With less than two weeks until opening day, the injuries are beginning to pile up, with some examples from this weekend including Eury Perez (elbow), TJ Friedl (wrist), Danny Jansen (wrist) and Joshua Lowe (oblique).

Here's the latest on them and several others who we already knew were injured:

  • Eury Perez's situation is the most serious. He went from having just a nagging fingernail issue to elbow soreness that requires a full battery of testing. The Marlins haven't offered much to downplay the severity, and you can read into that however you want. If I'm drafting before we have an actual diagnosis, I'm not taking him until the draft reaches the point where I'd halfway expect to drop anyone I took there, which is to say late.
  • TJ Friedl fractured his wrist while attempting a diving catch Saturday. He's in a soft cast for now and will be re-evaluated in 3-4 weeks, but his actual timeline for returning I would guess is twice that. So we're talking about him missing one-fourth or potentially even one-third of the season, during which time Spencer Steer and/or Jonathan India have a chance to get more comfortable in the outfield alongside Will Benson and Jake Fraley. Stock up for all of them since they're basically everyday players now (with the DH spot also being available). Benson and Fraley are likely to sit against certain left-handers still, but they'll have to play against some lefties as well. Meanwhile, my bust concerns for Steer are effectively out the window. As for Friedl, he's probably back in center field whenever he returns, but I wouldn't draft him inside the top 250 now.
  • Blue Jays catcher Danny Jansen also has a fracture in his wrist, but his is the tiny pisiform bone, which shouldn't need as long to heal. Still, he's expected to be shut down for two weeks with the injury, which will allow Alejandro Kirk to get a head start behind the plate. Kirk is the better defender and the higher-upside hitter, thanks in large part to his high contact rate, and has a chance to break free of the timeshare now. He's still probably not worth pursuing in one-catcher leagues, given the depth of the position, but he has top-10 potential.
  • Josh Lowe, who was making good progress in his recovery from an inflamed hip, now has an oblique strain on the opposite side of his body and is certain to begin the year on the IL. Manager Kevin Cash describes the strain as "very mild, minor," and Lowe is only expected to halt baseball activities for a week or so. He could return at some point in April and should still be drafted in the top 150, given his ability to impact all categories at the weak outfield position. Richard Palacios is likely to make the roster now and has some low-end appeal, but of greater interest for Fantasy is that Jonathan Aranda might have an even firmer hold on the DH spot. He remains a tremendous value.
  • We have an actual diagnosis for Gerrit Cole's elbow finally. He has nerve inflammation (a pinched nerve, basically) with edema (fluid buildup), and the Yankees sound relieved about it. "Best-case scenario, he wouldn't be dealing with anything, right?" said Yankees GM Brian Cashman. "But I guess this is the second-best case." Indeed, the injury doesn't sound particularly serious, but the timetable for recovery can vary widely. Right now, the Yankees plan to have Cole rest for 3-4 weeks before ramping up again. There's still a chance the timetable could moved back even though major surgery appears to be off the table, but if Cole is available around Pick 150, I'm probably taking him.
  • The Yankees remain dodgy about outfielder Aaron Judge, who's dealing with either an abdominal or oblique injury. "All I'll say is we're feeling pretty good," Judge said. "The MRIs came back clean. I think a lot of it was precautionary; no need to risk stuff in spring training." Judge has said he would "definitely" be in the lineup if it wasn't spring training, and he did some hitting Sunday. He might slip to early Round 2 in your draft, but he shouldn't slip any further than that.
  • Finally, Gavin Williams, who hurt his elbow during a weighted ball workout about a week ago, will begin the season on the IL after all but should resume throwing in a matter of days and could have only minimal stay. The MRI came back clean. I've moved him back about 30 spots in my rankings with this news, but I wouldn't be especially hesitant to draft him.

All right, let's talk about some other things.

It's Merrill by merit

Yes, Jackson Merrill has indeed made the Padres' opening day roster, and the expectation is that he'll serve as the team's center fielder to begin the year. The 20-year-old, who came up as a shortstop, has sparkled in all phases of the game this spring, having hit .351 (13 for 37) with two homers, two steals and only three strikeouts by the time the Padres departed for their season-opening series in South Korea. The adjustment may prove more difficult once the regular season begins, given his youth and inexperience, but I rank him just outside my top 200 now. Since word of the Padres' decision broke, he has been the 265th player drafted in NFBC leagues, on average.

