There's a compelling argument to be made that Sandy Alcantara has evolved into the best starting pitcher in baseball. He’s certainly on the short list, especially after authoring his fifth consecutive dominant performance Thursday evening against the Giants at loanDepot park in Miami. The electrifying 26-year-old right-hander recorded eight strikeouts, while scattering three hits and a pair of walks over seven scoreless frames, combining with relievers Steven Okert and Tanner Scott on an impressive three-hit shutout. He generated only 10 swinging strikes, but threw a staggering 73 of 111 pitches in the strike zone, to finish with a strong 31 percent CSW (called strikes plus whiffs).
No matter how you slice the numbers, Alcantara has put together a phenomenal run over the last few weeks, allowing just three runs across 39 innings over his last five starts, dating back to May 11. The throwback workhorse has completed at least seven frames in each of those outings to go along with an eye-popping 40/8 K/BB ratio during that span. He’s compiled a surreal 1.18 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 71/24 K/BB ratio across 74 2/3 innings (11 starts) this season. He’ll look to keep the momentum going Wednesday when he faces off against the division-rival Nationals at home.
Starting Pitchers with an EDGE
Jameson Taillon vs. Angels
8.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K
29% CSW, 14 swinging strikes
Taillon retired 21 consecutive batters, carrying a perfect game bid into the eighth inning, during the second game of Thursday's doubleheader against the Angels before Jared Walsh poked a leadoff double into left field. He wound up surrendering an RBI single to Kurt Suzuki later in the frame, but the Yankees’ offense rallied for a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame to take him off the hook and reward him for a stellar effort with his sixth win of the season. The 30-year-old righty will carry a pristine 2.30 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and 44/5 K/BB ratio across 58 2/3 innings (10 starts) into a favorable road matchup Wednesday against the Twins.
Nestor Cortes vs. Angels
7.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K
35% CSW, 12 swinging strikes
Cortes continued his sublime 2022 campaign during the opening contest of Thursday afternoon’s doubleheader against the Angels as he recorded seven strikeouts and silenced a formidable Los Angeles’ lineup over seven frames to pick up his fifth win of the season. The 27-year-old left-hander escaped a bases-loaded jam in the opening frame and allowed just four baserunners over his final five innings of work. He’s allowed three earned runs or fewer in 10 consecutive starts to open the year and will carry a sparkling 1.50 ERA, 0.87 WHIP and 68/14 K/BB ratio across 60 innings (10 starts) into a tasty road tilt Tuesday against the Twins.
Tony Gonsolin vs. Mets
6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
30% CSW, 12 swinging strikes
Gonsolin scattered two hits and one walk over six flawless frames Thursday night in a win over the Mets. He recorded five strikeouts, generated 12 swinging strikes and finished with a 30 percent CSW (called strikes plus whiffs). The 28-year-old righty has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 10 consecutive starts to open the 2022 campaign. He'll carry a pristine 1.59 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 49/17 K/BB ratio across 51 innings (10 starts) into a challenging road tilt Wednesday versus the White Sox.
Hitters with an EDGE
Travis d’Arnaud vs. Rockies
3-for-5, 3 R, 2 HR (5, 6), 6 RBI
d'Arnaud spearheaded the Braves’ 13-run, 18-hit offensive explosion Thursday evening in Coors Field’s high-octane offensive environment, clobbering two homers in a blowout victory over the Rockies. He kicked things off by tattooing a two-run shot to left field off Rockies' lefty Austin Gomber in the third inning and also took the southpaw deep for a grand slam in the fifth inning, giving the Braves a commanding eight-run lead at the time. It was his first multi-homer performance since July 15, 2019. The 33-year-old veteran catcher is hitting .262/.293/.454 with 19 runs scored, six homers and 23 RBI across 147 plate appearances.
Trea Turner vs. Mets
1-for-4, R, 2B
Turner led off the sixth inning with a double, extending his surreal hitting streak to 25 games Thursday evening in the Dodgers’ win over the Mets, and eventually came around to score later in the frame on Justin Turner's two-out RBI double. The 28-year-old shortstop is hitting .343 (34-for-99) with four homers, 21 RBI and six steals during his 25-game hitting streak, which dates back to May 9.
