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.
MLB Trade Deadline has passed. We now (somewhat) have a clearer picture of which teams are in contention and which are not. Moving forward, as we approach the fantasy playoffs, it is important to identify players who will continue to have something to play for and who are already looking forward to golfing in Myrtle Beach or some shit like that. When it comes to making difficult roster decisions for your starting lineup, returning IL players or adding key pieces, teams who are still in contention will have the players you want. These players will produce a higher probability of fantasy production, even if they are slightly less talented than an option on a team with nothing to play for left on their schedule.
Starting pitchers on non-contending teams may feel this effect in the win column, but if you are rostering these pitchers, wins were never really a reliance. The peripheral numbers will remain true down the stretch, as every pitcher is looking to garner complete-game shutouts or no-hitters every time they take the mound. If either a hitter or pitcher is looking to make an impression for next season, this too can place a feather in their cap for fantasy production.
With the rest of the weekly previews that remain this season – seven in total, tear – I would very much like to use this section of the article to answer YOUR fantasy baseball questions leading up to Championship week. Drop me a line on Twitter or throw out your questions in the Chat Room (see links below).
Weekly Report Card
- José Ramírez (3/18, 2 XBH, 2 RBI, 0/8 BB/K this past week), Francisco Lindor (8/20, 5 R, 3 XBH, HR, 3 RBI, SB) and Jason Kipnis (6/19, 4 XBH, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 0 K); Ender Inciarte (6/17, 3 R, 4 XBH, 2 SB); Red Sox bats (.289/.326/.505/.831)
- Nolan Arenado (6/20, 4 R, 2B, 4 RBI) and Justin Turner (4/19, 2 HR, 4 RBI) – Top BvP Hitters
- Justin Verlander (7 IP, 2 H, 13 K, 5/5 GB/FB, W @CLE) – Top Arm
- Steven Matz (3.2 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, BB, 4 K, L) – Bold Strategy Cotton play
- Reynaldo López (5.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 6 K, ND vs. NYM) – Top SP Stream of the Week
***Special News Bulletin*** Whenever Pov plays a guy from the writeup in DFS (i.e JRam), their game goes to shit. Never fails… and just when I finally shed the “Povia Cover Boy Jink!” Let me pause from referring to myself in the third person and being a complete douche to tell you the rest of the hitters we were on performed admirably.
Onto the arms, where my man-crush JV straight out dealt on the road in Cleveland. At the time of this writing, he still has yet to face Seattle at home (8/4). I’m liking the chances for a sequel which won’t disappoint, especially with the Mariners no-hit the day prior by four Houston pitchers, led by Toronto castoff Aaron Sanchez. Change of scenery, you may venture to guess? Nope, Seattle is horrendous and suffered a combined no-hitter for the second time in a month. Reynaldo had his prototypical game vs. the Mets: lots of baserunners, wild, lots of strikeouts, early hook. But New York is apparently in underdog mode and finally playing winning baseball, so I will take these numbers. Like Verlander, Lopez has one more start this week (@PHI 8/4).
Went against my instincts by starting Matz against Pittsburgh again, and it bit me. Matz cruised for the first three innings, but Pit finally figured him out in what would equate to the fifth time through the order (including both games). After pitching the Maddux, Matz gave up 5 ER in 3.2 innings (all in the 4th) and was pulled mad early. This is why starting a pitcher twice in a seven-day period vs. the same team (even the woeful Bucs) is not a good idea. Professional hitters will eventually figure out what a pitcher’s tendencies are. I should know better, though, we weren’t *riding or dying* with Matz.
Overall Letter Grade: B+
MLB GAME BREAKDOWN GRID
Tampa Bay finds themselves ½ game ahead of the A’s for the second wild card spot while trying to make up ground on New York within the division. These Rays have a lot to play for and should continue throughout August at least. Setting their stingers for a death blow, Rays will face two openers in bullpen games and the following traditional arms:
- Jacob Waguespack (Fun to stream in good matchups, but this isn’t one of them despite TB’s 27% K-rate. Waguespack should be on SNL cause he’s a “Not Ready for Prime Time Player.”)
