Just like that – the Major-League Baseball season is underway. Opening Day is always a big event and this season’s kickoff did not disappoint. With just a few games now in the books there have already been some injuries, lineup changes, platoon splits, and other speculative situations that may affect your Fantasy Baseball rosters right away. Some news/events are big enough to headline many of the sources we use today. For instance, we all know by now that SP Drew Smyly, SP Junior Guerra, and RP Roberto Osuna all hit the DL recently for one reason or another, but some news does fall under the radar.
Since it’s already been mentioned, let’s start with the latest updates on injuries that might affect those of you who play in the deeper leagues, or AL/NL only leagues. Since I already mentioned him, SP Drew Smyly has been moved from the 10-day DL to the 60-day DL as of April 4. His left flexor strain seems severe enough to hold him back no earlier than late May.
For those of you who use holds as a statistic in your Fantasy leagues, RP Hunter Strickland and/or RP Derek Law are both good options out of the SF Giants bullpen since standout RP Will Smith will need Tommy John surgery and won’t be back until 2018 the earliest.
As of yesterday, OF J.D. Martinez had his cast removed from his right leg, a possible mid-April return seems very feasible.
SP Tyson Ross threw a bullpen session on April 4 to begin his rehab process; he’s in line to return to the Texas Rangers’ starting rotation by early April for those of you who may need help in that area. Ross pitched almost 200 innings with 212 Ks, 10 wins, and a 3.26 ERA as recently as 2015 with the SD Padres. Ross is someone you should definitely keep on your radar in the coming weeks.
OF Mac Williamson has started his recovery process for the SF Giants and eyes a return to the big club at some point in April. He’s a possible sleeper to follow, as he will threaten OF Jarret Parker for playing time upon his return; Parker did not play game two of the season for the Giants after going 0-4 with 3 Ks in his first start.
Position Battles and Platoons
LA Angels manager Mike Scioscia recently revealed he would use a closer by committee approach for his bullpen to start the season. Apparently, this will be the case until long time veteran RP Huston Street returns from a lat strain injury but for now RPs Cam Bedrosian and Andrew Bailey will be the frontrunners for saves; Bedrosian has the higher upside of the two.
The Chicago Cubs have a very interesting situation within the starting lineup that could be a lingering issue for the majority of the season. It looks like 2B/OF Ben Zobrist, 2B Javier Baez, OF Albert Almora and OF Jon Jay will be in the middle of a four-way platoon/rotation until someone falters, steps up, or is traded at some point before the deadline. This will be a tough situation for Joe Maddon to manage as the season moves along, and something Fantasy managers need to monitor as well. Already after two games this season, Zobrist started one in the OF, Baez twice at second base, and Almora once in centerfield, with Zobrist and Jon Jay scheduled to start over both Baez and Almora for game three until it was postponed due to inclement weather.
The Oakland A’s have a similar situation to the LA Angels in their bullpen, as they’re using a closer by committee approach. RP Ryan Madson seemed like the best candidate for save opportunities before the season, but thus far it’s been RPs Santiago Casilla and Ryan Dull who’ve had the first two chances to close out games. Casilla took advantage of his opportunity, but Dull wasn’t as fortunate as he blew his first save chance of the year.
In Philadelphia, there’s an interesting platoon in the outfield that’s worth monitoring. Outfielders Michael Saunders and Aaron Altherr will most likely play according to lefty/righty splits throughout the year. Saunders will play against righties and Altherr against lefties. It’s worth keeping an eye on this situation in deeper leagues because both have the potential to win an everyday job at some point, especially Altherr after a promising start to his young career late last season.
With 3B Adrian Beltre on the shelf to start the year, the Texas Rangers have an interesting slew of position battles to follow. It looks like Mike Napoli will be the everyday First baseman and Shin-Soo Choo will fill the DH spot most of the time. However, with third baseman Joey Gallo off to a hot start, it will be a tough decision for manager Jeff Banister when Beltre gets back to form. What adds to this mix is the outfield platoons between Delino DeShields, Jurickson Profar, and Ryan Rua; all three are vying for an everyday spot in this loaded Texas Rangers lineup. A lot of talent resides on this team, which is a good problem to have for a Major League manager, but also something that can affect Fantasy owners in different ways.
Catchers Brian McCann and Evan Gattis along with designated hitter Carlos Beltran has been another situation to follow since Spring Training started, and the rotation between these three players has already begun. So far, McCann caught the first two games of the season, while Gattis was DH for one game and will catch the third game. Beltran played in the outfield for one game and was the DH for the other.
RP Blake Treinen was named the Opening Day closer for the Washington Nationals for 2017. Clearly such an inexperienced reliever will be on a short leash, but this is definitely something worth following for all Fantasy leagues since closing for such a strong team could reap huge benefits. The other potential relievers to steal the job on the Nationals are Koda Glover and Shawn Kelley. Treinen picked up his first save this past Monday and looked sharp.
Other Noteworthy Updates
RP Cody Allen is two for two in save opportunities to start the year, but looked a little shaky in his latest outing, as he gave up a run before securing the save. Keep tabs on this situation in all leagues because RP Andrew Miller waits in the wings and is one of the most dominant relievers in the league.
OF Matt Joyce of the Oakland Athletics is someone to monitor in deeper leagues. Although he’s off to a cold start, he started each game in the two-hole so far. This may only be the case versus right-handed pitching, but he could be a candidate to start most games this season, no matter where he resides in the lineup.
Sticking with Oakland A’s hitters, 2B Jed Lowrie is off to a scorching hot start going 5-for-8 with a home run, a double, one RBI and three runs scored after the first two games of the season. Could be a very good pickup for teams in need of second base help.
Those of you looking to pick up a starting pitcher after an injury to SP Junior Guerra, or if you’re simply in need of a two-start pitcher for the upcoming weeks, lefty SP Clayton Richard could be the answer after tossing eight innings of shutout ball against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night.