With a stacked lineup and solid pitching staff, the Cubs are understandably a trendy pick to finally break their 108-year drought and win their first World Series title since 1908. Kyle Schwarber is expected to be a big part of that quest after he slugged 16 home runs with an .842 OPS over 69 games as a rookie in 2015, but he could be facing an extended absence.
Schwarber had to be carted off the field during Thursday’s game against the Diamondbacks after he suffered a scary-looking injury in a collision with teammate Dexter Fowler while chasing after a fly ball. The play resulted in an inside-the-park homer for Jean Segura (it was actually his second home run of the game). Schwarber was down on the ground for a few minutes while team trainers examined his lower left leg and the cart was finally called after he was unable to walk.
We only have an initial diagnosis to go with right now, but the early word is somewhat promising. Schwarber was diagnosed with a sprained ankle after X-rays came back negative. We should have a better idea about a timeline for his return following an MRI on Friday. Here’s hoping it won’t be long. It’s a lot of fun to watch him hit.
While we wait for clarity on the situation, Jorge Soler becomes a must-add in all fantasy formats. The surprise return of Dexter Fowler pushed him into a part-time role with Schwarber in left field, but he could find himself in line for regular playing time again. The 24-year-old disappointed last season by batting .262 with 10 home runs and a .723 OPS over 101 games, but it’s still easy to dream on his tools. He’s available in 47 percent of Yahoo leagues right now.
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Starlin Castro and Yankee Stadium are becoming fast friends and making fantasy owners very happy in the process.
Flipped from the Cubs to the Yankees over the winter, Castro continued his opening week barrage on Thursday by going 2-for-4 with a solo homer as part of an 8-5 victory over the Astros. Through his first three games with New York, the 26-year-old is 7-for-12 (.583) with two home runs, two doubles, and eight RBI. Not bad for your No. 8 hitter.
Castro’s eight RBI are the most ever by a player in their first three games with the Yankees. With the franchise’s storied history, you might think that he beat out an icon to earn such a distinction. You would be wrong. Unless you consider Shelley Duncan an icon. And maybe you do. No judgment here. It’s just that Yankees fans and fantasy owners will have to hope that Castro has more staying power.
How seriously do we take what we have seen thus far? Castro has been a big disappointment in two out of the last three seasons. His .671 OPS last season was 126th among qualified batters. While he lost his starting shortstop job to Addison Russell along the way, he saw an uptick in production after moving to second base down the stretch and it has carried over to the start of 2016. He still has a lot to prove, but perhaps the position switch and change of scenery will get his career back on track? It didn’t cost fantasy owners much to find out this spring. He had an ADP (average draft position) of 188.5 in Yahoo leagues.
Jones injured himself on a swing during his final at-bat on Wednesday and was held out of Thursday’s lineup against the Twins. Orioles manager Buck Showalter deliberately stayed away from using the dreaded “oblique” word to describe the injury and expressed optimism that he won’t have the miss much time.
“He wants to play. He says he’s fine,” Showalter told Rich Dubroff of CSNmidatlantic.com on Thursday. “Probably not happy with the old manager right now, but I just thought it would be smart to give him a day.”
You don’t want to mess around with these kind of injuries, so the Orioles are smart to play things safe in the short-term, but this wouldn’t be the first time that a rib cage injury is initially downplayed before it turns out to be more serious. As of now, no tests are scheduled for the injury, but fantasy owners should have a backup plan in place this weekend at the very least.
With Jones out of the lineup Thursday, Rule 5 pick Joey Rickard started in center field and batted leadoff. He took advantage of the opportunity by slugging his first major league home run. The 24-year-old is 5-for-11 (.455) through his first three major league games.
National League Quick Hits: Bryce Harper hit his second home run of the season (and the 99th of his career) Thursday against the Marlins … Anthony Rizzo homered, tripled, and tied a career-high with six RBI as the Cubs topped the Diamondbacks on Thursday ... Jay Bruce went 3-for-4 with two homers and five RBI on Thursday as the Reds finished off a three-game sweep of the Phillies … Howie Kendrick (calf) and Yasmani Grandal (calf) began minor league rehab assignments Thursday with High-A Rancho Cucamonga and are both on track to come off the disabled list for the Dodgers’ home opener on Tuesday … Hunter Pence connected for a grand slam in a comeback win over the Dodgers on Thursday … Adeiny Hechavarria went 2-for-4 with two RBI in a rain-soaked win over the Nationals on Thursday ... Joe Panik went 3-for-5 with three RBI and three runs scored versus the Dodgers on Thursday ... The Padres signed first baseman James Loney to a minor league contract … Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said Thursday that Jeanmar Gomez is next in line for a save opportunity …
American League Quick Hits: Josh Donaldson (calf) could return to the Blue Jays’ lineup as soon as Friday … Manny Machado clubbed his first home run of the season in Thursday’s win over the Twins … Michael Brantley will begin workouts with Triple-A Columbus on Friday ... Lance McCullers (shoulder) is scheduled to begin a minor league rehab assignment Monday with Double-A Corpus Christi ... David Price’s next start will be pushed back to Monday against the Orioles after Thursday’s rainout … Mark Teixeira socked a go-ahead three-run homer in Thursday’s win over the Astros ... Tyler White homered and knocked in four runs against the Yankees on Thursday … Albert Pujols delivered a walk-off RBI single Thursday against the Rangers ... Ubaldo Jimenez struck out nine batters and allowed two runs (one earned) over seven innings in Thursday's win over the Twins … The Angels called up right-hander Nick Tropeano from Triple-A Salt Lake on Thursday and he’s expected to take Andrew Heaney’s spot in the rotation next Monday against the Athletics … Mat Latos allowed just one hit over six scoreless innings in a win over the Athletics on Thursday ...