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 six 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). Let’s start with a question posed to me earlier in the week and examine how it turned out for any lessons.
@andrew.colarullo – Hey Rob, need one start this week out of these guys. I have Fiers (vs. HOU) but don’t trust that. I can pick up Reynaldo Lopez vs. Angels, Aaron Sanchez vs. OAK, Samardzija vs. D-backs, Teheran vs. Mets or Porcello vs. BAL. Those are the best options out there; it is a points league.
Allow me to start by copying and pasting what I wrote to Andrew on Twitter:
My lean is Teheran or Samardzija. I’d go Teheran. Mets bats are cooling down, as they’ve scored four or fewer runs in their last four, and their catalyst Jeff McNeil going down hurts their lineup. Coincidentally, Teheran hasn’t given up more than three runs since June 24th. He has been touched up by the Mets this season (13.1 IP, 19 H, 9 R, 8 BB, 13 K), but I like his chances to replicate his first start against them (6 IP, 6 H, R, 2 BB, 6 K). Shark has been on a nice run since July 1st, but D-backs have equally hit him well (11.1 IP, 14 H, 8 R, 4 BB, 5 K) and Chase Field is a hitter’s park. Shark has been better at home (Oracle Park is friendlier to pitchers): 3.27 home ERA, 3.82 road ERA; .217 home BAA, .231 road BAA.”
Hindsight being 20/20, this was the worst possible advice I could have given Andrew (Teheran’s miserable start: 1.1 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, HR, 3 BB, 2 K, 2:7 GB:FB, obvious L). But maybe, he choose to swim with the Shark (5.1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, HR, 2 BB, 4 K, ND)? Nope…
Well, you swayed me to the Teheran side.”~Andrew Colarullo
I felt my logic was sound; the numbers and trends did side with my argument. A couple of things I didn’t take into account:
- Weather – Game-time temp was 93° and the contest set up to be high scoring one based on Vegas projected totals. The weather set up more for the bats.
- Situation – Atlanta had just taken the 1st two games of the series in close fashion, and with the Mets desperate to cling onto Wild Card hopes, you know they were coming with guns blazin’. Seven runs in the 1st three innings showed us that.
- Luck – I saw Teheran’s 5.27 xFIP but thought we were good since his ERA was 70+ points lower at home vs. on the road (game was at SunTrust). Teheran’s luck ran out, as did Andrew’s and mine.
I put this question and review here to illustrate the extraneous factors that are important to consider as we move towards the home stretch. With the number of choices and pivots we need to make as September approaches, it’s these factors which will provide stability when we ride with lineups looking far different than the one we rode for a bulk of the season. How did Andrew’s other options fare, you ask?
- Mike Fiers – 6.0 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 4 HR, BB, 3 K, ND (Andrew and I were correct in fearing the Astros looming offense)
- Reynaldo Lopez – 5.1 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, HR, 2 BB, 6 K, L
- Aaron Sanchez – 5.1 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 4 HR, 2 BB, 3 K, ND
- Rick Porcello – 6.0 IP, 4 H, ER, 2 BB, 2 K, W
In the end, the correct answer was the fucking bastard who has been shitting on us all season… who knew? Against the Orioles, though, anything is possible. And when we are fighting for a playoff spot, personal biases need to be placed aside, real-life or fantasy-wise. Or there is always Door #3, to coin a TommyG term. Forget what you know and grab a guy like Logan Webb, Kolby Allard or Mitch Keller.
@cmine110 – H2H Points League, just got offered his T. Turner for my M. Muncy.. Good deal?
On the surface, this does appear to be a very good deal for you.
You get two years younger in Turner, which matters more if we are talking a keeper or dynasty league. Turner has roughly received 500 points on the season in 343 ABs. In comparison, Muncy has roughly netted 575 in 415 ABs. Per AB, that’s 1.46 FP for Turner and 1.39 for Muncy. Furthermore, Muncy is approaching his 35 home runs (career mark) of last season with 31 on the year. You have received a bulk of his power production already and now improve drastically in the hit department with Turner. Plus you add mucho to the steals department, and if worth multiple points in your league, this is a huge bonus with Turner swiping five bags in the last 14 games. Not to mention, Turner missed 39 games over a long IL stretch from 4/3 – 5/16, and his legs should be fresh heading into September.
Here are some questions which, depending on the answers, could help gain my final seal of approval. Does this deal fit a team need? Because, if you are stacked at 1B/Corner Infield but are weak at SS/Middle Infield, the deal just got that much sweeter for you. If you are already rostering the likes of Trevor Story, Xander Bogaerts or Ketel Marte and don’t have a comparable replacement for Muncy, why give up overall balance in this context, especially at this point of the season where roster management is crucial and points left on the bench are killers?
