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…
Ahh, the smell of the fresh-cut grass. Chalk lines are being drawn, and the pine tar can. . . You know what, screw this long-winded introduction, with the only purpose being to pad my word count so homie can get paid. If you followed my column last season, did you even read about Mans, Ray and I around the metaphorical campfire? Maybe the first time you read my MLB Weekly Preview, but no, you did not. That’s not what YOU paid for when you subscribed to FantasyGuru. So, no more long-winded intros, just the meat and potatoes. Come to the table, fam; dinner is served!
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. Plus, new this season: PITCH OR DITCH!
Scroll right to the part of the MLB Weekly Preview you need in just one click!
Below, you will find an interactive table of contents. Simply click on the section of the article you wanna read and boom.. presto… alakazam.
Is It Time for Team Bullpens?
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. Closers are a dime a dozen. No disrespect to the brave men who bear the burden of getting the hardest outs of the game, the last three. The modern game of baseball analytics has snuffed out the once glorious “Rolaids Relief Man.” I’m a proponent for Ray’s suggestions of Solds or have Team Bullpens similar to Team Defenses. Both of those options would be better than the current system, which usually drains hours of research and our FAAB budgets only to be tossed upside-down when a manager decides to play matchups. How dare you try to win a baseball game? The volatility of the position is insane. You can see this in the many charts Ray draws up in the two links above. Today, I’m gonna compare the preseason ranks of team bullpens and where they lie today.
Ridiculous, right? Team Bullpens won’t work based on these numbers despite being able to get saves, holds and other counting stats no matter which arm tallies them. The drawbacks Ray references compound this. Solds would be a good solution, yet the fragility of a closer’s physical and mental health often keeps the guys we target from getting the positive results desired, no matter how tabulated. As the first three weeks have shown, EVERY bullpen has its peaks and valleys. So, I’m going to offer a third suggestion. Warning: It’s not going to be popular. Quick, run and get your earmuffs and cover your children’s eyes. My suggestion?
It is. . .
Eliminate the RP slot FOR – EV – ER!
Let’s call it like it is. To continue the previous analogy with fantasy football, the closer has become the placekicker. And even with kickers, you can predict with almost a certainty who will have the opportunities to score you points from week-to-week. Both positions are team/management reliant and endure many challenges out of their own control. When they blow it, we curse them. If they do their job, we say, “eh.” When they are dominant (i.e. Josh Hader), five or fewer teams possess them, creating an unfair advantage. So, give em the heave-ho! I’d much rather have extra SP slots to cram more starts in a given week, general P slots or another utility/corner infielder/outfield slot. Just one man’s opinion. You can send hate mail to…
As always, if there are any requests for information I can provide or a player/team you would like me to cover in this section of the MLB Weekly Preview, drop a line in our VIP Chat Room or hit me up on Twitter, @Rob_Povia.
MLB GAME BREAKDOWN GRID
Schedule Update Notes
~Announced by MLB 8/6/20; credit MLB.com
STL @ DET & DET @ STL
- The four-game home-and-home series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Detroit Tigers, which was originally scheduled for August 3rd-6th, will be rescheduled as two doubleheaders.
- The first doubleheader will be played on Thursday, August 13th at Comerica Park beginning at 1:10 p.m. ET (although, now this is looking in doubt, according to Tigers beat reporter, Jason Beck).
- The second will be played on Thursday, September 10th at Busch Stadium beginning at 2:15 p.m.
STL @ CWS & MIL @ CHI
- As a result of the STL-DET doubleheader on Thursday, August 13th, the originally scheduled game between the Cardinals and Chicago White Sox on Thursday, August 13th, which was originally set to be played at “Field of Dreams” in Dyersville, Iowa, will move to Friday, August 14th at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago beginning at 8:10 p.m.
- As a result of the STL-CWS game moving to Friday, August 14th, FOX has added the Milwaukee Brewers at Chicago Cubs game on Thursday, August 13th. The start time has been changed from the originally scheduled 4:05 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.
MIL @ DET
- As a result of the STL-DET doubleheader on Thursday, September 10th, the originally scheduled 7:10 p.m. game between the Tigers and Brewers at Comerica Park on Wednesday, September 9th has been changed to a 1:10 p.m. start.
