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Air Yordan

Yordan Alvarez

Yordan Alvarez

Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

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The Astros and Yordan Álvarez’s fantasy managers sure missed him while he was sidelined a handful of days with an illness. He rewarded their patience by returning to the lineup with a bang Monday.

Álvarez popped not one, but two two-run home runs in the Astros’ 8-3 victory over the Angels. The first one went 415 feet and was measured at 107.5 mph off the bat. The second one traveled 429 feet and came off the bat at 104.2 mph.

Neither long ball was Álvarez’s hardest-hit ball of the day, as he also added a single at 109.6 mph. They were the three hard-hit balls for either team. He also scored a third run.

While the 24-year-old got the start in the designated hitter spot in this one, he has started two of his five games in left field. Álvarez came into 2022 with outfield eligibility in fantasy leagues and it doesn’t look like he’ll have trouble maintaining that eligibility for 2023.

Health would seem to be the only thing standing in the way of Álvarez having a monster 2022 campaign. He posted a .877 OPS with 33 home runs and 104 RBI across 598 plate appearances last season. Those numbers should be the bare minimum expectation for the young slugger this year.

Starting Pitchers with an EDGE

Shane McClanahan vs. CHC – 6 IP, 2 R (1 ER), 4 H, 0 BB, 9 K

He was saddled with a no-decision, but McClanahan was electric on Monday at a cold, windy Wrigley Field. A Patrick Wisdom two-run homer in the second inning which had been preceded by an error represented the only runs the left-hander gave up in his six innings of work, and he set a new career high with his nine punchouts. Additionally, McClanahan boasted an eye-popping 33 percent whiff rate and 39 percent CSW rate on the night. Though he’s still looking for his first win, McClanahan has now fanned a whopping 24 batters over 15 frames.

Dylan Bundy vs. BOS – 5 1/3 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 0 BB, 6 K

The early start on Patriots’ Day in Boston didn’t seem to disrupt Bundy. He effectively silenced the potent Red Sox bats, limiting them to just an RBI groundout over his 5 1/3 superb innings. The Twins’ one-year, $5 million investment (they have an $11 million option for 2023) in Bundy over the offseason is looking like a wise one to this point, as he’s allowed just one run with an 8/1 K/BB ratio across 10 1/3 frames in his first two outings.

Chad Kuhl vs. PHI – 6 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 4 K

Yes, the outing came at Coors Field, with Kuhl holding a scuffling Phillies offense to just two singles and one walk over six scoreless, efficient innings. Unfortunately, his night ended prematurely, with Kuhl being lifted after warming up prior to the seventh inning with hip flexor tightness. It sounds like his removal was precautionary and he should be ready to make his next start.

Hitters with an EDGE

Christian Yelich vs. PIT – 2-for-3, HR, 2B, BB, 4 RBI

Is this the game that gets Yelich headed in the right direction? While he has been hitting the ball hard, Yelich has had very little production to show for it coming into Monday’s game. He got off the schneid in a major way against the Pirates, though, belting a grand slam in the fourth inning for his first home run of the season. He also added a double and a walk.

Jorge Polanco vs. BOS – 2-for-5, HR, 4 RBI

It’s been a rough go of it for the Twins’ offense thus far, but they put up eight runs in the Patriots’ Day win over the Red Sox on Monday. Polanco was responsible for driving in half of those runs, popping a two-run home run off of Rich Hill in the third inning before later singling in a couple more runs. He entered the game in a 1-for-12 mini-funk at the plate but found the leadoff spot to his liking.

Tommy Pham vs. SD – 3-for-4, HR, 2B, RBI

Pham fell a triple shy of the cycle on Monday at his old stomping grounds in San Diego on Monday night. Perhaps a return to more familiar surroundings and some motivating boos from the stands is what was needed to get Pham going, as he came into this one just 1-for-26 at the plate to start the season. Pham was still hitting the ball hard even amidst his struggles and his strikeout rate is down below 20 percent, so he seemed bound to get going eventually.

