Fantasy Baseball: Blake Snell and Aaron Blair Make Debuts

Blake Snell

The Tampa Bay Rays Blake Snell and the Atlanta Braves Aaron Blair made their major league debuts over the weekend. These young pitchers have a ton of upside but there is concern when rostering them. There is a real possibility they can get sent back down if the big league club needs to do roster manipulation or if they have a rotation that is already set. These young pitchers will also have their bumps and bruises along the way. Let’s take a look at a couple guys who made their debut recently and a couple more that could follow soon.

Blake Snell

On Saturday, highly touted prospect Blake Snell made his major league debut and boy was he impressive. Snell allowed only two hits and one earned run which came on a passed ball by catcher Hank Conger. He was able to display the skill that most fantasy owners should be excited about: his strikeout ability; he had 6 strikeouts with only one walk. Throughout the minor leagues Snell showed an ability to be strikeout produce averaging over strikeout per inning. Snell has already been optioned back to AAA Durham. This move was made to add depth to the bullpen as Jhan Martinez was called up. The Rays rotation is pretty set for the top 4 starters with Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Matt Moore, and Drew Smyly. Erasmo Ramirez is the only other pitcher on the active roster that can make a start. However he has found a home as a setup man to closer Alex Colome and making another start will likely only be done in an emergency situation. The Rays have flexibility in their rotation this week with an off day thus carrying 4 pitchers is all they need. I would expect Snell to get the call up when Tampa Bay needs a 5th starter. He’s worth an add in most if not all leagues.

Aaron Blair

On Sunday Aaron Blair made his MLB debut allowing 3 earned over 5.1 innings. He only had one strikeout and walked two in the process. Blair was one the big prospects sent to the Atlanta Braves in the Shelby Miller deal. He is not a pitcher that will overpower hitter but displays impressive control typically sitting in the low 90’s with his fastball. He will get strikeouts but his K/9 will sit around 6 or 7. The good thing for Blair is he should be a permanent fixture in the Braves rotation. I’m not sure i’m falling over myself to pick him up but he is worth a look in deeper leagues or if you have pitching flexibility.

Robert Stephenson

Cincinnati Reds’ Robert Stephenson has made two starts this season already allowing 4 earned in 12 innings of work. He only has 4 strikeouts in his first two outings despite being a guy that averaged over a strikeout per inning in the minor leagues. Like with Blair in Atlanta, Stephenson should remain a permanent fixture in this rotation. Alfredo Simon continues to give up runs in bunches and Jon Moscot may be one of the worst pitchers in baseball. There will be an innings restriction on Stephenson this season so expect him to miss starts here and there or get shut down at some point. Hopefully he can get his strikeouts to come in upcoming starts making him a more valuable player.

Down on the Farm

Nationals Lucas Giolito

John Absalon – MiLB.com

Lucas Giolito

Lucas Giolito is my top pitching prospect for keeper and dynasty leagues but for the 2016 season I worry we get little to no major league production this season. Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez are locked into the top 3 rotation spots and will remain there unless they have injury issues. Joe Ross is a young pitcher with potential and should be locked into the rotation as well. Tanner Roark would be the most likely to be replaced but he just struck out 15 batters in 7 innings in his last start. I’d probably leave him on the waiver wire for the majority of the season in all redraft leagues. The DC Sun Times recent article about Glasnow and the organization desire to treat him like they have other young pitchers coming off of tommy john surgery. My assumption is he makes a handful of starts in September and that is it.

Tyler Glasnow

Of the pitchers that are still in the minors that I think can have an impact this season, Tyler Glasnow would be the highest on my list. Jon Niese and Juan Nicasio occupy the 4th and 5th starting spots currently. They haven’t been great with ERA’s over 4 and 1.3-plus WHIPs but haven’t killed their team. Ryan Vogelsong is currently in the bullpen but can start if the Pirates in necessary. But Glasnow can make an impact starting in June if the three pitchers struggle. Glasnow can be an elite strikeout guy that should have good ERA and WHIP numbers. Glasnow would be right behind Giolito for keeper and dynasty leagues.

Jose Berrios

Jose Berrios is another prospect like Glasnow that could be up sooner than later and has little to block his call up. Tommy Milone and Ricky Nolasco currently occupy the 4th and 5th starting pitcher spots for the Twins. Berrios should get the call sometime between mid May and June 1st. He should be at or around a strikeout per inning when he gets the call. The Twins likely wont be a playoff team this season so assume that his inning will be limited but the starts he makes should be quality outings.

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