As I type this, we've seen exactly one day of MLB action, and the rule changes for the 2023 season look like they've had the intended effect. There were 21 stolen bases on Opening Day, the most since 1907, and there were more hits around the league as well, which is exactly what the league wanted to see when they announced a slew of rule changes before the season.
It's too early to know what the ultimate impact of those changes will be after just one day of action, but so far, it looks like we could be playing a very different game in 2023. Scott White wrote about some of the macro changes in his breakdown of Opening Day's biggest storylines, but we'll need a lot more than just one day to know for sure what kind of changes we're looking at. That'll come in good time.
For now, we've still got Fantasy lineups to set and waiver-wire targets to chase down. Every week at CBSSports.com, we'll preview the upcoming week to help you make those decisions, but I'll also be writing every Friday about what you need to keep an eye on for the upcoming weekend's games. I'll include waiver-wire targets to watch, key matchups, injury updates, and more.
Here's what you need to know for this weekend's games:
Waiver-wire starting pitchers to watch
Listed roughly in terms of interest:
- Edward Cabrera vs. NYM, Saturday -- The key for Cabrera will be control. If he can keep the walks down, he's going to generate a bunch of weak contact and enough strikeouts to be a very good pitcher.
- Graham Ashcraft vs. PIT, Sunday -- Ashcraft was a late-riser in Fantasy drafts after striking out 25 with just two walks in 17.1 innings in the spring. He's got a cutter he can throw close to triple digits, and a new sweeper may have unlocked the strikeout upside he never quite showed last year.
- Josiah Gray vs. ATL, Saturday -- Credit to Gray for knowing what he needed to work on, as he debuted a cutter in spring that helped replace his very poor fastball. The cutter may not fix everything, but if it can limit the damage on balls in play, his curveball and slider can take care of the rest.
- MacKenzie Gore vs. ATL, Sunday -- Gore feels like the kind of pitcher who could figure things out in an instance; he's super-talented, he's just struggled with consistency in his delivery, velocity, and command. There's a lot he needs to figure out, but he's always worth watching.
- Jared Shuster @WAS, Sunday -- I'm not particularly excited about Shuster, a lefty who got by more on control than stuff in the minors. But he's a young prospect, and that's enough to make him well worth keeping an eye on.
- Jameson Taillon vs. MIL, Sunday -- Taillon keeps the ball on the ground and limits free passes, so if he can start to get more strikeouts, the profile starts to look a lot more interesting. He worked on a sweeper in the offseason with the hopes of doing just that. I'm excited to see how it looks.
- Clarke Schmidt vs. SF, Saturday -- Schmidt has been decent in his time in the majors, mostly working as a reliever, but his minor-league numbers hint at more upside. He added a cutter that looked pretty great this spring, and I think he could hang on to a rotation spot in New York even when everyone is healthy.
- David Peterson @MIA, Friday -- Peterson had consecutive starts against the Marlins last season where he had 15 strikeouts and two walks over 12.1 innings, so he's a viable streamer with some long-term potential.
- Hunter Gaddis @SEA, Friday -- Gaddis has had a lot of trouble keeping the ball in the yard, and that was a major issue in two starts in the majors last year, where he gave up seven homers. However, he's put up some pretty massive strikeout numbers in the minors, including 158 in just 121.1 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, and those kind of numbers are always going to be interesting.
- Zach Eflin vs. DET, Saturday -- I don't really see it with Eflin, but I know there are plenty in the Fantasy industry who think he still has some upside the Rays can squeeze out. It's a nice soft landing spot for his first start, at least.
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Waiver-wire hitters to watch
Top picks at each position:
- Gabriel Moreno, C, TOR (59%) -- With Carson Kelly on the IL, I'm hoping to see Moreno start three of the team's first four games. Asking for all four would be a bit much, but it would solidify him as a must-start catcher.
- Spencer Torkelson, 1B, DET (57%) -- Torkelson had three batted balls in the opener of at least 100 mph. They were all groundouts, so there's still work to do, but it's a promising sign.
- Nolan Gorman, 2B, STL (31%) -- Gorman is kind of a forgotten man for Fantasy purposes, but he still has big power and could be a sleeper. He had a solid showing on Opening Day, reaching base twice, though he also struck out twice in five PA, and that's the key thing to watch over the first few days and weeks.
- Spencer Steer, 3B, CIN (20%) -- Steer hit the longest home run on Opening Day, a 435-foot shot that surely opened some eyes. He's got 37 career homers in 171 games between Double-A and Triple-A, and playing in a bandbox stadium in Cincinnati should help maximize the profile. He's on a bunch of my teams as a CI, and he's well worth watching in all deeper lineup leagues.
- C.J. Abrams, SS, WAS (52%) -- Abrams was hitting ninth in the opener, going 0 for 4 with a strikeout, and he'll need to show us something to justify any lingering interest. But he's young enough to keep the faith.
- Oscar Colas, OF, CWS (63%) -- Colas didn't start the opener with a tough lefty on the mound, so he'll need to hit the ground running to earn a bigger role. He's more than capable of it.
- Garrett Mitchell, OF, MIL (55%) -- Mitchell has a ton of speed and non-zero pop, which makes him a very interesting player if he has a chance to play everyday.
- Jake Fraley, OF, CIN (46%) -- Fraley is hitting .237/.351/.419 with 21 homers and 14 steals in 147 games since the start of 2021, and he could be a must-start player in OBP leagues.
- Esteury Ruiz, OF, OAK (47%) -- I'm skeptical that Ruiz has enough stick to get the most out of his incredible baserunning upside, but he could legitimately lead the league in steals if he plays everyday.
