Are you ready for some 2022 fantasy baseball? We are. The MLB pages here at Fantasy Alarm have been rich with information as we move through all the action of MLB spring training and gear up for the regular season. We’ve got updates all over the place, from our 2022 fantasy baseball rankings to our fantasy baseball closer grid. We’ve got emerging fantasy baseball sleepers at each position popping up throughout the week as well as potential busts, players to avoid and, of course, fantasy baseball draft strategy tips to take with you into your draft room.
There’s excitement in the air and we’ve all got baseball fever, so let’s check in on all the action from the last 24 hours and see what more we can learn for our upcoming fantasy baseball drafts.
MLB Spring Training Updates:
Pittsburgh Pirates Looking to Platoon David Bednar and Chris Stratton for Saves
Disappointing to say the least, but not too far off what we witnessed last season after the Pirates traded away Richard Rodríguez. Bednar and Stratton were the top two candidates to serve as the Pirates closer late last season, though Bednar did suffer an oblique injury, and manager Derek Shelton opted to play the match-ups rather than turn to one guy in the ninth. Now, walking into 2022, he claims that he doesn’t want any egos in his bullpen and designating once closer will do just that. Yeah, you can actually hear my eyes roll, can’t you? These are ballplayers, Derek, not little snowflakes you’re going to hurt by naming a closer. But whatever. It’s your dumb decision and those of us in fantasy will just have to work around it. Bednar is clearly the better reliever of the two and has the mental make-up to handle the work in the ninth. Stratton has only been in the mix for saves, but has never been given the reins to the ninth and that’s for good reason. We’ll back off seeking out Bednar in drafts for the time being, but keep a watchful eye on the situation, Cream always rises to the top. Even if it’s in Pittsburgh.
Colorado Rockies Bud Black Says He Will Eventually Name a Closer
Always nice to see some bullpens start to take shape, even if it’s just a little bit. By the time the season starts up next week, we will hopefully have more clarity, but for now we’ve got a three-man race for saves between Alex Colomé, Carlos Estévez and Daniel Bard. All three have worked as a ninth-inning closer before, so it’s going to come down to who Black favors more in the high-leverage seventh and eighth-inning situations. The lean right now is Colome, whom the Rockies brought in following the MLB lockout, with Estevez and Bard not too far behind. If you are drafting now, add Colome late and see what happens. Few people have been drafting Estevez and no one has been adding Bard, so after Colome, you can probably leave the Rockies until waivers. Hopefully, you won’t have to.
Julio Rodríguez Dominates at the Plate but Struggles for Opening Day Roster Spot with Seattle Mariners
It was another strong day at the plate for Mariners rookie Julio Rodríguez. With an RBI-double, a single, a walk and a stolen base, Rodriguez is now slashing .316/.389/.579 this spring and looks ready to attack big-league pitching this season. However, the 21-year-old still has some roadblocks in front of him as the trade for left fielder Jesse Winker gives the Mariners a full house in the outfield. Jarred Kelenic and Mitch Haniger will occupy center and right field respectively while Kyle Lewis, Dylan Moore and even catcher Luis Torrens handle the work at DH. As great a prospect as Rodriguez is, we were warned by President of Baseball Operations Jerry Dipoto on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio that we could be waiting a little longer for Rodriguez to emerge. It’s not about service time, though, which is a relief. You’d like to see Rodriguez join the big club at some point, but there are still a few hurdles.
Excitement Building for the Return of Noah Syndergaard
The mighty Thor was back in action Monday for the Los Angeles Angels as he yielded one unearned run over 3.1 innings of solid work. This was his Cactus League debut, but h had already thrown an exhibition game against the Dodgers on Sunday so it wasn’t the first time he faced live hitters. Jim Bowden said he really liked what he saw from Syndergaard yesterday and indicated he could be a solid late-round addition, but be careful here. We’ve seen Thor pitch well in rehab starts before only to struggle in games while working his way back from an injury and given that so few players return from thoracic outlet surgery, you don’t want to get too overexcited here.
