In the following weekly preview, we have a game breakdown for all 30 MLB 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 First Half Glance
Welcome back from the All-Star break, my peeps! While on break, instead of spending time with family for some much-needed R & R, I found myself studying first half stats and trends. Don’t know about you, but I have ofttimes found setting my first-week rosters for the second half of the fantasy baseball season as redux of opening the season. In years past, you might have even found me after the break being pulled out of Wrigley Field’s ivy, asking, “What year is it?” To avoid this *start over* for us all, here is a synopsis of stats which popped off the page so that we are all adequately prepared to keep up forward momentum into baseball’s second half.
If we travel back to this time last year, no hitter has been better than Christian Yelich. From the second half of last season to date (147 games), Yelich has scored 124 runs, driven in an additional 134 runs, launched 56 balls out of the yard and compiled percentages of .736 slugging, 1.176 on-base plus slugging and 10.4 wins above replacement according to Fangraphs (fWAR). That is just fucking sick.
Can it be maintained is the million-dollar question. If you are a Yelich truther, you’re owning him for the long haul, especially in dynasty leagues. And I’m 100% behind your decision… But, if you wanna get creative, I’ve seen the ebb and flows of a given hitter’s season, let alone one’s career, far too many times. Numbers rise and fall, even for great hitters like Yelich. The haul of players an owner could pull in from selling high, madonn’! My personal belief? Sell high in redraft leagues to strengthen overall balance for the playoff push and stand pat in dynasty formats.
Can’t have a much better break than Pete Alonso, but what else is new? The 24-year-old rookie first baseman had an incredible 1st half: 30 HR, 68 RBI, 57 R, .280/.372/.634/1.006. The home run total tied a club record for most by a player in the first half (Dave Kingman, 1976). He also tied a club rookie record for extra-base hits in a season at 53; Mets have 70 games remaining. Most impressively, the RBI total set an NL rookie record for most by All-Star break. Then Polar Bear hit a two-RBI base hit in the Midsummer Classic, which cut the AL lead to a single run, and became the 1st Met to win the derby (Darryl Strawberry was co-winner in 1986).
All I see here is a young player going 120 MPH, game in, game out. As a fan, you love that player on your team. As a fantasy owner, you have to expect the crash. Dog Days, they are a-coming, and how many times have you seen a player either win or go deep in a derby only to see the bat slow up and/or take on some holes? Answer: Plenty! At the end of the day, Alonso is going to go on and have a Rookie of the Year season. However, I feel we have received a large portion of his 2019 fantasy value. I again stand pat in dynasty formats (duh) but am shopping him in redraft leagues.
- Ian Kennedy, RHP, Royals – Working as a full-time reliever for the first time in his 13-year career, Kennedy has been… fantastic, actually, with a 3.18 ERA, posting a 41/7 K/BB ratio in 34 innings.
- Starling Marté, OF, Pirates – Monthly OPS has gone from .641 to .789 to .882 as his strikeout rate has declined from 20% to 18% to 14%.
- Domingo Santana, OF/DH, Mariners – Already has 18 homers while hitting .281/.352/.496, thanks to a hard-hit rate in the 85th percentile — and his red-hot June (.295/.375/.554) made him one of the 30 best hitters in MLB last month.
Weekly Report Card
Before the break, I recommended Austin Voth as my top SP stream, facing off against Kansas City in the comforts of Nationals Park. At the time, KC had scored the 8th fewest runs in MLB over the previous seven days, yet, plated four against Voth by the time there was one out in the fifth. Voth did strike out six KC batters in the same time frame but also walked three. Luckily, the Royals bullpen coughed up the lead and let Voth off the hook. By game’s end, KC scored seven total runs to win in extras. Maybe they hit a hot streak? Nope, their slash line actually decreased since I advocated Voth (.241/.292/.313/.604). Just a bad call by yours truly.
Voth was sent back down to minors as Washington approached the break. He will be called back up to face the Orioles in Baltimore on July 16 or 17. Maybe I was just a week too early, as I will be going back to the well once again. Baltimore has a team slash line of .222/.294/.394/.688 the previous seven games before the break.
We took our last stand with Nick Pivetta, who was scheduled to have a two-start week (@ATL, @NYM). Unfortunately for those in weekly leagues, he only saw the start in Atlanta and was taken advantage of like a dirty stayout with runners on base (5.2 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 2 HR, 1 BB, 4 K). If not for the pair of three-run homers, he actually would have had a solid performance. Facing off this week against the Dodgers in Philly, Pivetta is officially off my radar for now. However, it would be wise to keep a lifeline out when Philadelphia sees weaker opponents (i.e. @DET 7/23-24, SF 7/30-8/1, CHW 8/2-4).
