Raise your hand if you thought that Steven Matz was going to be among not only the best newcomers in baseball over the first two-plus weeks of the season, but one of the best pitchers in baseball.
Some of you are lying.
Matz was excellent again on Saturday, as the southpaw allowed just one run over six innings in a win over the Royals in the first game of a doubleheader. He allowed just two hits, and he was able to strike out five in the victory.
The word “again” was used in the paragraph above, but it’s worth repeating: Matz has been excellent in all three of his starts thus far in 2021. He’s allowed just one run while going at least six innings, and his K/BB ratio is 18-6 over those 17 1/3 frames. The control hasn’t been elite, but he’s mostly getting ahead of hitters, and that’s a solid -- if unspectacular -- among of strikeouts to go with it.
The question is obviously if this can continue, and while the answer is yes, it’s understandable if some fantasy managers are a bit hesitant to buy in. Yes it was only nine games last year, but Matz was awful in 2020 with a 9.68 ERA, 36 hits allowed in 30 2/3 innings and a horrible 1.70 WHIP. It’s worth keeping in mind, however, that the sample was incredibly small, and we’ve seen Matz succeed at the highest level. It just hasn’t been with much consistency, as quality starts seem to be followed by clunkers.
There’s no guarantee that Matz keeps this up, but those who are looking for help on their fantasy pitching staff shouldn’t look too much further if Matz is available.
Yelich heads to injured list due to back injury
This looks like delaying the inevitable in hindsight, but either way it’s no good. Christian Yelich was placed on the 10-day injured list with a back injury before Thursday’s game against the Pirates. The outfielder missed five games in a row before the Brewers decided to place the former MVP on the injured list.
The placement was backdated so Yelich can return shortly, but for at least the next week or so, Milwaukee and fantasy managers will be without one of the most talented outfielders in the sport.
Starting Pitchers with an EDGE
Jacob deGrom -- 6 IP, 0 ER, 0 BB, 14 SO against Colorado in the first game of a doubleheader.
This is getting unrealistic. At one point, deGrom struck out nine consecutive hitters; one shy of the MLB record set by former Met Tom Seaver. At one point as well, deGrom also looked like he was going to be charged with a loss after allowing three unearned runs in the sixth inning, but Daniel Bard blew a save to allow him to pick up his first win of the season. Simply put, deGrom is the best pitcher on the planet, and that’s saying something because there’s some pretty good ones on it.
Dane Dunning -- 6 IP, 0 ER,0 BB, 5 SO against Baltimore.
Dunning was excellent on Saturday, scattering five hits and fanning the five hitters without issuing a walk. The former White Sox hurler came over to Texas in the trade for Lance Lynn, and while it’s not a trade that Chicago is going to regret, Dunning has looked like a hurler that can have long-term success so far this year. An ERA of 0.60 in 15 innings thus far is pretty darn impressive. He’s worth keeping an eye on; not just in keeper leagues but redraft formats as well.
Clayton Kershaw -- 6 IP, 0 ER, 2BB, 9 SO against San Diego.
The reports of Kershaw’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. After a disappointing start against the Rockies in the opener, the future Hall of Famer has now not allowed a run since April 6. Is he the same pitcher that everyone saw win multiple Cy Youngs? Nope, but this version is awfully good, and it comes with the added benefit that he has the best team in baseball playing behind him. Mercy.
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Hitters with an EDGE
Yadier Molina -- 3-for-5, 2 HR, 4 RBI against Philadelphia.
Speaking of exaggerated diminishments. Molina clobbered two homers on Saturday in a 9-4 win, and the only reason why you shouldn’t say he’s looked like his old self is because he’s looked better. No, you shouldn’t expect many more multi-homer games from Molina, but fantasy managers have to be encouraged by a .340/.385/.680 start to the 2021 campaign in the first 14 games.
Xander Bogaerts -- 4-for-5, 2B, 2 RBI against Miami.
Bogaerts was one of two hitters who had four hits against the White Sox on Saturday, but only one of those hitters is hitting .412 on the year, so sorry Enrique Hernandez, Bogaerts gets this spot. On top of that average, the underrated shortstop is getting on at a .484 clip and slugging .510. There’s a lot of good shortstops in baseball right now, and Bogaerts deserves to hear his name mentioned with the best of them.
Steven Matz -- Available in 22 percent of Yahoo fantasy baseball leagues
It’s a little weird saying that a player that is rostered in nearly four-of-five leagues is a priority pickup, but in this case, yep. Matz has looked excellent, he has a lineup that should provide him plenty of run support and it doesn’t really make sense to leave him on the waiver wire at this point. Go get him. You’re welcome.
Edwin Diaz had the good stuff going in the first game of a doubleheader, striking out three to pick up the save. When Diaz has his best command, there might not be a better reliever in all of baseball. Not many, if there is.
Somewhat amazingly, Ryan Pressly had his first chance for a save on Saturday. He converted it without a ton of effort, and needed just eight pitches -- seven of them strikes -- to get through the top of the Mariners lineup. There’s a very good chance that this isn’t the last save chance Pressly has in 2021. Obvious point is indeed obvious.
We mentioned Bard in the deGrom line, but it’s worth bringing up again. He really struggled while allowing four hits and two runs in the 4-3 loss. It’s only the first save of the year, but when you consider how bad the Rockies are, where he pitches and the fact that as good of a story as he is that he’s not a dominant pitcher? This is not a great closing situation.
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Sunday’s Matchup of the Day
Sometimes these decisions are hard. This is not one of those times.
American League Quick Hits: Saturday and Sunday’s games between the Angels and Twins have been postponed due to COVID-19 issues … Salvador Perez hit his third career walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh on Saturday, giving the Royals a 3-2 win over the Blue Jays in the second game of a doubleheader … Juan Lagares (calf) has resumed running … Astros placed LHP Blake Taylor on the 10-day injured list with a sprained right ankle … Astros manager Dusty Baker told reporters that he was unsure if Lance McCullers will make his next scheduled start against the Rockies … Shohei Ohtani (blister) threw off the main mound on Saturday.
National League Quick Hits: Brett Anderson allowed just an unearned run over seven innings on Saturday to help the Brewers to a 7-1 win on Saturday over the Pirates … Padres placed RHP Dan Altavilla on the 10-day injured list with right elbow inflammation … Phillies manager Joe Girardi told reporters that Bryce Harper (back) could return to the lineup on Sunday … Kris Bryant went 3-for-5 with two homers, four RBI, and three runs scored on Saturday in a 13-4 win over the Braves ...The Diamondbacks expect Tim Locastro (finger) to be placed on the 10-day injured list … Lucas Erceg is currently being developed as a two-way player by the Brewers.