To say that Guardians rookie outfielder Steven Kwan was impressive at the plate in his first weekend in the big leagues would be a massive understatement. Billed as a professional hitter with a refined approach at the plate, many prognosticators likened him to a second coming of Michael Brantley in Cleveland.
The 24-year-old had slashed a mighty impressive .328/.407/.527 with 12 homers, 44 RBI, six stolen bases and a jaw-dropping 31/36 K/BB ratio over 341 plate appearances between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus during the 2021 season. He flashed those same contact and plate discipline skills during Cactus League play, where he hit .469/.500/.531 with three RBI, two walks and zero strikeouts in 32 at-bats. That was impressive enough to earn him a spot on the Guardians’ Opening Day roster.
On Opening Day against the Royals on Thursday, he collected his first big league hit and also drew a pair of walks, finishing the day 1-for-2 officially. He did that out of the seventh spot in the Guardians lineup. On Saturday, manager Terry Francona moved him up to the second spot in the order – and it doesn’t appear as though Kwan has any interest in leaving there. On Saturday, he went 2-for-3 with a double and also drew his third walk of the season.
That brings us to Sunday. On Sunday afternoon, Kwan became just the sixth player in Major League history – and second since 1933 – to have hit a five-hit game within the first three games of their career. Mighty impressive stuff. Kwan had four singles and a double on Sunday, coming around to score four runs in a 17-3 rout over the Royals. He was also hit by a pitch – reaching base safely in each of his six plate appearances on Sunday. Additionally, Kwan became the first player in American League history to reach base safely 10 or more times during his first three MLB games.
Through his first three games he’s slashing a mind-boggling .800/.857/1.000 with two doubles, four runs scored, three walks, one hit by pitch and zero strikeouts. If he’s still available on the waiver wire in your fantasy leagues, stop what you’re doing right now and rectify that mistake.
Starting Pitchers with an EDGE
Hunter Greene - 5 IP, 3 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 7 K, W (1), 32% CSW, 14 swinging strikes
The rookie flame-throwing right-hander was as advertised in his big league debut, averaging 99.7 mph on his fastball while touching as high as 101.6 mph. Greene cruised through the first three innings unscathed – striking out two batters in each frame. The Braves scratched out a run against him in the fourth, then added two more in the fifth on solo home runs by Travis d’Arnaud and Matt Olson. He’s a lot of fun to watch and the future looks extremely bright here. He’ll be a viable mixed league fantasy asset this season.
Carlos Carrasco - 5 2/3 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 0 BB, 5 K, 31% CSW, 10 swinging strikes
One of the most encouraging starts of the day on Sunday came from Mets right-hander Carlos Carrasco. Notorious for having miserable first innings, the 35-year-old hurler served up a two-out solo home run to Nelson Cruz to give the Nationals an early lead. Josh Bell followed with a single, and that was the last batter to reach against Carrasco. He retired the final 15 hitters that he faced in order – leaving with a 2-1 lead and in line for a much-deserved victory, though the Mets bullpen was unable to oblige. If he’s floating around on the waiver wire in shallower mixed leagues, he certainly looks like a worthwhile investment.
Jose Urquidy - 5 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 0 BB, 2 K, W (1), 24% CSW, 4 swinging strikes
Jose Urquidy pitched well in his first turn through the Astros rotation on Sunday, limiting the Angels to just one run on four hits over five solid innings. The only blemish on his day came on a solo home run off the bat of Jack Mayfield. Urquidy had the worm burner working for him in this one, generating six ground ball outs. He’ll take on the Mariners in Seattle his next time out next Sunday.
Hitters with an EDGE
Byron Buxton - 2-for-5, 2 HR (3), 2 RBI, 2 R
Man, would it be fun to see what type of numbers Buxton could put up if he could just stay healthy for an entire season. He led off the game with a 363-foot blast off of Mariners southpaw Marco Gonzales that had an exit velocity of 100.1 mph. He followed that up with a 108.4 mph blast off of Gonzales his next time up – that one traveling 350 feet. He’s now got three homers and four RBI through his first three games of the 2022 campaign – much to the delight of fantasy managers.
Francisco Lindor - 1-for-3, HR (1), RBI, R, BB, SB (1)
After a disappointing season in his first year with the Mets, it’s nice to see Francisco Lindor get off to a hot start to the 2022 season. He smacked a solo shot off of Erick Fedde on Sunday afternoon and swiped his first base of the season as well to complete the combo meal. He has shown the ability in the past to put up first round numbers, and if he’s able to return to that level this season he’ll deliver massive profit to fantasy managers that invested in him.
Andrew Vaughn - 2-for-4, HR (2), 4 RBI, R, BB
Two starts on the season for Andrew Vaughn, and two homers for the 24-year-old slugger. Perhaps it would behoove manager Tony La Russa to find a way to get Vaughn’s bat in the lineup on a daily basis. He crushed a three-run homer off of Elvin Rodriguez in the seventh inning of this one then tacked on an RBI single in the ninth for good measure. He now has two long balls and six RBI through his first three games (two starts).
