And just like that, the first week of the baseball season is in the books. Hopefully your whole team isn't on the injured list! It's a long season. Just because you might be suffering from injuries now, don't give up. Instead, just keep reading these and listen to the pod. Hopefully we can help you climb out of it.
Wednesday wasn't the most eventful day on the field, which is how we wound up with fringy starting pitchers as our standouts. For all three of Matthew Boyd, Nathan Eovaldi and Jake Junis, they've changed something with their pitch mix. While we're dealing with very limited sample sizes this time of year, pitch-mix changes are something I like to pay close attention to. Junis has added a cutter, Boyd has cut down his fastball usage, and Eovaldi is throwing more of a true slider. These are the types of tangible changes that can help a pitcher get to that next level. Outside of that, we have some very early Statcast trends for you and more!
Soroka shut down after nearing a return
Braves SP Mike Soroka was supposedly on track to rejoin the rotation at some point in April and all signs were positive after he closed out the spring by throwing two innings. Soroka has been recovering from an Achilles injury and the surgery he had on it last August. However, while building up to his 2021 debut, Soroka felt right shoulder discomfort while pitching at the Braves alternate site, according to manager Brian Snitker. Although there is no structural damager in Soroka's shoulder, the Braves will now shut him down for another two weeks.
Marte leaves game with apparent leg injury
Diamondbacks OF/2B Ketel Marte, a Chris Towers favorite, hit some of the hardest balls during the spring and carried that power over into opening day when he went 4-for-5 with a home run. Entering Wednesday, Marte had a .522 batting average with two HRs, five RBI and five runs. Unfortunately, Marte left Wednesday's game with an apparent leg injury, likely a right hamstring injury. We know with soft tissue injuries, specifically hamstrings, can be tricky and fickle. While we can't speculate on Marte missing any time yet, it looked as if he tweaked the hamstring when running out a ground ball to first base. He was then helped off by the training staff.
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More news and notes
- Rockies 2B Garrett Hampson, who entered 2019 as Baseball America's No. 2 prospect on the roster, went 2-for-3 with three runs scored, one RBI, three steals, and two walks on Wednesday night. Hampson is now batting .300 and he's still just 26 years old. He has started all but one game for Colorado this year, and if the playing time remains consistent, he could be a threat to lead the NL in stolen bases.
- Yankees SP Jameson Taillon made his debut for his new team and was impressive in his first major league start since 2019. Taillon went 4 2/3 innings with two runs allowed on three hits and no walks. He added a whopping seven strikeouts in the no-decision against the Orioles. The really good news is that Taillon was sitting at 93.3 MPH on the night with a 30% CSW (called strikes plus whiffs) rate.
- Blue Jays OF George Springer, who was rehabbing to return from his oblique injury, felt tightness in his quad while running the bases.
- The White Sox placed SS Tim Anderson on the 10-day IL with that hamstring injury, retroactive to April 5. Danny Mendick started at shortstop on Wednesday.
- I guess offseason yoga didn't do the trick for Yankees OF Aaron Judge. He was out of the lineup Wednesday with general soreness in his left side. He missed two months back in 2019 with a left oblique strain. If he comes back and hits well for a week or so, trade him to managers who have Reds OF Nick Castellanos and don't buy the hot start thinking instead they should sell high.
- The Mariners placed SP James Paxton on the IL. Paxton was diagnosed with a left forearm strain. Poor guy just can't stay healthy. Is now the time to stash Logan Gilbert, top pitching prospect for the Mariners? He's only 25% rostered.
- 1B Matt Olson was out of the A's lineup for the second day in a row due to a knee contusion.
- Sticking with the A's, presumed closer Trevor Rosenthal may need surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome.
- Dodgers OF Mookie Betts was out of the lineup Wednesday with lower back stiffness.
- RP Kevin Ginkel wasn't used Tuesday night for the Diamondbacks because he was under the weather. Chris Devenski was placed on the restricted list but it's not COVID related. Manager Torey Lovullo also indicated that Caleb Smith will be moved to the bullpen. That means Taylor Widener is probably a lock to remain in the rotation even once SP Zac Gallen returns.
- The Pirates said Wednesday that 3B Ke'Bryan Hayes is "making daily improvements" but he is not yet swinging a bat.
- The Red Sox optioned SP Tanner Houck back to their alternate training site. That was fun. SP Eduardo Rodriguez is expected back Thursday after dealing with dead arm this spring.
