Not every multi-homer performance by a widely available player demands our attention in Fantasy. But it just so happens that five of them Tuesday came from players who I was already looking for a reason to endorse.
We'll get into Jorge Soler, Francisco Alvarez, Jurickson Profar and, yes, Jordan Diaz soon enough, but let's begin with the one starting pitcher who made a case to be picked up Tuesday, Louie Varland.
After all, pitching is what we're most starved for in 2023.
MIN Minnesota • #37 • Age: 26
Louie Varland's second turn filling in for Kenta Maeda (or Tyler Mahle, if you prefer) was his best yet in terms of run prevention, but his 14 swinging strikes on 95 pitches were actually par for the course. Across three starts now, he has a 14 percent swinging-strike rate, which would jibe with the swing-and-miss potential he showed in the minors. Between Double- and Triple-A last year, he had 10.4 K/9 to go along with a 3.06 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. It's that last number that's a bit worrisome. His hit and home run rates were both fairly high, and when you look at the breakdown of his swinging strikes, they're distributed across several pitches. It suggests he's appealing more for his floor than his ceiling -- a mid-rotation arm with better-than-average strikeout potential rather than a burgeoning ace -- but nevertheless, he's appealing.
Will Smith RP
TEX Texas • #51 • Age: 34
We can safely conclude now that Will Smith is indeed the Rangers closer. Perhaps we could have concluded it when manager Bruce Bochy designated him such last week, but then Smith had a three-run meltdown in his very next appearance. Sure enough, though, Bochy turned back to Smith for the Rangers' latest save chance Monday, and the left-hander responded by striking out the side to preserve a one-run lead. Can't do any better than that, and frankly, neither can Bochy, not with Jose Leclerc still struggling to find the strike zone. Smith has a history of closing -- for Bochy specifically, in fact -- and he looks stable enough that he deserves more attention in Fantasy, particularly given the way the Rangers are playing now.
Jorge Soler DH
MIA Miami • #12 • Age: 31
Every now and then, Jorge Soler will offer a reminder of his superlative power, and Tuesday night was one of those occasions. He didn't just hit two home runs. He hit two absolute tanks -- 468 and 433 feet -- both coming off the bat at more than 110 mph. He's now 9 for 24 (.375) with four home runs in his past six games, and he entered Tuesday ranking in the 91st percentile for average exit velocity and the 96th percentile for max exit velocity. The problem? His exit velocities have always ranked that high, and the performance has rarely measured up to them. He did have that 48-homer season for the Royals in 2019 and that impressive half-season for the Braves in 2021, but otherwise, he's been a hard-hitting disappointment. The upside is worth a shot now, but keep your expectations in check.
NYM N.Y. Mets • #4 • Age: 22
It may seem like Francisco Alvarez's two-homer game Tuesday was his first sign of life offensively, but he's now batting .308 (12 for 39) with three homers and two doubles in his past 14 games. That's a modest hot streak, but a notable one gives his sleeping-giant status. Also notable is that he's started eight of the Mets' past 11 games. He's their primary catcher now, and he appears to be stabilizing at the plate as a result, striking out just four times in 26 plate appearances during that span. If playing time is no longer an issue and strikeouts are becoming less of an issue, then we can really zero in on the upside, which is considerable. His power bat is the only reason he's starting for a playoff contender at age 21.
ATL Atlanta • #11 • Age: 29
As much as we longed to see Vaughn Grissom back in the majors, it turns out he was a step down from the guy he replaced, Orlando Arcia. Well, Arcia is back now, with Grissom being returned to the minors, and so far, it's gone about like it did before he fractured his wrist. He went 3 for 4 with a double Tuesday, making him 4 for 8 with two doubles in two games since returning and raising his batting average to .358. The track record is uninspiring, but he's hitting the ball harder than ever at age 28, is an everyday part of one of the most potent lineups, and would seem to have all the more job security now. If you're hurting for middle infield help, Arcia is your guy.
CHC Chi. Cubs • #5 • Age: 24
Christopher Morel's return to the Cubs lineup Tuesday couldn't have gone much better. Getting the start at second base, he went 2 for 4 with both a home run and a stolen base, showing the same diverse skill set that saw him hit .330 with 11 homers and four steals at Triple-A Iowa to begin the year. The problem is that he struck out at a 30 percent rate even against Triple-A pitching. He petered out as a rookie last year precisely because of all the strikeouts. The upside here is alluring to be sure, and the versatility is an added bonus. Just understand that the most likely scenario is similar to what we saw from Morel last year.
SD San Diego • #29 • Age: 30
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Jurickson Profar's two-homer game Tuesday is that it came on the road. My interest in him this year is primarily because he's playing his home games at Coors Field, where he so far hasn't done much damage either. Remember, though, he was a late signing, coming to terms with the Rockies toward the end of March, so it makes sense that he would be slow out of the gate. And the Rockies have remained committed to batting him at the top of the lineup, either first or second, which should come in handy during those summer home games when they're scoring double-digit runs on the reg. It would be a stretch to roster Profar in a three-outfielder league at this point, but if you play in a five-outfielder league, you may want to give him a second look.
Jordan Diaz 3B
OAK Oakland • #13 • Age: 23
It's true that Jordan Diaz had done basically nothing in his major-league career prior to his three-homer game, but holy cow ... he just had a three-homer game. Take a closer look and you'll realize he's only 22. Take an even closer look and you'll realize he was a genuine minor-league standout last year, batting .326 with an .882 OPS and an impressive 14.4 percent strikeout rate between Double- and Triple-A. Take the closest look anyone has ever taken and you'll realize he's done a much better job of elevating the ball between the majors and minors this year after historically putting it on the ground at higher than a 50 percent rate. Maybe it's not time to rush out and add him everywhere yet, but there's upside to speculate on and plenty of opportunity in the ramshackle Athletics lineup.