In The Field
3B Ke'Bryan Hayes signed an eight-year, $70 million deal with the Pirates prior to Opening Day and then proceeded to leave in the first inning with a thumb/wrist injury. After the game, the Pirates said it was a minor "cramp". This is an odd injury and something to keep an eye on because Hayes missed most of 2021 with a recurring wrist injury. The good news is that he was back in the lineup on Saturday. 1B Pete Alonso had to Thursday's game in the ninth after being hit by a pitch. He escaped with a swollen and cut lip, not a concussion which is good news. He was back in the lineup on Friday. OF Mickey Moniak (wrist) is going to miss six weeks after fracturing his right wrist when he got hit by a pitch in the Phillies last Spring Training game. The Phillies are going to give OF Matt Vierling a shot to be their everyday centerfielder with OF Bryce Harper in right and OF Kyle Schwarber in left. Vierling is an interesting deep-league player because he has both power and speed. Across three levels last year he had 13 HR/12 SB in 113 GP. He also showed good plate skills in the minors in 2021 with sub 20% strikeout rates and a double-digit walk rate. He will likely hit at the bottom of the Phillies lineup but the addition of the DH means that he won't have to limit his steal attempts because he is hitting in front of the pitcher. The Phillies also project to be one of the best offensive lineups in the game so it is a good spot to be. OF Brandon Nimmo (neck) was not in the Opening Day lineup but he was able to avoid the 10-day IL and was in the lineup on Friday. 3B/OF J.D. Davis was in the Opening Day lineup because they were facing LHP Patrick Corbin so he will likely see very limited playing time once Nimmo is back in the lineup. OF Jordan Luplow (oblique) was placed on the 10-day IL. He is/was expected to be part of the short side of the platoon and only face left-handers. The Diamondbacks were hit hard in their infield with injuries. 3B Josh Rojas is going to miss significant time with a Grade 2 right oblique strain. Manager Torey Lovullo expects Rojas to miss "weeks, not days". SS Nick Ahmed (shoulder) was also placed on the 10-day IL. Arizona went with 3B Drew Ellis and SS Geraldo Perdomo in their Opening Day lineup. Eliis doesn't have much fantasy appeal but Perdomo does, given his speed and OBP-centered approach. He also plays excellent defense so he should be in the lineup every day. The only problem is that once Ahmed returns he is likely to lose playing time unless he or Ahmed moves to third while Rojas is out. 3B Evan Longoria (finger) was expected to be out 4-6 weeks after having finger surgery but the most recent news has him returning on the shorter end (4 weeks). SS C.J. Abrams made the Padres Opening Day roster but was not in the lineup on Thursday. That changed on Friday as he was batting eighth starting at shortstop. This has two ramifications, the first being that Abrams is immediately fantasy-relevant because of his speed and it looks like he would be on the strong side of the platoon. This is bad news for SS Ha-Seong Kim as it looks like he will not be the starting shortstop while SS Fernando Tatis Jr. is out. It is just two games so things could change but it was not a good sign that he was not in the lineup on Friday against the right-handed Merril Kelly. OF Victor Robles was not in the lineup on Friday. This was surprising because despite his struggles a year ago he was expected to be the everyday centerfielder which gave him some fantasy value given that he would play every day and has speed. If he isn't going to get regular at-bats there is no reason to roster Robles. OF Tyler Naquin was in the lineup hitting second against RHP Charlie Morton. This means that Naquin is likely in a platoon with OF Aristides Aquino for the time being. OF Jake Fraley has started both games against RHP which makes him fantasy viable in deeper formats. He has legitimate 20 HR/20 SB potential if he gets close to everyday at-bats albeit with a low batting average. OF Joc Pederson hit fourth and played left field for the Giants. He is going to be on the strong side of a platoon which is going to make him relevant in deeper mixed leagues but also someone that we will have to monitor the upcoming starting pitchers when making our roster decisions. SS Francisco Lindor's x-rays came back negative and he cleared the concussion protocol after taking a pitch to the face from Steve Cishek on Friday. OF Ian Happ left Saturday's game early after being hit by a pitch. The good news is that x-rays came back negative on his knee.