Early Statcast trends
Blue Jays 1B Vlad Guerrero Jr.
On 12 batted balls, Guerrero has an 18.9 average launch angle, and that was 4.6 last year. That's a really good sign. According to Fangraphs here's his rates: 25% line, 42% ground ball, 33% fly ball. The ground-ball rate has never been below 49% so this could be a good sign of things to come.
Twins OF Byron Buxton
Buxton has a 96.4 MPH average exit velocity, already has three barrels and added two more hard hit balls on Wednesday. It seems like the game is slowing down for him and he just has to stay healthy. I moved him up to OF27 in Roto, just ahead of Jeff McNeil, Tommy Pham, Alex Verdugo and Michael Brantley.
Indians OF Franmil Reyes
Reyes has had a 16.5-degree average launch angle and last year that was 11.2. The year before it was 9.5. This could mean more power is on the way for Reyes in 2021. Entering this year he had a 28% strikeout rate and so far it's only 12.5%. I'm looking to target Reyes on the cheap in trades in deeper leagues -- specifically Roto and Category leagues.
What is up with the Cubs hitters?
They have a .140 BABIP as a team despite a league average hard contact rate and they also have the seventh-highest strikeout rate.
1B Anthony Rizzo's launch angle is too high.
SS Javier Baez is crushing the ball with 96.5 MPH average exit velocity, but he is accompanying it with a 42% strikeout rate.
3B Kris Bryant has a launch angle a little higher than normal but nothing else out of the ordinary that is telling about his struggles.
Scott already had doubts coming in that both Rizzo and Bryant were trending in the wrong direction heading into 2021, so for him, this is not all that surprising. On that note, neither Rizzo or Bryant makes for a buy low for Scott.
OMGG Player of Wednesday
Scott White's pick: Royals SP Jake Junis
He's rostered in only 2% of CBS Sports leagues. Junis went 5 IP allowing just one hit and no runs in a no decision and only needed 58 pitches to get through five innings. He added a cutter to his arsenal and he threw it in his season debut more than he threw his old bread-and-butter pitch -- his slider. He threw 16 cutters overall and it was responsbile for five of his swinging strikes. In spring training, he allowed two hits in 7 IP and struck out 10. He's now in the mixed league discussion and someone who should be monitored.
My pick: Tigers SP Matthew Boyd
Boyd went 7 IP and allowed 3 ER with 8 strikeouts. He had 13 whiffs on 96 pitches with six of them coming on changeups. He threw his changeups 29 times -- the most in a start since 9/17/2017. He's using his fastball less this year and his fastball had a .643 slugging percentage against last year. He has not given up a home run through two starts now and that's always been his Achilles heel.
My bonus pick: Red Sox SP Nathan Eovaldi
Eovaldi pitched 7 innings of one-run ball during Boston's 9-2 win on Wednesday. He has now accumulated a 1.46 ERA on the season through two starts. He had 17 whiffs on 91 pitches and he's using his true slider for the first time since 2018. He also had a good swinging strike rate in his first start. He's only 68% rostered right now. This might be unpopular, but I would rather have him than Carlos Rodon right now.
Atlanta Braves: Will Smith picked up his first save of the season. Sean Newcomb picked up the save in the second of Atlanta's double-header, and he struck out the side.
Cincinnati Reds: Amir Garrett allowed a grand slam with the Reds up 11-0 and he has struggled each of his first two appearances. It may not be time to panic just yet, but if Lucas Sims is on your waiver wire, he's worth a speculative add.
Cleveland Indians: James Karinchak relieved Shane Bieber in the 7th and allowed a game-tying RBI single. Emmanuel Clase pitched in the 8th with the game tied and then Nick Wittgren pitched in the 9th with a two-run lead and got the save. This certainly feels like a committee.
Kansas City Royals: Greg Holland allowed a two-run HR in the bottom of the 8th and he's been a disaster so far. I'm dropping him in my home points league with bids in on Rangers RP Ian Kennedy and Rays RP Diego Castillo.
Minnesota Twins: Alex Colome pitched the eighth and ninth for a two-inning save. He threw 32 pitches, allowing just one hit. There is no committee here -- Colome is the guy.
Texas Rangers: Ian Kennedy struck out the side for his second save and Matt Bush was again used in the eighth. This no longer feels like a committee. Kennedy is only 36% rostered. Move him up your waiver order.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Kenley Jansen blew the save for the Dodgers in a one-run game.