Closing Time: Jose Berrios reaches ace status

Jose Berrios looks dominant early on this season (AP Photo).

White Sox vs. Twins: Jose Berrios was terrific, spinning seven scoreless innings with just three hits (all singles), 11 strikeouts and zero walks. The matchup was right, but any lineup would’ve struggled to hit the stuff Berrios brought to the mound Thursday night, including an unfair curveball. He has a 2.18 ERA and a 0.63 WHIP on the year despite allowing five runs over 4.2 innings during one of his three starts, as he’s been truly dominant otherwise with a 24:1 K:BB ratio. It’s hard not to treat Berrios as a borderline top-10 fantasy starter moving forward…Byron Buxton stole two bags, while Lucas Giolito turned in his third consecutive disappointing start to open the year. I had high hopes for him in 2018, but with an 8:12 K:BB ratio, it’s hard to justify rostering Giolito in most leagues right now…Joe Mauer recorded his 2,000th career hit and now sports a .545 OBP on the season.

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Tigers vs. Indians: Francisco Lindor homered for the first time this year, while Jose Ramirez also went yard, and Jason Kipnis had three hits. The window to buy low on that trio is closing fast, although Edwin Encarnacion’s sluggish start continued with another hitless night, lowering his average to .136. Encarnacion’s K% currently sits at 28.8, which is much higher than his career mark (16.6). Strikeout rate stabilizes around 60 plate appearances. He’s up to 52 on the year, so this is worrisome…Michael Fulmer was hit hard, but pitching in Cleveland is one of the tougher tasks in baseball…Trevor Bauer was sharp and has now thrown 15.0 innings over his last two starts after tossing more than seven in just one outing all of last year. He looks poised to make a leap.

Cardinals vs. Reds: Joey Votto received his first off day since September 2016, but he’s healthy and will be fine (April is by far his lowest OPS month of his career, for what it’s worth)…Michael Wacha is up to 10 walks and hasn’t lasted more than five innings in any of his three starts, as he’s been a big disappointment…Mike Mayers recorded a save during the Cardinals’ 13-4 win. The Reds are now 2-10…Jose Martinez went 4-for-5 with a homer, a walk and six RBI and continues to perform like one of the better hitters in the league. He’s somehow still available in more than 30 percent of Yahoo leagues.

Rockies vs. Nationals: DJ LeMahieu swatted two long balls, and he’s now hit more homers on the road this year (four) than he did in Coors Field all of last season…Chris Iannetta reached base three times batting second, while cleanup hitter Trevor Story went 0-for-5 with four strikeouts, sinking his average to .192, although Nationals cleanup man Ryan Zimmerman (.103) has been even worse…Home runs are down so far this season, and changes to the baseball may be one reason why.

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Yankees vs. Red Sox: Giancarlo Stanton didn’t strike out (he recently became the first player ever to have two games with no hits and five strikeouts in the same season) and stole a base one game after getting a triple…Gary Sanchez is hitting .133 yet is up to 10 RBI already anyway. He’s in such a good spot…Aaron Hicks returned from the disabled list and should be owned in all fantasy leagues, while Hanley Ramirez left after getting hit by a pitch on his wrist. X-rays were negative, so hopefully Ramirez and his three early steals will be back out there shortly…Rick Porcello took a no-hitter into the seventh despite dealing with a 45-minute rain delay until Aaron Judge doubled.

Angels vs. Royals: Ian Kinsler celebrated his return from the DL with a leadoff homer, and Shohei Ohtani tripled with the bases loaded. It’s crazy that he also has “80” speed. Notice that pitch was inside, so maybe that book on him needs a rewrite…Jorge Soler struck out during all four plate appearances, and his encouraging spring training feels long ago.

Giants vs. Padres: The latest news on Mark Melancon is more of the same, which isn’t exactly great. He’s in year two of a four-year deal that was the richest ever for a reliever when he signed it…Austin Hedges made a nice double play hereChris Stratton was effective again and now sports a 2.60 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP through three starts. He’s owned in just five percent of leagues. The Padres managed just one hit Thursday night, which was by pinch-hitter Clayton Richard.

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