MLB: Oakland Athletics at Seattle Mariners

I am not going to panic about Julio Rodriguez.

I'm not saying this in a "daily affirmations" or "I need to repeat it to myself until it becomes true" kind of way, by the way. My concern level for Julio Rodriguez is genuinely at 0 out of 10, 100, 1,000, 1,000,000, etc. 

I'm sure what you want to hear is that Rodriguez is hitting the ball incredibly hard, and it just so happens that he's hitting it right at a perfectly placed defender every time. How unbothered am I about his 11-for-63 start to the season? I promise you, I won't even open his Statcast page until May 1. I don't care if his average exit velocity has tanked – I say "if" because, again, I'm not going to check. I don't care if he's striking out too much. I don't care if he looks like the worst player in the history of baseball in April. I simply do not care. 

That goes for every other first-, second-, or even third-round pick out there right now. But it's especially true for a guy like Rodriguez, who has notoriously run pretty hot-and-cold in his MLB career. His current .209 wOBA isn't even the worst 15-game mark of his last calendar year – he had one stretch covering late-April through mid-May of last season with a .203 wOBA, and his 36% strikeout rate during that stretch was even higher than his current mark!

He's just cold. I know you're frustrated watching him stack 0-fers while all of the other first-round picks are doing fun stuff, but there's nothing you can do about it but wait for him to get hot. It'll happen, and the worst thing you could possibly do is trade him for a discount out of frustration. I promise you, you will regret that. 

There's enough else going wrong around the Fantasy world without self-inflicted wounds. This weekend we got confirmation that Spencer Strider is out for the rest of the season after undergoing internal brace procedure to repair a torn UCL in his right elbow, while Bobby Miller (shoulder) and Cody Bradford (back) were both placed on the IL with injuries that we hope will end up being relatively minor. We also saw Carlos Correa (intercostal strain), Brandon Lowe (oblique), and Marco Gonzales (forearm) placed on the IL, with Christian Yelich (back) potentially following them. 

Weekend Standouts

In roughly the order of how I rank them the rest of the season right now, in case they're available in your league. 

Luis CastilloMariners vs. CHC: 6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 9 K – And this is why I just never bought the idea that you needed to sit Castillo until he gave you reason to be optimistic. His whole dang career is a reason to be optimistic, and we've seen him struggle early on and then turn it around on a dime, and I didn't want to run the risk of leaving a start like this on my bench – Casitllo was benched in 14% of CBS Fantasy leagues, so yes, people are out there actually doing that. 

Kevin GausmanBlue Jays vs. COL: 3.2 IP, 10 H, 6 ER, 0 BB, 4 K – Now, with Gausman, there are extenuating circumstances that could lead me to dropping him, because his ineffectiveness has come after he missed time in spring with a shoulder issue. His velocity was mostly back to normal in this outing after being way down in his prior start, so I'm not too concerned. But if you wanted to sit Gausman for his start against the Yankees this week, I wouldn't necessarily blame you after two poor starts in a row. 

Zac GallenDiamondbacks vs. STL:  6 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K – Gallen's velocity remains down from last season, but it really hasn't impacted his effectiveness yet, so maybe this is much ado about nothing. He's actually getting strikeouts a bit more frequently than he did last season despite his velocity being down 1-1.5 mph across the board, with his curveball and slider both performing exceptionally well in the early going. I can't argue too much with the results, even if a red flag goes up in my brain everytime I see his velocity down. 

Max Fried, Braves @MIA: 6.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K – After two disasters to open the season, this was exactly the kind of bounceback showing we needed to see from Fried. He's still generating a ton of weak contact, and has just two walks in his past two starts, so I'm really not particularly worried here. 

Freddy PeraltaBrewers @BAL: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 11 K – I had Peralta as a bust coming into the season, and yeah, I do not feel great about that call right now. Peralta's slider and changeup have both been tremendous in the early going, leading to tons of whiffs. Of course, Peralta's always gotten a ton of whiffs, and has generally always been a pretty good pitcher; my concerns were more about health and volume. Obviously, those remain open questions – though, given the injuries around the pitching position, I wouldn't exactly be looking to sell one of the aces who is currently healthy. 

Jesus LuzardoMarlins vs. ATL: 5 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 4 K – I'm not sure there's any one silver bullet explanation for Luzardo's struggles, except that he hasn't been quite as sharp as normal and then ran into a Yankees-Braves buzzsaw in consecutive starts.

Blake Snell, Giants @TB: 4 IP, 6 H, 7 ER, 2 BB, 4 K – Getting upset at Blake Snell because you drafted him and now he's struggling with efficiency and command is kind of like going out during last week's solar eclipse without those special glasses and getting mad at the sun because your eyes hurt. You know who Blake Snell is, and you just have to ride the roller coaster if you're going to have him on your roster. He'll figure it out before long. 

Joe RyanTwins @DET: 6 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 12 K – Scott White said something really important on Sunday night's FBT episode when talking about Joe Ryan, noting that he had Ryan as a bust coming into the season before seeing Ryan's new splitter and slider, which have effectively made him a different pitcher than the one he thought would be a bust. Ryan is relying on his four-seamer less than ever because his splitter and sweeper especially both look like real swing-and-miss pitches, while his slider is generating a ton of weak contact. We've seen very good stretches from Ryan eventually go sideways, and there's no guarantee that won't happen again here. But he's been too impressive to dismiss as a mere sell-high candidate. 

