Jack Suwinski (PIT): 2-3, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB.
A trip to Coors Field to face off against José Ureña will do wonders for almost any hitter, and last night that hitter was Jack Suwinski as the Pirates’ young lefty-swinging outfielder posted a 2-3, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB line.
Suwinksi started his day by taking a Ureña slider on the outside edge of the plate the opposite way 364 feet just over the left field wall to put Pittsburgh on the board in the second inning. In his next at-bat, Ureña started things with a first-pitch fastball, but he left it middle-middle and Suwinski didn’t miss. The ball landed 434 feet away in right-centerfield giving the Pirates a 4-3 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
With yesterday’s two home runs, Suwinski’s early season batting line is up to an impressive .265/.350/.647 with four home runs.
That line may make you think you need to rush out and add Suwinski in your fantasy league, but you probably need to hold off. Suwinski looks to be locked into the strong side of a centerfield platoon with Ji Hwan Bae. Until Suwinski starts cracking the lineup every day, he’s best left on the waiver wire.
It may be surprising that Suwinski isn’t a regular starter with how well he’s performed, but a lot of his damage at the plate has come recently —of course, his two home runs yesterday and another he hit on Sunday. Prior to this two-game hot stretch, his batting line was at just .148/.250/.259.
Suwsinski has a lot of raw power, but that does come with a healthy dose of swing-and-miss in his profile. If he does force his way into regular playing time, he’s worth a look if your team needs a power boost, but he struck out 30.6% of the time last year and that number is just a little lower at 27.6% this year.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Tuesday:
Taylor Walls (TB): 4-5, 3B, 2 HR, 4 R, 4 RBI.
Like Suwinski, Walls is another young player with some fun upside, but lack of playing time kills his current fantasy value. After his huge three extra-base hit performance yesterday, Walls is slashing .351/.429/.730 and has dropped his strikeout rate from 25.8% last year to 16.7% this year. The problem? He’s only starting about two of every three games. We all know the Rays love to mix and match their lineups, so even with his strong showing, there’s no guarantee Walls becomes a full-time player. If Walls is truly breaking out alongside Josh Lowe, that’s absolutely game-changing for the Rays, but unfortunately not so much for fantasy managers.
J.D. Martinez (LAD): 4-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.
Martinez drove in nearly all of the Dodgers’ runs in their 5-0 win over the Mets yesterday. He took Tylor Megill deep in both of his first two at-bats, crushing a misplaced slider 438 feet to centerfield to score two in the first and then followed that up by going the opposite way with a 378-foot homer to rightfield to leadoff the third inning. Martinez has had a great debut in Los Angeles as his .869 OPS is the best he’s had since 2019. Both his barrel rate of 14% and his .286 ISO are his best since 2018, a year in which he hit 43 home runs. At 35 years old, I don’t think it’s a good idea to buy into Martinez’s power stroke being fully back, but it’s certainly an encouraging start to the 2023 campaign. If he can get back to hitting 20+ home runs while locked into the middle of the Dodgers’ lineup, he’ll greatly outpace preseason expectations.
Willson Contreras (STL): 2-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
Fresh off of signing a 5-year, $87.5 million deal with the Cardinals, Contreras’ bat was ice cold the first few weeks of April. Entering play yesterday, Contreras was hitting a measly .222/.300/.296, but he took advantage of two lefties out of the Arizona bullpen—Andrew Chafin and Joe Mantiply—for his first two home runs for his new club. Contreras’ first homer was an absolute blast, traveling 441 feet as the furthest hit ball of the day. Unfortunately for St. Louis fans, Contreras may have broke out of his funk but the team did not. The Cardinals lost an 8-7 slugfest to the Diamondbacks, falling to 7-11 and last place in the NL Central.
Marcus Semien (TEX): 2-3, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB.
Semien’s 2023 is starting to look an awful lot like his 2022. He struggled early on, posting a 70 wRC+ in his first 63 at-bats, but has turned things around in a big way as of late. Semien has homered in each of his last three games, moving that wRC+ all the way up to a much more typical 126 mark as the Rangers have won each of those contests. Last year, Semien’s early cold stretch lasted much longer than it did this year, which is great news for Texas fans and his fantasy managers alike.
Gabriel Moreno (ARI): 2-3, 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB.
Back in draft season, Moreno was a fun late catcher option, especially after an injury to Carson Kelly opened the door to Moreno being the regular starter for the Diamondbacks. He hasn’t lived up to that spring excitement thus far, but yesterday’s performance may be the start of good times for Moreno and his fantasy managers. He bullied Jordan Montgomery, notching both his hits against the Cardinals’ starter, and finally drew his first walk of the year against the Redbird bullpen. Moreno’s never shown a great eye at the plate, but as a prospect, he was heralded for his strong hit tool. His batting line now stands at .244/.255/.400 and he’s available in 80% of Yahoo! and 91% of ESPN leagues. He’s absolutely worth a look if you need catching help.