STL @ MIL
- The three-game series between the Cardinals and Brewers, which was originally scheduled for July 31st-August 2nd, will be rescheduled as part of three doubleheaders during scheduled meetings between the Clubs later in the season on Monday, September 14th and Wednesday, September 16th at Miller Park, as well as Friday, September 25th at Busch Stadium with the Brewers serving as the home team for Game 1 of the doubleheader.
PHI @ TOR
- The Toronto Blue Jays will host the Philadelphia Phillies for a doubleheader on Thursday, August 20th at Sahlen Field in Buffalo beginning at 1:05 p.m. These games will make up the games originally scheduled for Friday, July 31st and Saturday, August 1st.
- As part of rescheduling the Phillies at Blue Jays series, the following game time adjustments have been made for Wednesday, August 19th:
- TOR @ BAL, originally scheduled for 7:35 p.m., will now start at 1:05 p.m.
- PHI @ BOS, originally scheduled for 7:05 p.m., will now start at 1:35 p.m.
- The Blue Jays and Phillies will also play a doubleheader on Friday, September 18th at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia beginning at 4:05 p.m. This has been changed from the originally scheduled 7:05 p.m. start. The Blue Jays will be the home team in Game 1, which will be a make-up for the game originally scheduled for Sunday, August 2nd. The Phillies will be the home team in Game 2, which will be the originally scheduled game for that day.
PHI @ MIA
- The three-game series between the Phillies and Marlins, which was originally scheduled for August 4th-6th, will be rescheduled during the Clubs’ scheduled four-game series in September. The teams will play seven games against one another in a five-day span.
- Thursday, September 10th – 6:40 p.m. start (regularly scheduled game)
- Friday, September 11th – 5:10 p.m. doubleheader (regularly scheduled game and make-up from Tuesday, August 4th)
- Saturday, September 12th – 6:10 p.m. start (regularly scheduled game)
- Sunday, September 13th – 1:10 p.m. doubleheader (regularly scheduled game and make-up from Wednesday, August 5th)
- Monday, September 14th – 4:10 p.m. start (make-up from Thursday, August 6th)
BOS @ MIA
- As a result of the Phillies-Marlins series from Thursday, September 10th-Monday, September 14th, the Red Sox-Marlins series originally scheduled for Monday, September 14th-Wednesday, September 16th at Marlins Park has shifted to Tuesday, September 15th-Thursday, September 17th.
- The Tuesday, September 15th game and Wednesday, September 16th game will each begin at 6:40 p.m.
- The Thursday, September 17th game time is a 1:10 p.m. start.
WSH @ MIA
- The three-game series between the Marlins and Washington Nationals, which was originally scheduled for July 31st-August 2nd, will be rescheduled across two different scheduled meetings between the clubs later this season.
- Friday, August 21st-Monday, August 24th in Washington:
- 8/21 – 6:05 p.m. (reg scheduled game)
- 8/22 – 4:05 p.m. Doubleheader (home & home; reg & makeup 7/31)
- 8/23 – 12:35 p.m. (reg scheduled game)
- 8/24 – 6:05 p.m. (reg scheduled game)
- Friday, September 18th-Sunday, September 20th in Miami:
- 9/18 – 5:10 p.m. Doubleheader (reg & makeup 8/1)
- 9/19 – 6:10 p.m. (reg scheduled game)
- 9/20 – 1:10 p.m. (reg & makeup 8/2)
- Friday, August 21st-Monday, August 24th in Washington:
NYY @ BAL
- The game between the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles, which was originally scheduled for Wednesday, August 5th at Camden Yards, will be made up as part of a doubleheader on Friday, September 4th beginning at 5:05 p.m.
BOS @ PHI
- The two-game series between the Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday, September 8th and Wednesday, September 9th has been changed to a doubleheader on Tuesday, September 8th beginning at 4:05 p.m. The second game of the doubleheader will not begin any earlier than 7:05 p.m. since it is an FS1 national telecast. Both clubs will have Wednesday, September 9th as an off-day.
Did you get all of that? Figuring out pitching, for mangers and fantasy managers alike, is gonna be fun! Update: PIT @ STL series has been postponed. For more, read here.
