Welcome to the 2023 MLB Season! Finally, we have some games under our belts and can adjust accordingly. Already, we’ve seen several players go down with injuries making way for prospects and spot starters to go from undrafted nobodies to waiver-wire saviors. But try not to overreact to such a small sample size, it’s a 162-game season after all.
Keep in mind that the fantasy baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t blow all of your budgets on one guy. Unless it’s Anthony Volpe, apparently.
After seeing just one or two games from each team, fantasy managers are beginning to get a sense of where the playing time will fall and what players will have larger roles than anticipated. The cream, as they say, will rise to the top. Just make sure you scoop some of those creamy players before they become too rich.
Four teams have seven games in the first full week of fantasy baseball while the rest have six contests. Washington will travel to Colorado to play a four-game series in Coors over the weekend while Atlanta, Kansas City, and Toronto each have seven-game weeks as well.
SEVEN GAMES: ATL, WAS, KC, TOR
Investment Rating System
Joey Wiemer ($$$): So, Wiemer was featured in this article last week, but written as more of a speculative add. This week, Wiemer is a big-leaguer and should be a hot commodity on the FAAB market. With a prospect pedigree and more tools than a hardware store, Wiemer could stick around if he provides the Brewers with the offensive spark they so desperately need to compete with the Cubs and Cardinals in the NL Central.
James Outman ($$$): For those who drafted early, Outman is likely still available this week. Outman appears to be the strong-side platoon center-fielder for the Dodgers, starting on Thursday and Friday as Los Angeles faced a pair of right-handed starters. Outman announced his presence with authority with a home run on Opening Day, going 2-for-3 from the plate. Outman has power for days, combining 32 home runs across three levels in 2022, and serviceable speed with 13 stolen bases in AA and AAA combined a year ago. Though the Dodgers’ lineup is not quite the powerhouse it was last season, it should still be a great spot for Outman to produce.
Robbie Grossman ($$$): Another outfielder that was mentioned in this article last week, Robbie Grossman is still criminally under-owned. He hit a home run on Opening Day and has cemented himself in the middle of an improved Rangers lineup. In the only season of his career that he received regular playing time, Grossman hit 23 home runs and stole 20 bases as part of the Detroit Tigers in 2021. That’s the kind of ceiling Grossman possesses as the everyday left-fielder in Texas.
Yonathan Daza ($$): Daza led off for the Rockies in each of their first two games, and while the long-term projection is for Jurickson Profar to take over in the leadoff role, Daza is a worthy streamer right now. Colorado returns home for the first time in week two, facing off against the Nationals for a four-game set. A great speed option, Daza can provide stolen bases and runs while maintaining a solid batting average as well.
Alex Call ($): Washington outfielder Alex Call earned an Opening Day start in left field against the left-handed Max Fried and will likely continue to play over Corey Dickerson when the Nats face a lefty. In the first full week of the season, Washington is scheduled to face two lefties in Tampa (Fleming, McClanahan) and two more in Colorado (Freeland, Gomber), potentially giving Call four starts. Bear in mind that he will likely be lifted for a pinch-hitter if he faces a right-handed reliever, so temper expectations for the number of at-bats he will get.
Gio Urshela, 3B ($$$): Urshela has started both of the Angels’ games this year at shortstop, working in the middle of a potent lineup. The opportunity to play nearly every day could afford Urshela the chance to replicate his 2019 season when he hit 21 home runs and a .315 batting average. Currently eligible at third base and corner infield, Urshela will likely gain shortstop and middle infield eligibility before the beginning of week three, offering additional lineup flexibility. He has the potential to outperform other multi-positional guys like Brandon Drury and D.J. Lemahieu for a much lower cost.
Elehuris Montero, 3B ($$$): It was not surprising that Colorado opted to start Montero at third base on Opening Day as they faced a left-handed starter. It was surprising however that Montero lifted a home run off of a right-handed reliever as the Rockies stunned the Padres in the season opener, 7-2. If Montero continues to prove his hitting prowess against righties, he could beat out Mike Moustakas for the majority of playing time at the hot corner for the Rockies, and with four games in Coors against Washington he makes a great streaming option.
Ramón Urías, 3B ($$): Some guy named Adley overshadowed what was a strong first impression for Urias. An Opening Day home run over the Green Monster off of Corey Kluber punctuated a two-hit performance that helped the Orioles earn a 10-9 victory over the Red Sox. Urias was nearly a full-time player last season, recording 445 plate appearances despite missing a month due to injury. If Urias maintains his hold on the third base gig in Baltimore, he could be a solid accumulator in runs, home runs, and RBI while logging a serviceable .250 batting average.
Spencer Steer, 3B ($$): Steer has found a home in the Reds’ lineup, playing third base for the Cincinnati ballclub. He pounded a home run on Opening Day and showed good plate discipline with a pair of walks as well. Steer could be this year’s Brandon Drury, except because of his youth will likely stick around in the Queen City for a while instead of being dealt at the trade deadline. With solid plate skills and raw power at the top or middle of that Reds lineup, Steer could provide solid numbers across the board.
