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George Springer
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Baseball Daily Dose

Hope Springers Eternal

by Christopher Crawford
Updated On: May 1, 2022, 9:16 am ET

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The Blue Jays lineup is very good. This is the most obvious point anyone has ever made in an article, but it’s so good that some of the players that aren’t Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette don’t get as much attention as they might with other clubs.

George Springer is one of those hitters, and while he’s miles away from unknown, he probably needs more attention. 

Springer homered twice on Saturday, and was responsible for both runs in a 2-1 victory over the Astros on Sunday. 

It was a very strong first month of the season for Springer, and it helped the Blue Jays to a 14-8 record to begin the 2022 campaign. The pair of homers give the former Houston outfielder six on the season, and he’s slashing .300/.360/.568 over his first 21 games. He also stole a base on Saturday, which gives him two without being caught.

And thus far, Springer has earned those numbers, at least according to the metrics. His weighted on-base average is .375 -- a very strong number, and his expected wOBA is well above-average. He’s also making plenty of hard contact at 43.5 percent, ranks in the 78th percentile in chase rate, and and above-average in every category outside of walk percentage and whiff rate.

Springer’s been a quality producer for the overwhelming majority of his career. He has just one season with an OPS below .700 (.780 in 2018), and since 2019, he’s registered a slash of .279/.367/.565 with 79 homers and 188 RBI. Those are outstanding numbers, but the outfielder went around the 56th pick in Yahoo leagues to begin the season. Some of this has to do with the fact that he doesn’t run much anymore, and some of it because of some health concerns. The latter is more justifiable than the former, as Springer hitting at the top of the lineup makes him a four-category player, and players like Eloy Jimenez and Nick Castellanos -- with all due respect to them -- went ahead of him despite possessing similar if not worse chances of helping in that category category. 

Simply put, Springer is off to a roaring start, and is more than capable of putting together these kind of months for the majority of the 2022 campaign. Fantasy managers who don’t have him on their rosters should be looking for a way to change that. Managers who drafted him can take a victory lap. 

Hitters with an EDGE

Kyle Garlick vs. Rays

2-for-3, 2 HR, 3 RBI

Garlick cloved a couple of bombs in this one, both of them off Shane McClanahan (who end up striking out 11, for the record). The outfielder has slugged .650 on the young year, and is now up to three roundtrippers on the season. Garlick doesn’t get enough playing time to justify in redraft leagues -- or even keeper formats -- but when he’s in the lineup against a southpaw, he’s capable of taking the ball out of the park. 

Christian Yelich vs. Cubs

3-for-5, HR, 2 RBI

Hunter Renfroe vs. Cubs

3-for-5, HR, 2 RBI

Yelich and Renfroe went back-to-back in the eighth inning to punctuate a 9-1 blowout victory over Chicago. Both got off to mediocre starts to the season, but the outfield duo are starting to drive the baseball on a more consistent basis. It’s particularly nice to see from Yelich; a player that was once among the best in the sport but has created more questions than answers over the past few seasons. Renfroe is a big part of the Milwaukee lineup, and both need to perform up to their best if the Brewers are going to be a World Series contender this fall. 

Starting Pitchers with an EDGE

Merrill Kelly vs. Cardinals

7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 SO 

Miles Mikolas vs. Diamondbacks

7 2/3 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 7 SO

This was a heck of a pitcher’s duel between two pitchers that have exceeded expectations -- quite the understatement -- to begin the 2022 campaign. They went zero-for-zero until Mikolas allowed a pair of solo homers in the eighth, and it gives him the hard-luck loss. Still, the St. Louis hurler has been outstanding in April, with a 1.52 ERA 0.84 WHIP. Kelly lowers his ERA to 1.2, and the 33-year-old also has a glowing WHIP of 1.02. There’s no doubt that both are going to see regression because of course they are, but it’s hard not to be impressed by what both Kelly and Mikolas have done in the first month of the campaign. 