- James Outman, OF, LAD (39%) -- Outman has 40 homers in 164 games between Double-A and Triple-A with 15 steals to go along with a .293 average. He started on Opening Day and went 2 for 3 with a homer and two RBI, plus a walk. It's a really interesting profile, though he's likely to be relegated to a platoon in L.A., at least to start the season.
The cut watchlist
- Oscar Gonzalez, OF, CLE -- Gonzalez wasn't in the lineup for the opener, and while he's a pretty interesting power/speed prospect, it'll be easy to cut him if he's not an everyday player.
- Alek Thomas, OF, ARI -- I liked Thomas a lot in the spring as a sleeper, and I'm not going to bury him just because he wasn't in the lineup against a tough lefty like Julio Urias on Opening Day. However if he isn't in the lineup against Dustin May and Noah Syndergaard Friday and Sunday, that's a sign that he's definitely not a full-time player.
- Jack Flaherty, SP, STL -- I didn't mind the idea of taking a late-round flier on Flaherty as a bounce-back candidate, but he's gotta show us something impressive after a spring that saw him give up 14 runs with only 15 strikeouts and seven walks (plus four hit batters!) in 19.2 innings. I won't have a long leash here.
- Noah Syndergaard, SP, LAD -- Syndergaard was topping out around 94 mph in the spring after averaging 93.6, which was obviously already way down from his peak. Syndergaard worked at DriveLine Baseball this offseason and there is some indication that he's made changes to his pitch profile, but I'm just not convinced he can be effective throwing in the low-to-mid-90s. He'll be an easy cut if he doesn't show much Sunday.
Closer situations to watch
- Mets -- David Robertson got the first save for the Mets Thursday, though Adam Ottavino didn't pitch, so this one isn't definitive yet. But, certainly, it's a lean toward Robertson at this point.
- Rockies -- With Daniel Bard placed on the IL dealing with anxiety, the Rockies' ninth inning role is uncertain. Dinelson Lamet has the stuff, but was pretty bad in relief last season; Pierce Johnson was pretty good in 2021 (3.22 ERA, 77 K in 58.2 innings), but doesn't have much of a track record beyond that. Brad Hand is also here, and he obviously has a lot of experience closing. This one seems wide open
- Cardinals -- Ryan Helsley got the first save chance Thursday and promptly blew it. Giovanny Gallegos is dealing with lower back tightness that kept him out Thursday. Helsley seems like the primary option, but his track record is limited, and it's likely to be some kind of split even in the best-case scenario.
- Rangers -- The Rangers didn't have a save opportunity in the opener, but manager Bruce Bochy made it sound like Jose LeClerc would get the first try -- and he did pitch the ninth with a four-run lead Thursday.
- Cubs -- With a four-run lead Thursday, Brad Boxberger worked the eighth inning and Michael Fulmer got the ninth. That's not a guarantee Fulmer will get the first save chance, but I'd bet on it.
- White Sox -- Reynaldo Lopez got the first save for the White Sox, with Kendall Graveman working the eighth. For what it's worth, Lopez did give up a home run, though he certainly looks like the most likely option right now.
- Marlins -- Of the Marlins' high-leverage options, only Tanner Scott got into the game Thursday, recording one out while giving up two runs to take the loss. Dylan Floro and A.J. Puk are the other players Skip Schumaker mentioned as potential closers before the season.
- Angels -- Aaron Loup took the loss Thursday, but both he and Ryan Tepera allowed a couple of hits while trying to close out the eighth inning. Jimmy Herget, another potential closer option, worked a perfect seventh inning, while Carlos Estevez wasn't used.
- Mariners -- Paul Sewald worked the eighth in the opener, while Andres Munoz shut the door in the ninth. I think this will still likely be a split moving forward, but at least Munoz got the first opportunity.
- Athletics -- Dany Jimenez's velocity was way down in the opener -- he averaged 91.0 mph with his fastball, down 2.9 mph from last year -- but he got the save. Trevor May will likely get some opportunities at some point, but Jimenez looks like the leader for now.
Injury report updates
- Max Fried (hamstring) -- Fried left Thursday's start with a left hamstring injury and is expected to miss at least one start. An IL stint is possible, though it doesn't sound like it'll be a long one if it happens. One thing that could spur the Braves to make a move is the fact that they don't have another off day for two weeks after Friday.
- Willson Contreras (knee) -- Contreras got hit by a pitch in the opener -- a 103 mph fastball from Jordan Hicks, yikes -- and exited the game. However, an MRI on the knee came back negative Friday, so he'll be day to day. If Contreras does have to miss time, Andrew Knizner would likely step in, which isn't a particularly exciting proposition for Fantasy.
- Hunter Brown (back) -- Brown was dealing with a back issue toward the end of spring training, but he looks good to go following a simulated game this week. He's on track to start against the Tigers Monday and is a viable starting option for what should be a two-start week.
- Ryan Pepiot (oblique) -- The Dodgers' rotation depth is being tested early on with Pepiot joining Tony Gonsolin (ankle) on the IL. Oblique injuries tend to be pretty tricky, so Michael Grove could be in the rotation for a while. Grove isn't particularly interesting, but this injury does put top pitching prospect Gavin Stone one step closer to the majors, and he is very interesting. Stone had a 1.48 ERA with 168 strikeouts in 121.2 innings across three levels of the minors last year, and I'd love to see him get called up.
- Luis Urias (hamstring) -- Urias limped off the field Thursday late in the game, so we'll need to keep an eye on this one. The Brewers have kind of a log jam in the outfield, so if Brian Anderson moved to third while Urias was out, it could open up an opportunity for one of Joey Wiemer or Sal Frelick.