Fantasy Baseball Today: Shane Bieber reinvented; don’t leave Jurickson Profar on waivers and more

Happy Thursday, everyone! It was an especially happy Wednesday for Brewers fans (just so long as they’re not also die-hard Bucks fans) as Milwaukee ripped off its fourth straight victory. Padres fans also enjoyed their fourth straight victory, but are we actually counting that against a Reds team that has now just dropped its ninth straight? Sorry, that was a low blow and it was uncalled for. Having said that, if you’re a Reds fan, you’re probably a Bengals fan and you have Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase for the next decade-plus, so I can’t feel too bad.

In the Fantasy Baseball world, we saw a reinvented version of Guardians SP Shane Bieber pick up his first win of the 2022 season. Bieber is relying on one pitch now more than he ever has the results are there so long as you’re not looking at the underlying numbers – hard hit balls. And his fastball velocity is down further than ever before, which is probably a big factor in him relying on another pitch. We’ll get to what to do with Bieber below as well as several other key starting pitchers who let it rip on Wednesday, including Shohei Ohtani and Logan Gilbert.

There are also some very interesting hitters with hot bats right now that carried over into Wednesday’s slate, several of whom are sitting on your waiver wire right now in shallower leagues. We’ll dive into those players, all the latest injury updates and news, and more from Wednesday’s action. But first, make sure you did not miss out on any of the good stuff from the FBT crew over at Chris Towers updated his trade values ​​chart for both Roto and H2H scoring. Scott White dropped a few more waiver wire possibilities as well.

And of course, as always, you can follow to make sure you get the latest episodes of Fantasy Baseball Today right when they drop on Apple and Spotify.

How long can this Bieber last?

The good news is that Bieber picked up his first win of the season and threw six innings of one-run ball allowing just four hits and no walks with seven strikeouts. That’s the good news – the box score stats. But when you peel this thing back and look into the underlying metrics, it wasn’t so pretty. But first, even taking a step back and considering the White Sox lineup without Eloy Jimenez and with a struggling Luis Robert, the shutout becomes a little less impressive. But to be fair to Bieber, he leaned on his slider, which is now a thing I guess for Bieber, and it worked. He induced 11 swinging strikes on the slider and he threw it 42% of the time. On the flip side, he allowed seven hard hit balls and fastball velocity was setting in around 90 MPH. It feels like Bieber’s long-term path to success – at least this reinvented version of Bieber – will come through a heavy slider approach and as good or better command than we’ve seen from him unless he can get his fastball velocity back up . That’s not a bet I’m willing to make, and I would be looking to sell Bieber now to the highest bidder coming off this shutout.

Profar won’t stop hitting, so why leave him on the wire?

Jurickson Profar might be in the middle of a post, post, post-hype sleeper breakout on a talented Padres team, and he qualifies at both 1B and OF. And yet he’s still rostered in just 53% of leagues. Profar went 2-for-4 with another home run (his fourth! Of the season) and he also grabbed a stolen base. The underlying numbers are probably the most exciting development in his young season. Profar is hitting the ball much harder than he has before in his career and his pull rate is up to 71% (career 42% pull rate). I’m not saying those changes could lead to him keeping up this pace, but he has the look of a categories league contributor.

Other standout hitters to consider scooping up

Alec Bohm, 3B, Phillies: Laugh all you want about Bohm’s three-error game from earlier this season, but it won’t matter much if he keeps hitting the ball the way he has been – the Phillies will just DH him. Bohm went 2 for 4 on Wednesday with a home run and he is absolutely crushing the ball right now with a 95 MPH average exit velocity. He has struck out just once this season and is batting .476. That won’t keep up, but there’s no way he should be rostered in only 33% of leagues right now.

Anthony Santander, OF, Orioles: The counting stats aren’t exactly there for Santander just yet, but you have to love the fact that he’s showing off big-time plate discipline and ripping off a lot of line drives. He went 2 for 4 with a double on Wednesday to bring his average up to .297 on the season. He has a 20% walk rate, to boot. He’s 56% rostered right now.

