On this date back in 2019, Brewers’ righty Corbin Burnes was arguably the worst starting pitcher in all of baseball. He had surrendered a whopping 11 round-trippers over his four starts and his league-worst 10.70 ERA looked like a model number from a Boeing jetliner. The hard-throwing 26-year-old righty has undergone a dramatic metamorphosis ever since, pitching exclusively out of the stretch and revamping his electrifying arsenal, blossoming into one of the premier starting pitchers in baseball during the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign.
Burnes’ meteoric rise continued with yet another masterpiece on Tuesday evening as he registered 10 strikeouts and scattered four hits over six shutout frames in a win over the Padres, becoming the first starting pitcher in major-league history to record at least nine strikeouts and zero walks in four consecutive starts to open a season. He owns a microscopic 0.37 ERA, 0.33 WHIP and 40/0 K/BB ratio across 24 1/3 innings. According to STATS Inc., Burnes is the first starting pitcher in the modern era (since 1901) to put together a four-start stretch -- at any point in a season -- with 40 strikeouts and zero walks. Here’s an oversimplification: Burnes has officially sailed into uncharted waters as a result of his historic early-season performance and will look to build off his historic start with a tasty home matchup against the Marlins on tap for next week. He’s making a credible case for inclusion among the apex group of starting pitchers currently composed of fantasy stalwarts Jacob deGrom, Shane Bieber and Gerrit Cole.
Soto Sidelined With Shoulder Strain
They say bad things come in threes. Evidently, injuries to superstar-caliber fantasy outfielders are no exception to this ancient superstition. Less than 48 hours after injury scares involving Ronald Acuna Jr. (abdominal) and Mookie Betts (forearm), Nationals franchise cornerstone Juan Soto, who owns a .300/.410/.460 triple-slash line with two home runs in 14 games this season, was unexpectedly placed on the 10-day injured list with a left shoulder strain. The unexpected development sent shockwaves through the fantasy landscape, but manager Dave Martinez allayed some of those concerns by expressing optimism on Tuesday evening that the uber-talented 22-year-old slugger’s shoulder strain isn’t overly serious.
Soto was placed on the 10-day injured list just prior to Tuesday night’s game against the Cardinals after an MRI revealed the minor strain. He had been dealing with pain around his triceps for the past couple of days and Martinez said the club didn't want to take any chances this early on in the season. The team has three off days between now and when he would be first eligible to return, so it's possible he might only have to miss seven games in a best-case scenario. Based on the early reporting, it sounds like Childish Bambino (h/t Craig Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus) should be back sooner, rather than later, but it’s a situation fantasy managers should be monitoring closely in the coming days.
Starting Pitchers with an EDGE
Julio Urias vs. Mariners
7.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 11 K
40% CSW, 17 swinging strikes
Urias tallied a career-high 11 strikeouts over seven scoreless innings in a win over the Mariners. He yielded just one hit, handed out one free pass, and needed only 88 pitches to complete seven shutout frames. The 24-year-old lefty induced a season-high 17 swinging strikes, including nine on his curveball alone, and finished with an elite 40 percent CSW (called strikes plus whiffs). He’ll carry a 2.81 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 26/4 K/BB ratio across 25 2/3 innings (four starts) into a home matchup against the Reds on Monday.
Jesus Luzardo vs. Twins
5.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K
40% CSW, 15 swinging strikes
Luzardo went back to wearing glasses on the mound instead of contact lenses, and was positively lights-out, spinning four scoreless frames to open the contest, before the actual light tower in left field literally went out in the Oakland Coliseum, resulting in an extended delay in the top of the fifth inning. At the time of the delay, the 23-year-old southpaw had already generated a whopping 11 swinging strikes, fueling an elite 38 percent CSW (called strikes plus whiffs). He came back out after the extended delay to notch another strikeout before departing after just 65 pitches (44 strikes). Simply put, Luzardo was well on his way to a masterpiece before decades-old crumbling infrastructure decided to intervene. He’ll carry the momentum into a road tilt against the Orioles on Sunday.
Sean Manaea vs. Twins
7.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K
34% CSW, 17 swinging strikes
Manaea authored his most prolific start of the season in the front-end of Tuesday’s twin-billing against the Twins, scattering six hits and one walk over seven frames in a complete-game shutout. The 29-year-old southpaw recorded seven strikeouts, induced a season-high 17 swinging strikes, and finished with a season-best 34 percent CSW. He’ll aim to build off this latest stellar outing with a road matchup against the Rays on Monday.
