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- Arizona’s bullpen was a puzzle for fantasy owners drafting this spring, but the layout of Brad Boxberger closing, Yoshi Hirano setting up, and Archie Bradley being the relief ace ready for any duty has worked to perfection so far. Boxberger looks great, his stuff relatively similar to his best season as a closer in Tampa Bay, but if someone gives up on Bradley because they are frustrated by the lack of saves/wins, we’d encourage adding him 12-team leagues if you have the reserve space.
- SP Taijuan Walker has just seven strikeouts in 11 innings so far, and his command hasn’t been good enough for him to work deep and get a win in his two starts despite just four earned runs allowed. What does all this mean? 12-team league owners can’t get sucked in by the good ERA – if Walker doesn’t start getting closer to 7.5 or 8 strikeouts per nine innings, he’s not worth rostering when higher-upside starters are usually available and two-start guys become more important in weekly leagues.
- If you were brave enough (no pun intended) to start SP Sean Newcomb in Colorado, congratulations. Newcomb’s struggles with walks are well documented, and in this outing he became just the third starter to ever go six scoreless with nine strikeouts and no walks. Newcomb gets the Cubs at Wrigley Field next, and while we can’t recommend him in 12-team leagues because of the start-to-start volatility, his upside is high enough to say he’s another start like this away from being on the watchlist.
- We noticed that RP Zach Britton was available in a couple of our 12-team National Fantasy Baseball Championship leagues this weekend. If you’re in a league like that, even 10 teams, add him. RP Brad Brach isn’t doing anything special (two walks in an inning yesterday) to make you think he’s going to be the closer once Britton gets back in late May, and four months of a top-end closer like Britton could still produce a top-15 performance, especially as some closers get traded in July and lose their role.
- OF Anthony Santander had a nice day, going 3-for-6 with three RBI and a run scored. Santander was a popular deep sleeper in the spring, and we’ll be watching his playing time this week to see if he’s in line for more regular looks, though that seems unlikely with OF Mark Trumbo due back soon.
Boston Red Sox
- SS Xander Bogaerts left the game yesterday late with an ankle injury, and he needed help getting down the dugout steps. There will be more today after an MRI, but bench Bogaerts in all weekly-lineup leagues.
- Much like with SP Yu Darvish on Saturday, SP Jose Quintana hopefully quiet down his overly-worrisome owners yesterday with six scoreless innings with six strikeouts and just five baserunners allowed. Quintana gets the Braves at home next, followed by a trip to Coors Field…if he is strong against Atlanta, do not bench him against Colorado.
- 2B/OF Ben Zobrist has picked up three starts in four games and has produced four hits and a home run in 13 at bats. He’s not going away anytime soon, and it is going to continue to impact the playing time of 2B/OF Ian Happ, 2B/SS Javier Baez, and OF Albert Almora.
Chicago White Sox
- SP Reynaldo Lopez is still figuring out the command part of being a major league starter, but he’s allowed four hits in 13 innings yesterday and has struck out 11 in those two starts. Yesterday was a hard-luck loss, and there will be a lot of those for a team with a poor lineup and shaky bullpen, but Lopez is worth stashing in 12-team leagues because of the strikeout potential and the signs that maybe he’s one or two adjustments away from figuring it out.
- 3B Eugenio Suarez broke his thumb on a hit by pitch, and that will be a 6-8 week absence, most likely. Now we wait and see if IF Nick Senzel gets the call or if the Reds continue to prioritize service-time games. The only real fantasy impact we’ll see if Senzel isn’t called up is in the batting order, because SS Cliff Pennington will likely end up at Suarez’s spot at third base.
- Manager Terry Francona is showing a lot of confidence in OF Michael Brantley, who hit cleanup in his second game back from injury. We noted earlier this week that Brantley is only likely to play two out of every three games in the first few weeks back, but if he’s going to hit cleanup in front of 2B/3B Jose Ramirez and in front of 1B Edwin Encarnacion, he’s going to get a lot of pitches to hit and RBI opportunities, making him worth starting in 12-team leagues with weekly rosters (most likely as a fifth outfielder).
- OF Charlie Blackmon missed yesterday’s game with the back stiffness that struck Saturday. We would start him without reservation in a weekly league if your rosters lock today.
- Surprisingly, C Chris Iannetta was the beneficiary of Blackmon’s absence, as 2B DJ Lemahieu was bumped up from second in the order to leadoff, and Iannetta hit second. Iannetta is the type of high upside catcher that you should use in one-catcher leagues if you don’t own a stud like Gary Sanchez or Willson Contreras. Manager Bud Black trusts him and he’s got a history of hitting for power.
- RP Shane Greene has had three straight scoreless appearances since his Opening Day blowup against Pittsburgh, having struck out five of the 13 batters he’s faced and picked up two saves. With the ugly landscape at the top of the closer chart right now (Jansen, Knebel, Giles), there is value in Greene if anyone gave up on him.