Priority Pickup

Taylor Ward, OF, Angels – Available in 90 percent of Yahoo fantasy leagues

Most of the attention in the Angels’ outfield has revolved around Jo Adell, Brandon Marsh and that Mike Trout guy. However, after missing the first week-and-a-half of the season with a minor groin injury, Ward returned over the weekend and was immediately inserted into the middle of the Halos’ batting order. In his first three games since returning from the IL, Ward has reached base seven times, hit one home run and stolen one base. The former first-round pick has posted gaudy numbers in the upper minors and steadily improved at the major league level.

Closing Time

David Robertson pitched around a walk to record another save on Monday in the Cubs’ victory over the Rays. He’s 4-for-4 in save opportunities with the Cubbies, which is good enough to tie him for the NL lead. Robertson is unscored upon in his five innings of work and has permitted just one hit.

Alex Colome picked up his first save of the season on Monday in the Rockies’ 4-1 win over the Phillies. It wasn’t pretty, with Colome walking a batter and not recording a strikeout, but he got the job done. Daniel Bard had pitched in back-to-back games this past Friday and Saturday, so it would appear manager Bud Black didn’t want him appearing in three games in four days. Bard still looks like the favorite for saves, with Colome next in line.

Tuesday’s Matchup of the Day

Alex Cobb (SF) vs. Tylor Megill (NYM)

The Logan Webb-Max Scherzer matchup in the nightcap of Tuesday’s doubleheader between the Giants and Mets is certainly a doozy, but let’s highlight the two hurlers in the afternoon tilt. Both Cobb and Megill have displayed velocity bumps in the early going this season and with it have been two of the biggest risers among fantasy pitchers. Combined, the two boasts a 21/2 K/BB ratio over 15 1/3 innings this season, and Megill hasn’t surrendered a run in either of his two outings (it will be Cobb’s second start Tuesday).

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American League Quick Hits: Jose Altuve exited Monday’s game against the Angels with a strained left hamstring. He is being called day-to-day for now. … Wander Franco was a late scratch from Monday’s lineup due to right quad tightness, but he is expected back in there Tuesday. … Mike Trout (hand) sat out Monday and is considered day-to-day. … Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said Monday that Byron Buxton (knee) is “very optimistic about how he’s feeling right now.” The club is expected to map out a potential return date in a day or two. … Frankie Montas dazzled for six innings of one-run ball, striking out five along the way in a win over the Orioles. … David Fletcher (hip) could be activated shortly after the Angels begin a homestand this weekend. … Ryan Pressly (knee) is expected back from the IL “very, very soon,” Astros GM James Click said Monday. … Lou Trivino was one of six A’s players to be placed on the COVID-19 IL on Monday. … Lance McCullers (forearm) was transferred to the 60-day IL Monday. … Jon Gray (blister) will return from the IL to start Tuesday versus the Mariners.

National League Quick Hits: Fernando Tatis Jr. (wrist) went through some light baseball activities pregame at Petco Park on Monday. … The Braves have set a tentative date of May 6 for the return of Ronald Acuña Jr. (knee). … Jonathan India (hamstring) won’t be in the lineup until at least Friday and could be placed on the IL. … Bryce Harper will be limited to DH duty for several days because of right elbow soreness. … Freddie Freeman hit his first Dodgers homer in his first plate appearance against his former team, the Braves, on Monday. ... Manny Machado fell a triple shy of the cycle on Monday in the Padres’ win over the Reds. … Eric Lauer tossed six innings of one-run ball Monday, striking out five along the way as the Brewers took down the Pirates. … The Reds activated Nick Senzel from the IL and placed Tyler Naquin on the IL on Monday. … Austin Adams will be shut down for at least six weeks after being diagnosed with a right forearm strain. … Both Jake Arrieta and Tony Watson announced Monday that they are retiring from baseball.