Rodon to Open Season on IL
The Yankees have announced that SP Carlos Rodon has a left forearm strain and will not be ready for the start of the season. Rodon signed a massive $162 million deal with New York in the offseason coming off two excellent seasons with the White Sox and Giants, but now it is unclear when he will be able to make his Yankees debut. Over the past two seasons, Rodon has compiled a 2.67 ERA, 3.02 xFIP, 1.00 WHIP, and 12.23 K/9 over the course of 55 starts. He may have a hard time duplicating those numbers pitching in Yankees Stadium, especially since he's become very flyball heavy the past couple of years (44.7% FB% since 2021), but the results should still be strong. His durability is a concern though, as he only made 41 starts from 2017-2020, before managing to stay on the field the past two seasons. At this point, the safest bet is to not to rely on Rodon for at least the month of April. I would be very hesitant on taking him in the early rounds.
Rodon's injury opens the door for both Domingo German and Clarke Schmidt to make the Yankees Opening Day rotation. German recorded a career-best 3.61 ERA last season (not including his 14.1 IP in 2017) but it's concerning that his Strikeout rate plummeted to a career worst 7.22 K/9 while his xFIP rose to a career-high 4.33. His K/9 has dropped significantly every year in his career and his velocity fell nearly a mph in 2022. Unless his strikeout rate rebounds, don't count on a repeat of last year's success.
Schmidt had a strong season, mostly out of the bullpen, in 2022 recording a 3.12 ERA and 8.74 K/9 across 57.2 IP (29 appearances, 3 starts). There are some signs of regression though; he finished with a .273 BABIP and 8.6% HR/FB%, numbers which are projected to rise. He also had an uninspiring 3.59 BB/9. And of course, he has little track record as a starter, having made only 5 career starts, in which he's compiled a 4.95 ERA across 20 IP. We can wait to see if there's anything here.
Sean Bouchard to Have Biceps Surgery
Rockies outfielder Sean Bouchard is at risk of missing the entire season as he is set to have surgery on a torn left bicep. Bouchard was pushing for more playing time this season after posting a strong .297/.454/.500 slash line across 97 PA's in his 2022 rookie campaign, but that may now have to wait until 2024. His performance is likely to take a step back from last year anyways, as his xBA and xSLG were .244 and .349 respectively last season and his .404 BABIP is almost certainly unsustainable. Regardless, it looks like he won't be a relevant option in 2023.
Bouchard's injury could potentially open up more at bats for someone like utilityman Harold Castro who has made a nice impression with the Rockies so far, going 7-15 in the early going this spring. Castro has a career .284 BA thanks to his ability to consistently hit line drives (career 27.7% LD%), but he doesn't offer much else as he has a total of 15 HR's and 6 SB's across 351 MLB games. He has even less value in OBP leagues with a minuscule 3.7% BB%.
Gurriel, Iglesias sign with Marlins
Former Astro 1B Yuriel Gurriel has signed with the Marlins on a minor league deal. He would seem likely to make the team, although his playing time may not be consistent. Gurriel is coming off a poor season in which he slashed .242/.288/.360 with 8 HR's and 53 RBI across 584 PA's. He still made excellent contact with a K% of 12.5%, so his BA should bounce back at least somewhat. But the power has never really been there, as he has only reached the 20-HR mark once in his career. His EV hit a career-low last year at 88.2, so we may see some more decline going forward. With Garrett Cooper set to be the Marlins starting 1B in 2023, it looks like Gurriel will have to settle for a part-time role for the first time in his career.
The Marlins also signed INF Jose Iglesias to a minor league contract on Thursday. Iglesias is a career .294 hitter who makes excellent contact with a career 12.4% K%. However he has minimal power having reached double-digit HR's only once in his 11-year career, and he has only stolen 10+ bases in two seasons. He is likely to take on a utility role with Miami if he does make the team, and will be hard pressed to provide any significant fantasy value.
Tyler Wells, SP, BAL
Wells struck out 5 Phillies in 2.2 innings on Thursday as he makes a push to be a part of the Orioles starting rotation. Wells got off to a strong start in 2022, posting a 3.09 over his first 16 starts, but then stumbled to the finish line with a 7.39 ERA over his final 7 starts. Overall he finished with a 4.25 ERA, 4.60 xFIP, and a very mediocre 6.60 K/9. He is still likely behind Kyle Braddish, Dean Kramer, and Grayson Rodriguez for a spot in the rotation, but he may very well be next in line in case of injury or poor performance.