WEEKLY INTERLEAGUE OUTLOOK
For (at least) the 2020 season, every game will see a designated hitter with the universal DH rule. As a result, this section of the MLB Weekly Preview loses its regular functionality, but I felt compelled to continue documenting interleague series for informative purposes. #KnowledgeIsPower
What are your thoughts about the new universal DH rule? Should MLB consider adopting it on a permanent basis? Or is it merely fodder for the unusual 2020 season? Let us know your thoughts in the chat room or on Twitter, @FantasyGuruSite.
*Rivalry Series: Battle of the Beltways, Freeway Series, Bay Bridge Series
TOP TWO-START PITCHERS
IN ORDER OF PREFERENCE
- Max Scherzer (@NYM, @BAL) Monitor Health – See IL Report
- Patrick Corbin (@NYM, @BAL)
- Luis Castillo (KC, PIT)
- Aaron Nola (ATL, NYM)
- Kyle Hendricks (@CLE,
- Zack Wheeler (BAL, NYM)
- Ryan Yarbrough (@BOS, @TOR)
- Sean Manaea (@LAA, @SF)
- Adrian Houser (MIN, @CHC)
- Robbie Ray (@COL, SD)
- Dallas Keuchel (@DET, STL)
- Ross Stripling (SD, @LAA)
- Dustin May (SD, @LAA)
- Lance McCullers Jr. (SF, SEA)
- Josh Lindblom (MIN, @CHC)
- Bonus: Jon Lester (@CLE, MIL)
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 AUGUST 10 – 16
MacKenzie Gore & Luis Patiño
Joey Lucchesi was demoted this past week with San Diego optioning the 27-year-old to the alternate training site by the 28-man roster deadline. Lucchesi had worked himself out of favor by allowing five runs on 11 hits and two walks in 5 ⅓ innings through his first two starts in the rotation. A hasty decision, some may say. Ok, I’m saying it. Although, the logic can be understood. In the sprint that is the 2020 season, the room for error is marginal. Furthermore, Padres have a plethora of young arms who are chomping at the bit to pitch in the bigs. Namely, left-handed pitcher and future ace, MacKenzie Gore.
After some juggling, San Diego’s rotation is set up until 8/11 when a firth starter is required. Here, Padres have some options. Option A – Opener/BP Game; Option B – Cal Quantrill, or Option C – Gore may be called upon from alternate site, University of San Diego. The likeliest options are A & B; Quantrill is already on the active roster of 28, as is Luis Patiño, who could be used as an opener and even give the Pads some innings (last pitched two innings on 8/5 with mixed results). Patiño started 48 games over three minor league seasons and is a rotation star in the making.
A right-handed hurler with the arm of a golden god, his pitches include a four-seam fastball that can jump to 99mph and an arsenal of secondary pitches (slider and sinker). Padres sent him down at the end of summer camp with instructions to trust his stuff and attack the strike zone more aggressively. He did just that to earn the call-up by improving each time he touched the ball.
The 20-year-old Patiño is ranked as the Padres’ second-best pitching prospect behind left-hander MacKenzie Gore. Yet, Gore may not be ready to fill the vacancy in the rotation. Padres beat reporter, AJ Cassavell, points out the following in his recent article:
“Patiño earned a spot on their pitching staff; Gore hasn’t yet. Patiño was one of the standout performers during Summer Camp. Gore, meanwhile, struggled to find the strike zone. That’s not to say the Padres think any less of Gore’s future. He’s merely started slowly after a four-month layoff. Gore is a 21-year-old with a nasty four-pitch mix and a huge ceiling. But he needs to pitch his way into the big leagues. Right now, Gore is part of a group of prospects — which notably also includes breakout prospect Ryan Weathers — who are options to be called up later this season if they perform at the alternate training site.”
“Will Patiño (take the open rotation spot)? Patiño surrendered a Joc Pederson homer in his debut on 8/5 but was otherwise solid. If he continues to impress, the rookie will almost certainly be given a start at some point. Patiño’s first few starts might look different from the rest of them. The Padres envision Patiño as a workhorse at the front of their rotation in the future. But if he starts in 2020, he would probably do so in a shorter burst — perhaps only a time or two through the opposing batting order.”
Gore (AA, A+): 20 GS / 100.3 IP – 9-2, 11.96 K/9, 2.54 BB/9, .65 HR/9, 1.80 ERA, 3.08 FIP, 3.46 xFIP, 44.6 GB%
Patiño (AA, A+): 19 GS / 94.2 IP – 6-8, 11.70 K/9, 3.68 BB/9, .41 HR/9, 2.65 ERA, 2.77 FIP, 3.54 xFIP, 38.4 GB%
Watch, after this full breakdown, Cal Quantrill is sure to start 8/11. And that’s the way the cookie crumbles.