@JbWest – Is Edwin Rios someone to keep an eye on in dynasty? Don’t know much about him, opinions?
Rios was drafted by the Dodgers in the 6th round of the 2015 MLB draft out of Florida International University. He plays both corner infield positions and is LA’s #13 ranked prospect. Clubbing his way into the big league picture in 2017, Rios held his offensive performance from Double-A (.317/.358/.533/.891, 36 XBH, 15 HR, 17:69 BB:K in 306 ABs) to Triple-A (.286/.351/.522/.873, 105 XBH, 44 HR, 76:289 BB:K in 828 ABs across three seasons) and appears primed for an opportunity. Where that might come positionally will be the biggest issue, as Rios’ best fits with the Dodgers are blocked by established players. But down the road, which is what we are talking about here, I could see him at 3B in place of Justin Turner or with an AL team due to LA trading for some playoff piece in 2020.
Since being called back up on 8/6, Rios has batted .300 (6-for-20) with a double, two home runs and 13 total bases. He has shown a decent eye at the plate, walking four times in those 20 ABs, yet, he is still young and prone to chase some balls as well (7 K in same time frame is indicative of his 35% K-rate in Triple-A). He’s not someone I would rush out to roster – the K-rate and lack of opportunity hold barriers on the 25-year-old – but if you have the room to stash, do it!
WEEKLY REPORT CARD
- Freddie Freeman (4/18, 3 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 3:3 BB:K) and Matt Carpenter (3/16, 2 R, 2 XBH, HR, 2 RBI, 4:6 BB:K) – Top BvP Hitters
- Gerrit Cole (N/A) – Top Arm
- Trent Thornton (6.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, HR, 4 BB, 3 K, ND) – Top SP Stream of the Week
Both Freeman and Carpenter excelled against the pitchers we targeted in BvP King (Zack Wheeler / Anthony DeSclafani) but didn’t do a whole lot else during the week. While Carp’s home run did come off ADS, the two Freeman blasted did not come off Wheels (still, a 2-for-3 day). Both home runs were hit off of Drew Gagnon in mop-up duty two days later. Side Note – After giving up 4 HR in 1.2 innings, Gagnon is being treated for whiplash and PTSD.
I was so pissed when we missed out on Cole’s two-start week vs. ChiSox and A’s, but it is far better Houston exercised precaution with their ace – yeah, I said it. Better for him, better for the team, and most importantly, better for our playoff runs. Lose the battle to win the war. I’m taking an incomplete assignment on this one. For more on Cole’s health, see IL Report below.
Thornton didn’t perform badly, especially in points-based leagues, but the walks hurt as well as the lack of strikeouts. After a masterful performance against the Yankees, we were targeting Seattle with Thornton’s 8.61 K/9, but he didn’t quite live up to expectations. I was hoping for seven innings of two-hit ball with zero runs allowed, but that wasn’t in the cards due to the four free passes. This was kind of a blah start; it didn’t excite us much, but it didn’t hurt either… that’s what she said.
Overall Letter Grade: C
MLB GAME BREAKDOWN GRID
Boston and KC are highlighted in blue because on 8/22, on top of their normal weekly schedule, they will resume their game from 8/7 in Fenway, which was suspended by rain in the top of the 10th inning with the score tied at 4. #BonusBaseball
Watch for these milestones down the stretch:
- Christian Yelich is aiming to become the first 50-30 player in MLB history.
- Ronald Acuna Jr. set to become part of the 40-40 club.
- Justin Verlander is 77 strikeouts away from 3,000!
- DJ LeMahieu could make batting title history; no player in the modern era has ever won a batting title in both leagues.
- Hyun-Jin Ryu has a shot at the lowest ERA since the mound was lowered in 1969 – thanks, Bob Gibson. It will be tough to regain his sub 1.50 threshold (currently stands at 1.64); the current mark belongs to Dwight Gooden, who posted a 1.53 ERA for the 1985 Mets. However, Ryu’s 286 ERA+ is second-best for a qualified pitcher since 1901!
- The 13 homers vs. the Orioles by Gleyber Torres are tied for the second-most by a player against a single opponent in a season in MLB history (Roger Maris; record is Lou Gehrig’s 14 vs. Cleveland in 1936). #ItsAYankeeThing, although, Yelich has a shot at the title too, as he currently has eight home runs against St. Louis with 13 more matchups to go this season.
