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Fantasy baseball rankings update: Which pitchers are on the rise?

Lance McCullers Jr. started the season with an impressive outing and continues to climb in Tristan H. Cockcroft's rankings. Bob Levey/Getty Images

Week 1 of the fantasy baseball season can be a confusing time.

On one hand, you'll hear advice akin to, "Don't panic! Don't overreact! The first week of stats means nothing!!!"

On the other hand, some developments do matter from a player-valuation standpoint ... and they're not simply injury-related, like Rich Hill's inescapable annual trip to the disabled list. (He's down about 10 starting-pitching spots in my rankings, incidentally.)

As traditional Rotisserie players often reserve this weekend -- the first following Opening Day -- for their annual auctions, I've done a comprehensive update to my rankings to help out those yet to draft.

Better yet: For those of you who already have drafted, these double as a preview to my rest-of-season rankings, which will begin early next week (stay tuned for more details!) and be updated with even greater frequency than the ones I provided for you weekly in 2016.

Here are four highlighted pitchers who moved up:

Dallas Keuchel, Houston Astros: I had cautioned at the onset of spring training that I wasn't a fan of players who blamed prior-year struggles on injuries, especially when those injuries -- in Keuchel's case, his shoulder -- were still-standing questions at the time of their initial camp examinations. Since the February shoulder debate, Keuchel has looked outstanding in four Grapefruit League starts, followed by his 2017 regular-season debut against the Seattle Mariners, whom he shut out on two hits for seven innings on Monday. What's more, he made a sizable jump in workload from his final spring outing, which was 40 pitches in depth, to that regular-season debut, in which he extended 85 pitches through those seven frames. It's testament to his being of much better health than I had judged when camps opened, and it gives him an outstanding chance at a rebound within the top 25 fantasy starting pitchers.

Ranking update: Keuchel is now my No. 29 starting pitcher.

Lance McCullers Jr., Astros: Though he moved up only a few spots, McCullers shot up my rankings more than most anyone from the close of 2016 through Friday, and from his current position, he's only a short leap from the top 25 fantasy starting pitchers himself. After struggling through his final two Grapefruit League outings -- he surrendered nine runs on 11 hits in 7 1/3 innings combined -- he rebounded in a big way Tuesday versus the Mariners. Thanks to his filthy curveball, McCullers is one of the strongest bets to lead the majors in strikeouts-per-nine-innings ratio, and if he can squeeze in even 160 innings, he'll be one of the year's best values.

Ranking update: McCullers is now my No. 31 starting pitcher.

Dylan Bundy, Baltimore Orioles: It's specific skill changes that are the most actionable events of Week 1, and Bundy certainly fits the description. Though there's a bit of a classification dispute -- the age-old slider-versus-cutter debate -- Bundy broke out his slider 16 times in his 99 pitches (or 16.2 percent) in his 2017 regular-season debut Wednesday versus the Toronto Blue Jays. As Mark Simon of ESPN Stats & Information pointed out here, Bundy got 13 strikes, recorded three outs (all strikeouts) and afforded no base runners with the pitch he didn't throw once in 2016 but previously had thrown as an amateur. It's a great sign that the Orioles are more confident in Bundy's durability this season, and it gives the right-hander a much better chance at a significant statistical step forward in 2017.

Ranking update: Bundy is now my No. 61 starting pitcher.

Greg Holland, Colorado Rockies: So far, so good for Holland in his return from Tommy John surgery. He has made three appearances, converting saves in each of them, flashing a 94.2 mph fastball on average that, while beneath his 95.5 mph career average, is still improved upon his 93.6 mph mark in 2015. While Holland's games were all pitched away from Coors Field -- that's another upcoming test for him -- matchups at Milwaukee's Miller Park against the Milwaukee Brewers' offense aren't exactly "easy" in their own right. I genuinely believed that Adam Ottavino was the Rockies' best choice to close, but so far Holland looks healthy and clearly the guy for the gig. The only question now: Will he be able to stay healthy for the entire 162-game schedule?

Ranking update: Holland is now my No. 31 relief pitcher.

Again, you can find my full rankings, complete with position-by-position breakdowns and auction values, right here.