Arizona Diamondbacks 

Gabriel Moreno is staking his claim behind the plate with two home runs already this spring. I think he’s safe to take in the one-two catcher fringe. I’d prefer him to Keibert Ruiz, for example. 

Scott McGough is the new crime dog as far I’m concerned, though I guess that reference is pretty old these days. “Scruff McGruff, Chicago Illinois, 60652!” Manager Torey Lovullo says they’re “gonna be fluid in that area,” which sounds like a trip to the doctor and means nothing, but I think McGough is gonna be the closer, if anyone’s gonna be the closer. 

Carlos Vargas comes from Cleveland and throws big-time late innings pitches in his fastball and slider. If someone comes from deep in the pack to claim the role, my money’s on Vargas. 

Corbin Carroll could sign a long-term contract as I’m typing this. Was pulled from the lineup on Friday before this extension news leaked, so it feels connected somehow. He and Moreno are the only pieces of the lineup that feel like long-term fixes to me. Oh dip, he did just sign: eight years and $111 million. Get it, Corbin. 

Drey Jameson and Ryne Nelson are competing for the fifth spot in the rotation. Jameson felt like the frontrunner to me from the outset and has eight strikeouts and a 1.05 WHIP in three starts and 6.2 innings. In his two starts covering 2.2 innings, Nelson has a 4.50 WHIP and 23.63 ERA. Don’t have to be Perry Mason to see which way this is going. 


Colorado Rockies

Elehuris Montero got some clearance when Ryan McMahon moved to second base to cover for Brendan Rodgers, but then the club signed Mike Moustakas because they’re the Rockies. I still think it’s probably Montero at third to open the season, but I’m ready to be hurt here, too. 

Michael Toglia’s path cleared out when Sean Bouchard went down with a ruptured bicep, but now we’re hearing rumors of a Jurickson Profar signing in Colorado. 

Mike Moustakas deserves the love and respect a human ought to grant to any sentient creature. 

Alan Trejo is the cheapest way to get involved with the Rockies infield extravaganza. Doesn’t hurt to kick the tires. 

Ezequiel Tovar should take the every day shortstop gig and will be a fantasy monster if he hits enough to keep it. 


Los Angeles Dodgers

2023 opens with way more sleeper-tunities than usual in Chavez Ravine. 

Ryan Pepiot pitched three scoreless innings with four strikeouts his last time out on Wednesday. With Tony Gonsolin on the shelf, or rather on the couch given that he’s not putting any weight on his leg, Pepiot has pole position for some early season starts. The way these things shake out between injuries and Kersh-management, Pepiot could secure his spot as the sixth starter and remain in the rotation to some extent throughout the year. 

Gavin Stone is on the case of the missing innings as well, but the seniority factor is working against him. He’s tossed two shutout innings this spring and looks like the first man up from the minors when the need arises. 

Andre Jackson is in this picture too and threw three shutout innings on Friday against the Angels, bringing his spring total to six shutout innings. He could break camp in a swing role and would be an interesting streaming option for spot starts. 

Michael Grove has also thrown six good innings, posting 0.33 WHIP and 1.50 ERA. A lot of things are changing around the game of baseball this year, but the Dodgers having plenty of pitchers to choose from remains a constant. 

Remember Rubby De La Rosa? He’s in camp with 2.1 perfect frames so far. Keep an eye peeled. 

James Outman is slashing .389/.478/.667 in his 18 at bats. We’ve heard a lot about Jason Heyward and David Peralta this spring, and Outman’s redraft cost has tumbled a bit in the aftermath. The logic checks out, and JD Martinez clogging up the DH spot is another strike against Outman’s upside, but I’m in the Jurassic Park, Richard Attenborough camp here: life finds a way. This offense does not look awesome on paper. Miguel Rojas, Jason Heyward and David Peralta seem to be lineup fixtures. Los Angeles might soon see a need for the threat a burgeoning power bat like Outman can offer. 

Trayce Thompson demolished right handed pitching last year (.308/.409/.602 10 HR in 159 PA), so I’m a little confused by the idea that Thompson will form a short-side platoon in left field with David Peralta. So it goes. 

Miguel Vargas had already been declared the opening day second baseman, but the Gavin Lux injury grants him even more runway. The Dodgers tend to get good outcomes from their rookies, and Vargas is as talented in the batter’s box as any rookie hitter they’ve had in recent memory. 

Evan Phillips, Brusdar Graterol and Daniel Hudson would all be must-have closers if they grabbed even a 50 percent share of the ninth inning in Los Angeles. They all seem pretty easy buys to me at their current ADPs. 


San Diego Padres

In contrast to Los Angeles, there’s not much playing time on offer in San Diego. When Fernando Tatis Jr. returns after 20 games, Matt Carpenter and Nelson Cruz figure to share designated hitter duties, which tells us a lot about the depth here. If Trent Grisham doesn’t hit this year, Tatis could probably kick over to center and open right back up to Carpenter. Same goes for Ha-Seong Kim, in the sense that he’ll probably have to hit to play. It’s a good thing. Means plenty of days off for Tatis with the shoulder, Cruz with the eyes, and Carpenter with the mustache. 

Luis Campusano is hitting .125 across 16 at bats in his bid to take the primary catching job. His swing has always looked a little long to me. Could shorten up, target right-center field, but the plate discipline would have to jump. He’s young yet, but I’m not optimistic. 

David Dahl leads the team in total bases this spring. Brandon Dixon was unfathomably hot in his 25 games at Triple-A last fall, slashing .371/.447/.866 with 13 home runs and three stolen bases. Either could make the team with a break here or there. 

Brent Honeywell looked great to me his last time out. He’s got a 1.34 WHIP and 6.14 ERA but also has nine strikeouts and one walk in 7.1 innings. The Padres have a lot of options for the rotation this season, but Honeywell was dominant in winter ball and looks reborn to my eyes. 


San Francisco Giants

Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair. 

Blake Sabol is one of my favorite sleepers this year. He figured something out about pitch selection and launch angle last season with Pittsburgh, who lost him to the Rule 5 draft partly because they’re feeling catcher-rich with Henry Davis and Endy Rodriguez. Sabol could wind up the everyday catcher, first baseman or left fielder with the Giants, who have to send him back if they don’t keep him around. Joey Bart could take the job, but he hasn’t been particularly adept at defense or offense in his career, and at some point, the outcomes speak for themselves. 

David Villar was anointed the third baseman by Farhan Zaidi before the spring began. He’s struggled so far this spring, which shouldn’t matter, except that the Giants hottest prospect is Villar’s fellow third baseman Casey Schmitt, who is seven for 18 with just two strikeouts. Villar is still going to be the guy on opening day, and I have him in about half my leagues, but Schmitt is starting to feel like an inevitability due in part to his plus defense. Doesn’t mean they won’t have room for both. Nobody’s really locked in a first base either. 

Ronald Guzman is pushing for a swing role as a two-way player with high-nineties heat from the left side. Fun to follow even as it’s not especially relevant for our game. 

Thanks for reading!