Happy Wednesday, everyone. Those Fantasy Baseball managers who invested premium draft capital in Sandy Alcantara this draft season after his breakout season are feeling pretty good after Tuesday's outing. Alcantara led baseball last year with six complete games and pitched his first in 2023 on Tuesday. Alcantara fired a three-hit shutout with one walk and five strikeouts on 100 pitches. He generated 15 swinging strikes and has now pitched consecutive games with 14+ swinging strikes. The fun fact: the game ended in under two hours.
As I think about the Fantasy Baseball season ahead of us, I wonder if those who did buy into Alcantara at what some called his peak are going to come out ahead due to the rule changes. We're seeing the new rules have an impact already with a lot more stolen bases and a lot more hits due to the shift restrictions. So it may be worth even more now than ever to have an ace like Alcantara to carry your staff. Take it from me who went with a wait-on-pitcher approach, for the most part this draft season. While I didn't pay the premiums for pitchers, I loaded up in the middle rounds or in the $14-20 range in auction leagues. It landed me with a few teams anchored by Joe Musgrave and George Kirby and that hasn't exactly worked out so far. If hits and free bags are going to stay up, the dominant aces will have even more value to your Fantasy teams in 2023.
Let's dive into some of the other action from Tuesday.
Grayson gets a go
One of the most disappointing developments of the end of spring training was learning that Grayson Rodriguez wouldn't make the Orioles opening day rotation. Rodriguez is arguably the top pitching prospect in baseball. The good news is that we didn't have to wait long. Rodriguez will be called up to start for Baltimore on Wednesday opposite none other than Jacob deGrom. Talk about a welcome to the 2023 season moment for Rodriguez.
Over the course of his minor league career, Rodriguez struck out 421 batters of just 296 innings with a 2.49 ERA and 0.96 WHIP. He did get hit hard in the spring to the tune of a 7.04 ERA with a 1.57 WHIP. His first start this season in the minors was disappointing as well -- he walked four and let up three runs over four innings. So maybe he's working through some command issues, but one thing for sure is that his talent profile is worth gambling on for both Baltimore and your Fantasy teams. Rodriguez has a four-pitch mix and three of those (fastball, changeup, slider) might all be plus pitches at the MLB level.
Maeda avoids scare
Twins SP Kenta Maeda has had a long journey in his comeback. It was Maeda's first MLB start since Aug. 21, 2021 on Tuesday and he looked awesome on the mound. He allowed just one run through five innings with a whopping nine strikeouts. Maeda left the game and was shaking his right arm at the time, which caused a scare. But after the game, manager Rocco Baldelli told reporters he was just pulled for fatigue purposes. Maeda looked a lot like the pitcher who was a back-end SP1 just a few seasons ago. Make sure he's not available in your leagues, and if he is then it's time to grab him.
Mateo won't go away
With stolen bases anticipated to rise and nothing else spectacular about his profile outside of his speed, Jorge Mateo was an afterthought in some drafts. There was speculation that he would lose his job and lose at bats, but he's done everything right so far in 2023. He hit two hits on Tuesday and hit his second home run -- this power is coming out of thin air. He also has four stolen bases on the season. He's still just 48% rostered in CBS leagues and SS eligible. He has started four of five games this season and only has two strikeouts in 17 plate appearances, which is also progress.
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Scott White checked in on some of the noisiest
early bullpen situations in his
What to do about the Rangers situation
From Scott: "Will Smith got the Rangers' first save Sunday, preserving a one-run lead against the Phillies, and we have every reason to believe that Jose Leclerc, who hadn't worked since Thursday, was also available. So why do I put Leclerc ahead in the pecking order? It's for the flimsiest of reasons, and if I could put them neck-and-neck, I would. Leclerc entered the year as the presumed favorite and worked the ninth with a four-run lead on Opening Day. I suspect Smith's save Sunday was more of a matchups situation. The Phillies had one left-handed hitter (Bryson Stott) due up and another (Darick Hall) almost certain to pinch hit for Cristian Pache. The Rangers' next save chance should tell us more."
Is there anything to worry about with Pressley?
Rafael Montero and Hector Neris have each already gotten a save before Ryan Pressly has. That's largely because Pressly was feeling "under the weather" after his Opening Day appearance, in which he took the loss, and it's fair to wonder what exactly he's dealing with. He was seen shaking his arm in that first appearance, and then when he returned to the mound Monday (working a scoreless inning), he threw just one fastball, which measured 2 mph lower than normal. Maybe this blows over and Pressly goes on to have the type of season we all expected from him, but it's worth knowing who's next in line in case an IL stint becomes necessary.
News & notes
- Gunnar Henderson was out of the lineup due to a sore right hand. He took a 107 MPH grounder off his hand Monday night.
- Joe Musgrove is scheduled to make a rehab start at Triple-A Thursday. There should be a better idea of his timeline following the start.
- Max Fried was officially placed on the IL. Bryce Elder was recalled and is likely to start Wednesday against the Cardinals.
- Lance McCullers said Tuesday that he's been throwing at high intensity and considers himself ahead of schedule. He's rehabbing a strained right forearm. He's 67% rostered and is worth the bench stash if you have a roster spot available.
- Kyle Bradish is still dealing with a sore foot and may need to go on the IL.
- Miguel Vargas was out of the lineup after getting hit by a pitch in his right thumb Monday. He'll be re-evaluated Thursday. Mookie Betts started at second base.
- Max Kepler's MRI showed patellar tendinitis in his right knee. Manager Rocco Baldelli said the team will see how Kepler feels Wednesday.
- Johnny Cueto will go on the IL with that lingering biceps issue but is hoping for a minimal stay. Braxton Garrett was recalled. He's 8% rostered.
- Joey Wendle was also placed on the IL with an intercostal strain. Garrett Hampson was recalled. Jon Berti started at shortstop Tuesday night.
- Leody Taveras took batting practice Tuesday and could be back as soon as next week. He's 5% rostered.
- Miguel Rojas was out of the lineup due to a mild left groin strain.
- Prospect update: Brett Baty left Tuesday's game in the minors and is scheduled to undergo imaging on his right thumb. That's the same thumb he had surgery on last September.