One day down, 185 to go. Here are the most important fantasy items from every team in the majors over the last 24 hours. As a reminder, if you want the top item for every team delivered to your inbox by 8 am Eastern every day, email firstname.lastname@example.org and put “Subscribe to FB Now“ in the subject line.
- RP Archie Bradley went 1 2/3 innings with no baserunners allowed and two strikeouts, a fine debut for anyone who drafted him hoping for about 4 innings a week of dominant relief work. He also inherited two runners, neither of which moved up on the base paths.
- OF Jarrod Dyson hit eighth in the lineup and stole a base in a 2-for-4 effort. As we mentioned yesterday in Spring Training Trends, the SB totals of Dyson and SS Ketel Marte are worthy of day-by-day tracking, due to the outsize importance the stat holds in the values of both players.
- RP Arodys Vizcaino looked fantastic, striking out the side in the ninth inning of a 5-5 game. RP AJ Minter has earned a lot of praise for being a potential “next big thing” at closer, but for a team like the Braves that could either contend for a wild card or fall off the map early, Vizcaino has a ton of value staying in the closer role, because he could bring back a great haul at the trade deadline when bullpen arms are most valuable. Don’t be afraid to get Vizcaino in a trade if you need a closer, he shouldn’t cost much with his mid-round draft value.
- 1B Freddie Freeman looks primed for an incredible season. He faced 24 pitches yesterday and didn’t swing and miss once. He faced three called strikes, but two of them were blown calls outside the strike zone, per Baseball Savant and Statcast data. It’s always been about health with Freeman, and in some cases he’s been the victim of bad luck (i.e. a wrist injury caused by a hit by pitch).
- SP Dylan Bundy was a popular sleeper in some circles, and starts like yesterday show why. 88 pitches in seven innings, 64 strikes, and more positive signs with the slider he added to make his repertoire four pitches last season. Twenty-four sliders led to 16 strikes, 12 of them swinging. If the Orioles are going to once again buck the projections, it’ll be with Bundy giving them 190-200 innings of this type of pitching.
- 3B/SS Manny Machado stole a base early in the game. Many fantasy players lamented the stolen base drop from 20 in 2015 to none in 2016 to 9 last year, so if yesterday is a sign of his willingness to run like he did in 2015, Machado can threaten to be the top player in fantasy.
Boston Red Sox
- This blog is friendly to the Rays, so we were watching yesterday’s game between Tampa and Boston, and there are few feelings worse than watching your team flail when SP Chris Sale is at his best. He kept the Rays off balance for six innings with what seemed like an almost equal of changeups, sliders, sinkers, and four-seam fastballs. In reality, he threw his fastball 40 percent of the time, but it just shows how dominant he can be without relying on velocity.
- Manager Alex Cora did not strike me as the type to let his best reliever, Craig Kimbrel, sit in the bullpen with the game on the line, but that’s exactly what happened yesterday as Joe Kelly imploded in the eighth. Cora said he didn’t think it was “fair” to put Kimbrel in a situation that wasn’t a “clean inning.” I’m going to pay attention to this moving forward, because part of Kimbrel’s value is getting more innings than your average closer and racking up strikeouts in those innings. Maybe this is part of the ramp up for Kimbrel, who had a shorter spring due to health issues with his young daughter. We’ll have to track it to know for sure.
- SP Jon Lester could not get out of the fourth inning, going 3 1/3 and allowing 10 baserunners and three earned runs. He wasn’t helped by the fact that in the two scoring innings, the Marlins were aided by errors from SS Addison Russell and LF Kyle Schwarber who still is, in fact, awful in the field. But his four-seam fastball, which dropped from 93.1 mph in 2016 to 91.7 last year, was averaging 90.2 yesterday and topped out at 91.6. Nothing positive from this one for Lester, who is being counted on as an SP3/SP4 in most leagues.
- OF Albert Almora Jr. did not get the start, as OF/2B Ian Happ instead took the leadoff spot and center field role, going 1-for-5 with a leadoff home run and three strikeouts. But Almora did come in to replace Schwarber on defense in the seventh. Even if Almora only starts three days a week, I think he still has value in NL only leagues because he’s likely to be a defensive replacement for Schwarber in most games that he starts, and will pick up 3-4 extra at bats a week that way.
Chicago White Sox
- 3B Matt Davidson hit three home runs, and his one out was a fly ball. Davidson showed great power last year, but was considered a playing time risk due to his plate discipline. We’ll keep an eye on the latter the next few days, because if there are improvements, he’s a definite add. He didn’t swing and miss once yesterday.
- In two-thirds of an inning, RP Juan Minaya allowed two runs, two baserunners, and threw two wild pitches. In a tight closer race like the one on the south side, outcomes like that can ruin your ability to get high leverage innings. We’ll see if manager Rick Renteria leans more on RP Nate Jones and RP Joakim Soria for big outs early over Minaya.
