Bryce Harper might be back this week. That's just about six months removed from undergoing Tommy John surgery, and about two months before his initial timetable to return. That's just remarkable, and could be a boon for Fantasy players.
But you probably shouldn't start him this week. Harper is going to visit Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Monday with the hopes of being cleared to return to action, and if he does, he'll be back in the lineup Tuesday, according to manager Rob Thomson. But there's no guarantee he'll actually be cleared at this point, and we may not know until after lineups lock Monday, so it's best to play it safe here.
After all, if you drafted Harper, you likely did so with the hope of a June return, if not later, so what's one more week. He's still way ahead of even the most optimistic expectations, and if Harper comes even close to what he did last season, he's going to end up being a huge value for your team. Remember, despite dealing with multiple injuries, including the elbow issue that ultimately required surgery, Harper hit .286/.364/.514 last season.
I think it might be unfair to expect him to be quite that good, especially right away, however. Remember, if he does come back this week, it will be just a week or so after taking live batting practice for the first time, and he won't have played in a competitive game since last year's World Series. No spring training. No minor-league rehab assignment. Harper is a future Hall of Famer, so you generally don't want to bet against him, but he still might need some time to get his feet back under him.
The good news is, it looks like he's going to get that opportunity several weeks, if not months, before you thought you would have him available. Even if it takes Harper a while to get up to speed, he's going to have plenty of time to make an impact. Again, what's the risk in waiting another week to get him active.
Here's what else you need to know about from this weekend's action ahead of Week 5 of the Fantasy Baseball season:
- Manny Machado, 3B, Padres – Machado serves as the stand-in here for the wild two-game series between the Padres and Giants this weekend. Machado clubbed two homers Saturday, one of 10 players to homer in that 16-11 Padres win. Four more players homered Sunday. Those games were played in Mexico City, at a stadium that is over 7,000 feet above sea level, so even with the humidor, this was like a game played in the pre-humidor Coors Field. Don't hold that seven runs in 3.1 innings start against Joe Musgrove, in other words.
- Logan Allen, SP, Guardians – It's not clear exactly how long Allen is going to remain in the Cleveland rotation, but I think he should probably just be there for good. He struck out eight in five innings against the Red Sox this weekend and now has 16 strikeouts to three walks in 11 innings in his first two starts. His stuff plays up thanks to a deceptive delivery, and he tweaked his pitch mix in his second outing to feature his sweeper more and still found success. I think he might just be really good.
- Josiah Gray, SP, Nationals – The early returns for Gray are excellent, but it's sort of hard to trust them. The biggest improvement he's made in the early going has been in regards to quality of contact, dropping from a .372 expected wOBA allowed on context to a .304 mark – he's basically gone from below average to elite. And it might just be that the introduction of that cutter has made his four-seam fastball play up. Maybe. The problem is, quality-of-contact metrics take a long time to stabilize for pitchers, so it's too early to know how much of this is for real. He deserves to be rostered in more than 43% of CBS Fantasy leagues, but I'm not quite ready to declare him a successful breakout just yet.
- Cody Bellinger, OF, Cubs – Bellinger homered two more times this weekend, and now has his OPS up to 1.001 for the season. So, he's back to being an MVP candidate, right? Well, I'm certainly higher on him than I was coming into the season, but I'm not ready to buy all the way back in just yet – his .407 wOBA is well ahead of his .353 expected wOBA, mostly because his quality of contact metrics are actually pretty mediocre. He's overcoming that with a very pull-heavy approach, and right now he kind of looks like a left-handed Nolan Arenado. It's an approach that could work, but I need to see more than just a hot couple of weeks to buy in. I would be trying to sell high if I could.
- Edward Cabrera, SP, Marlins – I fully understand if you want to give up on Cabrera, who walked five and had a 1.60 WHIP Saturday against the Cubs despite 12 strikeouts. Me, I can't give up on him. The upside here is just too obvious – he gets a bunch of strikeouts and limits hard contact while keeping the ball in the ground, and if he ever gets his walk rate down to just the normal bad range instead of league-worst rate, he's going to be very good. I cannot in good conscience recommend you start him, however.
- Reid Detmers, SP, Angels – I want to be able to write off Detmers' struggles as bad luck, but I can't quite do that. His strikeout rate is very good, and I believe it's sustainable, but he's also getting hit pretty hard, hence a 4.24 expected ERA for the season. The main culprit is his four-seam fastball, and I'm not sure how much he can tweak his approach to throw it less, seeing as he's already down to a 40.6% usage rate with the pitch. You just have to have faith that he'll get better results with it moving forward. I believe in the talent enough to have that faith.
