If it feels like there are more truly hopeless offenses than normal this season, you're not wrong. Looking back at the past five seasons (replacing 2020 with 2019 because of the weird circumstances of that seasons), the lowest-scoring team in any April in that span is the 2024 White Sox, who entered Tuesday averaging just 2.05 runs per game; the third-lowest scoring team is the Athletics, and the Marlins, Twins, Cardinals, and Rockies are all at 3.54 runs per game or fewer, ranking in the bottom 23 out of 150 teams in that span. 

What's interesting is, scoring overall actually isn't down much at all. Teams were averaging 4.4 runs per game entering Tuesday, right in line with last season's 4.59 mark from April and actually up from the 2019-2023 April average. Which is to say, this seemingly isn't a "dead ball" situation, we've just got some exceptionally poor offenses around baseball.

We talked about that a bit on Monday night's episode of Fantasy Baseball Today, in talking about whether guys like Chris Paddack and Erick Fedde would be worth streaming this week. Based on talent alone, it was hard to make any kind of case for them, but with how the White Sox and Twins lineups are playing right now … well, I started both in my AL-only LABR team and got 13 innings with one earned run allowed and 21 strikeouts with no walks from them. 

I don't expect we'll have six teams averaging 3.54 runs per game or less all season long; last season, the A's and White Sox were the only teams even below four runs per game. I feel pretty confident that at least the Rockies, Cardinals, and Twins will end up being closer to average than historically poor, especially. But when you look at the Marlins, Athletics, and White Sox especially … well, they might be the kinds of matchups pitchers are getting right against all season long. And they might also be the kinds of matchups middling-to-bad pitchers are taking advantage of all season, too. 

Tuesday's top waiver targets

Erick Fedde, SP, White Sox (29%) – 11 strikeouts over six innings for a guy who had just 19 strikeouts in 20.1 innings prior to this start … yeah, the Twins have some problems. Fedde did change his pitch mix in this one, prioritizing his cutter and splitter and almost entirely fading his sweeper … but it's not like his splitter or cutter had been generating a ton of whiffs before this one. So, I'm mostly willing to chalk this up to the Twins being ludicrously whiff-happy right now, but if you want to take a flier on Fedde with solid outings in three of his past four, he does have decent matchups coming up against the Rays and Cardinals. 

Ivan Herrera, C, Cardinals (21%) – I already thought Herrera was worth adding this week, as I wrote Sunday, but now with Willison Contreras leaving Tuesday's game with a side injury, it might need to be even more of a priority. Herrera has slowed down a bit after a hot start, but he's still sporting excellent quality-of-contact metrics, with a .362 expected wOBA and 91.3 mph average exit velocity, and I think he can be a very solid source of power as a No. 2 catcher if Contreras has to miss time. And he's going to see plenty of playing time moving forward even if Contreras is fine. 

Ben Lively, SP, Guardians (9%) - With no Rafael Devers, Triston Casas, or Trevor Story, the Red Sox very well might be one of those offenses that any pitcher can succeed against, so I don't want to make too big a deal out of Lively's 6.1-shutout innings against them. But he did strike out seven for the second start in a row, so maybe the Guardians' pitching development team has unearthed another diamond in the rough here. 

Wilyer Abreu, OF, Red Sox (24%) – That Abreu was hitting fourth for the Red Sox Tuesday is a pretty good sign of where that lineup is right now, but it's worth noting that Abreu remains a pretty interesting young player for Fantasy. He's shown the ability to hit the ball consistently hard in the majors, with a 91 mph average exit velocity going back to last season, and he has four homers and seven steals in 47 games after going deep Tuesday, a 12-homer, 22-steal pace as a major-leaguer. In category-based leagues, he probably deserves to be more rostered than he is. 

Bailey Falter, SP, Pirates (6%) – Felter held the Brewers to just one run on three hits in seven innings Tuesday, and that's his fourth straight start with two or fewer runs allowed now. Given his near-total lack of strikeouts most outings – his eight Tuesday pushed his total for the season to 18 in 27 innings – I don't expect many nights like this … but he does get the Rockies on the road next week, so it might not be unreasonable to expect his success to continue for at least one more start. 

Jo Adell, OF, Angels (9%) – We've all got those players we believe in well past the point where it's really rational to do so, and Adell is absolutely one of those guys for me. There's been way too much swing-and-miss in his game for him to be an everyday player for the Angels in the past, but he's continued to absolutely demolish the ball at Triple-A, hitting .273/.475/.586 with 24 homers in just 74 games last season, for example. And this season, he's actually showing signs of maybe fixing some of his long-standing issues, sporting a 79.6% in-zone contact rate so far, up from his 71% career mark. It's a tiny sample size, obviously, but Adell is hitting .314 with just a 20.5% strikeout rate so far, and if that is at all real, he could be a very cheap source of homers for Fantasy. I want to believe. 

