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Zack Grienke

It’s time for fantasy baseball installment, featuring Eric Amzallag of UnlockedSports.com. Eric discusses who you should be keeping an eye on as the season progresses.

It’s around this time of the year when we notice that certain guys are slowing down, while others are heating up. A month into the year is still early, but it’s given fantasy players enough time to see who is for real and who is just riding a lucky start. It’s also the time when you might want to deal some of your hotter guys who might be about to hit a wall, picking up a more productive player in the process.

Nelson Cruz started out the year hot as fire, and has since slowed down a little bit. He hasn’t hit a home run in almost two weeks, but it is worth noting that Cruz has upped his average to just below .300. Cruz is an interesting case, because he’s betting hit low in the Rangers lineup despite being a better hitter than at least two of the guys in front of him. Though it might be time to think about dealing Cruz away, it is also important to note that the ball will continue to fly out of the Ballpark at Arlington during the summer months.

As it heats up in Texas, home runs tend to come even from guys who shouldn’t be hitting them. Field offers for Cruz, but don’t sell him for nickels, either.

Alexei Ramirez is a characteristically slow starter and he doesn’t hit the ball well in cold weather. That said, it’s now May and things are heating up. He’s a guy who is just starting to hit his stride, and he’s had two strong weeks to build upon. Expect Ramirez to start hitting for more power this month, and expect more stolen bases as he reaches base more. He’s a guy who needs to come off of your bench and into your lineup as soon as possible.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to treat Zack Greinke as a must-have, dynamite, front line starter if you are lucky enough to have him. Fantasy players who are considering “selling high” on Greinke are making a mistake. Sure, he’s not going to go 30-0, and he’s not going to have an ERA under 1.00. That doesn’t mean that he won’t post 23 wins and a 2.25 ERA, though. He might have the best stuff in the Major Leagues, with a 97-mph fastball and three excellent secondary pitches. Don’t even think about trading him unless someone offers you two frontline starters for him.

There are a few pitchers to take a look at if you are in need of some help. Many of them will be available on your waiver wire, and they are poised to break out soon. Manny Parra has been great in two consecutive starts, and possesses the pure stuff to dominate hitters. Ubaldo Jimenez seems to be hitting his stride, and he’s got some favorable matchups in the near future. Scott Olsen of the Washington Nationals seems to be hitting his stride, as well, and take a flyer on potentially dominating lefty Sean Marshall if he’s around your free agent list, too.

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