In the following MLB weekly preview, we have a game breakdown for all 30 teams, pitching rankings and latest IL info to dominate Fantasy Baseball…
Jeff Mans and I were sitting around the metaphorical campfire, singing “Kumbaya” and talking about baseball, the future of the fantasy business and days of old. He reflected upon his Fantasy Alarm days and then, Eureka! Like a flash of lightning, the thought sprung from his mind… the MLB Weekly Preview. For those of you who have followed his work for years like myself, you know exactly the article of which I speak. A valuable preview that prepared us for our weekly conquests. A detailed dissection of the weekly matchups is a time-consuming undertaking and, with everything else on his plate as Elite Sports Network is booming, just not possible. But like all good leaders, he delegated the responsibility to me… and I don’t make it a habit of letting people down, Mans nor you, our loyal MLB subscriber.
In the following weekly preview, you will find a game breakdown for all 30 MLB teams (including Interleague play), two-start and overall pitching rankings and the latest IL information to help you dominate this week’s matchup and through the entirety of your seasonal league.
With the five weekly previews that remain this season, I will be using this section of the article to answer YOUR fantasy baseball questions leading up to Championship week! Didn’t get your question submitted in time? Drop me a line on Twitter or throw out your questions in the Chat Room (see links below).
@jasonstaley78 – Yo Pov, I have to drop one of these guys in a points dynasty league. But I’m going for it now. Who do I drop: Mallex, Wong, or Christian Walker?
Hard to fully answer this question without seeing the depth of your roster, but I’ll give it a go. I have these three players ranked relatively close overall in points-based leagues. Christian Walker has the highest upside in most offensive categories, minus steals, which Mallex Smith dominates. Since we don’t worry about leading the league in stolen bases in points leagues, Mallex appears to be the expendable piece with your plan to go for it now. You wouldn’t be mortgaging your future either, as where else does he contribute? He does have 32 XBH on the season, compared to Walker’s 44 and Wong’s 30, but a .235 BA & .653 OPS is, let us say, not good. In a position where points can be garnered through multiple sources, these numbers are even worse in comparison to other outfielders. Tough to replace infield point production.
Kolten Wong would be the other option to drop, but this is the wrong time to be doing so. He has reached base safely in 12 of his last 13 starts and has seen a 35-point improvement in his batting average to .274 since July 2 (.351 since ASB). Including a penchant for timely hitting and St. Louis chalk in the middle of both a division and wild-card race, situational factors also favor holding onto Wong. Both Wong and Walker (despite still being classified as a rookie) are 28, which factors into dynasty consideration, but Mallex is only two years younger at 26. The final nail is Mallex’ K-rate (25.9%). Over the past 60 days, the K totals are as follows: Mallex – 52, Walker – 41, Wong – 26.
@KyleWilliams – Jacob Waguespack one-hit the Dodgers through 7 IP last night, and his game log looks pretty good lately. What’s your thoughts on him? I have Ivan Nova and Anibal Sanchez, should I drop one of them for him?
I’ve discussed Waguespack in detail a few times throughout the season, and he’s a rookie I’ve been keen on when it comes to streaming. The former Phillie farmhand throws a fourseam fastball (94mph) and cutter (91mph) while also mixing in a curve (80mph), slider (86mph), sinker (92mph) and change (85mph), according to Brooks Baseball. His strikeouts have depreciated over the course of the season; his once high 9.47 K/9 now sits at 6.92. He has been pitching more to contact but getting outs by keeping the ball more on the ground (42.3% GB-rate) than in the air (35.9% FB-rate). Overall, his BAA sits at .235, while his BABIP is .267. Luck has been involved here, as he additionally has a 76.0% strand rate and a 4.92 xFIP despite a 3.63 ERA.
While I do expect strikeouts to positively regress over the course of the season – Waguespack owned an 8.15 K/9 in three Triple-A seasons – the hits allowed should increase as well. With a 38.5% HH-rate, hitters aren’t exactly making light contact here either. However, he does keep the ball in the yard generally with a 1.04 HR/9. As of now, he’s not a guy you can start each and every time with confidence down the stretch but is playable in the proper matchup. Even in the neutral park factors of the Rogers Centre this week, facing Atlanta is not one of these matchups. I may take a shot this week in a 16-team dynasty where I can squeeze out one more start by placing him in an RP slot rather than a setup man (SP/RP eligible in this league).
