The Strikeout: First Weekend Recap

Which two-start pitchers should you target this week? Is A.J. Puk the closer in Miami? What other performances should you keep in mind as the season gets going?

Miami Marlins relief pitcher A.J. Puk celebrates with catcher Nick Fortes. They are wearing blue hats with white uniforms.

“The Strikeout” is a column by Diego Ynzunza dedicated to all things fantasy baseball.

Welcome to Week Five of “The Strikeout.” That first weekend went by quickly, and it featured some incredible performances. However, there is a lot of ground to cover from a fantasy perspective, so let’s get into it. Keep in mind that these performances should be taken with a grain of salt considering that the hitters only had 3-4 games worth of AB’s, and some pitchers have only had 1 appearance.

Notable performances

Wander Franco went 7-for-11 with a homer, two doubles and a stolen base. Baseball’s former top prospect took advantage of the Tigers’ subpar arms and put up a noteworthy weekend. For those of you who roster him, I believe that this is only the beginning. We could see Franco going in the top 20 of drafts next year if he continues to hit like this. The stolen bases should keep coming as well. I’m a big Franco guy and hope he keeps it up.

A.J. Puk secured the save for the Marlins on Friday. Unfortunately, that was the only save situation for the Marlins all weekend. Matt Barnes pitched Saturday and Sunday, most likely cementing Puk as the Marlins go-to guy for saves. He did give up a homer to Pete Alonso, but the stuff looked good. He’s only rostered in 37% of CBS leagues, so get him now while you can.

Nolan Gorman went 4-for-9 over the weekend with two homers. Gorman carries with him an immense amount of prospect pedigree, with power being his most tantalizing tool. I liked Gorman a lot coming into the year. He’s going to get regular playing time at second base, as the Cardinals believe it’s time to let their prized prospect loose at the major league level. I like Gorman as a breakout player this year, and this first weekend was a good place to start.

Seth Lugo had an incredible day on Sunday. He made his first start in years for his new team in San Diego, and he did not disappoint. He went seven innings, while only giving up one earned run on four hits and seven strikeouts. Lugo is intriguing because he’s always wanted to be a starting pitcher but never got the opportunity to with the Mets. The Padres have seemingly given him the opportunity to earn a spot in their rotation, and his first start of the regular season did not disappoint. While it was against an average Rockies lineup away from Coors Field, he still performed excellently and is someone you should consider picking up, as he is only 32% rostered in CBS leagues.

Two-start pitchers for the week of April 3

Michael Grove won the Dodgers’ fifth spot in the starting rotation, and is projected to make a start on Monday at home against the Rockies and also some time this weekend at Arizona. Grove had a 5.40 ERA and 1.08 WHIP during spring training, as well as 17 K’s. These matchups are decent. The Rockies away from Coors Field are always good to bet on, and I’m not fully sold on the revamped D-Backs lineup. However, if you want to take a wait-and-see approach with Grove, I wouldn’t blame you.

Kyle Bradish emerged toward the end of last season as a legitimate rosterable fantasy starting pitcher. He put up a really good final stretch, which he looks to continue to build on this year. Bradish has matchups against the Rangers and Yankees. While the Yankees will definitely be a tough lineup to deal with, I think Bradish has the skills to limit the damage. He features a wipeout slider, above-average curveball and a mediocre fastball by movement. I’d be willing to take the risk on Bradish, even in spite of the Yankees matchup.

Yusei Kikuchi is only 55% rostered in CBS leagues and probably deservedly so. He put up a 5.19 ERA with a 1.50 WHIP last year, but that wasn’t with his new increase in velocity. He came into spring training throwing a couple miles per hour harder, which could help him increase effectiveness. He has matchups against the Royals and Angels this week, and I see him putting up great starts in both games. He was great at getting whiffs last year (top 15% in the league) and put up 31 strikeouts in 20.2 innings this spring. Let’s hope the swing and miss and increased velocity lead to good outcomes.

Thanks for joining me for this week’s edition of “The Strikeout.” This first full week of games is exciting, and I hope you all enjoy the action.

“The Strikeout” runs every Monday.