The rotation has not been a strong point for the Red Sox over the past few years, but things are starting to look a lot brighter recently thanks to the apparent resurgence of a couple of big left-handed pitchers. Chris Sale and James Paxton have had their struggles in recent years, but both looked like their former ace selves this weekend.

We'll start with Sale, whose resurgence comes as much less of a surprise. Injuries have derailed what looked like a Hall of Fame career, but many Fantasy players – include myself – expected a bounce back this season. That looked like an unreasonable expectation a few starts ago, most notably when he was tagged for five runs in five innings without a strikeout on April 24 against the Orioles. That outing, the first of his career with multiple innings and no strikeouts, raised Sale's ERA To 8.22 and surely convinced at least some Fantasy players to drop him. 

But it looks like that was a mistake because Sale has 24 strikeouts over his past three starts, including 10 and nine in his past two, the most recent of which saw him limit the Cardinals to just one run in eight innings this weekend. He had a season-high 11 swinging strikes with his slider in that one, and his fastball velocity averaged 94.5 mph, as he continues to trend upwards.

It's too early to say Sale is back to being a top-12 pitcher, but maybe he just needed a few weeks to find his way after pitching so rarely the past few seasons. He's definitely trending up, back into my top 40 at SP, and he could continue to rise quickly.

But not as quickly as Paxton, whose season debut Friday was one of the most genuinely surprising performances of the season to date. Paxton, who had thrown a total of 21.2 innings in the majors since 2019, limited the Cardinals to just two runs over five innings of work with a whopping nine strikeouts. He averaged 96.3 mph with his fastball, higher than he's averaged in a season since 2016, and he got 10 whiffs with the pitch, a pretty stunning number. 

Paxton's injury history includes, among other things, Tommy John surgery back in 2021, so expecting him to stay healthy the rest of the way is asking a lot. But, coming off an outing like that, he has to be viewed as a high-value target for Fantasy players when waivers run this week. Maybe it'll just end up being a flash in the pan, but that kind of upside can't be ignored. 

Here's what else you need to know from this weekend's action. 

Weekend standouts


Mitch Keller, SP, Pirates

Keller seems like an absolutely exhausting pitcher to have to face right now. He's legitimately throwing six pitches, and while none of them is registering overwhelmingly dominant numbers now, the kitchen sink approach is helping him generate a ton of weak contact, and the strikeouts have been there of late, with at least eight in four straight starts. I don't know if he'll keep the strikeout rate up, but it's growing increasingly hard to doubt him at this point. Keller might just be the breakout pitching star of this season. 

Eury Perez, SP, Marlins

Perez wasn't overwhelming in his MLB debut, but he largely looked as advertised, armed with a high-90s fastball with good command and high spin rates, and multiple secondary pitches he could throw for whiffs. He got seven strikeouts in his 4.2 innings of work and should be a must-roster player moving forward, assuming he can hang on to a rotation spot for the suddenly depleted Marlins rotation. 

Bryce Miller, SP, Mariners

Miller kept on rolling in his third start, this time limiting the Tigers to just three hits over seven shutout innings. He did see his strikeouts decline for the second straight start, this time with just three, and his fastball-heavy approach probably means that 10-strikeout showing in his debut last week probably won't end up being sustainable. But he has excellent command and that fastball is giving hitters fits as he generates a ton of awkward swings and weak contact. I don't buy Miller as an ace, necessarily, but he obviously looks like a must-roster pitcher right now. 

Joe Ryan, SP, Twins

Ryan might have been the best we've seen yet Saturday, as he struck out 10 Cubs in his six shutout innings. That's now his third double-digit strikeout effort of the season, and he did it by focusing more on his secondary pitches this time around. The fastball remained the star, as he threw it 58% of the time and got 13 whiffs with it. That's a tough trick to keep pulling off, but Ryan now has a 3.30 ERA and 238 strikeouts in 223.2 innings of work in his MLB career, so it's hard to be too skeptical at this point. He's a must-start pitcher, and he's starting to knock on the door of the top-24. 

Jon Gray, SP, Rangers

Playing without Jacob deGrom, the Rangers pitching staff continues to step up. This time it was Gray taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the A's. He struck out five and walked two in his second straight excellent start, though the underlying numbers for the season still look pretty iffy – he has a 17.4% strikeout rate, a career low, and a 4.96 expected ERA compared to his actual 3.15 mark. This might be your chance to sell high.

