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10 Burning Questions: Ketel Marte, Sean Murphy, Jose Berrios (2023 Fantasy Baseball)

10 Burning Questions: Ketel Marte, Sean Murphy, Jose Berrios (2023 Fantasy Baseball)

It’s Wednesday, and you know what that means.

We are through the first full week of the season, and we are looking ahead to Week 2 of the fantasy baseball season.

What has only been a week, feels like a year, as we have as many questions as ever about the fantasy landscape.

Each and every Wednesday, I’ll address 10 burning questions that I’m looking either for answers to during the week or questions that may help fantasy managers navigate the week-to-week grind of their team.

CTAs

What’s up with the short starts?

I saw a lot of this on Twitter, specifically when it comes to the betting side of things. There’s a lot of money to be made early in the season with strikeout props, but there’s also a ton of risk early on, as starters typically get pulled earlier in the first few weeks of the season than they would in a month or so.

It’s common, as not all starters are built up yet. When you add in the wrinkle of the World Baseball Classic, it’s just another reason why pitchers will be pulled earlier.

Starters are averaging, as of Wednesday morning, 5.77 innings per start this season. The number is a tad higher than I expected it to be (shoutout to Sandy Alcántara’s complete game), but expect it to climb as the season goes on.

Do we have a new ball?

Would it be a new ball if it’s technically the old issues that we had before? What’s old is new, or something like that.

Look, it’s too early to say if it is or not, but from the data we have so far, it seems like MLB is back on its BS with the balls.

We should also point out that we are a week into the season and just saw a bunch of No. 4 and No. 5 pitchers pitch, so we should give it a little more time to normalize. But if we do, boy oh boy does the waiting on SP strategy (guilty!) look like a bad approach to drafts.

What should I do with Ketel Marte?

This is a question I got on Twitter from @TheMaster_Plan_. He asked if he should hold or look for a replacement after his slow start. The answer to this, and to most right now, is to hold. The Max EV, average EV, and launch angle are all up for Marte, and the .190 BABIP should – has to, really – only go up from here. 

If there is a new ball, it’s important to remember that Marte had his breakout season in 2019, the year of the rabbit ball. That’s the year that we all hold on to tightly when we hold out hope for him.

Closer by committee?

It’s a week into the season, and 33 different players have earned saves so far. In fact, there are only three players who have two or more saves this year – Jordan Romano, Félix Bautista, and David Bednar (3). 

It’s going to be the case most of the year, too, as we’ve seen multiple teams (Arizona) deploy different guys for saves. The Guardians’ Emmanuel Clase is one of the elite arms who has struggled a bit, which could open the door for James Karinchak should things get really bad with Clase.

Meanwhile, in Washington, Kyle Finnegan looks absolutely horrible, which could open the door for Carl Edwards and/or Hunter Harvey to get save opportunities.

Have I mentioned that I can’t stand closers?

Who are some players rostered in 50 percent of leagues or fewer I should target?

Here are 10 hitters and pitchers who you should add to your watchlist who are available in 21-50 percent of leagues (using Yahoo rostership numbers).

Hitters:

Esteury Ruiz (OF – OAK)

Garrett Mitchell (OF – MIL)

Yandy Diáz (1B/3B – TBR)

Joey Gallo (1B/OF – MIN)

Brice Turang (SS – MIL)

Pitchers:

Kenta Maeda (SP – MIN)

Zach Eflin (SP – TBR)

Clarke Schmidt (SP/RP – NYY)

A.J. Puk (RP – MIA)

Aaron Civale (SP – CLE)

What about 20 percent?

Like above, here are 10 hitters and pitchers rostered in 20 percent of Yahoo leagues or fewer who should be on your deep-league radar.

Hitters:

Brian Anderson (3B/OF – MIL)

Spencer Torkelson (1B – DET)

Trevor Larnach (OF – MIN)

T.J. Friedl (OF – CIN)

David Villar (1B/3B – SFG)

Pitchers:

Tylor Megill (SP/RP – NYM)

Dylan Dodd (SP – ATL)

Mitch Keller (SP – PIT)

Steven Matz (SP/RP – STL)

Drey Jameson (SP – ARI)

What’s up with Sean Murphy?

This one comes from Frank Ammirante on Twitter.

It’s a good question, and it’s one that is, frankly, frustrating. The only thing I can think of that gives any reasoning for Travis d’Arnaud starting six games to Sean Murphy’s three is that TDA is swinging a hot bat.

Now, we know that hot and cold aren’t things, but managers still feel that way in many cases.

This is one of them.

Does it make sense when Marcell Ozuna is playing DH regularly? No, it doesn’t. 

For me, I think it presents a good buying opportunity on Murphy, as the playing time should sway back to him given the offseason acquisition. I’m slightly concerned, but I’m chalking it up to Atlanta riding the perceived hot hand early on.

Who has you concerned?

I pretty much don’t worry about anyone early on who I wasn’t worried about in Spring Training. But a few players I’m slightly concerned about are:

  • Sean Murphy: Mainly given the playing time concerns above. I’m not out, but I am watching closely.
  • Kyle Finnegan: We knew he wasn’t good, but did we know he was this bad? He could be losing the job in Washington quickly. 
  • José Berríos: I was buying a ton of Berríos shares this offseason, as I felt the pendulum swung too far in the other direction. The first start wasn’t a good sign, as he continued to struggle to locate his 4-seamer, especially against lefties. 

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>José Berríos was really bad yesterday. We know this. He gave up a ton of hard contact (61.1 percent). He also struggled to locate his 4-seamer against lefties … again. It&#39;s what hurt him last year. <a href=”https://t.co/JNxIBoEywZ”>pic.twitter.com/JNxIBoEywZ</a></p>&mdash; Michael Waterloo (@MichaelWaterloo) <a href=”https://twitter.com/MichaelWaterloo/status/1643340426915598339?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>April 4, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

  • Eloy Jiménez: He’s already hurt with a hamstring injury. This wasn’t supposed to happen this year.

Any random findings?

A few, actually. Thanks for asking, Michael.

  • The Twins are the only team to not attempt a steal yet this season. They did have two attempts that didn’t count Tuesday that were wiped away by foul balls.
  • The Blue Jays and the Nationals have only hit two home runs each so far. They haven’t gotten the memo about the jumping ball, obviously.
  • The Giants have only 14 plate appearances against left-handed hitters. That’s the fewest in the league. Meanwhile, the Mets have 102, which leads the league and is 17 more than the No. 2 Tigers, who have 85.

What would you do differently if drafting today?

Well, this is a tough question. The reactionary side of me would say “Draft as many aces as you can given the issues we’ve seen.” But we don’t really know if they are issues yet, and unlike fantasy football, you are able to practice more patience in baseball.

I think my strategy would stay pretty much the same, but putting a little bit more emphasis on shortstop. It is deep until it isn’t.


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Michael Waterloo is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Michael, check out his archive and follow him @MichaelWaterloo.

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