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.
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.
CHAMPIONSHIP WEEK STRATEGIES
6.5 months.. 26 weeks.. 182 days.. 4,368 hours… it all comes down to this. Weeks of hard work come to the apex. In roto leagues, the aim is to maintain our strong categories while making any possible last-ditch advancements in those we minimally trail. For head-to-head and points leagues, some may complain it is idiotic to have a full season of fantasy baseball come down to scrapheap relics of what our teams may have looked like a mere few weeks ago. But that is the definition of a fantasy baseball champion. He/she takes lemons, makes lemonade and douses the competition with clever play after clever play. I argue, H2H formats will keep fantasy baseball alive.
Here are some strategies for baseball’s final week:
- Drop your studs who’s outlook is trending towards shutdown. In your redraft and shallow keeper leagues, don’t be afraid to cut bait with guys who got you here. Last I checked, there were ZERO fantasy points given for nostalgia. Ketel Marte, who we will discuss more in a bit, is having all kinds of back problems from playing 92 games in center field on the new artificial turf at Chase Field. Upcoming CT scan results and Arizona falling out of the playoff hunt should spell the end of his season*. Edwin Encarnacion (oblique) fits the same bill, only with hopes of playoff ABs which helps no one. Mookie Betts was trending in the same direction but may be back in action come next week. He’s a hold, for now, but he’s still not the same Betts with the foot soreness and Boston out of contention.
- Keep your eyes peeled for studs who have been cast away. Often is the case, a team in your league who is now out of contention dropped an injured Giancarlo Stanton or Jose Ramirez. These particular players hold even greater value at this time. Stanton, who is already back in action in more ways than one, will be looking to prove he can stay healthy and prime himself for the playoffs. Ramirez is a bit trickier, as he is now only 25 days removed from hamate bone surgery (normal recovery time: 5-7 weeks). But Jose is one tough SOB! He’s been seen hitting in the cage, and hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo said his swing looks good, particularly driving the ball from both sides of the plate. With no fear of reinjury, it’s all about how much pain he can take. He’ll play this week with Cleveland vying for WC.
- Utilize every roster spot… EVERY DAY. This one may seem obvious, yet, I consistently see managers missing the mark down the stretch. With time dwindling, every stat counts and there are positions which often don’t get utilized in daily leagues. For example, if your league has five SP spots, why not slide a Jesus Luzardo or Austin Pruitt – two multi-inning primary pitchers – in the spots without an active starting pitcher. Domingo German would have also been a great option for this role, as the Yankees were limiting his innings. However, due to an MLB investigation into his potential involvement in a domestic violence incident, he is on administrative leave for up to seven days (aka cut bait as per strategy #1). On the offensive side of the ball in dailys, slide players in late-night games towards utility spots or middle/corner outfielders where you have more options to replace with a starting player.
- Put the same work and effort into this last week as you did the 26 prior. You have a gorgeous team; you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t. But don’t rely on your greatness. Last time I checked, ego never won me a fantasy championship. Enforcing my reign as champ? Yes, you will hear how I kicked your ass in the finals till next March. But be humble for now. Keep the normal routine (plus some of these tips you find appealing). Don’t let off the gas… not now! Ignore the distractions and dominate.
*UPDATE: Marte was diagnosed with a stress reaction in his back and will be shut down for the rest of the season
MLB WEEKLY PREVIEW FANTASY AWARDS
100 R, 44 HR, 97 RBI, 76 XBH, 30 SB
.342 ISO, .441 wOBA, 173 wRC+, 7.8 WAR
212 IP, 19-6, 283 K, 40 BB, 2.50 ERA, 0.79 WHIP
3.28 FIP, 183 ERA+, 2.97 SIERA
12.01 K/9, .212 BABIP
97 R, 32 HR, 92 RBI, 77 XBH, 10 SB
.264 ISO, .405 wOBA, 150 wRC+, 7.1 WAR
MLB GAME BREAKDOWN GRID
WEEKLY INTERLEAGUE OUTLOOK
Austin Riley, in all probability, will bat DH for the Braves when they visit Kansas City for two games in the final week. Riley hit his first home run since August 2nd on 9/19, driving a 94mph fastball on the outer black for an oppo taco. His bat seems quick again and full of that juice we saw in May and the early part of June. However, Atlanta only plays five games in the final week, rendering Riley as a bench tool for daily leagues. I can see him making noise in the playoffs for Atlanta. Franmil Reyes will lose out on three games worth of ABs, as he sat all three games in the Tribe’s most recent National League series. Just another example of how the MLB commissioner’s office hates us fantasy diehards.
If I said it once in the MLB Weekly Preview, I’ve said it a hundred times… interleague schedules need to be examined and rectified.
TOP TWO-START PITCHERS
IN ORDER OF PREFERENCE – You may notice a few top names from playoff-positioned teams omitted from my list. For example, Max Scherzer is scheduled to pitch the 2nd game of a doubleheader on 9/24, which would put him on track to start the last day of the season. The only way he sees the mound that day is if Washington needs to win Game 162 to make the playoffs. The NL Wild Card is coming down to the wire, but smart money says the Nats make the playoffs and Scherzer’s second start comes in the one-game showdown.
