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Fantasy Baseball Players To Watch For The Week Ahead (April 22 - April 28)

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

The fourth week of the season has come to a close and while there were the usual pitcher injuries, they weren't the ones we've seen over the first few weeks. Some are dealing with things like neck stiffness (Cristian Javier) and others were hit with line drives off their arms (Ryne Nelson and Frankie Montas). Relievers were dealing with sickness (Pete Fairbanks) and hitters were going on the IL with fractured toes (Ozzie Albies).

It wasn't all doom and gloom! We're going to talk about some hot hitters below, and for the first time in this series take a look at a hitter that is seeing a lot of success against left-handed pitching in particular. We'll also take a look at a pitcher that is absolutely rolling right now and a bullpen in flux. I've got my eye on these guys, and perhaps you should, too, whether it be for season-long or DFS purposes.

Also, for those keeping track of last week's discussion, Ronald Acuna Jr. got his first home run of the season (finally), Marcell Ozuna's hit streak came to an end Saturday (and promptly started one again Sunday night with a three-run home run), while Colton Cowser and Michael Busch stayed hot (Busch especially with five multi-hit games in his last seven).

Be sure to check all of our fantasy baseball lineup tools and weekly lineup resources:

 

Players to Watch: Hitters

Willson Contreras

What I'm watching: Hit streak

William Contreras is the highest-scoring catcher for fantasy to this early point in the season, however, it is his brother Willson Contreras that has the longest current hit streak in the majors at 14 games. During the streak the St. Louis backstop is 17-for-49 (.347), so there aren't many multi-hit games mixed in there, but he's on a roll nonetheless.

The 31-year-old has a .305-2-7-9-1 line on the season and ranks as the 11th-highest-scoring catcher in fantasy. The veteran had a good season in 2023, finishing with a .264-20-67-55-6 line with a .358 wOBA and 127 wRC+. Oh, and did I mention he's got a little on-base streak going too??

Will Smith

What I'm watching: Hot-hitting versus left-handed pitching

Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Will Smith has been torching left-handed pitching through the early part of 2024, going 11-for-22 (.500) with three doubles, a sac fly, and four walks in 27 PA against the southpaws. That's the best batting average in all of baseball against lefties so far in 2024 (minimum 20 PA), but is it sustainable? The 29-year-old is a career .265 hitter against both righties and lefties, so he doesn't normally have a lot more success against either one. Regardless, it will be put to the test this week:

Amed Rosario

What I'm watching: Scorching hot start

Amed Rosario has the second-longest current hit streak in the majors, but unlike Contreras' streak, Rosario has been putting up crooked numbers almost daily. He's had multiple hits in seven of his last nine games, and during his 13-game hit streak, the 28-year-old is 23-for-57 (.404) including three doubles, a triple, two home runs, and three stolen bases.

He'll come back to Earth sooner or later, but he can still be a solid contributor as he's hit .270 over the prior three seasons combined. He's also eligible at 2B, SS, and OF, so if he's somehow still available in your leagues, pick him up!

 

Key Matchups: Hitters

These hitters caught my eye when looking over 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. While sometimes there isn't enough matchup history worth looking at, there is frequency with these, and with frequency comes familiarity. These pitchers likely don't have any more tricks up their sleeves versus these batters.

Ha-Seong Kim vs. Austin Gomber - Monday, April 22
5-for-9 (.556), five XBH

Mookie Betts vs. Patrick Corbin  - Tuesday, April 23
6-for-11 (.545), three XBH

Travis d'Arnaud vs. Trevor Rogers - Tuesday, April 23
6-for-12 (.500), one HR, five XBH, just one K

Bo Bichette vs. Michael Wacha  - Tuesday, April 23
4-for-11 (.364), one HR, zero K

Bryan Reynolds vs. Freddy Peralta - Wednesday, April 24
9-for-19 (.474), two XBH

Rowdy Tellez vs. Bryse Wilson - Thursday, April 25
5-for-13 (.385), two HR, three XBH, zero K

Mitch Haniger vs. Andrew Heaney - Thursday, April 25
8-for-22 (.364), three HR, five XBH

Matt Chapman vs. Martin Perez - Friday, April 26
7-for-16 (.438), three XBH

Salvador Perez vs. Casey Mize - Saturday, April 27
7-for-18 (.389), one HR, two XBH, just two K

Paul Goldschmidt vs. Jose Quintana - Sunday, April 28
11-for-17 (.647), three HR, six XBH

Willy Adames vs. Marcus Stroman - Sunday, April 28
7-for-13 (.538), two HR

 

Players to Watch: Starting Pitchers

Jose Berrios

What I'm watching: Continued success or regression to career norms

Jose Berrios is off to a terrific start in 2024, leading all pitchers in wins with four, notching five straight quality starts, and not allowing a single run in his last three starts. The veteran righty also has 27 strikeouts to just nine walks over 31 2/3 IP to go along with a 1.01 WHIP. Berrios has always been solid, but with a career ERA of 4.06 and 1.24 WHIP, how long can it last?

The 29-year-old is having this early season success despite a K-BB% that is lower than his career average, a Contact% right around his career rate, and a SwStr% lower than his career average.

So how is he doing it? Right now the thing that stands out is that he's limiting the number of home runs allowed. Berrios has allowed just two homers thus far, with a HR/FB% of 7.7% which is well below his career average of 12.4%. It's only five games, so we'll see if it sticks, but he's also significantly upped the usage of his sinker and slurve this season while reducing the usage of his four-seamer and changeup. It appears to have resulted in a GB% of 50.6 compared to a career 41.3, thus the lower HR rate.

With all of the injuries to pitchers this season, especially top-tier ones, it's probably better to hold onto Berrios. But if you have glaring needs in other places and believe he'll regress, then this could be the perfect time to sell high.

 

Players to Watch: Relief Pitchers

Adbert Alzolay

What I'm watching: Who is closing for the Cubs

Adbert Alzolay has had quite a few highs and lows already in 2024 and he's only had 10 appearances. In those appearances, he's saved three games for the Cubs, but he's also blown four saves as well. For the time being, manager Craig Counsell has said that Alzolay will no longer be the closer. So who else will do it?

There's Hector Neris, who picked up the save in Game 2 of their doubleheader on Saturday, but on the season Neris has a 3.86 ERA and an astronomical 1.86 WHIP, so he may not be a viable alternative. Mark Leiter Jr. might be the better option on paper, as he has yet to allow an earned run in 10 2/3 innings of work, allowing five hits with a 12:4 K:BB. The 33-year-old saved seven games for the Cubs over the prior two seasons, so he does have some limited experience in the role.



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