Week Ahead: Mighty Mariner

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No matter the prospect hype, the reality is that we never really know how or when a top prospect will have their “breakout” in the majors. Seattle right-hander Logan Gilbert is a great case study.

The 14th overall pick in the 2018 draft, he couldn’t have had more hype when he was finally promoted by the Mariners last May. Yet, for all the optimism, Gilbert didn’t exactly hit the ground running, failing to get past the fourth inning in his first three starts with a 7.59 ERA.

Eventually, Gilbert started to figure out MLB hitters, as evidenced by his 2.70 ERA in his six starts during September, but his season wasn’t without major hiccups that resulted in a mediocre 4.68 ERA in 24 starts. Still, Gilbert was a popular sleeper heading into draft season due in part to his strong finish and great 4.57 K/BB ratio in his rookie campaign.

The 2022 season is still in its infancy, but Gilbert is showing what all the fuss was about in Spring Training. He’s arguably been the best pitcher in baseball through three turns in the rotation, allowing only one earned run in 16.2 innings with 15/1 K/BB. The early returns don’t show much improvement on his fastball, which was his best pitch last season and averaged about 95 mph. Instead, it’s the improvement of Gilbert’s secondary stuff that has made all the difference. Gilbert has added velocity to his slider, curveball, and changeup, and all three pitches have been more effective early this season.

Seattle signed reigning AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray in the offseason, but at least in the early going, Gilbert has been their ace. There is plenty of time for that to change, though Gilbert’s peripherals are very much in line with the results as he enters a two-start week on the road in Florida.

-Toronto effectively replaced Ray with Kevin Gausman, and the move is working out so far. Gausman has yet to walk a batter in 18.2 innings, helping him nearly match his 2.81 ERA from last season through three starts. It certainly helps the former home run prone pitcher that home runs are well down this season. Not only has Gausman been dominant, but he’s also faced the challenging lineups of the Yankees and Red Sox in the process. If the impeccable control continues, it’s reasonable to expect Gausman to finish higher in the Cy Young voting than he did last season (sixth).

-We’ve seen terrific starts from oft-injured pitchers like Luis Severino, Carlos Rodon, Noah Syndergaard, and Miles Mikolas. At this point, we can only keep our fingers crossed that these pitchers have full, healthy seasons, but the early returns are great. Severino and Rodon have seen complete rebounds in velocity, while Syndergaard and Mikolas are getting by in spite of some velocity loss with great control. So far, so good for fantasy managers who took the discount on draft day and assumed the risks.

-If you bet MLB over/unders, you might have noticed Baltimore’s early trend. They started the season 0-11-1 on overs before finally going over yesterday. The fences were finally moved back in Camden Yards to begin the season, but we should have expected to market to adjust heading into the season. Apparently, the market didn’t adjust quite enough, as the O’s offense has been completely inept with 28 runs in 13 games, while the pitching has been adequate despite the elbow injury to John Means. We should expect Baltimore to regress on both accounts, with examples like Jordan Lyles sporting a 3.52 ERA in spite of his 1.57 WHIP, and Cedric Mullins having a .196 batting average and .660 OPS. Patience is one of the most difficult skills for fantasy managers, but this is another example that requires fantasy managers to bide their time.

Going Twice…

Note: Probable pitchers as of Friday, April 22, and are subject to change.