Tyler Wells, SP, Orioles

Speaking of sell-high candidates, you might view Wells as one after he lowered his ERA to 2.68 with his seven shutout innings against the Pirates Saturday. His expected ERA of 3.88 is well north of that, so there's going to be some regression coming. However, Wells also pitches in a terrific home park that should help suppress his numbers, so I'm not 100% convinced he's someone you need to sell at any cost – he's getting more strikeouts with a renewed focus on his slider and curveball, and that might be enough to keep him useful, especially at home. 

Roansy Contreras, SP, Pirates

Consistency remains an issue for Contreras, but he put together a pretty impressive showing against the Orioles Saturday, limiting them to two runs over seven innings, his longest start of the season. The problem is, he got just one strikeout in the outing, and has just eight (with eight walks) over 17.1 innings since the start of May. He's not someone I'm particularly excited about moving forward, unfortunately. 

Shane McClanahan, SP, Rays

Everyone gets a mulligan or two, and Saturday was McClanahan's. He was uncharacteristically off in this one, as the Yankees jumped him for four runs in four innings of work. I'm not too concerned, even with just three strikeouts to four walks, though the control is just a bit of a red flag in his profile, if you're looking for one – his walk rate is up to 11.7%, double what it was a year ago. It mostly hasn't hurt him so far, and I don't think it will, but if you're wondering if he can challenge to be the No. 1 pitcher vs. a No. 1 pitcher, that might be a hurdle. 

Tanner Bibee, SP, Guardians

Bibee had a nice bounceback performance Sunday, striking out seven over 7.2 innings of work against the Angels. That gives him four starts out of five with at least five strikeouts and no walks with two or fewer runs allowed. I think he's legitimately good and might need to move into my top-50 at SP. 


Cody Bellinger, OF, Cubs

Standouts aren't always positive, and that's where Bellinger comes in. He was hitless Friday and Saturday before getting the day off Sunday, and is now hitting just .220/.273/.300 in the month of May. The strikeout rate is up to 25% after it was just 16% in April, and he has just four extra-base hits, all doubles. Regression was always coming for Bellinger, and I think his .834 OPS for the season is still higher than we should expect moving forward. You might've missed your chance to sell. 

Alex Kirilloff, OF, Twins

The biggest question for Kirilloff moving forward is whether he can stay healthy, but there's plenty of questions about whether he can produce after suffering so many recurring wrist injuries. So far, so good, as he's hitting .409 after a 5 for 10 series against the Cubs, with his first two home runs Saturday. He's red hot right now and has just five strikeouts to six walks so far. Now let's just hope he can stay healthy, because he looks like a must-add player right now. 

Jake Fraley, OF, Reds

Fraley carried some sleeper appeal into the season, and he started to live up to it this weekend with a three-homer series against the Marlins. The quality-of-contact metrics here are pretty miserable, but he walks a ton and doesn't strike out, so he might be able to make the most of his pull-heavy approach at the plate in a friendly home park. He's worth adding if he's out there in five-outfielder leagues.

Casey Schmitt, 3B, Giants

Schmitt didn't come to the majors with a ton of hype, but he's been incredible so far. He had hits in each of his first five games, with multiple in four of those five. It's a tiny sample size, but he's making a lot contact and hitting the ball hard (92.2 mph average exit velocity), which is all you can ask for right now. He's worth adding if you need CI help. 

Marcell Ozuna, OF, Braves

Ozuna looked like he might be playing himself off the Braves roster at the start of the season, as he had a .424 OPS in April. However, he's been tremendous in May, with five homers in 41 PA after Friday's homer. He's still not really an everyday player, and I don't expect him to keep this hot streak up, but in deeper leagues, he's certainly worth a look now. 

Andrew Benintendi, OF, White Sox

Benintendi is still rostered in 69% of leagues right now, and there's just no reason for it. He's still hitting near the top of the White Sox lineup, but he's providing no power (literally zero home runs) or speed (one steal in May). You can cut him. 

Christian Yelich, OF, Brewers

The underlying numbers for Yelich are still quite good – he has a .297 expected average and .493 expected slugging percentage for the season – so maybe his three straight multi-hit games (with three homers) this weekend are the start of him living up to those numbers. He raised his OPS from .678 to .775 this weekend. 

Mickey Moniak, OF, Angels

I'm very skeptical that Moniak is going to turn into a Fantasy relevant player, but I have to highlight him after he went 4 for 8 with a homer and two steals across his first two games. The former No. 1 overall pick was hitting .308/.355/.585 in Triple-A before the call, so in deeper leagues, he's worth a look to see if there is something here. 