- The rainout of yesterday’s Opening Day means that SP Amir Garrett will no longer be starting on Tuesday, since the Reds will only need four starters for the first run through the rotation. Garrett had a nice spring with better control of his terrific velocity, so if he gets settled in a multi-inning relief role, he may not get a regular rotation turn anytime soon.
- SP Corey Kluber made one mistake, leaving an 88 mph cutter in the middle of the zone for DH Nelson Cruz to blast for a two-run home run. Other than that, it was typical – a complete game (over eight innings) in 91 pitches, with seven baserunners and eight strikeouts.
- 2B/3B Jose Ramirez did play, after dealing with a cut on his finger earlier this week, and went 0-for-4.
- SS Trevor Story was a positive story for the Rox in the spring, and his reward was slotting in the cleanup spot last night. He went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, including four swinging strikes on pitches that were clearly low and out of the strike zone. SS Brendan Rodgers is the team’s best prospect and will be knocking on the door soon. Story can’t have many games like this before his job is seriously threatened and his fantasy value is gone.
- The only item of note to come out of yesterday’s rainout was that SP Daniel Norris will now be needed for a start on April 3, one day earlier than originally expected.
- Here’s an interesting one: RP Ken Giles came on in the ninth inning, in a non-save situation, though it was close at 4-0 Astros. He allowed two baserunners, uncorked a wild pitch, and, like last year, continued his trend of throwing almost nothing but four-seam fastballs. Of his 17 pitches, 15 were those, and two were sliders. I don’t know how much patience manager A.J. Hinch will have with Giles after his playoff meltdown(s) last year.
- Speaking of pitch mix, SP Justin Verlander threw 55 four seamers out of his 90 pitchers. That’s 61 percent, a slight uptick from the 58 percent he threw last year. He also ditched his changeup completely, not a surprise after having thrown it less and less the last three years.
Kansas City Royals
- The personal troubles of SP Danny Duffy are well known, and this isn’t assigning blame, but he looked absolutely awful yesterday, almost unprepared for a major league game. His fastball, which was already down two ticks last year to about 93.4 MPH, was sitting just above 91 yesterday. He got one ground ball out. If you drafted Duffy, I wouldn’t start him next time out, and maybe even the next start after that.
Los Angeles Angels
- In this unsettled bullpen, RP Cam Bedrosian did not make a great first impression. He came in with a 5-4 lead in the seventh, got an out, then gave up three straight singles, the last of which by OF Khris Davis tied the game. RP Jim Johnson pitched the eighth, albeit in a tie game. Still, trends to watch with how unreliable RP Blake Parker is as the likely closer.
- In his major league debut, DH/SP Shohei Ohtani batted in the eight hole and went 1-for-5 with a single. Plate discipline seemed solid, as he wasn’t chasing at anything too far out of the zone. He’ll start on the mound Sunday.
Los Angeles Dodgers
- When SP Clayton Kershaw is on the mound dominating and the Dodgers lose 1-0, there’s not much to talk about, especially with no other real games to draw on. But 2B/OF Kike Hernandez batting cleanup seemed like an incredibly odd decision by manager Dave Roberts. The justification was that Hernandez hits lefties well, which…isn’t inaccurate based on last year, but isn’t exactly a sure thing, either. We’ll see if Roberts continues with these kinds of lineup moves, because they’ll end up hurting 1B/OF Cody Bellinger’s run-scoring and RBI opportunities.
- The other interesting lineup note was C Yasmani Grandal starting against a left-handed starting pitcher. Grandal only started 13 times last year against a lefty, with expected platoon partner C/2B Austin Barnes getting 37 starts. Barnes was hurt and struggled in the spring, but throughout the winter he was a very popular sleeper. His draft stock dropped and, conversely, Grandal’s rose as March went along, and if Grandal is going to be playing despite a perceived weak-side role, he’s got a great shot at returning top 10 value at catcher.
- Boy…this team looks hopeless. On the pitching side, a bright spot was RP Junichi Tazawa, who threw two innings and struck out two, allowing just one walk. If this Derek Jeter-led ownership group continues to sell parts, Tazawa could be a good April/May stash in NL-only leagues, as he may get several multi-inning mop-up appearances per week.
- OF Lewis Brinson was in the leadoff spot, going 0-for-5. The loser in that decision was OF Cameron Maybin, who got a pinch-hit double for SP Jose Urena in the fourth inning, but did not stay in the game after that. Brinson wasn’t hopeless at the plate, making hard contact a few times, but it is hard to know how much leash manager Don Mattingly will have with him before he turns to Maybin in center field and at the top of the lineup.
