Andrew Heaney Shines in 11-Strikeout Victory

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It has been a very long time since Andrew Heaney has really been considered a valuable pitcher in the fantasy game from a mixed league perspective. Even in his best full season of work – with the Angels in 2018 – he went 9-10 with a 4.15 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 180/45 K/BB ratio over 180 innings of work. Not exactly a league winner.

He’s always had terrific stuff though and the ability to miss plenty of bats. If only he were able to find a team that could unlock that potential. Enter, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The move to the Dodgers did move the needle a bit from a fantasy perspective this spring, as Heaney became a bit of a trendy late-round option near the end of March. In NFBC Main Event drafts, Heaney’s average draft position was pick 288 – with a min of 237 and a max of 364. Personally, I took a shot on him at pick 305 in one of my Main Event drafts.

His first start gave reason for optimism, as he allowed just one unearned run on three hits while racking up five strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings in a no-decision against the Twins. He commanded his newly-developed slider beautifully in that start – down-and-in to right-handed hitters and down-and-away to left-handed batters – generating 15 total whiffs (nine on the slider) and registering an elite CSW of 37 percent.

He kicked his game up a notch on Sunday. Yes, it was against the Reds, but what Heaney was able to do in his home debut at Dodger Stadium was incredible. The left-hander allowed just one hit and three walks while piling up 11 strikeouts over six shutout innings. The 11 punchouts represent Heaney’s highest single-game total since August of 2019. Overall, he threw 56 of his 89 pitches for strikes and generated 16 swinging strikes – 14 of those on his slider – and posted a stellar CSW of 37 percent for the second straight start.

Heaney’s velocity is actually down a full mile per hour from where it was a season ago, averaging just 90.9 mph during this start. It’s entirely possible that once the league keys into his new slider (that he threw a whopping 44 percent of the time on Sunday), that things will change. It’s also possible that the Dodgers just know what they’re doing with their reclamation projects and have unlocked a new level for the 30-year-old hurler. Either way, he needs to be owned in all mixed leagues until we find out. His next test will come on Friday against the division-rival Padres in San Diego.

Mike Trout Survives Injury Scare

Angels superstar outfielder Mike Trout survived an injury scare on Sunday when he was drilled on the top of the left hand by a pitch from Spencer Patton during their battle against the Rangers.

Trout looked to be in a considerable amount of pain afterwards and was immediately pulled from the game. Fortunately, X-rays came back negative for any fractures and he’s considered day-to-day. Angels skipper Joe Maddon said after Sunday’s game that it’s unlikely Trout plays on Monday, but he should return to the lineup early in the week.

Fantasy managers in weekly and bi-weekly leagues may have a decision on their hands if Trout is going to miss the first couple games of the week.

Starting Pitchers with an EDGE

Nestor Cortes Jr. - 5 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 1 BB, 12 K, 39% CSW, 15 swinging strikes

The 27-year-old southpaw was absolutely dealing in this one, racking up a career-high 12 strikeouts over just five innings of work. Ten of the whiffs came on his cutter which posted a 47 percent CSW on 36 pitches. Cortes has flashed this type of upside before – against the Orioles no less – striking out 11 over 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball in Baltimore last September. Through his first two starts he has yet to allow a run while posting a minuscule 0.75 WHIP and 17/1 K/BB ratio over 9 1/3 innings. He draws another nice matchup against the Guardians his next time out on Saturday. Somehow, this guy is still just 53 percent rostered in Yahoo leagues. That needs to change.

Yu Darvish - 6 2/3 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 0 BB, 8 K, W (1), 33% CSW, 16 swinging strikes

Darvish delivered one of the worst starts of his career on Tuesday, giving up a ridiculous nine runs on eight hits over just 1 2/3 innings in a loss to the Giants. Thankfully, he decided to repay fantasy managers a bit on Sunday with an absolute gem in a victory over the Braves. The only run that he allowed came on a solo shot by Marcell Ozuna leading off the seventh inning. He has now been terrific in two starts and absolutely abysmal in the other – leading to a 6.28 ERA and 1.26 WHIP to go along with a 13/6 K/BB ratio over 14 1/3 innings.

Matt Brash - 5 1/3 IP, 2 ER, 2 H, 6 BB, 5 K, W (1), 35% CSW, 9 swinging strikes

Man, is this kid fun to watch. The 23-year-old hurler didn’t even have his best stuff in this one – and struggled badly with his command – and he still carried a no-hit bid into the sixth inning. Eventually, he allowed a leadoff single to Jose Altuve in the sixth and then a one-out two-run blast to Michael Brantley, but that was the extent of the damage. Brash struck out five on the night – averaging 95.4 mph on his fastball and touching as high as 97.2 mph. He’s going to be a viable mixed league arm this season – and could be an every week starter in deeper formats.