- SP Mike Fiers season debut would have been his third-best start of last season, according to Game Score, as he went six scoreless innings with six strikeouts and only four baserunners allowed. The Tigers are going to give Fiers every chance to fail, and in 15-team leagues you could do worse in terms of a matchup-play reserve. Fiers will get the Yankees next at home this weekend.
- RP Ken Giles worked consecutive games entering Sunday, so he did not get a chance to save his first game of the season, and instead RP Brad Peacock closed it out and got the save. As we said last Thursday, Peacock should be rostered in all leagues, no matter the size or format, and him getting the first backup shot at Giles further cements this.
Kansas City Royals
- Per Josh Vernier, C Salvador Perez is progressing well from his knee injury and could even be back ahead of the 4-to-6 week timeline originally expected.
- We said last Tuesday that we believed OF Jorge Soler was on the verge of breaking out soon, and while this week was a wash with all of the weather-impacted games the Royals had, Soler was the best offensive producer yesterday in a frigid environment, going 3-for-4 with a double. If you have a shot to grab to Soler in 12-team leagues, do it.
Los Angeles Angels
- Either you have SP Shohei Ohtani or you don’t. But if you play DFS or gamble on baseball, Ohtani is giving us the same feeling Daisuke Matsuzaka did in his dominant rookie year, where opponents look unprepared for his repertoire. We’re NOT saying Ohtani is similar to Dice-K in terms of future outlook. We’re saying that Ohtani is basically a must-start in DFS and someone that should have you putting money on the Angels with every start. Either that, or the A’s lineup is once again a strikeout-prone mess. But when a guy gets 20+ swing and miss strikes like Ohtani did yesterday, we’re inclined to lean toward the former.
Los Angeles Dodgers
- Let’s all release a little bit of the breath we’ve been holding in anticipation of a better RP Kenley Jansen, who earned his first save of the year with an inning of a work that included three strikeouts and just one hit. Andy McCullough of the LA Times notes the velocity on the cutter that everyone has noted as the cause for concern. Bottom line, it was better on Sunday.
- In our first look at the Marlins’ bullpen in a save spot, it went as expected – RP Drew Steckenrider worked the eighth, and RP Brad Ziegler worked the ninth. If you own Ziegler, you probably weren’t expecting more than 20 saves this year anyway between his own weaknesses and the Marlins’ low win total. Steckenrider is the guy to own if you want to speculate.
- As expected, OF Christian Yelich hit the disabled list with an oblique issue. Adam McCalvy of MLB.com notes that this is primarily a matter of timing, as he was already on his fifth day out and the Brewers wanted to add an extra arm to the bullpen because of their outfield depth. Even if Yelich is back this weekend, we’d leave him on the bench until he gets a start and shows he’s 100 percent.
- The Twins didn’t play yesterday due to frigid weather in Minneapolis, and now their rotation for Houston lines up as Lance Lynn (two-start week, recommend you sit in 12-team leagues and smaller), Jake Odorizzi, and Kyle Gibson.
- Dan Hayes of The Athletic takes a nice look here at 1B Logan Morrison and his slow start, noting in this tweet some of the hard-hit balls Morrison has put together recently that rival teammate 3B Miguel Sano’s great numbers. Morrison wouldn’t be a bad replacement for the power you were expecting from once-again-injured 1B/3B Ryon Healy, which we’ll get to in the Seattle blurb.
New York Mets
- Per Anthony DiComo, SP Zack Wheeler of MLB.com will start for the Mets on Wednesday in Miami. He also notes something cool here about the Mets’ quintet of highly-regarded arms.
- SP Matt Harvey wasn’t at his best, giving up four runs and nine hits in five innings, and lacking the same level of fastball command he had earlier in the week against Philadelphia. Harvey gets a nice test against the Brewers this weekend, who will probably still be without Yelich. We’d start him in 15-team leagues and, depending on your depth, wouldn’t shy from starting him in 12-team leagues.
- Another nice pair of relief outings from RP Robert Gsellman and RP Seth Lugo, who gave the Mets a collective five innings and allowed just three hits and a run. Walks were an issue, five with combined, but both guys have earned their way on to the radar, especially in leagues where your SP/RP positions are separated.
New York Yankees
- RP Domingo German stepped in after a bad start from SP Jordan Montgomery; one could deduce that this likely means Luis Cessa will get the start this week in place of SP CC Sabathia, most likely in Boston against the Red Sox. That’s a total stay away even in AL-only leagues.
- 1B Tyler Austin watch: he hit fifth again, came through with another two-hit day, as well as two runs scored.
- C Gary Sanchez sat again after getting hurt late in Friday’s game.
- OF Stephen Piscotty had another hitless day, and his batting line is now .194/.250/.222. Piscotty was a popular sleeper/bounceback pick for several reasons, and we wouldn’t outright drop him in anything other than 10-team leagues, but he can’t be in your lineup right now until he starts making contact regularly or at least draws a few walks.
- Don’t worry about SP Jake Arrieta only going 74 pitches – it was planned, not another confusing decision by manager Gabe Kapler. Expect Arrieta to go 15 or more pitches next time out, per Meghan Montemurro.
