Kenta Maeda (SP - MIN)
Maeda was solid on Wednesday, allowing three runs (one earned) over 4.1 innings with five strikeouts and two walks. Although Maeda hasn't been quite as dominant as he was last season so far this year, he left Wednesday's start with a strong 2.45 ERA. Additionally, although he picked up only five strikeouts on Wednesday, Maeda generated an impressive 20 swings and misses for the game (23% swinging-strike rate), almost exclusively coming from his slider and four-seamer. On the topic of Maeda's four-seamer, its 33% usage rate for the game was higher than its usage rate in any game in 2020, and the pitch was effective on Wednesday with nine generated swinging strikes. Maeda's evolving arsenal is something to continue keeping an eye on over his next few starts, but fantasy managers should expect the 33-year-old to continue pitching well regardless of his pitch mix decisions.
Rowdy Tellez (1B - TOR)
Tellez picked up his first multi-hit game of the season on Wednesday, going 2-for-4 with a pair of singles and extending his hit streak to three games. Tellez has secured everyday playing time for the next week or so (at least) with Teoscar Hernandez (coronavirus) and George Springer (quad, oblique) sidelined, and the 26-year-old is a worthwhile short-term streamer after posting a .886 OPS in 35 games. Boasting impressive raw power highlighted by a 117.4 mph max exit velocity (set in 2020) that translates into games with a hard-hit rate consistently above 40% and a barrel rate that tends to hover around double digits, Tellez should be a valuable power-hitting fantasy asset for managers in need of home runs. Additionally, Tellez got his strikeout rate down to 15.8% last year, and although it likely won't stay that low going forward, it came somewhat well-supported by a career-best 10.6% swinging-strike rate that has remained near that mark so far this season. Playing time is something to keep an eye on for Tellez as he wasn't expected to be an everyday player heading into the season, but as long as Tellez remains in the starting lineup he's worth a look from fantasy managers.
Brad Keller (SP - KC)
Keller bounced back nicely on Wednesday, holding an intimidating Angels lineup to just one run over 5.2 innings with five strikeouts and one walk. Over his first two starts of the 2021 regular season, Keller lasted a combined 4.2 innings and allowed 10 runs -- a poor start following an impressive 2020 season that saw him post a career-best 2.47 ERA. Over those starts, Keller's sinker usage was up around 20 points from last season's 21.4% mark, but his sinker wasn't his biggest issue as it led his arsenal in xwOBA (with a still not great but not terrible .371 mark). Instead, Keller's fastball saw its xwOBA spike from .353 in 2020 to .720 over Keller's first two starts this season, and its ground ball rate dipped from 54.4% to just 25%. All of those numbers (including his fastball usage) went back towards Keller's 2020 numbers on Wednesday, and although Keller likely won't be quite as valuable as he was last season as he outperformed his xwOBA by 82 points, fantasy managers should expect Keller's bounce back on Wednesday to generally stick over the rest of the season.
David Fletcher (2B/3B/SS/OF - LAA)
Fletcher's slow start to the season continued on Wednesday as he went 1-for-5 with a single and a strikeout. Fantasy managers have been quick to move on from Fletcher -- after being drafted in 99% of leagues, Fletcher remains rostered in 76% of leagues as of this writing. That's a significant overreaction to just over 50 plate appearances, and more patient fantasy managers should take advantage. With some of the best contact skills in baseball (3.3% career swinging-strike rate), Fletcher has a legitimate shot at leading the league in batting average, and he hits at the top of what projects to be a top-10 offense. Fletcher may only be a two-category contributor this season, but nothing significant has changed regarding Fletcher's fantasy value over the past two weeks, and he should be rostered in almost every league as a result.
Josh Donaldson (3B - MIN)
Donaldson went 1-for-2 with a walk and a run in his return from the injured list on Wednesday. Donaldson had been sidelined since Opening Day with a hamstring injury, but he looked good on Wednesday and should continue to hit well when healthy. "When healthy" has become a significant caveat for Donaldson in recent seasons as he's dealt with recurring calf issues and a variety of other (possibly related) injuries but that doesn't mean he lacks fantasy relevance. Donaldson hasn't posted an OPS below .800 since he posted a .798 mark in 2014. Importantly, Donaldson hasn't shown any major concerning signs of aging lately either (besides injuries, anyway), as he's posted an .872 OPS over the past three seasons that's been well-supported by strong hard-hit, barrel, and o-swing rates in particular. Fantasy managers should expect Donaldson to post an OPS comfortably above .800 when healthy once again this season, and that's enough to make Donaldson worth rostering in almost all leagues, especially considering that he should continue hitting in the upper-third of a solid Minnesota lineup.
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