- RP Josh Hader, a popular late-round pick as a likely multi-inning relief ace, threw a 21-pitch seventh inning, striking out three and allowing a hit and a walk. It was actually RP Jeremy Jeffress who went multiple innings, getting six outs in the 10th and 11th innings, allowing three baserunners and striking out two. Jeffress has some pedigree, and if the Brewers are going to use him like this, he will gain value in 15-team mixed and NL-only leagues.
- 2B Jonathan Villar saw nine pitches in three at bats. He swung and missed at four them, striking out swinging twice, and grounded out the other time. Manager Craig Counsell has a deep bench, and if Villar doesn’t get out to a good start, he’s going to lose all fantasy value unless injuries take out 2B Eric Sogard and 2B/3B Hernan Perez.
- OF Byron Buxton hit eighth and, as mentioned yesterday, that’s something worth following in terms of the impact it has on his stolen base ability. He stole second in his second at bat yesterday, a single that followed a strikeout in his first appearance.
- RP Addison Reed went two innings, throwing 20 of his 23 pitches for strikes. If the Twins plan on using Reed for more than 3 outs even twice a week, he’s going to be one of the most valuable middle relievers in the game, and a must-own in all leagues because of closer Fernando Rodney’s risk level.
- SP Jake Odorizzi was terrific, throwing his curveball 18 percent of the time after throwing it less than six percent in his four full seasons as a Rays starter.
New York Mets
- RP Robert Gsellman pitched a scoreless seventh inning and struck out the side, hitting 95 mph and higher on the gun several times. Gsellman was a popular sleeper pick as a starter heading in to 2017 and could quickly become a valuable piece in NL-only leagues as a 4-5 inning per week reliever or, if the Mets injury-prone rotation has holes, a back-end starter.
- C Kevin Plawecki, hitting out of the seven hole in front of SP Noah Syndergaard, wasn’t afraid to work the count, seeing 21 pitches in his five plate appearances. He also went 2-for-3 with two walks. As mentioned in yesterday’s Spring Training Trends, Plawecki is a potential low-end C1 if he plays more often.
New York Yankees
- OF Giancarlo Stanton. Still amazing. If you’re a daily fantasy baseball player, put Stanton in your lineup for the next few days, because as we all saw in the second half of last season, his hot streaks are unlike any other hitter in the game.
- SP Luis Severino threw his third pitch, the changeup, a little more than 13 percent of the time last year. Yesterday he threw it five times in 91 pitches, so a little over five percent. He was great, but he also only went 5 2/3 innings. If Severino isn’t able to use that pitch more, I think he’s at risk for a lot of 6 inning or less outings. There’s nothing wrong with that if he allows one hit and strikes out seven, but for a guy who was going in clear SP1 territory, it is a delineating factor in comparison to other aces.
- OF Khris Davis is a personal favorite around here, as he continues to play more and more like a new-age Adam Dunn for fantasy owners. He hit a three-run bomb yesterday off SP Garrett Richards to get the A’s back in it after starting the game down 4-0. In five appearances, he saw just 17 pitches and didn’t take a called strike. That’s the Davis we love.
- SP Kendall Graveman didn’t have his best stuff. The sinker-baller threw 46 of his primary pitch and garnered only two swinging strikes. He also left two of them up in the zone for home runs by Albert Pujols and Andrelton Simmons.
- Oof. This bullpen looked like a weak spot coming in and it was proven. There’s not a lot to deconstruct here with individuals like Adam Morgan and Edubray Ramos, but Hector Neris and his weird relationship with the splitter is worth examining. Neris emerged in 2016 thanks to that dominant pitch, and he used it about half the time in his first few outings of 2017. Then he stopped using it and lost his job. Then he started using it about half the time again for the duration of the season. Yesterday, he threw nine pitches, six were splitters, three of them were hit hard, one of them ended the game on a walk-off home run by, of all people, OF Nick Markakis. This is a problem and I don’t think manager Gabe Kapler will have a long leash with Neris, especially with their current nine-man bullpen.
- Speaking of Kapler, he pulled SP Aaron Nola after 68 pitches and 5 1/3 innings. He didn’t elaborate as to why in his post-game remarks. But RP Hoby Milner, who replaced Nola, didn’t allow a home run to a lefty last year…and his first batter faces yesterday, lefty 1B Freddie Freeman, took him deep. For what it’s worth, Freeman has hit well against Nola in his career. Still, with a 5-run lead, Kapler’s going to earn rightful criticism for this move.
- Another rainout victim with very little news to produce, but if you’re playing DFS today, I would definitely give 2B/OF Adam Frazier a look, as he’ll be DH’ing and leading off against the decidedly mediocre SP Jordan Zimmermann.
San Diego Padres
- SP Clayton Richard should be on the radar in mixed leagues after throwing seven innings of one-run baseball, striking out four and allowing just seven baserunners. He picked up 12 ground balls, no small feat against a powerful Milwaukee lineup.