- Trent Thornton (5.23 ERA, 1.495 WHIP, .267 BAA vs. .318 BABIP, 36.5% HH%)
- Marco Gonzales (Certainly not scary during this up and down season; pitching well over his last two starts, but due for a blow-up; 4.21 ERA / 5.00 xFIP / 4.94 SIERA)
- Matt Wisler (Coming out of bullpen to make the start; 4.95 ERA, 1.423 WHIP, 1.53 HR/9)
Austin Meadows is primed for a nice week. If you are looking for available Rays hitters to stream, new teammate Eric Sogard and/or Willy Adames are available in roughly half of all NFBC leagues and even less in OCs. Sogard has wasted no time acclimating to his new club, going 5/13 with one double, two home runs and six RBI (.303/.367/.497 with career-high 12 HR on the year).
Athletic week in Chicago? Oakland will kick off the week with interleague play vs. the Cubs, then off to the Southside. Traveling from the West Coast can prove challenging, but it helps to be able to stay in virtually one place for six games. Oakland will face some good arms in Lucus Giolito & Kyle Hendricks but some suspect ones in José Quintana, Dylan Cease (who will be good) and the aforementioned López. Even Giolito and Hendricks can be touched up, so I wouldn’t shy away from starting Khris Davis or Matt Olson. If you are looking for someone to stream, Mark Canha could be available in your league (roughly 38% owned). Canha is hot (11/36, HR, 4 RBI, 4 R, 2 SB in his last 10 games) and slots in well for both corner or middle infield.
Don’t look now, but Brian Anderson is showing that rookie year magic where he finished 4th in the Rookie of the Year voting. Blasting two home runs (including a Grand Salami) over the last week and hits in seven out of his last 10 games, his Marlins are set for an eight-game week. Some challenging arms await, but some others who can be touched up:
- Jacob deGrom
- Walker Lockett
- Zack Wheeler
- Steven Matz
- Dallas Keuchel
- Julio Teheran
- Mike Soroka
- Max Fried
I plan on rolling Anderson out in my dynasty leagues and even in main event. In leagues of 15 or 16, I’d also consider Miguel Rojas and Jon Berti, who has been tearing it up with hits in seven of eight games (11/30, 6 XBH, HR, 3 SB).
Paul Goldschmidt made me look like a genius last week – tough to do – and posted stellar stats even for a five-game week. The good times will continue to roll for Goldy this week, and Matt Carpenter will be looking to join the party, as he’s set to come off IL. Here’s who they are scheduled to face:
- Tony Gonsolin (5.63 ERA, 1.125 WHIP)
- Clayton Kershaw
- Dustin May (4.76 ERA, 1.588 WHIP, 4.76 K/9)
- Chris Archer (Pure dogshit – 5.35 ERA, 1.421 WHIP)
- Joe Musgrove (Up and down season, mostly down – 40% HH%)
- Dario Agrazal (3.65 ERA, 6.20 xFIP, 5.80 SIERA)
Nick Castellanos will see a familiar foe in the Athletics to begin the week (as referred to above) and cap off the week with four games in Great American Ball Park. GAB is known to be a hitter’s park, and here are the park factors: 1.045 R, 1.205 HR, .996 2B, 1.047 3B. Singles are the only park factor that favors the pitcher, but Casty is no singles hitter. Blessed by a more formidable lineup around him, look for Castellanos to take flight this week!
WEEKLY INTERLEAGUE OUTLOOK
The only thing close to a rivalry series this week is the two-game Padres / Mariners matchup. They play for the “Vedder Cup” and the series has grown major heat in recent years. In the A’s / Cubs series, I expect Khris Davis to shift from DH to left field when the A’s play Cubs in Chitown, relegating Grossman to PH duties. Shohei will miss two games, while Pence, Choo and Mazara could rotate in the outfield. A returning and red hot Duvall is a natural DH, which will ensure Inciarte regular playing time as he continues to fill in for Nick Markakis. Buyer beware with Duvall, though, as his cold streaks are the stuff of legends. Wil Myers has picked it up over the last week since the trade deadline freed up outfield room for San Diego (8/23, 2 XBH, HR). If an owner in a daily league lost patience with Myers, you could swoop him up for when he starts. Two potential DH games will add to the ABs (see also BvP King).
TOP TWO-START PITCHERS
IN ORDER OF PREFERENCE
- Jacob deGrom (MIA, WSH)
- Charlie Morton (TOR, @SEA)
- Lucas Giolito (@DET, OAK)
- Max Scherzer (@SF, @NYM) – Could return as soon as 8/5, which would set up a two-start week; otherwise one start @SF on 8/7.
- Jose Berrios (ATL, CLE)
- Luis Castillo (LAA, CHC)
- Mike Soroka (@MIN, @MIA)
- Kyle Hendricks (OAK, @CIN)
- German Marquez (@HOU, @SD) – Did exit last start due to “full body cramping” so monitor this situation and get him some Midol.