Dominic Smith, 1B ($$): Despite a lackluster 2022, Dominic Smith has found a home in Washington as the everyday first baseman. Smith was outstanding in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season with a .316 batting average and 11 home runs in just 50 games, but it’s been all downhill since. Perhaps a return to everyday playing time will revitalize the former first-round draft pick and there’s no better time to test that theory than in week two when the Nationals travel to Coors Field for a four-game set.
Nick Madrigal, 2B ($): Before suffering a season-ending injury in 2021, Nick Madrigal batted well over .300 in his first 324 plate appearances. Now a member of the Chicago Cubs, Madrigal will likely serve as a utility infielder. If he does get regular at-bats, he could be used in a Luis Arraez-esque role on fantasy teams, propping up batting averages and contributing to run totals. With only six career stolen bases in 10 tries, Madrigal doesn’t figure to contribute much there but perhaps he’ll be more apt to run with the new rules in place. A cheap streaming option at second base or middle infield in most leagues, it won’t take too long for Madrigal to earn third base/corner infield eligibility as well.
Garrett Cooper, 1B ($): Cooper clubbed a home run on Opening Day off of Max Scherzer, one of his four hits in his first eight at-bats this season. He could provide cheap power as a streaming option at first base or corner infield.
Matt Carpenter, UT ($$): The strong-side platoon at DH for the Padres, Carpenter looks to build on an outstanding finish to the 2022 season. Carpenter posted a ridiculous 1.138 OPS over 47 games in 2022, batting .305 with 15 home runs. Though he’ll lose some power numbers moving out of a proclaimed “Little League Ballpark,” and into the spacious PetCo Park, Carpenter could still contribute as a solid fantasy bat on the cheap.
Mitch Garver ($$): The Texas Rangers are an offensive juggernaut through two games, tagging the Phillies for 24 combined runs and counting. Garver appears to be in a timeshare behind the plate with Jonah Heim but is the better offensive option of the two. He crushed two home runs on Saturday and will likely be catcher-eligible by week four.
Reese McGuire, C ($): The Boston Red Sox have turned over the starting catcher role to Reese McGuire to begin the season. With uninspiring backup Connor Wong spelling him, McGuire should get the lion’s share of at-bats. He’s a middling option at second catcher in two-catcher leagues.
Omar Narváez, C ($): The starting catcher in New York, Omar Narváez should be rostered in every 15-team league and most 12-teamers as well.
Blake Sabol, C ($): Sabol is eligible at catcher on some fantasy platforms, but earned the start in left field for the Giants on Opening Day. Sabol took two at-bats, striking out once, before being lifted for a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning. Bear in mind the Giants sent 12 different players to the plate at least once, the most in the majors, on Opening Day and will likely deploy their bench quite often as they look to capitalize on matchups as much as possible. Sabol would not be fantasy relevant without his catcher eligibility, but he should garner 450-500 plate appearances which are more than can be said for most second-catcher options.
Mike Zunino, C ($): Zunino earned the start in the Guardians’ first two games and looks firmly ahead of Bo Naylor on the depth chart. He might tank batting average, but how many second catchers won’t?
Yainer Diaz, UT ($): Eligible only at UT to begin the season, Yainer Diaz came up through the minors as a catcher. Make sure to pay attention to his position eligibility as the season progresses. If the Astros choose to use him behind the plate and he becomes catcher-eligible, snatch him immediately. His bat will play as a mid-range catcher two in most leagues.
Drey Jameson ($$$): Jameson looked very good in long relief for the Diamondbacks on Friday night, allowing just a Mookie Betts solo shot in four innings pitched to earn the pitching win out of the bullpen. After being a trendy name late in drafts, Jameson may have been dropped by fantasy managers after missing out on a rotation spot. Whether Jameson maintains a piggyback role or breaks into the Arizona rotation, he showed great potential while navigating one of the toughest lineups in the league. Grab him while he’s cheap.
Tylor Megill ($$): Slotting into the rotation for the Mets to begin the season is the infamous “Tylord” Megill. Megill is scheduled to pitch on Thursday at home against the Marlins, facing them for a second-consecutive start to begin the year. Megill finished 2022 with a 25.5% K-rate and 13.8% swinging strike rate but managed just a 5.13 ERA over 47.1 innings pitched. His underlying numbers indicate a better season than what he posted a year ago, but we have yet to see it. After facing the Marlins in week two, Megill is penciled for a start against San Diego in week three and the Dodgers in week four, so be wary.
Ryne Nelson ($$): A two-start option this week, Ryne Nelson will lead the Diamondbacks against the Padres on Monday and likely face the Dodgers on Sunday. The matchups are tough, but the skill set shows promise. Nelson showed lofty strikeout potential in the lower minors to begin his career and did enough to beat out Jameson and Brandon Pfaadt for the fifth starter spot in the desert.