After this, he sees the Braves again in Atlanta, Red Sox and Yankees back at home, followed by Yankees again in the Bronx and TB at home. Not one streamable matchup in the bunch; maybe TB to end the season. So, to answer your second question, I would hold Nova and Sanchez.
Ivan Nova – Has been on a roll of late, as he’s now remarkably yielded just four earned runs over his last 44.1 innings, bringing his ERA down from 5.49 to 4.47 over that stretch. His rest-of-year schedule lines up as such: @ATL, @CLE, KC, @SEA, @DET, DET.
Anibal Sanchez – Has a higher win probability, pitching for the Nats; should face Marlins twice over last five weeks of the season; like Waguespack, Sanchez had a dominant start of one-hit ball @CHC last time out; touched up a bit recently, so people fearing regression, yet only three runs or less allowed to all teams not named Braves or Brewers over the last 30 days. Plus, he did this…
WEEKLY REPORT CARD
- Francisco Lindor (4/16, 2 R, 2B, HR, 2 RBI) & Paul Goldschmidt (5/21, 3 R) / Dexter Fowler (4/18, R, 2B, HR, 8 RBI, 4:4 BB:K) – Top BvP Hitters *Stats as of 8/24 12:15 AM
- Justin Verlander (9 IP, 2 H, 2 ER , 2 HR, 0 BB, 11 K, 8:10 GB:FB, 99 PIT, CG Loss) – Top Arm
- Brendan McKay (2.0 IP, 3 H, 7 R, 3 ER, 2 HR, 3 BB, K, 5:4 GB:FB, L) – Top SP Stream of the Week
Writing this on a late Friday night/early Saturday morning, depending on your perspective, doesn’t allow a full week evaluation, but we can see where each player is going for the week. Our BvP hitters have contributed solid but certainly not gaudy numbers with two games left to play. Fowler tore up Gio Gonzalez as expected, while Lindor and Goldy had a few base-knocks in their favorable matchups. Goldschmidt had an excellent day last Sunday, so hopefully, we are in store for another Sunday afternoon pot of Gold.
For more on Justin Verlander, see Parting Shot at the end of the article.
McKay has been the biggest disappointment so far this week. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. The player’s weekend uniforms, aka Spy vs. Spy, were the biggest disappointment. Either way, McKay was exposed by Seattle of all teams. With a 5.55 ERA and a 41:12 K:BB through eight starts this season, McKay has shown flashes of his promising yet unpolished talent. TB felt he needed to rediscover the strike zone, optioning him to Triple-A Durham after this first start and robbing us weekly leaguers of a second start. I felt his 3.96 FIP and 4.01 xFIP would indicate better days to come, and they still will, after a little more seasoning in the minors. He’ll be back shortly after Sept. 1. “The rose goes in the front, big guy!”
Overall Letter Grade: B-
MLB GAME BREAKDOWN GRID
WEEKLY INTERLEAGUE OUTLOOK
Leading off a short interleague schedule as we make our way into September is the Beltway Series. Not much to see here, as you were already sitting Nunez in weekly leagues due to five games on the docket. JBJ usually sits in National League parks with J.D. Martinez starting in RF and Mookie Betts shifting to center. Duvall and Joyce are obvious candidates to DH, but with Dansby Swanson set to return in the Toronto series, Atlanta will have more options. McCann may lose some at-bats, but with seven hits over his last 23, including five extra-base hits, two home runs and seven runs batted in, I’m settin’ & forgettin’ with my main man McCann!