News and Notes

Framber Valdez could make his return from elbow inflammation this weekend if his bullpen session Wednesday goes well. I would not start Valdez this weekend against the Rockies, given that the game is in Mexico City, an even worse place to pitch than Coors Field. But the fact that Valdez is seemingly so close to a return is great news, and I'm hoping I can have him back in my lineup next week. 

Gerrit Cole extended his throwing to 120 feet Tuesday. Aaron Boone said Cole could begin throwing off a mound sometime next week as he works his way back from spring elbow inflammation, so there's still a chance he's back by late May – though early June might be more realistic. 

Rafael Devers was not in the lineup again on Tuesday. Alex Cora previously said he expected Devers back for this game. Devers is dealing with a bone bruise on his left knee, and he has played just three of the past 13 games, so this is a frustrating situation for sure. 

Triston Casas has been diagnosed with a fracture in his left ribcage and will be "out a while". That's the only hint of a timetable we've gotten, but I'd be surprised if he was back within a month based on that comment. 

Nolan Jones was removed from the game due to back stiffness. He's been so bad it wouldn't surprise me if he's been playing through something, so hopefully a day or two off helps him get back on track.

Cody Bellinger left Tuesday's game with a right rib contusion. He ran into the outfield wall on a catch attempt. X-rays were negative but Bellinger is apparently dealing with quite a bit of soreness.

Lane Thomas was removed with an apparent leg injury. He's struggled with the bat, but is tied for the MLB lead with 12 saves, so that would be a pretty big loss for Roto leagues. 

Josh Jung will have his fractured wrist examined Friday, so hopefully he can get cleared for a hoped-for late-May return. 

Merrill Kelly was officially placed on the IL with a right shoulder strain, retroactive to April 20. Tommy Henry was recalled from Triple-A.

Justin Steele went through fielding practice Tuesday after throwing a live batting practice on Sunday. Steele could be cleared for a rehab assignment soon.

Kyle Hendricks was placed on the IL with a lower-back injury, retroactive to April 22.

Ryan Mountcastle remained out of the lineup Tuesday with knee soreness, but he did play first base late in the game, so it seems like he's going to be okay. 

Taijuan Walker will return to the Phillies rotation Sunday against the Padres. No word yet if Spencer Turnbull is out of the rotation or not, but it sounds like he might be moved to the bullpen at some point once Walker is back, unfortunately. 

Taj Bradley is expected to report to Triple-A later this week to begin a rehab assignment from his pectoral injury. I'd expect a multi-week rehab assignment before he is cleared to return, so I would only be stashing Bradley if I have an IL spot to play with. 

Tuesday's standouts 

Pablo Lopez, Twins vs. CHW: 4 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 K – Lopez's final fastball of the game came in under 92 mph, and when he was pulled from the outing, so there was some concern about an injury here. After the game, Rocco Baldelli and Lopez both told reporters there was no injury, with Baldelli saying his struggles in his final inning were a "mentality/conviction issue," so I'm not too concerned here. It's been a weird start to the season for Lopez, but I don't see much in the underlying numbers to be concerned about, so if anything, there might be a buy-low opportunity here. 

Logan Gilbert, Mariners @TEX: 6.2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 6 K – Gilbert probably isn't "1.87 ERA" good, but I don't think his hot start is a fluke, either. His peripherals all suggest he should be a low-3.00s ERA pitcher moving forward, and his splitter has been even better than last season after another offseason of work, generating a ton of weak contact as well as more strikeouts than any other pitch he throws. He might just be living up to the considerable upside we've always thought was there, and I wouldn't necessarily be looking to sell-high. 

Max Fried, Braves vs. MIA: 9 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K – Given everything I wrote in the intro, I don't think your takeaway from this start should necessarily be, "Okay, Max Fried is back!" But he might be! We know he's an incredibly talented and effective pitcher when healthy, and this is the first time this season where he's really looked like himself. That might just be that the Marlins are an especially great matchup right now, but it also might just mean Fried has solved whatever was screwing him up in his first few starts. I'm not necessarily actively trying to buy him, but neither am I sounding the alarms anymore. 

Grayson Rodriguez, Orioles @LAA: 4.1 IP, 11 H, 7 ER, 1 BB, 7 K – One takeaway here might be that the Angels just aren't the pushover we expected them to be as long as Mike Trout is healthy. However, part of it might be that Rodriguez just isn't quite the ace we hoped he would be yet. This was his worst start of the season, by far, and it's hard to complain too much about 34 strikeouts to nine walks in 28.1 innings of work. But he's still searching for the right pitch mix, with his cutter remaining especially problematic – he entered the game with a 93.7 mph average exit velocity allowed on the pitch, and he allowed four batted balls with a 101.1 mph average exit velocity on it last night. 