Two of the top hitters I was on last week were Aaron Judge (3/21, 3 XBH, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 3 BB/10 K) and Juan Soto (7/21, 2 XBH, HR, 4 RBI, SB, 5 BB/3 K). Judge killed us in batting average and strikeouts but came through with the long ball. Soto, however, maintained his torrid ways and took it up a notch, successfully contributing to all categories and scoring lots of points in those formats. If we played the pieces surrounding these sluggers, i.e. Brett Gardner, we were rewarded for identifying weak pitching matchups. Gardner went 8/22 with four extra-base hits; three of which went out of the yard. Add two swiped bags and four rib-eye steaks, and Gardner had a stellar week.
Overall Letter Grade: C-
MLB GAME BREAKDOWN GRID
Hear ye, hear ye! Starteth all ye Yankee of York, for thy shall all murder the ball of bases henceforth this week – ok, Shakespear has never been my bag. With seven games in the Bronx all week long, the visiting Rays and Rockies pitchers’ may get whiplash from the balls flying. Tough tests vs. Charlie Morton and seesawing Blake Snell loom, but otherwise, the matchups are tasty! And let’s face facts; when the Yankees welcome in a team chasing them for first place in the AL East for four games, it can easily go from a 6.5 game deficit to 10.5 games.
Christian Vazquez has been a revelation at the plate this year (.299/.332/.520/.852, 27 XBH, 14 HR, 41 RBI). With popping stats like these, I probably should have mentioned him in the intro so I’ll just do it now. Always known for his defensive skills and popular with his pitching staff for catching a good game, this season, Vazquez has found balance to his game and regular at-bats because of it. Speaking of balance, his lefty/righty splits are fairly close: .307 AVGvs.L / .296 AVGvs.R, 5 HR in 75 ABvs.L / 9 HR in 179 ABvs.R, .914 OPSvs.L / .826 OPSvs.R. And these are the arms Boston is scheduled to face this week:
- Trent Thornton (4.85 ERA is right around his xFIP of 4.72, 3.9 BB/9, 1.48 WHIP, .263 BAA vs. a BABIP of .321)
- Derek Law (Opener, likely followed by Thomas Pannone or Joe Biagini.)
- Aaron Sanchez (135 ERA+ and 5.57 SIERA is no bueno.)
- Clayton Richard (6.23 ERA, 6.39 FIP, .296 BABIP, 3.74 BB/9, 1.59, 137 ERA+… do you need more?)
- John Means (John Means means business. Hopefully, Sandy Leon gets the start but not likely on a Friday night.)
- Andrew Cashner (Cash has been rocking it like it’s 2013, often shouting, “News Team Assemble!” No, not really shouting per se, but I could read his lips. Both of these points are false, as his recent string of luck has been a facade according to a 4.88 xFIP that is a full point higher than his ERA.) *Update: Cashner traded to Boston. If you can’t beat em. . .
- Asher Wojciechowski / Gabriel Ynoa (No matter who the O’s throw out there, either arm is mediocre at best. If Woj throws well enough in his scheduled start 7/16 vs. Washington, he likely goes against Boston as well. Yeah, that’s a Woj Bomb on a different level!)
Following a theme of Sox backstops, James McCann is 8/28 in his past seven starts with 3 RBI and two runs scored. The 29-year-old catcher has actually been more successful on the road this season (.342/.397/.532). Lo and behold, the ChiSox are on the road all week long, and McCann will look to keep current trends alive. Add three potential lefty-starters (.989 OPSvs.L / .414 wOBAvs.L) and an opener equates to a nice recipe for a dominant week!
Greg Allen should warrant some looks this week, as the switch-hitter has been on a bit of a hot streak, including a 4/6 performance just before the All-Star break. Tac on three triples and a home run in his last eight contests and Allen makes for an interesting flier, especially against some weak pitching from Detroit and KC. At the very least, he is a good source for stolen bases.
I absolutely looooove Freddie Freeman this week, facing upwards of SIX right-handers. Not that it matters much, as Freddie is an equal opportunity masher, but the splits still favor the lefty/righty matchup (1.014 OPSvs.R, .870 OPSvs.L, .414 wOBAvs.R). The park factors and potential prime hitting conditions are the real appeals here. Atlanta travels to Milauwkee and then return home to face the Nats. Fierce arms in Brandon Woodruff, Patrick Corbin and (potentially – see IL report) Max Scherzer await Freeman, but solid overall BvP numbers help his cause. Fellow lefty Nick Markakis and switch-hitting Ozzie Albies will come for the ride.
Some say the Cardinals are the Yankees of the Senior Circuit, and this week, they would be correct. Just as I wrote about New York, you are going to wanna jam ALL of your Cardinal bats into your lineup. Just take a gander at what arms they will be facing:
- Joe Musgrove (Roller coaster ride this year)
- Dario Agrazal (Agrazal has long been one of the team’s top 30 prospects but has never really gotten inside the top 20 prospects due to a relatively low K/9 rate (5.73). Surprising to see a 6’2”, 240 lb man as such a soft-tosser. According to Brooks Baseball, Agrazal’s fourseam fastball and sinker sit in the low 90s, while his most used pitch – 84 MPH slider – and changeup leave much to be desired.)
