Fantasy Baseball recap: Michael Conforto Returns with a Home Run

Thursday was a weird slate for a couple of reasons. Firstly there were only 11 games with eight of them played in the afternoon. Secondly there was a weird mix of good and bad pitchers. The weird thing there is that most teams are on their second or third pitcher of the rotation and there are some pretty awful names pitching. It seems that the days of teams stacking their rotation conventionally one through five are on the way out. The sad thing about last night is that injuries probably made the biggest headlines so let’s start there and then take a look at the other fantasy relevant MLB story lines from last night.


1. The Sick Bed

I want to start with some positive news so I will begin with the return of Michael Conforto. I did not expect to see Conforto until at least mid-April so this was a nice surprise. Even better was that the Mets used him as a leadoff hitter and he hit a home run. As of this morning Conforto was still available in 23% of Yahoo leagues. He is a must own in all leagues regardless of three or five outfielders so it is worth checking just in case you are one of the leagues he is available in.

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The biggest negative injury news was the knee injury for Corey Knebel. He went down after pitching in a situation where his team were down 6-0 and having already given up a two run home run to Jason Heyward.

Knebel did have some issues with this knee in spring training so unfortunately it may have just got worse. The Brewers have confirmed he will go to the DL which opens up a spot for someone to claim the closer role in Milwaukee.

I would like it to be Josh Hader but they might want to keep Hader in his current role so they may turn elsewhere. Our resident bullpen savant Matt Cunningham will go into this in more detail in his upcoming article but for now if Hader is available I am grabbing him for insurance. Whoever takes the role if they perform well could keep it even after Knebel returns given his early season struggle in two outings.

Another injury that has both good and bad news is Adam Eaton also appearing to injure himself yesterday. The good news is that Eaton said he shouldn’t miss much time and should be back soon. The bad news is for the Trea Turner owners who briefly thought they may see him hit leadoff regularly. If Eaton is back soon then expect to see Turner hitting down the order as he has been so far. In deep leagues the direct replacement is Brian Goodwin but if this does become long term we may see Victor Robles which makes him an insurance add this week if you have the bench space.

2. The Price is right!

Two starts and two good outings for David Price is definitely encouraging news for those that took the risk drafting him. I think Price will be fine and was actually relatively high on him in pre-season. However, I want to temper expectations as both his starts have been against the Rays who have a fairly poor offense. I would actually be tempted to float him out to my league and see if someone is willing to overpay at this stage. If someone was willing to offer me a top 15 starting pitcher I might look to make that deal because I think there will still be more outings from Price than the guy you get in return.

3. The bounce back club

Robbie Ray struck out nine Cardinals in six innings in his bounce back performance. This is encouraging, especially on the road, given his bad first start. However, he did walk five batters so this start does not make me completely confident in him. The issue is that if you drafted him then you must expect something special. If you did get him at a discount for some reason I might look to sell for a top 10-15 pitcher if someone is willing to do it.

Another guy I was nervous about was Jon Lester but he had six strikeouts in six shout out innings at Miller Park. Interestingly Lester has struggled in his start against a contact based, limited upside, offense in Miami but been successful against a high upside, more power based, offense in Milwaukee. That is definitely a trend to watch but this start indicates the wheels are not falling off for the veteran lefty.

4. The intriguing young guns

Nick Pivetta had nine strikeouts in 5.2 innings against the Marlins. This one is interesting because I do not expect the Marlins to be a strikeout heavy team. Two elements come into play here though; firstly Lewis Brinson and Cameron Maybin struck out a combined six times on the night. Both of these a prone to striking out and Pivetta benefitted with five of these. I am not sure if this says something about Pivetta’s pitching or just that those two had an off night. The second element is that the Marlins seemed to approach the Cubs pitching with an attitude of respecting the good pitcher and maybe they didn’t show Pivetta enough respect. In a park which can favour hitting the Marlins may have just been a bit too aggressive in this start. Pivetta is an interesting guy for deeper elagues but is at best a streamer for now in shallow leagues

Joey Lucchesi had a seven strikeout performance in five innings against the Rockies. Lucchesi was the ninth ranked prospect in the Padres system entering the season. This outing comes off the back of a relatively rough outing against the Brewers, his next start is also in Colorado, so there is no action to be taken right now but he is definitely a guy to keep an eye on in upcoming starts.

5. Saves saves saves

Obviously the headline is Corey Knebel but there were a couple of other notes regarding closers lower down the pecking order.

Keone Kela picked up his second save in as many days firmly planting him at the current Rangers reliever to own. For now he is the guy I expect to get most of their saves and I think he is good enough to keep the job for the season. However, be aware that closing for the Rangers is somewhat of a poison chalice in recent years.

Shane Greene struck out three in his first save of the year. He had a rough first outing this season but his next two have been an improvement. Playing for Detroit he won’t see many saves but he is worth owning because a decent closer on a bad team can get you 15-20 saves in half a year. As we get closer to the trade deadline he might be a guy to look to move if he has been successful as Detroit may look to flip him to a contender for prospects.

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