Nick Solak - 2-for-3, HR (1), 4 R, RBI, 2 BB
Solak made his first start of the season on Sunday and made the most of the opportunity – reaching base four times in his five plate appearances. He scored four of the Rangers 12 wins in a comeback victory over the Blue Jays and also blasted a solo home run off of Blue Jays left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu. He should find himself in the lineup against most left-handers and still owns an intriguing blend of power and speed.
EDGE Priority Pickup
Brad Miller, 1B/OF, Texas Rangers – Available in 97% of Yahoo fantasy leagues.
Brad Miller has always shown an ability to hit right-handed pitching and it looks like he’s going to be the Rangers everyday leadoff hitter against those right-handers this season. He had a pretty impressive opening weekend, blasting a solo homer on Opening Day, adding another hit on Saturday and then coming off the bench to homer, double and drive in four runs during a comeback victory over the Blue Jays. He’s got eligibility at first base and in the outfield (and could earn third base at some point during the season) and is a viable fill-in option in all mixed leagues. We could be looking at a 30-homer season here for a guy that’s available on the waiver wire in 97% of Yahoo leagues.
Tanner Rainey vs. Mets - 1 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 0 BB, 0 K (1st save)
The Nationals first save of the season goes to Tanner Rainey – much to the delight of fantasy managers that speculated on the talented right-hander. It’s possible that it’s too soon to rejoice though. The Nationals, facing a 2-1 deficit, turned to Kyle Finnegan in the eighth inning of this one, and he worked a perfect inning to keep the Nats right where they were – affording them the opportunity to come back. Let’s see how these two hurlers are deployed when the Nationals carry a lead into the eighth inning before making any judgment one way or the other. Both Rainey and Finnegan should remain rostered for the time being.
Art Warren vs. Braves - 1 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 0 BB, 1 K (1st save)
Warren becomes the second Reds hurler to record a save during the 2022 season, working a scoreless ninth inning to protect a three-run lead against the Braves. Staying true to his word, Reds manager David Bell deployed Tony Santillan (who recorded their first save on Thursday) in a high-leverage spot in the seventh inning. Santillan then remained in the game to work a scoreless eighth inning, handing the ball to Warren in the ninth. Expect Santillan to continue to function in the Tejay Antone role from a season ago, with Warren cleaning up the ninth inning when it isn’t against the heart of the opposing lineup. Both are probably viable in mixed leagues for the time being, at least until Lucas Sims returns to further muddy the waters.
Josh Hader vs. Cubs - 1 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 BB, 2 K (1st save)
Not that it came as any surprise, but Josh Hader looked extremely impressive in his first save chance of the season, retiring the Cubs in order including a pair of strikeouts of Patrick Wisdom and Nico Hoerner. There’s a reason he was the first closer off the board in nearly every fantasy draft this spring.
Jake Diekman vs. Yankees - 1 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 BB, 3 K (1st save)
With Matt Barnes unavailable on Sunday due to a back issue, Red Sox manager Alex Cora turned to Jake Diekman to close out a one-run lead against the Yankees. He wasn’t disappointed. Diekman delivered one of the most dominant performances of the young season, striking out Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Joey Gallo in succession to preserve the victory. Barnes is far from locked into the closer’s role for the Red Sox, so there’s a very real possibility that Diekman will continue to see work in the ninth inning after this dominating effort.
Dominic Leone vs. Marlins - 1 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 BB, 2 K (1st save)
The Giants closer carousel continued to turn on Sunday. With Camilo Doval and Jake McGee both unavailable after working each of the previous two days, it was Dominic Leone who was tasked with protecting a one-run lead in the ninth inning. He passed the test with flying colors, striking out Jazz Chisholm and Jacob Stallings before getting Jorge Soler to pop out to first base. He’s unlikely to snag a lion’s share of the save chances just yet, but if he continues to perform like this when called upon, he’ll work his way into the mix.
Ryan Pressly vs. Angels - 1 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 BB, 1 K (2nd save)
So far, so good for one of the best in the game. This was a rather stress-free outing for the Astros right-hander, as he needed just seven pitches to retire Jo Adell, Josh Rojas and Kurt Suzuki in order to preserve a three-run advantage. Any thoughts of Hector Neris usurping the closer’s gig in Houston have fallen by the wayside.
Monday’s Matchup of the Day
There are several intriguing pitching matchups on tap for Monday, but my eyes will be on the Mets and Phillies in Philadelphia. It’s the season debut of Ranger Suárez – the out-of-nowhere sensation that registered a scintillating 1.36 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 107/33 K/BB ratio over 106 innings during the 2021 season – first appearing as a lock-down closer and then transitioning to the starting rotation after the trade deadline without missing a beat. He’ll be opposed by Taijuan Walker, who has been battling some soreness recently in his surgically-repaired right knee.