- Milestone achieved: First, Aristides Aquino became the fastest player ever to hit nine career homers, doing so in only 14 games. Two days later, Aquino made it 10 homers in 16 career games; nobody has reached double-digit dingers faster. Next game, Aquino hit his 11th HR. So, of course, he’s the fastest to 11 in history – that’s 17 games if you’re still counting.
- Just a cool fact: Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski’s career three-HR games – One. Grandson Mike Yastrzemski’s career three-HR games – Now also on!
Finally, it has been Raimel Tapia’s time to shine! Tapia has been locked into the lineup ever since David Dahl suffered a high-ankle sprain on 8/2. In 13 games since, Tapia has drawn 11 starts while posting a .414/.452/.552 slash line. Tapia isn’t known for power, and stolen bases have been minimal this season (4-for-7 during his random playing time), but we should start to see more attempts as he gets more comfortable playing every day. In either event, he’s good for batting average and OBP. I’m streaming him this week with seven games on tap and only one against a left-handed starter. All seven games are on the road, so we’ll miss out on that *home cooking* of Coors Field, but with Tapia’s high-contact/speed game, I can see a successful week in Arizona and St. Louis.
WEEKLY INTERLEAGUE OUTLOOK
The Bay Bridge Series may technically be the only interleague rivalry series this week, but that doesn’t mean bad blood is non-existent in some of the other series. Yankees/Dodgers go back to the Trolly Dodger days in Brooklyn. After the move to LA in 1958, the rivalry maintained since we’re still talking the two largest cities in the U.S. Mickey Callaway will have a go at it against his former club, and according to Terry Francona about his former pitching coach, Callaway was the reason they went to the World Series in 2016 – sorry, I just don’t see it. Phillies/Red Sox is always fun times, and some of your BoSox bats may lose a few ABs when they go onto San Diego. As you can see above in the table, Boston is joined by three other AL clubs who will have to do without the DH.
TOP TWO-START PITCHERS
IN ORDER OF PREFERENCE
- Clayton Kershaw (TOR, NYY)
- Stephen Strasburg (@PIT, @CHC)
- Shane Bieber (@NYM, KC)
- Trevor Bauer (SD, @PIT)
- Domingo German (@OAK, @LAD)
- Wade Miley (DET, LAA)
- Dallas Keuchel (MIA, @NYM)
- Kyle Gibson (CHW, DET)
- Cole Hamels (SF, WSH)
- Marco Gonzales (@TB, TOR)
- Chris Archer (WSH, CIN)
- Aaron Sanchez (DET, LAA) – Mostly for the first start; see more above.
- John Means (KC, TB)
- Zac Gallen (COL, @MIL)
- Dakota Hudson (MIL, COL)
- FADE: Steven Matz (CLE, ATL) – I’ve recommended Matz before in the past as both a bold and standard play, but that was in better matchups and days when homerism was allowed. As we discussed in MLB Mailbag, personal biases go out the window during the push for the playoffs. Many may be tempted by Matz’ most recent start against the same Braves team he will face in game two (6.0 IP, 2 H, ER, 1 BB, 5 K, ND at Atlanta), but we are smarter than that. Running through the same lineup four-to-five times over in a three-game span is doomsday for a pitcher. Indians will have to play an NL lineup, but they aren’t playing one against my starting fantasy pitcher!
- LAST STAND: Kyle Freeland (@ARI, @STL) – Dare you, go here? Only for the desperate, hoping Freeland pitches like it’s 2018 and you catch lightning in a bottle. Not horrible matchups, especially on the road. Giddy up, boys!
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 19–25
MLB 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 early in the week.
Gerrit Cole (hamstring) was a last-minute scratch from Game 2 of a doubleheader on 8/13 after the American League leader in strikeouts noticed discomfort while warming up in the bullpen. “We got some good news back that it’s not super serious,” Cole said. “So we’ll just take it day-by-day right now and kind of see how it responds to some treatment and some rest. Then get back out there as soon as we can.” Manager AJ Hinch expects Cole to slot back into the Houston rotation at the back end of the Detroit Tigers series, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reports. Presently, he would line up for an 8/22 start vs. Detroit when the Astros will need a fifth starter.
Fernando Tatis Jr. (back) is likely done for the year with a stress reaction in his lower back, according to manager Andy Green. Originally diagnosed with back spasms, San Diego wasn’t even sure an IL stint would be warranted or, at the very least, thought a quick 10-day trip to rest the rookie would do the trick. Not so much! Manny Machado and Luis Urias will likely split time at shortstop in Tatis’ absence, with Ty France seeing more playing time at third base.
