Dan Schneier here filling in for Frank Stampfl, and happy Thursday morning to you! For those of you who love the NFL as much as the MLB and Fantasy Baseball, well happy opening night! We had a fun night in baseball on Wednesday with Juan Soto getting back to looking like the superstar we drafted him as — at least on one at bat. We also had Yu Darvish get back on track, Frankie Montas continue to show signs of things clicking and a lot more.

It was a night for the pitchers with Sandy Alcantara racking up allll the strikeouts, Adam Wainwright turning back the clock once again, a young Twins hurler taking a perfect game into the seventh and even Nathan Eovaldi impressing in addition to Darvish and Montas. We’ll break down all of the key takeaways and Fantasy Baseball nuggets to stash away from Wednesday’s action

Of course, as always, you can follow to make sure you get the latest episodes of Fantasy Baseball Today right when they drop on Apple and Spotify.

Ryan flashes brilliance

We didn’t exactly know what to make of Twins SP Joe Ryan when he was recently called up for Fantasy purposes, but he’s pitching his way onto everyone’s radar. On Wednesday, Ryan took a perfect game into the seventh inning. Amed Rosario squeaked a single through the infield with one out in the seventh to ruin the perfect outing, but Ryan was still the most dominant Fantasy Baseball pitcher on Wednesday’s slate. He finished the outing going seven strong and allowing just one hit and zero earned runs. The strikeouts (he had four on the night) and swing-and-miss stuff aren’t elite yet, but in just his second career MLB start he proved that he can get bats out at a high frequency.

At this point, it seems crazy to suggest he isn’t worth not only rostering in all leagues but inserting into your lineups. We’ve added him across both shallow and deeper leagues. Ryan draws an excellent matchup against the Royals next week and it will be hard to keep him on the bench.

Darvish shakes second-half nightmare

It has truly been a borderline nightmare second half for Padres SP Yu Darvish this season. He entered Wednesday’s outing with a 6.94 ERA over his 35 innings pitched since coming back from the All-Star break.

That changed on Wednesday night against the Angels when Darvish went six innings of one run ball allowing three hits, one walk and striking out seven along the way. He threw 65 of his 99 pitches for strikes and generated 12 induced swinging strikes. The swing-and-miss stuff was finally there again for Darvish and now the season-long numbers look borderline-ace worthy again with a 3.95 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 174 strikeouts in just 146 innings. 

Waiver wire adds

Scott White dropped his Waiver Wire column for those looking to get a head start on planning next week’s playoff matchups and to make sure there are no market inefficiencies we haven’t yet exploited. The column is loaded with actionable advice to help your final Fantasy Baseball push and below we’ll highlight some of our favorite calls by Scott.

  • Blue Jays C Alejandro Kirk: Alejandro Kirk has now put together back-to-back three-hit games, hitting a double and a home run in the first one and two homers, both to the opposite field, in the second. So the power is playing up for the 22-year-old, backed up by his 92 mph average exit velocity, and there was never any doubt about his bat-to-ball skills. He hit .317 as a minor-leaguer, and his 11.3 percent strikeout rate so far this year would rank fifth among qualifiers. The playing time hasn’t always been there for him, but having started seven of the Blue Jays’ past 10 games, he’s finding it at the right time.
  • Royals RP Carlos Hernandez: Though many have salivated over Carlos Hernandez’s 97 mph fastball, which occasionally breaks triple digits, I look at the lackluster minor-league track record, the disappointing 8.8 K/9 and the discouraging 4.49 xFIP and think, OK, what’s the big deal? But I can’t deny he has allowed two earned runs or fewer in six of his past seven appearances, including four quality starts, for a 1.91 ERA. Plus, his remaining matchups, if everything holds, include the Orioles once and Indians twice. If everything doesn’t hold (as is the norm), the Mariners, Tigers and Twins are also possibilities.
  • Astros SP Jake Odorizzi: With Tuesday’s start, Jake Odorizzi has allowed no more than two earned runs in four straight. Granted, three were against the Mariners and one against the Rangers, so he’s been doing it against weaker lineups. Also, he’s been pulled at right around five innings each time (a trend for which he voiced his displeasure Tuesday), with manager Dusty Baker having figured out he can get the most out of the troublesome right-hander by limiting him two turns through the lineup. With two more weak lineups on the schedule next week (Rangers and Diamondbacks), here’s hoping the pattern holds.

Alcantara strikes out 14 Mets

In the first month, it appeared Marlins SP Sandy Alcantara was headed for Fantasy Baseball stardom. The early shine has faded a bit, but on Wednesday night he gave us a glimpse of why he’s such an exciting starting pitcher moving forward and will likely once again be one of the most popular breakout candidates for the 2022 season. 

Alcantara pitched nine complete innings, allowed one run, four hits and struck out 14. Something has clicked lately for Alcantara when it comes to the swing-and-miss stuff and he has now racked up 43 strikeouts in his past four starts combined. He is nearing one strikeout per inning (178 in 180 2/3 innings) after totaling just 151 in 197 1/3 innings during the 2020 season. This strikeout progression is the next step in the evolution of a should-be Fantasy ace. 

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