- RP Brad Hand, the Padres’ closer, not only entered in a non-save situation, but he pitched two full innings. If manager Andy Green is focused more on using Hand as a relief ace rather than a strict “clean inning” closer, to call back to the Red Sox blurb earlier, his value may dip a little in the loss in saves, but may level back out with the increased innings load and strikeouts that come with it.
San Francisco Giants
- A very nice start for the back of the Giants’ bullpen on a day where closer Mark Melancon received more bad news about his right arm. Tony Watson and Hunter Strickland finished a 1-0 shutout, each throwing an inning and allowing only one baserunner, with Watson striking out three. If your league has daily moves, add Strickland now. If it is weekly, I’d say Strickland is worth a 15-18 percent bid of your free agent budget. As mentioned yesterday, we like Watson as the backup and he’s a worthy add in NL-only leagues.
- C Mike Zunino was a late scratch with a side issue resulting from a swing in batting practice on Wednesday. C Mike Marjama is the only other catcher on the roster and got the start, going 0-for-3. Zunino’s entire fantasy value depends on two things: power and bulk of playing time. He said he should be ready for Saturday’s game, but this feels like one of those injuries that could linger and/or pop up again, because it occurred while he was taking a swing and, ya know, he has to do that a lot.
- Anyone who owned RP Edwin Diaz last year was taken for a ride, as he lost his job briefly in the first half before going 21-for-23 on save opportunities after the All-Star Break. Last night, he struck out the side in the ninth to get the save, but he also balked after hitting Edwin Encarnacion and Lonnie Chisenhall with pitches in back-to-back at bats. Even worse, Rajai Davis stole third on Diaz.
St. Louis Cardinals
- SP Carlos Martinez did not effectively control his slider yesterday, and it led to his undoing. He threw the pitch five times in a 3-2 count – four times it was a ball well out of the strike zone, and the one time he got it in the zone, Jay Bruce fouled it off. Martinez was one of just nine starters last year to walk more than 70 batters. This is worth keeping track of over the next two starts.
- OF Tommy Pham had an awful spring, hitting under .200 in more than 60 plate appearances. He struck out three times yesterday. That’s nothing to be ashamed of against Noah Syndergaard, but if news continues to trickle out about his well-publicized vision problems, he could quickly become someone to sell off if you drafted him.
Tampa Bay Rays
- Defensive observation: In the second inning, a short fly ball between LF Denard Span and CF Kevin Kiermaier fell between them, leading to an inside-the-park home run for 2B/3B Eduardo Nunez. Kiermaier has suffered several injuries because of his all-out defensive style. Seeing the lack of comfort between him and Span made me realize that Kiermaier will continue to be at risk for another injury in the field, at least for the first few weeks of the season. It doesn’t help that Span is a really, really bad defender at his age.
- SP Chris Archer, who has long been held back by high pitch counts and third-time-through-the-order impacts on his ERA, needed just 81 pitches to get through six innings. If the Nunez ball doesn’t land, his line looks much better. Archer also earned six ground ball outs to go with his six strikeouts. These were positive first steps to Archer’s annual struggle with going from a SP2 to a clear SP1.
- It was hard to see what kind of plan the Rangers had for their odd pitching staff, with relievers converting to starters and Bartolo Colon and whatnot. But their bullpen, which will be led by newly-anointed closer Keone Kela, was pretty good yesterday, delivering 3 1/3 innings with only three baserunners allowed (all by Matt Bush) and six strikeouts.
- SP Cole Hamels leaned a lot on his cutter yesterday, and it worked – the pitch generated four strikeouts and a double play. Hamels gave up three runs in 5 2/3 innings, and he also walked four, but with seven strikeouts against this great Houston lineup, it has to be seen as a positive overall fantasy performance.
Toronto Blue Jays
- Two pieces of 3B Josh Donaldson news: he stole a base, so his calf injury isn’t that bad! Right? Who knows. It can’t hurt, though. The bad news is that he seems to have some sort of weird arm ailment or a case of the yips or something that is visibly killing his defense at third. Stuff like this could snowball and carry over to the plate.
- 2B Devon Travis led off after an impressive and, more importantly, healthy spring. He swung and missed three times and took five strikes en route to an 0-for-4 day with 2 Ks. One game and all, but I point this out because, as mentioned yesterday, OF Curtis Granderson stands to gain a lot of value if he can get 450-500 at bats with a lot of them in the leadoff spot.
- The Nationals are so stable that they are boring. We said this yesterday. Their game was rained out and they gave us no new news. SP Max Scherzer starts today, though, and he’s appointment viewing. It’s supposed to be cool with some humidity in Cincy today. Pay for Scherzer in DFS. Pay whatever it takes.