Clayton Kershaw (SP - LAD) - Kershaw opened his season in the best way possible on Wednesday, throwing 7 perfect innings with 13 K's (11 on his slider) before being pulled after 80 pitches, 20 of which were swinging strikes. He was as dominant as could be, but admitted that he had completely lost the feel for his slider by the 6th inning and agreed that the tank was about empty when he was pulled. I still feel that Kershaw is very likely to offer significant value from his ADP this season: in just about every category but ERA, 2021 was his best year in 4-5 seasons, but a poor strand rate bumped his ERA to a point that made some folks shy away from drafting him. I think they'll regret it.
Max Fried (SP - ATL) - Another April start for Max Fried ended with a less than flattering line, but for the second straight outing he was victimized by a number of hits that were generated by relatively weak contact. His exit velocity through two outings (incredibly small sample size, I know) is already lower than last season's, which was in the top decile of SPs, so there really does seem to be little to worry about. I'd absolutely be making inquiries about him in case his owner is panicking. If anything, I've been happy with what I've seen. The velo is up, the chase rate is up, and the control has been even better than usual.
Shane McClanahan (SP - TB) - McClanahan was a little bit wild on Wednesday and made one mistake after a bit of that wildness, so he did allow 3 runs in just 4 2/3 IP, but the 8 K's give you an idea of just how dominant this kid can be. He has struck out 15 over 9 innings in his first two starts of the year, and if I had one quibble it is that he is still trying to figure out how to be more efficient and pitch deeper into games. He threw 85 pitches to get through those 4 2/3 innings Wednesday, and even when he is fully built up that won't get him much past 5 innings. He may end up being a 5-6 inning starter but that's OK....the list of guys that can reliably pitch 7 innings or more is extremely small. I still believe he has ace-level upside, and that can't be said about many young pitchers, and for me he's already a top-30 SP.
Cooper Hummel (C/DH - ARI) - Hummel singled, walked 4 times, and stole a base on Wednesday in the extra-inning win over the Astros. Somewhat of a surprise on the D-Backs roster, Hummel is a very patient hitter with a plus contact tool and slowly developing power that has likely reached an average level. The biggest things that Hummel has going for him are these: catcher eligibility and hitting leadoff. That alone has resulted in a pickup from me in one of my extremely deep leagues, but a catcher-eligible player that is hitting leadoff is valuable in almost all formats...the key here is whether he is going to be able to maintain this playing time or not, and since he's played in every game so far, it's reasonable to think that he should in the short-term at least. If you're light on catching, I have no problem with a pickup here.
KeBryan Hayes (3B - PIT) - Hayes returned from the Opening Day thumb cramp and hit in the next 4 games before Wednesday, and then took it to another level with a 4-4 day against Kyle Hendricks and the Cubs. Hayes is a terrific contact hitter with a well above average exit velocity.....he's really just a small launch angle adjustment away from being a star. Still just 25, I expect Hayes to be a top-10 3B this season with a ceiling that rivals just about anyone's at the position.
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