Happy Friday, everyone! We're going to mix it up and do things a little differently and this will be partly a guest newsletter featuring Fantasy Baseball Today's Chris Towers. We'll recap some of the biggest actionable items from Thursday's action too -- no doubt -- but Towers is diving deep on his weekly previews with an aim to help you get out ahead of things on your waiver wire and anticipate (and act on) the next big move before the rest of your league is trying to do the same thing. So with that in mind, we'll dedicate a large chunk of the newsletter to featuring Chris' preview of next week's action with the goal of getting you ahead of the game.

But first let's talk some big items from Thursday. The biggest is certainly the news of one of baseball's top prospects not only getting the call to the majors but also a much different path to long-term playing time than originally anticipated.

Alvarez could get an extended look

The news came in on Thursday that Mets catcher Omar Narvaez has a severe calf strain and will miss 8-9 weeks. The ensuing move for the Mets will be to promote Francisco Alvarez for Friday's game and he is now expected to see regular playing time. If Alvarez can hold his own early, there's a path for him to be the primary catcher for the Mets for the next two-plus months. So let's check in on what he's accomplished that has scouts so excited about him as a prospect. Alvarez is just 21 years old and racked up 27 homers with a .260 average and .886 OPS at the minor league level last season. He strikes out some but he also walks a lot. It's an easy profile to buy into, and if you don't have one of the top-performing catchers on your roster right now then it makes a lot of sense to grab Alvarez now.

Don't fall for the rare Coors pitching duel

A rare pitchers duel went down at Coors Field -- one you may only see in the month of April -- but don't let it fool you. These starters might move up the suggest page in your waiver wire, but you might want to think twice about trusting Rockies SP Kyle Freeland or Nationals SP Josiah Gray. With all that said, if you somehow started them or better yet played them in DFS on Thursday you were in for a treat.

Gray threw six innings of one-run ball and allowed eight hits and a walk. The interesting part of his outing were the 19 generated swinging strikes and six strikeouts. Gray is 34% rostered and will likely still give up far too many home runs to not torpedo your ERA in Roto leagues, but there is some upside to his profile and you can do worse at the back end of benches. Still, with a matchup against a home run heavy team like the Angels up next, he's best left on the waiver wire or benches.

Freeland fired 6 2/3 shutout innings with five strikeouts but don't look under the hood. He had just a 17% called swinging strike rate and his sinker velocity is down 2 mph and slider velocity is down 2.1 mph. Freeland's strong outing had more to do with the opposing lineup (target whoever is pitching against the Nats in DFS and thank me later).

Weekend Preview

Towers wants to get out ahead of the pack in previewing next week's action now and you can find his entire weekly weekend preview -- waiver wire hitters and pitchers to watch this weekend, plus closer situations worth monitoring and more -- all here.

Waiver wire pitcher to watch

  • Seth Lugo (40%) @ATL, Sunday – My expectations weren't particularly high for Lugo, but I thought he was pretty impressive in making the transition to the rotation. He held much of his velocity from the bullpen, averaging 93.8 mph with his fastball, and his curveball looked ridiculous, as always. He might actually be able to make this work, especially if he holds his own against the Braves

Waiver wire hitter to watch

  • Jorge Soler, OF, MIA (39) – Soler might be one of the streakiest hitters in baseball, but he's on a heater right now, with three homers in seven games and a massive 97.9 mph average exit velocity. Who knows if he'll be able to keep it up, but we've seen a 48-homer season from Soler, so I'm not going to ignore this. 

Bullpen situations worth monitoring

  • Diamondbacks -- Scott McGough has been a bit shaky in the early going after looking like he had the inside track to the job. That means this one is probably pretty wide open again. Andrew Chafin got the team's first save, but I would be a bit surprised if they used him as the full-time closer; as Scott notes, Miguel Castro is a dark horse candidate here.
  • Athletics -- Dany Jimenez's velocity has been down in the early going, but he's gotten the only save opportunity for the A's so far. However, he also worked the seventh and eighth in a tied game in his second appearance, which isn't a traditional closer situation, necessarily. I'm still leaning Jimenez here. 

News & notes

  • Michael Harris exited Thursday's game with lower back tightness. The Braves called it precautionary. He was replaced by Sam Hilliard.
  • Jazz Chisholm is officially listed as day-to-day with a right shoulder stinger. We'll see if he's ready to return Friday.
  • Tony Gonsolin completed live batting practice Wednesday. He'll throw one more bullpen, live batting practice and then go out on a rehab assignment.
  • Max Fried has been playing catch but is still unable to run as he rehabs the hamstring strain.
  • Eloy Jimenez was able to play catch and do some running Thursday. He said he could pinch-hit if he was on the active roster but the White Sox chose to play it safe. 
  • Mitch Haniger is not expected to join the Giants on their upcoming homestand, which extends through Wednesday. He's still rehabbing the grade 1 oblique strain.
  • Jorge Polanco began a minor league rehab assignment Thursday at Low-A. 
  • Miguel Vargas' thumb is still sore but was available to pinch hit. Mookie Betts started yet another game at second base.
  • Garrett Whitlock recorded eight strikeouts over six innings in a rehab start Thursday. He's 53% rostered with SPARP eligibility.
  • Kyle Wright got knocked around in his most recent rehab start, allowing five runs over six innings at Triple-A. He got up to 84 pitches in the start, which sounds like he's close to returning.
  • Sean Manaea will start Saturday against the Royals after appearing in relief earlier in the week. 
  • Jared Shuster was recalled and will start Friday against the Padres.
  • Miguel Rojas said he's hoping to return to the lineup Friday. He's missed the last few days after tweaking his groin.
  • Brandon Crawford was out of the lineup due to mild left forearm tightness.
  • Madison Bumgarner will make his next scheduled start Friday despite battling arm fatigue.
  • I missed this yesterday but Tyler O'Neill was out of the lineup Wednesday after his manager Oliver Marmol called him out for his lack of baserunning effort. O'Neill publicly spoke out about how Marmol handled the situation.