Injuries, news and notes

  • Yandy Diaz will have an MRI on his groin Monday, an injury that has been bothering him for a few days before he aggravated it Sunday. Diaz is in the midst of a significant breakout, so this is a big concern for those of us who have been relying on him for Fantasy. He's a risky start this week. 
  • The Reds are promoting shortstop prospect Matt McLain from Triple-A, where he was hitting .348/.474/.710 with 12 homers and 10 steals in 38 games. His career-high in homers is 17, so this early-season production has largely come out of nowhere for the 2018 first-rounder, but this kind of upside can't be ignored. Yes, we've had a lot of top prospects flop recently but you should still add him just in case. I'd probably prioritize Christopher Morel ahead of him, but that's more a sign of faith in Morel than anything else. 
  • Nick Lodolo had his scheduled start Saturday against the Marlins scratched and will miss a minimum of four weeks with left calf tendinosis. Hopefully it's just four weeks, but that feels like a best-case scenario at this point. 
  • Willson Contreras will make his return to catcher for Monday's game against the Brewers, just about a week after the team announced he would no longer be used behind the plate while he worked on some undefined (at least publicly) issues. This whole situation has been completely bizarre, but the good news is there should be a few more PA per week for Nolan Gorman at DH. 
  • C.J. Cron was pulled from Sunday's game due to back spasms and could require an IL stint. Get him out of your lineup for this week. 
  • Ranger Saurez (elbow) made his season debut Saturday against the Rockies, allowing three runs on seven hits in four innings. All in all, that's not too bad for a first appearance at Coors Field. Suarez probably doesn't have a ton of upside, but he's been solid over the past couple of seasons and is on the mixed-league radar. His fastball velocity was right where it was last season, so that's a good sign, even if he wasn't super sharp. 
  • J.T. Realmuto was not in the lineup for Saturday's game due to a finger injury, but he was back Sunday. All good, here. 
  • Giancarlo Stanton (hamstring) has done some outfield work in recent days and will play in the outfield when he's back from injury. That is probably still at least a few weeks away. 
  • Corey Seager (hamstring) began his rehab assignment Thursday at DH, and appeared in a game at shortstop Saturday. He might be activated for Monday's series opener against the Braves. 
  • Peter Fairbanks (elbow) looks to be on the verge of returning from the IL after making his rehab debut Friday at Triple-A Durham. He'll likely need a few more appearances, but could be back as early as this week, seemingly.
  • Liam Hendriks will make at least one more rehab appearance before the White Sox decide if he'll come off the IL. He's coming back from a cancer diagnosis in the offseason and his velocity has been, predictably, down in his minor-league sessions. It may take a little while for Hendriks to get back to full strength, but he should get a chance to return to the ninth inning before long. 
  • Jazz Chisholm left Saturday's game after running into the wall in center field and has been diagnosed with turf toe. The Marlins initially downplayed the injury, but he's going to see a specialist Monday, so there's now real concern. He's a risk for this week, obviously, but the bigger concern is that this might end up being a long-term issue. Let's hope for the best. 
  • Anthony DeSclafani left Saturday's start after injuring himself while attempting to field a ball, apparently aggravating a lingering toe injury. 
  • Noah Syndergaard was able to throw a bullpen session Saturday without issues and is on track to start Monday against the Twins after leaving his last start with a cut on his right hand. 
  • Jesus Sanchez has injured both of his hamstrings over the past week, this time leaving Saturday's game with a right hamstring injury. It might end up costing him some time, a frustrating outcome with Sanchez hitting .290/.364/.551 in his first 77 plate appearances. 
  • Yasmani Grandal ended up missing all three games this weekend due to his hamstring injury, despite initially being in the lineup Saturday. He's a risky start this week. 
  • Anthony Rendon was out of the lineup Sunday after leaving Saturday's game with groin tightness. He's a risky start for this week, especially since the Angels will almost certainly take it easy with him, given his history. 
  • Joey Gallo was pulled from Sunday's game due to a leg injury suffered while running the bases. Hopefully the blowout nature of that game means this was more of a precaution than anything, but we'll obviously watch this one this week. 
  • Walker Buehler (elbow) has been cleared to begin throwing off a mound for the first time since having Tommy John surgery last season. He's still a ways away, but Buehler has a real chance to return and make an impact in the second half of the season. 
  • Michael Brantley (shoulder) has been shut down due to inflammation in his surgically repaired right shoulder. It's a setback for the veteran, and it leaves him without a timetable to return. He could still return in May, but it doesn't look super likely at this point. 
  • Ramon Laureano (concussion) was back in the A's lineup Friday after missing three games. 
  • Trevor Story has begun throwing and hitting at the team's extended spring training complex. Story is returning from Tommy John surgery but probably needs at least another month before he's cleared to play. He remains worth stashing in deeper leagues. 
  • Mauricio Dubon was back in the Astros lineup Friday after missing several games with a hamstring injury. 
  • Garrett Whitlock (elbow) will begin a minor-league rehab assignment Tuesday at Triple-A. I still think Whitlock has some upside, so I'm stashing him where I can, but I did drop him this week in one league where I needed the IL spot. 
  • Trevor Rogers (biceps) threw a 20-pitch bullpen session Saturday, his first step back from the injury. Rogers is still likely a few weeks away, but I'd like to stash him if I can. 

