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2021 fantasy baseball leagues will mirror the 2021 MLB season as closely as possible. Drafters should expect the possibility of a later than normal season start, a shorter than 162-game season, universal DH, 7-inning double headers, and more possible changes to the MLB season and games.
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|Ball Boys 2||0.0|
|Big League Chew||0.0|
|Here Comes Treble||0.0|
|Jennie and the Betts||0.0|
Cincinnati Reds right-hander Michael Lorenzen struggled in his spring debut, allowing three runs in 1 2/3 innings in a 5-3 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday. Lorenzen struck out one and walked one while allowing three hits, including a three-run homer to Josh Rojas in the contest. Lorenzen told reporters after the game that he is easing into camp in preparations to be a starter this season. "It doesn't feel good to the ego, but April 1st is all that matters," he stated. Lorenzen is competing with Jose De Leon and others for the fifth spot in the Cincy rotation this season. He reportedly has the inside track to win the spot but De Leon pitched relatively well in Friday's game.
Cincinnati Reds right-hander Jose De Leon allowed two runs over three innings in a 5-3 Cactus League loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday. De Leon struck out four and walked one in the outing, his second of the spring. The former top prospect for the Los Angeles Dodgers impressively forced seven swinging strikes in the second inning of the outing alone. De Leon is fighting for the fifth spot in the Cincinnati pitching rotation and saw one of his main competitors, Michael Lorenzen, allow three runs in 1 2/3 innings in the same game. The Cincinnati coaching staff is reportedly high on De Leon's potential but he will need to continue to produce to nail down a spot in the rotation.
Cincinnati Reds outfielder Nick Senzel had a productive game in a 5-3 Cactus League loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday. Batting third, Senzel went 2-for-3 with a first-inning solo homer. He later doubled, giving him his first two extra-base hits of the spring. Armed with an intriguing power/speed combo and an exceptional hit tool, one of the main things preventing a Senzel breakout in the majors has been his inability to stay healthy. Expected to open the season as Cincy's everyday center fielder, Senzel should deliver a quality fantasy season if he can stay on the field.
New York Yankees shortstop Gleyber Torres clubbed his first home run of the spring on Friday with a 369-foot shot against the Tigers. A relatively poor launch angle profile (33.3% sweet-spot rate, 41.7% ground-ball rate) fueled a down-year from Torres in 2020 highlighted by a disappointing .334 xwOBAcon, but at least some of Torres's struggles can be directly related to the delayed start to the 2021 season, giving him a strong chance of bouncing back this year. Fantasy managers should consider targeting Torres in drafts as a result, and his hot spring so far shouldn't hurt the optimism around a rebound year.
Minnesota Twins pitcher Randy Dobnak looked impressive in his spring debut on Friday against the Braves. Dobnak tossed 2 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing three hits while striking out two batters. The 26-year-old pitched to a 4.05 ERA in 46 2/3 innings of work during the shortened 2020 season, posting a 62.1 percent groundball rate, which would have been the highest in the majors had he qualified. Dobnak seems destined for a jack-of-all-trades role out of the bullpen, though he will likely get a chance to make some starts, considering the health-risks of Michael Pineda and Matt Shoemaker. He won't be drafted, but fantasy managers should keep an eye on Dobnak.
Arizona Diamondbacks reliever Stefan Crichton made his spring debut on Friday night, tossing a scoreless seventh inning in which he allowed two hits and one walk while striking out two. A two-out infield single loaded the bases for the Reds, but Crichton was able to get a fly out to retire the side and strand the runners. Crichton is competing to retain his hold on the closer's role against newcomers Joakim Soria and Tyler Clippard, and while he didn't allow a run to score, loading the bases wasn't the optimal start to the spring that he could have hoped for. He remains in the mix for the closer role, but even if he is named the Opening Day closer he will be one of the lower-end fantasy closers to choose from.
Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Pavin Smith went a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate with a double and two runs scored in the win against the Reds on Friday. After starting the spring going 0-for-5 at the plate, Smith is now 4-for-5 over his last two games with two doubles and three runs scored. The seventh overall pick in the 2017 Draft, Smith is making the most of opportunity as he is one of several Diamondbacks who are seeing increased chances for playing time this spring following Kole Calhoun's knee surgery. Smith will try to make a statement over the rest of the month as he looks to crack the Opening Day roster, but even if he's not playing in Arizona right out the gate he'll likely get a shot at playing time at some point this year.
Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Josh Rojas clobbered two home run on Friday night in the Diamondbacks' 5-3 win over the Reds. Rojas ended the game 2-for-4 at the plate, driving in all five of Arizona's runs in the game. He has heated up over the last two games as he now has three homers and six RBI in that span, and he is now slashing .333/.375/.933 over five games this spring. He's projected to be a bench bat for now, but if he keeps swinging the hot bat he could be in line for more playing time very quickly. For now he should not be considered in most formats, but in deeper or NL-only leagues he could be an intriguing player for the middle infield slot.
Free-agent RHP Justin Miller (Blue Jays) signed a minor-league contract without an invite to spring training Friday, March 5.
Los Angeles Angels RHP Gerardo Reyes (elbow) was outrighted Friday, March 5.
