Alright, so Jack Leiter's debut didn't go as we hoped.

Facing the Tigers for his first MLB start Thursday, Leiter made it through just 3.2 innings on 85 pitches, striking out three batters while walking three and allowed seven earned runs on eight hits. His command wasn't sharp, and while his stuff looked solid, it was hardly overpowering in this one, and there's probably little reason to run out and add him if you didn't already. 

Leiter was never a can't-miss prospect making his debut, so initial struggles shouldn't be a surprise. I was excited to see what he could do after making some improvements in the second half of last season that carried over to the first part of the season at Triple-A, but even in a mostly optimistic write-up about his promotion earlier this week, I ended with this:

"If he lives up to his ceiling, you're going to be glad you added him before his debut. If not? Well, most waiver-wire adds end up getting dropped anyway. At least this one has significant upside."

It didn't work out for Leiter in his debut, but the good news is, there will always be more prospects on the way. Scott White writes about that very topic every week with his Prospects Report column, where he identifies the top prospects you need to know about: Five on the verge of making their debut, and five on the periphery. Though, as he noted in this week's edition, Leiter and Andy Pages' ascensions happened so quickly that they didn't even have time to register on the "Maybe I should stash these guys …" radar. 

Stashing prospects is a luxury, of course, one many Fantasy players can't justify as injury and underperformance wreak havoc on our rosters. Especially when prospects often come up and falter, like Leiter did. But, if you can justify it, make sure you check out that column for some names to consider. 

In the rest of today's newsletter, we're taking a look ahead at this weekend's top pitchers you need to keep an eye on, either because we're looking for reasons to keep starting them, reasons to keep rostering them at all, or reasons to add them the next time waivers run. We've also got a rundown of all the news and performances you need to know from Thursday – though, with just five games on another light Thursday, there isn't that much to know from last night. So, let's get to this weekend's preview first: 

What to watch this weekend

Just give us a reason to be optimistic …

Jesus Luzardo, Marlins @CHC, Friday – I don't really have a good sense for why things have gone so wrong for Luzardo so far, and my concern is that he might be a guy who just has an extremely thin margin for error, despite a high-90s fastball. He was really good in 2022 and 2023 while averaging 96.3-96.7 mph on his four-seamer, but was pretty bad in 2021 when he averaged 95.7; he's sitting 96 through his first four starts. I don't want to oversimplify this, but I'd definitely like to see a vintage Luzardo start here. 

Justin Verlander, Astros @WAS, Friday – We've got a 41-year-old coming back from a shoulder injury who saw a significant downturn in pretty much all of his relevant stats last season and struggled on his minor-league rehab assignment. I don't take too much from the rehab assignment for a veteran like him, but I'd feel a lot better about Verlander moving forward with a good start here – especially if his velocity is more or less where it was a year ago. 

Chris Sale, Braves vs. TEX, Friday – When I moved Jared Jones up in my rankings this week, Sale was one player I didn't quite move him ahead of. He still has 20 strikeouts in 17.2 innings so far this season, and his velocity and stuff mostly look very good so far, so I'm hopeful that his inflated ERA is just a blip on the radar. Dominating this lineup would go a long way toward making me feel confident in that. 

Blake Snell, Padres vs. ARI, Friday – Given Snell's historic inconsistency and the fact that he didn't sign until Spring Training was almost over should make his poor start a lot more understandable. He goes through stretches like this even when his preparation for the season isn't disrupted, and he usually figures it out … eventually. The question is whether he can figure it out relatively quickly, or if this is going to be one of those seasons when he's nearly useless for Fantasy for months. 

Tanner Bibee, Guardians vs. OAK, Sunday – Bibee's fastball velocity was back up to 2023 levels in his most recent start, but he had to battle through five innings without his best slider. Given the cake matchup here, we'd love to see Bibee put it all together and look like the potential ace we expected him to be. 

Still worth rostering?

Jack Flaherty, Tigers @MIN, Friday (75%) – In the spring, Flaherty was sitting around 94-95 with his fastball, the same range he was working in in 2019, when he was one of the best pitchers in baseball. Since the start of the regular season, he's settled in a bit south of that – up from 2023, but not quite at his peak. His slider and curveball have both played up in spite of it, but his fastball is getting hit hard when he isn't commanding it well. He's only had one truly bad start out of three so far, so I'm probably not dropping him even with a poor start, but it'd be nice to see him dominate like he did in his first start of the season. 

Spencer Turnbull, Phillis vs. CHW, Friday (63%) – Turnbull has been terrific in the early going, but with Taijuan Walker working his way back from his shoulder injury, the Phillies might not have room for him in their rotation for much longer. Turnbull's new sweeper has been a really nice weapon for him, and another strong start could put the Phillies in a really tough spot when Walker is back; if he struggles, he's probably out of the rotation and can be easily dropped. 

Triston McKenzie, Guardians vs. OAK, Friday (79%) – I was already leaning toward dropping McKenzie even before an article from The Athletic came out Thursday highlighting how he is pitching through a torn ligament in his elbow from last year's elbow injury. His velocity has been way down, and while I understand why McKenzie wants to avoid a second Tommy John surgery given all he's dealt with in his career, it's hard to be optimistic about him at this point. If you still have him on your roster, I think it's fine to give him one more shot, but if he doesn't pitch well against the A's, I'm fine letting him go. 