- Jarren Duran, OF, Red Sox – Duran had five hits, four of them for extra bases this weekend, and is now sporting a .396/.415/.646 line through 53 plate appearances. He won't sustain that, but there's quite a lot about what he's done so far that looks pretty sustainable. He's hitting the ball consistently hard in the air with a manageable strikeout rate (24.5%), he has a power/speed combination that could make him very Fantasy relevant. I'm viewing Duran as a potential top-50 outfielder right now.
- Brent Rooker, OF, Athletics – Rooker stayed hot this weekend, going six for nine with two more homers, and he now has an absolutely bonkers 1.262 OPS for the season. Again, he won't keep that up, and I'd bet on Rooker's strikeout rate climbing considerably from its current 19.5 mark. But he's always had power (46 homers per-150 games at Triple-A) and isn't swinging at anything out of the strike zone right now (83rd percentile chase rate). That's a good combination, and I've got him in that same range as Duran right now.
- Nick Senzel, OF, Reds – I don't have much faith in Senzel at this point, but he did go five for 10 this weekend and has multiple hits in four of his past five, which is worth noting. OK, we've noted it. Senzel has some speed and makes a decent amount of contact, but just hasn't hit the ball with enough authority to matter yet, even in that tiny home park. Outside of 15-team leagues, I'm not looking to add him yet.
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Injuries, news and notes
- Jacob deGrom was pulled from Friday's start and will go on the IL with right elbow inflammation. We don't have any details right now beyond that, but obviously, that's less than ideal – though, also quite obviously, not unexpected, given deGrom's history. This is deGrom's fourth IL stint of the past three seasons, including forearm tightness that ended his 2021 season. He also went on the IL for 10 days with elbow soreness back in 2019, so it's pretty much impossible to say what kind of timetable we're looking at here, but it's probably smarter to assume this won't just be a minimum stint. Dane Dunning will replace deGrom in the rotation, and he's worth a look in deeper leagues if you need rotation help.
- Dodgers top prospect Gavin Stone will be called up Wednesday to start against the Phillies. Stone is arguably the top pitching prospect for the Dodgers, and his calling card is a changeup that some scouts consider one of the best pitches in the minors. He's ridden that pitch to a 2.69 ERA in his minor-league career, including a 3.00 mark with 60 strikeouts in 48 innings at Triple-A. It's not clear if he's going to stick in the rotation, but he's worth an add in 12-team leagues just to see.
- I'll also note here that the Diamondbacks have an open rotation spot for Wednesday and could call up top prospect Brandon Pfaadt. That decision hasn't been announced, and Pfaadt would have to be added to the 40-man roster, but he remains worth stashing, as his debut seems imminent one way or the other.
- Aaron Judge is dealing with a hip strain that may require an IL stint, though the team wants to see how he's feeling Monday before making a decision. He's a very risky start for this week, unfortunately.
- Yordan Alvarez was back in the lineup Saturday after missing four games with a neck injury.
- Julio Rodirguez left Saturday's game and was not in the lineup Sunday due to back tightness. He's considered day to day, but obviously carries some risk this week. I'd probably roll the dice, but he's risky.
- Corbin Carroll bruised his knee running into the wall Saturday and sat out Sunday's game, but he's viewed as day to day as well, and the hope is he can avoid the IL. There's risk here, too, but I'd start him.
- Yandy Diaz left Friday's game with shoulder soreness and was not in the lineup Saturday or Sunday. Similar to Carroll and Rodriguez, he's a risk for this week.
- Max Scherzer will return from his suspension Tuesday against the Braves and could be in line for a two-start week. Even without it, you're starting him.
- Justin Verlander (shoulder) struck out six in 4.2 scoreless innings in his rehab start Friday and is expected to return to the rotation Wednesday against the Tigers. He might not make it 100 pitches, but I'm still starting him in all leagues.
- Brandon Woodruff had a follow-up MRI on his shoulder injury Wednesday, and while the results were encouraging, he's still expected to be out until the end of June.
- Luis Severino threw 40 pitches in a bullpen session Friday and is expected to go to High-A to begin a rehab assignment this week. It sounds like he'll be back in the next two to three weeks.