How do you replace Tatis’ production? The good news is he was bound to regress coming down the stretch based on some peripheral numbers, so we won’t be tortured with deciding to start or sit him. We probably would have started him anyway based on the 20-year-old rookie bursting onto the scene in 2019. If Urias is available, obviously scoop him up for middle infield help, but that is probably unlikely. As is probably a red-hot Amed Rosario, but if they both are available, grab Rosario. If neither is available, you could do worse than selecting Jordy Mercer, who has been hot the last two weeks for the Tigers. In 15-16 team or dynasty leagues, you could stash Mercer’s eventual late-season replacement, Willi Castro.
Joey Votto (back) is still on the bench as of this writing, missing four-straight games with the tightness in his lower back. So far, the Reds are saying he is DTD, but a trip to the IL has not been ruled out, especially since he hasn’t even pitch hit. Stay tuned if you have to start him this week and have a backup ready. You will have to do the same for his teammate, Jesse Winker, as he too is having back difficulties. He also will miss his fourth straight, but his injury didn’t pop up till 8/17. His issues may be less to do about his back and more to do with the aforementioned Aristides Aquino. *UPDATE: Votto was placed on the 10-day injured list, eligible to return Aug. 25.
Ketel Marte (WTF, another back issue) was a late scratch from 8/17’s contest when some lower-back tightness rose. Manager Torey Lovullo expected him to be back in the lineup on 8/18, but Marte missed again. He was available off the bench, which suggests he could be nearing a return. *UPDATE: Marte is starting in center field and hitting second 8/19 against the Rockies. This is great news for all owners, especially those in weekly lock leagues.
Sean Doolittle was just placed on the 10-day injured list Sunday with right knee tendinitis.
The latest IL news comes for Chris Sale (left elbow) after being placed on leave for 10 days due to some inflammation. He will be seeking a second opinion from ::DON, DON DONNNNN:: Dr. James Andrews, which is never good to hear. Hopefully, we didn’t just lose our second fantasy stud for the year this week.*UPDATE: Chris Sale was told by Dr. Andrews he will not need Tommy John surgery on his left elbow, according to a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan. According to Passan, Andrews confirmed the initial diagnosis of inflammation. This is the good news. He however will still likely miss the rest of the 2019 season, as he was treated with a platelet-rich injection. He will be shutdown and re-evaluated in six weeks. At least he won’t be gone for 2020 too!
POV SPECIAL – TOP SP STREAM OF THE WEEK
→ Brendan McKay, LH TB (SEA, @BAL) – Yup, I already heard ya. McKay is long gone in your 15-team NFBC or home dynasty league. This one goes out to all the 10- and 12-team managers, who may not have to go as deep as we normally go here. McKay is roughly 30-65% owned in these type of leagues so he could be available for this sweet ass two-start week. The matchups are beautiful – Camden Yards is a smidge scary – and McKay has sparkling FIP (3.96) and xFIP (4.01) numbers to counterbalance his elevated ERA (5.08). Furthermore, a 10.69 K/9 and 3.90 SIERA has me going from six-to-midnight. McKay is a special athlete and wave of the future along with other *hybrids* Shohei Ohtani and Hunter Greene. I really like his durability for the stretch run as well as that 94mph fastball and 82mph curve.
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)
- Francisco Lindor vs. Jakob Junis – 8/23 (15/29, 7 XBH, 3 HR, 10 RBI, .517/.517/1.000/1.517)
- Paul Goldschmidt vs. German Marquez – 8/22 (10/26, 6 XBH, 4 HR, 8 RBI, 4:6 BB:K, .385/.484/.923/1.407)
- Buster Posey vs. Cole Hamels – 8/20 (13/24, 6 XBH, 2 HR, 6 RBI, .542/.560/.958/1.518)
- Dexter Fowler vs. Gio Gonzalez – 8/20 (11/24, 5 XBH, HR, 3 RBI, .458/.480/.792/1.272)
- Jose Altuve vs. Andrew Heaney – 8/25 (10/25, 4 XBH, HR, RBI, .400/.423/.640/1.063)
- Albert Pujols vs. Zack Greinke – 8/23 (11/32, 7 XBH, HR, 3 RBI, 3:4 BB:K, .344/.389/.625/1.014)
- Jason Heyward vs. Stephen Strasburg – 8/25 (15/40, 5 XBH, HR, 4 RBI, .375/.432/.550/.982)
- Manny Machado vs. Sonny Gray – 8/20 (8/24, 3 XBH, HR, 6 RBI, 2:4 BB:K, .333/.357/.542/.899)