The Washington Nationals had a COVID-19 outbreak that forced the cancellation of their opening series against the New York Mets, quickly reminding Major League Baseball that we’re still in a pandemic. The Nationals are now scheduled to start their season April 6, but fantasy owners will need to continue to be on alert, as this could happen a few more times this year.
1. Baltimore Orioles Outfielder Cedric Mullins — The Orioles were a big surprise during the opening weekend, as they swept the Boston Red Sox. The wins may be difficult to come by for the remainder of the season, but for one series, they played extremely well. The offense was led by Mullins, as the center fielder collected nine hits and scored four runs. The .692 batting average leads all of baseball after the first weekend.
Mullins, batting leadoff for a lineup that will surprise people this season, gives him immediate fantasy appeal. We have yet to see the best parts of Mullins’ game — the ability to lay down a bunt for a hit and steal bases. I have a feeling Mullins will pop up again as a waiver-wire target.
2. Los Angeles Angels Designated Hitter/Pitcher Shohei Ohtani — We’re witnessing something that hasn’t happened since Babe Ruth with Ohtani, and that is the ability to pitch and hit at extremely high levels. The talent was on full display for the world to see on “Sunday Night Baseball” April 4, as Ohtani was throwing 100 mph and hitting balls with an exit velocity of 100-plus mph. Ohtani finished his start with seven strikeouts and now has two home runs along with a stolen base as a hitter.
The Angels said they would take the training wheels off Ohtani, and it appears they were telling the truth. Health will always be a question, but if Ohtani can stay healthy, he will no doubt be one of the most impactful fantasy players in baseball.
3. Texas Rangers First Baseman Nate Lowe — The infielder finished with nine RBIs through the opening week, so he has to crack this list. Lowe has never been able to get consistent at-bats in his first two years with the Tampa Bay Rays. However, that could change with the Rangers, which immediately makes him a player to follow. Lowe has been hitting in the middle of the lineup, which is what we like to target in fantasy.
1. Atlanta Braves Outfielder Marcell Ozuna — The outfielder cracked my overdrafted list in March, but I’m not taking a victory lap after three games. The Philadelphia Phillies’ pitching staff was dominant in the opening series, but Ozuna did struggle. The outfielder struck out seven times in three games and only collected one hit. The Braves’ next series is expected to begin in Washington April 6, but they’ll have to wait and see if the Nationals can clear all COVID-19 protocols first. That series will be no easy task with Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg in line to start for Washington.
2. Cincinnati Reds Starting Pitcher Luis Castillo — There will be better days for the talented right-hander. In his first start of the season, Castillo allowed eight earned runs while striking out none. Castillo was being drafted as a top-12 starting pitcher in March, so this is not the start fantasy owners were hoping for. I’m not too concerned, but it’s never great seeing your ace put up a dud in his first start.
3. Chicago White Sox Yoan Moncada — The White Sox are going to be one of the better teams in baseball thanks in part to a potent offense. Moncada should play a major role in that. However, the infielder struggled in the opening series, as he collected only two hits and struck out a league-high eight times. We’re still waiting for the true breakout season from the 25-year-old. 2019 was close — Moncada hit .315 with 25 home runs — but he struggled in 2020. I think Moncada can be a mid-20s home run hitter, but he may not be a .300 hitter.
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox