Bryce Harper might be back for the Phillies in May. And not May 31, or something. He might be back in early May.

Harper, who is working his way back from Tommy John surgery last November, is expected to see Dr. Neal ElAttrache "around the first of May" and could be cleared to return to action around then. And, as Phillies manager Rob Thomson told reporters in recent days, "It shouldn't be too far after that."

That would be a pretty remarkable return for Harper, who was initially expected to be out until the All-Star break. However, he's been ahead of schedule at pretty much every step of the way, and at this point seems to be right around two months ahead of schedule. That doesn't mean he'll definitely be cleared to play May 1, and even if he does, he'll likely be limited to DH duties for a while after that. However, Harper has been throwing recently and is working on learning first base to give him another path to making an impact for the Phillies.

And for Fantasy managers who took a chance on him in drafts. Harper still has a few hurdles to clear, and it's always possible that he'll struggle upon his return to the lineup, especially if he doesn't have a minor-league rehab assignment to get up to speed, as sounds likely. But still, we're talking about a likely second-round pick in most Fantasy leagues when healthy, a guy who hit .286/.364/.514 with 18 homers and 11 steals in just 99 games last season despite dealing with multiple injuries. 

Harper's progress so far is just about a best-case scenario for Fantasy players. He'll likely be less aggressive on the base paths than he might otherwise be, which is one downside he acknowledged in recent days, but even if all Harper does is hit similar to how he did last season, that's a pretty awesome player, a must-start option in all Fantasy leagues. Maybe he struggles for a bit and isn't quite the same guy we've come to expect, but I think it makes sense to bet on an elite player like Harper to perform well enough to justify a spot in your lineup, at least. 

We're still a week or so away from knowing Harper's timetable for sure, but that was certainly one of the biggest news items to come out this weekend in baseball. But it certainly wasn't the only thing Fantasy Baseball players need to know about. We'll start today's recap with some quick thoughts on a couple of waiver-wire pitchers who look like potential must-adds this weekend: 

Logan Allen, SP, Guardians

No, not that Logan Allen, SP, Guardians. This one is a left-handed pitching prospect who made his debut against the Marlins on Sunday and dazzled. By modern standards, Allen is practically a soft-tosser, averaging 92.0 mph with his fastball in his debut, however he racked up nine whiffs with the pitch thanks to a deceptive delivery that reminds me quite a bit of Josh Hader

A 38% whiff rate with his fastball probably isn't sustainable, but Allen also got multiple whiffs with his splitter and sweeper, and generally looked quite good – as he often did in the minors. The ERA last season was pretty ugly, particularly at Triple-A, where he had a 6.49 mark, but that was a bit of an outlier, and he's always gotten tons of strikeouts. There have been issues keeping the ball in the park at times, but Allen looked good enough in his debut to think he could hold his own, and the Guardians' pitching factory should maximize his value. 

Joey Lucchesi, SP, Mets

Lucchesi wasn't making his MLB debut when he faced the Giants on Friday, but it was his first appearance in the majors since 2021 after overcoming Tommy John surgery, and he was excellent, shutting out the Giants with four hits and two walks over seven innings. Lucchesi struck out nine, with his curveball and sinker accounting for all 10 of his swinging strikes. Lucchesi was starting to show some interesting signs in 2021 before the injury, sporting a 26% strikeout rate and 3.65 expected ERA, and while his velocity was down one mph, it didn't limit his effectiveness much. Allen is a higher priority add, but I could see Lucchesi being pretty useful moving forward. 

Here's what else you need to know about from this weekend's games: 