MLB WEEKLY PREVIEW | INJURED LIST REPORT
Besides names that may already be listed, here is the latest injury news on a few of your fantasy studs. I will update you early in the week. Initially, there was NO MORE 10-DAY IL FOR PITCHERS, but then COVID-19 hit, and we are back to the 10-day for pitchers… understandably.
Josh Donaldson (Calf) – To the surprise of no one, Donaldson was placed on the injured list with a calf issue for the umpteenth time in his career. Manager Rocco Baldelli said earlier in the week this wouldn’t be a major issue, but it certainly is chronic… and not of the Snoop Dogg variety. Donaldson had missed the past seven games, and it’s unknown if he’ll require more than the minimum 10 days. Ehire Adrianza and Marwin Gonzalez should see increased playing time in Donaldson’s absence.
Sticking with the Twinkies, you may have noticed Luis Arraez had not been in the lineup lately until 8/8. He had been experiencing “very minor knee soreness” per Baldelli but was good to go. Still, a situation to monitor going forward.
Corey Seager left 8/7’s game with lower-back discomfort. LA doesn’t appear to be particularly concerned, especially after a scan on his back came back clean. Expect Chris Taylor to fill in for him, but Seager shouldn’t be out of the lineup long. The shortstop is considered day-to-day while he works through this latest issue (previous quad issue).
Max Scherzer (Hamstring) completed a successful bullpen season on 8/8 and is in line to make his next start on 8/11 @NYM. A minor tweak of the right hamstring before his previous start forced him out after one inning against the very same Mets. It’s like déjà vu all over again. More good news for the Nationals, who have Stephen Strasburg making his long-awaited debut vs. Baltimore.
George Springer (Right wrist strain) hasn’t been seen on the diamond since being pulled in the seventh inning on 8/6 with a wrist strain. Good news is both initial x-rays and follow-up MRI proved no fracture present. The hope is Springer will avoid the IL and return to play soon.
Rich Hill (Shoulder) – Hill resumed throwing and is expected to throw a bullpen session during the upcoming three-game series in Milwaukee. He could be available for next weekend’s series against the Royals, Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
Nick Senzel (Groin) isn’t expected to return to the lineup before 8/11, Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports.
Joe Musgrove (Right Ankle Soreness) was scratched on 8/9 and the severity of the issue is not yet clear, but it cost Musgrove at least one start. Continue to monitor. Steven Brault started in his place.
Justin Verlander (Right forearm strain) is “not progressing as quickly as he’d like,” manager Dusty Baker said. Possibly, the early reports of Verly being out for the season may not have been premature. It’s not known if he has started throwing yet.
Giancarlo Stanton (Left hamstring tightness) – So, we end where we began… with a repeat IL List offender. Stanton was removed from a 5-3 loss to the Rays on 8/8, and New York immediately placed him on the injured list. Not a good sign. “I’m hurting for him,” manager Aaron Boone said. “I know what he’s done to be here. His play speaks for itself. Hopefully, it’s something that doesn’t end up keeping him down too long.”
POV SPECIAL – TOP SP STREAM OF THE WEEK
→ Tyler Alexander, LH DET (CHW, CLE) – Alexander has been awarded the great honor of joining Detroit Tigers’ rotation. Ok, I’m being facetious, but Alexander is deserving of a starting role. He has demonstrated a great BB/9 – 1.17 in 60.1 Major League innings / 2.11 in AAA, 2019 / 1.27 in AAA, 2018. Striking out 10 Cincinnati batters, including nine in a row to begin a relief appearance, will have peeps going six-to-midnight on FAAB! Setting a Major League record for most consecutive strikeouts by a reliever and tying the American League record for consecutive strikeouts by any single pitcher (set by the Tigers’ Doug Fister in 2012) will do that. Not so fast! Alexander does NOT possess as big of a K arm as he showed. His K/9 with Detroit in 2019 was 7.88, and his highest minor league mark was 9.88.