- Chris Archer (5.70 FIP, 4.57 SIERA, 126 ERA+, 43.4% HH%)
- Tanner Roark (Bad)
- Tyler Mahle (Worse)
- Luis Castillo (Stud)
- Anthony DeSclafani (17 HR allowed this season shows zero #JerseyPride)
Alex Dickerson was on the bench 7/13 for San Francisco from the back tightness he began to experience the day prior. He has had back problems in the past, which could cause a lengthier ride on the pine. Shame, as Dickerson had been riding a nice mini-hot streak with two home runs and hits in four-straight games before his back tightened up on him. If his back cooperates in time, Dickerson’s team has eight games this week and four in Coors Field. If not, I know of plenty of Giant bats just sitting on your waiver wire who could use a good home. San Fran also returns to Coors Field on 8/2-4 as well as a trip to Philly the series prior. A one-week trip could turn into a nice Summer Rental.
WEEKLY INTERLEAGUE OUTLOOK
Only one rivalry series this week with the Beltway Series, although, this may be more of an audition than it is a rivalry. Nats could use some bullpen help in Mychal Givens or even more pop with Trey Mancini. Don’t tell that to Kendrick, Zimmerman and Matt Adams, who would all lose even more ABs. These cast of characters will gain a few in this two-game series. The only other series of note for fantasy is Rockies/Yankees. This should be a really fun three-game set with lots of plot lines. Rockies have started Desmond as their DH in American League parks, which will offer an AB-starved Raimel Tapia playing time for the weekend series. This kid will be fun once (if) he gets a starting role. DJ will host his former team, and you know he’s dying to give them a Bronx Cheer.
TOP TWO-START PITCHERS
IN ORDER OF PREFERENCE
- Clayton Kershaw (@PHI, MIA)
- Walker Buehler (@PHI, MIA)
- Lucas Giolito (@KC, @TB)
- Luis Castillo (@CHC, STL)
- Blake Snell (@NYY, CHW)
- James Paxton (TB, COL)
- Kyle Hendricks (CIN, SD)
- Jack Flaherty (PIT, @CIN)
- Brandon Woodruff (ATL, @ARI)
- Zack Wheeler (@MIN, @SF)
- Lance Lynn (ARI, @HOU)
- Dylan Cease (@KC, @TB)
- German Marquez (SF, @NYY)
- Griffin Canning (HOU, @SEA)
- Chris Paddack (@MIA, @CHC)
- FADE: Max Fried (@MIL, WSH) – Tough assignments this week for Fried, who is coming off an 11-hit, 5 ER performance against the lowly Marlins.
- LAST STAND: Rick Porcello (TOR, @BAL) – Disaster of a season for Porcello. No surprise here, as I’ve always thought he flat out sucks. He does pull 40 and 50 burgers out of his ass and could hit the century mark with these two matchups. If you can stomach the stench, go for it!
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 JULY 15-21
Let’s begin this section by acknowledging the magnificent and truly awe-inspiring. What Felix Pena and Taylor Cole accomplished is a myth from fairy tales. If I hadn’t witnessed what Dee Gordon and the Marlins did in their first game back in Miami after Jose Fernandez’ death, I may be more skeptical. After all, there have been 13 combined no-hitters in MLB history; this is not a first. However, teammates still love each other like family even in a dog-eat-dog world and game up for a lost compadre. And then, there is divine intervention. With the whole team donning Tyler Skaggs’ #45, Angels not only no-hit Seattle, they did so with the largest run differential in the AL (13 runs) since at least 1938 (Yankees vs. Cleveland). Halos completed no-no just hours before what would have been Skaggs’ 28th birthday. The night culminated with players covering the mound with their 45’s.
Don’t know about you, but I need to get my ass to church! Back to the fantasy advice…
We really see the Multiple Starter Strategy at work this week. The top 2 two-start pitchers both reside in Chavez Ravine, and they are one of two pairs of pitchers in the top-15 of two-steppers (Giolito and Cease). There could have been three, but Andrew Heaney just fell off the list to pair with Canning. Based on Heaven in their corner, I would certainly roll them both out this week.
Gerrit Cole will try his hand with fate when he takes on God’s team. It doesn’t seem to matter who the mighty right-hander is facing lately; he has been mowing them all down and becoming a quiet Cy Young candidate, already amassing 183 strikeouts and a sparkling 3.23 ERA as well as 1.03 WHIP. Cole is my favorite single-start pitcher this week… now, I really need to go to church.
