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Fantasy Baseball Players To Watch For The Week Ahead (April 8 - April 14)

Jose Altuve - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, MLB Injury News, Draft Sleepers

Well, that's a wrap on the second week of the regular season. Who would have thought the Pirates would be 8-2? The Guardians have won four in a row. The Braves came from behind twice to steal two from Arizona and sweep the series. There was a "Slam Diego," walk-off wins, and more. What a week!

It's a marathon and not a sprint though, so we'll see who fades and who doesn't. Same with some of the names we'll talk about in this series. Some of the streaks we talked about last week came to an end, but Wyatt Langford, Jackson Chourio, Ke'Bryan Hayes, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. are all still producing, despite cooling. Luis Gil and Max Meyer were pitchers we were watching post-Tommy John who had good outings, while Jared Jones performed admirably again as Bobby Miller gave up five runs in his second start.

We'll take a look at some more names below who are on here for a variety of reasons. I've got my eye on them, and perhaps you should too, whether it be for season-long or DFS purposes. Let's have a look!

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Players To Watch: Hitters

Jose Altuve

What I'm watching: Hit streak

With a hit Sunday night Altuve extended his hit streak to 10 games, collecting at least one hit in each of the Astros' games to begin 2024. The 33-year-old is 15-for-40 (.375) with four doubles, three home runs, three RBI, eight runs scored, and a 4:6 BB:K to go with a wOBA that stands at .487.

Houston finishes their series with Texas on Monday, then the veteran will see tough matchups with Cole Ragans (0-for-8), Seth Lugo (2-for-5), and Brady Singer (1-for-9) for Kansas City before a rematch with the Rangers in Houston starting on Friday. The eight-time All-Star will see Dane Dunning (7-for-13), Andrew Heaney (13-for-39), and Nathan Eovaldi (13-for-45, 5 HR), so if the streak makes it through KC he's got a good shot at extending through the weekend.

Ronald Acuna Jr.

What I'm watching: The first home run of 2024

We all know it is coming, but when? Four of his last eight at-bats have resulted in strikeouts, and his last two hits registered with 66.5 and 86.5 mph exit velocities, so he's not locked in like we're used to seeing. But, it... is... coming. And it very well may happen in the first two games of the Mets series in the early part of the week. Atlanta will square off against a familiar face Monday in former Braves ace Julio Teheran (4-for-6, 1 HR, 0 K) and then RHP Adrian Houser (7-for-12, 1 2B, 2 K), both of whom he's had success against.

Jarred Kelenic / Alex Kirilloff 

What I'm watching: Post-hype hot starts

When the Braves traded Vaughn Grissom to the Red Sox it was thought that Kelenic would have left field all to himself, however, after an ice-cold spring the Braves signed Adam Duvall to platoon with him. While Kelenic isn't playing every day, he is making the most of his time in the lineup, collecting a hit in seven straight games in which he's had at least one at-bat and going 11-for-19 (.579) with three doubles, three RBI, and three runs scored so far in 2024.

Kirilloff is finally healthy and getting regular playing time for the Twins, albeit at various positions (LF, RF, 1B, DH). The 26-year-old is rewarding them, and fantasy managers who took a chance on him, with a seven-game hit streak to begin the season, going 10-for-26 (.385) with two doubles, three triples, two RBI, and four runs scored. He's been batting at the top of the lineup too, which should begin to pay extra dividends in the way of runs scored.


Key Matchups: Hitters

These hitters caught my eye when perusing batter vs pitcher matchups. These guys are already rostered in most leagues, so you aren't running out to snag them off the waiver wire, but they could be targets for your DFS lineups!

Marcell Ozuna vs Julio Teheran - Monday, April 8
19-for-53 (.358), four HR, seven XBH

Ketel Marte vs Kyle Freeland - Monday, April 8
15-for-43 (.349), three HR, nine XBH

Michael Conforto vs Patrick Corbin - Wednesday, April 10
10-for-31 (.323), five HR, seven XBH

Mookie Betts vs Chris Paddack - Wednesday, April 10
5-for-6 (.833), one HR, three XBH, zero K

Jazz Chisholm vs Charlie Morton - Saturday, April 13
9-for-25 (.360), three HR, four XBH

Kyle Schwarber vs Mitch Keller - Sunday, April 14
7-for-13 (.538), one HR, five XBH


Players To Watch: Starting Pitchers

Ronel Blanco

What I'm watching: When will he give up a run?

Blanco threw a no-hitter in his first start of 2024, going nine innings with two walks and seven strikeouts. The righty followed that up Sunday night against Texas in Arlington with a six-inning performance in which he gave up just one hit (in the sixth inning) and no runs with a 4:4 BB:K. He'll match up against those same Rangers in his next start, this time in Houston, on Friday night. Will he give up a run?

Atlanta Braves Pitchers

What I'm watching: When will Max Fried round into form? Who will replace Spencer Strider?

Thankfully the offense is good enough to support whoever is on the mound, but the Braves suddenly find themselves in somewhat of a pickle. Opening Day starter Spencer Strider is headed to the IL and potentially done for the season with UCL damage. All the more reason for former-ace Max Fried to step up and pitch like he's been known to do.

However, it hasn't gone that way through his first two starts. Fried got just two outs before he was pulled in his first start after giving up three earned runs on two hits and three walks, then followed that up with a stinker against the D-backs, getting pulled in the fourth inning with one out after giving up seven earned runs on 10 hits and a walk. He'll face off with the Mets in his next start on Friday at home.

So who do the Braves replace Strider with? Possibly 2023 All-Star Bryce Elder. Possibly Dylan Dodd or Darius Vines, both of whom have had some success at the major league level and showed well in the Arizona Fall League. Or could it be one of two promising young arms in MLB's 64th-ranked prospect AJ Smith-Shawver or 85th-ranked Hurston Waldrep? Smith-Shawver has had a taste of MLB action already so he seems most likely of the two, but Waldrep was a 2023 first-round draft pick that's generated lots of buzz.


Players to Watch: Relief Pitchers

Kenley Jansen

What I'm watching: his back

Jansen had back issues in the spring and it's followed him into the regular season. He's already been unavailable in the regular season after his back tightened up on him, and after he closed out the game Friday he said his back was sore. It seems like a matter of time until he hits the IL. If he does, maybe it's Justin Slaten time, who pitched two clean innings Saturday while striking out five batters.

Orion Kerkering

What I'm watching: his return

Kerkering had a couple of successful minor league outings recently, and if everything goes to plan, the 23-year-old will pitch Tuesday and Thursday next week before rejoining the Phillies over the weekend. Kerkering was generating some preseason buzz after his performance in the minors and at the big league level in 2023, but an illness and a forearm strain threw cold water on it. He's expected to serve in middle relief upon his return but could mix in as closer if Alvarado were to falter.

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