- Patrick Corbin (PHI, CLE)
- Aaron Nola (@WSH, MIA)
- Noah Syndergaard (MIA, ATL)
- Eduardo Rodriguez (@TEX, BAL)
- Madison Bumgarner (COL, LAD)
- Jake Odorizzi (@DET, @KC)
- Sonny Gray (MIL, @PIT)
- Steven Matz (MIA, ATL)
- Aaron Civale (@CHW, @WSH)
- Adam Wainwright (@ARI, CHC)
- Zach Eflin (@WSH, MIA)
- Dinelson Lamet (LAD, @ARI)
- Dylan Bundy (@TOR, @BOS)
- Alex Young (STL, SD)
- Brett Anderson (@LAA, @SEA)
- FADE: Jon Lester (@PIT, @STL) – A shell of his former self with a 5.48 ERA, 1.92 WHIP and 13 ER in 21.1 September innings. Pittsburgh is a team we usually target, and St. Louis may be sitting regulars for the playoffs, but Lester’s numbers this season are awful against these two teams: PIT – 4 GS, 19.2 IP, .306 BAA, 8:15 B:K, 3.20 ERA, STL – 2 GS, 11 IP, .298 BAA, 7.36 ERA.
- FADE HARDER: Caleb Smith (@NYM, @PHI) – Not a good spot for a struggling pitcher facing two teams fighting for their lives. Smith was one of my favorite pitchers during a bulk of the season, but he is sucking wind. He will double his innings from last season (77.1) with a career-high 144.1 before these two starts. Furthermore, the 23 ER in his last six starts has the basepaths ablaze.
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 SEPTEMBER 23-29
MLB INJURED LIST REPORT
Besides ALL of the names already listed, here are a few more fantasy studs. I will update the MLB Weekly Preview early in the week.
Jean Segura (hamstring) was pulled on 9/19 in the sixth inning after coming up lame while busting out an infield RBI single. Originally diagnosed as a cramp, Segura was sent for more tests, which did not reveal anything more serious. After being in the original lineup the next night, he was a late scratch due to a new ankle injury. You can’t make this shit up… ’tis the season!
Gleyber Torres legs buckled underneath him as he fielded Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s fourth-inning infield hit in New York’s 4-3 loss to the Blue Jays. Torres remained in the game until the seventh inning, when he was removed after reporting what manager Aaron Boone described as “weakness in his lower legs.” Seems more like 140 games played talking than an actual injury, but stay tuned.
After going through a dead arm period, Brad Hand “looked himself” in a bullpen session and has been deemed fit to deploy by manager Terry Francona. All tests have come back clean, and the issue was attributed to a gradually lower arm angle as the season progressed. After last pitching on 9/8, I wouldn’t expect save chances right away. Also, this could be a decoy for the Tribe’s competition, which wouldn’t be beyond master strategist Francona. In either event, I’m holding Hand – see what I did there – since any stats/points from RP slots are valuable at this crucial time. Especially if your league counts Holds or SV+HD, you should hold onto Hand as well till the very end.
POV SPECIAL – TOP SP STREAM OF THE WEEK
→ Michael Wacha, RH STL (@ARI) – Wacha, Wacha, Wacha! Floating between the starting rotation and long relief, Wacha’s monotone season was far from what he had hoped. He was looking to make a serious rebound from a shortened 2018 season. The mark was largely missed, however, his last three games have shown the talent is still held within (13 IP, 3 ER). Going back a bit further, his best start of the season came five starts ago against the Reds (7 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2:7 BB:K). So what changed?
Wacha’s cutter has always been his bread and butter. A real worm killer, the pitch generates an extreme number of ground balls. He lost the feel for a while, but it is back with a vengeance (28 ground balls in those aforementioned three games; eight against Cincinnati). Wacha’s strikeout totals tend to waiver, but in his higher K games, his circle change gets batters out in front – the change of pace averages 86mph in comparison to his fastball topping out at 93-94mph. Anytime a pitcher has a 7-10mph difference between the two, success is soon to follow.
Arizona has scored 29 runs over the last seven days (16th – MLB) and have a slash line of .223/.294/.363/.657. Despite a nine-run onslaught the other night, it appears the D-backs are packing it in for the winter. Falling further out of Wild Card contention only means less motivation these final few days. Wacha and the Cards have plenty to play for this week. Did I say his best start of the season came five starts ago? What I meant to say is this game will be his season’s masterpiece, and I have a funny feeling something special may happen on this night… get him in your lineup where available (Yahoo! – 18% owned; ESPN – 12%; NFBC – 56%).
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)
- Kike Hernandez vs. Madison Bumgarner – 9/29 (20/40, 7 XBH, 3 HR, 8 RBI, .500/.524/.825/1.349)
- Matt Chapman vs. Marco Gonzales – 9/28 (11/23, 6 XBH, HR, 4 RBI, .478/.478/.870/1.348)
- Freddie Freeman vs. Noah Syndergaard – 9/29 (9/20, 5 XBH, HR, 6 RBI, .450/.476/.850/1.326)
- Daniel Murphy vs. Jeff Samardzija – 9/25 (10/22, 4 XBH, HR, 7 RBI, .455/.455/.773/1.227)
- Jose Abreu vs. Matthew Boyd – 9/27 (12/27, 3 XBH, 2 HR, 4 RBI, .444/.444/.704/1.148)
- J.T. Realmuto vs. Stephen Strasburg – 9/26 (10/22, 3 XBH, .455/.478/.636/1.115)
- Xander Bogaerts vs. Dylan Bundy – 9/29 (10/33, 5 XBH, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 5:8 BB:K, .303/.395/.576/.970)
- Wil Myers vs. Robbie Ray – 9/28 (6/25, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 10:10 BB:K, .240/.457/.480/.937)