American League

Strong Plays

Shane Bieber: @LAA, @OAK

Logan Gilbert: @TB, @MIA

Kevin Gausman: BOS, HOU

Nathan Eovaldi: @TOR, @BAL

Luis Severino: BAL, @KC

Decent Plays

Jose Berrios: BOS, HOU

Triston McKenzie: @LAA, @OAK

Framber Valdez: @TEX, @TOR

Eduardo Rodriguez: @MIN, @LAD

Michael Lorenzen: CLE, @CHW

Dane Dunning: HOU, ATL

At Your Own Risk

Daniel Lynch: @CHW, NYY

Jake Odorizzi: @TEX, @TOR

Josh Fleming: SEA, MIN

Jordan Lyles: @NYY, BOS

Dallas Keuchel: KC, LAA

National League

Strong Plays

Corbin Burnes: SF, CHC

Brandon Woodruff: @PIT, CHC

Sandy Alcantara: @WAS, SEA

Max Fried: CHC, @TEX

Walker Buehler: @ARI, DET

Carlos Rodon: @MIL, WAS

Joe Musgrove: @CIN, @PIT

Decent Plays

Tylor Megill: @STL, PHI

Merrill Kelly: LAD, @STL

Kyle Gibson: COL, @NYM

Miles Mikolas: NYM, ARI

Marcus Stroman: @ATL, @MIL

Zach Eflin: COL, @NYM

Mitch Keller: MIL, SD

German Marquez: @PHI, CIN

At Your Own Risk

Zach Davies: LAD, @STL

Kyle Freeland: @PHI, CIN

Jordan Hicks: NYM, ARI

Joan Adon: MIA, @SF

Reiver Sanmartin: SD, @COL

Streamer City

The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:

American League

Tuesday, April 26: Chris Paddack vs. DET

Paddack has been solid in two starts with no walks allowed, and saw his velocity bounce back in his second outing. Detroit’s offense has been poor early, averaging only three runs per game.

Wednesday, April 27: Michael Pineda @ MIN

Pineda was great in his season debut against the Yankees, and now has an opportunity to face another one of his former teams in the Twins. Minnesota’s offense has been nearly as inept as Detroit, with only 41 runs in 13 games, and Pineda is a home run prone pitcher who benefits from the early MLB power outage.

Friday, April 29: Rich Hill @ BAL

Hill has looked his age through two starts, but a trip to Camden Yards could be just what he needs. The aforementioned larger confines and poor Baltimore lineup make Hill worthy of a flier.

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National League

Thursday, April 28: Adrian Houser @ PIT

Houser hasn’t been seeing the elite groundball rate we’re used to from him early this season, but the velocity and pitch mix has been consistent with past seasons. As expected, Pittsburgh’s offense continues to struggle this season with only 49 runs in 13 games.

Thursday, April 28: Dakota Hudson vs. ARI

Arizona is tied for the fewest runs scored in the NL (37), and their record is representative of those offensive struggles. Hudson’s groundball rate remains strong, and the Diamondbacks lineup could put him back on track.

Friday, April 29: Tyler Anderson vs. DET

Anderson could be a popular pickup in fantasy leagues this weekend as Andrew Heaney’s rotation replacement. The lefty has been nearly perfect while working out of the pen, throwing more cutters than normal, and has a very favorable matchup next week against the Tigers.

Total Games

American League

5: OAK

6: BAL, CHW, DET, KC, MIN, NYY, SEA, TB

7: BOS, CLE, HOU, LAA, TEX, TOR

National League

6: ATL, CHC, CIN, LAD, MIA, NYM, PIT, SD, SF, WAS

7: ARI, COL, MIL, PHI, STL

The Infirmary

Here’s some injuries to prominent players from the last week, and other players to watch for in the coming week. You can get a full listing of injured players at NBCSports Edge’s Injury Page.

Jose Altuve: Placed on IL (hamstring)

Alex Cobb: Placed on IL (groin)

Steven Duggar: Status uncertain (oblique)

Clint Frazier: Placed on IL (appendicitis)

Jon Gray: Placed on IL (knee)

Sonny Gray: Placed on IL (hamstring)

Garrett Hampson: Placed on IL (hand)

Mitch Haniger: Placed on IL (COVID-19)

Josh Harrison: Day-to-day (shoulder)

Andrew Heaney: Placed on IL (shoulder)

Chad Kuhl: Day-to-day (hip)

Jed Lowrie: Placed on IL (COVID-19)

Gavin Lux: Day-to-day (back)

Matt Manning: Placed on IL (shoulder)

J.D. Martinez: Day-to-day (groin)

Owen Miller: Placed on IL (COVID-19)

Casey Mize: Placed on IL (elbow)

Mike Moustakas: Placed on IL (arm)

Tyler Naquin: Placed on IL (illness)

Chad Pinder: Placed on IL (COVID-19)

Kevin Plawecki: Day-to-day (COVID-19)

Ryan Pressly: Placed on IL (knee)

Cal Quantrill: Placed on IL (COVID-19)

Luis Robert: Day-to-day (groin)

Hyun Jin Ryu: Placed on IL (elbow)

Kevin Smith: Placed on IL (leg)

Tyler Stephenson: Placed on IL (concussion)

Luis Torrens: Placed on IL (COVID-19)

Blake Treinen: Day-to-day (arm)

Lou Trivino: Placed on IL (COVID-19)

Mike Trout: Day-to-day (hand)