We just made it through the first weekend of the 2022 MLB season and fantasy baseball owners are probably left with more questions than they are answers. Especially after looking at what was sitting there on Sunday night's fantasy baseball waiver wire. How long will MLB managers baby their starting pitchers? How many MLB teams are using the dreaded fantasy baseball closer by committee? With 29 total steals over the first four days, will stolen bases be on the rise this year? Is there anyone on the fantasy baseball waiver who can help? While we’d like to provide you with immediate answers, we, unfortunately, cannot. The sample size just isn’t enough. It’s not like we can change the 2022 fantasy baseball rankings based on four days of games. But what we can do is keep you up to date with all the latest happenings around fantasy baseball and see if we can’t come up with at least some of the answers we need.

Let’s take a look at how our first MLB weekend finished up.



2022 Fantasy Baseball Highlights


Byron Buxton Hits Two Home Runs to Lead Minnesota Twins to Victory



Here we go again, everyone. As Yogi Berra used to say, “it’s deja vu all over again.” With two home runs on Sunday, Buxton led the Twins to a 10-4 rout of the Seattle Mariners and the oft-injured outfielder already leads the major leagues with three home runs over just three games. If you’re a long-time Fantasy Alarm subscriber, you know exactly what I’m about to say. If you’re new to fantasy baseball, welcome to the biggest sucker bet in the world. Start. Shopping. Him. Now. This is exactly how last year started and over the course of the first month of the season, while Buxton was batting .426 with eight home runs and 14 RBI, I was standing on a soapbox calling for fantasy owners to trade him before he got hurt. His value would never be as high as it was then and they could easily reel in a sucker to pay a king’s ransom. People scoffed and told me I was crazy. Well, Buxton went on to play a whopping 14 games from May through August and those who held onto him, or worse – traded FOR him, were left holding the bag like a bunch of idiots. Don’t let that be you this season. You don’t have to deal him today, but you should definitely start shopping him now before the first hiccup arrives. Over seven seasons – ok, six if you want to ignore the shortened 2020 season – Buxton has played in over 100 games just once. Seriously. Once. Don’t be that sucker who insists that this is the year because you have absolutely no data to prove your side of the argument. My side? I just proved it. Start the trade negotiations, raise your price with every strong game he plays here in April, and someone will give in. Happens all the time.

José Ramírez Helps Cleveland Guardians Avoid the Sweep



There I always going to be some level of concern when a player signs a big contract extension right before the season starts. You figure, if he’s playing for a contract, he’s got plenty of incentive to have a big year, but if he signs, well, what’s keeping the pressure on him? Ramirez obviously doesn’t care as Sunday’s three-hit day, including his first home run of the 2022 MLB season, gives him hits in all three games this season and an outstanding start to the season. Those who snagged Ramirez early in their fantasy baseball drafts are being rewarded immediately with a .417/.462/.833 slash line that comes with two doubles, the home run and four RBI. He’ll start swiping some bases too, so not to worry. You got yourself the complete package.

Matt Olson Has Early Edge Over Freddie Freeman



We don’t know of any behind-the-scenes- relationship between the two first basemen, but they will forever be linked by comparison throughout the 2022 MLB season. Atlanta Braves fans went nuts over the club’s easy dismissal of Freeman and while they have tried to embrace Olson since the day he arrived, you know there are still some hurt feelings in Atlanta. Or are there? Olson smacked his first home run of the season Sunday and now has eight hits, including two doubles, over just 14 at-bats. Freeman, on the other hand, is struggling right out of the gate with a .167 average and no extra-base hits as the Los Angeles Dodgers new first baseman. And that was IN Colorado. Yes, it’s way too early to tell, but we’ve been talking about it for a while now. Olson is younger, he’s the better defender and for the time being, is the better hitter. Will Freeman overtake him in the batting average department? Probably. But Olson has more power, so you tell me what’s better for fantasy baseball purposes.

The Cody Bellinger Watch



So many people have been asking about what to do with Bellinger as the two hits he had in Sunday’s game were his first hits in 11 at-bats this season. He’s struck out three times and walked once but managed to go 2-for-3 on Sunday and is trying to build some momentum. Of course, in this era where exit-velocity off the bat seems to be everything, his 83.9 mph and 61.4 mph exit-velocities are not impressing anyone. Maybe these are just the first steps back towards redemption, but be careful not to put too much stock in a couple of weak hits in Colorado.



Fantasy Baseball Closers


Is Jake Diekman the Boston Red Sox New Closer?