Kerry Carpenter (DET): 3-5, 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI.
In the first game of yesterday’s Detroit-Cleveland doubleheader, Carpenter’s ninth-inning home run off of James Karinchak gave the Tigers’ their third-straight walk-off win—a new team record. Carpenter has been one of the bright spots in Detroit in the season’s early going, hitting .238/.319/.548 as the team’s primary DH and cleanup hitter. He’s started eight of the team’s last nine games, but all of those have come against righties. The Tigers have yet to let Carpenter crack the lineup against a lefty, and until that changes, Carpenter is really only usable in daily moves leagues, or in deep leagues when Detroit is facing six or seven right-handed starters in a week. He’s made strides with his plate discipline this season, bettering both his strikeout and walk rates by over 3%, so it’d be nice to see him become a regular facet on A.J. Hinch’s scorecard.
Christian Yelich (MIL): 3-5, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
The Rays have rightfully stolen all of the attention over the last few weeks, but the Brewers are sitting at 13-5 and looking awfully strong as well with baseball’s third-best record. Yelich powered their 6-5 win in Seattle last night, leading off the game by homering on a Logan Gilbert fastball to set the pace for the Brew Crew. The former MVP already has three home runs this year, a positive sign after he hit just 9 and 14 in 2021 and 2022, respectively. His ISO is up just a tad at .147 over recent seasons, but his overall batting line isn’t; he’s sitting at .240/.329/.387 even after last night’s big game. His 30.6% strikeout rate is troubling to see as that number has usually hovered in the low- to mid-20s over his career. His 70.5% contact rate is down seven points from the last two years, leading to a career-worst 12.3% swinging-strike rate.
Sean Murphy (ATL): 2-4, HR, 3 R, RBI, BB.
Murphy is making a cross-country move look like a piece of cake. He’s settled into Atlanta’s stacked lineup quite nicely, as he blasted his fourth home run of the year last night to go along with 14 RBI and 10 runs scored already. We’ve already seen the impressive numbers the 28-year-old backstop can put up with a subpar supporting cast, so now that he’s in one of the league’s best lineups, the sky is the limit. If you drafted Murphy, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. It’s going to be a good one.
Jazz Chisholm Jr. (MIA): 1-3, HR, R, 3 RBI, BB, SB.
Yesterday’s first combo meal came from MLB The Show 23’s cover athlete. Chisholm Jr. saw a Jakob Junis changeup that caught pretty much the entire plate and hammered it over the right-centerfield wall for his third homer of the year. He added his fifth stolen base in the eighth inning as well. As one of the game’s most exciting power and speed threats, here’s hoping Chisholm can stay healthy all year. If he does, a 20/30 season is surely within reach.
Shohei Ohtani (LAA): 1-3, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, SB.
Not to be outdone by Jazz, the second combo meal last night came from MLB The Show 22’s cover athlete. Ohtani was doing Ohtani things, hitting the ball incredibly hard—his home run was the second hardest hit ball of the day at 116.7mph—and flashing his speed on the basepaths. Yesterday’s steal was his first of the year, and it seems safe to say that we won’t see him get anywhere near the 25+ stolen base level he reached in his 2021 MVP season again. While that’s disappointing, if it keeps him healthy, I don’t think any of his fantasy managers will be upset that they get to see the generational talent on the field more often.
Nick Castellanos (PHI): 3-4, 2 R, RBI, BB.
In the first game of the Phillies and White Sox double-header, Castellanos collected three singles—two well-struck against Lance Lynn and one lucky infield single against Jimmy Lambert that had an xBA of .120. Castellanos is slashing .294/.385/.426 through the season’s first three weeks, and while the results have been good, the quality of contact hasn’t. His Savant page is a sea of blue dots, with his xBA at .194 and his xWOBA at .264. That’s being driven by career worsts in barrel rate (5.4%), fly ball rate (21.6%), and strikeout rate (33.3%). I’m not ready to move on if I’m rostering Castellanos, but if his results come crashing down and there aren’t marked improvements in those categories over the next few weeks, I’d be getting ready to look elsewhere.
Rest of season out look in a 12 team roto single catcher league…Moreno or d’Arnaud?
I think it’s pretty close right now, but I’d lean d’Arnaud. Before his concussion Atlanta was giving him nearly every day at bats and I think that probably continues once he’s back in the lineup. You’ll definitely get more HR, RBI, and R from d’Arnaud which tips the scales, but if you find yourself needing more batting average help Moreno could become your guy. This is Moreno’s first year as a full-time big leaguer, so we should see some growth throughout the season so even if you don’t add him now, he’s a name to keep on your watchlist as the season progresses.