Ohtani puts on a Sho-hei

There isn’t a more fun player to watch in my mind than Angels SP / DH Shohei Ohtani. If it were up to me, I’d give him the MVP annually for the impact he makes as a hitter and pitcher. On Wednesday, Ohtani treated us with 12 strikeouts over six scoreless innings. He was perfect through five innings and ultimately retired the first 16 Astros in this game. This a Houston lineup we’re talking about and the reigning AL MVP induced 20 swinging strikes against them on only 81 total pitches. Oh, and just for the fun of this thing, he also added two hits, an RBI and a walk as a batter.

Three more standout pitchers from Wednesday

Logan Gilbert, Mariners: So I guess working with Jacob deGrom in the offseason did help the talented prospect after all, huh? Gilbert may not be striking out batters at an incredibly high rate, but he’s not allowing many runs or hits and Fantasy managers will take that first. Gilbert threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings against the Rangers in a win. He has allowed just one run over his first three starts – 16 2/3 innings with a 15/1 strikeout to walk ratio.

Sandy Alcantara, Marlins: There we go – there’s the Sandy we invested a second-round pick in despite playing behind a subpar offense (and that’s being nice to the Marlins bats). Alcantara struck out six batters over eight scoreless innings and allowed just four hits – two of them were soft infield singles. He gave up just one walk. This is Sandy at his best – an innings eater who limits hard contact.

MacKenzie Gore, Padres: It’s going to be hard for San Diego to not keep Gore in the rotation if he pitches like he did on Wednesday. Gore picked up his first major league victory after tossing five scoreless innings. He induced 11 swinging strikes on 88 pitches.

News and lineup notes from Wednesday

Every night the Fantasy Baseball Today team dives into all of the happenings around the MLB from top performers to injuries, trades and more. The podcast is a must listen for any diehard, if I do say so myself. Tune into the podcast to hear the FBT crew expand on the news and notes below.

  • Braves OF Ronald Acuña update: he went 0-3 with a walk and a stolen base. You love to see it.
  • Angels manager Joe Maddon said he’s “pretty certain” OF Mike Trout will return to the lineup Friday against the Orioles. He’s missed the last three games with a hand injury.
  • Blue Jays OF George Springer left Wednesday’s game after getting hit by a pitch on his forearm. X-rays came back negative.
  • Red Sox OF JD Martinez left on the other side with adductor tightness. He’s unlikely to play Thursday.
  • Astros 2B Jose Altuve was placed on the IL with that hamstring injury. Astros GM James Click suggested it could be a minimum-length stay. Jeremy Peña led off in his absence, even against a right-handed pitcher.
  • This one came out of nowhere. Dodgers SP Andrew Heaney was placed on the IL with left shoulder discomfort. Tyler Anderson will start Saturday against the Padres and is rostered in just 10% of leagues.
  • Twins OF Byron Buxton has now missed five straight games with that knee injury. He did take part in baseball activities without any issue Wednesday.
  • Owen Miller, Cal Quantrill and Anthony Castro were placed on the IL without injury designations, which suggests it COVID or illness related.
  • Nationals 1B / OF Josh Bell left Wednesday’s game with a knee injury and will have an MRI Thursday
  • White Sox OF Eloy Jimenez did not play in either game of the doubleheader Wednesday because of a sore left ankle. He fouled a ball off that ankle last week.
  • White Sox 3B Yoan Moncada, who’s on the IL with an oblique injury, is now taking controlled swings but not full throttle. He does not have a timeline for a return.
  • On the IL with a right thumb injury, Tigers 2B / SS Javier Baez said that he expects to resume swinging a bat off a tee Thursday.
  • Giants SP Alex Cobb is dealing with a grade 1 groin strain and he downplayed the severity of the injury.
  • Dodgers 2B Gavin Lux is expected to return Friday after missing the last two games with a back injury.
  • Red Sox manager Alex Cora said he still wants Matt Barnes to reclaim the closer’s role. He has a 6.75 ERA through four appearances and gave up another run on Wednesday.
  • Braves 3B / 1B Austin Riley was placed on the paternity list and will miss the next couple days.
  • Athletics OF Ramon Laureano is on track to return from suspension when he’s first eligible on May 8. He’s just 31% rostered and should be rostered in all category leagues.
  • Tigers SP Matt Manning was placed on the IL with shoulder inflammation.
  • Mariners RP Paul Sewald was placed on the COVID IL Wednesday.

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