July 20th should have our next *Must See TV* matchup between Lucus Giolito and the aforementioned Snell. Despite Blake’s teetering ways, he always poses a threat, especially against a weaker ChiSox lineup who is slashing .257/.314/.410/.724 for the season and has scored the fifth-fewest runs in MLB. Gio will have to pitch lights out to get the win, and he’s more than capable.
Chris Paddack hit 2019 like gangbusters, yelling and screaming all over the diamond and retiring batters with ease. Was this the next coming of Clemens? Would shattered baseball bats once again be heaved at potential baserunners?? The answer would be no. By mid-May, Paddack had lost his steam and gave up 20 runs in five starts. The peripherals were still there, but the end results were not. After some rest from the rotation, Paddack has been back to form, giving up a meager three runs in three starts. Two-start weeks aren’t often bold calls, but when one of them comes against the Cubbies at home, it’s a Bold Strategy Cotton Play.
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.
- Max Scherzer (mid-back strain) was just placed on the IL at the time of this writing. Move is retro to 7/10; if his back checks out, he could still make his second scheduled start in Atlanta. Stay tuned for updates!
- Danny Duffy (hand) was nailed in the left digit on a comebacker 7/12, and despite trying to pitch through pain, injury ended his night prematurely. X-rays came back clean so Duffy is only dealing with a deep bruise. He is tentatively scheduled to start 7/17.
- Adam Wainwright (back spasms) was scratched from his 7/12 start, but apparently will be well enough to go on 7/14 against the Dbacks. I’m interested to watch how the 37-year-old’s back responds. If he should fail to last long and/or miss additional time, look for Daniel Ponce de Leon to take his next turn in the rotation once again.
- Dylan Bundy (right knee tendinitis) was placed on the 10-day IL. He is stream-worthy at best, but this does mean dumpster fire David Hess returns to serve as the 26th man for the O’s doubleheader and will more than likely stay on while Bundy heals to supply our hot hitters with gasoline.
- Yadier Molina (thumb) is expected to miss the next three weeks. No surgery is required, but the pesky thumb should keep him out until around the beginning of August.
- Gregory Polanco (shoulder) went 2/4 with a run in his first rehab game for Triple-A Indianapolis as he works his way back into playing shape. Expect him back in early August, unless injury or trade shakes up the lineup.
POV SPECIAL – TOP SP STREAM OF THE WEEK
→ Jordan Yamamoto, RH MIA (SD, @LAD) – Becoming a favorite of ours here at FantasyGuru, the 2014 12th round pick brings an assortment of pitches to the mound. Once again according to Brooks Baseball, “he has relied primarily on his Fourseam Fastball (92 MPH) and Slider (79 MPH), also mixing in a Cutter (86 MPH) and Curve (73 MPH). He also rarely throws a Sinker (90 MPH) and Change (83 MPH).” Keeping them guessing, he does. The 13 MPH difference from the fourseamer to the slider generates the whiffs, and SD comes primed for them (28.8% K-rate, 3rd most Ks in MLB). Yamamoto already has 30 punchouts in 29 IP. If strikeouts are a depleted category in your roto leagues, the 23-year-old can be your second half remedy (69% owned in NFBC Main Event).
The second start in LA is worrisome, but between his K upside, good first matchup and Dodger Stadium park factors (Runs: 0.890, HR: 0.995), Yamamoto is a fine stream this week. Just note, regression is coming. His ERA may be a sparkling 1.24, but his FIP is 2.79 and xFIP is 4.75 (small sample). A BABIP of .169 is also hard to maintain.
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)
- Mike Trout vs. Mike Leake – 7/19 (14/26, 10 XBH, 3 HR, 4/4 BB/K, .538/.600/1.154/1.754)
- Francisco Lindor vs. Jakob Junis – 7/20 (11/22, 6 XBH, 3 HR, 9 RBI, .500/.500/1.045/1.545)
- Matt Carpenter vs. Anthony DeSclafani – 7/21 (12/27, 6 XBH, 3 HR, 7/7 BB/K, .444/.559/.926/1.485)
- Daniel Murphy vs. Jeff Samardzija – 7/16 (10/22, 4 XBH, HR, 7 RBI, .455/.455/.773/1.227)
- Matt Chapman vs. Marco Gonzales – 7/16 (9/20, 5 XBH, .450/.450/.750/1.200)
- Josh Bell vs. Jake Arrieta – 7/19 (7/21, 4 XBH, 2 HR, 4/4 BB/K, .333/.440/.714/1.154)
- Justin Smoak vs. Rick Porcello – 7/15 (12/43, 8 XBH, 5 HR, 14 RBI, .279/.380/.698/1.078)
- Adam Frazier vs. Miles Mikolas – 7/15 (8/21, 6 XBH, .381/.381/.762/1.143)
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