Hunter Greene, SP, CIN
Greene was named the Reds Opening Day starter as he looks to build upon a strong but inconsistent rookie season. Greene finished 2022 with a 4.44 ERA, but that came with a 3.64 xFIP and 11.75 K/9. He finished the season in exceptionally strong fashion, recording a 1.02 ERA and 51:8 K:BB across 35.1 IP over his final 6 starts. He has the chance to be an ace if he can just limit the walks a bit and could very well be a bargain in the 12th round.
Adley Rutschman, C, BAL
At first glance, Rutschman's basic numbers from the 2022 season don't jump off the page. He hit .254 with 13 HR's and 42 RBI in 113 games, covering 470 PA's. Those numbers aren't bad for a catcher, but Orioles fans would probably be disappointed if Rutschman just turned out to be not bad. He did post some other numbers which were excellent, including a 13.8% BB% and 35 doubles in less than ¾ of a season. Doubles are undervalued in many fantasy leagues, but the extra-base hit power does bode well for Rutschman increasing his HR total in the future. His BA also has room to improve, as he posted a solid 18.3% K% in his rookie season, along with an elite 6.3% SwStr%. Fantistics projects Rutchman to hit .272 with 23 HR's and 89 runs scored this season, which would make him one of the top catchers in the league.
Vinnie Pasquatino, 1B, KC
Pasquatino had a strong rookie season with the Royals in 2022, hitting .295 with 10 HR's and a .383 OBP across 298 PA's. He posted an elite 11.4% K% along with a strong 91.2 EV and 46.9% HardHit%. His 11.1% HR/FB is probably due to rise, making the 1B a good bet to surpass 20 HR's this season, while his excellent contact skills should allow him to continue hitting for a good BA as well.
Matt Vierling, IF, OF, DET
Veirling posted a mediocre .246/.297/.351 with 6 HR's across 357 PA's last season with the Phillies, and has since been traded to the Tigers. His underlying stats are much more promising, as he recorded a 91.2 EV and 47.1% HardHit%, while his xBA and xSLG were .279 and .408 respectively. He had a solid 19.6% K% in 2022, and that number could be lower considering his 8.0% SwStr%. Vierling may not have a set position for Detroit at the start of the year and could be working as a utility man, so it remains to be seen exactly how much playing time he'll see. But the performance should improve from last year.
Bailey Falter, SP, PHI
With top prospect Andrew Painter currently dealing with an injury, it seems likely that Falter will open the season as the Phillies' 5th starter. He probably deserves the opportunity, as he posted a respectable 3.86 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 74:17 K:BB across 84 IP (16 starts, 20 appearances) last season, and was even better down the stretch, compiling an ERA of 3.00 over his final 10 starts (51 IP). His 4.62 xERA suggests that he was a bit lucky, although his xFIP was still palatable at 4.13. His greatest virtue was his ability to limit walks, but he had a hard time keeping the ball on the ground (31.7% GB%) which is not great if you're pitching in Philadelphia. He rates more as a streaming option that someone to eye in drafts.
Jose Siri, OF, TB
Siri is up to 3 SB's for the Rays this spring as he continues to be a one trick pony. The new rule changes are expected to lead to more SB's this season, which on the one hand, could lower the value of each steal, but could also lead to lofty SB totals for a guy like Siri. Of course, he'll need to get regular playing time to be a worthwhile fantasy asset.
Patrick Wisdom, 3B, CHC
Wisdom hit his first HR of the spring on Thursday, as he looks to once again be a solid power source for the Cubs. Wisdom has hit 53 HR's in 240 games over the past two seasons thanks to a lofty FB% (49%) and above average EV. He strikes out a ton and will hurt your BA, but he should continue to provide power. He walks at a decent clip, so his OBP won't be as problematic as his BA.
Nick Pivetta, SP, BOS
Pivetta allowed 2 ER's on 3 hits and 3 BB's in 2 IP against the Yankees and now owns a 12.27 ERA this spring. Pivetta had a strong first half last season posting a 3.23 ERA through the end of June, but from July onward, he compiled an ugly 6.04 ERA and 4.34 BB/9. Ultimately, Pivetta has never finished a season with an ERA below 4.50 or a WHIP south of 1.30, and his K/9 dropped to 8.77 last year after two years hovering around 10 K/9. Don't count on a repeat of last year's first half.