Paul Goldschmidt vs. Cubs
1-for-5, R, 2B, RBI
Goldschmidt extended his remarkable hitting streak to 24 games Thursday in the Cardinals' loss to the Cubs, drilling a two-out RBI double off Cubs' starter Keegan Thompson in the third inning before coming around to score on an RBI single from ensuing batter Nolan Arenado. The 34-year-old veteran first baseman has recorded at least one hit in 24 consecutive games since May 7, hitting .427 (41-for-96) with nine homers, 33 RBI and one stolen base during that span. He's arguably the hottest hitter in baseball right now.
Kyle Farmer vs. Nationals
2-for-4, R, HR (5), 3 RBI, SB (3)
The prototypical more valuable in real-life to the Reds’ organization than as a fantasy contributor middle infielder, Farmer has displayed a propensity for launching timely homers, and also chipping in the occasional stolen base as well. He did exactly that on Thursday night, effectively putting the contest away with a three-run shot off Nationals’ lefty Josh Rogers in the seventh inning. He certainly isn’t a fantasy superstar, but he’s capable of making an impact for fantasy managers in deeper mixed leagues and NL-only formats. The 31-year-old shortstop is hitting .263/.317/.434 with 19 runs scored, five homers, 28 RBI and three steals across 168 plate appearances.
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Craig Kimbrel vs. Mets
1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (11th save)
Kimbrel fired a scoreless ninth inning Thursday, protecting a two-run lead against the Mets to collect his 11th save of the season. It was a nice bounce-back performance after an ugly blown save Monday against the Pirates. The 34-year-old veteran stopper was unavailable earlier this week as he worked to iron out his mechanics, and looked extremely sharp in his return, needing just 12 pitches (eight strikes) to slam the door on New York. He got Starling Marte to ground out, Luis Guillorme to fly out and whiffed Pete Alonso to end the contest. He's converted 11 of his 12 save opportunities this season and appears locked back in as the Dodgers' primary closer moving forward.
Taylor Rogers vs. Brewers
0.0 IP, 2 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 0 K (3rd blown save)
Yikes. There are blown saves and there are full-scale meltdowns. This was the latter. Rogers has been one of the most reliable closers in baseball this season for the Padres, but simply didn’t have it Thursday evening, giving up a leadoff single and hitting a pair of batters before surrendering a game-tying three-run triple to Jace Peterson, which chased him from the contest. It was just his third blown save of the season and he doesn’t appear to be in danger of losing future save opportunities.
Gregory Soto vs. Twins
1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K (10th save)
Soto was summoned to preserve a one-run lead Thursday afternoon against the Twins and needed just 11 pitches (10 strikes) to slam the door. The 27-year-old left-hander has been an extremely reliable closer for fantasy managers this season, converting 10 of his 11 save opportunities, to go along with a stellar 2.04 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 14/8 K/BB ratio across 17 2/3 innings (19 appearances).
Ryan Thompson vs. Rangers
1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K (3rd save)
With Andrew Kittredge (back) still sidelined due to injury, Thompson got the call to guard a two-run lead in the ninth inning Thursday afternoon against the Rangers. He didn’t allow a baserunner and needed just eight pitches to extinguish any hope of a comeback. He’s converted just three of his six save chances this season.
Wandy Peralta vs. Angels
1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K (1st save)
Peralta was credited with a save when he recorded the final four outs of the Yankees’ five-run victory over the Angels in the first game of Thursday’s doubleheader against the Angels.
Clay Holmes vs. Angels
1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K (7th save)
Holmes was summoned to guard a one-run lead in the second game of Thursday’s twin bill against the Angels and wound up needing 29 pitches (15 strikes) to escape with his seventh save of the year. The 29-year-old righty issued a two-out walk to Shohei Ohtani before hitting both Mike Trout and Jared Walsh to load the bases, but managed to escape unscathed by coaxing a game-ending ground ball from Luis Rengifo. He hasn’t allowed a run in 23 consecutive appearances since April 8. Unreal.