Adam Wainwright vs. Nationals
7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 10 K
31% CSW, 11 swinging strikes
Wainwright was brilliant in a vintage throwback performance, generating 11 swinging strikes, and finishing with a 31 percent CSW. The 39-year-old veteran righty had the good stuff in this one, as evidenced by a substantial jump in spin rate on virtually all of his offerings. That increased movement led to an uptick in whiffs and soft contact. He’ll square off against the Phillies at home on Monday.
Hitters with an EDGE
Jose Abreu vs. Indians
3-for-4, 3 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI
It’s taken a few weeks for the reigning American League MVP to heat up again, but Abreu is officially back after a monster two-homer performance on Tuesday in the White Sox’ win over the Indians. The 34-year-old slugger walloped a gigantic 458-foot blast to left field off Zach Plesac in the fourth inning and also took southpaw reliever Sam Hentges deep in the seventh inning to record his first multi-homer effort of the season. He also chipped in an RBI single for good measure. He may have gotten off to a slow start, but this is the type of performance that should put opposing pitchers on notice.
Mike Trout vs. Rangers
3-for-4, 2 R, HR, 1 RBI
Remember when Trout went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts on Monday in the opening game of the series? Don’t make him angry, folks. The 29-year-old part-time meteorologist clobbered a mammoth 446-foot solo homer to left-center field -- his fifth round-tripper of the season -- off Jordan Lyles in the fifth inning. He also tacked on a pair of additional hits just for good measure. He's hitting .385/.508/.788 with 14 runs scored, five homers and 11 RBI across 65 plate appearances.
C.J. Cron vs. Astros
2-for-5, 1 R, HR, 5 RBI
Cron put the Rockies ahead with a line-drive, two-run double just over the outstretched glove of Astros' center fielder Myles Straw in the sixth inning. He also tacked on a trio of insurance runs with his first round-tripper of the season, a three-run blast to left field off righty Joe Smith in the eighth inning. The 31-year-old veteran slugger won the Rockies' first base job with a sizzling-hot run at the plate in spring training, but has been mired in an extended slump to open the 2021 campaign. Despite his early-season struggles, Cron remains worthy of a roster spot for fantasy managers in deeper mixed leagues because of his immense upside in the hitter-friendly confines of Coors Field.
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EDGE Priority Pickup
Joey Wendle, 3B, Rays (Available in 36 percent of Yahoo fantasy leagues)
The undisputed hottest hitter in baseball, Wendle has served as the Rays’ main offensive catalyst during their current five-game winning streak, notching 10 hits in 21 at-bats (.476) to go along with nine runs scored, two homers and four RBI, during that span. The 30-year-old third baseman owns a stratospheric .356/.387/.593 triple-slash line with 15 runs scored, three round-trippers and 12 RBI across 62 plate appearances this season. There’s an inherent chasing stats component to every hot streak, but Wendle has always been a contact-oriented on-base machine capable of chipping in the occasional homer or stolen base as well. As long as he continues to bat in the heart of the Rays’ formidable lineup, he’ll continue to rack up counting stats, which makes him worthy of a roster spot for fantasy managers in shallow mixed leagues. His rostered percentage has nearly doubled in the last week alone, so this might be your last chance to add him from the waiver wire.
Los Angeles finally got some good news regarding an injury situation this season as Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Tuesday that he expects Mookie Betts (forearm) to return on Thursday when the team opens a four-game series against the division-rival Padres. The 28-year-old superstar outfielder was held out of the series finale in Seattle after taking a pitch off his right forearm earlier this week. X-rays came back negative, so it sounds like he should be good to go for a highly-anticipated rematch with San Diego.
White Sox manager Tony La Russa said Tuesday that he's optimistic righty Lance Lynn (trapezius) will return from the injured list when he's first eligible. The 33-year-old right-hander landed on the 10-day injured list with a strained right trapezius after feeling discomfort in his start last Thursday, but all signs point to this being a minor issue. If that's the case, he could return next week.