Eric Lauer vs. Cubs

7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 SO 

We talk about Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff a lot around these parts, and for good reason. We might need to start talking about Lauer more. This makes back-to-back starts for the southpaw where he’s struck out double-digit batters, and he's given up a run or fewer in his last three outings. Lauer was seen as a high-floor hurler when the Padres took him in the first round, give the Milwaukee development team credit for tapping into (much) more in the left-hander’s arm. Lauer was solid in 2021 as well, but even in a limited sample, it appears that he’s on the verge of a breakout season. 

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Priority Pickup 

Tommy Pham -- available 70 percent of Yahoo fantasy baseball leagues. 

The Reds are terrible, but you can’t blame Pham for their struggles. Not entirely, anyway. The veteran outfielder got off to a rough start, but over the last 15 days he’s hitting .300/.400/.622 with three homers for good measure. Pham has been a streaky hitter throughout his career, and those who need outfield help could do a lot worse than to add him now and be ready to dump if a lull comes. You are always going to have to churn your roster. Pham can provide some quality butter over the next couple of weeks. 

Closing Time 

Picking up 10 saves in a month is hard to do. Doing it in a month where there were no games played for the first week is even more difficult, but Jordan Romano did just that when he finished off the Blue Jays’ 2-1 win over the Astros. He’s done so with a 1.59 ERA and 12/2 K/BB ratio in 10 1/3 innings, so he’s been pitching exceptionally while procuring those stops. 

Rangers manager Chris Woodward confirmed that Joe Barlow was going to see the save chances for Texas this year, but it took until the last day of April for the right-hander to get his first in a 3-1 win over the Braves. One of the reasons for that one save is that the Rangers just haven’t given him many chances with only seven wins on the year, but Barlow has mostly looked solid in his look as a stopper, and is worth a roster spot for those that need help in the category. 

Aroldis Chapman, Corey Knebel, Daniel Bard, Ian Kennedy and Emmanuel Clase were among several others to pick up saves on Saturday. 

Matchup of the Day 

Logan Gilbert vs. Sandy Alcantara 

It doesn’t get much better than this. Both Gilbert and Alcantara have been outstanding for their clubs, and this could be a doozy of a pitching matchup on Sunday. If the score ends up 10-8, please do not yell at me. Gilbert has allowed just one run on the season -- a solo homer by Luis Arraez of all people in the first inning of his first start -- and Alcantara has registered a 1.78 ERA in his first four starts. These are two of the most talented young right-handed starters in the sport, and you’d have to be foolish -- or just not have the ability to watch -- to miss this one. Could be fun. 

American League Quick Hits: Byron Buxton has been scratched from the Twins' starting lineup Saturday against the Rays for precautionary reasons due to a right hand contusion. He’s considered day-to-day. … Joey Gallo left Saturday’s game against the Royals with left groin tightness. Gallo told reporters that he believed he’d be ok to play on Sunday against Kansas City. … Mariners placed OF Mitch Haniger on the 10-day injured list with a right ankle sprain. … J.D. Martinez (groin) was a late scratch on Saturday but he should return on Sunday. … Garrett Whitlock will start against the Angels on Wednesday. … Twins placed RHP Bailey Ober on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to April 29, with a right groin strain. … James Kaprielian (shoulder) will start for the Athletics on Sunday against the Guardians.

National League Quick Hits: Clayton Kershaw broke the all-time Dodgers strikeout record in his start against the Tigers. … Jonathan India was scratched from the lineup on Saturday against the Rockies. Reds manager David Bell told reporters it was just a day of maintenance for the second baseman. … Mike Clevinger (knee) will start on Tuesday against the Guardians … Reds designated OF Aristides Aquino for assignment. … Dennis Lin of The Athletic reports that the Padres have been discussing Dinelson Lamet in potential trades with multiple teams. … Alex Cobb (groin) will start Sunday against the Nationals. … Padres signed OF Shogo Akiyama to a minor league contract. … Giants acquired INF Mike Ford from the Mariners for cash considerations.

Christopher Crawford

Christopher Crawford is a baseball and college football writer for NBC Sports EDGE and also appears on the Circling the Bases Podcast.