Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you had a pleasant Easter Sunday and maybe you were like me and lucky enough to cash a ticket on Jon Rahm in the Masters. You know baseball is starting to ramp up when you're going with the two-screen approach -- Masters and Sunday Night Baseball. And there was certainly a lot of action from the weekend to catch up on. We'll dive into all of the big takeaways from the second weekend of the season, we'll also discuss some waiver wire options to help your pitching staffs, but first we need to tackle the biggest news -- budding breakout Oneil Cruz suffered a fractured ankle on Sunday.
It was a bummer to see Oneil Cruz, who had improved his strikeout rate and average from his MLB debut last season in the early part of the season, suffer an obviously major injury on Sunday. Chris Towers broke down the Cruz news and provided some middle infield options to replace him with.
As of Monday, Cruz is projected towith the injury. Below are the middle infielders Towers suggests on the waiver wire or putting in a trade offer if they're already rostered.
*These players are available in at least 25% of CBS Fantasy leagues.
- Nico Hoerner, Cubs (73%) -- Hoerner has had a pretty quiet start to the season, but he's still hitting .306 with three steals through eight games, which is pretty much what we expected to see from him. He's a pretty fringey option in points leagues, but he should at least be a good source of average, runs, and steals in categories leagues.
- Jorge Mateo, Orioles (65%) -- Mateo is pretty much a one-trick pony, but that trick might be even more impressive these days. He led the AL in steals last season with 35, and he's already up to five through seven games. The Orioles are running aggressively in the early going, and if Mateo has a green light, he's gonna go. He won't keep anything like a .350/.435/.650 line up, but Mateo has been more selective with his swings early on, so maybe there's room for some growth from last year's .221/.267/.379 line. If not, his value is tied very closely to that one trick.
- Ezequiel Tovar, Rockies (62%) -- It's been a tough start for Tovar, who has been relegated to the nine spot in the lineup almost exclusively and hasn't done much to force his way up yet. Which makes it awfully tough to trust him at this point. However, Tovar hit .318/.386/.545 with 13 homers and 17 steals in just 66 games as a 20-year-old in Double-A last season, so he's a higher-upside flier if you want to aim higher to replace Cruz.
- Brice Turang, Brewers (53%) -- Turang has started just six of nine games for the Brewers so far, which limits his upside a bit. However, the fact that he's come in late in the three other games he didn't start does help a bit, as he has 27 PA through nine games, a decent total. He's shown good plate discipline in the majors after hitting 13 homers and 35 steals in Triple-A last season, and there might be a starting-caliber shortstop's skill set here.
- Royce Lewis, Twins (21%) -- If you're looking for someone with a bit more long-term upside than some of the low-end types like Luis Garcia (Nationals), Enrique Hernandez, or Elvis Andrus, Lewis is a great target. He's on the 60-day IL as he recovers from a torn ACL, so Lewis won't be back until late May at the earliest, but he could begin playing in minor-league games in the next few weeks. Lewis is a former top prospect who hit .313/.405/.534 in the majors last season, and he could end up being a true impact player for Fantasy if Cruz does end up missing a big chunk of the season.
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Nick Lodolo breakout season is here
The talented Reds starter is surely looking like one of this season's true breakout stars. Lodolo was dominant in his outing against the Phillies this weekend. He threw seven shutout innings and racked up a career-high 12 strikeouts. His curveball has allowed just a .118 batting average against so far this year with a 46% whiff rate.
The Rays aces
Everything has gone right so far for Tampa and that includes the breakouts for pitchers Jeffrey Springs and Drew Rasmussen. Both pitchers threw seven inning shutouts again this weekend. Rasmussen has allowed three baserunners in two starts this season. You read that right.
Waiver wire pitchers to target
Justin Steele, Cubs
- The Chicago prospect put together his second strong start of the season -- six innings of one-run ball. He's living off two pitches right now (four-seam fastball, slider) but they're working. Steele is 74% rostered and draws the Dodgers this week.
- Manea was one of the best pitchers in baseball to start last season before collapsing hard, and he's once again off to a strong start in 2023. He pitched six innings of one-run ball with eight strikeouts and 14 induced swinging strikes against the Royals. His sinker velocity is up 3.3 mph and he's lowered his usage of that pitch -- trading in changeups and sliders more often. Manea is 62% rostered but has an elite matchup this week vs. the Royals.
