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No Ordinary Joe

Connor Joe

Connor Joe

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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The PA announcer at Globe Life Field on Monday during the Rockies-Rangers game announced Connor Joe’s name as “Joe Connor.” If Joe keeps hitting like this, he’s not going to have to worry about anyone getting his name wrong.

After Jose Iglesias put the Rockies back ahead in the top of the 10th inning with an RBI single, Joe padded the lead with a 105.3 mph rocket down the left field line and over the wall. The Rockies hung on for a 6-4 victory and moved to 3-1 on the season.

The long ball was Joe’s second on the season, and he also added a single and a walk. He’s reached base at least twice in three of four games and in the game he didn’t he stole his first base of the season.

After batting sixth in each of the Rockies’ first two games of the season, Joe has hit leadoff in the last two contests. Colorado has faced a left-handed starter in both games, as Joe appears likely to remain perched atop the order versus southpaws. He’s hit sixth against the two righties the Rockies have faced.

Joe is a former first-round pick but it took until last year at the age of 28 before he finally got his first extended look in the majors. He thrived, batting .285/.379/.469 with eight home runs over 211 plate appearances before a hamstring injury prematurely ended his season in early September.

There were some questions coming into the season as to what Joe’s role would be. His two positions – first base and left field – were spoken for by C.J. Cron and Kris Bryant, respectively.

Those questions are no longer lingering with Joe starting all four games. Two of them have come at first base and two have been in the designated hitter spot.

Joe doesn’t run and his power is pretty middling. However, his plate discipline is excellent and that power will play up at Coors Field. It’s very early, but the 29-year-old is looking like a fine late-round fantasy investment.

Starting Pitchers with an EDGE

Michael Lorenzen vs. MIA – 6 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 0 BB, 7 K

Lorenzen entered free agency desperate for some team to give him a chance to start. He got that opportunity from the Angels, and he wowed in his first start Monday, limiting the Marlins to just two hits and a single tally (via a Jesus Sanchez homer) across six superb frames. It’s the first time since July of 2015 – his rookie season – that Lorenzen has gone six innings. He induced 14 swinging strikes among his 89 pitches.

Alek Manoah vs. NYY – 6 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 4 BB, 7 K

Manoah battled some control issues in walking four batters, but the Yankees managed just one single against him over his six innings of work. He notched seven strikeouts and got his pitch count up to 89. The big right-hander’s first start of last season (and his major league debut) was also a six-inning, no-run effort at Yankee Stadium. Monday’s effort was much needed after the Blue Jays’ bullpen had to work hard over the weekend.

Matt Manning vs. BOS – 6 IP, 1 ER, 1 H, 0 BB, 2 K

Manning was a flop in his first go-round in the majors last season, but he had a solid spring training and was excellent against a dangerous Red Sox lineup in his season debut Monday. The young right-hander retired the first 12 batters he faced before J.D. Martinez led off the fifth inning with a home run. Manning then went on to retire the next six batters before being pulled, ultimately needing just 68 pitches to cover his six frames. His velocity was up a tick, maxing out at 97.3 mph.

Hitters with an EDGE

Maikel Franco vs. ATL – 4-for-5, HR, 2B, 5 RBI

Franco came into Monday’s festivities in Atlanta having reached base just once in his first four games. He bounced back from that mini-slump in a big way, cranking a two-run home run and adding a bases-clearing double as part of a four-hit, five-RBI day. The Nationals out-hit the Braves 15-4 and out-scored them 11-2 in a blowout victory.

George Springer vs. NYY – 3-for-5, HR, 2B, 3 RBI

Springer continued his hot start to the season on Monday, driving in all three runs for the Blue Jays as they shut out the Yankees 3-0. Toronto’s leadoff hitter singled in the first inning before ripping a two-run home run in the third inning and plating another run with a double in the seventh. Springer is 7-for-18 with two home runs, two doubles, four RBI and five runs scored in his first four contests.

Elvis Andrus vs. TB – 3-for-5, HR, 2B, 3 RBI, 2 R

We also could have gone with Sheldon Neuse here, as he had a grand slam among three hits in the Athletics’ blowout win over the Rays. Neuse’s bomb came off of outfielder Brett Phillips, though, whereas Andrus’ dinger came off an actual pitcher. The veteran shortstop also added a double and a single, falling a triple shy of the cycle in a rare burst of offense for the 33-year-old.