Hitters with an EDGE

Seiya Suzuki - 1-for-3, HR (4), RBI, R, 2 BB

It’s only been a 35 plate appearance sample, but it’s starting to look like this 27-year-old slugger is legit. Suzuki is slashing a monstrous .400/.543/.960 with four long balls and 11 RBI while lighting up the Statcast leaderboards. What’s especially intriguing is that he’s in the 91st percentile in sprint speed, indicating that there could be stolen base upside coming to this power profile. Any fantasy managers that have invested have to be thrilled at the early returns.

Thairo Estrada - 2-for-4, HR (2), 4 RBI, 2 R, 2B

Estrada smacked a two-run homer off of Aaron Civale, then drove in runs with a fielder’s choice and an RBI double in this one. While the Giants are known as a team that platoons as often as they can, make no mistake – Thairo Estrada is the team’s everyday second baseman. He has logged every inning at second base for the Giants through nine games this season and should continue to do so – at least until Tommy La Stella returns. He’s got a bit of pop and a bit of speed and should be a viable middle infielder in deeper mixed leagues for as long as he continues to play.

Freddie Freeman - 4-for-5, 3 RBI, R

Freeman is still searching for his first home run as a member of the Dodgers, but he found other ways to contribute in Sunday’s lopsided victory over the Reds. He smacked a two-run single in the fourth inning that increased their lead to 7-0, then delivered a run-scoring single in the eighth to make it an 8-1 game. He’s now slashing .324/.381/.405 with four RBI on the season.

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EDGE Priority Pickup

Nestor Cortes Jr., SP, New York Yankees – Available in 47% of Yahoo fantasy leagues.

I already harped on this egregious miscarriage of rostership above, but it bears repeating. It’s crazy to me that Cortes Jr. is only rostered in 53 percent of Yahoo leagues after the two gems that he has delivered to begin the 2022 season. He’s got another tremendous matchup on tap against the Guardians this week and if you rush to the waiver wire right now you too may be able to go along for the ride.

Closing Time

Josh Hader vs. Cardinals - 1 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 BB, 2 K (4th save)

The best in the game got it done again on Sunday, striking out Tyler O’Neill and Nolan Arenado while retiring the heart of the Cardinals lineup in order to protect a one-run lead. The 28-year-old southpaw has been as advertised this season, registering a 0.00 ERA, 0.75 WHIP and 6/2 K/BB ratio through his first four innings of work while converting all four of his save opportunities. Sunday’s save was the 100th in his illustrious young career.

David Robertson vs. Rockies - 1 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 BB, 1 K (3rd save)

Robertson notched his third save of the season with a perfect inning of work to protect a two-run lead against the Rockies on Sunday. Mychal Givens siphoned a save chance on Thursday, and may continue to get the occasional look in the ninth inning, but Robertson certainly looks to be the clear leader in the committee for manager David Ross. He has yet to allow a run through four innings on the season while converting each of his first three save chances.

Jordan Romano vs. Athletics - 1 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 1 BB, 0 K (6th save)

The year of Jordan Romano continued on Sunday, as he closed out a one-run victory over the Athletics to earn his Major League leading sixth save of the season. He has been unbelievable thus far, firing six shutout innings with a 0.67 WHIP and 6/1 K/BB ratio while converting all six of his save chances. As long as he avoids the injured list, he should finish the season as a top-five closer.

David Bednar vs. Nationals - 1 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 1 BB, 1 K (1st save)

It only took nine games for the Pirates to generate their first real save chance of the season – and it was Bednar who got the call from manager Derek Shelton. Of course, that could just be because Chris Stratton came on with a four-run lead in the ninth inning on Saturday and allowed a pair of runs – after Bednar had worked in the eighth. Bednar has been great to start the season, hurling 4 2/3 scoreless frames with a 0.86 WHIP and 4/2 K/BB ratio. Until we see a few more save opportunities though, this still looks like a timeshare between Bednar and Stratton.

Taylor Rogers vs. Braves - 1 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 BB, 2 K (4th save)

Rogers continued to solidify his spot in the ninth inning for the Padres and climb his way up to the elite closer ranks with another tremendous outing on Sunday. Protecting a one-run lead, he came on and retired Paul Goldschmidt, Tyler O’Neill and Nolan Arenado in order – the final two on strikes. He has yet to allow a run through four innings on the season while posting a microscopic 0.25 WHIP and 5/0 K/BB ratio.

