Happy Thursday, everyone! It probably wasn't a very pleasant night for those who invested high draft capital in Brewers SP Corbin Burnes. In most 2023 drafts, Burnes was the first pitcher selected, and so far he hasn't performed like it. On Wednesday, Burnes was hit again against the Mets -- this time to the tune of seven hits, two walks and six earned runs over 4 1/3 innings. Burnes generated just five swinging strikes on 93 pitches and struck out three batters.
It's probably not wise to get too concerned with Burnes just yet, but the fact that his velocity is down 1.5 MPH on his most consistent pitch -- the cutter -- is not the greatest sign. Over Burnes' previous 12 starts dating back to last season he has a 5.02 ERA and 1.17 WHIP with just over one strikeout per inning compared to a 12.6% strikeout rate in 2021. The velocity is down and the swinging strikes are down. The actionable advice on Burnes is not to sell low, because at this point you'd be selling at what might be his lowest. A few more starts like this with alarming trends like a velocity decrease could change that actionable advice in a blink.
Let's dive into some of the other action from Wednesday.
Alvarez gets the call
If you're in two-catcher leagues, there may be a bat for you after all to help with your struggling C2 production. The Mets are calling up top catcher prospect Francisco Alvarez on Friday for their series opener against the Reds. This came after news that Omar Narvaez exited Wednesday's game with a left calf injury. (News emerged after publication that Narvaez will miss two months or more). What's important to note here is that the Mets only sent Alvarez down the minors so that he could have the opportunity to catch every day. The Mets now can provide Alvarez with that opportunity right now. If you need catcher help, this might be the highest-upside option you'll see hit the waiver wire for a long time.
Manoah bounces back
When Chris Towers wrote about pitchers who struggled in their 2023 debuts last week, I was happy to see his Worry-o-meter reading very low for Blue Jay SP Alek Manoah. And rightfully so. Manoah got right back on track Wednesday with an outing that looked a lot like one he would pitch in 2022 in a win over the Royals. Sure, we're talking about a matchup against the offense struggling more than just about any in baseball right now, but Manoah threw four innings of no-hit ball. He finished the outing with seven innings of shutout ball, five strikeouts and he walked four batters. Next up is another struggling offense -- the Tigers.
Wright getting closer
Braves SP Kyle Wright was one of the most surprising breakouts of the 2022 season, and he continued to work his way back from injury with a rehab start on Wednesday. The results weren't there for Wright, but more importantly, he threw 84 pitches. The Braves are clearly ready to ramp up his workload as he recovers from shoulder inflammation. It's still not clear when Wright will return, but he is eligible to return from the injured list on April 11.
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Two starters to buy high on
The Fantasy Baseball trade market is not all about looking for players to buy low or sell high on. Sometimes, there are opportunities to buy high on players who are pitching very well but still have their skeptics and doubters. Two examples of those pitchers were on the mound against each other on Wednesday. Toss out some feeler offers and see if you can get any traction in trade discussions for either of these two potential season-long breakouts if you need some pitching help.
Pablo Lopez, SP, Twins
Lopez threw another gem -- seven innings of one run ball. He allowed just three hits with one walk and struck out eight batters (with 15 swinging strikes) on 88 pitches. Nine of those swinging strikes came on the new sweeper. His fastball velocity is 2.3 mph faster than it was in 2022. He threw the newest pitch (his sweeper) on 33% of his pitches on Wednesday as he's clearly leaning into the new offering and finding a lot of success in doing so. If you're looking to buy high on Lopez, you might want to wait until after next week as he's slated to face the Yankees and White Sox lineups.
Jesus Luzardo, SP, Marlins
It's always been about health with Luzardo. He's healthy and pitching great right now on a team with a track record for getting the most out of their starters (barring health setbacks). On Wednesday, Luzardo allowed just five hits and one walk through seven innings of one-run ball. He struck out a whopping 10 batters and delivered 20 swinging strikes on 99 pitches. The key here is that the fastball velocity is up 1 MPH.
News & notes
- Liam Hendriks rang the victory bell following his final round of chemotherapy. Hendriks was not placed on the 60-day IL, which gave us optimism for his return. He is 60% rostered but let's be clear that number should be 100%.
- Justin Verlander underwent a follow-up MRI on Wednesday, which showed reduced inflammation in his shoulder.
- Oneil Cruz left early with a facial injury after colliding with Rafael Devers at third base. The Pirates are off Thursday so we should learn more then.
- You can mark off April 5 as the day the injury prone players got hurt as Eloy Jimenez was placed on the IL with a left hamstring strain. The team is hopeful he'll only miss two weeks but we've certainly heard that before. Gavin Sheets started at DH as a result and could be worth a look in deeper leagues.
- Jazz Chisholm left early with a stinger in his right shoulder on a stolen base attempt. I was watching the game and he slid too late, and collided hard with the second baseman.
- Lars Nootbaar, who's on the IL with a thumb injury, might not require a rehab assignment before being activated. The earliest he can return is April 10.
- Thairo Estrada was scratched from the lineup Wednesday after fouling a ball off his leg on Monday. The team expects him to be back in the lineup Thursday.
- Luis Severino has built up his throwing progression to 90 feet and could throw a bullpen in Baltimore this weekend. He's on the IL with a low-grade lat strain, something he's dealt with in the past.
- Josh Donaldson left early due to right hamstring tightness. He'll undergo an MRI but the team has already expressed the feeling that it's not serious.
- Kyle Bradish was officially placed on the IL with a right foot contusion.
- Aaron Ashby needs arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder that could knock him out for the entire season.
- Darick Hall could be placed on the IL due to a right thumb injury he suffered while sliding.
- Kyle Isbel was placed on the paternity list and Nick Pratty was recalled from Triple-A.
- Brandon Marsh was scratched Wednesday due to a mild left ankle sprain. Christian Pache started in center field.
- Travis d'Arnaud has started all six games, either at catcher or DH. Sean Murphy has started just three of those games.
- Four games have already been postponed for Thursday due to inclement weather around the country so we only have four games on the schedule.