Michael King, Padres @COL: 3.2 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 5 K – The thing that makes King so tough to evaluate right now is it's not clear how much his experience as a reliever actually matters here. His walk rate is way up right now, but that might just be what he looks like when he's trying to be a starter for a full season. I was skeptical that King could carry his September success over into a full-time starter role, and little that we've seen so far makes me inclined to change that opinion. He's outside my top-60 SP. 

Ryan Pepiot, Rays vs. DET: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K – I can't really figure Pepiot out. He's mostly leaned on his four-seam fastball for his whiffs and strikeouts so far this season, and that's just a really hard trick to pull off without a truly elite pitch. Maybe it is just an elite pitch now – and, for what it's worth, his four-seamer does rank 12th in Stuff+, per FanGraphs – but it didn't necessarily act like an elite fastball last season, so I'm inclined to be skeptical. I'd probably take him over King, but I'm also inclined to view him as a sell-high candidate. 

Marcus Stroman, Yankees vs. OAK: 5.1 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 9 K – Stroman just does this sometimes, but I don't see much reason to think he's suddenly a strikeout pitcher. He is throwing his slider at a career-high rate right now, and he got nine of his 15 swinging strikes with it Tuesday, so maybe that's a potential path to a bit more upside moving forward. But Stroman is established enough that I think skepticism is warranted. 

Cristopher Sanchez, Phillies @CIN: 3 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 3 K – The biggest thing that fueled Sanchez's breakout last season was his vastly improved control, so the fact that he already has 11 walks in 24.1 innings after walking just 16 in 99.1 innings a year ago is a pretty big red flag. He's still doing a great job generating both weak contact and especially groundballs, so I'm not writing Sanchez off, by any means. But I also think there might be an opportunity to sell-high as his ERA is below 3.00 – I think it might rise a full run before all is said and done. 

James Paxton, Dodgers @WAS: 4.2 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 1 K – Paxton now has more walks than strikeouts through four starts, and with his fastball velocity down more than 1.5 mph from last season, I'm just not seeing much to be optimistic about here. I'm totally fine dropping Paxton at this point. 

Luis Severino, Mets @SF: 6 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 5 K – I feel like I might be holding the pitcher Severino used to be against the pitcher he is now. I don't see a path to him getting back to being an elite strikeout pitcher and an ace anymore, given the present, disappointing state of his slider. But he's also doing a pretty good job of keeping the ball on the ground and limiting hard contact, and it's leading to a 3.33 FIP that largely backs up his 2.67 ERA. I'm having trouble getting excited about Severino, but maybe we don't need to be excited about him to find him useful. 

Andrew Abbott, Reds vs. PHI: 4.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 3 K – I thought Abboutt had some sleeper appeal after he flashed multiple swing-and-miss pitches last season, but that interest has largely disappeared. He had just seven swings and misses Tuesday, and he has a whiff rate below 20% with his four-seamer, sweeper, and curveball. Until he rediscovers his swing-and-miss upside, I don't see much reason for him to be rostered in most leagues, even with a pretty 2.60 ERA. 

Julio Rodriguez, OF, Mariners – Rodriguez hit his first homer of the season Tuesday. Can you guys all stop worrying about him now? 

Vladimir Guerrero, 1B, Blue Jays – We got an email from a podcast listener, Chris, that I wanted to highlight here: "Apart from one year when he hit in a minor league stadium, Vlad had consistently disappointed. If he were just Victor Herrera and didn't have the name recognition, would he be someone we should simply look upon as a serviceable late-round first baseman?" 

I understand the frustration here, especially after he went 0 for 5 Tuesday to drop his season average to .217. But I'll just point out that Guerrero's expected wOBA of .372 is the third-best of his career, significantly better than what he's actually produced so far. He's still hitting the ball plenty hard, and while his strikeout rate is slightly elevated right now, it's not enough to really raise much concern for me. It's fair to note that he did underperform his expected stats last season as well, but he also had 26 homers and 172 combined runs and RBI, so I'm not sure it's fair to say he's just a "serviceable late-round first baseman." But it's fair to wonder if he's really that much better than someone like, say, Josh Naylor

David Bednar, RP, Pirates – Bednar missed most of spring training with a late injury and then was pretty awful to open the season, allowing nine runs in his first seven outings, which was pretty scary. But after working a scoreless ninth for his fourth save Tuesday, he has had three scoreless outings in a row. His stuff has mostly looked fine, so I think his early struggles were mostly about rust. My expectations remain very high moving forward.