This early in Fantasy Baseball season, you're going to be pulled in all sorts of directions. Every big performance could be the start of a breakout, so you want to take all the swings that you can, casting a wide net on the waiver wire without decimating the roster you so carefully crafted on Draft Day.
A certain level of discernment is required, then, and to that end, I've identified three big performances from this weekend that you're better off ignoring ... for now.
I'll offer a few words on each before pivoting to the players who you should be targeting on the waiver wire.
Don't add yet
Trayce Thompson homered three times in the Dodgers' first game against a left-hander Saturday and then got a start against a right-hander Sunday. He posted impressive exit velocities as a part-timer last year and may have latent potential at age 32. But to me, how good he could be is a moot point until the Dodgers show a real commitment to playing him. To get him in the lineup against a righty Sunday, they had to move Mookie Betts to second base and remove Miguel Vargas altogether, neither of which will happen often.
Joey Gallo homered twice Sunday, reintroducing us to his potent power with blasts of 431 and 415 feet, and he also doubled and walked in the contest. His weekend was a microcosm of the entire Joey Gallo experience seeing as he entered the day 0 for 6 with four strikeouts. We're still talking about a guy who has batted .183 over the past three seasons, after all, so it's fair to say consistency is an issue. Buying into him after one big game seems like a good way to get burned.
Like Gallo, Nolan Gorman homered twice Sunday, but like Thompson, playing time seems like an insurmountable hurdle at the moment. Gorman isn't about to replace Nolan Arenado at third base or Brendan Donovan at second. He does appear to be the preferred DH option against right-handed pitchers, but seeing as the Cardinals have to find at-bats for all of Jordan Walker, Lars Nootbaar, Tyler O'Neill, Dylan Carlson and even Alec Burleson, who went 3 for 4 with a home run and two doubles Sunday, Gorman hardly has the job on lockdown. It's helped that Nootbaar has been out with a jammed thumb the past couple days, but he'll be back soon enough.
Now then, for some of the players you should target instead ...
CIN Cincinnati • #51 • Age: 25
Graham Ashcraft gained steam with his 25 strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings this spring, his new slider grip serving as a more effective counter to his 100 mph cutter. Initial returns during the regular season were also promising, though I will point out that he had just 10 swinging strikes against a bad Pirates lineup. He still seemed enthusiastic about the slider, though, which he threw 41 percent of the time, up from 27 percent last year. "It's come a long way," Ashcraft said after the game. "It's going to help my arsenal." Among pitchers who might actually be available, there isn't one I'd want more right now.
Yoan Moncada 3B
CHW Chi. White Sox • #10 • Age: 28
Through four games, Yoan Moncada's average exit velocity is 97.1 mph, which is probably too good to sustain seeing as it's better than what Aaron Judge averaged during his historic 2022. But Moncada did average 93.1 mph in 2019, which was the last year he was an impactful Fantasy player. Seeing the 27-year-old sting the ball like that again is reason for optimism at a position hurting for depth. If I've already taken a flier on another upside play at third base, like Josh Jung or Elehuris Montero, I'd be hesitant to swap him out for Moncada, whose has been striking out in between the hard-hit balls. But if there's some other way to fit another bat on my roster, he's worth it.
CHC Chi. Cubs • #35 • Age: 28
Justin Steele put himself on the Fantasy radar with a 1.49 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 10.8 K/9 over his final 10 starts last year. He did it by upping the use of his best pitch, the slider, to around 33 percent. So what does it say that he upped it again to 50 percent in his season debut Saturday? Maybe there's even more potential to unlock for the 27-year-old lefty who's really beginning to stand out for his bat-missing ability, even if the walks remain a bit troublesome.
Adam Duvall CF
BOS Boston • #18 • Age: 35
Fenway Park seemed like it would be a perfect fit for Adam Duvall's swing, which has tended to send towering flies to his pull side. One series in, the results couldn't be more promising. He went 4 for 5 Saturday and 3 for 5 Sunday, with extra-base hits galore. Two years ago, Duvall hit 38 home runs between Miami and Atlanta, but the humidified baseballs in the cold weather early last year really seemed to dampen his production. There were low temperatures in Boston this weekend, but it didn't seem to matter. You shouldn't count on him to be of much help in batting average, but Duvall could be a nice source of power.
CHW Chi. White Sox • #52 • Age: 32
Mike Clevinger struggled in his return from Tommy John surgery last year, battling myriad unrelated injuries that squelched any remaining enthusiasm for him in Fantasy. But he looked good in his White Sox debut Sunday, especially given the caliber of his competition. He simplified his reproach, relying on his fastball and slider (both with improved velocity) rather than the four-pitch mix he used during his best years. It remains to be seen if it's a sustainable approach, but with the Pirates up next, the odds of a strong follow-up are good, in which case you may not get another shot at Clevinger.
A.J. Puk RP
MIA Miami • #35 • Age: 28
There really isn't a doubt that the best reliever in the Marlins bullpen is newly acquired A.J. Puk, who had a 3.12 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 10.3 K/9 for the Athletics last season. So when he's also the one called in for the team's first save chance, as happened Friday, it's easy to dream big. Officially, the Marlins are taking a by-committee approach to the ninth inning, so an investment in Puk now may ultimately end in frustration. Or he could be a breakout closer who becomes a reliable source of saves for you. Him having an early foothold makes him worth the gamble.
Mitch Garver DH
TEX Texas • #18 • Age: 32
Mitch Garver was the fourth to surprise with a multi-homer game this weekend, joining Trayce Thompson, Joey Gallo and Nolan Gorman. The performance Saturday came with him occupying the catcher spot, where he'll be of the most use in Fantasy once he regains eligibility there. He was at DH the next day, which is where he figures to play most often, and it may be for the best if it keeps him in the lineup. His home run pace over the past four years, prorated for 162 games, is 38. If you can afford to stash Garver away until he's catcher-eligible again, he could be a real factor there.
Joey Wiemer CF
MIL Milwaukee • #28 • Age: 24
Joey Wiemer was one of the last cuts from spring training, with the Brewers opting for a plan that seemed doomed from the beginning: Brian Anderson in right field and Luis Urias at third base. It fell apart after one day, with Urias suffering a long-term hamstring injury and Anderson shifting back to third base. Wiemer is a tremendous athlete who's been a 20-homer, 30-steal guy in the minors each of the past two years. He has strikeout concerns and a goofy swing that scouts aren't confident will hold up to major-league pitching, but in five-outfielder Roto leagues especially, rostering him is a must just in case.
ATL Atlanta • #38 • Age: 32
Daniel Bard is on the IL with anxiety. The team seems hopeful of a minimal stay, but realistically, nobody knows. Maybe he comes back with no idea where the ball is going still. Maybe he doesn't come back at all. The point is Pierce Johnson has a chance to gain a real foothold here. He converted his first save chance Friday, and the way manager Bud Black used Dinelson Lamet and Brad Hand over the weekend would suggest they're not a part of the saves mix. It seems like all Johnson right now, and he was a good bat-misser in San Diego. We'll see if his stuff plays well enough in the thin air of Coors Field.