- Jon Lester (OAK, @CIN)
- Max Fried (@MIN, @MIA)
- Zach Plesac (TEX,@MIN)
- Chris Bassitt (@CHC, @CHW)
- Jeff Samardzija (WSH, PHI)
- Jordan Yamamoto (@NYM, ATL)
- FADE: Jake Odorizzi (ATL, CLE) – The Odorific One put forth a sweet-smelling effort last time out, which may have many interested in streaming him this week, especially since he missed out on his second start this past week. But that was against Miami, and these teams are No Miami! Think I’ll pass.
- LAST STAND: Masahiro Tanaka (@BAL, @TOR) – I
expecthope Tanaka will rebound from his Boston Massacre when facing the Orioles and Blue Jays. After his start against Boston, where he served up 12 ER, Tanaka put forth not exactly a great but pedestrian effort vs. Arizona as a building block to get right. Baltimore and Toronto carry K-rates of 26.5% and 26.7% respectively. The young Blue Jays have been scalding hot, scoring the most runs in MLB over the last seven days (55). However, most of that production has been on the road, where Toronto has better numbers (.248/.316/.415/.731 road; .220/.287/.418/.705 home). Being away from Yankee stadium could get Tanaka fully on track.
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 5–11
Jacob deGrom and the resurgent Mets return home this week, and I like the ace of the staff to handle business against Miami and Washington (a team deGrom has dominated in his career; 5-2 over the last three seasons with a 2.30 ERA, 15/74 BB/K and a .203 BAA in 54.2 IP). This is why he is my top arm this week, no homerism intended.
Clayton Kershaw passed Sandy Koufax on Dodgers’ K list. Walker Buehler also joined elite company by striking out 15 batters while offering zero free passes this past week; second time this year he’s had such an effort. The only two other pitchers to do that twice in a year: Doc Gooden and Pedro Martinez. Both have good matchups this week, even Kersh against the Red Birds. The Goldy / Kershaw battle will be interesting, but Kershaw has good BvP numbers vs. the Cards overall.
As you can see from the rankings above, pitching begins to get really thin as we move into the bottom third. Not sure if anyone has noticed, but the color code of the left-hand side does indicate a value for each pitcher. Green and its lighter shade are our money pitchers who we will rely on to win the given matchup. Blue pitchers are still solid but carry a certain level of uncertainty. Beige indicates the average arms of the week, while with orange and grey, things move toward the riskier and gambles with upside. When deciding who to roll out as we march towards the playoffs, stay in the colored areas that reflect your team. If you are cruising for a #1 or #2 seed, I would go no lower than beige. If you have ground to make up, then towards the bottom we go.
Speaking of which, my Bold Strategy Cotton play this week is Jeff Samardzija. The shark has been relatively good as of late, giving up two or fewer runs in five of his last six. Coincidentally enough, the strikeout rate has been up, while the walk rate has been down. This week, he faces pretty solid lineups in the Nationals and Phillies but gets them at home, where he has a lower ERA and BAA. Trusting a shark is risky, but that’s why it’s bold.
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.
- Edwin Encarnacion (fractured right wrist) became the latest victim to the Yankee injury curse after getting nailed in the wrist with a pitch during game one of the doubleheader vs. Boston. This shocked me, as initial X-rays were reported negative. More times than not, this type of injury does come with intense swelling, which could prevent a fracture from being detected. Upon further review, a fracture was indeed detected, and E5 now “hopes to be back in three weeks.” *Update: Aaron Hicks (elbow) joined his teammate on the IL 8/4 with a flexor strain issue. Surgery has been ruled out, avoiding the worst possible outcome that was being discussed. However, Hicks is now back on the shelf with no timetable for a return.
- Felix Pena (right knee sprain) looks to have fallen a major injury as he was carried off the field after landing awkwardly on first base. Pena had to lunge due to a high throw from Albert Pujols on the *old spring training play*, landing hard on his right leg as well as rolling the ankle. The full extent of Pena’s injury was not initially known after the game, but here’s hoping for a return before next spring training. How many blows can one rotation receive in a season? *Update: Diagnosed with a torn ACL. He’s slated to undergo surgery within the next few days and is expected to require 6-to-9 months to recover.
- Hyun-Jin Ryu (neck) doesn’t believe he will be on IL for very long. Hopefully expected to miss only one turn through the rotation, he was placed on the IL on 8/2.