Toronto Blue Jays ace Hyun-Jin Ryu made his first start of the spring on Friday with mixed results. The veteran hurler threw a nine-pitch first inning but was touched up for a solo home run and issued a walk in the second inning when he threw another 21 pitches. In total, the control artist threw 63% of his pitches for strikes during the 13-4 win over the Baltimore Orioles. Ryu, 33, is coming off a strong first season in Toronto which saw him post a 2.69 ERA with a 26% strikeout rate. With questionable pitching depth in the starting rotation, the Blue Jays will rely heavily on the native of Korea yet again in 2021.
Seattle Mariners reliever Roenis Elias made his first game appearance of spring training, allowing one hit and striking out two White Sox. Elias is in his third stint with Seattle, now a full-time reliever after making 53 starts for the Mariners since 2014. Elias has never been known to post big strikeout numbers, so he shouldn't be on the fantasy radar to start 2021, but keep an eye on the whole Seattle bullpen if presumed closer Rafael Montero falters.
Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Chris Flexen kicked off his spring Friday with mixed results. Flexen threw two innings, allowing two hits and two runs (only one earned) while walking one and striking out three. Flexen suffered from some shaky defense behind him, and his own command was fleeting at times, but the three strikeouts are reason for optimism. Flexen emerged as an elite strikeout option in the Korean Baseball Organization, and it will be his ability to translate that swing and miss success back to the majors which will determine his fantasy relevance.
Seattle Mariners utility man Sam Haggerty swiped his second base of the spring on Friday. Capable of playing both the infield and outfield, Haggerty looks likely to make the big league team out of camp as the main backup to J.P. Crawford, among others. With the Mariners organization looking to maximize their baserunning abilities this year, Haggerty could be an under-the-radar value for steals if he can find his way into some playing time.
Seattle Mariners outfielder Kyle Lewis had a strong showing in Friday's Cactus League matchup against the White Sox. Lewis reached base twice, with a single and a double, and came around to score both times. While the other young Mariners outfielders have received more attention this spring, Lewis is the only one with a major league season under his belt. Coming off a strong 2020 in which he slashed .262/.364/.437, Lewis is looking to prove that his breakout campaign wasn't a fluke. This may be a challenge, as Lewis was in the bottom five percent of the league in whiff rate, and in only the 16th percentile in strikeout percentage. This will have to improve if Lewis is to repeat as a fantasy standout.
Second-year hurler Trevor Rogers was in fine form on Friday. He threw two shutout innings against the Astros in a 1-0 victory and did not allow a hit. He struck out three batters and issued one free pass. The Marlins have six or seven hurlers vying for the five spots in the starting rotation. Rogers showed flashes of brilliance in 2020 but he allowed 15 of his 20 runs in three starts between Sept. 11 and Sept. 21. In total, he made seven starts with an ERA of 6.11 although his xERA was more promising at 3.53. Rogers struggled with his slider during his MLB debut but all three of his strikeouts on Friday came on the breaking ball which bodes well for 2021.
Minnesota Twins veteran hurler Matt Shoemaker had a promising first outing of the spring with his new team. A free agent well into the offseason, he did not allow a hit or a walk over 2.1 innings of work. Shoemaker isn't flashy but the 34-year-old hurler could provide some stability to the bottom half of the club's starting rotation. It's also possible that he could open the year as a long-man in the bullpen but he hasn't pitched in relief since 2015. Last season with Toronto, Shoemaker posted a 4.71 ERA but had a solid 26-9 K-BB in 28.2 innings. He struggled to keep the ball in the park and allowed eight home runs.
Seattle Mariners outfielder Jarred Kelenic (knee) tweaked his knee on Friday while beating out an infield single to shortstop during the Cactus League matchup against the White Sox. Kelenic was examined at first base, but remained in the game. It is not currently expected that the top prospect will miss any time. The Mariners are likely to keep Kelenic in the minors to start the year, but expect to see him patrolling the outfield by mid-April. Don't sleep on him in fantasy drafts.
Boston Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez threw 2.2 innings of one-run ball on Friday. The only blemish was a solo home run. It was his first game back after missing the 2020 season due to heart inflammation which was a complication from contracting COVID-19. A healthy Rodriguez would provide a huge boost to Boston's starting rotation. Just two years ago, the left-hander posted a 3.81 ERA with 213 strikeouts in 203.1 innings. Still just 27, he has a chance to be the ace of the staff in 2021 at least as long as Chris Sale is sidelined. The Red Sox will no doubt be cautious with Rodriguez so his innings may be monitored closely especially in the early going.
Toronto Blue Jays outfield prospect Josh Palacios is off to a fast start to the spring. He entered Friday's game against the Baltimore Orioles as a replacement for Randal Grichuk and went 3-for-3 with a double, triple, and a home run. The 25-year-old is now 5-for-7 this spring with four extra-base hits. Known more for his hitting tool and speed, Palacios made hitting adjustments last summer at the alternate training site which could be the source of the newly-discovered pop. He was added to the 40-man roster last November so he still has three minor-league options remaining but he could see playing time with the big league club in 2021.
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|VB9||3/5 8:59 pm ET|
|Contemporary Resort||3/5 8:00 am ET|
|Moon Crickets||3/5 12:41 am ET|
|Here Comes Treble||3/4 10:04 pm ET|
|Ball Boys 2||3/4 1:35 pm ET|
|Leo 4||3/4 10:50 am ET|
|Jennie and the Betts||3/3 10:11 am ET|
|Ballers 7||3/2 2:37 pm ET|
|Frankenstein||3/2 11:24 am ET|
|Big League Chew||3/1 10:13 pm ET|
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