Tanner Scott vs. Giants
1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K (2nd save)
Scott was called upon to protect a three-run lead in the ninth inning Tuesday night and combined with Sandy Alcantara and Steven Okert on a three-hit shutout. The 27-year-old lefty notched a pair of strikeouts and needed just 14 pitches (10 strikes) to end the final frame. He’s converted both of his save chances this season, but holds a lackluster 5.12 ERA and 1.40 WHIP across 19 1/3 innings of work.
EDGE Priority Pickup
Riley Greene, OF, Tigers
The window for fantasy managers to stash Greene in shallow mixed leagues appears to be rapidly closing, if not slamming shut entirely, after the electrifying top prospect went 2-for-3 with a gargantuan three-run homer – his first round-tripper of the season – Thursday in a minor league contest for Triple-A Toledo. The dynamic 21-year-old outfielder appears to be on the precipice of making Detroit’s season-opening roster before fracturing his right foot in the late stages of spring training. He’s fully recovered and doesn’t appear to be too far away from making his highly-anticipated major-league debut. Given his raw athleticism and stolen base upside, he’s worthy of a speculative roster spot in all fantasy formats until further notice.
Friday’s Matchup of the Day
On the heels of Thursday’s thrilling series opener, Burnes and Musgrove will lock horns Friday evening in one of the more intriguing pitchers’ duels of the 2022 season.
American League Quick Hits: Orioles RHP prospect Grayson Rodriguez (lat) has been diagnosed with a right lat sprain after exiting Wednesday’s minor league start with right lat tightness. … George Springer (illness) was absent from the Blue Jays' starting lineup Thursday for the second straight game. ... Yoán Moncada (quad) returned to the White Sox' starting lineup Thursday following a five-game absence. ... Javier Báez was held out of the Tigers' starting lineup Thursday for the second consecutive contest. ... Twins placed RHP Sonny Gray on the 15-day injured list, retroactive to May 30, with a right pectoral strain. … Blue Jays placed LHP Hyun Jin Ryu on the 15-day injured list with left forearm inflammation. … Austin Meadows (vertigo) is expected to return to the Tigers early next week. … Aaron Judge crushed his major league-leading 19th home run of the season in the Yankees’ win over the Angels in the first game of Thursday’s doubleheader. … Anthony Rizzo delivered a go-ahead two-run single in the eighth inning, lifting the Yankees’ to a narrow victory in the nightcap of Thursday’s doubleheader against the Angels. … Julio Rodríguez went 2-for-5 with a stolen base and Jesse Winer went 3-for-5 with an RBI and a walk in the Mariners’ extra-inning victory over the Orioles. … Santiago Espinal went 3-for-5 with three RBI and Teoscar Hernández slugged a two-run homer in the Blue Jays’ win over the White Sox. … Daz Cameron launched a go-ahead two-run homer, lifting the Tigers past the Twins. … Randy Arozarena stole a base in the Rays’ win over the Rangers. … Luis Robert went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI and a stolen base in the White Sox’ loss to the Blue Jays. … Cedric Mullins went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI in the Orioles’ extra-inning loss to the Mariners. … Marcus Semien belted a solo homer in the Rangers’ loss to the Rays. … Nick Gordon notched two hits and a stolen base in the Twins’ loss to the Tigers. … Alek Manoah surrendered three runs over 7 2/3 innings in a win over the White Sox. … Corey Kluber yielded one run over six innings in a win over the Rangers. … Reid Detmers tossed 4 1/3 scoreless innings in a no-decision against the Yankees. … Chris Archer allowed one run over five innings in a no-decision against the Tigers. … Alex Faedo gave up two runs over five innings in a no-decision against the Twins. … Shohei Ohtani surrendered four runs over three innings in a loss to the Yankees. He also went 1-for-7 and was caught stealing at the plate in the doubleheader. … Johnny Cueto was charged with four runs (three earned) over six innings in a loss to the Blue Jays. … Chris Flexen allowed three runs over five innings in a no-decision against the Orioles. … Jordan Lyles was charged with five runs (four earned) over five innings in a no-decision against the Mariners. … Taylor Hearn gave up three runs over four innings in a loss to the Rays. … Jhonathan Diaz allowed one run over four innings in relief against the Yankees.