- Listen, we love the story that SP Jameson Taillon is spinning in his first full season since recovering from testicular cancer last year, but we’ll be the wet blanket and tell you that if you own him, sell high now. Taillon got 25 called strikes and just seven swinging strikes yesterday, and if you look at the pitch chart on Baseball Savant, you’ll see a load of those called strikes right on the edge and bottom of the strike zone. If someone is willing to pay you for Taillon’s numbers so far, or even pay you for 80 percent of them, take it.
San Diego Padres
- A new look at the top of the Padres’ lineup, with 2B Carlos Asuaje leading off and 1B Eric Hosmer hitting second. Asuaje has put up decent minor-league numbers before, but the skill set isn’t all that exciting. If he gets more shots at the top of the lineup this week, we’d keep an eye on him in 15-team leagues, because hitting in front of Hosmer and 1B/OF Wil Myers (when healthy) is likely to make Asuaje a strong run-scoring option.
- Two starts in for SP Tyson Ross, and if nothing else, he’s got our attention for 12-team leagues as a watchlist guy. Ross’ pitch chart on Baseball Savant is all over the map, but the Astros’ struggled to make a lot of hard contact against him, and they did strikeout seven times in Ross’ six innings. Ross gets the Giants’ next at home, and we’d consider streaming him in 12-team leagues. If he’s available in 15-team leagues, add him.
San Francisco Giants
- RP Hunter Strickland remained perfect on the season, now having gone five outings and five innings without allowing a run, with only four baserunners allowed and six strikeouts. If you can find a way to trade for Strickland, we’d encourage it, as we’re confident he’s earned some leeway from manager Bruce Bochy when he inevitably slips up.
- Signs of life from 3B Evan Longoria, who not only went 2-for-4 but did so with a pair of doubles off SP Clayton Kershaw.
- Our preached patience of 1B/3B Ryon Healy took a hit yesterday, as Greg Johns on MLB.com reported early in the day that Healy entered the clubhouse in a walking boot and on crutches. Turned out he injured his ankle badly in the weight room after Saturday’s game, and now a disabled list stint is likely. You can dump Healy in 10-team leagues, and if the injury turns out to be a month or more, he’s likely worth cutting in 12-team leagues as well.
St. Louis Cardinals
- OF Dexter Fowler had another 0-for day, his fifth this season. The bigger problem is that Fowler isn’t compensating by getting on base via walk, and for a St. Louis team that has other realistic options to move in to leadoff, including number two hitter OF Tommy Pham, fantasy owners of Fowler should be formulating backup plans if he’s either moved down the lineup or begins to see less starts. The latter seems unlikely, but Fowler is likely a fifth outfielder for most 12-team league owners, meaning it may be smarter to stream higher-upside guys in that spot.
Tampa Bay Rays
- It’s fair to start wondering about backup options for RP Alex Colome, who entered with a 2-run lead in the bottom of the 8th and exited with a loss. RP Jose Alvarado may be the best option in terms of stuff, but he’s the Rays best lefty option, and for a team so dependent on flexibility and matchups, that move seems unlikely for now. If you need to speculate, RP Sergio Romo may be the guy to go to. The Rays may have made a grave mistake not trading Colome for scraps like they did with OF Corey Dickerson and SP Jake Odorizzi.
- It has been a very odd first three starts for SP Cole Hamels. The good? He’s nearly doubled his strikeout rate from last year’s career low. He’s also picking up a ton of swinging strikes, at 15 percent so far after a 9.7 percent mark last year. The bad? He’s already allowed five home runs after giving up just 18 last year. He’s also added nearly two walks per nine innings to his stat line. Hamels is on the road at Houston this weekend – we’d sit him in most formats.
- Good news for 2B Rougned Odor, who hit second in the order for the second consecutive day. 1B/3B Joey Gallo moved down to fifth again. The driver here was off days for 3B Adrian Beltre on Saturday and OF Nomar Mazara yesterday.
Toronto Blue Jays
- We continue to like what we see from OF Curtis Granderson at the plate, though his playing time doesn’t make him viable anywhere but 15-team mixed and AL-only leagues.
- RP Roberto Osuna had another perfect outing in picking up his fourth save. More impressively, it was a four-out save where he didn’t allow a baserunner.
- This was a different type of performance from SP Tanner Roark, who generated 17 swinging strikes on 100 pitches, leading to nine strikeouts, a number he topped just twice in his 31 starts last year. But the Mets were able to work Roark in to mistakes, most notably when 1B Adrian Gonzalez got an inside four-seam fastball that he took out for a grand slam, and 2B/SS/3B Asdrubal Cabrera getting a middle-in two-seam fastball that he hit for a homer. We still consider Roark a must-start every time out, but these are the type of starts that merit watching for trends over the next couple of outings.
- OF Adam Eaton was back at the top of the lineup after the scare with his ankle earlier this week. Meanwhile, SS/OF Trea Turner went back down to the sixth spot and stole his fifth base of the year. We’re 100 percent done worrying about the lineup spot impact Turner’s stolen base total, but his ceiling is arguably 70 or 75 bases if he gets up to the top of the lineup somehow.