Tampa Bay Rays Bullpen Loses Pete Fairbanks
Don’t worry, everyone, the fantasy baseball closer grid has already been updated. We knew Andrew Kittredge was going to be the favorite of this closer-by-committee in Tampa, but now more so than ever. Fairbanks injured his right lat Sunday and an MRI on Monday revealed the bad news. He’ll be shut down for at least six weeks and, according to reports, could be out for several months. If you’re drafting today, Kittredge is your guy, though J.P. Feyereisen should find his way into the mix as well. Beyond that, we’ll have to see who manager Kevin Cash starts favoring. If it remains a two-man committee, we believe Kittredge will outshine and eventually just be given the job, but we don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves as Cash is notorious for his mixing and matching.
Tampa Bay Rays OF Kevin Kiermaier Believes He’ll Be Ready for Opening Day
While we would like to think fantasy baseball players from over the years know well enough to avoid Kiermaier in drafts, there are still a fair amount who believe can move the needle for their teams. Once a desired power/speed combo capable of hitting 15 home runs and stealing 20 bases, Kiermaier has spent his entire career working his way back from the injured list. Now 31-years old, he still struggles against left-handed pitching and will likely stay in some form of platoon whether he’s healthy or not. Outside of some of your deeper formats, you should not be lured in by potential he will never reach.
San Francisco Giants OF LaMonte Wade Jr. Suffers Knee Injury
We’re still waiting for some test results to determine the severity of the injury, but it looks like Wade could miss at least the next few days after pulling up lame running the bases on Monday. He doubled to lead off the game, but when he came around to score, he seemed to hobble past home plate and limped to the dugout. Austin Slater seems like the guy who could benefit the most should Wade miss any extended time, but don’t go grabbing him until we get final diagnosis.
Evan Longoria to Undergo Surgery for Torn Ligament
The San Francisco Giants received some bad news when they learned their third baseman, Evan Longoria, was now going to need surgery to repair a torn ligament in his finger, an injury he actually suffered late last season. He’s been out of action throughout the spring, but for whatever reason, they’ve finally decided that surgery is the answer. People will blame the MLB lockout, but come on, we’ve known about this injury for how long? You’re telling me we couldn’t see this coming after the Giants playoff run was over? This is bad form all around and now the Giants are going to have to patch up their hot corner with the likes of Wilmer Flores, Mauricio Dubón, Alex Blandino and a rag-tag group of ham-and-eggers? Garbage. Longoria was no longer much of a target in fantasy leagues, but for a team that won 107 games and the division last year, this is careless.
San Francisco Giants INF Tommy La Stella to Make 2022 Cactus League Debut on Tuesday
Limited to just 76 games last year due to a variety of injuries, La Stella is trying to make his way back from an Achilles surgery he underwent last October. The Giants still believe he can be ready for Opening Day, but playing in just a week’s worth of games as a designated hitter may not be enough just yet. Once healthy, he should see the majority of playing time at second base, though his days of any sort of meaningful fantasy production are likely behind him. If he can keep the batting average and OBP up, he could be a help in that department, but without much from the counting stats, it’s going to be single-category help, at best.
MLB Free Agency:
Minnesota Twins Ink Veteran Righthander Chris Archer to One-Year Deal
From a reality baseball standpoint, this signing isn’t terrible. Archer has been plagued by injuries over the past few seasons, but he’s a great clubhouse guy and could contribute as a starter on some level. Exactly what, we’ll have to see as he’s joining the team late here. From a fantasy standpoint, you can avoid him completely. He’s got strikeout upside but genuinely needs more than just a couple of good starts before he earns anyone’s trust. Even if you miss a good start or two when he eventually takes the mound, remember, all it takes is for one 2.1 inning, seven earned run appearance to ruin your whole day…and your ratios. Tread VERY lightly here.
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