National League Quick Hits: Jack Flaherty (shoulder) hopes to begin a minor league rehab assignment next week with Double-A Springfield. … Tyler O'Neill (shoulder) is scheduled to start a rehab assignment on Friday at Triple-A Memphis … Clayton Kershaw (pelvis) and Max Muncy (elbow) are expected to begin minor league rehab assignments this weekend … Brandon Woodruff (ankle) played catch on Thursday. … Francisco Lindor (finger) was held out of the Mets' starting lineup Thursday against the Dodgers. ... Ronald Acuña Jr. went 2-for-5 with an RBI on Thursday in his return to the Braves' starting lineup after sitting out Wednesday's contest against the Diamondbacks due to general soreness. ... Cody Bellinger (groin) returned to the Dodgers' starting lineup Thursday after missing three games. ... Tommy Pham (calf) walked twice and picked up an RBI on Thursday in his return to the Reds' starting lineup after missing a pair of games earlier this week. ... Nolan Gorman (back) remained out of the Cardinals' starting lineup Thursday for the third straight game. ... Yonathan Daza (elbow) was held out of the Rockies' starting lineup Thursday for the second straight contest. ... Brandon Crawford (illness) and Evan Longoria (shoulder) were absent from the Giants' starting lineup Thursday against the Giants. ... Garrett Cooper (intercostal) was absent from the Marlins' starting lineup Thursday against the Giants ... Wil Myers (knee) was out of the Padres' starting lineup Thursday for the second straight game and fourth time in their last five contests. … Robinson Canó elected free agency. … Padres purchased the contract of OF Nomar Mazara from Triple-A El Paso. … Mookie Betts went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a stolen base, propelling the Dodgers to a win over the Mets. … Jace Peterson drilled a game-tying three-run triple and ensuing batter Andrew McCutchen delivered a tie-breaking RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning, leading the Brewers to a walk-off victory over the Padres. … Frank Schwindel went 3-for-4 with a solo homer and two RBI and Willson Contereas hit a two-run homer, leading the Cubs to a win over the Cardinals … Joey Votto walloped a three-run homer, lifting the Reds to a victory over the Nationals … Jesús Aguilar scalded an RBI double in the Marlins’ win over the Giants. … Michael Harris II went 3-for-5 with an RBI in the Braves’ victory over the Rockies. … Charlie Blackmon went 4-for-5 with two RBI and Connor Joe went 2-for-3 with a pair of walks and three runs scored – extending his on-base streak to 29 consecutive games – in the Rockies' lopsided defeat at the hands of the Braves. … Josh Bell went 2-for-4 with a solo homer in the Nationals’ loss to the Reds. … Jorge Alfaro swatted a two-run homer and also walked twice in the Padres’ loss to the Brewers. … Mike Yastrzemski doubled in the Giants’ shutout loss at the hands of the Marlins. … Jeff McNeil reached base safely in two of his four plate appearances in the Mets’ shutout loss to the Dodgers. … Keegan Thompson gave up three runs over 5 1/3 innings Thursday in a win over the Cardinals. … Graham Ashcraft surrendered one run over seven innings in a win over the Nationals. … Ian Anderson surrendered five runs over six innings in a win over the Rockies. … Sean Manaea struck out eight batters over six innings of one-run ball in a no-decision against the Brewers. … Adrian Houser gave up one run over five innings in a no-decision against the Padres. … Taijuan Walker allowed two runs over 5 2/3 innings in a loss to the Dodgers. … Alex Wood allowed two runs over 5 1/3 innings in a loss to the Marlins. … Joan Adon coughed up three runs over 5 1/3 innings in a loss to the Reds. … Matthew Liberatore was lit up for four runs over 3 1/3 innings in a loss to the Cubs. … Austin Gomber was torched for nine runs over five innings in a loss to the Braves.