Weekend standouts

  • Eduardo Rodriguez – If both Lucchesi and Rodriguez are available in your league, I'd probably prioritize Rodriguez at this point. I could see Lucchesi being pretty similar on a per-inning basis, but Rodriguez has put up workhorse totals before, notably when he reached 200 innings and 213 strikeouts in 2019. He's had a tough few years, but has recovered the velocity he lost and has 16 strikeouts in his past two starts and looks pretty good right now. His 3.00 ERA is backed up by a 3.10 expected ERA, as his quality-of-contact suppression skills remain intact. 
  • Mitch Keller – Keller has had a fascinating, rocky journey, but I think he has finally settled in as a really solid pitcher. He'll probably never be the high-strikeout guy we hoped he would be as a prospect, but he's an uncomfortable at-bat for most hitters thanks to what is now a legitimate six-pitch mix, and he does a decent job of limiting hard contact and keeping the ball on the ground. Keller will never be a star, but his 2.88 ERA in the month of April is not a fluke. 
  • Max Muncy – I wasn't sure we'd ever see this from Muncy again, but he's been scorching hot to open the season. He hit four homers in four games against the Cubs this season to push his league-best total to 11, and his quality-of-contact metrics are all at or near career-best levels. Muncy will cool down at some point, but after such a trying 2022 season, I'm confident he can be a must-start player the rest of the way. I wasn't sure coming into the season. 
  • Bryce Elder – Elder had another terrific start Friday against the Astros, limiting them to one unearned run in six innings for his third quality start in four tries. I remain skeptical of Elder's chances of continuing to pitch at this level – he's giving up a lot of hard contact (53.1% hard-hit rate) and has a 4.03 xERA – but it's been an impressive showing so far. 
  • JP Sears – Sears does some things really well, but I'm not sure it's enough to matter for Fantasy, and his start Friday against the Rangers exemplified that. He had 11 strikeouts in the outing, a truly impressive amount, fueled by 17 swinging strikes. Impressive stuff. The problem is, he gave up seven hard-hit balls out of 10 in play, with an average exit velocity of 94.5 mph. He's introduced a slider recently that got five of his whiffs on just 12 pitches in this outing, and maybe that can make a difference, but right now, he just gives up too much hard contact for it to matter, especially in the air. We'll keep an eye on it for now, but don't go adding him. 
  • Vince Velasquez – I don't want to write off Velasquez, who is in the midst of a very promising run with 23 strikeouts over 19 innings in his past three starts. And he's made some legitimate changes to his pitch mix, prioritizing his slider, which he used 49% of the time in Sunday's start against the Rockies. The problem for Velasquez, of course, has never been his ability to put together a few good starts; the problem has been doing anything longer than that. I'm skeptical this time will be different, but I'll keep an eye on it. 
  • Jorge Polanco – Polanco hit the ground running, going 5 for 13 in his first three games off the IL. I'm worried about his chances of staying healthy given the lingering nature of the knee issue that ended his 2022 and lingered into 2023, but when he is healthy, I like Polanco's chances of bouncing back – remember, this is a guy who hit 33 homers in 2021. We know one thing: He's healthy right now, so I'm starting him right now. I'll worry about the future when it gets here. 
  • Masataka Yoshida – Yoshida's MLB career got off to a rotten start, as he was hitting .167/.310/.250 as recently as five games ago. However, he's hit safely in four straight games since, including a two-homer game Sunday against the Brewers that featured three hard-hit balls including two over 105 mph. Yoshida changed his batting stance, opening up with the hopes of being able to see the ball a bit better, and so far so good on that count. If you were thinking of dropping him, at the very least he gave you reasons not to this weekend. 

Injuries, news, and notes

Sent to the IL

  • Justin Verlander (shoulder) threw 43 pitches in a simulated game Sunday. Verlander is expected to throw a minor-league rehab game Friday, and if that goes well he could be cleared to return to the rotation next week in Detroit. 
  • Logan O'Hoppe has a torn labrum and will be out 4-6 months, effectively ending his season. That's a disappointing outcome for one of the best catchers in the league to date, as the 23-year-old was hitting .283/.339/.547 before the injury. There aren't many catchers out there worth adding, but Rangers catcher Jonah Heim has some pop and is hot, as is Christian Bethancourt from the Rays. Shea Langeliers is another potentially high upside option, though he hasn't been great in the early going so far. 
  • Yu Darvish left Sunday's game with a trainer during the sixth inning, but manager Bob Melvin told reporters after the game it was a cramping issue, and Darvish should be good to go for his next start. 
  • Tim Anderson (knee) is nearing a rehab assignment. I thought we'd be looking at a longer timetable after he was diagnosed with a sprained knee, but it looks like he may make it closer to the two weeks part of the 2-4 week diagnosis. Don't start Anderson this week, but expect him back next week at this point. 
  • Kris Bubic will have Tommy John surgery. Just brutal for a guy who made some changes and looked to be a real breakout candidate for this season. Instead, he's likely out until next summer. 
  • Tony Gonsolin (ankle) is back with the Dodgers and is likely to start Wednesday against the Pirates. Gonsolin, you may recall, had a 2.14 ERA in 130.1 innings, and while I don't think he'll repeat that, we are talking about a guy who has made 51 starts in the majors with a 2.51 ERA overall, so he's clearly doing a lot of things right. He only threw three innings in his rehab debut last week with 57 pitches, so don't expect him to be able to get 100 or anything this time out. He's a fringe starter for this week, but he could be in line for a two-start week next week, which is nice. 
  • Kris Bryant left Saturday's game with an ankle injury. He didn't play Sunday either, so there's at least a little bit of concern here heading into Week 5. 
  • Mookie Betts got his first career start at shortstop Sunday and earned positive reviews from manager Dave Roberts, who said he could start there again Tuesday. Betts already gained 2B eligibility for the rest of the season and is just two appearances away from gaining triple eligibility. That kind of versatility is hugely valuable. 
  • Sandy Alcantara will start Wednesday after being scratched this weekend with biceps tendinitis. That was concerning for a guy who has not missed a start in the majors due to an injury since 2018, but assuming he gets through his next bullpen session without issue, Alcantara is expected back on the mound this week. There's some risk here, certainly, but I'm rolling the dice. 
  • Kyle Hendricks (shoulder) will begin a rehab assignment this week. Hendricks has yet to pitch this season following offseason shoulder surgery, and seeing as he hasn't had an ERA below 4.77 since 2020, he'll have to prove he's worth trusting again in Fantasy. 
  • Daniel Espino is dealing with renewed shoulder soreness. Espino was shut down in February due to a shoulder strain, so this is a worrying setback. He'll meet with team doctors next week to determine the extent of the injury, but it seems like any chance of the 22-year-old making an impact in the majors this season seems slim. 
  • Randall Grichuk (abdomen) will be re-evaluated Monday after playing in rehab games this weekend, and he could be back this week. Grichuk was decent last season, hitting .259/.299/.425, but there's more upside there if he gets right. 
  • The Rockies are calling up outfielder Brenton Doyle Monday. Doyle has eight homers this season at Triple-A and has 31 jp,ers with 24 steals in 144 games between Double-A and Triple-A, and given that he'll be playing half his games in Coors, he's a name worth keeping an eye out for to see how he does early on. 