- A pair of Twins, Byron Buxton (left shoulder subluxation; min 2-week IL stint) and Michael Pineda (strained triceps), were both placed on IL 8/3. The latter isn’t expected to miss much more than 10 days retroactive to 8/1, and the move seems cautious to me, as Pineda had Tommy John surgery just about two years ago. He will, at least, miss his next scheduled start Tuesday vs. Atlanta. Buxton, on the other hand, will require more time to first allow the soreness to recede, followed by rehab.
- David Dahl (high right ankle sprain) hit the 10-day IL on 8/3 after a bad-looking injury. He was carted off after his right leg buckled on a fly ball, and it did not look good. Manager Bud Black did not have a timeline for Dahl’s return but said it could be “several weeks.” This means more playing time for Raimel Tapia in left field.
- Robinson Cano (left hamstring strain) came up lame rounding first after stroking a double. Cano was rounding into form and becoming fantasy viable again. He had issues with the left quad earlier in the year, and is often the case, the opposing muscle may have been on *thin ice* in compensation.
- Corey Kluber (forearm) carries some good news for this week’s IL report. Kluber is scheduled to make his long-awaited first rehab start 8/8 with Triple-A Columbus. Especially of note, he bypasses a trip to a lower-level affiliate and instead heads directly to Triple-A. Possibly signals a shorter-than-expected rehab stint.
POV SPECIAL – TOP SP STREAM OF THE WEEK
→ Dinelson Lamet, RH SD (@SEA, COL) – Lamet has been working his way back from Tommy John surgery since he came off IL on the fourth of July. San Diego has been working the 27-year-old back slowly, averaging four and ⅔ innings in five starts. Before he went down 14 months ago, Lamet was electric with a 96mph fourseam fastball, 86mph wicked slider and a sinker which comes close to velocity of the fourseam with excellent downward movement. He threw his season-high pitch count of 88 last start and looks more than capable to shoot it to 100.
Back before the injury in 2017, Lamet had a K/9 of 10.94 in 21 trips to the bump along with a tidy 4.20 xFIP and a 109 ERA+. His problem has always been the long ball (1.42 HR/9 2017; 1.57 in 2019 so far). However, pitching in two of the best pitcher-friendly ballparks this week should help negate this. T-Mobile Park has an HR park factor of 1.019 – which is neutral – while his home field of PETCO Park carries a 0.907 factor in favor of the pitcher. I’ve already discussed how poorly the Mariners are playing, and in case you didn’t already know, targeting Rockies bats on the road is a thing.
I have both Lamet and Joey Lucchesi in a 16-team dynasty (multi-starter strategy hard at work) where I just got pushed out of 1st place in my division. Best believe I’m taking the gamble and rolling with Lamet over Looch due to the two starts.
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)
- Joey Votto vs. Kyle Hendricks – 8/10 (10/26, 5 XBH, 3 HR, 12/6 BB/K, .385/.579/.808/1.387)
- Brian McCann vs. Jake Odorizzi – 8/5 (13/31, 7 XBH, 3 HR, 10 RBI, .419/.514/.871/1.384)
- Starling Marte vs. Chase Anderson – 8/6 (15/34, 6 XBH, 2 HR, .441/.500/.765/1.265)
- Anthony Rizzo vs. Homer Bailey – 8/7 (11/28, 6 XBH, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 6/3 BB/K, .393/.514/.750/1.264)
- Wil Myers vs. Jon Gray – 8/8 (14/34, 7 XBH, 3 HR, 7 RBI, .412/.447/.794/1.241)
- Josh Donaldson vs. Jake Odorizzi – 8/5 (6/25, 5 XBH, 5 HR, 7 RBI, 5/9 BB/K, .240/.367/.840/1.207; see why I’m fading Odorizzi now?)
- Jason Kipnis vs. Kyle Gibson – 8/8 (14/34, 3 XBH, HR, 12/4 BB/K, .412/.565/.559/1.124)
- Eugenio Suarez vs. Jon Lester – 8/11 (12/37, 7 XBH, 4 HR, 10 RBI, .324/.366/.730/1.096)
Nelson Cruz amazed us with his second 3-HR game in 10 days! I knew his homers came in bunches, but that’s ridiculous! Cruz is the first Twins franchise player with more than one three-homer game in a season. He is also only the third hitter in MLB history with a pair of three-homer games within 10 days of each other, joining Doug DeCinces of the 1982 California Angels and Johnny Mize of the 1938 St. Louis Cardinals.