Kyle Schwarber (OF-PHI) was dropped from the leadoff spot to the 5-hole on Sunday as he opened the season batting .094 with a homer, 3 RBI, and 4 runs scored across his first 36 plate appearances, with a 33% strikeout rate (28% career) attesting to his struggles. But he showed some signs of breaking out of his slump against the Mariners on Sunday as he went 2-4 with a solo homer, although he did fan again. Schwarber's contact rate is predictably down (to 68%, 72% career) while he's swinging less often (37% swing rate, 43% career), especially at pitches inside the zone (49% z-swing%, 66% career), while making less contact when offering at those pitches (71% z-contact%, 81% career). Hopefully the move down the lineup will trigger a change in approach at the plate that will help him find more success.
Franmil Reyes (OF/DH-CLE) continued to struggle in the early going this season, as he went 0-4 with a whiff against the Giants on Sunday. The big man is now hitting just .150 with no extra-base hits, 1 run scored, and 2 RBI through his first 41 plate appearances of the new campaign. He's not showing patience at the plate (1 walk) while striking out a good bit (15 times, or 37%). Reyes has always been prone to whiffing (30% career strikeout rate), but his hard-hit rate is down to 32% when he's made contact (that rate is unsurprisingly down to 60%). Reyes is chasing (32%) more than usual (27% career) as well as making less contact than usual when offering at pitches inside the zone (67% in 2022, 77% career). Overall, all signs point to Reyes pressing and trying to do too much as Cleveland's cleanup hitter. He will try to get right in the series at home against the White Sox and one on the road against the Yankees this week.
Nestor Cortes (SP-NYY) dazzled against Baltimore on Sunday with 5 scoreless innings pitched in which he scattered 3 hits and a walk while racking up 12 punchouts. The 27 year-old southpaw fired 62 of his 88 offerings for strikes in the outing. It was his second strong outing to open the campaign as he has yet to give up a single run and owns a 16.4 K/9, 1 BB/9, and 0.66 xFIP over 9.1 innings of work. Obviously, there will be some correction as a 100% strand rate is unsustainable and a HR/FB of 0% will not stand, especially for a guy who induces few grounders (30% groundball rate so far in 2022). But this hot start is certainly encouraging after Cortes impressed over his 93 innings of work last season (14 starts, 8 relief appearances) in which he amassed a 2.90 ERA, 10 K/9, and 2.4 BB/9; a 4.18 xFIP did, however, point to a high strand rate (85%) and fairly low BABIP (.265) suppressing that ERA. Regardless, he is rolling as he prepares to face a Cleveland lineup that has cooled off after a hot start this coming weekend.
Michael Wacha (SP-BOS) blanked the Twins over 5 innings on Sunday, allowing just 1 hit and walking a pair while fanning 5. The 30 year-old righty tossed 52 of his 79 offerings for strikes in the contest. Wacha finished his 2021 in Tampa Bay with an ugly 5.05 ERA, but his 3.91 xFIP, 8.7 K/9, and 2.2 BB/9 all pointed to him performing better than the ERA suggested (an 18% HR/FB and 70% strand rate were among the "unlucky" numbers working against him). Well, he is off to a much better start in Boston this season, with a 0.96 ERA through his first two starts (9.1 innings), with an 8.7 K/9 so far. However, control has been an issue (4.8 BB/9) and his xFIP comes in at 4.11 thanks to a .143 BABIP and 88% strand rate. Fantasy owners probably shouldn't rush out to pick him up just yet, but he should be watched as he lines up for a start in Tampa late this week.
Aaron Civale (SP-CLE) continued to struggle in the early going of the season as he allowed 4 runs (3 earned) on 4 hits and a walk while striking out 3 Giants over 4 innings of work on Sunday. The 26 year-old righty surrendered a homer in the outing while tossing 50 of his 74 pitches for strikes. Civale has struggled to settle into the new campaign, as he now owns a 6.14 ERA, 9.8 K/9, 4.9 BB/9, and 5.06 xFIP through his first 2 starts (7.1 innings). While the strikeout rate is nice to see from a guy with a career K/9 of 7.5, the control issues are uncharacteristic (2.3 BB/9 career). Civale is a guy whose success depends on strong control because his stuff is underwhelming, although it's worth noting that his average fastball velocity is down a full tick (to 90mph) from last season. It's too early to panic, Civale has been more flyball-oriented than usual in the early going this season (36% groundball rate in 2022, 44% career) and he faces a turn at Yankee Stadium late this week.
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