Nestor Cortes, Yankees vs. TB, Saturday (93%) – We've gotten one terrific start from Corts this season, but it came against a Marlins team that looks like one of the absolute worst in the majors, so I'm not sure how much optimism we can even take from that. He hasn't been bad so far, with a 4.50 ERA – and a 3.22 xERA that indicates there might be even more room to grow from there – but he also hasn't given us much reason to expect he'll be a difference maker like he was in 2022. 

Kyle Harrison, Giants vs. ARI, Saturday (89%) – Everytime I look at Harrison's data, I just have to ask: "What would you say … you do here?" He had a lot of hype (and tons of strikeouts) as a prospect, but has shown very little strikeout ability in the majors. He's throwing his four-seamer around two-thirds of the time, and while it's a good pitch, it's not such a dominant heater that he can really justify that kind of usage. The problem is, the rest of his arsenal isn't good enough to go away from the heater; he has yet to record a swing and miss on his slurve, per, and his 20% whiff rate on his changeup is nothing to write home about either, and neither was good last year either. We're holding on to Harrison for the upside he showed as a rookie, but I'm just not sure that upside is actually present. 

Gavin Stone, Dodgers vs. NYM, Saturday (68%) – Stone has only really had one bad start so far, but he's also only really had one good one – and even that was just four strikeouts in 6.2 innings, so it was hardly dominant. He's certainly pitching much better than he did last season, and his changeup might truly be an elite pitch, but I haven't seen much to suggest it's enough to make him a must-start Fantasy option yet. Let's hope we see something this weekend. 

Charlie Morton, Braves vs. TEX, Saturday (94%) – I'll be honest, I don't really see the case for Morton even being as rostered as he is right now. He'll help you in wins and strikeouts, but I think he's actively hurting you in WHIP, and might be likely to do so in ERA as well. I think it's probably time to treat the 40-year-old like just a streamer. 

Time to buy in? 

Yariel Rodriguez, Blue Jays @SD, Friday (37%) – Rodriguez had a pretty promising debut, showcasing multiple swing-and-miss pitches and a funky delivery that hitters were clearly struggling to pick up. Of course, it was the Rockies away from Coors Field and he only threw 3.2 innings, so I get why Fantasy players weren't rushing out to add him. A good start here, especially one where he goes a bit deeper, could make him a high priority add next week – even with real concerns about how many innings he's likely to contribute this season after he didn't pitch in 2023. 

Reese Olson, Tigers @MIN, Saturday (53%) – Olson had some sleeper appeal after a strong finish to last season, but his most recent start is the first time he's really looked worthy of much hype at all so far this season. It's not a coincidence that it was also the start where he used his changeup the most, something that fueled his hot September. The Twins whiff an awful lot – only two teams strike out more this season – so if you wanted to beat the waiver wire on Olson and stream him this weekend, that's not a bad idea. 

Javier Assad, Cubs vs. MIA, Saturday (60%) – Assad is probably more in the Chris Bassitt mold of pitchers who rely on a deep repertoire to keep hitters off-balance rather than with dominant stuff, but it's worked really well for him so far this season, and should continue against Miami this weekend. Will that be enough to justify adding him now that his two-start week is past? If he keeps piling up strikeouts – 28.1% rate so far – it just might be. 

Edward Cabrera, Marlins @CHC, Saturday (62%) – If Cabrera was figuring it out, his first start back from a shoulder injury this week is what it would have looked like: He mowed down the Giants for 10 strikeouts while walking just one, and he did it while deprioritizing his fastballs. Command of the fastball has always been his biggest weakness, and he used his four-seamer just 20.9% of the time; it might be fair to say he used the fastball more like a changeup, because he used the changeup more than any other pitch in that start. I'm already on the record saying I think Cabrera's debut made him a must-add player, and if he builds on that this weekend, he's going to be a hot commodity on waivers.

 Ryan Weathers, Marlins @CHC, Sunday (22%) – Weathers started to gain some hype with a strong spring, but it mostly went away with an underwhelming debut. However, after he struck out 10 while walking just one in six innings against the Giants this week, he's back on our radars. He led with his sweeper and changeup in that one, and it lead to 19 whiffs on 90 pitches, so we'll see if he can follow that up with another good start. If so, he might belong in the top 75 among starting pitchers, and will be a big priority on waivers this weekend. 

Jose Butto, Mets @LAD, Saturday (38%) – Butto was rarely much of a strikeout pitcher in the minors, which makes it fair to be skeptical of his 15 strikeouts in 12 innings to date. But, if he does it again this weekend, against the Dodgers, how could we ignore it? 

Nick Nastrini, White Sox vs. PHI, Sunday (9%) – Nastrini was fine in his MLB debut against the Royals this week. He definitely showed the ability to get whiffs, with 11 on 74 pitches, including at least three with all three of his primary pitches, and he quieted what has been one of the best lineups in baseball so far. It wasn't enough to make him a must-roster player, but it was certainly enough to put him on Fantasy radars; a strong start against the Phillies will make him worth adding.