Around the League
Ryan Pepiot is currently without a rotation spot for the Dodgers. However, the Dodgers current rotation (Kershaw, Urias, Gonsolin, Syndergaard, and May) do not have the cleanest track records of health. Pepiot is projected to be the Dodgers sixth starter which means that at some point this year he will more than likely be in the rotation. He has shown the ability to miss bats but has struggled with control. Pepiot has posted 10%+ walk rates at every stop in the minors and the majors. The Dodgers have a track record of getting the most out of their pitchers but at this point, he is more likely to transition to the bullpen than stick in the rotation. This makes him a risky proposition in drafts despite the 6th man for the Dodgers being a valuable fantasy asset.
Anthony Rizzo offers one of the better values this draft season. He resigned with Yankees which was a good move for his fantasy value. Yankee Stadium plays very favorably to left-handed power. The addition of the shift rules should also help Rizzo raise his batting average slightly. Last year, he hit .224 with 32 HR, 77 R, 75 RBI, and 6 SB. He continued to have plus plate skills (18% K and 11% BB) to go along with strong quality of contact metrics (11% Barrels and 41% Hardhit). Rizzo is in a great spot to return value and allows one to wait on first base if they so choose in drafts.
Nick Castellanos and fantasy managers are hoping that he is able to rebound after a dismal first season in Philadelphia (.263 AVG with 13 HR, 56 R, 62 R, and 7 SB). He had the highest O-swing% of his career (44%) which fits the narrative that he was pressing at the plate in the first year of a big contract. The real concern should be the decline in his batted ball quality (7% Barrels and 35% Hardhit%). The Phillies are going to need his bat to return to form with Bryce Harper missing a big chunk of the year. Castellanos is a classic bounce-back candidate considering his track record of success and no injury that we know of. The only problem is that he isn't seeing much of a discount in ADP despite coming off a terrible year.
Austin Meadows is reportedly healthy and ready to go for the 2023 season. He battled numerous ailments in 2022 including vertigo, Covid-19, and Achilles strains in both feet. He ended up hitting .250 with 0 HR, 9 R, 11 RBI, and 0 SB in 36 GP. In his last full season (2021) he hit .234 with 27 HR, 79 R, 106 RBI, and 4 SB. The concern for fantasy managers is that he has played in 135+ games in just two of his five seasons in the majors. He unfortunately carries the injury-prone label. The good news is that if he is healthy he will be a regular in the Tigers lineup. The Tigers also moved in the fences which will benefit left-handed hitters the most. Meadows is someone that Spring Training matters a lot because if he is healthy and playing well fantasy managers should have confidence that he will return value at his current ADP (#245 CBS). He is going around guys like Oscar Colas, Bryan de la Cruz, and Esteury Ruiz.
Luis Arraez was traded to the Marlins during the offseason. In preliminary Spring Training lineups, he has been leading off for the Marlins. This is great news for fantasy managers because it will maximize his plate appearances as well as his skill set. Arraez hit .316 with 8 HR, 88 R, 49 RBI, and 4 SB in 144 GP last year. He brings a plus batting average and runs to the table but will actively hurt your team in the power categories (HR and RBI). Drafting Arraez requires a very strong base in power but it is easier to pair Arreaz due to the difference in skills. The added hope is that he runs more in Miami with his new team and new rules but that is not a guarantee. Regardless, drafting Arraez requires a plan and he should not be considered if there is not a strong base of power in your team.
Andrew McCutchen left the Pirates Spring Training game early after getting hit on the hand. Hopefully, it is nothing serious but we will know more tomorrow. McCutchen signed a one-year deal with the Pirates. He is slated to see most of his action as their DH but should play enough in the field to qualify as an outfielder in 2024 if he chooses to continue playing. McCutchen is coming off a solid 2023 season in which he hit .237 with 17 HR, 66 R, 69 RBI, and 8 SB in 134 GP. He still has good plate skills (21% K and 10% BB) to go along with average to slightly above-average contact (9% Barrels and 40% Hardhit%). He should provide just enough value across the board to be a good value at #308 FantasyPros provided that this injury isn't serious.
Carlos Rodon was roughed up in his spring debut (5 ER in 2 IP) but there isn't any concern considering it was his first action of the spring. Rodon is making the transition to pinstripes and is set up to have another great season. He posted a 2.88 ERA and 1.03 WHIP with 26% K:BB across 178 IP in San Francisco. Yankee Stadium is a hitter's park but mostly for left-handed batters which shouldn't affect Rodon much at all. He has the pure stuff and skills to be an ace in New York with a much better chance at wins pitching for the Yankees than Giants. Rodon has now been excellent for two straight seasons and is not getting the love he deserves as he is going as the 12th starter off the board according to FantasyPros. He is a top-five pitcher in baseball when healthy with his recent skills bump.