Priority Pickup

Kyle Wright, SP, Braves – Available in 71 percent of Yahoo leagues

Wright captured the final spot in the Braves’ rotation with a superb showing during Grapefruit League play, allowing just one unearned run while striking out eight and walking one over 7 1/3 innings. He then carried that over into his first start of the regular season, yielding only two hits and one walk while fanning six over six shutout frames versus the Reds. Wright’s velocity was up a tick and he also threw his curveball over 40 percent of the time, getting eight whiffs on 18 swings. The control could regress at any point given his history, but Wright is a former top prospect who should be rostered virtually everywhere.

Closing Time

The Orioles’ first save of the season went to Jorge Lopez, who pitched around a walk Monday to close out a two-run victory over the Brewers. The velocity on Lopez’s fastball was up more than three mph in his first outing last Friday and was up more than two mph Monday, as he’s now sitting comfortably in the 97-99 mph range with a full-time move to the bullpen. Manager Brandon Hyde also talked Lopez up as a potential closer before the season, so it would seem he wants him to have the job.

Gregory Soto pitched around a double to notch his first save of the season on Monday against the Red Sox. It came after he served up a go-ahead solo home run in the ninth inning on Opening Day, although he wound up getting a win in that one. Getting the win in this one was Michael Fulmer, whose velocity hasn’t come back yet but that hasn’t stopped him from turning in a couple scoreless appearances. Soto still looks like the clear favorite for saves in this bullpen for the time being.

After Daniel Bard blew a save in the ninth inning when he served up a two-out, game-tying home run to Willie Calhoun, Ashton Goudeau got a save in the 10th with the help of a game-ending illegal slide (seriously). Bard had registered a save in his first appearance last Friday when he struck out the side. He looks like the guy to roster in this bullpen, but he’s a risky proposition for a multitude of reasons.

With Corey Knebel unavailable due to flu-like symptoms, Brad Hand struck out a pair in a perfect ninth inning to pick up a save in the Phillies’ win over the Mets on Monday. Hand isn’t going to be worth rostering in fantasy leagues unless he’s getting saves regularly, which would probably only happen if Knebel is hurt.

Tuesday’s Matchup of the Day

Jesus Luzardo (MIA) vs. Patrick Sandoval (LAA)

It’s a battle of talented young left-handers, one who was trending up in spring training (Luzardo) and one who was trending down (Sandoval). Luzardo was a disaster last season, but he was throwing harder this spring while also showcasing his terrific curveball more. Sandoval, meanwhile, flashed significant upside last year but had to have his first start of the season pushed back as he battles through a dead arm phase. We’ll be keeping a close eye on this one.

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American League Quick Hits: Brandon Marsh clubbed a three-run homer and added an RBI double Monday against the Marlins. … Luis Patino was removed from Monday’s start against the Athletics after recording just two outs due to a strained left oblique. … Andrew Benintendi homered and reached base five times Monday versus the Guardians. … Jo Adell homered and hit an RBI double Monday versus the Marlins. … Danny Jansen (oblique) was placed on the IL Monday. … Steven Kwan had a bases-clearing triple and drew a couple walks Monday in Kansas City. … David Fletcher had to leave Monday’s game against the Marlins with left hip tightness. … Dylan Bundy limited the Mariners to just one hit and one walk across five shutout innings on Monday. … Trevor Story (illness) has rejoined the Red Sox but isn’t expected to return to the lineup until at least Wednesday. … Javier Baez hit a go-ahead, two-run home run – his first as a Tiger – in the eighth inning of Monday’s win over the Red Sox. … Taylor Ward (groin) is expected to be activated from the IL this weekend. … Michael Pineda could make his Tigers debut on Sunday against the Royals. … Josh Naylor (leg) could be activated Friday. … Ryan Yarbrough (groin) landed on the IL Monday.

National League Quick Hits: Jesus Sanchez slugged a couple solo home runs for the Marlins’ only two tallies in a loss to the Angels. … Zack Wheeler (shoulder) will make his season debut on Tuesday against the Mets. … Zac Gallen has been scratched from Tuesday’s start with a cut on his thumb, but he’s hoping to avoid the IL. … Blake Snell (groin) will try to play catch Tuesday and throw a bullpen session Wednesday, perhaps avoiding an IL stint after all. … Jack Flaherty (shoulder) has been cleared to resume a throwing program. … Both Taijuan Walker (shoulder) and Trevor May (arm) will undergo MRIs after leaving Monday’s game versus the Phillies with injuries. … C.J. Cron homered and tripled Monday as the Rockies beat the Rangers. … Jose Iglesias went 4-for-5 for the Rockies on Monday. … Steven Matz developed a small blister on his pitching hand during Sunday’s start but is not expected to miss his next turn. … Nick Martinez held the Giants to one run while fanning six over five innings Monday.