Monday’s Matchup of the Day

Dylan Bundy (MIN) vs. Rich Hill (BOS)

There are several intriguing pitching matchups on the docket for Monday, but the one that I’m most looking forward to is the Patriot’s Day battle at Fenway Park in Boston. A tradition unlike any other, this annual super early start in Boston is sure to give fantasy managers fits as they go to set their lineups and find that all Red Sox and Twins hitters have already locked at 11:10 AM Eastern time – 8:10 Pacific. Consider this your warning.

There’s intrigue in the matchup itself too though. After a miserable 2021 campaign, Dylan Bundy actually showed signs of life in his first start with the Twins – striking out two over five shutout innings against the Mariners. It’ll be interesting to see how he navigates this powerful Red Sox lineup.

On the other side, 42-year-old southpaw Rich Hill takes the hill for the Red Sox. He’ll be doing so with a heavy heart as his father passed away on Friday. The elder Hill had run in the Boston Marathon a whopping 37 times during his life so there’s extra motivation for Hill on such a special day for the city of Boston.

In his first start of the season, Hill allowed three runs on five hits over 4 1/3 innings against the Tigers, striking out four in the process.

American League Quick Hits: The Blue Jays placed left-hander Hyun Jin Ryu on the 10-day injured list with left forearm inflammation. There’s no clear timeline for how much time he may miss yet. … Yordan Alvarez (illness) is expected to return to the Astros lineup on Monday. … The Tigers recalled infielder Willi Castro from Triple-A Toledo. … Joe Kelly (biceps) looked good during a recent bullpen session. … Red Sox manager Alex Cora indicated that Tanner Houck will not travel with the team to Toronto during their upcoming road trip as he is among the players that are not vaccinated.

Bruce Zimmermann struck out six over five scoreless innings in a no-decision against the Yankees. … Jorge Lopez fired two scoreless innings to earn a victory in relief there. … Bailey Ober surrendered just a pair of unearned runs over six innings in a loss to the Red Sox. … Michael Wacha allowed just one hit over five scoreless innings against the Twins. … Alek Manoah struck out six over six innings of two-run ball in a victory over the Athletics. … Adolis Garcia belted a two-run homer in a loss to the Angels. … Tyler Wade collected two hits and swiped his second base of the season in a win over the Rangers. … Jose Urquidy gave up six runs on eight hits over four innings in a loss to the Mariners. … Ty France went 2-for-4 with a three-run homer to lead the Mariners past the Astros.

National League Quick Hits: Ronald Acuña Jr. (knee) is scheduled to begin his minor league rehab assignment at Triple-A Gwinnett on Tuesday. … Garrett Hampson landed on the 10-day injured list with a right hand contusion. … Randal Grichuk (back) returned to the Rockies lineup on Sunday. … Phillies skipper Joe Girardi indicated that J.T. Realmuto may be his primary leadoff hitter going forward. … Jonathan India (hamstring) missed his third straight game, though he’s tentatively expected to return on Monday. … Lucas Sims (elbow) is expected to make two more appearances on his minor league rehab assignment at Triple-A Louisville before joining the Reds bullpen on Friday. … Wil Myers (thumb) missed his third straight game, though he’s expected to return to the lineup on Monday. … Austin Adams (forearm) is heading for an ominous second opinion after getting the results from his MRI exam. … Mike Clevinger will make another minor league rehab start at Triple-A El Paso on Tuesday. … Blake Snell (groin) is scheduled to throw a side session on Tuesday.

Alex Wood struck out five over five shutout innings in a victory over the Guardians. … Brandon Belt smacked a two-run homer – his third of the season – to lead the charge there. … David Peterson fired 4 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball against the Diamondbacks in his first start of the season. … Pete Alonso clubbed a two-run homer in a victory over the D’Backs and now has a whopping 14 RBI through his first 10 games. … Bryce Harper went 3-for-5 with a homer and a double in a loss to the Marlins. … Jazz Chisholm had a double, triple and three RBI as the Marlins clobbered the Nationals. … Elieser Hernandez hurled six innings of one-run ball to earn a victory there. … Zack Wheeler was demolished for seven runs over three-plus innings in a loss to the Marlins. … Albert Pujols blasted a three-run homer off of Aaron Ashby in a loss to the Brewers. … Aaron Ashby allowed three unearned runs over four innings against the Cardinals in his first start of the season. … Drew Smyly fanned four over 4 1/3 shutout innings against the Rockies. … Nick Madrigal went 3-for-5 and scored a pair of runs in a victory over the Rockies. … Tyler Mahle was lit up for seven runs on seven hits over 3 1/3 innings in a loss to the Dodgers. … Marcell Ozuna crushed his fourth homer in a loss to the Padres on Sunday night.