TOP TWO-START PITCHERS
IN ORDER OF PREFERENCE
- Justin Verlander (TB, @TOR)
- Walker Buehler (@SD, @ARI)
- Charlie Morton (@HOU, CLE)
- Luis Castillo (@MIA, @STL)
- Lucas Giolito (MIN, @ATL)
- Sonny Gray (@MIA, @STL)
- Mike Minor (@LAA, SEA)
- German Marquez (BOS, PIT)
- Yu Darvish (@NYM, MIL)
- Kenta Maeda (@SD, @ARI)
- Michael Pineda (@CHW, @DET)
- Andrew Heaney (TEX, BOS) – This one could blow-up on us, especially since these teams just saw Heaney, but he’s dominant when he’s on his game. Slim pickens from here on out.
- Marcus Stroman (CHC, @PHI)
- Mike Fiers (@KC, @NYY)
- Caleb Smith (CIN, @WSH)
- FADE: Miles Mikolas (@MIL, CIN) – Mikolas is not the same pitcher that reappeared on the MLB landscape in 2018. He is back to his giving ways after a brief stretch of redemption, coughing up five earned runs in each of his last three starts. These matchups are murder and very well may send Mikolas back to the Japan Central League.
- LAST STAND: Julio Teheran (@COL, CHW) – Mets absolutely tore Julio a new asshole two starts ago, and just when Teheran was feeling the flow with three or fewer runs allowed in eight-straight games. But that’s what he does to us. Know this full well by having him in dynasty since 2012. He lulls us into a false sense of security so we set and forget him like an ace… then, the fuckening occurs! He had a superb rebound start vs. Miami (7.0 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 9 K, W), but that’s Miami at home and not Rockies in Coors Field. I wouldn’t blame ya for skipping this start or fading altogether in weekly leagues, but I’m making a last stand in my weekly league for the two-starts. Hopefully, he does just well enough in Denver to make it to ChiSox, a matchup similar to Miami.
For a detailed breakdown of more two-start pitchers who may be available on your waiver wire, check out Vlad’s FAAB Values!
STARTING PITCHER RANKINGS FOR AUG 26 – SEPT 1
MLB INJURED LIST REPORT
Besides names that may already be listed, here is the latest injury news on a few of your fantasy studs.
Corey Kluber (internal oblique strain) had an MRI after suffering an ill-timed injury in his last Triple-A rehab start before rejoining the Tribe’s rotation. The image revealed the strain, and he’s been shut down from throwing. Kluber will be re-evaluated in two weeks to determine whether he’s ready to resume his rehab program. So close!
Oh look, it’s another Carlos Correa (back) injury. What do ya know? Correa forever frustrates his fantasy owners and has only 72 games played (270 ABs) this season after appearing in 110 in 2018. Out of the lineup since 8/20 and on IL, Correa underwent an MRI exam 8/22 which showed no structural damage to his back. So we got that going for us, which is nice. Astros hope to get him back first week of September.
Tommy Pham (wrist; DTD) left the game early on 8/23 after jamming his wrist during one of his at-bats. He has been battling this wrist for the better part of a week and may have been removed since the score was a lopsided 7-1. Definitely check back with Pham’s health status before locking in your lineups.
Nick Markakis (recovering from fractured left wrist) may be soon to join his aforementioned teammate Swanson with the big club. Manager Brian Snitker said Markakis is ahead of schedule in his recovery and will be able to return to action in mid-September, earlier than initially expected. #PlayoffStash
Jon Gray (left foot fracture) is the latest casualty of 2019. He underwent surgery 8/23 and is expected to have a normal offseason. It’s Gray mission to be available for the beginning of the 2020 season. Shame, as he was starting to finally round into form and was piecing back together a fine season. He’ll finish the year with a 3.84 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and 150:56 K:BB across 150 innings… another one bites the dust.
POV SPECIAL – TOP SP STREAM OF THE WEEK
→ Adam Plutko, RH CLE (@DET, @TB) – Plutko isn’t one of the sexy names from Cleveland’s rotation, but his 6′ 3″ / 200 lb frame embodies the workman’s effort he puts forth each and every start. He has pitched six innings in each of his last three starts and at least six frames in four out of his last six trips to the hill. Two stats that jump off the page are his 1.164 WHIP and 1.40 BB/9. Let me put that another way. In 77.1 innings, he has walked 12… good for a 3.8% BB-rate. He’s just not offering many free passes, which has been keeping him out of trouble lately. It may all be due to him shaving his mustache, which was straight out of Super Troopers.