Alex Wood ($$): With multiple days off the first time through the rotation, the Giants will likely only use four starters through their first five games. This lines up Wood to make his season debut late in week two at home against Kansas City. Though Wood carried a 5.10 ERA through 26 starts in 2022, he had a 4.00 xERA with a 3.41 xFIP as well indicating that he was unlucky last season. Available in 30-40% of 12-team leagues, Wood makes an interesting streamer this week and could potentially face Detroit in week three if the rotation falls in his favor.
Michael Grove ($): Grove will get the call from the Dodgers for a spot start on Monday against Colorado, but will likely be replaced in the rotation by Ryan Pepiot as soon as he is healthy enough to return. Grove struggled with home runs in his cameo appearance with the Dodgers in 2022, allowing six long balls in four September starts.
Kris Bubic ($): Bubic was named the Royals’ fifth starter to open the season, and will have two starts in week two of the season. He’ll face a test against the Blue Jays at home on Tuesday and will likely face the Giants in San Francisco on Sunday as well. Bubic posted an egregious 5.58 ERA a year ago as he struggled with a career-high 4.4 BB/9 and a career-low 7.7 K/9 rate. Despite his struggles a season ago, Bubic showed enough in Spring Training to beat out talented pitching prospects like Jackson Kowar and Alec Marsh. Fantasy managers looking to gamble can pick Bubic up for cheap this week.
Kutter Crawford ($): A two-start week with matchups against Pittsburgh and Detroit makes Kutter Crawford a viable streaming option. The matchups are good, but the skill set is not. With a 5.47 ERA and a 1.4 HR/9 in 21 games last season, Crawford left a lot to be desired for fantasy managers.
Rafael Montero ($$$): Montero was used in the eighth inning on Opening Day, allowing a home run to tie the game, but rebounded with a save on Friday night while Ryan Pressly was not used in back-to-back games. Pressly took the loss on Thursday evening and looked shakier than Montero in his outing including some suspicious shaking of his pitching arm. Pressly has a history of missed time and if he does go back to the injured list again this season, Montero is the next most obvious option for saves in Houston.
Giovanny Gallegos ($$): Gallegos is rostered in nearly 75% of 12-team leagues, but is a must-add in leagues where he is not on a roster. Presumed closer Ryan Helsley blew his first save opportunity and took a loss on Opening Day. Cardinals manager Mike Shildt has already explained that Helsley will likely not pitch on back-to-back days, opening the door for Gallegos. If he shows consistency and Helsley trips up again, St. Louis may make an early-season switch in the back end of the bullpen, and Gallegos could be the everyday closer for one of the best teams in baseball. Even if he doesn’t surpass Helsley, Gallegos should still finish the season with 15-20 saves, enough to make him worth an add in most formats.
Andrew Chafin ($$): Arguably the best reliever in the Arizona bullpen, Andrew Chafin earned the Diamondbacks’ first save of the season on Friday night against the Dodgers. Scott McGough worked a scoreless eighth before Chafin came in to work against the top of the Dodgers’ batting order in the ninth. Based on the way the usage played out, Chafin could be just as likely to serve in a fireman role, facing the opponent’s best hitter regardless of inning, as he is a closer.
Brad Hand ($): With Daniel Bard beginning the season on the injured list with mental health issues, Brad Hand is left as the only arm in the Rockies bullpen with significant ninth-inning experience. Hand has accumulated over 100 saves since 2017, including five last year in Philadelphia. Despite some scary peripheral numbers, he is a solid closer option for Colorado over the next two weeks.
Pierce Johnson ($): On Friday night, Johnson was the one to get the Rockies’ save opportunity, closing out the game with a pair of strikeouts. Be aware that just because a reliever gets the first chance doesn’t mean he’ll get every chance.
Dany Jiménez ($): A pleasant surprise out of the Oakland bullpen last season, Dany Jiménez earned and converted the Athletics’ first save opportunity of the season on Opening Day. Despite Jimenez registering the Athletics’ first save of the year, Oakland will likely still regard Trevor May as their top ninth-inning option. On Thursday night, May was used in the eighth inning to retire the Angels’ most dangerous hitters and recorded the win while Jimenez mopped up the bottom half of the lineup in the ninth.
Liam Hendriks ($): This might be the best news of the season so far – Liam Hendriks has progressed well through his treatments for non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and was placed on the 15-day IL instead of the dreaded 60-day IL, meaning he could return to baseball sooner than anyone expected. Though there is no projected timetable yet, the high-velocity Aussie could be back to reclaim his ninth-inning role with the White Sox, where he notched 75 saves over the last two seasons combined. Fantasy managers who have room to stash him on their bench could reap the benefits of one of the game’s elite closers for much more of the season than was previously thought.
Do you like Grossman and Wiemer better than Margot or Franmil Reyes?
Grossman definitely… with Wiemer it depends on what you’re looking for. He definitely has higher ceiling of those two but probably more volatile.
Grossman is my #1 OF pickup this week if he’s available.
What about Profar v. Grossman?