While we would love to say yes after watching Diekman strike out the side against the New York Yankees on Sunday night, we cannot. When Boston manager Alex Cora was on the Fantasy Alarm Show on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio a few weeks ago, he indicated that he would like to give the job back to Matt Barnes, but also said the 31-year-old righty needs to earn his way back into the role. In the meantime, he is going to use the dreaded closer-by-committee, an approach no fantasy baseball player enjoys. Barnes, for the record, was unavailable due to a back issue and Cora used two of his other options, Matt Strahm and Hansel Robles, in the seventh and eighth to keep the Yankees at bay. That left Diekman to handle the ninth with a very strikeout-prone middle of the order in Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge and Joey Gallo coming to the plate. It is very possible Diekman gets another opportunity to close out games, but with the Red Sox heading to Detroit for a Monday matinee, Cora may have to turn elsewhere for the night. Tomorrow, however, is always another day. 

Dominic Leone to Join the San Francisco Giants Closer Committee?



Both Jake McGee and Camilo Doval pitched Friday and Saturday, so maybe Giants manager Gabe Kapler just wanted to rest both of them and that’s why Leone got the save opportunity Sunday night. Or, maybe this closer-by-committee in San Francisco is going to be something that haunts fantasy baseball players all year. Kapler announced McGee as his closer two weeks ago and then, on Giants Opening Day 2022, he puts the lefty in for the eighth and uses Doval to close out the ninth. That backfired on him and yet, he still went with McGee in the seventh in a losing effort on Saturday and sent Doval in for the eighth and ninth innings. Neither has been lights out, so when he turned to Leone in the ninth on Sunday, no one flinched. Leone threw a perfect inning with two strikeouts and could find his way into this early-season mix. We don’t want to dismiss what Kapler said two weeks ago, but clearly, things have changed a bit between then and now. Hopefully you didn’t break the FAAB bank on Leone, because this situation is as murky as ever.

Tanner Rainey Earns First Save of the Season for the Washington Nationals



About a week before the season opened, Nationals manager Dave Martinez said that, if he had to make the decision, he would lean towards Kyle Finnegan as his closer. Rainey was certainly going to be considered as part of the mix, but we should have known we can’t trust what is being said until the games actually count. And when the Nationals actually found themselves in a situation where they just might be able to grab a win, it was Finnegan in the “high-leverage” eighth inning and Rainey was leaned on to close. Not something to be overly-concerned with as we don’t expect the Nationals to be in too many save opportunities, but this is another instance where the committee is in full-effect and chasing saves in this bullpen is not going to prove fruitful by year end. Consider the two of them in a shared role for now and watch how it sorts out over the next few weeks.



MLB Rookies


Cincinnati Reds Rookie Hurler Hunter Greene Shines in MLB Debut



We were incredibly excited when the Reds announced that Greene, the 22-year-old flamethrower known only to his mother as Christian, was going to be their No. 4 starter and after watching him in his debut, that excitement can get turned up a notch. He faced just 10 batters over the first three innings and struck out six of them while walking just one. He routinely hit triple-digits on the gun with his fastball and looked very much the part of a future ace. The Braves got to him a little more overt he next two innings, but not enough to spoil the debut or cost him the win. We are going to enjoy watching this kid blossom all year as he looks to have tremendous command over his secondary offerings and should be able to give us at least 120 innings. We’ll have to worry about the Reds packing it in for the year and sparing the arms, but that’s not going to be until much later in the season. For now, take what you can get and we can discuss selling high in a couple of months.

Bobby Witt Jr. Plates a Pair of Runs in Loss to Guardians



We’re all big fans of the Kansas City Royals rookie third baseman, and while the start to the season hasn’t been completely electric, it’s certainly had its shining moments. After producing the game-winning hit on Royals Opening Day 2022, Witt went hitless in his second game, but came back to plate two more runs in an otherwise embarrassing loss. Like all rookies, Witt will endure his fair share of ups and downs, but with two doubles and three RBI over the first three games, we are not worried about this kid at all. He’s going to be a superstar.

Seiya Suzuki Paying Off for the Chicago Cubs



The Cubs paid a $15 million posting fee to the Hiroshima Carp just to sit down and negotiate with the player. They then agreed to a five-year $85 million deal with also included a $5 million signing bonus. And now, more than $100 million later, Suzuki is proving the Cubs right with each and every plate appearance. Sunday was Suzuki’s first home run of the regular season and he is now batting .375 with a pair of runs scored and six RBI. He’s also walked four times in 12 plate appearances and has shown a real strong eye at the plate. We knew this before he came to the U.S., but there are always questions regarding how the power and plate discipline will translate. So far, so good and will likely be a leading candidate for the NL Rookie of the Year all season long.