Injury Quick Hits: Anthony Santander was removed from Tuesday's game against the Marlins due to a sprained left ankle. X-Rays came up negative, but he’ll undergo an MRI to determine the severity of the injury … Jean Segura was removed from Tuesday’s matchup against the Giants due to a strained left quad … Miguel Sano is dealing with right hamstring tightness after leaving early during Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Athletics … Astros manager Dusty Baker said Tuesday that Jose Altuve hasn’t cleared COVID-19 protocols yet, but the team activated Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Martin Maldonado and Robel Garcia on Tuesday from the COVID-19 injured list … Trent Grisham returned after missing a pair of contests due to a quad issue, both Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado were held out of the Padres’ starting lineup for Tuesday’s contest against the Brewers … Ozzie Albies was able to return to the Braves' starting lineup for Tuesday’s contest against the Yankees after missing a few games due to a hand injury, but Ronald Acuña Jr. was held out after being diagnosed with a mild abdominal strain earlier this week … Ty France was absent from the Mariners' lineup Tuesday against the Dodgers, and is considered day-to-day, after being hit in the right forearm by a pitch earlier this week … Reds placed third baseman Mike Moustakas on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to April 17, with a non-COVID illness … Twins manager Rocco Baldelli confirmed Tuesday that Max Kepler has tested positive for COVID-19. The 28-year-old outfielder has been placed on the COVID-19 injured list and will be isolated from the team for the next 10 days … Didi Gregorius (elbow) was absent from the Phillies’ starting lineup for the second consecutive game on Tuesday due to an elbow injury … Cavan Biggio was back in the Blue Jays' starting lineup on Tuesday after sustaining a hand injury over the weekend … Marlins placed OF Starling Marte on the 10-day injured list with a fractured rib. He’ll be shut down from baseball activities for 5-7 days before being re-evaluated, which makes his timetable for a potential return unclear at this point … Braves manager Brian Snitker confirmed Tuesday that Mike Soroka (shoulder) has yet to resume throwing. The 23-year-old righty experienced discomfort in his right shoulder while rehabbing at the team’s alternate training site earlier this month … Anthony Rendon (groin) swung a bat and participated in infield drills on Tuesday without issue … Matt Moore (COVID-19) isn't expected to be ready to make his next scheduled start Friday against the Rockies … Julian Merryweather (oblique) isn't expected to rejoin the Blue Jays when he's first eligible to return from the injured list … Padres’ lefty Adrian Morejon will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery.
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Wednesday’s Matchup of the Day
Not enough ink has been spilled on these electronic pages regarding DeSclafani and Eflin, who have quietly put together strong performances to open the 2021 campaign. DeSclafani has silenced the Padres, Rockies and Marlins, compiling a minuscule 1.06 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 16/4 K/BB ratio across 17 innings (three starts). Meanwhile, has held his own despite a pair of tough matchups against the Braves and a home tilt with the Cardinals, posting a 3.15 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 16/2 K/BB ratio over 20 innings (three starts). Neither of them are overpowering, but it’s easy to envision both of them cruising against a pair of lineups slogging through a mid-afternoon matinee on a getaway day.
American League Quick Hits: Xander Bogaerts went 2-for-4 with a three-run homer to propel the Red Sox past the Blue Jays … Gio Urshela went 2-for-3 with a solo homer to help the Yankees end a five-game losing streak with a victory over the Braves … Carlos Santana went 2-for-4 with a solo homer and three RBI in the Royals’ loss to the Rays … Trey Mancini went 2-for-4 with a solo homer and a pair of runs scored to lead the Orioles past the Marlins … Michael Brantley reached base safely in all four of his plate appearances in the Astros’ loss to the Rockies … Eduardo Rodriguez yielded two runs, while also striking out six, over six innings in a win over the Blue Jays … Marco Gonzales whiffed six batters over seven innings of one-run ball in a tough-luck loss to the Dodgers … Carlos Rodon notched eight strikeouts over five innings in a win over the Indians … Zach Plesac was tagged for six runs over five innings in a loss to the White Sox … Jameson Taillon fanned five batters over five innings of one-run ball in a win over the Braves … Yankees recalled 1B Mike Ford from their alternate training site … Yasiel Puig has agreed to a contract with Veracruz of the Mexican League.
National League Quick Hits: Tuesday night's game between the Diamondbacks and Reds was suspended in the top of the eighth inning due to snow … Buster Posey collected three hits and launched a pair of solo homers to lift the Giants past the Phillies. It was his first multi-homer effort since May 28, 2016 … Alec Bohm slugged a two-run homer, Rhys Hoskins belted a solo homer and Bryce Harper reached base safely in four of his five plate appearances in the Phillies’ loss to the Giants … Josh Bell crushed his first long ball of the season in the Nationals’ win over the Cardinals … Miguel Rojas collected four hits, including a triple, and also reached base safely in all five of his plate appearances, in the Marlins’ loss to the Orioles … J.D. Davis swatted his first round-tripper of the season in the Mets’ loss to the Cubs … Charlie Morton registered six punchouts over six innings of one-run ball in a no-decision against the Yankees … Patrick Corbin scattered four hits, and struck out five batters, over six shutout frames in a no-decision against the Cardinals.