Happy Tuesday! Monday night's baseball slate was more loaded than usual and we saw a lot more debut starts. It was a disappointing night for me as Mariners SP George Kirby was my most rostered player in 2023 drafts. The breakout will have to wait -- at least for one more start. Some of the hottest hitters to start the season continued to hit on Monday, and those are starting to look like clearer wins. We'll dive into those wins below.
Turang stays hot
Brewers SS Brice Turang continues to put up monster Fantasy numbers. On Monday, Turang racked up a grand slam, collected two more hits and stole another base. This was already Turang's second stolen base of the season. He has three walks and just one strikeout but has still yet to face a left-handed pitcher. Turang is just 26% rostered in CBS leagues (remember, there are a lot of 10- and 12-team leagues) and he will be picking up second base eligibility shortly. He should be rostered in your league. These are the upside swings that can turn a season.
Gorman continues post-hype campaign
Cardinals 2B Nolan Gorman is batting in the perfect lineup spot for RBI and he's starting to look like a post-hype sleeper. He collected another two hits on Monday. Still just 22 years old, we have a possible breakout here. Fantasy managers have taken notice. Gorman was the fourth-most added player on CBS leagues from the past weekend and is up to 59% rostered.
A Jeff Passan Tweet from Monday drew a great discussion on last night's Fantasy Baseball Today podcast about some trends through the first four days of the season (prior to Monday's action).
- Steals are WAY up: baserunners were 70 of 84 (83% success rate) vs. 29 of 43 (67.4%) last year
- BA is up from .230 to .245, OPS is up from .682 to .715
- Time of game is down 31 minutes to 2 hours, 38 minutes
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Chris Towers dropped his latest waiver wire piece this morning and I'm excited to add. Here are a few standouts:
Tyler Mahle, SP, Twins
I was interested in Mahle as a potential bounceback candidate this preseason, but given how much he struggled last season (amid some shoulder issues), some skepticism was warranted. He wasn't overwhelming in his first start of the season, but it was a pretty impressive showing Monday against the Marlins, limiting them to just one run on five hits and a walk over five innings. Mahle didn't generate a ton of swinging strikes – eight on 83 pitches – but he still managed seven strikeouts in the outing. It wasn't a dominant performance, but it was a good first step, especially since his fastball velocity was up to 93.8 mph, just below what he managed in 2021, when he struck out 210 hitters and had a 3.75 ERA.
Braxton Garrett, RP, Marlins
Garrett got sent down Monday as the Marlins looked to add some relief help, but I imagine he'll be back on a plane to Miami after Johnny Cueto left Monday's start with a biceps injury. Cueto is likely headed to the IL as a result of the injury, which limited him during the spring, and that should give Garrett a shot in the Marlins rotation. Garrett was pretty impressive in 17 starts last season, putting up a 3.58 ERA with 90 strikeouts in 88 innings, and he could be pretty useful for Fantasy if he does get another opportunity. If this was later in the season, the Marlins might have turned to top prospect Eury Perez, but Garrett is likely going to get the first chance here, and he's worth adding in deeper leagues.
Joey Gallo, 1B, Twins
It's only four games, but you have to love what we're seeing from Gallo right now. He hit his third homer Monday against the Marlins, and he has just four strikeouts in 14 plate appearances. It's reasonable to be very skeptical about the strikeout rate – a 29% mark would be the first time he's ever been below 34% – but it is at least possible that he's rediscovering his 2021 form. Things went poorly in the second half after he was traded to the Yankees, but Gallo still finished with 38 homers and an .809 OPS that season. With power harder to find, Gallo still has plenty of it when he's right, and he looks right. For now, at least.
It's never too early to rev up the Worry-o-meter and Chris Towers looked into several starting pitchers who struggled in their first starts with the goal of finding out what this means and how you can react to it if you roster these players in any of your leagues. You can find that breakdown of all pitchers.