Another Three-Hit Day for Houston Astros Shortstop Jeremy Peña



The Astros have now played four games and their rookie shortstop already has two three-hit games. OK, so he went hitless in the other two games, but this kid is making everyone in Houston forget about Carlos Correa. After another solid effort, Pena is slashing .375/.412/.688 with two doubles, two runs scored and one RBI. He is likely to stay near the bottom of the lineup which does hurt the value in the long run, but considering what you paid for him in fantasy baseball drafts, everything he gives you is likely to be gravy.



MLB Injuries 


San Diego Padres to Place Blake Snell on the 10-Day IL



Pretty big bummer for those who invested in Snell, hoping to see a bounce-back season for the 29-year-old lefty. Snell was a late scratch from his Sunday start due to left adductor tightness, the same issue that he battled late in the 2021 season. Manager Bob Melvin tried to downplay the issue, saying it wasn’t as serious this time around, but we won’t know anything until he gets his time off and returns to the mound to throw. On a positive note, it does sound as if MacKenzie Gore will get the opportunity to make his debut this Friday against the Braves. Gore should be worth a streaming effort this week, but be careful as we’ve seen almost every starter get babied his first time out. 

X-Rays Negative on Jordan Montgomery’s Knee



The New York Yankees got a scare on Sunday when Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts drilled a pitch right back up the middle in the first inning that struck Montgomery in the leg right around the knee area. They breathed a sigh of relief when the lefty opted to stay in the game, but by the fourth inning, the pain and swelling became too much to bear. He was sent for tests which came back negative and both he and team officials expect him to make his next start Friday against the Orioles. If anything on that front changes, we’ll keep you posted.

X-Rays Negative on Garrett Cooper’s Wrist



Some more good news from radiology as there were no fractures found in Cooper’s wrist after he was hit on the hand with a pitch in the fourth inning. They’re calling it a left wrist contusion and it sounds like Cooper should avoid an IL stint, but you can probably expect him to miss a couple of days while he heals. He’s still nothing more than bench depth in a 12-team mixed league, but at least you’re not going to lose him for any real length of time.

Tampa Bay Rays Expect Ryan Yarbrough to Land on 10-Day IL



It doesn’t sound like it’s going to be a huge deal or a long-term absence, but the Rays lefty is dealing with a minor groin issue and the team is expected to place him on the 10-day IL before their next game. The team is downplaying the injury, but they also haven’t said anything about when they expect him to return. If you’re in need of a starter to stream in this week, 24-year-old Tommy Romero will be recalled following his 3.2 scoreless frames he just threw at Triple-A Durham. Romero is lining up to face the Oakland Athletics which should give him immediate value, especially if you play in a head-to-head points league.



Monday’s MLB Best Bets



Many of you have asked me where to find my MLB best bets this year now that Wager Alarm is no more and Fantasy Alarm is now associated with Pickswise. For now, I am not contributing over there as anything but a guest on their show Let’s Bet It, so I have decided to post them over here in the Round-Up as a way for you to preview the day’s MLB slate. 

Losing two of three to the New York Yankees isn’t exactly how the Boston Red Sox wanted to open the season and it doesn’t get any easier for them as they played Sunday night and immediately had to travel to Detroit for a 5pm ET start time. Shortstop Trevor Story is dealing with an illness and starter Michael Wacha has already looked like the punching bag we are used to, after allowing four home runs and posting a 6.60 ERA over four spring appearances. They’ll get back on the horse Tuesday, but for today, I like the home team that slept in their own beds last night.

Pick: Tigers ML (+105 on DK Sportsbook)

Double Down: Tigers Run Line +1.5 (-150 on BetMGM)



I’ve been torn on the nine-run total in the Yankees/Blue Jays game as the Jays have plated 20 runs through their first series and New York has some hot hitters in Anthony Rizzo and Giancarlo Stanton right now. However, I’m a huge fan of Jays starter Alek Manoah and I’m more worried about the Yankees over-worked bullpen than I am about Jameson Taillon making his season debut. So as a compromise, I’ll turn to a “first 5 innings” bet on the total and lean towards the starters in this one.

Pick: Blue Jays/Yankees First 5 Innings UNDER 5 runs (-120 on DK Sportsbook)

I’ll have more as the season rolls on and we have more current data to work with, so stay tuned here every Monday through Friday for my picks.



Related Articles: