There’s a certain satisfaction in a quick start to the season. That’s never been more apt than this unique 60-game MLB season.
Kyle Hendricks and Shane Bieber were some of the stars on Friday, and Reds flamethrower Luis Castillo pitched a gem of his own on Saturday. He did give up a run in the first inning to the Tigers, but otherwise mowed down the anemic Detroit lineup.
Among Castillo’s highlights were 11 strikeouts in six innings. An extreme groundball pitcher during his career, Castillo was also getting regular grounders with a 5/2 groundball-to-flyball ratio.
It’s certainly true that the Tigers lineup isn’t all that threatening in 2020, but that shouldn’t take away from how good Castillo looked in his season debut. The right-hander painted with his high-90’s fastball and wicked changeup, and most significantly, had his control in check with only one walk allowed. After posting a 2.6 BB/9 in 2018, Castillo’s control regressed last year (3.7 BB/9) and was one of the causes of his disappointing second half.
Fantasy managers certainly have reason to be excited about the early returns from Castillo no matter the opponent or unfortunate blown win by the Reds bullpen. His next scheduled vs. the Cubs on Thursday should be a much more difficult test, but one that Castillo is highly capable of conquering if he pitches like he did on Saturday.
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Only two games into the season and the Mets are seemingly already having closer issues. Edwin Diaz couldn’t solve his problems last year, and he blew his first save on Saturday just a day after recording a save on Friday, as Marcell Ozuna launched a solo shot against Diaz to tie the game in the ninth.
It’s certainly early for the Mets to be looking at other closer options, though it should also be noted that new manager Luis Rojas never actually committed to Diaz as his closer, suggesting in early July that he could use a committee.
Of course, the Mets closer situation isn’t the only one in question just a few days into the season. Saves were recorded by relative surprise pitchers from the Royals, Rays, and Giants on Saturday, as well.
New Royals manager Mike Matheny stuck to his word about not naming a closer, using 2019 closer Ian Kennedy in critical middle relief and giving former MLB closer Greg Holland the ball in the extra innings to get the save.
Nick Anderson looked like the favorite to earn saves for Tampa Bay after the team traded Emilio Pagan in the offseason, but he appeared in a tie game in the seventh and eighth innings before Oliver Drake got the ninth inning nod.
Giants manager Gabe Kapler used Trevor Gott as the first entrant in his closer committee, as the right-hander held on despite allowing a home run to Will Smith in the ninth inning.
Finding the right closers has never been more critical for fantasy managers than this shortened season, and these situations already look fluid in just the first weekend of the MLB season.
In previous seasons, The Week Ahead was posted on Fridays and featured the upcoming week’s two-start pitchers. With more changes in two-start weeks expected this week, we’ve moved the two-start list to Sunday’s Daily Dose.
Notes: Probable pitchers as of Saturday, July 25, and are subject to change.
Gerrit Cole: @PHI, BOS
Tyler Glasnow: ATL, @BAL
Aaron Civale: CHW, @MIN
Josh James: SEA, @LAA
Yonny Chirinos: ATL, @BAL
Griffin Canning: @OAK, HOU
Chris Bassitt: LAA, @SEA
Dylan Cease: @CLE, @KC
Zach Plesac: CHW, @MIN
J.A. Happ: @PHI, BOS
Tanner Roark: @WAS, PHI
At Your Own Risk
Homer Bailey: STL, CLE
Trent Thornton: @WAS, PHI
Kendall Graveman: @HOU, OAK
Michael Fulmer: KC, CIN
Asher Wojciechowski: @MIA, TB
Walker Buehler: @HOU, @ARI
Mike Foltynewicz: @TB, NYM
Luke Weaver: @SD, LAD
Anibal Sanchez: TOR, @MIA
Pablo Lopez: BAL, WAS
Austin Voth: TOR, @MIA
Adrian Houser: @PIT, STL
Wade Miley: CHC, @DET
Jon Lester: @CIN, PIT
Joey Lucchesi: @SF, @COL
At Your Own Risk
Kyle Wright: @TB, NYM
Zach Davies: ARI, @COL
Michael Wacha: @BOS, @ATL
Elieser Hernandez: BAL, WAS
Merrill Kelly: @TEX, LAD
Derek Holland: MIL, @CHC
Steven Brault: MIL, @CHC
Alec Mills: @CIN, PIT
Antonio Senzatela: @OAK, SD
American League Quick Hits: Stuck without a place to play, Yankees outfielder Clint Frazier was optioned to Triple-A following Saturday’s game. He should be back if the Yankees suffer an injury. … Cameron Maybin was removed from Saturday’s game with what’s being called a lower body cramp. … Aledmys Diaz was placed on the 10-day IL with a groin strain that’s between Grade 1 and Grade 2. … Dylan Covey was optioned following Saturday’s relief appearance. He’s a candidate to rejoin Boston as a starter soon. … The Yankees signed reliever Fernando Abad to a minor league deal. … Tyler Naquin just can’t catch a break. He’s headed to the 10-day IL with a hairline fracture in his right big toe… Thomas Hatch is getting a look as Toronto’s “fifth starter” on Sunday. … Anthony Rendon remained out of the lineup with an oblique issue. … Former first-round pick Carson Fulmer was claimed off waivers by the Tigers. … Rich Hill was scratched from his scheduled start Saturday, but is expected to make his Twins debut on Wednesday. … John Means should return from a minor arm injury on Thursday. … Isiah Kiner-Falefa was scratched due to hamstring tightness. … Hunter Harvey (arm) won’t be ready to return when eligible this week.