American League Quick Hits: The Red Sox signed Garrett Whitlock to a four-year, $18.75 million contract extension that includes club options for the 2027 and 2028 seasons. … A.J. Pollock (hamstring) was held out of the White Sox lineup for Sunday’s series finale against the Tigers. He’s considered day-to-day. … Andrew Chafin (groin) threw a successful bullpen session on Saturday and is trending towards a return. … Dean Kremer suffered a left oblique strain while warming up to go into Sunday’s game. … Trevor Story was held out of the Red Sox lineup on Sunday due to a non-COVID related illness. He’s expected to return to action on Monday. … Matt Barnes (back) was unavailable again on Sunday, but is expected to be ready on Monday. … Ryan Yarbrough (groin) is expected to be placed on the injured list on Monday. … Jeff Passan of ESPN reports that Tommy Romero will be recalled from Triple-A Durham to take his place, though it may not be a long-term stay with the big league club.
Daulton Jefferies fired five shutout innings in a victory over the Phillies. … Tony Kemp went 3-for-5 and drove in a pair of runs to lead the A’s offense. … Michael Kopech allowed just one run and struck out three over four innings against the Tigers. … Luis Robert scored a pair of runs and swiped his second base as the White Sox crushed the Tigers. … Tim Anderson went 3-for-5 in his season debut. … Corey Kluber racked up five strikeouts over 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Orioles in his Rays debut. … Cedric Mullins picked up his first swipe of the season in a loss to the Rays. … Wander Franco went 3-for-4 and stole a base in a lopsided victory over the Orioles. … Matt Chapman had two hits including a three-run homer – his first long ball as a Blue Jay – in a loss to the Rangers. … Hyun Jin Ryu was blasted for six runs over 3 1/3 innings against the Rangers. … Spencer Howard surrendered six runs – including four home runs – in his season debut against the Jays. … Owen Miller went 3-for-6 and drove in four runs as the Guardians walloped the Royals. … Oscar Mercado blasted a grand slam and added an RBI triple in that rout. … Jose Ramirez went 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBI to get in on that fun as well. … Kris Bubic was charged with five runs in just 2/3 of an inning in that one. … Mitch Haniger doubled and blasted a three-run homer in a loss to the Twins… Gary Sanchez clubbed a grand slam and added an RBI double in a win over the M’s. … Jeremy Pena went 3-for-5 with a double and a run scored in a victory over the Angels. … Giancarlo Stanton collected three hits in a loss to the Red Sox. … Bobby Dalbec belted a go-ahead solo homer in the sixth inning, powering the Red Sox past the Yankees.
National League Quick Hits: Blake Snell was a late scratch from his scheduled start against the Diamondbacks due to left adductor tightness. He’s going to attempt to play catch on Monday to see how he feels, but manager Bob Melvin expects that Snell will land on the injured list. … The Giants recalled top prospect Heliot Ramos from Triple-A Sacramento. Ramos started in left field and went 2-for-3 with a run scored in his big league debut against the Marlins. … Marlins prospect Edward Cabrera landed on the injured list at Triple-A Jacksonville with right biceps muscle fatigue. … Mike Minor (shoulder) is set to begin a rehab assignment at Double-A Chattanooga on Wednesday. … The Diamondbacks placed Luke Weaver on the 10-day IL with elbow inflammation. … Garrett Cooper left Sunday’s game after being hit on the wrist by a pitch, but X-rays came back negative and he’s considered day-to-day.
Zach Eflin struck out three over four scoreless innings against the Athletics. … Nelson Cruz blasted his 450th career home run and drove in three runs as the Nationals rallied to defeat the Mets. … Ian Anderson was lit up for five runs over 2 2/3 innings in a loss to the Reds. … Matt Olson went 3-for-4 and blasted his first home run as a member of the Braves in a losing effort against the Reds. … Diego Castillo went 3-for-5 and scored a pair of runs in his first start for the Pirates. … Steven Matz gave up seven runs in three-plus innings in a loss to the Pirates. … Michael Chavis went 3-for-4 with a grand slam in a victory over the Cardinals. … Seiya Suzuki blasted his first big league home run – a three-run shot off of Freddy Peralta – as the Cubs fell to the Brewers. … Marcus Stroman allowed just one run over five innings in a tough-luck no-decision in his Cubs debut. … Julio Urias gave up six runs (three earned) over just two innings in a loss to the Rockies. … Elias Diaz homered and drove in three runs to lead the Rockies past the Dodgers. … Cody Bellinger had two hits, a walk and a run scored in a loss to the Rockies. … Trevor Rogers allowed three runs (two earned) while striking out three over five innings in a no-decision against the Giants. … Jurickson Profar clobbered a grand slam as the Padres destroyed the Diamondbacks. … Cooper Hummel blasted a three-run homer in a losing effort against the Padres.