Merrill isn't the only rookie to crack the Padres' starting lineup. Graham Pauley, who took the prospect world by surprise last year with a .308 batting average 23 homers, 22 steals and .931 OPS between three stops, has made the team and is expected to play some third base while Manny Machado eases back into the position following elbow surgery. How regularly Pauley will play is in question still, and his scouting grades don't so much back up his performance last year. Still, he was batting .314 (11 for 35) with one homer and one steal when the Padres left for South Korea and is deserving of late-round consideration in leagues where more than 300 players are rostered.

One last note on the Padres lineup: Tommy Pham is reportedly nearing a deal with them. He would presumably fill their opening in left field, though not until they're back in the States, of course.

Good? They're grrrrreat!

You may not have thought the Tigers rotation had much to offer behind Tarik Skubal and Kenta Maeda, but under the watchful eye of Chris Fetter, who is considered a rising star among pitching coaches, some former top prospects are showing signs of meeting their potential finally.

Free agent signing Jack Flaherty has of course already been a success in the majors, but he hasn't been a significant Fantasy asset since 2019, getting derailed initially by injuries and then struggling to regain his form. According to, though, his fastball has averaged 94-95 mph in his past three starts, which is similar to that 2019 season. His last outing Wednesday against the Phillies was particularly impressive. He allowed just one hit in four shutout innings, striking out five and walking none. "He was great," manager A.J. Hinch said. "He did everything from show his power and strength to his ability to pitch, and change speeds with both breaking balls. I loved everything about his outing today."

Meanwhile, Casey Mize, who was the top overall pick in the 2018 draft, has also seen his velocity play up as he makes his way back from Tommy John surgery. He averaged 95.7 mph on his fastball Thursday against the Yankees, and allowed no runs while striking out four across four innings. That's 2 mph harder than during his previous stints in majors. Better yet, his slider is emerging as a swing-and-miss pitch, according to, generating three whiffs on seven swings. "I felt like it was probably my best secondary offering today," Mize said after the game. "That's a huge step forward for me."

Matt Manning, himself a former first-round pick, has struck out 15 while allowing just five hits in 12 innings this spring. Also, Reese Olson, who's coming off a successful rookie season, has impressed in his last three spring starts, allowing two earned runs on six hits with 11 strikeouts and one walk in 11 innings.

Skubal, Maeda and Flaherty are locks for the starting rotation, which means there isn't even room for all of Mize, Manning and Olson. Of them, I'd say Olson is the only draftable one in standard Fantasy leagues, but Mize and Manning both have the potential to develop into more.

Kopech to close?

After a rough season in the starting role and continued struggles this spring, Michael Kopech is moving back to the bullpen for the White Sox, and all parties seem open to making him the closer, according to "Sure, I'm interested in it. I never really had that role," said Kopech. "But I think right now I have to work on being consistent before we talk about a role of that importance."

It sounds like the White Sox staff is on the same page -- meaning yes, he could be the closer, but only if he proves reliable enough first.

"It's just a nice opportunity," pitching coach Ethan Katz said. "You don't know what our bullpen is going to shake out to be and we don't necessarily have a closer. It doesn't mean that could be him. It could not be him, we don't know, but getting that aggressive approach and that mindset could be a really good thing."

For now, treat Kopech as a stash in leagues where save sources are scarce.

Crochet has a job all but sewn up

Between Dylan Cease being traded to the Padres and Michael Kopech moving to the bullpen, the White Sox rotation just got two new openings, and Garrett Crochet, himself a former reliever, seems all but certain to fill one. The left-hander has yet to allow a run in nine innings this spring, striking out 12 and walking none. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, he's averaging 98.4 mph on his fastball with improved spin rates.

"I had a good offseason," Crochet said. "Changed a couple of mechanical things, nothing crazy. But I'm in a good spot."

The upside is enticing for Fantasy and rightfully is beginning to earn Crochet late-round looks, but he still has yet to throw more than three innings in a game and figures to have his workload closely monitored. "He's had [73] innings in three years," pitching coach Ethan Katz said, "so everything we do, we've just got to be mindful. See how he's feeling, make sure that he's able to bounce back OK."

Gil's turn

With Gerrit Cole ailing, Luis Gil has emerged as a serious rotation candidate for the Yankees. His latest outing Saturday against the Blue Jays saw him strike out four over 3 1/3 scoreless innings, and in his prior outing, he struck eight over 3 2/3 scoreless innings. The 25-year-old, whose name is pronounced "heel," made a strong impression on the Yankees in 2021 before injuries set him back, and it sounds like he has more to go with his 99 mph fastball now.

