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…
Hey, I heard you missed us, we’re back! I brought my pencil… gimme something to write on, man! 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 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.
In my attempts to keep the introduction short and sweet, I purposely omitted one big topic, COVID-19 and the subsequent four-month suspension of America’s pastime. Do you really wanna hear my views on this crazy, crazy mixed-up world? What was that? No. Oh, you said hellllll no! Good, I’m glad. I didn’t wanna discuss it either. We are all here to get away from it all with the beautiful distraction of baseball. The only reason why I do mention is to analyze a silver lining in the slim-downed 60-game schedule.
Within these 60 games for each ballclub, 40 will be versus divisional rivals. So, 67% of a team’s schedule is versus teams in their division. In a 162-game season, a team would face their division 47% of the time – a little more pepper jack cheese on that burger! However, you knew all this already, so I digress. What you may not have thought of, though, is how many times your fantasy hitters will be feasting on the ballclubs they have been notoriously known to terrorize over the years. Fantasy Baseball is primarily a game of examining numbers, particularly weighted and expected, but let us not forgo the value of batter-versus-team histories. Particular players’ proliferation when facing their favorite team/pitcher has a strong likelihood of boosting their season stats. Now, let’s take a look at some of the juicy matchups we shall see quite a bit of this season.
Mike Trout (OF – LAA) vs. Mariners
Damage: 41 HR, .641 career SLG (.891 last two years), 107 RBI
It appears as though we will have the best player in baseball for this season after early concerns were laid to rest. When’s his baby due again? If you look at the numbers above, owners will be grateful for six of the 10 games against the Mariners being scheduled before August 7th (four-game set end of August). Despite three of those first six going down at T-Mobile Park (Park Factors: Runs – 0.909, Home Runs – 0.947), Trout has hit 24 of his 41 home runs against the Mariners on the road.
Gleyber Torres (2B/SS – NYY) vs. Orioles
Damage: 13 HR, 1.045 SLG in 2019 (.876 career vs. BAL)
His 13 moonshots were the most by a player vs. a single opponent in a season since 1961 (Roger Maris, White Sox). Within the 13, Torres had five multi-home run games, hitting them in bunches. Five also happens to be the single-season record against any one team. Recency bias aside, his career slugging mark is still quite stellar.
Ronald Acuña Jr. (OF – ATL) vs. Marlins
Damage: 16 HR, .703 career SLG, 36 RBI in 37 games
Acuña is tied for the most home runs by a player versus a single opponent since 2018. Can you guess the man for whom he is tied? I’ll give ya a big clue: look up. In his young career, Acuña has had three multi-homer contests. Two of them have been against the Fish.
Max Muncy (1B/2B/3B – LAD) vs. Rockies
Damage: 12 HR, .745 career SLG
Muncy’s finger is ok (see IL Report). Was it his middle finger? Wave it high, bro! He has certainly waved it against the Colorado Rockies, hitting 12 homers against them in 32 games. A great strategy I had in drafts was highly investing in players from the NL West. #CoorsFieldFactor – Rockie players themselves are delicious, but players such as Muncy, who owns a .868 career slugging percentage in Colorado, did just fine, as well. His .745 career mark is ninth-highest vs. a single opponent among active players (min. 100 PA).
Josh Donaldson (3B – MIN) vs. White Sox
Damage: 15 HR, 35 RBI, .686 SLG in 44 games
Donaldson’s SLG mark leads all active players vs. Chi-Town. His .676 slugging percentage at Guaranteed Rate Field (Park Factors: Runs – 0.972, Home Runs – 1.124) makes for the second-highest in any batter’s box he’s stepped in at least 10 times. Target Field (.819) is the only higher ballpark… Yummy!
Matt Olson (1B – OAK) vs. Angels
Damage: 12 HR in 41 games, .636 SLG in 2019
Decided to throw Olson on this list at the end because, well, he’s a man-crush of mine. I feel he could be a 45-50 HR guy with a full season’s worth of games. Reading Thomas Harrigan of MLB.com’s article back in February had me officially drinking the Kool-Aid. But we don’t have 162 games; we have 60. Ten of those games for Olson could be against the Halos – barring injury – and based on the numbers above, he has handled them quite well! The numbers vs. LA have been trending upward over his four-year MLB career, and you have to like this trend to continue versus a depleted Angels pitching staff (except on Sundays – aka Ohtani Day: 6 AB / 5 K).
