With many leagues first run of waivers about to ensue, remember to save some bullets for the marathon. Yes, there’s some hot starts worth investigating, but key on roles, new paths to playing time and performance going forward, not paying for what’s already transpired. Far too often fantasy owners pay for the latter. Keeping this in mind, Hunter Strickland not only blew the save on Friday night, he will undergo an MRI on Saturday. Strickland stayed in the game trying to pitch through a sore right shoulder which resulted in a three-run go ahead home by Mitch Moreland .

Once again a pitching duel in Toronto between two under the radar pitchers. Matt Boyd recorded 10 strikeouts while Matt Shoemaker fired seven shutout innings with seven strikeouts. Charlie Morton outdueled former teammate Gerrit Cole , though spotty defense played a role in the outcome. Khris Davis and Domingo Santana remain hot but Paul Goldschmidt launched three home runs in Miller Park to tie them for the major league in the category. Time to commence the Round Up.


Bullpen Review: Sleepless in Seattle?

Friday night provided some surprising outcomes and also allowed for some clarity to emerge. After Strickland’s meltdown, Boston turned to Matt Barnes and he responded with his first save since 2017 with a clean ninth inning and two strikeouts. Alex Cora kept the closer role close to the vest in spring, so after one game, it seems like Barnes’ job to lose. Deeper league players should note Brian Johnson ’s made two appearances with four strikeouts in two innings so far and could net a save against a left-handed heavy ninth inning in the future.

As for the Mariners, if Strickland lands on the injured list, this could devolve into a committee approach. Both Matt Festa and Cory Gearrin could be the right-handed compliments to Roenis Elías . Definitely watching Elias who averaged 95 MPH with his four-seam and two-seam fastballs last night. Dan Altavilla opened the year in Triple-A but could work his way into the conversation as well if he improves his command issues. Last, Anthony Swarzak also could return soon and move the forefront if healthy. Stay tuned.

Tampa Bay rarely anoints a closer, but José Alvarado recorded his first save giving up a hit and a walk with a strikeout. He appeared to injure his ankle in pregame warmups, but still worked the ninth inning. Diego Castillo pitched two innings as the bridge, Chaz Roe and Adam Kolarek split the eighth inning.

Manager Mike Shildt would not name Jordan Hicks his closer, but used him as such with a four run lead on the road. Andrew Miller yielded a home run to Christian Yelich in the eighth inning then Jordan Hicks looked dominant in the ninth with two strikeouts on nine pitches in a clean outing.

After a shaky spring training, Greg Holland notched his first save with Arizona striking out two in the 13th inning against the Dodgers. No matter how much fantasy owners want Archie Bradley to get a chance, it could take some time or a Holland injury to get him in the ninth inning. Kirby Yates tied Strickland for the league lead with his second save, in as many nights, but Yates did benefit from a generous strike zone. Under the radar Robert Stock fired 1.2 innings of shutout relief with two strikeouts needing only 14 pitches.


Hitter Notes: Goldy consumes Miller Park

Not only will batting second enhance the likelihood Paul Goldschmidt may steal more bases, he also gets more at-bats as the season goes forward. On Friday night, Goldschmidt went 4-for-5 with three runs, three home runs, five RBI and a walk. His average exit velocity with all five batted ball events, 105.88 MPH with a 15.2 degree launch angle. Mercy.

Trying to keep pace with Goldschmidt, Christian Yelich homered for the second straight game. It appears he’s picking up where he left off after a scorching second half last year. Ryan Braun retooled his swing this off-season in an effort to produce more fly balls. Braun hit his first home run, a three run shot, last night. So far, so good:


Both Domingo Santana and Khris Davis hit their third home runs of the season. Each hitter will benefit from playing in the American League West due to depleted rotations. While Davis went in the third round of most drafts, Santana’s hot start could propel him towards a repeat of 2017 when he hit 30 home runs in 151 games.

While defense may not be a calling card for Yandy Díaz , if he can get more lift with his swing, he owns power. Diaz homered off of Gerrit Cole with a 17 degree launch angle and a 112.2 MPH exit velocity.

Friday’s only smash and dash belonged to Mallex Smith who went 1-for-3 with the home run, a walk and his first stolen base. He will hit lead-off against right-handed pitching but drops in the order versus southpaws. Omar Narváez also hit his first home run and scored two runs. He’s a sneaky good second catcher in fantasy due to his ability to hit line drives and for average.

A.J. Pollock missed the party going hitless in the Dodgers Opening Day barrage, but he went 4-for-6 with two runs, a double, home run, three RBI and a walk in last night’s extra inning lost.


Starting Pitchers: A mixed bag on Friday night

Two losing pitchers led the way in swinging strikes generated. Matt Boyd recorded 19 swinging strikes of his 85 pitches with 14 called strikes as well. He finished with 10 strikeouts but allowed three earned runs in five innings in Toronto. Gerrit Cole also took the loss in Tampa Bay despite producing 20 swinging strikes and 14 called with his 101 pitches. Cole yielded five hits, four runs (one earned) and zero walks. Here’s more highlights from Friday night:

  • Matt Shoemaker - 87 pitches, 15 swinging strikes, 12 called. Shoemaker not only recorded the win, he lasted seven innings after not getting past the sixth last year. It’s the Tigers, but Shoemaker did get eight swinging strikes with his split-finger fastball.

  • German Márquez - 92 pitches, 14 swinging strikes, 15 called. After walking the lead-off batter, Marquez settled in with better command of his fastball. He owns a filthy slider which produced seven swinging strikes on its own.

  • Trevor Richards - 81 pitches, 10 swinging strikes, 12 called. Richards really ramped up his slider usage (23 pitches) and change-up (28 pitches) compared to only 30 fastballs. He did get seven swinging strikes with the change.

  • Marco Estrada - 77 pitches, nine swinging strikes, 13 called. Estrada sets up well as a home stream giving up only two hits and two walks with three strikeouts against the Angels. He generated five swinging strikes with his change-up.

  • Joey Lucchesi - 86 pitches, 13 swinging strikes, 18 called. Lucchesi leaned heavily on his slider (47) and curve (32) only using his fastball seven times. Yes, Lucchesi did induce five swinging strikes with the slider and eight with the curve, but will he stay healthy if this trend continues? It worked for Patrick Corbin last year, so stay tuned.


What To Watch For Saturday

A full slate of games with less aces on the mound could mean more home runs leaving the yard. Noah Syndergaard with face Stephen Strasburg in a match-up of oft-injured fantasy ace types who never seem to fulfill expectations. Trevor Bauer will try to right the ship against the Twins and how his new change-up works will be under the microscope. Irony never escapes baseball and features Yu Darvish making his season debut in Texas against his former team.

With a right-handed pitcher on the mound, will Boston return Rafael Devers to third in the lineup and will Mitch Moreland start? Last, track the news on Hunter Strickland as the day progresses. Seattle’s ninth inning could be murky going forward.


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