These are some of the players Chris wrote up who caught my attention the most:
Chris Bassitt – 3.1 IP, 9 ER, 10 H, 0 BB, 0 K @STL
Concern Level: Not Non-existent
With a 3.13 ERA over his previous three seasons, Bassitt had emerged as a dependable, if boring, Fantasy option that nobody was ever really excited to have on their team. The results were never worse than "pretty good" – and were often very, very good – but the Fantasy Baseball world treated him like the bottom was about to fall out at basically any moment.
And maybe this was the moment. I already talked about how the Cardinals lineup might just spend large chunks of this season making opposing pitchers completely miserable, so that's certainly part of the issue here. But it's not all of it. Bassitt gave up four home runs and a whopping nine batted balls over 100 mph, and he just wasn't fooling anyone. Bassitt got four swings and misses on 57 pitches, and his velocity was down 1.7 mph with his fastball, with similar results across the board.
Bassitt has never been a hard thrower, and during the spring, he told reporters he wasn't concerned about his velocity being down. And, for what it's worth, this was an improvement over the spring, so maybe he's still working his way up to full strength. But it was pretty concerning to watch him get hit as hard as he did, even against what looks like a very tough matchup. Bassitt has a long enough track record to where he's earned some benefit of the doubt. But it's also possible that the Fantasy community's reticence to buy in was the right call.
Alek Manoah – 3.1 IP, 5 ER, 9 H, 2 BB, 2 K (2 HR)
Concern Level: Nonexistent
Sometimes you just run into a red-hot lineup, and the Cardinals are on a heck of a scorcher to open the season – they collectively hit .373/.426/.591 in 122 plate appearances in their three games against the Blue Jays. This lineup is going to terrorize pitchers all season long, and every once in a while, an ace will get victimized. Manoah is due some regression from last year's 2.24 ERA, but this isn't the start of some major step back. Manoah's velocity was actually up slightly, which was a concern in the spring, so you could even take some solace in that. Manoah's command needs to be better than it was, especially against a lineup like St. Louis', and it will be moving forward.
News & notes
- Liam Hendriks revealed that he's starting his last round of chemotherapy Monday. He added that he'll "see you guys on the South Side soon". I keep hearing late May as a realistic possibility. Hendriks is 55% rostered on CBS
- Lars Nootbaar was placed on the IL with a jammed thumb. Juan Yepez was recalled from Triple-A. Alec Burleson started in left field again on Monday.
- Fernando Tatis Jr. will begin his stint with Triple-A on Tuesday. He's eligible to return from his PED suspension on April 20.
- Seiya Suzuki played four innings in a simulated game Monday. He should be back within a few weeks.
- Raisel Iglesias has not resumed throwing yet. The original plan was for him to start throwing seven days after being diagnosed on March 23.
- Anthony Rendon has been suspended four games for his role in that altercation with an Oakland A's fan on Opening Day.
- Thairo Estrada was pulled Monday after fouling a ball off his left leg. He had a monster game before he left. He went 2-4 with a sock and a shoe, first HR, second SB.
- Jared Shuster was optioned to Triple-A on Monday. He's 71% rostered. Bryce Elder is the most likely candidate to get the call when Max Fried is placed on the IL. Elder is 4% rostered.
- Patrick Wisdom was hit on the left wrist with a pitch Monday but x-rays came back clean.
- Ranger Suarez will throw another bullpen session Wednesday. He's working his way back from forearm inflammation.
- Max Kepler left Monday's game with right knee soreness.
- Johnny Cueto left his start with that recurring biceps injury. He's likely to land on the IL, which means we could see Braxton Garrett (7% rostered).
- Kyle Bradish left Monday's start after taking a comebacker off his right foot. Preliminary x-rays were negative but he'll undergo further testing.
- Jhony Brito could return to pitch for the Yankees on April 12. That's the next date they'll need a fifth starter.
- Sean Murphy has started just two games while Travis d'Arnaud has started all four thus far. Seems weird?