Aaron Judge -- who else? -- launched the first homer of the 2023 campaign on Opening Day, taking Logan Webb deep in the first inning on Thursday. His solo shot gave the Yankees an early lead that they never relinquished en route to a 5-0 victory over the Giants. Judge later added an RBI single for good measure, finishing the day 2-for-4 with a homer and two RBIs. The reigning AL MVP picked up right where he left off after swatting an AL-record 62 home runs in 2022, leading many to wonder how many times he'll go deep this year. Health is usually the limiting factor for the injury-prone Judge, who's already topped 50 homers twice in his career and could be headed for a third such season if he avoids serious injury. This is likely just the beginning of what should be another big year for the 30-year-old superstar.
Gerrit Cole was dominant in his Opening Day start, blanking the Giants over six innings while racking up 11 strikeouts. He gave up just three hits (all singles) and two walks en route to his first win and quality start of the season. It's hard to begin a campaign much better than Cole did with a scoreless outing and double-digit K's as he carved up San Francisco's lineup. He also got some early run support on a first-inning bomb from Aaron Judge, which Gleyber Torres extended with a two-run shot in the fourth. Cole has been a tremendous investment for the Yankees since arriving in 2020 and has been one of the most consistent aces in baseball, making it surprising that the five-time All-Star has never won a Cy Young award. Perhaps this will finally be the year for the 32-year-old righty, especially now that he no longer has to compete with Justin Verlander. His next start will come at home against a tough Phillies lineup.
Logan Webb took the loss on Opening Day after giving up four runs on four hits and two walks in six-plus innings against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Webb had an uneven opener for the Giants, surrendering a first-inning solo shot to Aaron Judge and a two-run blast to Gleyber Torres in the fourth. He was charged for another run in the seventh as well. The multiple long balls were surprising for a pitcher who excels at keeping the ball on the ground (56.5% ground-ball rate) and had allowed just 0.6 HR/9 for his career coming into the game. To be fair, New York has one of the most powerful lineups in the majors, especially with Judge in the heart of it. On the plus side, he did rack up 12 strikeouts, which salvaged his outing from a fantasy perspective. Webb only had a 7.6 K/9 last year, however, and has an 8.4 K/9 for his career, so fantasy managers shouldn't expect a lot of days like that going forward.
Adley Rutschman led the way during Baltimore's 10-9 Opening Day win over Boston, going 5-for-5 with a homer, four RBIs and a walk. Red Sox pitchers had no answer for the Orioles catcher, who set the tone with a solo homer off Corey Kluber in his first at-bat in the top of the first. He added four singles and a walk throughout the rest of the afternoon, pacing Baltimore's 15-hit attack at Fenway Park. It was quite the start for the 25-year-old, who finished second in the AL Rookie of the Year voting last season to Julio Rodriguez after batting .254/.362/.445 with 13 home runs and 35 doubles. The former first-round pick is already one of the best catchers in baseball and still has room to grow, so it wouldn't surprise anyone if he ends the year as the most productive player at the position in fantasy.
Oneil Cruz helped propel the Pirates to a 5-4 win over the Reds on Opening Day, going 1-for-2 with a homer, two runs, two RBIs and two walks. Cruz did a bit of everything in the victory, with the main highlight being his game-tying solo shot off Hunter Greene in the third. Cruz's power is already legendary given his enormous size for a shortstop, as he now has 19 homers in just 90 career games. The two walks were also encouraging after he posted a 28:126 BB/K ratio as a rookie last year, indicating that he still needed to work on his plate discipline. Cruz only walked twice during all of Spring Training (16 games), so don't expect his plate discipline to dramatically improve overnight. Still, the 24-year-old's exceptional tools could help him become one of the best shortstops in baseball this year after flashing his potential last season.
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