Although the past weekend was a little light on total games played, there was no shortage of fantasy-relevant news items. Let’s break it all down.
Martinez leads Boston barrage
Although jumping to early season conclusions can be a dangerous game, we can safely say that J.D. Martinez is back. The slugger went deep three times in a Sunday win over Baltimore, which gives him five homers in just eight games played. Martinez has at least one hit in every game and at least one RBI in seven straight contests. A second-round pick in some 2020 drafts, the 33-year-old joins Nelson Cruz and Franmil Reyes as DH-types who were largely underrated in 2021 preseason rankings.
Beyond Martinez, the Red Sox lineup looks formidable overall. The club has scored at least six times in each of their past seven games, and boasts plenty of firepower with the likes of Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, Christian Vazquez and Alex Verdugo. Although pitching issues could ultimately cost Boston a postseason berth, they are a club to avoid when streaming starters.
Buxton breakout continues
The long awaited Byron Buxton breakout season may finally be here. After burning fantasy managers for several years, Buxton has already produced five homers and a 1.734 OPS One of the speediest players in baseball, he has a sky-high ceiling that could include a high homer total and plenty of steals. But the downside of Buxton remains, as he has a lengthy injury history and has been inconsistent throughout his career. Moving a hot player or selling high in a trade is one of the toughest things to do in fantasy sports, but that is exactly what I would do with Buxton right now. Keep in mind that this advice is coming from someone who is generally skeptical of the Twins center fielder, but I would be happy to swap him for an early-round pick who is off to a slow start.
Several unsettled bullpens found some direction over the weekend.
Emmanuel Clase picked up his second save in as many tries on Sunday. I’m close to moving this bullpen from a committee to settled with Clase as closer.
Cesar Valdez blew a save on Saturday. Lacking the skills to succeed in the ninth inning, Valdez could eventually hand his role to Tanner Scott.
Jake McGee picked up his fourth save on Saturday. Although it’s hard to believe, McGee is already in the second tier of stoppers.
Speaking of surprising closers, Mark Melancon leads the Majors with five saves. This is yet another lesson that as much as we chase skill profiles, managers often go with the guy who has the most ninth-inning experience.
Yimi Garcia earned his first 2021 save on Saturday and could be on the verge of supplanting closer Anthony Bass.
Alex Colome had an ugly blown save on Sunday (0.1 IP, 3 ER). This was Colome’s first blown save, but he could soon share chances with the likes of Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey and Hansel Robles.
On Saturday, Adam Ottavino gave up two runs in the seventh inning while Matt Barnes tossed a scoreless ninth. Barnes is starting to pull away from Ottavino in the closer competition.
Notable starting pitcher performances
The Trevor Rogers bandwagon is picking up steam. The emerging starter struck out 10 across six shutout innings in a win over the Mets on Saturday. Still available in nearly half of Yahoo! leagues, Rogers should be rostered everywhere.
Anthony DeSclafani has opened the season with two excellent starts after blanking the Rockies over six innings on Sunday. Beyond the obvious — DeSclafani is worth rostering in 12-team leagues — I want to note that the Rockies are a terrific streaming matchup with they are on the road.
Luke Weaver had one of Sunday’s best starts, allowing one hit with eight strikeouts over seven scoreless innings. As someone who once had plenty of potential, Weaver is a post-hype sleeper to keep an eye on.
Patrick Corbin returned from the IL and allowed six runs in 4.1 innings. Although it’s too early to drop Corbin, he should be benched in most leagues.
Zach Davies was hammered for seven runs in 1.2 innings, and to make matters worse his struggles came at the hands of the lowly Pirates. I’m not ready to bail on Davies, and I would keep him active for his next start.
The Steven Matz revival tour hit its second stop when he held the Angels to one run over six innings. The lefty has many times burned fantasy managers in recent years, but he owns a 13:4 K:BB ratio and should be rostered in 12-team leagues and some 10-team formats.
Tarik Skubal followed up a strong initial start by giving up six runs to Cleveland. Control issues and overall inconsistency will likely haunt the youngster all season.
Frankie Montas followed up an awful start by tossing six innings of one-run ball. Despite his 8.31 ERA, Montas should be rostered in every league.
Domingo German allowed four runs across four innings on Saturday before being optioned to the alternate site. The Yankees have the option of skipping German’s next start, and he could be back in the rotation the following week.
Christian Javier was optioned on Saturday. Off to a good start, the righty is simply a victim of having Minor League options during a time when the team can afford to skip one rotation spot. He should be back in a couple weeks.
Players to the IL
Tyler O’Neill (groin). Off to a poor start, O’Neill can be dropped in leagues of 12 teams or less.
Dexter Fowler (torn ACL). Juan Lagares looks like the immediate replacement, but this injury could hasten the timetable for giving prospect Jo Adell another chance.
Miguel Cabrera (biceps). Renato Nunez replaces Cabrera and should help those in 12-team leagues as a prominent power source.
Archie Bradley (oblique). Jose Alvarado becomes the next-in-line reliever should Hector Neris struggle in the closer’s role.
Other injury notes
Christian Yelich left his Sunday game with back soreness. He’s listed as day-to-day.
A groin injury kept Anthony Rendon out of the Sunday lineup. He is day-to-day.
Washington expects to get multiple regulars back from the Covid-IL on Monday, which may include Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber.
Adrian Morejon departed his Sunday start with a forearm/elbow. An exciting youngster, Morejon should nonetheless be dropped in all leagues.
Jorge Alfaro remains out of the lineup with a hamstring injury and could soon land on the IL.
Starters to Stream
Wade Miley @SF
Aaron Sanchez vs. CIN
Brady Singer vs. LAA
Alex Cobb @KC
Jake Odorizzi vs. DET
Griffin Canning @KC