MacKenzie Gore, Nationals
- It's never too late to jump back on board with a former top prospect. Gore pitched well despite being matched up at Coors Field. He limited the Rockies to two runs and five hits over six innings with six strikeouts and 13 swinging strikes. Gore is 62% rostered with a matchup against the Angles this week.
Michael Wacha, Padres
- It's not just Manea -- the Padres are getting great work out of the entire back end of their rotation. Wacha threw six innings of two-hit shutout ball with a career-high 10 strikeouts (where did this come from) against the Braves of all teams. Wacha's strong start has been fueled by his changeup that has drawn a 43.8% whiff rate and .125 batting average against. He's 63% rostered and draws the Brewers this week.
- It's starting to look a lot like 2021 again for DeSclafani. He threw six innings of one-run ball and only allowed two hits in his last start -- albeit against the lowly Pirates. Still, DeSclafani is pitching as effectively as he did during the 2021 season and his fastball velocity is up 1 mph, averaging a healthy 95.9 MPH. He's 57% rostered and draws the Orioles this week.
Seth Lugo, Padres
Lugo has pitched well so far in his new home. He shut down the Braves this past weekend -- six innings of one run ball. He's 50% rostered, draws the Brewers this week and is SPARP eligible in H2H leagues.
News & notes
- Carlos Rodon will throw a live batting practice Monday. That will be the first time he's faced hitters since being diagnosed with that forearm strain. There was a report that he'd be about a month away from returning once throwing live BP so it looks like we're hoping for May 10th-ish.
- Justin Verlander said Friday that he's upped his throwing intensity and expects to join the Mets well before the end of April.
- Joe Musgrove will most likely need one more rehab start before rejoining the Padres rotation.
- Max Fried hasn't yet resumed mound work and is likely about two weeks away from returning.
- Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Friday that Evan Phillips will be given ninth-inning opportunities more often than the team's other relievers.
- Adam Duvall underwent X-rays on his injured left wrist after exiting Sunday's game. He's now up to 90% rostered
- Tyler Glasnow threw before Sunday's game and expects to throw a bullpen next week.
- Lars Nootbaar is traveling with the Cardinals and could be activated from the IL as early as Monday.
- Seiya Suzuki began a rehab assignment at Triple-A Saturday. He could be back at some point this week.
- Kyle Wright said he feels great and hopes to rejoin the Braves' rotation April 11 against the Reds. Apparently, his velocity was way down in his rehab start last week.
- Francisco Alvarez made his debut Sunday against the lefty Braxton Garrett after sitting on Friday and Saturday.
- Mitch Haniger was recently shut down for about a week due to back tightness. He was originally placed on the IL with an oblique strain.
- Seth Brown was out of the lineup after feeling discomfort in his rib cage area.
- Joey Gallo has missed two straight with right side soreness.
- Zach Davies left Saturday's start with a strained left oblique. Drey Jameson will step into the rotation. He's 24% rostered.
- The Yankees are hopeful Harrison Bader will play rehab games in the next 7-10 days. He's 58% rostered if you're looking for speed.
- Garrett Whitlock is making his season debut Tuesday. He's 58% rostered and SPARP eligible.
- Jared Shuster was sent back to Triple-A after another subpar outing.
- Phillies top pitching prospect Andrew Painter was placed on the 60-day IL in Double-A because of that UCL sprain.
These players landed on the IL this weekend
- Michael Harris with a lower back strain, but he hopes to be back when first eligible.
- Andres Munoz with a shoulder
- Travis d'Arnaud to the 7-day IL with a concussion
- Darick Hall will undergo surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb. Kody Clemens will be the Phillies' regular first baseman against right-handed pitching in the meantime.
- Seth Brown with a left oblique. Conner Capel will likely see more playing time.
- Kyle Lewis with an undisclosed illness. Pavin Smith was recalled.
- Jonathan Loaisiga with elbow inflammation.
- Austin Meadows is stepping away with anxiety. Akil Baddoo was recalled.
- Max Kepler with right knee tendinitis. Matt Wallner was recalled.
- Jose Siri with right hamstring strain. Vidal Brujan was recalled.
- Josh Donaldson with a right hamstring strain.