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
As you can see in the grid above, the majority of teams play seven games in the first full week of the MLB season. The exceptions are Chicago White Sox (6), Minnesota Twins (6), Oakland A’s (6), Texas Rangers (5), Houston Astros (6), St. Louis Cardinals (5), Pittsburgh Pirates (6), Milwaukee Brewers (6), Los Angeles Dodgers (6), San Francisco Giants (6) and Colorado Rockies (5). Unfortunately in my weekly lock dynasty league, I have both Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado (along with fellow Rockies Sam Hilliard and Brendan Rodgers) and our first-week H2H matchup began on Opening Day for a 10-day period. Did I get cute and sit Goldy or Nado? Thought about it, but no. I’ll still take their eight games over my bench alternative Wil Myers’ or Yoshi Tsutsugo’s 10 games. Did work Yoshi into my outfield though because it’s Super Mario’s World.
This leads me to a quick point. In this condensed schedule, just as the players have more urgency and onus on each moment, so do we as fantasy managers. We have less time to make up from a poor start. Keep a deep bench so you can maximize on games played and plus matchups. Didn’t have to in the aforementioned scenario, but if a larger game gap comes about, or the same gap but with more even players, I won’t think twice.
Oh, quick side note: 121.3 exit velocity from one Giancarlo Stanton is just ridiculous – second-hardest hit HR in Statcast era. Just wanted to throw that in here. No bearing on anything… why can’t you stay healthy, Mike?!
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.
*This two-game set should get interesting! Not an interstate rivalry series, but, well, you know.
TOP TWO-START PITCHERS
IN ORDER OF PREFERENCE
- Gerrit Cole (@PHI, BOS)
- Walker Buehler (@HOU, @ARI)
- Tyler Glasnow (ATL, @BAL)
- Adrian Houser (@PIT, STL)
- Griffin Canning (@OAK, HOU)
- Dylan Cease (@CLE, @KC)
Pablo Lopez (BAL, WSH)
- Josh James (SEA, @LAA)
- Luke Weaver (@SD, LAD)
- Wade Miley (CHC, @DET)
- Yonny Chirinos (ATL, @BAL)
Mike Foltynewicz (@TB, NYM)
- Aaron Civale (CHW, @MIN)
- Anibal Sanchez (TOR, @MIA)
- Jon Lester (@CIN, PIT)
*UPDATE (7/27, 11:15p): We all found out first thing this morning about the Marlins coronavirus outbreak and subsequent postponement of three games (Monday’s BAL@MIA & NYY@PHI, Tuesday’s BAL@MIA). This eliminated Lopez’ two-step. At the end of the night, we found out Folty was DFA’d by Atlanta. This eliminated his Braves’ career. Will the two intersect in Miami, or is Folty Shipping Up to Boston??? Stay tuned!
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 27 – AUGUST 2
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.
UPDATE (7/26, 6:15p): Verlander has been shut down with a forearm strain. He will be evaluated in a couple weeks.
UPDATE (7/26, 8p): Reds players Mike Moustakas and Nick Senzel have tested positive for coronavirus and have hit the virus IL. See Ray’s updates here
Clayton Kershaw (Back stiffness) – In a surprise move to kick off the 2020 season – with this year, could we expect anything less? – Kershaw was scratched from his Opening Day start and placed on the Injured List. Dodgers are optimistic he will not be out long. Kershaw injured his back in a workout but has already played catch up to 90 feet after an MRI came back clean. Seems like a similar situation Mets pitcher, Jacob deGrom, encountered early in Summer Camp, and he quickly returned. Yet, with his herky-jerky delivery, this issue has been reoccurring throughout his career. This has caused issues, even premature retirement, for such players as Chris Sale, Johnny Cueto and Tim Lincecum. Dustin May was given the Opening Day start, and while Kersh is on the mend, will have an opportunity to show his pitching acumen and developmental progress (confirmed to start 7/29 @HOU).
A.J. Puk (Shoulder strain) landed on the 10-day injured list (7/20). Oakland’s prized prospect is scheduled for a consultation with Dr. Neal ElAttrache. This is troubling, being Puk was shut down in Spring Training with the same ailment. Now two years removed for Tommy John, he returned last season triumphantly (3.18 ERA, 13 K, 11.3 IP) and was expected to be on a pitch limit as he competed for a spot in the starting rotation. Let’s hope a cortisone shot is enough for a return to action. Oakland does as well, being they are also missing Jesus Luzardo from the starting rotation, who has begun the year in the bullpen. Luzardo, delayed by a bout of COVID-19, needs more time to stretch out and build up to a full workload. Innings/Pitch Count may still be a slight factor, even in a shorter season.