Sent to the IL

  • Rob Rasmussen was placed on the IL with a flexor strain in his right arm, and he was placed directly on the 60-day IL, a very concerning sign. We didn't even know Rasmussen was injured prior to this, and now he'll be out until at least mid-July, and potentially longer if he ends up needing surgery. He'll be shut down from throwing for eight weeks. 
  • Max Kepler (hamstring) was placed on the IL, with Trevor Larnach recalled from Triple-A. It's hopefully just a short-term absence for Kepler, so Larnach doesn't figure to get much of an opportunity to make an impact for Fantasy here. For what it's worth, Kepler was originally diagnosed with a leg cramp and pinch-hit Friday, but that didn't seem to do him any good. Hopefully this doesn't become a lingering issue because they tried to push it. 
  • Nico Hoerner (hamstring) resumed baseball activities Saturday. He was placed on the IL Friday, but this is a sign that it could be a relatively brief absence. Let's hope so, because Hoerner has been an elite source of runs, steals, and batting average so far. 
  • Elvis Andrus (oblique) was placed on the IL after leaving Friday's game. Oblique injuries are tricky, so Hanser Alberto is going to start for a few weeks for the White Sox. He has very little Fantasy appeal despite a decent start to the season. 
  • Spencer Turnball was placed on the IL, retroactive to May 7, with neck discomfort. He had been optioned to Triple-A prior to that, so he'll remain on the major-league roster with the injury. 
  • A.J. Puk was placed on the 15-day IL with left elbow nerve irritation. Given Puk's injury history, that's a pretty significant concern at this point. Dylan Floro and Tanner Scott seem likely to get a crack at the ninth inning for the Marlins moving forward with Puk out. Floro got the opportunity Sunday while Scott worked the seventh. 

Bullpen notes

  • Braves: Raisel Iglesias was tagged for his first blown save Sunday against the Blue Jays, which is less concerning than the fact that his velocity was down nearly 2 mph in this one after looking fine in his initial return from a shoulder injury. We'll keep an eye on it, though with A.J. Minter melting down in recent weeks, there doesn't seem to be too much risk of Iglesias losing his job if he's healthy. 
  • Yankees: Wandy Peralta got consecutive saves Friday and Saturday for the Yankees, his first two of the season. Clay Holmes hasn't gotten a save since April 12, though he did get the win and a hold Friday and Saturday, respectively, so he's showing signs of turning things around. Peralta is certainly worth adding if you're looking for saves, though I think it's premature to say he's just the Yankees closer, suddenly. 
  • Dodgers: Evan Phillips got the save Friday, his fifth straight for the Dodgers, but it was Brusdar Graterol who got the opportunity Saturday. However, it was actually Caleb Ferguson who ended up getting the save, as Graterol was pulled from the game with a two-run lead after giving up two consecutive two-out singles. It was Ferguson's first save of the season. Phillips is the clear primary option here, though Graterol will obviously figure in at times, even when Phillips might be available, as he presumably was after throwing just 13 pitches in the previous three days. 
  • Rangers: Jonathan Hernandez took a blown save and Brock Burke took the loss in an extra-innings loss to the A's Friday. Presumably, Will Smith wasn't available for this one after pitching three of the previous four games. 
  • Diamondbacks: Miguel Castro got the save Friday, recording the final two outs after Andrew Chafin got the first. Chafin seems like the primary option here, as this was the first save by someone besides him since Castro got on April 18. 
  • Rays: Jason Adam got the save Sunday, pitching a one-two-three inning with a one-run lead. Aaron Judge did provide a 399-foot out, so it could have gone differently, but a save is a save.