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Fantasy Baseball Weekly Planner: Week 1 (2022)

by Josh Shepardson | @BChad50 | Featured Writer
Apr 5, 2022
Ranger Suarez

Ranger Suarez is on track to start on April 11.

The new fantasy baseball year is upon us. Opening Day is on Thursday. As a result, the first week of the fantasy season runs from April 7 to April 17. Teams are fleshing out their rotations. So, I’m putting more weight on scheduled games and park factors for this scoring period than usual. There are 12 teams playing a week-low nine games, 14 teams playing 10 games, and four playing a week-high 11 games. In addition to the notable matchups, the hitter and pitcher notes sections are jam-packed with player updates.

CTAs

Notable Matchups

Arizona Diamondbacks vs. SD (4), vs. HOU (2), at NYM (3)

It’s a double-whammy of bad news for Arizona’s offensive outlook out of the chute. First, they’re one of 12 teams playing a week-low nine games. Second, the pitching matchups are likely to be challenging since the Padres, Astros, and Mets have talented rotations. Thus, I’m downgrading Arizona’s hitters this week.

Colorado Rockies vs. LAD (3), at TEX (2), vs. CHC (4)

The Rockies are also saddled with a nine-game week to open 2022. Nonetheless, seven of their nine games are at home. As you can see on our MLB Park Factors page, Coors Field is the runaway most hitter-friendly venue in The Show.

Los Angeles Dodgers at COL (3), at MIN (2), vs. CIN (4)

In this section, the Dodgers make it three straight NL West teams with only nine games. However, like the Rockies, they get a park-factor value boost for the three-game series in Colorado to open the season. In addition, Minnesota and Cincinnati’s rotations aren’t imposing, enhancing the outlook for the Dodgers’ offense.

Chicago Cubs vs. MIL (4), at PIT (2), at COL (4)

The Cubs are the other team visiting Coors Field this week, bumping the value of Chicago’s hitters up for the four contests. Sadly, they’re challenged in their four-game series to start the year against Milwaukee’s rotation of aces. On the flip side, Pittsburgh’s and Colorado’s rotations present them with favorable matchups, and a 10-game schedule gives them a leg up on the 12 teams with only nine games on the docket.

Cincinnati Reds at ATL (4), vs. CLE (2), at LAD (4)

Let’s start with the positives. Like the Cubs, the Reds have 10 games on the agenda this week, providing them a volume advantage over the dozen teams playing nine games. However, the Braves and Dodgers have supremely talented rotations and bullpens, and the Reds enjoy home cooking at their hitter-friendly home park (Great American Ball Park) for only two games. Ultimately, I’m not crazy about Cincinnati’s hitters’ layout for the first scoring period.

Atlanta Braves vs. CIN (4), vs. WSH (3), at SD (4)

Finally, we’ve reached the first of the quartet of teams with a week-high 11 games in the opening week of the fantasy baseball season. Volume rules the roost for counting stats. So, bump Atlanta’s bats up a tick for the first week.

Milwaukee Brewers at CHC (4), at BAL (3), vs. STL (4)

The Brewers’ hitters get a bump upward from their 11-game schedule, too. Moreover, matchups with Chicago’s, Baltimore’s, and St. Louis’s pitching staffs range from non-imposing to downright tantalizing. As a result, the Brewers boast my favorite hitting schedule for the season’s opening week.

San Diego Padres at ARI (4), at SF (3), vs. ATL (4)

The Giants and Braves both have stellar pitching staffs. Sadly, that’s not ideal for the Friars. Regardless, the Diamondbacks aren’t striking fear into opposing hitters, and 11 games trump the tricky matchups with the Giants and Braves. Therefore, the good outweighs the bad for San Diego’s bats this week.

Washington Nationals vs. NYM (4), at ATL (3), at PIT (4)

The Nationals are the fourth and final team with a week-high 11 games in the first week. Washington’s hitters get the volume bump, same as the previously discussed three games with 11 games scheduled. Sure, I don’t love the matchups with the Mets and Braves. Still, Washington’s hitters should be salivating at the thought of facing the Buccos for four games.

Hitter Notes

Josh Rojas (2B,3B,SS,OF – ARI)

Sadly, Josh Rojas was unable to make it through Spring Training unscathed. He suffered an oblique injury that will reportedly sideline him for “weeks.” As a result, the multi-position eligible hitter is an Injured List (IL) stash candidate in 14-team mixers or deeper formats.

Oneil Cruz (SS – PIT)

Oneil Cruz getting optioned to the minors is a reminder that the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) doesn’t address service time manipulation. Thus, penny-pinchers like Robert Nutting will continue to screw over top prospects by prioritizing saving money over putting the best players on the field. So it’s not unsurprising Cruz was optioned. But, most likely, whatever development the Pirates are pedaling he still requires will be accomplished around the time the Super Two deadline passes. So Cruz should be in The Show by late May or early June.

