Oh my goodness gracious, Elly De La Cruz. One of the most hyped prospects of the past few years has, at least through the first three weeks of his career, somehow managed to exceed the hype.
Despite going 0 for 4 Sunday, he's hitting .338/.400/.603 through his first 75 trips to the plate in the majors, and he had his most exciting performance yet Friday when he became the youngest player to hit for the cycle in 51 years. And, of course, the self-anointed "Fastest Man in the World" added a stolen base to that historic performance.
There isn't a more fun player in baseball right now, and while some might argue De La Cruz is a sell-high candidate, there are surprisingly few red flags in his profile. He's hitting a few too many ground balls (57.8% GB rate) to fully maximize his high-end raw power, but he's also making more contact than expected, with a perfectly reasonable 26.8% strikeout rate. Add it all up and you've got a .331 expected wOBA from De La Cruz – a far cry from his actual .449 mark, but more than respectable for a 21-year-old this early into his career.
There will be some rough days ahead, surely. Every young player goes through them, and pitchers will figure out which holes to expose. But he also might just be an absolute superstar, someone we're talking about as a first-round pick for Fantasy. That's the kind of upside we're talking about, and that he's already tapping into it is incredible.
Before we get to the rest of what you need to know from this weekend, including another big prospect call-up you need to know, make sure you check out Scott White's, his , and his so you're setting the best lineup possible this week. Now, here's the biggest news and performances from the weekend, led by a ton of noteworthy pitchers:
Pitchers, Part 1: Waiver targets)
Brayan Bello (6.2 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K at White Sox) – I remain a bit skeptical of Bello's lack of swing-and-miss stuff beyond his changeup, which currently has the fifth-highest whiff rate among all changeups. However, the combination of that changeup plus two fastballs that opposing hitters are having trouble squaring up has been enough so far – and he introduced a cutter in this start that could give him another dimension. I have my doubts about whether he'll be able to sustain his success – his 4.14 xERA is nearly a run higher than his 3.27 ERA – but even then, his 73% roster rate is simply too low. Go add him!
Tarik Skubal (5.2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 9 K at Triple-A rehab assignment) – Skubal is nearing a return from flexor tendon surgery, and it's worth getting ahead of the rush to add him. Skubal took a step forward last season before his injury, and now he's averaging 96.1 mph with his fastball, up two full mph from where he was the last time we saw him. There's plenty of risk with Skubal, but I'm not sure any widely available player right now has more upside.
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Emmet Sheehan (6 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K vs. Astros) – There hasn't been enough swing and miss in Sheehans' game yet, with just seven strikeouts in 12 innings of work. His fastball has been good for generating a bunch of weak contact, and his slider has been a decent swing-and-miss pitch, but he hasn't shown us a ton of upside through two starts, despite the good results.
Taijuan Walker (6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K vs. Mets) – Since an absolutely disastrous start to his Phillies career, Walker has settled in quite nicely, sporting a 1.71 ERA over his past seven starts. Even in that stretch, he has a 3.75 FIP, and we know Walker isn't really anything special, but he can be a stabilizing force when things are going right.
Kenta Maeda (5 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 K at Tigers) – I was skeptical Maeda had much left in the tank, but he looked pretty good on his rehab assignment and then looked pretty good in his return from that biceps injury. I'm still pretty skeptical, but this was a good enough performance to justify adding at least in 14-team or deeper leagues.
Griffin Canning (6 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K at Rockies) – When things aren't going well for Canning, he tends to get hit pretty hard, but he's on a nice little run here, with five quality starts in his last six trips to the mound, thanks to an uptick in velocity and strikeouts.
Reese Olson (5.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K vs. Twins) – Olson put up solid strikeout numbers in the minors, and he's doing the same in the majors so far, with 28 in his first 24.2 innings of work. His slider and changeup both sport elite whiff rates in the small sample so far, and he's throwing them around 47% of the time, helping negate what has been a pair of underwhelming fastballs. Olson has a miserably tough matchup against the Rangers coming up this week, but he gets the Athletics next week and could be worth using there.
Yusei Kikuchi (7 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K vs. Athletics) – To his credit, Kikuchi has not stopped tinkering basically since he got to the majors, and his latest tweak may have unlocked something. He has a 3.82 ERA over his past six starts, with 34 strikeouts in 30.2 innings in that span, and he's thrown his curveball at least 20% of the time in each start after doing so just once in his first nine starts. That curveball is a new pitch for Kikuchi, a harder breaker than the one he debuted in the majors with back in 2019, and it's been a pretty good one for him so far. I'm hesitant to buy into Kikuchi, because I've been bitten multiple times, and his next matchup is against a Red Sox team crushing lefties, so I wouldn't start him this week.
Wade Miley (6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K @CLE) – I understand why there's a hesitance to buy into Miley, but a 41% roster rate seems awfully low for someone with a 2.91 ERA. Sure, he won't sustain that, but … the guy has a 3.44 ERA in 515 innings over the past six seasons, so he's doing something right.
