Amidst a full slate of games on Sunday, defending National League Most Valuable Player Christian Yelich continued his strong start to the season. Yelich became the first defending MVP to homer during the first four games of the season, and the seventh all time to accomplish the feat. In the opening series, Yelich went 6-for-12 with six runs, eight RBI and four home runs. His weekend ended with a walk-off game winner against Cardinals closer Jordan Hicks helping Milwaukee take three of four games in the series.

Sunday’s highlights also included the debut of Chris Paddack , a huge day by Trea Turner and plenty of bullpen tidbits which will be explored in the Round Up.

Hitter Highlights: Turner Burns the Mets

Although the Tigers offense looked pretty inept this weekend in Toronto, Jeimer Candelario recorded five hits in six at-bats during an 11 inning marathon. Of course, as the lead-off hitter, he did not score a run which underscores the premise, but Candelario did drive in two runs among his five hits.

Rays outfielder Austin Meadows hit his second home run going 2-for-4 with three RBI. Meadows hit his home run off of southpaw Wade Miley , an important note about his development going forward.

A double smash and dash for Trea Turner . He hit two home runs, including a walk-off game winner against the Mets along with stealing his fourth base of the year. Turner finished with four RBI, owns a .385 average and 1.352 on-base plus slugging percentage. Perhaps fantasy owners were a year early taking him as high as third overall?

On the precipice of the first full week of baseball, Nelson Cruz could lose at-bats with the Twins visiting Philadelphia this coming weekend. Cruz did heat up with three hits including a double and his first home run of the season Sunday. Willians Astudillo went 2-for-2 with two RBI, a sacrifice fly and reached on a hit-by-pitch. La Tortuga and the Hare (Byron Buxton ) provided a nice one-two punch at the bottom of the lineup.

Yoán Moncada stayed hot with two more hits among his five at-bats. Moncada doubled and drove raising his on-base plus slugging to 1.269 percent.

When a player gets off to a hot start, it’s easy to notice. However, using a different approach can be an important factor to note. With this in mind, here’s a quote about Kyle Schwarber by his manager:

Schwarber enjoyed his visit to Texas hitting his second home run on Sunday and leaving town with a .417 batting average.

Of course everyone targeted Delino DeShields late for his power. His first hit of the year resulted in a grand slam and DeShields also stole a base for a grand smash and dash. Speaking of potential breakouts, if Nomar Mazara continues to increase his launch angle, look out. Overlooked boring veteran Asdrúbal Cabrera launched his second home run driving in three. He’s hitting .455 with a 1.553 on-base plus slugging percentage after opening weekend.

Yes, Oakland’s played more games than anyone other than Seattle, but Khris Davis continues his home run surge hitting his fourth on Sunday. He’s already drove in eight runs with a robust .750 slugging percentage.

Targeted as a second catcher with batting average upside, Omar Narváez hit his second home run driving in three on Sunday. If his line drive rate starts to translate to more power, he’s intriguing.

Our own fantasy general manager, Jim Bowden, called a Cody Bellinger resurgence this year. Bellinger’s responded with three more hits yesterday including his fourth home run in as many games.

Not only will Ketel Marte be a sleeper this week, but he went 2-for-4 with a triple and his first stolen base of the season. Arizona will face five southpaws this week. Marte slashed .321/.387/.584 versus them last year with 15 doubles, four triples and nine home runs in 212 plate appearances.

Starting Pitcher Highlights: A New Sheriff In Town

Making his major league debut, Chris Paddack , nicknamed “The Sheriff”, flashed his upside giving up one run on two hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. Paddack did record six swinging strikes with his change among his 11 in the game with 11 called strikes as well. His change finished with a 25 percent swinging strike rate.

As the season progresses, it will be determined if the Tigers and Blue Jays pitched well, or their offenses will be as weak as they displayed. Matt Moore fired seven shutout innings with increased velocity on his fastball. He generated 14 swinging strikes with 16 called of his 84 pitches. Rookie Trent Thornton opposed Moore for the Blue Jays and set a team record with eight strikeouts in his debut. Thornton produced 10 swinging strikes with 12 called during his five inning outing yielding only two hits.

Mired by walks and traffic last year, Sandy Alcantara fired an impressive eight shutout innings versus the Rockies at home. Alcantara recorded six strikeouts giving up only four hits and zero walks. He registered 13 swinging strikes and 14 called of his 81 pitches looking very efficient to open the year. Here’s some more pitching performances worth noting:

  • Jon Gray , Colorado - 75 pitches, 12 swinging strikes, 14 called. Gray took the loss and left early due to a cramp in his calf, but still racked up 10 strikeouts. He did allow three earned runs in 6.2 innings but it’s still an encouraging outing.

