By Chris Cwik, CBSSports.com
The waiting is the hardest part, according to Tom Petty.
After a tremendous spring boosted his value, Yordano Ventura became one of the must-own sleepers in fantasy leagues. But after a week 1 rainout, owners were left waiting to see whether Ventura’s spring stats would carry over to the regular season.
Week 2 provided a glimpse into Ventura’s potential. A six-inning shutout against the Rays, in which he threw the fastest pitch ever recorded by a starting pitcher, immediately validated the decision to reach for Ventura during drafts.
Things are about to get even better in week 3, as Ventura has two starts against two of the worst offensive clubs. If week 2 provided vindication for owners, week 3 could be elation.
Yordano Ventura, SP, Royals (62 percent started Week 2)
Week 3 Schedule: At the Astros, home against the Twins
Not only is Ventura coming off a strong start against the Rays, but he now heads into an even more tempting two-start week against Houston and Minnesota. While the Astros have improved, the club struck out an amazing 1,535 times last year. Minnesota’s offense was equally as bad last season, making Ventura a must-start option.
Players I would start him over: Shelby Miller, Lance Lynn, Zack Wheeler
Devin Mesoraco, C, Reds (18 percent started Week 2)
Week 3 Schedule: Home against the Pirates, home against the Cubs
Ryan Hanigan’s exit means it’s time for Mesoraco to finally show what he can do with full-time duty. Mesoraco was limited by an oblique injury to start the year, but played well once he came back. Mesoraco was considered a prospect what seems like ages ago, but never received enough time to live up to that hype. He’s as “post-hype” as a possible sleeper can get, and may have been a late-round pick in most leagues if not for the injury. Both Wrigley and the Great American Ball Park are about as good as it gets when it comes to hitter-friendly parks.
Players I would start him over: Evan Gattis, Russell Martin, Yan Gomes
Jackie Bradley, OF, Red Sox (9 percent started Week 2)
Week 3 Schedule: At the White Sox, home against the Orioles
Bradley was expected to be a temporary option for Boston while Shane Victorino missed time early with an injury. But based on his play, it looks like Bradley is in line for a starting role even after Victorino returns. The Red Sox play in some strong hitter’s parks Week 3, which gives Bradley even more opportunities to put up numbers. He’s starting to show why the club kept him up after a strong spring in 2013.
Players I would start him over: Alejandro De Aza, Grady Sizemore, Austin Jackson
Tyler Flowers, C, White Sox (15 percent started Week 2)
Week 3 Schedule: Home against the Red Sox, at the Orioles
Flowers had some hype last season as a late power-hitting catcher, but slumped through the year, eventually having shoulder surgery in the offseason. It may have taken a year, but Flowers is starting to show why fantasy owners were intrigued last season. While hitting a home run in Colorado isn’t all that impressive, Flowers has shown a willingness to take the ball the other way. That’s not a skill he flashed in 2013. On top of all that, you can’t beat hitting in Fenway and Camden Yards for the week.
Players I would start him over: Yan Gomes, Wilin Rosario, Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Brandon Morrow, SP, Blue Jays (25 percent started Week 2)
Week 3 Schedule: At the Twins, at the Indians
You might as well use Morrow early, because his injury history suggests he won’t be around for long. While his first start came against Houston, he showed plenty to inspire excitement for week 3. Morrow’s strikeouts were back and his velocity jumped. He averaged 95.29 mph on his fastball during his first start, harder than he’s thrown in April since 2009. His first start of the week is against the Twins, which should get owners off to a nice start before he heads to Cleveland. For once, the reward outweighs the risk.
Players I would start him over: Jake Peavy, Marco Estrada, Lance Lynn
Shelby Miller, SP, Cardinals (64 percent started Week 2)
Week 3 Schedule: At the Brewers, at the Nationals
It doesn’t look like it’s going to get much better for Miller in week 3. While there are things to worry about moving forward, like the fact he has nearly as many walks as strikeouts, there’s still no reason for long-term concern here. In the short term, though, he’s got some tough match-ups. Miller Park is pretty homer-friendly and the Nationals have shown plenty of offense early. Give Miller a week to sort things out.
Players I would start instead: Yordano Ventura, Matt Cain (one start), Scott Kazmir (one start)
Jake Peavy, SP, Red Sox (53 percent started Week 2)
Week 3 Schedule: At the White Sox, home against the Orioles
Peavy impressed against the Yankees and has two starts in week 3, which might make him a tempting two-start option. Peavy pitches in both U.S. Cellular Field and Fenway, both of which are friendly to hitters. On top of that, the White Sox have been a surprisingly effective offensive club early on, so his first start isn’t as encouraging. Peavy has shown the ability to pitch well in both ballparks in the past, but the match-ups make things a bit more worrisome for the veteran.
Players I would start instead: Yordano Ventura, Ervin Santana, Brandon Morrow
Pablo Sandoval, 3B, Giants (79 percent start Week 2)
Week 3 Schedule: Home against the Dodgers, at the Padres
A slimmer Sandoval hasn’t kicked off his walk year in grand fashion. Though there’s plenty of reasons to expect that will change, he’s got his work cut out for him this week. He starts at home, where he’s been strong over his career, but finishes with a three-game set at Petco Park, where offense goes to die. His early struggles make him a questionable start. Give him a week to figure things out.
Players I would start instead: Xander Bogaerts, Josh Donaldson, Todd Frazier
Danny Salazar, SP, Indians (65 percent start Week 2)
Week 3 Schedule: At the Tigers
Salazar entered the year a step below Gerrit Cole and Michael Wacha among the rookie standouts from last year, but hasn’t lived up to the hype through two starts. He was fine the first time around, but flirted with some command issues. He showed his immense potential against Chicago, striking out 10, but allowed five runs. He’s too hit or miss at this point, especially against a strong offense. Wait until he starts seeing better results.
Players I would start instead: Brandon Morrow, Jason Vargas, Alex Wood
Jedd Gyorko, 2B, Padres (61 percent started Week 2)
Week 3 Schedule: Home against the Rockies, home against the Giants
After a promising rookie year, Gyorko has slumped to begin his sophomore season. While he’ll likely get things on track, owners may want to wait another week before putting him in the lineup. The Padres play all their games at home in week 3, where Gyroko hit just .228 last year. He’s been a much stronger hitter on the road, and has an easier chance to provide value when the Padres are out of town.
Players I would start instead: Anthony Rendon, Kolten Wong, Brian Dozier
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