Who's Hot and Who's Not - Fantasy Baseball Week 2

Not even a week into the season, everything is still left to be decided. I, for one, couldn't be happier that baseball is finally back as we start ramping up this 2022 campaign. Early on is not where superstars make their money or players make a name for themselves, that excitement comes later. Let’s take a quick look at “Who’s Hot and Who’s Not” in the small sample size we have to kick off the season!

Who’s Hot?

Owen Miller CLE, 1B/2B

Can someone cool this man off? Miller is off to a scorching start, hitting .500/.545/.964 for a slash line. His launch angle is only 1.7 degrees, so I don't see him flashing huge power numbers by any means. However, he has jammed his way into being written on that lineup card everyday at both first and second base. Miller has 7 doubles, 7 RBI and two homers to go along with that eye opening .500 average. I’m not rushing to pick him up, but this could change quickly. When it’s all said and done, he could be a strong hitter that touches most if not all categories.

Jesus Luzardo MIA, SP

Jesus has had a rough go of it since entering professional baseball. Similar to the Marlins, I didn’t lose my faith in him and have seemingly been rewarded. Luzardo made his season debut last week and he was fantastic. He pitched 5 innings and only gave up with 2 hits, 1 ER. He also fanned 12 Angel hitters and only walked one. His fastball averaged 97 MPH and he diced up that nasty curveball to make up half of his pitches. Jesus had an outrageous 92% whiff rate with the curve. Can he continue this throughout a long season? I think so.

Francisco Lindor NYM, SS

If you know me, you know this is a guy I love to watch. His infectious smile lights up a ball field. Isn't that what we need in our game? Guys who just love to play baseball! Franky was prime for a bounce back year after an extremely poor year prior. Still early, but from what I've seen he has snuggled in pleasantly to his home in Flushing Meadows. Franky has 9 hits, 9 runs, 7 RBI, 9 BB and gone yard 3 times so far this campaign. His EV is at a career high 92.7 MPH. His K rate is back down to where it’s hovered his whole career at 14.3%, and he walks at a consistent 20%.

Joe Ryan MIN, SP

Joe entered the gauntlet of Fenway Park to go head to head with an extremely talented Red Sox lineup. I would say he taught them a thing or two. Ryan went deep into the game pitching 6 innings, surrendering only 5 hits and allowing only 1 ER. He whiffed 7 Red Sox hitters and did not walk a single soul. The big issue with Ryan ending the season last year and entering this year was the high usage of the fastball. It was way too high. In this outing, his slider was his most used pitch (40% usage), and it troubled the Sox with a 50% whiff rate. Nothing needs to be said about the dominant fastball but, yes, it was as advertised. Watching him back off the usage of his fastball, trust his offspeed, and to succeed with that mindset at the highest level of baseball is very encouraging.

Seiya Suzuki CHC, OF

I have to give credit where credit is due. What else do you need to be told about the young Japanese stud? Suzuki continues to make a complete joke of MLB pitching. I suppose it’s also at my expense with my decision not to buy into him as well. He is effortlessly skyrocketing himself up rankings, and this could just be the start. Through 9 games Seiya has 7 R, 10 H, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 9 BB

Just the start? Oh yes, yes I was wrong.

Who’s Not?

The Joey’s: Votto & Gallo

Joey Votto CIN, 1B

Even with the decline due to age, I expected Votto to not skip a beat and jump right back in from where he left off last season. Joey and manager Dave Bell made a concerted effort during the shortened spring to get him off to a hot start. Votto talked his way into significantly more at bats than other starters and had himself a really solid spring. Can creating social media accounts really mess with your head this much? Votto has started the season hitting .118 and has been K’d 15 times in 34 AB’s.

Joey Gallo NYY, 1B

Joey Gallo is hitting .138/.286/.138.

This wasn’t the “I’m surprised ‘Who’s Not’ Hot list”, right? Okay, good. I have never been a huge Gallo guy. Although, I thought that short right field porch at Yankee Stadium would behoove him. Boy, was I wrong. Gallo has 4 hits and 11 strikeouts to his name to start the season. As of this moment, Gallo is 1 for 15 with six strikeouts.

Apparently Boonie isn’t too concerned, as he was quoted as saying "If he's getting on base at a high level and hitting for power, then offensively that's success for me for Joey."

Power? Nothing to report here. Gallo does have 6 walks to start out the 2022 campaign. Light at the end of the tunnel…maybe?

Kyle Tucker HOU, OF

This is someone I am a tad surprised with the lackadaisical start. I was (and still am) a huge Tucker fan coming into this season, but there is no doubt he is off to a slow start. He is 0 for his last 19 plate appearances with 7 K’s to his credit. On a positive note, two of the 4 hits he has have been home runs. Not even a question, I am holding all my Tucker shares until that bat gets some Ohtani CPR to bring it back to life. This will happen, just you wait.

Mitch Keller PIT, SP

There has seemingly been lots of positive commotion about Mitch coming out of spring training but nothing to back it up thus far. Across two starts he has 7.2 innings, giving up 13 hits and 8 runs. He also holds a mediocre 8/5 K/BB. The statline from the first two starts are ugly. His fastball is sitting at just over 96 MPH, which is encouraging. The uptick in velo and solid whiff rate lit eyes up. Let’s pump the brakes here for a second. Ultimately, the lack of control still holds me back from really diving in. It would take quite a bit more than these two things alone for me to raise my eyebrows.

Closing Thoughts

On Wednesday April 13th, Dave Roberts made a phone call to his bullpen with a 7 run lead at a cold and balmy Target Field. The message? Get left handed reliever Alex Vesia ready to pitch the 8th inning. The situation? His veteran starter Clayton Kershaw had pitched 7 innings of perfect ball with 13 strikeouts on 80 pitches. Yes, you read that correctly. Kershaw (if he got the chance) had a stab at just the 24th perfect game ever pitched in MLB history with 6 outs left to get. He never did get that chance. Was this the right move? Absolutely it was. Clayton is 34 years of age, coming off a season-ending injury that resulted in a PRP injection in his left elbow, but no surgery. The most pitches Kershaw had thrown in the ramped-up spring was 75 pitches in a simulated game. Let’s flashback to when Kersh was not able to pitch in the postseason. In his mind, this was the most devastating part. Not being able to help his team in their chase to win a ring. These are the accolades Kershaw wants at this point in his career.

I had this conversation many times over the course of the last week or so and they all ended with me asking this question. If you’re Dave Roberts and Kershaw himself, does playing the risk of going for a perfect game outweigh the risk of getting hurt and not pitching a good chunk or for the rest of the season? As a die hard baseball fan, no question, roll him out there. If I am thinking rationally as Dave Roberts, no way. Let him gain the confidence he needs that he can still pitch after the injury, pitch well, and also come off the field feeling healthy

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