The first week of the 2014 baseball season is in the books, and that means it’s time for another week of “A Yankees Fantasy.”
Read through this weekly fantasy column for a look at the Yankees you should be using, or avoiding, on your team. We’ll take a look at who’s hot, who’s not, injuries, pitcher and batter matchups and more.
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
The biggest signing of the Yankees off-season — and our top rated Yankee for fantasy baseball heading into the season — was absolutely on fire in Toronto. After a slow start in Houston (0-for-7, one run, one steal in two games) he heated up in the series against the Blue Jays. In three games, he went 7-for-14 (.500 average) with two runs score, two steals and one RBI. After the first week he is sitting pretty with a .375 average, three runs and three steals. If he does this weekly — with a handful of home runs mixed in — you will be getting all the bang for your buck. Look for him to keep it going this week in Yankee Stadium against the Orioles and his former team, the Red Sox.
Masahiro Tanaka, SP
Heading into the season, nobody knew what to expect from Tanaka. He was unbelievable in Japan and had a great spring, but regular season baseball is a whole different animal. Owners who paid the somewhat steep — considering he had never thrown a pitch in the Major Leagues — price for Tanaka got exactly what they were looking for in his first start. He showed off his excellent control and some devastating breaking balls on his way to a win against the Blue Jays. He allowed two earned runs and six hits in seven innings while not allowing a walk and striking out eight. His Yankee career couldn’t have gotten off to a better start. He gets a decent but beatable Orioles lineup next time out.
CC Sabathia, SP
There were plenty of concerns heading into 2014 with Sabathia. He was coming off the worst season of his career and dealing with diminished velocity. He went for relatively cheap in fantasy drafts, but after he finished the spring with a 1.29 ERA, 0.76 WHIP and 16 strikeouts in 21 innings, it looked as though he had made the proper adjustments — but that wasn’t the case. He was shelled in his first start in Houston, allowing six earned runs on eight hits in six innings, and fared only slightly better Sunday in Toronto (six innings, seven hits, four earned runs). His 12 strikeouts in 12 innings is a great sign, but he’s going to have to limit the damage on the scoreboard in order to be a viable fantasy option. Heading into the second week, owners may be wise to keep him on the bench until he proves he can get it together.
The middle of the Yankee order and right field-designated hitter combination provided nothing but a big hole in the lineup this week. Soriano went hitless up until Sunday and finished the week 1-for-19 with a run scored. His partner in crime wasn’t much better as Beltran went 3-for-19 (.158) with two RBI. The Yankees, and fantasy owners, are going to need these two to produce at the plate. It’s not time to panic just yet, but this was not the start anyone envisioned for these two.
On the rise
A little-known signing by general manager Brian Cashman this winter, Solarte was invited to spring training and made the team over Eduardo Nunez after an impressive campaign. While the was certainly a surprise, certainly nobody expected Solarte to play everyday and become one of the hottest hitters in the lineup in the first week of the season. Solarte did just that, however, and is now hitting a ridiculous .470 (8-for-17) with three runs scored and five RBI. He was not owned in any leagues heading into this week, and is now owned in only five percent of ESPN leagues as of Sunday night. With Mark Teixeira now on the DL and Kelly Johnson moved to first, Solarte is inserted into the everyday lineup and worth a look in deep leagues. Playing at third base makes him an intriguing fantasy option in standard formats as well, as there are so few consistent, impactful hitters at that position. If you’re in a 12-team league and in dire need of a third baseman, there’s no reason not to take a flier on the rookie.
April 7 vs. Baltimore — RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (0-1, 6.00 ERA)
April 8 vs. Baltimore — LHP Wei-Yin Chen (0-1, 6.35)
April 9 vs. Baltimore — RHP Miguel Gonzalez (0-1, 18.90)
April 10 vs. Red Sox — RHP Clay Bucholz (0-0, 12.46)
April 11 vs Red Sox — LHP Jon Lester (0-2, 2.51)
April 12 vs. Red Sox — TBD
April 13 vs. Red Sox — TBD
If you have questions regarding different Yankees’ players in your fantasy league, be sure to send them in on the comments section of the article, and I will answer them the following week!