Luis L. Ortiz (8 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K @MIA) – This was an excellent result for Ortiz, but I don't think it's one Fantasy players need to pay attention to. The Marlins are an improved, but still a pretty mediocre offense, and sometimes even bad pitchers will run into good results against mediocre offenses. That's probably what this is. Nothing more.
Pitchers, Part 2: Relievers to add
Scott McGough – The Diamondbacks have gone through a lot of different permutations of their ninth-inning roles, but McGough has the last four saves over the course of the past five days after getting Sunday's save, and he looks like the best option.
Jordan Hicks – Hicks recorded his fourth save in the past seven games, and clearly looks like the preferred option ahead of Giovanny Gallegos with Ryan Helsley sidelined, which is a bit of a surprise. He's probably just a short-term option, but Hicks is worth adding.
Trevor May – Got a save Friday and looks like the guy here. That's only led to four saves this month, so expectations shouldn't be high.
Pitchers, Part 3: The rest
Nathan Eovaldi (5.2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K at Yankees) – Eovaldi said he had identified a mechanical issue at the root of his velocity dip from his previous start. His velo was still down about 1.2 mph across the board Sunday, so he didn't fix the issue. It also didn't really limit him too much, which is a promising sign. I still view Eovaldi as a sell-high candidate, and this velo dip is a red flag in that regard.
Eury Perez (6 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K vs. Pirates) – The ERA is now down to 1.34, and Perez seems likely to get a bit of a break to limit his innings – don't be surprised if this is his last outing until the All-Star break. Perez has been incredible, and has the look of a future ace, though the innings limit makes it tough to view him like one right now. But we very well may be drafting Perez as a top-25 starter next season – when, by the way, he won't turn 21 until a few weeks after opening day. Outrageous.
Max Scherzer (6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K at Phillies) – It's been a tough season overall for Scherzer, but he now has consecutive starts with eight strikeouts and one walk, and I'm willing to bet he's going to keep cruising.
Tyler Glasnow (5 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 12 K vs. Royals) – Now that's more like it. Sure, the Royals are kind of a disaster on offense most nights, but this is still the closest we've seen Glasnow look to his peak self, complete with a whopping 26 swinging strikes on 89 pitches. Glasnow's health scares me, but not his performance moving forward.
Bryce Miller (4.1 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 4 K at Orioles) – I've written a lot about Miller over the past few weeks, because I can't quite figure out how good he is. His fastball is an excellent pitch, but it's kind of all he has right now. He's throwing it less over the past few starts, but he's still highly dependent on it – he got a career-high four swings and misses on his slider in this one, but also gave up three batted balls with an average exit velocity of 94.6 mph, plus another of 102.7 on his changeup. I'm still viewing Miller as a sell-high candidate until he shows more with his non-fastballs.
Shane Bieber (5 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 8 K vs. Brewers) – I don't think Bieber has figured things out entirely, but after averaging just 4.6 strikeouts in his first 12 starts, he has nine, five, and eight over his past three. It's a promising sign, even if the results have been mixed.
Bobby Miller (4 IP, 10 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 K vs. Astros) – One start can be an anomaly; two starts to make you think there might be a trend starting. Miller has given up 13 runs over the past two, after surrendering just two in his first four combined. I'm guessing it's just a bump in the road, because this still looks like a deep, quality arsenal, but I'm certainly a bit more wary than I was a week ago.
Luis Severino (6 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K vs. Rangers) – Severino's breaking pitches, his slider and cutter, haven't been anywhere near as effective as we've come to expect so far this season, and he's clearly still searching for them – he threw just 22 combined of the two pitches in this one, with one swing and miss. The results here were good, especially given the matchup, but given the lack of whiffs and the 94.6 mph average exit velocity on 18 balls in play, I chalk this one up more to luck than anything else.
Chris Bassitt (5 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K vs. Athletics) – It was easier to dismiss Bassitt's ugly overall numbers when it was just a couple of really bad starts. But he's now put together three pretty bad ones in a row, surrendering 15 runs over his past 11.2 innings of work, and this is harder to excuse. Especially when his 4.32 ERA comes with a 4.61 xERA. He's earning his struggles right now, and I'm a bit scared of starting him right now.
Jordan Westburg – Westburg entered the season with less hype than some other names in the Orioles system, but he continued to hit the ball very well en route to an expected promotion Monday. It's not clear exactly where he's going to play, but with 36 homers, 15 steals, and a .283 average across 158 games at Triple-A, he's someone you absolutely should be trying to add to your Fantasy rosters. We talked more about Westburg and waiver-wire pitchers on the FBT in 5 podcast here.