Austin Meadows (Illness) is training at the Rays’ alternate site after clearing MLB protocol. Meadows was placed on the injured list due to a positive COVID-19 test and said he suffered some mild symptoms of the virus. After negative tests on consecutive days and no remaining symptoms, he should require some time to build up to full strength. Meadows is on the right track toward returning to the field.
Marcus Stroman (Calf muscle tear) was placed on the injured list 7/22 according to Mets manager, Luis Rojas. Stroman did not make his turn through the rotation in an intrasquad game after being seen wearing a bandage five days prior. Wait, WTF? With mismanagement in play, both Mets and fantasy owners are now down two starting pitchers.
Max Muncy (Finger) – Muncy missed some time in early July after being hit on the finger by a pitch. However, he returned to full activity towards the end of Summer Camp and made the Dodgers’ lineup on Opening Day. Let the raking ensue, and let’s hope it stays this way!
Masahiro Tanaka (Concussion, 10-day IL) could be activated as soon as next 7/29, but he’s scheduled to throw an extended session 7/26, meaning he’d be unlikely to make his season debut before July 31.
Jake Odorizzi (Back) landed on the IL on 7/23. A weighty stay isn’t anticipated, and he might be back to start towards the end of the week.
Anthony DeSclafani (Right teres major strain, 10-day IL) – ADS should only miss one start, according to GM Nick Krall.
Stephen Strasburg (Nerve impingement in wrist) – Stras missed his season debut due to an ongoing issue he said: “he first started noticing several weeks ago.” Washington and the now 11-year vet don’t feel the injury will cost him much time. “It’s something I feel like if I take some time now to get that feeling back to normal, I can be back out there much sooner, instead of trying to just gut it out at this point.” For more, read Mark Zuckerman’s article.
POV SPECIAL – TOP SP STREAM OF THE WEEK
→ Austin Voth, RH WSH (TOR, @MIA) – An Austin Voth truther I was last season. His natural sinking action on the fourseam fastball is easy to get enamored with and induces a ton of ground balls (.83 GB/FB, 34.5% GB% – 2019). Voth’s issue was always velo; in the past, he has thrown a league-average fastball. Towards the end of 2019, and in Spring Training/Summer Camp, he’s dialed it up at an average of 92.7 MPH and topping out at 95.8 MPH! That’s a lot of pizza, Uncle Ed! In other words, much better than topping out at 91-92. Voth throws his curveball 20.3% of the time, according to Baseball Savant, which generates an extremely high number of swings & misses. Finally, he mixes in a nice slider and crisp change-of-pace plus is working on a cutter!
So, I liked Voth a fair amount last season. He passed my eye test with flying colors. But, what about the analytics? I’m glad you asked! After reading one of Ray Flowers’ many Draft Guide articles, I agreed ABA is better than WHIP. If you remember back in the spring, Voth was competing with Joe Ross (opted out of 2020 season) and Erick Fedde (now starting in place of Strasburg) for the fifth spot in the rotation. In an early draft, I had an option to grab one of the three to utilize SP/RP eligibility. Despite Voth being my favorite for the job, I had just read the ABA article and figured the stat could be my determiner. Here were the 2019 results.
Ross, the so-called *favorite*: 2.30
The choice was obvious, and I was able to slip Voth into my lineup as an RP for this potential two-start week. You should too while young, vagabond Blue Jay hitters are playing catchup with pitchers, and a plus matchup in pitcher-friendly Marlins Park awaits.