Reid DetmersAngels @BOS: 6.1 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K – Detmers' early success is fueled by two changes, primarily: A fastball with more ride, and a slower slider with more two-plane break. But he's also throwing his changeup more than ever before and getting great results with it, giving him a legitimate four-pitch mix, something he didn't really have last season. The breakout might finally be happening. 

Mitch Keller, Pirates @PHI: 7 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K – Keller got off to a pretty rotten start, allowing eight runs in 11 innings across his first two starts, but he's settled in nicely since, allowing four runs over his past 13 innings. He's still not getting consistent strikeouts, but Keller has firmly taken himself out of drop consideration. 

Jack Flaherty, Tigers vs. MIN: 6.1 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 8 K – After giving up six runs in his second start, I definitely wanted to see how Flaherty bounced back this weekend. His velocity was up 1 mph from last season, and he took advantage of a whiff-heavy Twins lineup for a fine bounceback start. I don't buy Flaherty as a Cy Young candidate like he used to be, but it's easier to buy him as  a viable starting Fantasy option against most matchups after this. 

Cristopher Sanchez, Phillies vs. PIT: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K – Sanchez hasn't been bad, but I feel like he's been a bit underwhelming so far. His velocity is up across the board from last season, but it hasn't manifested in improved strikeout or whiff rates yet. That would be fine, except his very good control from last season hasn't carried over in the early going, with a 10.3% walk rate, up from 4.0% in 2023. Sanchez can still be a fine pitcher – 3.52 ERA so far is backed up by a 3.24 xERA, for example – but I hoped he might take a step forward, and that hasn't happened. 

Brayan Bello, Red Sox vs. LAA: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K – Bello is another guy who probably pitched himself out of drop consideration with his performance this weekend, and this was one of those starts that makes you wonder how good he can be if he finds some consistency. Bello's slider has emerged as a much bigger weapon this season, while his changeup remains terrific – eight whiffs Sunday. There's definitely strikeout-per-inning upside here with those two pitches. 

Andrew Abbott, Reds @CHW: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K – This outing probably did enough to keep Abbott in the Reds rotation, but I'm still finding surprisingly little to get excited about here. I figured Abbott would still at least rack up whiffs and strikeouts even if the ERA was inflated pitching in Cincy, but he had just eight swinging strikes on 103 pitches against the lowly White Sox, and has a whiff rate below 18% with both his curveball and sweeper – both were at 26% or better last season. Given his flyball tendencies and that home park, I don't really see how Abbott can continue to pitch well without tons of strikeouts. If there's a sell opportunity, I'd take it. 

Triston McKenzieGuardians vs. NYY: 4 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 6 BB, 1 K – Unfortunately, I think we've reached the "Yeah, you don't need to use a roster spot on them" portion of the pitcher standouts section. McKenzie's velocity is down 1.5 mph from both 2023 and 2022, and it's made his middling fastball even worse. And his slider and curveball aren't doing much to make up for that right now. The fastball is the primary problem, but the bigger issue might be that he doesn't really have another option with such a limited repertoire. How can you hang on to a pitcher with just three strikeouts to 12 walks in three starts? 

Paul Blackburn, Athletics vs. WAS: 6.1 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K – Blackburn has yet to give up a run this season, because he's avoiding free passes and generating a ton of weak contact. He wouldn't be the first veteran pitcher to pull that trick off for a few weeks or months, but outside of Kyle Hendricks and Chris Bassitt, that kind of profile usually ends in tears for Fantasy players. At home against a good matchup, he's useful, and that might include this week against the Cardinals; I definitely don't want him in my lineup next week against the Yankees. 

DL Hall, Brewers @BAL: 3.1 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 4 K – I was pretty interested in Hall as a sleeper this season, but I think it's totally fine to go ahead and drop him at this point. His fastball velocity is down 3 mph from his time in the bullpen, and it's made his entire arsenal much less effective. I don't want to totally write off the possibility that Hall could find another gear or figure out a pitch mix change that helps him pitch better, but I don't see any reason to be optimistic about that right now. 

Mason Miller, SP, Athletics – There might only be one reason to tune into Athletics games right now, but Miller is must-see TV these days. He's sitting at 100 mph and hitting 103, which is unhittable enough, but then he drops in these sliders that seem to defy gravity on top. He's struck out 40% of opposing hitters so far, and is a must-start Fantasy option in non-points leagues even without getting a ton of saves. 

Jose Leclerc, RP, Rangers – The Rangers moved Leclerc to a lower-leverage role this weekend after he admitted he's still working to find his mechanics earlier in the week. He pitched well in his first non-closer opportunity, but I'd guess Kirby Yates and David Robertson will at least get some opportunities this week to save some games. Yates looks to be ahead based on usage in an admittedly non-save situation, but I wouldn't blow out my FAB budget on either of them, because I get the feeling they're going to try to get Leclerc back into the ninth-inning role before long. 

