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Astros right-hander Lance McCullers has flashed the stuff of a front-line fantasy starter since debuting as a 21-year-old in 2015, but he opened the 2016 season on the disabled list with a sore shoulder and finished it with an elbow sprain, and he was the 40th starter off the board this spring in Yahoo leagues with an ADP (average draft position) of 148.8.
Maybe this year his health cooperates. Maybe you should have taken the risk. Maybe you did.
McCullers looked terrific in his 2017 debut Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park, throwing six innings of one-run ball against a good Mariners lineup. He struck out seven, walked two, and allowed two doubles and three singles while consistently touching the mid-90s with his fastball and breaking off a large number of impressive power curves. The 23-year-old can make right-handed hitters look especially silly with that curveball, as he did multiple times Tuesday. A newly-revamped circle change is supposed to help against lefties.
"They know it's coming, he knows it's coming, and he still finds a way to beat them,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch told MLB.com after the game when asked about McCullers’ heavy curveball usage.
Including his numbers from Tuesday’s 2-1 victory over Seattle, McCullers owns an outstanding 3.17 ERA and 242 strikeouts through his first 212 2/3 innings (37 starts) at the major league level.
He can be a legitimate Cy Young candidate in 2017 if he stays away from the DL.
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Brewers’ Guerra Gets Bad Diagnosis
Junior Guerra was one of the biggest surprises of the 2016 season, delivering a 2.81 ERA, 1.126 WHIP, and 100 strikeouts over 121 2/3 innings (20 starts) for the Brewers. But it’s going to be a while before we get to make a case one way or the other about his legitimacy as a reliable fantasy starter.
Guerra tweaked his right calf while trying to leg out a bunt in the third inning of his Opening Day start Monday against the Rockies and an MRI taken Tuesday showed a “significant” strain, per manager Craig Counsell. The 32-year-old right-hander is going to be out at least six weeks, and possibly much longer than that. He yielded two earned runs over three innings Monday before exiting, so his season ERA will stay at 6.00 for all of April and most of May.
Guerra was officially placed on the disabled list on Tuesday afternoon, with lefty reliever Brent Suter coming up from Triple-A Colorado Springs and Tommy Milone moving from the rotation to the bullpen to fill the vacancy. Milone carries no fantasy relevance as a guy with a 5.80 ERA, 1.528 WHIP, and 51/22 K/BB ratio over his last 71 1/3 major league innings. He allowed 14 earned runs on 24 hits and two walks over 14 innings this spring in the Cactus League.
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Mets’ Lugo Has Partial UCL Strain
At various points over the last two years the Mets have appeared to boast the strongest starting pitching depth in all of Major League Baseball. But as Mets fans well know, it never lasts long.
Seth Lugo is the latest Mets pitcher to get an unfortunate diagnosis -- and this one could bring with it a very lengthy absence -- one that might even extend into 2018. The right-hander has a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow and will have his medicals reviewed this week by Dr. James Andrews, the man known best for recommending and performing Tommy John surgeries. Lugo was given a platelet-rich plasma injection on Tuesday and will try the rest and rehab route first, but the Mets have acknowledged in an official statement to the media that surgery is a possibility.
Lugo pitched pretty well last month in the World Baseball Classic for Team Puerto Rico, who finished as runners-up to the United States in the international tournament. He was set to open the 2017 season in a swingman role for New York before landing on the 10-day disabled list April 2 with a barking right wing.
Rafael Montero -- he of the 5.15 career major league ERA -- is positioned as the Mets’ sixth starter right now, with injury risks Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler currently holding rotation spots. Steven Matz was placed on the disabled list at the end of spring training with a flexor tendon strain in his left arm.
National League Quick Hits: Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters Tuesday that Julio Urias will make his first start at Triple-A Oklahoma City within the next few days … Stephen Piscotty will be put through MLB’s concussion protocol after taking a throw off the side of his head on Tuesday night against the Cubs … Lance Lynn said Tuesday that he is open to discussing a contract extension with the Cardinals … Rockies closer Greg Holland struck out a pair in a spotless ninth inning to record his second save in Tuesday's win over the Brewers … Travis Shaw ripped a pair of doubles for the second straight game Tuesday, but the Brewers again fell to the Rockies … Wade Davis earned a save in his Cubs debut Tuesday night at Busch Stadium … Padres setup man Carter Capps (elbow) threw a 21-pitch simulated inning on Tuesday at Dodger Stadium … Denard Span was held out of the Giants’ starting lineup Tuesday because of a sore hip and is considered day-to-day … After hitting fifth on Monday, Logan Forsythe returned to the leadoff spot Tuesday and reached three times against the Padres … Diamondbacks setup man Jake Barrett (shoulder) is scheduled to throw live batting practice on Wednesday … Padres left-hander Clayton Richard shut out the Dodgers for eight innings to win Tuesday … Matt Garza (groin) is on track to begin a two-start minor league rehab assignment next week.
American League Quick Hits: White Sox ace Jose Quintana was lit up for six earned runs over 5 1/3 innings Tuesday in his Opening Day start against the Tigers … Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto said Tuesday that he expects Felix Hernandez (calf) to make his next scheduled start Saturday against the Angels … Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway expressed confidence Tuesday that Corey Kluber (blister) will be fine for his next scheduled start … CC Sabathia held the Rays off the scoreboard for five innings in Tuesday’s shutout victory … Sonny Gray (lat) threw a successful 25-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday afternoon … Justin Upton is considered day-to-day after leaving the Tigers’ season-opener Tuesday with a left knee contusion … Astros closer Ken Giles earned his second save in as many games on Tuesday night against the Mariners and already has five strikeouts through two innings … Joey Gallo connected for a two-run homer in the second inning in Tuesday's game against the Indians … Mariners transferred Drew Smyly (flexor strain) from the 10-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list … Justin Verlander struck out 10 batters over 6 1/3 innings in the Tigers' Opening Day victory over the White Sox … Wade Miley (flu) expects to make his 2017 debut on Sunday against the Yankees … Cam Bedrosian earned a save with a 1-2-3 ninth inning Tuesday versus the Athletics and looks to be the Angels’ best option at closer … Indians outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall (shoulder) is on track to begin a rehab assignment Wednesday with Triple-A Columbus.