On The Mound
Elieser Hernandez (forearm) had to leave his final Spring Training start early after getting hit on the forearm with a line drive. The good news is that he is scheduled to start on Monday against the Angels. Tylor Megill went five scoreless innings in his 2022 debut. He did so in spectacular fashion. Megill struck out six and walked none while sitting 96.2 mph, touching as high as 99 mph. This is a big deal because Megill averaged 94.7 mph a year ago and has been fighting for a rotation spot with the Mets' recent additions to their starting rotation. With Jacob deGrom going down for months, Megill will get an extended look to prove that he is one of the Mets' best five starters even when deGrom returns. Luis Castillo (shoulder) was placed on the 10-day IL on Thursday and is scheduled for a bullpen this weekend. Reds manager David Bell hopes to have Castillo back by the end of April. This has allowed the Reds to give auditions to their top two pitching prospects (Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo). Hunter Greene is expected to make his major league debut in Atlanta against the Braves on Sunday and then will start against the Dodgers in Los Angeles which is a tough matchup for the rookie. Nick Lodolo is expected to make his major league debut against the Guardians on April 13th. This is a good matchup for Lodolo. He needs to pitch well while Castillo and Minor are out in order to keep his rotation spot because if he does not he will be sent back to Triple-A. Lodolo doesn't have the same prospect pedigree as Greene but he has major quality stuff (FB, SL, & CH) to go along with good command from the left side. Mike Minor (shoulder) threw a simulated game on Friday and is targeting a mid-April return. Duane Underwood Jr. (hamstring) was placed on the 10-day IL and the Pirates called up Roasny Contreras to take his place. This was very surprising and left a question about what his role will be but that was answered when he pitched in relief on Saturday. He still has the talent to be one of the Pirates best starters so he needs to be rostered. Mike Clevinger (knee) was placed on the 10-day IL on Thursday. It isn't expected to be a serious injury and he will need a couple of starts to get back to being ready to join the rotation. The Padres currently have Nick Martinez as their fifth starter and he is likely to be the first one to go when Clevinger returns. The Padres could also go with a six-man rotation which would be a hit to the other starters' value as well. Taijuan Walker (knee) threw bullpen on Friday and is going to make his season debut on Monday against the Phillies. Madison Bumgarner went 3 IP, 1 ER, 1 H, 4 BB, and 2 K against the Padres. The line was not inspiring but his velocity is up to 91.6 mph on his fastball which is up from 88.4 mph in 2020 and 90.4 mph in 2021. He has been terrible the past two years so it is hard to buy into Bumgarner being fantasy relevant but if he can hold the velocity and the addition of pitching coach Brent Strom makes Bumgarner someone to keep an eye on. Merrill Kelly went four scoreless in his season debut against the Padres with 2 BB and 7 K. He also displayed improved velocity which is important for his success and makes him worth looking at in deeper mixed leagues.
In The Bullpen
The Marlins came into the preseason with Dylan Floro as their projected closer but he was placed on the 10-day IL on Thursday with a shoulder injury. The Marlins manager doesn't expect him to miss much time and that Anthony Bender would likely get the first save opportunity while Floro is out. This is how it played out on Friday and Bender proceeded to blow the save (1.0 IP, 1 ER). This is a fluid situation but with the state of saves it makes sense to take a chance on Bender in the short term because he got another save chance on Saturday and was able to convert it. The Reds' closer job was expected to go to Lucas Sims coming into the year but he was placed on the 10-day IL which opened the job back up. Reds manager David Bell said that Art Warren, Luis Cessa, Hunter Strickland, and Tony Santillan would be options to close out games. He was true to his word with Tony Santillan receiving the first save chance for the Reds. Cessa pitched the sixth inning. Despite Santillan getting the save, this situation isn't going to become any more clear which makes it very difficult to roster any of these relievers. To add on to the confusion manager David Bell said he got good reports on Lucas Sims which made it seem like he is close to returning.The Giants had a save opportunity on Friday and they called on Camilo Doval. He gave up three earned runs on three hits and a home run. The Giants will likely continue to use Doval, Jake McGee, and Tyler Rogers in save chances for the foreseeable future making it tough on fantasy managers who have rostered Doval, McGee, or Rogers. The Padres traded Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan to the Twins for Taylor Rogers and Brent Rooker. The Padres then named Rogers the closer which is great news for Rogers owners and provides clarity to at least one closer situation. The Cubs chose to go with David Robertson for their first save opportunity and he was able to convert it. They could go with a committee approach but Robertson looks like the guy to own now which is not what the Rowan Wick early-season drafters want to hear.
Players to add this week:
RP Spencer Strider (ATL)- Spencer Strider threw two scoreless innings with 0 BB and 5 K against the Reds in the Braves opener. He is going to be used as a multi-inning reliever and has massive strikeout potential given his stuff. He has a plus fastball (99+ mph) and slider which is a perfect combination for a reliever. This is a deep league play because he isn't going to start or get saves but he should provide value in strikeouts while helping your ratios.
SP Tylor Megill (NYM)- If Megill is available in your league he needs to be added immediately. His fastball velocity is up and he has the secondaries to be a strikeout pitcher. He is going to have a spot in the rotation while Jacob deGrom is out and should pitch well enough that he will have forced his way into the rotation by that point.
RP Anthony Bender (MIA)- Anthony Bender was given the first save opportunity and wasn't able to convert but was given another shot on Saturday and converted.
SP Roansy Contreras (PIT)- The play here is that Contreras is arguably the most talented Pirates pitcher which means we are betting on skills over role here. He was used as a reliever but has the talent to crack Pittsburgh's rotation in the long run.
RP David Robertson (CHC)- David Robertson picked up the Cubs first save and needs to be rostered because of it. While he may be 37-years-old, Robertson still has the stuff to be a closer. Last year, he posted a 4.50 ERA (2.98 SIERA), 1.25 WHIP, with 32% K in 12 IP with the Rays. It was a small sample, but it is in line with what he has done in his career and the velocity is still there. There is a chance the Cubs could go with a committee but at a minimum, he is going to be a part of it.
SS C.J. Abrams (SDP)- C.J. Abrams is the Padres top prospect and he made the team out of Spring Training. He did not start on Opening Day but was in the lineup on Friday and Saturday. He has very limited professional experience but he has shown the ability to make contact, take a walk, and has plus speed to steal bases. He needs to be rostered across the board mainly for his speed.
SP Nick Lodolo (CIN)- Nick Lodolo is going to start against the Guardians on April 13th. Lodolo spent most of the previous season at Double-A (1.84 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, and 34% K:BB). He has three above-average pitches to go along with good command from the left side. He may only make a couple of starts with Mike Minor coming back soon but he is someone to roster now and keep an eye on if he gets sent down because he should be a fixture in this rotation by season's end.
Registered members can click on the following link to see the complete weekly report: http://www.fantistics.com/baseball00/M-Strategyplus.