Joey Votto – I remain skeptical that he's truly back, but Votto has made people who wrote him off look stupid before. He's now hit three homers in six games since coming back from the IL after Friday's two-homer outing, and let's not forget, he did have 36 homers just two years ago. I'm putting in a few speculative adds just in case.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – It's been a weirdly quiet season from Vlad, but the underlying numbers have been the second-best of his career, so we were hoping a heater was coming at some point. Maybe this weekend is "some point" because Guerrero had multiple hits in all three games against the A's, including his first two homers at home of the season. There may still be a sliver of a buy-low window left.
Willy Adames – Adames homered twice Friday amid a four-hit game, and then followed it up with a pair of hitless games Saturday and Sunday. It's been that kind of season, but the underlying numbers suggest Adames is more or less the guy he's been the past two seasons, so I'm still trying to buy where I can.
Ketel Marte – There have been a few health scares, but Marte has managed to stay healthy so far and is mashing. He homered Saturday and Sunday and now has four in his past six games and 14 for the season, with a .294/.373/.518 line. If Marte stays healthy, there's a path to 30 homers here.
Anthony Santander – Santander got off to a miserable start, hitting .205/.277/.352 through the month of April, and it's been an up-and-down season for him since. He's definitely on one of those up swings, however, with homers in three consecutive games and five of his past six.
Marcell Ozuna – A pretty dreadful couple of seasons and a very bad April have made Fantasy managers very skeptical of Ozuna, but he's not showing any signs of slowing down, with a six-game hitting streak and another homer Saturday. He's sporting an OPS north of .950 since May 1, with very, very good quality of contact numbers. I understand the skepticism, but I'm not sure it's warranted anymore. His 61% roster rate is simply too low.
Mickey Moniak – Moniak is still a pure platoon player, but his production remains pretty incredible. He was part of the Angels ridiculous 25-1 laugher over the Rockies Saturday, going 5 for 5 with a homer, three runs and four RBI, and he's now hitting .337/.371/.707 for the season. There's only so much interest we can have in a platoon bat, but Moniak deserves credit for how good he's remained, and is looking very useful when the Angels play righties.
Mike Ford – Ford is having an absolutely hilarious run, with eight hits, six of which are home runs, so far this season. He has just one PA against LHP, so I'm not expecting him to contribute much, but I felt a need to let you know about Ford's ridiculous start to the season.
Injuries, news and notes
Aaron Judge confirmed that he has a torn ligament in his right big toe and that he still has pain when he walks. There had been some promising noise coming from Judge and the Yankees in recent days, but it sounds like this might be an issue that lingers all season, even when Judge is right. It's concerning, to say the least.
Shane McClanahan threw from flat ground with trainers Saturday and didn't report any negative issues as far as we know. We still don't have an official update on whether he'll make a start this week, so he's a risk until we do.
Cedric Mullins was activated off the IL this weekend.
Marcus Stroman was removed from Sunday's start with a blister on his right index finger. He allowed six runs (three earned) over 3.1 innings before leaving, but the injury feels like a pretty reasonable excuse there.
Byron Buxton left Saturday's game with back spasms and wasn't in the lineup Sunday. Given his history, that's obviously a concern, especially with Buxton starting to heat up.
Max Muncy is expected to be activated from the IL Tuesday. He's been out since June 13 with a strained left hamstring.
Michael Wacha had his start skipped Saturday due to shoulder fatigue, which might explain his velocity being down in recent starts. I haven't really bought into Wacha's success so far, and a shoulder issue, even a minor one, isn't going to make me feel better about him.
James Paxton was removed from Saturday's start with knee soreness but believes he'll be able to make his next scheduled start. Given his track record, this is both something of a best-case scenario and a warning sign.
Alek Manoah threw 74 pitches in his latest simulated game and will make at least one start in the minor leagues before returning to the Blue Jays. I don't mind picking Manoah up where he's been dropped just to see if he figures things out in the minors, although expectations should be, rightly, low.
Eduardo Rodriguez felt fantastic following his live batting practice Saturday. He threw about 50 pitches over three simulated innings, and hopefully should be back from his finger injury within the next few weeks.
Riley Greene took batting practice and did some straight-line sprints at full speed Saturday. He remains without a timetable as recovers from his leg injury, but these are positive signs.
The Brewers had a scare when outfield prospect Sal Frelick fouled a ball off his knee last Thursday, but he was back in the minor league lineup Sunday.
Nestor Cortes is roughly a week away from throwing off a mound. He's been out since early June with a left rotator cuff strain, and we're probably still looking at a post-ASB return.
Daniel Hudson will head to the Dodgers Spring Training complex in Arizona to throw an inning Tuesday, and if it goes well he should be activated next weekend. It's unlikely he'll factor into the late-inning role right away, but he could become a candidate for saves if he proves worthy.
Jack Flaherty was scratched this weekend due to hip discomfort.
Sent to the IL
Ben Lively with a right pectoral strain.
Mike Yastrzemski with a hamstring strain.
Ramon Laureano with a fractured right hand he suffered on a slide.