A.J. Pollock (OF – CWS)

Andrew Vaughn (1B,OF – CWS)

The White Sox and Dodgers swung a deal with fantasy implications. On the White Sox side of the ledger, A.J. Pollock joins the Pale Hose. I’m giving him a slight value uptick on a less crowded roster. Unfortunately, Andrew Vaughn might fall into the short side of a timeshare with Gavin Sheets (1B,RF – CWS).

Evan Longoria (3B – SF)

LaMonte Wade Jr. (1B,OF – SF)

Tommy La Stella (2B,3B – SF)

Evan Longoria and LaMonte Wade Jr. will open the year on the IL. I’ve already addressed Longo as a stash candidate. Wade fits the bill as a viable IL stash option in 14-team mixers using five outfielders or deeper formats. The left-handed-hitting outfielder is nursing inflammation and a bone bruise in his knee and will be re-evaluated later this week. Finally, Tommy La Stella is working his way back from surgery on his Achilles and might be ready as early as Opening Day. NL-only gamers and those in 14-team mixers or larger can rejoice about La Stella’s possible availability out of the chute.

Pitcher Notes

Lucas Sims (RP – CIN)

Lucas Sims is the incumbent closer. However, he’ll begin the season on the IL with the hope of returning in the minimum number of days. In the short term, Art Warren (RP – CIN) is my favorite save speculation option in Cinci’s bullpen.

Craig Kimbrel (RP – LAD)

Craig Kimbrel is the other piece in the previously discussed White Sox and Dodgers trade above. He’s vaulted into my top-10 relievers now that he’s closing games for the top team in MLB.

Ken Giles (RP – SEA)

Giles might eventually factor into a closer-by-committee situation in Seattle in his return from Tommy John Surgery. Unfortunately, he’ll have to overcome a tendon issue in his right middle finger first. Nevertheless, I don’t begrudge save-needy gamers in leagues as shallow as 12-team mixers for stashing Giles in an IL spot.

Stephen Strasburg (SP – WSH)

Stephen Strasburg has been reportedly tinkering with using a windup. That’s burying the lede, though. The real news is Strasburg’s tentative timetable for return is mid-May to early June. Unfortunately, I’m not optimistic about Strasburg returning to pre-injury form. Still, I’m not a doctor, and Strasburg was great as recently as 2019, making him a reasonable IL stash in leagues as shallow as 12-team mixers.

Jack Flaherty (SP – STL)

If you already have Jack Flaherty on your roster, there’s not much you can do but wait and see what happens when he returns. Nevertheless, I wasn’t crazy about Flaherty based on his ERA estimators. Now, I’m concerned this could be a completely lost season for the righty. Flaherty had a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection for shoulder discomfort and inflammation. Further, he confirmed a SLAP tear in his right labrum, compounding my concerns. As a result, there’s unlikely any market for trading him. However, in the unlikely event, someone is willing to give you 50 cents on the dollar, I’d take that without hesitation.

Sean Manaea (SP – SD)

Mike Clevinger (SP – SD)

The Padres traded for Sean Manaea, helping ease the sting of Mike Clevinger starting the year on the IL with a knee issue. Presumably, Clevinger faced an innings cap in his return from Tommy John surgery. So, I’m not dinging him much in my rankings. In addition, being able to stash him on the IL instead of keeping him on the bench for skipped starts might be a sneaky blessing in disguise. As for Manaea, San Diego’s acquisition of him provides another roadblock for MacKenzie Gore (SP – SD) claiming a rotation spot. Gore has generated buzz in spring training, so I’m not completely counting out the chance of the cream rising to the top, even in a crowded rotation. Still, we have to temper short-term expectations.

Jacob deGrom (SP – NYM)

Max Scherzer (SP – NYM)

Any hope that Jacob deGrom could rebound from an unhealthy 2021 with a completely healthy 2022 has been dashed before Opening Day. DeGrom has a stress reaction in his shoulder and won’t even throw until late April or early May. After that, he’ll need a build-up period as well. So a return in June seems like a best-case scenario.

The news is less dire for Max Scherzer. He’s dealing with hamstring tightness, putting his Opening Day start in jeopardy. It will be more clear after Wednesday’s bullpen session if he’ll toe the slab on Opening Day.

Zack Wheeler (SP – PHI)

Ranger Suarez (SP,RP – PHI)

The fantasy community held their breath with reports about Zack Wheeler getting a late start to the spring because of shoulder discomfort. Everyone can let out a sigh of relief. Wheeler is on track to make his first start on April 12. Additionally, he threw 45 pitches in a recent intrasquad game against minor leaguers and he should add to his pitch count when he does the same on Thursday, putting him within shouting distance of a full workload for his first regular-season start.

Suarez also started camp late after visa issues. Nevertheless, he’s trending toward taking the ball against the Mets on April 11. The southpaw threw 35 pitches in his first spring start and is projected to throw only 50-55 pitches in his final spring start. As a result, Suarez will likely face a pitch limit in the 70-80 range for his first turn of the year.

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Josh Shepardson is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Josh, check out his archive and follow him @BChad50.

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