Tanner Scott, RP, Marlins – When Scott walked seven batters in 5.2 innings of work this spring, you could write it off as a veteran pitcher with little to prove working on things. It's a lot harder to excuse 10 walks in his first 7.2 innings in the regular season. Scott blew the save Sunday against the Braves, and you have to wonder if the Marlins are considering a change. It could end up being A.J. Puk if they decide to move him out of the rotation, but if you're speculating, Anthony Bender seems like the more obvious choice given his strong start. 

News and notes

Down goes another one. Bobby Miller to the IL with right shoulder inflammation. The good news, if any exists, is that Miller is hopeful to begin throwing again as soon as next week, as the MRI didn't show damage. 

Rafael Devers has missed four straight with left shoulder soreness. He did go through a pregame workout Sunday and manager Alex Cora expects him back in the lineup Monday, so you should be able to start him. The one wrinkle to know about here is that the Red Sox play at 11 am ET, so make sure you check the lineups early to make sure he's back out there. 

Christian Yelich left Friday after one at-bat and then didn't play Saturday and Sunday due to lower-back discomfort. This is the only thing that could hold Yelich back, and it seems the team is concerned it may require an IL stint. If that helps him get past it I'm all for it, but this was always the red flag with Yelich, who is off to a red-hot start. 

Luis Robert, who is on the IL with a hip injury, is trending toward a six-week absence. That's a lot better than the initial reporting had us fearing. 

Jake Burger left Sunday's game with left oblique discomfort. He was replaced by Emmanuel Rivera, and is a risky start for Week 4 unless we get a very positive update Monday morning. 

Gerrit Cole played catch again on Thursday, his second time since being placed on the IL with his elbow injury.

Framber Valdez told reporters that he's hoping to resume throwing Tuesday. He was placed on the IL earlier in the week with left elbow soreness, but it sounds like it's a relatively minor issue (for now).

Josh Lowe will play in two more extended spring training games and if all goes well, he could be sent out on a rehab assignment in the coming days. He's on the IL with a Grade 1 right oblique strain, but it looks like he could be back in the next couple of weeks. 

Justin Verlander could make his season debut Friday against the Nationals. He threw 77 pitches in a rehab start Saturday as he works his way back from preseason shoulder soreness. 

Walker Buehler left his rehab start Friday after getting hit in the right hand by a comebacker. Dave Roberts said Buehler will make his next rehab start Thursday, and I think he's probably only another couple of turns of the rotation away from being able to return, assuming he avoids any further setbacks. That might be the Bobby Miller replacement for the Dodgers

Jordan Montgomery is set for his Dbacks debut Friday at the Giants. He got up to 71 pitches in his final rehab start, and I'd prefer to sit him for his first start back if I can. 

Justin Steele threw a 25-pitch bullpen session Saturday, his first time since suffering a Grade 1 left hamstring strain in his first start of the season. 

Bryan Woo threw an up-down bullpen session Friday and could head out on a rehab assignment with Triple-A at some point this week. He would probably need at least a few more weeks after that before he is cleared.

Gavin Williams is scheduled to throw a simulated game Monday, his first time facing live hitters since he felt discomfort in his right elbow before the season. 

Kyle Bradish threw a bullpen session Saturday and said he's ready to begin a rehab assignment at Double-A around the middle of the week. He'll likely take the full 30 days to get up to full speed before the Orioles consider bringing him back. 

Edward Cabrera will make another rehab start at Triple-A this Wednesday, and is probably a candidate to return from the IL after that. 

Salvador Perez was removed Sunday with left groin and hip injuries. If you have Perez you might want a catcher on your bench to plug in for Week 4 just in case.

Paul Sewald threw an 18-pitch bullpen session Saturday, his first bullpen since going on the IL with an oblique injury. He probably won't be back before May. 

Jameson Taillon will return from the IL this week. We'll keep an eye on that outing to see how he fares before deciding whether he's worth adding. 

Junior Caminero was activated from the IL and back in the Triple-A lineup Sunday. The Rays could certainly use him if he can get hot quickly. 

Eduardo Rodriguez experienced further tightness in his left shoulder after throwing a bullpen earlier in the week and will be shut down. 

Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said both Tommy Edman and Dylan Carlson will ramp up their rehab on Monday.

Michael Lorenzen will make his Rangers debut Monday, which means he might make two starts this week against the Tigers and Braves. I'm probably sitting him, but he's a viable streamer in H2H points leagues even with the tough Braves matchup. 

Alex Bregman and Tim Anderson missed all three games this weekend due to an illness.

The Braves recalled Darius Vines. He'll start Monday against the Astros, and it's probably just a spot start for the 26-year-old with a 2.93 ERA in his Triple-A career. He's only worth adding in deeper NL-only leagues. 

Pitching prospect Nick Nastrini will make his MLB debut for the White Sox Monday against the Royals. He has huge swing-and-miss stuff and control issues, and has a 4.73 ERA in his minor-league career as a result. We'll keep an eye on how the 24-year-old's debut goes, because if he avoids dishing out too many walks, there could be some appeal here.