"Really good to see him having confidence to be able to throw his secondary stuff for strikes, which allows his heater, which is elite, to play up," manager Aaron Boone told the New York Post after Saturday's game. 

Gil's changeup in particular has stood out, according to the New York Daily News. "We made it a point to work on that pitch," Gil said. "If you remember, going back to when I debuted, I was really a two-pitch pitcher. It was important for me to work on the third pitch. I wanted to really get it to a spot where I felt comfortable using it, and now we're able to use it."

Gil's move into the rotation isn't a foregone conclusion, but his candidacy makes him worth considering in deeper Fantasy leagues, with the upside to help in shallower ones as well.

Why not Wyatt?

Rangers GM Chris Young told The Dallas Morning News over the weekend that outfield prospect Wyatt Langford has done "everything he can" to make the team -- which, notably, doesn't confirm that he's actually made the team. But I would be surprised at this point if he doesn't, despite the Rangers not having an opening in their outfield, and I think he should be drafted among the top 25 outfielders (so in the Pick 80-100 range, depending how your draft is shaping up). Langford entered Monday batting .381 (16 for 42) with five homers.

Leclerc locks it up

Manager Bruce Bochy has seen what he needed from Jose Leclerc, saying there's a "strong possibility" he begins the year as the closer, according to Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News. Bochy handled Leclerc like an ace reliever during the team's march to a World Series championship last October, so his second-guessing the right-hander's role never made much sense. Free agent signing David Robertson remains the one viable alternative

Story time

Trevor Story went 2 for 4 with a home run and a double Sunday and has had a strong spring overall, batting .324 (11 for 34) with two homers and two steals. The 31-year-old hit only .203 (32 for 158) after returning from an elbow procedure last August, but as Ian Browne of puts it, he struggled to get his timing down against pitchers who were already in midseason form.

"I'm excited because I feel like I haven't put my full self out there in a couple of years, on offense and defense," Story said. "It kind of feels like my first year here being fully healthy and ready. I'm excited about that. I'm ready to show it."

Manager Alex Cora says Story is getting "better and better" at the plate.

"His mechanics are almost there," Cora said. "His takes are telling me a lot. He's not rushed into his takes or into his swing. It's a step in the right direction, and he's been working hard at it."

Story was a first-round fixture in Fantasy while with the Rockies from 2018-2021, offering power and speed at the shortstop position. The speed was as evident as ever last year. If the power stroke is returning, he could be a steal around Pick 175.

No stowing away Stowers

Kyle Stowers may have put to rest any thoughts of him beginning the year in the minors with a three-homer game Sunday, including two off Kenta Maeda and one off Reese Olson -- both viable major-leaguers, in other words. They're also both righties, which is notable because Stowers' other four home runs this spring came off left-handers. The 26-year-old bats left-handed and has gotten hardly any opportunities against left-handers in his previous stints in the big leagues.

Of course, it's not clear Stowers will get many opportunities against lefties or righties even if he makes the club. The Orioles already have a full outfield between Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins and Anthony Santander, with one of Ryan Mountcastle and Ryan O'Hearn figuring to occupy the DH spot. Still, if Stowers establishes himself as being ahead of Colton Cowser in the pecking order, then an injury to any one of those players could put him in the lineup. At the very least, he deserves some AL-only looks.

Suzuki's star turn

Seiya Suzuki's big game Saturday in which he homered twice and stole a base was a continuation of his final two months last season, when he hit .350 (65 for 186) with 12 homers and a 1.073 OPS. As Jordan Bastian of writes, the 29-year-old is out to prove it wasn't just a season-ending hot streak. What preceded that two-month tear was a brief mental break that allowed Suzuki to reset his approach to the game.

"It was just about creating a plan beforehand," Suzuki said via his interpreter, Toy Matsushita, "and making sure I complete those tasks every day. Prior, it was more of, I'd get to the field and I'd kind of decide at that point what I want to do."

Another adjustment that keyed Suzuki's turnaround was attacking strikes early in the count rather than falling behind.

"A big part of it is just using his eye and using his plate discipline to his advantage," hitting coach Dustin Kelly said. "Knowing that he can get to some pitches that were in the heart of the zone earlier in the count just really helped open up the aggressiveness."

Suzuki is one of my breakout picks for 2024, and these insights only bolster the case.