  • Trevor Williams , Pittsburgh - 72 pitches, 13 swinging strikes, 13 called. It’s so tough to evaluate a command pitcher like Williams. He surged in the second half last year and fired six shutout innings in Cincinnati giving up three hits and a walk with six strikeouts.

  • Yonny Chirinos , Tampa Bay - 88 pitches, 14 swinging strikes, 13 called. Shedding the opener, Chirinos made a traditional start and netted his first win with seven strong inning yielding only two hits, one earned run and striking out six against Houston.

  • Patrick Corbin , Washington - 94 pitches, 14 swinging strikes, 12 called. Corbin lost a win in his debut due to the bullpen struggles, but allowed seven hits, two earned runs and two walks with four strikeouts against the Mets.

  • Corbin Burnes , Milwaukee - 87 pitches, 18 swinging strikes, 19 called. Such an odd debut by Burnes who notched more swinging strikes on Sunday than any other starter, recorded his first nine outs via strikeout yet allowed four earned runs. He finished with 12 strikeouts in his debut with nine swinging strikes on his fastball and eight with his slider. If he gets more efficient, look out.

  • Frankie Montas , Oakland - 77 pitches, 10 swinging strikes, 14 called. Montas added a split-finger fastball fueling his first win of the year. Montas worked six innings giving up three hits and one earned run with six strikeouts.

  • Lucas Giolito , Chicago White Sox - 99 pitches, 15 swinging strikes, 21 called. Yes, Giolito carried a no-hitter until the seventh inning. He’s increased his fastball velocity, tweaked his delivery and arm angle resulting in eight strikeouts over 6.2 innings of work on Sunday. Definitely on the watch list.

Bullpen Notes: Mis-Givens in Baltimore

To the chagrin of Mychal Givens owners, he’s the owner of two holds and zero saves after two wins in the New York over the weekend. He initiated work in the eighth inning in both games. Yesterday, Givens threw 49 pitches over 1.2 innings giving up two hits, an earned run, two walks and a strikeout. Owners will overlook some ratio damage for a save, but unless things change, so does any value tied to Givens.

No one wanted Shane Greene or Sergio Romo , but Greene notched his second save giving up only a hit on Sunday. Romo fired a clean ninth after entering the game with two runners on and zero outs. José Alvarado saved games on back-to-back days and received Sunday off. Enter Diego Castillo as the handcuff and sometime potential fill-in for Tampa Bay. Castillo recorded his first career save working around a walk.

Just when it seemed like the Cardinals bullpen would settle in, Alex Reyes , Andrew Miller and Jordan Hicks all allowed at least an earned run in an eventual walk-off loss to the Brewers. Last, for those hoping to grab a cheap save or three from Seattle speculating on Cory Gearrin , he only lasted one-third of an inning on Sunday issuing three walks leading to an earned run. Chasen Bradford closed out the game giving up a walk with a strikeout. For the desperate, if Anthony Swarzak pitches well, he could take over the ninth soon with Hunter Strickland out up to two months with his lat injury. Here’s the rest of the saves in quick hits:

  • Sean Doolittle blew the save but nets the win working 1.2 innings allowing three hits and striking out two. If he does not get help in the bridge innings, he will burnout.

  • White Sox closer Alex Colomé fired a clean inning with a strikeout for his first save.

  • José Leclerc also garnered a win walking one and striking out one in 1.1 innings of work.

  • Blake Treinen notched his second save walking one on Sunday.

  • Saves leader Kirby Yates closed out his third save in a clean ninth with a strikeout.

  • Welcome to the party Kenley Jansen , he gets his first save in a clean outing with a strikeout.

What To Watch For

Welcome day baseball on Monday. Pittsburgh and Cleveland will host their home openers. Chris Archer will try to rebound from a rough 2018 with a full year with the Pirates. Will the Yankees use an opener or let Domingo Germán try to start against a struggling Tigers offense? Talented southpaw Caleb Smith will take the mound for the intriguing Marlins. There’s still tons of baseball on tap, breathe everyone.

Late morning update, the Yankees added Giancarlo Stanton to the injured list with a left biceps strain. Clint Frazier's been recalled from Triple-A to take his place. 

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