When it comes to hits allowed, Plutko’s BABIP stays relatively low in comparison to BAA (.257 BAA / .249 BABIP, 2019; .258 / .258, MLB 2018 – 76.2 innings; .158 / .198, AAA 2018 – 84.2 innings). He induces a large number of ground balls when he’s on his game, nearly 30% clip in 2019. When he’s off, his issue has been the long ball. This season, his HR/9 is a whopping 2.21 and his HR/FB rate stands at 15.4%. This was a big issue in his start against TB back on 5/23; he served up four taters in five and a third innings pitched.
Detroit also has five home runs against Plutko over two starts, and they are an underwhelming offense, to say the least, especially now without Nick Castellanos. However, these starts too came earlier in the year – within six weeks apart in June and July – and Plutko has been a different pitcher as indicative above. In those same six starts, he has allowed six home runs total to some fierce competition (@NYM, @NYY, @MIN, LAA, KC home and home – I’m a hockey guy too, FYI). After seeing him first-hand control a streaking Mets lineup for the better part of six innings, as he didn’t allow a hit until the third inning and was only under duress for a small stretch in the fifth inning in which he gave up three hits and two runs, I have confidence Plutko will flip the script in this two-start week.
For more streaming options on the mound AND at the plate, visit Vlad’s FAAB Values!
Top Hitter BvP for the Week (minimum 20 ABs)
- Daniel Murphy vs. Julio Teheran – 8/26 (10/30, 6 XBH, HR, 6 RBI, 8:6 BB:K, .333/.474/.600/1.074)
- Jake Lamb vs. Jeff Samardzija – 8/27 (7/20, 5 XBH, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 5:3 BB:K, .350/.480/.850/1.330)
- Anthony Rizzo vs. Jacob deGrom – 8/29 (10/23, 2 XBH, HR, 4 RBI, 2:4 BB:K, .435/.480/.609/1.089)
- Ryan Braun vs. Jose Quintana – 8/30 (11/41, 7 XBH, 5 HR, 10 RBI, .268/.302/.683/.985)
- Jose Abreu vs. Dallas Keuchel – 8/31 (8/21, 3 XBH, 2 HR, 3 RBI, .381/.381/.714/1.095)
- Marcus Semien vs. J.A. Happ – 9/1 (9/21, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 2:2 BB:K, .429/.478/.857/1.335)
- Justin Smoak vs. Justin Verlander – 9/1 (6/23, 4 XBH, 3 HR, 7 RBI, .261/.370/.696/1.066)
- Corey Dickerson vs. Marcus Stroman – 9/1 (10/27, 5 XBH, 2 HR, 3 RBI, .370/.393/.704/1.097)
First, a few congratulations are in order. . .
Ronald Acuna Jr. joined Mike Trout (2012) as the only players under 22 to record a 30-30 season. Furthermore, Acuna is only the fourth Brave to ever join the club (Hank Aaron, Dale Murphy, Ron Gant – twice). Truly elite company. Next up,40-40? He needs four more home runs and 10 more steals in 32 games remaining. Doable, but he’ll have to ramp up his stolen base attempts, which isn’t 100% up to him and trickier that way. Braves have sent him more post ASB, with 18 stolen base attempts in 30 games compared to only 16 in the 90 games before the break. Only four players have posted 40-40 seasons (Alfonso Soriano, Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, Jose Canseco). Mostly elite company.
Another milestone was achieved in the same game as Acuna’s. Jacob deGrom became the first pitcher in MLB history to homer and strike out 13+ TWICE in the same season. Always left to fend for himself.
Lastly, I tried to interview Justin Verlander about this past week’s wonderful, yet, losing effort, but I wasn’t allowed in the Houston locker room. All jokes aside, you just can’t exile reporters who have given you a hard time in the past. It’s not professional and you’re keeping a man from doing his job. Instead, don’t answer his questions. Shame on you, Astros, but I still love Verlander as much as Kate Upton loves going topless.