Quick hits

  • Bryce Harper is dealing with back stiffness that will sideline him for a fourth straight game on Monday, but opening day isn't thought to be in question. "I don't have any concern at all," manager Rob Thomson said.
  • Blue Jays ace Kevin Gausman still has a chance of slotting at end of rotation the first time through if he can build up to 60 pitches, according to
  • Kodai Senga, who will be delayed for the start of the season because of a shoulder strain, has had the start of his throwing program pushed back 7-10 days, according to The Athletic. At that point, he'll have an MRI "to ensure the proper healing and progression has taken place, that the inflammation has resolved," in the words of president of baseball operations David Stearns, and hopefully begin what will be a six-week buildup. Mid-May now seems like the best-case scenario for Senga's return to major-league action.
  • Carlos Rodon's fastball averaged 94.6 mph and peaked at 97.3 mph in his latest start Wednesday, according to, up from 93.2 and 94.8 in his previous start. He went on to allow just one run on one hit with no walks and three strikeouts across four innings. "Obviously there is room for improvement, but the velocity was there," Rodon said.
  • Tyler Wells made a strong case for joining the Orioles rotation Sunday against the Braves, allowing one run in 4 2/3 innings with six strikeouts and no walks. "Love the way Wells has thrown all spring," manager Brandon Hyde said. "He's just commanding the ball really well this spring, and the fastball's got good life to it." Wells, a command specialist with fly-ball tendencies that play well at Camden Yards, was arguably the Orioles' best pitcher in the first half last year before hitting a wall physically.
  • Though prospect Victor Scott is still in the mix to replace Tommy Edman (wrist) as the Cardinals center fielder, Dylan Carlson remains the favorite for the role and likely improved his chances with a big game Sunday, going 2 for 4 with a home run and a stolen base.
  • With the injury to Vaughn Grissom (groin), the Red Sox are considering using prospect Ceddanne Rafaela at second base, according to MassLive. "My preference is, if [Rafaela] makes the club, he plays the center," manager Alex Cora said. "The reason he's making the club is we do believe he can impact that position better than anyone else on this roster. But if we have to make adjustments based on that, if he's on the team, we'd probably do it."
  • After originally saying Jarred Kelenic would be the everyday left fielder, the Braves changed their tune after signing Adam Duvall last week, saying the two will platoon in left. It probably doesn't help that Kelenic is 3 for 42 this spring, though that's not the official stance. "It's about Adam Duvall," president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos said. "We're very excited about Jarred."
  • With the announcement that Josh Winckowski will begin the year in the bullpen, Tanner Houck is expected to join Garrett Whitlock at the back of the Red Sox rotation to begin the year. Houck may have clinched it with his performance Sunday, allowing two earned runs in 3 2/3 innings with one walk and four strikeouts. "Excellent," said manager Alex Cora. "I think he understands what he needs to do to go deeper into the games. He's in a great place. A much better place than last year at this time."
  • Blue Jays right-hander Bowden Francis lowered his spring ERA to 1.93 Thursday, allowing no earned runs in six innings against the Twins. The 27-year-old is the favorite for the fifth starter job and seems to excel at getting weak contact in the air. He had a 2.04 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 10.9 K/9 between the majors and minors last year, though all of his major-league appearances came in relief.
  • Right-hander Louie Varland may wind up being the Twins fifth starter with Anthony DeSclafani still on the mend from a sore elbow (thought DeSclafani did throw in a minor-league game Saturday). Varland threw four one-hit innings against the Cardinals on Wednesday, striking out four. Though vulnerable to the long ball, he had 9.6 K/9 between the majors and minors last year.
  • You could argue that Shota Imanaga has been even more impressive than Yoshinobu Yamamoto this spring. The left-hander struck out nine and walked none over 4 1/3 shutout innings against the Athletics Thursday. "The thing that's been interesting about Shota's starts so far is that the strikeouts have been really pretty high -- nobody's going to complain about the strikeouts," manager Craig Counsell said.
  • Zack Gelof, who's out to prove that his strong rookie showing was no fluke, is batting .357 (15 for 42) with four homers, though he has struck out 15 times in 46 plate appearances.
  • Shane Bieber, who worked with Driveline Baseball to regain velocity this offseason, has had back-to-back dominant starts, allowing a combined one run on four hits with 12 strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings.
  • Pirates outfielder Jack Suwinski has homered three times in his past four games. For the spring, he's batting .324 (11 for 34) with four homers and one steal.
  • After walking none in his first two starts, Joe Boyle has walked 12 in his last three, spanning 10 innings. The hard-throwing right-hander appears to have reverted to his old ways, having walked 7.2 per nine innings over his minor-league career.