Cut candidates

  • Oscar Colas, OF, White Sox – Colas sat out consecutive games this weekend, only one of which was against a lefty, which is definitely concerning. Colas has done little so far, with just two extra-base hits to his name and a pretty ugly .233/.303/.300 line despite mostly being shielded from lefties. His strikeout rate is manageable, but he just isn't hitting the ball hard enough consistently, and certainly not in the air. I still think there's plenty of upside here, but you can't really justify rostering Colas in points leagues. 
  • Edouard Julien, 2B, Twins – Julien was sent back to the minors with Jorge Polanco activated from the IL, which is disappointing but not terribly surprising. Julien flashed some interesting skills in his time in the majors, and there's an intriguing power/speed combo here for the long run. However, his plate discipline was an issue, surprisingly, and he didn't do enough to force the issue. He'll be back, but you can drop him in most leagues for now. 
  • Alex Kirilloff, OF/1B, MIN – Kirilloff is working his way back from last season's wrist surgery, and he hit two homers Sunday at Triple-A, which is a good sign. However, The Athletic reported this weekend that he might be optioned back to Triple-A once his rehab assignment is over next week. He could hit his way out of that plan, but given that there's no guaranteed spot waiting for him right now, it's hard to justify stashing him. 
  • Michael Kopech, SP, White Sox – Kopech struggled yet again Friday, giving up five runs in five innings to the Rays to push his ERA to 6.97. Kopech did get nine strikeouts, his highest total of the season, but he also walked four, and now has a hideous 14.6% walk rate for the season. Kopech just hasn't been able to hack it in the rotation, and I've pretty much lost faith. Until we see a viable and consistent breaking ball emerge, I think we can give up hope. 

Bullpen notes

  • White Sox: Reynaldo Lopez gave up three runs on two homers without recording an out  Friday to blow the save. Lopez has looked pretty good overall this season, but I don't think there's much risk of him keeping this job in the long term with Liam Hendriks likely coming back relatively soon. 
  • Phillies: Jose Alvarado recorded his third save of last week Friday and sure looked like the guy to have here, but it was Craig Kimbrel who got the save Saturday – though Alvarado may have been unavailable for that one. I'd bet on Alvarado getting the next opportunity, at least. 
  • Braves: A.J. Minter entered Friday's game in a tied situation and gave up a two-run homer to take the loss. With Raisel Iglesias (shoulder) expected to throw a bullpen session Monday, Minter's time in the role could be over. I'd start him this week, but wouldn't count on anything beyond that. 
  • Athletics: Jeurys Familia got the save Friday, with Zach Jackson working the eighth in a tie game. My preference would be to not speculate on saves with the team that isn't trying to win games, but I still think Jackson is more likely to get the next save here. 
  • Angels: Jose Quijada picked up his fourth save Friday, with Carlos Estevez pitching the eighth against the bottom of the lineup. Then, Quijada got blown up Saturday, giving up five runs with a two-run lead, so Estevez got the save Sunday. This one is a bit of a mess, and I don't really have a read on it – if Quijada pitches well, I'd guess he still has the job here, but there might not be much job security. 
  • Royals: Scott Barlow got the save Saturday with a three-run lead, after Aroldis Chapman pitched the seventh with the game tied. Chapman has clearly been the better pitcher here, but they don't seem quite ready to give him the ninth full time just yet. 
  • Astros: Here's a weird one: Bryan Abreu got the save Saturday and Sunday, after Ryan Pressly finally picked up his first save Friday. I think Pressly is still the guy here, but it's been a really weird start to the season, so I'm not totally confident in that.
  • Cubs: Michael Fulmer gave up two runs in the ninth inning Sunday with the Cubs down by two, and at this point I just don't see how they could keep pitching him in high-leverage situations. Fulmer has an 8.68 ERA and has given up multiple runs in three of his past five outings. I'd guess Brad Boxberger gets the next opportunity, though Brandon Hughes is lurking after pitching pretty well in a high-leverage role last season.
  • Rangers: Will Smith got the save Sunday with a three-run lead, and Jose Leclerc was presumably available after only pitching once in the previous three games. Maybe they just wanted to give him an extra day of rest with the three-run lead and would have called on him if Smith got into trouble? I'd bet on Leclerc getting the next opportunity, but I wouldn't put a ton of money on it.