The Nationals will finally open their season against the Braves on Tuesday after having their start pushed back five days due to a COVID-19 outbreak on the team. At least most of the Nationals will open their season Tuesday -- though they are missing quite a few players from their Opening Day roster.
The following players were placed on the IL without a designation Tuesday: Josh Bell, Brad Hand, Kyle Schwarber, Patrick Corbin, Jon Lester, Alex Avila, Josh Harrison, and Jordy Mercer. Notably -- and thankfully -- Trea Turner is in the lineup for the Nationals, hitting second between Victor Robles and Juan Soto.
For those of you still waiting to finalize your lineups, it seems prudent to steer clear of each of those players. While there isn't a minimum IL stay for COVID cases, we have no idea whether they tested positive or were close contacts, nor how long any of them might be out. If you have to make a decision for Week 2, it's probably best to steer clear of that group.
There probably aren't many ramifications here as far as potential waiver adds here, but it might be worth snagging Daniel Hudson if you've got daily lineup moves, because he could pick up a few saves with Hand out. Similarly, Ryan Zimmerman could be an interesting streaming hitter if you need a replacement for Bell -- he had an awesome spring, at the very least.
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The other big news we're waiting for as of Tuesday morning is the status of Fernando Tatis, who left Monday's game with a subluxation of his left shoulder. Tatis has been dealing with an issue in his left shoulder off and on for years, and he injured it previously in spring training. That was viewed as a minor issue, but Tatis left Monday's game in a lot of pain after he crumpled following a swing, and a subluxation is also known as a partial dislocation.
We don't know how long Tatis is likely to miss, and it's possible an IL stint won't even be needed, though that seems overly optimistic. As of this writing I'm hoping it's an absence that is measured in weeks, not months, and Ha-Seong Kim could be worth a look in category-based leagues as the potential replacement for the Padres lineup. He's got some speed and pop, and could be a decent source of batting average too, though it's also possible the pending return of Trent Grisham could push Jurickson Profar back to the infield, too. Hopefully it won't matter too much who gets the chance to play, but I fear we could be without Tatis for a while.
Here are the top waiver-wire targets coming out of Monday's games:
CHW Chi. White Sox • #73 • Age: 28
I know Scott White wrote about Mercedes on Monday, so I don't want to spend too much time focusing on him, but he had another incredible game Monday, and this one might've been his most impressive yet. Mercedes went 3 for 4 with two runs, and is now the first player since Roy Campanella in 1948 to have 12 hits in his first four career starts. Monday he had three batted balls hit over 103.5 mph, after averaging just 85.5 mph on his previous batted balls. This may not be a fluke.
Carlos Rodon SP
CHW Chi. White Sox • #55 • Age: 28
Monday was one of the most impressive starts we've seen from Rodon in a long time. He maxed out at 98.4 mph with his fastball, a level we haven't seen from him since 2016, and he averaged 95.2 with the pitch, up 2.4 mph from 2019. He racked up a whopping 19 whiffs on 95 pitches and even mixed in his new curveball, throwing it five times and picking up a swinging strike with it. Rodon is still primarily a fastball/slider guy, but he now has four pitches in his arsenal, and the extra velocity makes the fastball play up, too. There was no shortage of impressive pitchers Monday, but I think Rodon is the top priority.
MIA Miami • #28 • Age: 23
Rogers is definitely nipping at Rodon's heels after his first outing, which saw him also reach 98 mph with his fastball, with his average up 1.7 mph from 2019 to 95.3. He racked up a whopping 13 whiffs with that pitch, which was probably why he didn't need to go to the slider or changeup much -- but we know he's got them. His line wasn't particularly impressive in this outing, but it was mostly just a rough first inning. He started off with nine straight balls and 15 total balls on his first 20 pitches. From that point on, he allowed just one hit over his next three innings with four strikeouts, so I'm willing to chalk that first inning up to being especially amped up. Rogers will need to keep the walks under control, but he's got legitimately great stuff and could be a very useful Fantasy option if he sands down the rough edges.
Steven Matz SP
TOR Toronto • #22 • Age: 29
You could argue Matz was the most impressive of the three lefties we're talking about here, though the Rangers aren't exactly a tough matchup, so we'll grade on a curve. He had 15 swinging strikes on his 91 pitches and he too averaged 95.3 mph with his fastball, up 0.8 from 2020 and nearly two full ticks from 2019. He also had swinging strikes with all four of his pitches, and a nine-strikeout, one-walk performance is impressive against any opponent. We'll need to see more to believe a breakout is coming for the 29-year-old, but this was an impressive start. I would be looking to add any of Rodon, Rogers or Matz in that order, and I would be willing to drop the likes of Nathan Eovaldi, Jake Arrieta, Madison Bumgarner, David Price or Andrew Heaney to add any of them.
Alex Reyes RP
STL St. Louis • #29 • Age: 26
The first save situation of the season for the Cardinals came up and Reyes was right there in the ninth inning, with Jordan Hicks working the sixth and Giovanny Gallegos in the seventh and eighth. Just like we were told on opening day. Reyes allowed just one hit as he picked up the save, and it sure looks like he's going to be the closer moving forward. A talented pitcher with elite stuff who is locked into the closer role? Even if you think he might cede the job at some point in the future, Reyes should be rostered in all leagues at this point. I'd rather have him than Julian Merryweather, yesterday's relief pitcher du jour.
Akil Baddoo LF
DET Detroit • #60 • Age: 22
The fact that Baddoo was a Rule 5 pick is a sign of how unlikely it is that he emerges as an everyday contributor in the majors this season. He played just 29 games at High-A in 2019, and has never seen Double-A or Triple-A, so there's a lot of seasoning needed here. However, he was a second-round pick back in 2016 and put up a .249/.357/.422 line in the minors despite being young for every level. Badoo isn't a must-add player, but he does have a homer in each of his first two games and has three batted balls over 100 mph so far, too. In deeper category-based leagues or any AL-only league, consider adding Baddoo to the end of your bench just in case this is something real.