I’m happy to fill in for this week’s Wednesday edition of Closing Time. Let’s get down to business and recap a busy day of Tuesday action.
Tatis managers can exhale
Permanently losing a top-5 overall pick during the first week of the regular season would have been devastating for fantasy managers. Luckily, there is reason for optimism regarding the left shoulder of Fernando Tatis Jr. The Padres have placed the superstar shortstop on the IL, but they expect him to avoid surgery and have hope that he will return in April.
My advice for those who have Tatis on their roster is to hold him for now and resist the urge to deal him while his fantasy value is this low. The plan should be to hope he returns in May and puts together a few stellar weeks. At that point, I would try to deal him away for full fantasy value, eliminating the risk that he suffers another shoulder injury in the summer.
Ha-Seong Kim should pick up regular playing time while Tatis is out, making him a viable replacement for those who have Tatis on their rosters. Other replacement options include Kike Hernandez and Jorge Polanco.
Depleted Nats come through
Possibly the most inspiring story on Tuesday’s schedule came in the afternoon, when a Covid-depleted Nats lineup pulled off a comeback win in their season opener. The club will be without lineup regulars Josh Bell, Kyle Schwarber, Yan Gomes and Josh Harrison in the coming days, as well as hurlers Patrick Corbin, Jon Lester and Brad Hand. Although they showed that the likes of Juan Soto and Trea Turner are still good enough to win some games, this is a squad that should be streamed against with starting pitchers until they return to full health. Hurlers should often breeze through the bottom half of their makeshift lineup.
Raisel Iglesias was pinned with a loss when he gave up a two-run homer in the top of the ninth in a tie game, but his closer role remains safe.
Will Smith also struggled in a tie game, taking the loss after giving up one run on two hits without retiring anyone. Smith looked great in his first outing of the season and there is no reason to panic.
Chris Devenski blew Arizona’s first save chance since Joakim Soria landed on the IL by giving up one run at Coors Field. Overall, the D-backs bullpen is a mess. I like Stefan Crichton (five saves in 2020) as a closer option, but he has been deployed in earlier innings this year.
McMahon goes deep thrice
Ryan McMahon was Tuesday’s top hitter, launching three homers in a home matchup against Arizona. A left-handed hitter, McMahon has stayed away from platoon concerns by posting a career .809 OPS against southpaws (.739 OPS vs. righties). But my advice for McMahon managers is to deal him right now. The slugger is stellar at his hitter-friendly home park (career .884 OPS) but barely playable on the road (.612 OPS). He has predictably taken advantage of a season-opening home stand, and there could be a brief window to trade him now for someone who was drafted several rounds earlier but is off to a slow start.
Here we go again
The injury-plagued career of James Paxton needed just one 2021 start to add another chapter. The southpaw left his debut in the second inning with elbow discomfort, which comes on the heels of a forearm injury that limited him to five uninspiring starts last season. Paxton became a popular sleeper after faring well in spring training, but he will now return to the waiver wire in many Yahoo leagues.
Those who are looking for a Paxton replacement can consider Rangers righty Dane Dunning. The 26-year-old topped Toronto in his Texas debut, posting a 6:0 K:BB ratio across five innings of one-run ball. I’m generally avoiding a messy Rangers pitching staff, but Dunning is their most inspiring arm and could have mixed-league value.
George Springer made 14 appearances in a simulated game on Tuesday, which feels like more than enough to get him ready for a late-week return.
Trevor Rosenthal travelled to Dallas to undergo most tests on his injured shoulder. Jake Diekman should be rostered in every league.
Cody Bellinger underwent more tests on his lower calf and ankle after taking spikes to his leg on Monday. He remains day-to-day and could land on the IL.
Eduardo Rodriguez is returning on Thursday from a case of dead arm. My advice is to watch the first outing and then consider putting him back in the active lineup.
Tommy La Stella was scratched with back tightness. He is considered day-to-day.
Kevin Kiermaier continued an injury-prone trend by landing on the IL with a quad strain. He shouldn’t be rostered in any mixed leagues.
J.D. Davis left the game after taking a pitch off his left hand and is so far listed as day-to-day.
Lorenzo Cain is currently sidelined with a minor oblique issue. Avisail Garcia will get more opportunities in his absence.
Starters to Stream
Streaming starters is going to be difficult this season, and the light schedule this week makes it even harder than usual. For both Wednesday and Thursday, I like a Mets hurler vs. Miami. David Peterson (Wednesday) and Taijuan Walker (Thursday) are both less than 50 percent rostered in Yahoo leagues.