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)
- Eugenio Suarez vs. Jon Lester – 7/27 (16/42, 9 XBH, 6 HR, 12 RBI, .381/.426/.881/1.306)
- Andrew McCutchen vs. J.A. Happ – 7/27 (12/28, 5 XBH, 4 HR, 6 RBI, .429/.484/.893/1.377)
- Randal Grichuk vs. Jake Arrieta – 8/1 (10/24, 7 XBH, 2 HR, 5 RBI, .417/.440/.958/1.398)
- Nelson Cruz vs. Carlos Carrasco – 7/31 (10/27, 7 XBH, 4 HR, 8 RBI, .370/.393/.926/1.319)
- Joey Votto vs. Kyle Hendricks – 7/29 (11/28, 6 XBH, 3 HR, 12:7 BB:K, .393/.575/.821/1.396)
- Whit Merrifield vs. Matt Boyd – 7/29 (20/39, 8 XBH, 8 RBI, .513/.548/.744/1.291)
- Kyle Schwarber vs. Trevor Williams – 7/31 (8/22, 4 XBH, 3 HR, 4:1 BB:K, .364/.462/.818/1.280)
- Mike Trout vs. Marco Gonzales – 7/30 (12/28, 5 XBH, 2 HR, 5:6 BB:K, .429/.515/.750/1.265)
- Kike Hernandez vs. Robbie Ray – 7/30 (7/34, 4 XBH, 4 HR, 6 RBI)
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 2, 2020
Anthony DeSclafani (0-0, -.– ERA / -.– xFIP / -.– SIERA) @ Rony Garcia (0-0, 6.00 / 2.89 / 3.12) Game 1
CIN – TBD (0-0, -.– / -.– / -.–) @ Daniel Norris (0-0, -.– / -.– / -.–) Game 2
~Trevor Bauer more than likely got screwed out of a start with an extremely late rain delay call. See the melee here. Tejay Antone could get the spot start, or Reds could go with a BP game led by Brooks Raley if Bauer can’t go. He threw enough to get hot ahead of the PPD game and may need a few more days ahead of his next start. Monitor or keep Bauer in your lineup if it will do no harm or not keep you from another confirmed start. Antone, while maybe a fun mass-multi entry GPP play, has no business in your lineup. #DontGetCute
Yonny Chirinos (0-0, 0.00 / 3.49 / 3.96) @ Tommy Milone (0-1, 12.00 / 3.96 / 4.75)
David Peterson (1-0, 3.18 / 5.00 / 5.43) @ Kyle Wright (0-1, 16.88 / 6.24 / 6.21)
Dylan Cease (0-1, 15.43 / 7.38 / 4.60) @ Jakob Junis (0-0, -.– / -.– / -.–)
Aaron Civale (1-0, 3.00 / 1.79 / 4.74) @ Tyler Clippard (0-0, 2.25 / 6.24 / 5.58)
~Twins made a last-minute swap, opting to use Clippard as an opener.
Steven Brault (0-0, 0.00 / 5.99 / 7.36) @ Jon Lester (1-0, 0.00 / 7.85 / 7.48)
Zach Davies (1-0, 3.60 / 3.25 / 3.04) @ Antonio Senzatela (1-0, 3.60 / 6.57 / 6.17)
~Davies is another Kenny Rogers Play… Not a huge fan, but he has good history against this Rockies lineup even in Coors (last start (@COL – 9/27/19): 5 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 42.9% GB.
Kolby Allard (0-0, 2.25 / 1.43 / 1.58) @ Jeff Samardzija (0-1, 11.25 / 6.49 / 6.25)
~Great spot for the young pup. Allard went 4-0 with a 3.78 ERA in his first six starts for the Rangers last year but 0-2 with an 8.25 ERA in his final three. Tread carefully as Giants have shown a little more punch than we thought. However, the SHARK’S mixed-league relevance is holding on by a thread.
Josh James (0-0, 9.00 / 6.96 / 7.05) @ Shohei Ohtani (0-1, 45.00 / 12.09 / -.–)
~It’s a holding pattern on Ohtani until he can find the plate. First start was so bad, SIERA said, “I can’t even!” Sticking with JJ despite the poor start with 5 BB. Can anyone find the plate? Trout being away from team is a factor. He’s eligible to return today but may take a few more days, as his child was just born.
Clayton Kershaw (0-0, -.– / -.– / -.–) @ Merrill Kelly (1-0, 1.17 / 4.01 / 3.47)
Chris Bassitt (0-0, 0.00 / 3.14 / 3.18) @ Kendall Graveman (0-1, 13.50 / 3.64 / 3.83)
Austin Brice (0-0, 7.71 / 4.55 / 3.13) @ James Paxton (0-0, 27.00 / 7.69 / 6.04)
~Brice is an opener. Rough first in the Nation’s Capital, but he owned the Sox last season and has high win probability.