Lucas Giolito’s early exit mars season debut – April 9, 2022
Lucas Giolito exited his first start of the year early with an abdomen injury on Friday. Giolito was dealing against the Tigers before being forced from the game, tossing four scoreless innings with just one hit and two walks allowed while striking out six. He appeared well on his way to his first victory of 2022, but was unable to return to the mound for the fifth inning after just 61 pitches (36 strikes). He could only watch as Chicago turned its 3-0 advantage into a 5-4 defeat in Detroit, squandering his strong start. While it’s currently unclear how much time, if any, the White Sox ace will need to miss, the hope is that his injury was minor and won’t cost him much time. Giolito has been one of the best pitchers in the American League over the past few years and has been quite durable as well, so there isn’t too much cause for concern at the moment for the 27-year-old. Fantasy GMs who invested in him on draft day likely weren’t expecting to potentially need a replacement for their fantasy ace so soon, but they may want to start scanning the waiver wire in case he does miss time.
Rafael Devers started his season with a bang by going 1-for-4 with a two-run homer and a walk against the Yankees on Friday. Devers picked up where he left off after a hot spring training with his first home run of the year in Boston’s season opener against their hated arch-rivals. He wasted no time, either, taking Gerrit Cole deep in his first at-bat of the season to give the Red Sox an early 2-0 lead. It was an impressive start by the 25-year-old, who’s coming off a career-high 38 big flies and his first-ever All-Star nod last year. While Devers clearly has top-tier power, he needs to polish some of the rough edges of his game (i.e. defense and baserunning) to truly be considered one of the best all-around players in the game. Even if he never quite reaches that level, his outstanding bat makes him a tremendous fantasy asset. Given his past success against the Yankees and their short porch in right, Devers is a great DFS target for this weekend’s series in the Bronx.
Giancarlo Stanton had an adventurous season opener against the Red Sox on Friday, going 1-for-5 with a solo homer and four strikeouts. Stanton was the definition of boom-or-bust in his first game of 2022, whiffing four times but also taking Boston ace Nathan Eovaldi yard for his first big fly of the year. Stanton’s prodigious power and punchouts come with the territory for a slugger of his zie and stature as evidenced by his career .274 ISO and 28.0 K% coming into the season. The concern is that three-true outcome players like that typically don’t age well as their strikeouts keep increasing while their power wanes, so both trends are worth monitoring now that Stanton’s 32. Injuries are usually the main concern, but he’s also at a point in his career where his skills may start to erode. We haven’t seen anything to suggest that in recent seasons, but Stanton’s fantasy value would diminish significantly if his strikeouts start getting out of control. Don’t put too much stock in one game, but Stanton is always worth monitoring given his streakiness and injury frequency.
Kyle Schwarber kicked off his Phillies career in style by going 2-for-4 with a homer, two runs, two RBIs, and a walk against the A’s on Friday. Schwarber led off the bottom of the first with a solo homer off Frankie Montas, going deep in his first career plate appearance with Philadelphia and sparking the team to a 9-5 victory. Schwarber is already paying dividends for his new team after inking a four-year, $79 million contract with Philly in the offseason, returning to the National League after a brief stint with the Boston Red Sox during the second half last year. While Schwarber isn’t a prototypical leadoff hitter due to his lack of speed, his on-base ability (.343 career OBP) makes him a good fit at the top of the order, especially with talented hitters like Bryce Harper, Nick Castellanos, J.T. Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins, and others capable of driving him in. Schwarber has never come close to scoring 100 runs in a season before, but he could reach that benchmark for the first time this year if he remains in the leadoff spot and is able to stay healthy. With a homer-friendly home park as well, the 29-year-old slugger seems poised for a monster season.
Robbie Ray picked up where he left off from his outstanding 2021 by firing seven innings of one-run ball against the Twins on Friday, limiting Minnesota to three hits and four walks while striking out five. The reigning AL Cy Young winner didn’t skip a beat after going from Toronto to Seattle during the offseason, tossing 96 pitches and looking to be in midseason form. The Mariners gave him a two-run lead before he took the mound and he never looked back, yielding a solo homer in the fourth but keeping the lead intact for most of Seattle’s 2-1 victory. Ray will need to get used to having less run support than he did with the Blue Jays, especially with half his starts coming in Seattle’s pitching-friendly home park. The four walks are a bit of a concern for Ray given his control issues in the past (career 3.9 BB/9), as maintaining last year’s improved walk rate will be critical if he’s going to be a true ace. If he regresses there, he’ll likely slip back into being more of a No. 2 starter, which is still valuable for fantasy purposes of course. While the Twins were an easy opponent (even with Carlos Correa on board), Ray will face a tougher challenge when he goes up against reigning AL Central champions in Chicago next week.
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