Author’s Note: Bringing up Doug Fister’s name is reminiscent of my best fantasy baseball name of all-time: Fister Furbush! Owning both Fister and Charlie Furbush, it was a gimme. Did I say, best name? It may be tied with The Uggla Muggla Fugglas.
Alexander’s HR/FB is a concern (15.9%, AAA 2019; 13.2%, MLB 2019), as are matchups at first glance. “But Pov, I thought he was your stream of the week. What’s with the negativity,” you may be saying to yourself. Here comes the positivity! If you look closer at the matchups, Chicago has been scuffling after a hot start – only nine runs in the past five games – and Cleveland has the ninth-worst OPS versus left-handed pitching at .664. With great supportive stats and Ray & Vlad’s seal of approval, Alexander makes for a fine stream. Speaking of Vlad…
For more streaming options on the mound AND at the plate, visit Vlad’s FAAB Values!
PITCH OR DITCH
The key to winning in daily fantasy baseball leagues is determining which starting pitcher should start in your lineup and who should sit on your bench. Or worse yet, which MLB hurler belongs in the land of The Walking Dead (aka waiver wire). Every day, I will update the article with the daily slate of men toeing the rubber. Recommended starts will be marked in Bold Green – sits will be marked in Bold Red – and the “fool’s gold” will be marked in Bold Yellow and should be cast to the waiver wire. Of course, the size of your league matters… that’s what she said! Come back on each day when pitchers are set in stone. If you play in leagues with daily roster locks, you’re going to wanna check back with the MLB Weekly Preview …on the daily!
Sunday, August 16, 2020
(Record, ERA / xFIP / SIERA)
Max Scherzer (1-1, 2.75 / 2.78 / 3.51) @ John Means (0-1, 7.71 / 5.18 / 4.07)
~Means is set to return after the passing of his father. He will honor him with a masterful performance. I feel it in every bone of my body.
Rick Porcello (1-2, 5.68 / 4.22 / 4.73) @ Zack Wheeler (2-0, 2.89 / 4.62 / 5.24)
~A different kind of narrative, but former Mets LOVE sticking it to their former employer. Expect the Phillies to continue pissing on NY and the airhorns to be blasting.
Yonny Chirinos (0-0, 1.04 / 4.80 / 5.08) @ Matt Shoemaker (0-1, 4.86 / 4.67 / 4.81)
Adam Plutko (1-1, 2.45 / 4.23 / 4.49) @ Michael Fulmer (0-0, 6.35 / 5.50 / 5.22)
Robbie Erlin (0-0, 9.00 / 4.67 / 3.06) @ Elieser Hernandez (0-0, 2.79 / 5.09 / 4.08)
Dakota Hudson (0-1, 8.31 / 4.65 / 4.20) @ Dallas Keuchel (2-2, 3.04 / 3.67 / 4.01)
Justus Sheffield (1-2, 5.27 / 4.09 / 4.44) @ Lance McCullers Jr. (2-1, 6.10 / 4.19 / 4.24)
Brady Singer (1-1, 4.50 / 3.77 / 4.11) @ Randy Dobnak (3-1, 0.90 / 3.84 / 4.05)
Josh Lindblom (1-0, 5.68 / 3.22 / 3.37) @ Jon Lester (2-0, 1.06 / 5.74 / 5.34)
~You could start Lester if the winds are once again blowing in at Wrigley Field in order to maximize his hot start. But, as you can see from his xFIP & SIERA, the ballon is about to burst. If trailing or needing stats, start em, but I’m picky with my SPs on Sundays. Brewers are improving offensively… Ditto for Lindblom.
Kolby Allard (0-0, 1.00 / 4.91 / 4.43) @ Jon Gray (0-2, 6.41 / 5.43 / 5.43)
Mike Fiers (1-1, 6.86 / 6.42 / 6.13) @ Logan Webb (1-1, 2.81 / 4.81 / 4.83)
Dustin May (1-1, 2.75 / 3.88 / 4.16) @ Julio Teheran (0-1, 13.50 / 7.95 / 6.81)
Garrett Richards (1-1, 3.74 / 4.30 / 4.47) @ Robbie Ray (1-2, 10.59 / 6.18 / 5.41)
Chris Mazza (0-0, 0.00 / 4.57 / 4.78) @ J.A. Happ (0-1, 10.29 / 9.83 / 9.14)
A socially distanced walk-off celebration for the ages…