Adam Wainwright, SP, STL
Wainwright began his 17th season with the Cardinals on the right foot, tossing 6 shutout innings against the Pirates on Thursday, striking out 6 without issuing a walk. The veteran right-hander has incredibly rejuvenated his career, compiling a 3.08 ERA across 42 starts over the last two years - his age 38 and 39 seasons - after struggling from 2016-2019. He has lowered his BB-rate back to an elite level (2.15 BB/9 from 2020-2021) while doing a decent job at avoiding hard contact. There are certainly reasons to doubt that Wainwright will keep this up, as his K/9 has fallen below 8.00 in recent years, and his xFIP has been nearly a run higher than his ERA over the past two seasons. His BABIP over the last two years is at .254, which is just asking for significant regression. But this doesn't take away from perhaps the most impressive thing about Wainwright's resurgence - his durability. Over the past two seasons, Wainwright's 272 IP rank 2nd only to Zack Wheeler, and this helped him reach an impressive 17 win-total in 2021. While we probably shouldn't count on another low-3.00's ERA, an ERA under 4.00 and 15+ wins are realistic possibilities for the now 40-year old.
Zack Greinke, SP, KC
Greinke got off to a strong start in his return to KC, allowing just 1 ER in 5.2 IP against the Guardians on Thursday while striking out 1 and walking 1. Greinke has maintained elite control even in his advanced age, but his K/9 fell to 6.32 in 2021 and he finished with an ERA north of 4.00 for the 2nd straight year. He didn't run into much trouble against the weak Guardians offense, but with only 1 K, it's hard to be optimistic that Greinke's strikeout rate is going to bounce back. At age 38, Greinke may still have what to offer for the Royals, but there are better fantasy options out there.
Steven Kwan, OF, CLE
Kwan made his MLB debut for the Guardians on Thursday and went 1-2 with 2 BB's in the Opening Day loss to the Royals. With Bradley Zimmer getting traded to Toronto, Kwan has a chance to get regular at bats in Cleveland's outfield at least until Josh Naylor is ready to return. Kwan has posted elite contact rates throughout his minor league career, culminating in a 6.7% K% across 120 PA's in AAA last season. His superb contact skills have propelled him to consistently hit for a high average (.328 between AA and AAA in 2021) and he has also displayed moderate power and speed, with 12 HR's and 6 SB's in 77 games last season. If he can work his way to getting regular playing time, Kwan has a chance to be a useful fantasy player.
Chris Paddack, SP, MIN
Paddack was traded from the Padres to the Twins on Opening Day in exchange for Taylor Rogers and Brent Rooker. Paddack is coming off back-to-back poor seasons in which he posted ERA's of 4.73 and 5.07, but is a decent bounceback candidate considering that his xFIP has been below 4.00 in both of those seasons. The move to Minnesota likely won't help him though, as Target Field is more of a neutral park compared to the pitcher-friendly Petco Park. Also worth noting is that the Twins already had five starters set for their rotation, so unless someone gets replaced or injured, the team will be deploying a 6-man rotation at least for the time being. Even with the slight hit in value, Paddack could still be serviceable in the back of a fantasy rotation with an ERA around 4.00 and a K/9 around 9.00.
Bobby Witt Jr., SS, KC
Witt made his MLB debut against the Guardians on Thursday, and the top prospect didn't disappoint, going 1-4 with the game-winning RBI double and also scoring a run. Witt was sensational in the minors last season, hitting .290 with 33 HR's and 29 SB's in 123 games between AA and AAA. A 20-20 season (and possibly more) as a rookie is certainly not out of reach for Witt, and by next year we could easily be talking about a 2nd or 3rd round draft pick.
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