Nestor Cortes has been dealing with a hamstring injury in camp but is expected to be ready for Opening Day. The good news is that the Yankees have slotted him fifth in the rotation to give him as much as necessary to be ready for his first start. Cortes is coming off a breakout 2022 season in which he had a 2.44 ERA and 0.92 WHIP with 20% K:BB in 158.1 IP. Cortes is going to see natural regression in his ERA thanks to a .232 BABIP and 83% LOB but he should still be an above-average starter (3.48 SIERA) on a good Yankees team that should win a lot of games. If there is a discount for Cortes take it now because there won't be as we get closer to the start of the year.
David Peterson and Tylor Megill-Mets-SP
David Peterson was hit by a comebacker on Saturday on his left foot. X-rays were done after the game and they came back negative but he is slated for a CT scan to make sure there is no damage. Peterson and Tylor Megill are on the outside looking in for the Mets rotation. With that being said, the Mets have said that they will need a sixth starter at various points this year without any injuries so Megill and Peterson have value in deeper mixed-league formats. The concern for Peterson is that if he misses any time of this injury he could be surpassed by on the depth chart. Peterson was very good last year for the Mets (3.83 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 28% K, and 11% BB). Megill has looked healthy this spring and has displayed plus stuff similar to the beginning of last year when it was super exciting. Megill's traditional numbers (5.13 ERA and 1.25 WHIP) from a year ago are not exciting but his underlying metrics (26% K, 7% BB, and 3.45 SIERA) suggest he has a much higher ceiling. Megill is the one to own for fantasy purposes in Draft and Hold formats if you had to choose but Peterson also has value as an upside play provided today's injury isn't serious.
Dominic Smith went 2-2 with an RBI and a walk against the Astros in his latest spring start. Smith is coming off a disappointing stretch of his career after a breakout shortened 2020 season. The good news is that the Nationals should give him everyday at-bats this year and he has been hitting in the middle of the Nationals early Spring Training lineups. Smith has a career .246 AVG with 24% K, 7% BB, and .178 ISO in 447 GP. He isn't viable outside of the draft and hold formats where playing time is king.
Pirates Second Base Job
The Pirates have a competition at second base between Rodolfo Castro, Ji Hwan Bae, Tucupita Marcano, and Chris Owings. The tea leaves point to the actual competition between Castro and Bae. Castro got the most playing time a year ago and has legit fantasy appeal (.233 AVG with 11 HR/5 SB in 71 GP). However, he struggles defensively and has too many mental errors that the Pirates want him to cut down on. He also mightily versus right-handed pitching (.220 AVG and 83 wRC+). Bae also has some fantasy appeal considering he stole 30 bases in Triple-A last year. He is more of a batting average and steals but not much else type of play. He doesn't hit the ball hard but should run if given the opportunity to get regular at-bats. The Pirates and fantasy managers hope that Castro can win the job outright and show improvement because he has the most upside of the two.
Kodai Senga went 2 IP in his spring debut for the Mets. He reportedly averaged 96.9 mph with his fastball and topped out at 99 mph. It was a good first outing for Senga and should help ease any concerns fantasy managers had after reports of his physical and the transition to the majors from Japan. Senga has excellent projections from those who translate from the Japanese leagues to the majors. The Mets are also counting on Senga to be their #3 starter which is an important role because the back of the Mets rotation is not necessarily strong (Carrasco and Quintana). His current ADP at FantasyPros (#285) offers a nice value.
Jarred Kelenic hit his fourth home run of the spring on Saturday. He is hitting .412 with 4 HR and 5 RBI. He is once again sucking everyone back in with another strong performance. The prospect pedigree is still there for Kelenic as it has not completely worn off despite massive struggles at the major league level. He has hit .168 with 21 HR, 61 R, 60 RBI, and 11 SB in 147 career games. His biggest issue has been making contact. His 30% strikeout rate will make it hard to hit for a decent average and will keep him on the border of major leaguer and quad A player. He is currently going around pick #283 FantasyPros around guys like Brandon Marsh, Wil Myers, and Dylan Carlson. Kelenic should get one more chance at regular playing time and he is going to have to produce in order to keep that role. He has power/speed upside but the likelihood that he hits for a high enough average to be relevant is very slim making him a tough guy to own in fantasy.
Alex Cobb struck out six in three innings in his most recent spring start. Cobb is coming off an up-and-down 2022 season. He had a 3.73 ERA and 1.30 WHIP but showed great skills underneath the hood (24% K, 7% BB, and 62% GB). This also translated well in his 3.15 SIERA. Cobb suffered from an abnormally high BABIP (.336) which hurt his overall line. His struggles in 2022 have been a blessing in disguise because they have kept his price down in 2023. He is going at pick #213 according to FantasyPros which is a nice price for someone with Cobb's skills and excellent home park.