- Tyler Glasnow threw a two-inning bullpen session Saturday and could also go on a rehab assignment this week. He's likely on a similar timetable to Severino, assuming they avoid setbacks.
- Tim Anderson (knee) is expected to return from the IL Tuesday. I'd start him in weekly leagues.
- Tyler Mahle is expected to miss at least four weeks due to an impingement in his right elbow. I'd try to hang on to him if I could, but he's droppable if you need the roster space.
- Pete Fairbanks is dealing with Raynaud's Syndrome, leading to numbness in his fingers. There's really no timetable for this kind of issue, but he did throw on Saturday and hasn't been added to the IL, so hopefully it's a relatively short issue. I would probably avoid him this week if I could, though good luck figuring out who in the Rays bullpen might step up to close in his absence. Jason Adam is an interesting flier if you want to throw one out there.
- Jose Urquidy left Sunday's start against the Phillies due to shoulder soreness. Hopefully it's no big deal, but at this point, you can't start him this week.
- Alex Kirilloff was activated from the IL and optioned to Triple-A this weekend despite hitting .316 with four homers in 11 minor-league games. There's still upside here if Kirlloff can overcome those lingering wrist issues, and I'm OK with stashing him if you have room for him.
- Randal Grichuk returned from the IL this weekend to go 4 for 8 in his first two games. His first season in Colorado was a bust, but Grichuk still has 25-plus homer upside with the potential for Coors Field's BABIP-inflating nature to push him to a useful .270-ish average. He's worth a look in five-outfielder leagues, at least.
Sent to the IL
- JD Martinez with lower back tightness, retroactive to April 25. Will Smith returned and was the DH both Friday and Saturday.
- Brandon Hughes back on the IL with right knee inflammation.
- Kerry Carpenter with a right shoulder strain.
- Kenta Maeda with a right triceps strain. He's droppable.
- Jose Quijada with left elbow soreness. Carlos Estevez seems like he's obviously the guy here as long as he doesn't blow it.
- Garrett Whitlock with ulnar neuritis. The team said they're hopeful he'll only miss two starts, but it's worth noting this is the same diagnosis Jeffrey Springs had before he had Tommy John surgery. Hopefully this doesn't go the same direction. Brayan Bello was called up and pitched pretty well in his return.
- German Marquez with right elbow inflammation, and he admitted he might end up needing Tommy John surgery.
- Twins: Jhoan Duran was away from the team and Jorge Lopez got a save Friday, his second of the season. But Duran was back Saturday – to blow a save, though he did get the save Sunday. Duran is still the closer here.
- Rays: With Pete Fairbanks dealing with Raynaud's Syndrome, this one feels completely up in the air. Fairbanks could be back tomorrow, or he could miss several weeks while they try to figure out what's wrong. In his absence, I suppose Jason Adam is the best bet for saves, but this is the Rays, so who knows? I'd probably try to avoid this situation entirely this week.
- Rangers: Will Smith got his third save Friday and generally looks more reliable than Jose Leclerc right now. I don't think Smith will get 100% of the saves moving forward, but I'd bet on him ahead of Leclerc right now.
- Phillies: Jose Alvarado got his sixth save Friday as he struck out two, and he kind of looks like one of the best closers in the league right now. I don't necessarily know if he'll remain the closer for the long run, given how often the Phillies have changed things up over the past few years, but he looks like a pretty tremendous source of saves and strikeouts right now.
- Tigers: Alex Lange struck out two for his third save Saturday. Jason Foley has two saves for the Tigers, too, but I think Lange is pretty clearly the option here – one of Foley's saves came on the second half of a doubleheader after Lange had already pitched.
- Royals: It looked like Aroldis Chapman may be coming for this job, but Scott Barlow has the Royals' past three saves, including Saturday's with a one-run lead. I think Chapman is the better pitcher at this point, but Barlow has settled in with three scoreless outings in a row, so he may hold on to this job yet.
- Athletics: Jeurys Familia got the save opportunity Saturday with a one-run lead and promptly gave up two runs. He has 12 walks to eight strikeouts and just isn't very good, even if he might be the closer for a terrible team.
- Dodgers: Evan Phillips pitched the eighth with a one-run lead Saturday, and then Brusdar Graterol got the save. Then Sunday, Graterol got one out in the seventh inning, while Phillips worked the ninth for his third save. So … who knows? Both should probably be rostered if you're chasing saves since they're both good pitchers, but there doesn't seem to be a clear closer here.