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MLB News and Notes: Week of April 23

I usually do not record baseball games and watch them, but last Friday night was the exception. This was because the Dodgers were playing the Nationals, and the pitching matchup was Max Scherzer versus Clayton Kershaw. First, this was the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. Second, I took a little grief during the Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational when I took Scherzer with the eighth pick over Kershaw. At least for one night, Scherzer was just a bit better, as he allowed one run over six innings in the 13th all-time meeting of three-time Cy Young Award winners and the Nationals beat the Dodgers 5-2. Most players said afterward that the game had a playoff atmosphere to it.

Kris Bryant left Sunday’s game in Colorado in the first inning after getting hit in the head by a fastball. He suffered a cut above his left eye from his sunglasses but has shown no signs of a concussion, the Cubs announced. Monitor the situation, but it doesn’t look like he’ll miss any time.

Sean Manaea delivered his first career no-hitter against the Red Sox in a decisive 3-0 victory on Saturday night. It was the first no-hitter pitched against Boston in 25 years, outdueling Red Sox ace Chris Sale. Manaea was nearly flawless, holding the Sox to four total baserunners and striking out 10 of 30 batters faced.

Has anyone noticed that the Royals’ Jake Junis has been pitching very well so far this year? The Rock Falls, IL native was stellar on Friday night, as struck out four and walked one in the contest, allowing only a run-scoring single to Jose Iglesias in the third inning and a sacrifice fly in the seventh. He is now 3-1 on the young season, with a stellar 2.03 ERA and 0.75 WHIP. Junis has been one of the few bright spots for the Royals and is worthy of consideration to be added in most fantasy formats.


And let’s not forget about Diamondbacks pitcher Patrick Corbin. After throwing a one-hitter last week, the lefty has a 3-0 record with a 1.65 ERA to start the season. In Sunday’s game against the Padres, Corbin allowed two runs in six innings and struck out 11. Manaea, Junis, and Corbin would make excellent additions to a fantasy roster for the rest of the season.

In a much-awaited move by fantasy owners, Gleyber Torres has been called up by the New York Yankees. Torres, who was hitting .370 with a .415 on-base percentage and a .543 slugging percentage in Triple-A, will be joining a team in need of a boost. He went hitless in his first game Sunday against the Blue Jays.

Javier Baez has been red-hot of late. After Friday’s game at Colorado, he has nine hits in his last 16 at-bats. He also ranks second in the league in RBI this season with 20, trailing Jed Lowrie of the Oakland A’s. You read that right. Jed Lowrie is leading MLB with 23 RBI. April is not just a month for crazy weather.

Like teammate Javier Baez, Albert Almora has shown better plate discipline, particularly in laying off sliders low and outside the strike zone. This has helped him reclaim the leadoff spot for the foreseeable future. Ben Zobrist heads to the 10-day disabled list due to lower back stiffness, which means there could be more starts atop the order for Almora in the coming days, making him very fantasy relevant.

Yoenis Cespedes wants to swing his way out of an early-season slump, but with his golf clubs rather than his bat. Cespedes said in February during Spring Training that he would give up golf to focus on baseball. His habit became a controversy late in the 2016 season when the outfielder was seen on Instagram playing golf a day after he had left a game with an injury. Cespedes told reporters through an interpreter, “One of the things that I did before, years ago, when I was in a slump, was playing golf and trying to get out of my slump.”  Mets fans and fantasy owners hope something will get him back on track.

Matt Harvey‘s fantasy value took a bit of a hit when he was demoted to the bullpen. Mets Manager Mickey Callaway reached the decision Saturday after lefty Jason Vargas was cleared medically to pitch in a rehab game for Triple-A Las Vegas. Vargas will join the rotation in San Diego next weekend. Harvey was not thrilled with the demotion, telling Callaway he is “pissed off” and “motivated” to show he still belongs in the rotation.

Daniel Murphy has begun playing extended spring training games in West Palm Beach, Fla., as he attempts to come back from microfracture surgery on his right knee in October. In his first game, Murphy got five at-bats and ran the bases and also fielded 35 grounders. The Nationals are hoping Murphy can rejoin the team in mid-May. To follow his progress and others on the DL, check out the Medical Corner articles from Fantrax resident expert Dr. Mike Tanner. This information can help you manage your roster or even snag a forgotten player as he returns from the DL.

In other injury news, Zach Britton took a big step Friday in his recovery from an Achilles injury, throwing 20 pitches off a half-mound in the indoor batting cage at Camden Yards. He said he hopes to return sometime around late May when his stay on the 60-day disabled list ends.

A couple of interesting names have been signed to minor league contracts this week. The Yankees signed Adam Lind to a minor league deal. Lind hit .303/.362/.513 with 14 home runs and 59 RBI in 301 plate appearances for the Nationals last season. Given the injuries to Greg Bird, he is somebody to keep an eye on. The Atlanta Braves have signed free agent Jose Bautista to a minor league contract, and they plan to use him as a third baseman. The 37-year-old may not be able to put up numbers like he used to, but for the Braves and fantasy owners, this is zero risk with at least some potential reward.

Finally, we wish the very best for White Sox reliever Danny Farquhar, who remains hospitalized with a brain hemorrhage after passing out in the sixth inning during Friday’s games against the Astros.

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