You know that has to be covered in this week’s edition of the 10 burning fantasy baseball questions. Other fantasy baseball questions dive into hot starts, cold starts, and perhaps tempering expectations for a young pitcher going forward. Continue reading the article below.

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10 Burning Fantasy Baseball Questions

Let’s dive into our top 10 fantasy baseball questions of the week.

Is Ranger Suarez the best pitcher in all of fantasy baseball?

Ranger Suarez was the best pitcher in April. He led baseball with a 5-0 record, a 0.63 WHIP, and 2.0 WAR for pitchers. In April, the only pitcher with a lower ERA than Suarez was Shota Imanaga. While he is unlikely to maintain such incredible numbers, regression may not hit as hard as people think.

Suarez has a 189 BABIP and a 92% strand rate. Neither of those numbers can last all season. There are tangible changes, though, that will keep him as a usable fantasy pitcher. Suarez currently has a ground ball rate of 60%. He is walking just barely over one runner per nine innings. He has an average exit velocity of 81.9 miles per hour. Not putting runners on base and getting oodles of ground balls is always a good recipe for success.

Who loses playing time in San Diego after the Luis Arraez trade?

This past Friday, the reigning NL batting champion, Luis Arraez, was traded to the San Diego Padres in exchange for a collection of players. It should be good for the fantasy value of Arraez as there is substantially more chance for scoring atop the Padres lineup compared to the Marlins.

Adding Arraez means that someone has to someone lose playing time. In the first two games in the Padres lineup, Arraez has played designated hitter and second base. Manny Machado‘s offseason elbow surgery must heal to the point where he can play third base again. He has played six games at third base this season, but five of his last seven games have been there. Tyler Wade had been making most of the starts at third base until that point and seems to be the odd man out. The good news is that he was the least fantasy-relevant of all their infielders.

Is this a new version of Alec Bohm?

If you waited on the corner infield positions, Alec Bohm felt like a safe mid-round selection. He was someone who was going to offer solid across-the-board production. Early in the season, he has shown that he may offer more than expected.

Bohm currently has an 18-game hitting streak. That has helped to boost his average to 360. While it is likely that number will come down, we may see the first 300 batting average season from him since his rookie season in 2020. If that happens, the counting stats will come in a stout Phillies lineup. He already has 32 RBI, which is second in all of baseball. At this point, he ranks as both a top 10 first baseman and third baseman. If he can finish in that range, it would be a good return on draft capital.

Is Bo Bichette‘s average going to rebound?

Just a few seasons ago, Bo Bichette looked like the next young star for fantasy baseball. As a 23-year-old, he hit 29 home runs, stole 25 bases, and did that while maintaining a near 300 average. The home runs and stolen bases have dipped every season since then, but the near 300 average has remained. After the first 30 games of this season, that seems unlikely to be back.

At this point, Bichette is batting a mere 195. Some of his struggles can be attributed to a 223 BABIP, which is over 100 points below his previous career low in a season. The issue is that the lower BABIP can be explained by worse contact. Bichette has had two barrels all season. That’s less than a 2% barrel rate. Every other full season of his career, that number has been over 9%. His average will likely rebound, but there is very little chance of hitting above 290 again this season.

Did we underestimate Jordan Westburg with Baltimore?

There has been one top-notch prospect after another called to Baltimore in the past few seasons. Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, Grayson Rodriguez, Colton Cowser and Jackson Holliday have been spotlighted. With all the other talent, Jordan Westburg may been overlooked.

Westburg was a top-100 prospect himself, but there was always more excitement for others. Whether it ends up being at second or third base, he has shown that he will be part of the plans for the Orioles. Currently, he has an expected batting average of 323 with an expected slugging percentage of 545. Those are both in the top five percentiles in all of baseball, and his hard-hit rate is in the top 10 percentile. He also carries triple eligibility at second base, third base, and shortstop in most leagues, which gives him additional value in fantasy leagues.

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Where is Christian Yelich?

When Christian Yelich was first removed early from a game with lower back discomfort on April 12th, there was talk that he could avoid the injured list entirely. That didn’t happen. He was officially placed on the 10-day injured list back on April 13th. He still is not back to playing.

In the past week, there have been some updates that show a return could be imminent. Before the Brewers took on the Rays early last week, Yelich was spotted on the field doing some running and throwing before the game. Over the weekend, there was an update that he has begun swinging a bat. After missing that much time, he is likely to go out on a rehab assignment. Keep holding Yelich on your bench because he performed well before the back injury flared up.

Can the 11-save closers maintain their torrid saves pace?

Ryan Helsley, Clay Holmes and Kyle Finnegan have been saving machines in the early going. Each of those closers already has 11 saves. At their current pace, that would mean that each closer would finish in the 50 saves range. We haven’t seen a pitcher achieve 50 saves since 2017, when Edwin Diaz saved 57 games.

The issue with projecting saves is that many of the requirements for a save are out of the pitcher’s control. Earning a traditional save requires the team to be winning, but not by more than three runs entering the ninth inning. It also requires that the manager chooses that pitcher in the save situation. While each pitcher should remain a solid closing option, the most likely for each is that they have a slow month, which causes them to be closer to the 35-save range.

What is wrong with Chris Bassitt?

Chris Bassitt has finished with full-season ERA’s between 3.02 and 3.81 going back to 2018. It makes his current ERA of 5.45 stand out as an outlier.

It should be noted that while he posted consistent ERAs, he always outperformed his peripherals. His actual ERA has been lower than his expected ERA every season of his career. An elevated walk rate is a noticeable difference from the other years of Bassitt’s career to this season. He currently is issuing 4.46 walks per nine innings. The last time he issued even three walks per nine innings was back in 2018. He has a 356 BABIP and under a 70% strand rate, which will likely correct. There are concerns with Bassitt, and it’s fine to move him to the bench, but don’t give up on him yet.

Will Christian Scott have an innings cap?

What a big league debut it was for Christian Scott. Scott went 6.2 innings and only allowed one earned run while striking out six against the Tampa Bay Rays. He has to be added in all leagues, but can we expect him all season?

Including his time at Triple-A, Scott has thrown 33 innings this season. In his two other full professional seasons, he has thrown 58 and 87 innings. Expecting another increase of roughly 30 moves this year’s cap to the 120-inning range. That means that we have about 90 innings left from Scott. Considering he now has a 42:7 strikeout-to-walk ratio between both levels, take advantage of those innings on your roster.

Is Jameson Taillon a must-add pitcher?

Jameson Taillon started the season on the injured list with a strained back. He has returned and posted an impressive stat line over his first four starts. He has won three starts with a 1.13 ERA and a corresponding 0.88 WHIP over 24 innings.

At least to this point, the strikeouts have been lacking. He has 16 of them, but that is only six per nine innings, which would be a career low. His ERA and WHIP have been helped by favorable luck, with a BABIP below 200 and a strand rate over 90%. That will correct, but even when it does, this is the making of a serviceable if unspectacular pitcher. Those can be helpful, especially in 15-team leagues.

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