Mike Minor pitched well in his first start of the year, allowing one earned run in five innings vs. Colorado. … James Paxton only lasted into the second inning in his season debut, allowing three runs against Washington. … Giancarlo Stanton hit the ball out of the park for the second time in as many games on Saturday. … Brady Singer was excellent in his MLB debut, allowing two runs in five innings with seven punchouts vs. Cleveland. The 2018 first-round pick looks like he’s in Kansas City to stay. … Roberto Osuna threw a scoreless ninth inning on Saturday. That’s significant because he was behind in camp, but it sounds like Osuna owners can breathe a sigh of relief for now. … After missing nearly all of 2019, Taijuan Walker was knocked around by the Astros, allowing five runs in 3.1 innings. … Just one day after taking an extra-inning loss on Friday, Hansel Robles came back to record his first save of the season on Saturday. … Jesus Luzardo threw three scoreless innings in relief. He’s a candidate to join Oakland’s starting rotation sooner than later… Dylan Bundy impressed with one run allowed in 6.2 innings against Oakland. … Kyle Lewis is the early frontrunner for AL Rookie of the Year, hitting his second homer in as many games.
National League Quick Hits: Stephen Strasburg was scratched from his start due to a nerve issue in his throwing hand, but he’s only considered day-to-day. Erick Fedde started in his place.… Juan Soto had received his first lab-confirmed negative COVID-19 test. He needs one more to return to the Nats, so the star outfielder could be back early this week. … Eric Hosmer was a late scratch for the Padres due to a “non-COVID illness”… The Giants signed Chris Herrmann to a minor league deal. He could contribute this year with the team desperate for help at catcher… Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart was placed on paternity leave. … Matt Davidson went on the 10-day IL for the Reds after testing positive for COVID-19. 2019 late-season star Aristides Aquino replaced him on the roster. …Giants corner infielders Brandon Belt and Evan Longoria should come off the IL early this week. … Dustin May will get at least one more start for the Dodgers after replacing Clayton Kershaw on Opening Day. … Jesse Dougherty of The Washington Post reports the Nationals are close to signing Josh Harrison. … Luis Urias is recovered from COVID-19 and has been cleared to workout. … Gregory Polanco could return this week from COVID-19.
It was a Robbie Ray special for the Diamondbacks on Saturday night, as the erratic lefty fanned seven batters but exited after 3.1 innings, allowing three runs. … Asdrubal Cabrera had himself a day, going 3-for-4 with a home run and double. He should continue to find at-bats as long as he’s hitting. … Perhaps the best story of early 2020, Rockies reliever Daniel Bard threw 1.1 scoreless innings in his first MLB appearance since 2013. … Bard’s name is significant if Wade Davis doesn’t pitch better than last year. His first save of the year was shaky, allowing a run in one inning against Texas. … Phil Gosselin, of all players, launched two home runs for the Phillies on Saturday. … Alex Wood would like to forget about his first start of the year, allowing three runs in three innings to the lowly Giants lineup. … Christian Yelich hit his first of what will likely be many home runs this season.