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 which 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.
Some welcomed surprises in the week that was; none more so than Shohei Ohtani and Jake Bauers. The prior battled a lefty-laden opposition throughout the week but went on to post his best week since returning from the IL. In only his sophomore season, Ohtani hit for the cycle, the first Japanese player in MLB to do so and the eighth in Angels history. Those who trusted in Shohei were rewarded. Not to be outdone, Bauers hit for the cycle the very next night; only the second time in MLB history cycles occurred in consecutive days. Different story for Bauers, however, as cycle represented four of nine total hits the fellow sophomore out of Huntington Beach, CA, has had the past 14 days. On the opposite side of the equation, Bauers was rightfully on most people’s bench or waiver wire. Is this cycle an awakening? I’m keeping tabs for sure.
We made our “last stand” with Trevor Bauer last week – well, not really, as the slumping 28-year-old is too talented to be this bad for this long – and have been rewarded so far. He pitched very well facing a tough Reds lineup on 6/11 (7.2 IP, 6 H, ER, 6 K). The bug-a-boo was still the walks; Bauer issued FIVE free passes. He still has @DET start as of this writing on 6/16… shaping up for a sweet bounce-back week.
Apparently, Mets rookie 1B Pete Alonso can do everything, including talking the umps OUT of calling for the tarp. All kidding aside, Alonso is posting a fine rookie of the year campaign (.262 BA, 23 HR, 50 RBI, .943 OPS), although Austin Riley may have something to say when all is said and done. What’s amazin about Alonso’s season is he now owns 39 XBH… the franchise record is 86.
The Curious Case of Jose Martinez
Last season, Jose Martinez was a superstar for our fantasy teams. He regularly played first base, which somewhat masked his horrid defensive skills. I bet the farm (literally) he would be traded to an AL team to DH this past offseason. Then, St. Louis pulled two surprising moves: a) signed Martinez to a $3.25 million, two-year contract avoiding arbitration, b) traded for Paul Goldschmidt. Maybe Martinez’ team-friendly contract would be more alluring for trade partner? Nope! When in lineup and seeing regular at-bats, he has shown what he can do. Even this season, Martinez was on a nice heater from April 16th to May 18th when seeing regular ABs (.349 BA, 9 XBH, 16 RBI, 11 BB, .427 OBP). However, with Goldy in place, as well as Harrison Bader and Dexter Fowler, being much better defensive options in the outfield, Martinez is a bench dweller and tough to roster.
Are the Cards ruining Jose Martinez by either benching him regularly or not trading him to an AL team to DH? As a fourth OF with irregular starts, his bat has been dwindling. Even after a pinch-hit three-run homer the other night, he is down to a .286 BA, .744 OPS and a -0.3 WAR. We can hate on the Cards all we want as fantasy players, but it is JMart’s defense which is the real culprit. And if you were in Michael Girsch’s shoes, would you be quick to trade away a quality bat like Martinez??? If they remain in contention for NL Central and Wild Card, he could make an interesting trade chip for an arm to help bolster their meandering rotation. I’m continuing to stash JMart and show patience he will be dealt to a team where he can see regular ABs… DH or otherwise.
MLB GAME BREAKDOWN GRID
We are heading strongly towards the All-Star Break with 21 teams having seven games on the schedule this week. Lots of offensive decisions to be made with such a plethora of games – “Jeffe, what is a plethora?” – and these decisions will carry massive ramifications. However, as we will see in our pitching sections, an equal balance of quality two-start pitchers will even out scoring in head-to-head point leagues. Great opportunity also presents itself in our roto leagues to catch up in categories.
Who is the only player to hit 20+ HR every year since 2009? I’ll give you a hint: it’s Nelson Cruz. He has been razing the baseball with five homers and a 1.434 OPS over the last seven games. Cruz has also collected three multi-hit efforts in the same stretch and is seeing the ball extremely well right now. I expect the good times to roll for this week, as Minnesota has seven games on the schedule and three probable lefties toeing the rubber (1.216 OPS vs. LHP, 2019). Furthermore, Cruz was out of the lineup 6/14 against the Royals for maintenance, which offers a higher probability he sees all seven games this week. Overall, Twins will miss Chris Sale and square off against the dumpster fire that is the Royals starting staff.
- Rick Porcello (5.08 xFIP, .260 BAA/.293 BABIP, 1.35 WHIP)
- David Price (Coming off blowup vs. TEX; .717 OPS this season vs. RHH and .309 BABIP overall)
- Eduardo Rodriguez (Up & down lately with 4.67 ERA, .269 BAA/.336 BABIP, 1.34 WHIP)
- Glenn Sparkman (4.38 FIP, 130 ERA+ ,1.30 WHIP)
- Jakob Junis (5.35 ERA, 3.19 BB/9, 1.59 HR/9, 1.43 WHIP)
- Danny Duffy (16 R last four starts… blowup is officially here. The mid-threes ERA is now 4.38)
- Homer Bailey (HR/9 is down this year, but a lot can change in a week)
Marwin Gonzalez and C.J. Cron are two fringe Twin bats who make for good plays this week, along with Byron Buxton, assuming his wrist checks out ok after getting hit by a pitch. The last two weeks have witnessed the long-awaited, amazing capabilities of the once-heralded prospect. If healthy, he’s lock-button status this week.
Andrew Benintendi is in a smash spot this week, facing six righties out of six games. His OPS increases 87 points vs. right-handers, but you were more than likely starting him no matter what. With Michael Chavis’ stock dropping faster than the Dow Jones, Brock Holt has an opportunity this week for regular playing time. Marco Hernandez and Eduardo Núñez also have seen time at second base, but neither present the offensive firepower Holt yields and Holt has great numbers vs. RHP this season (.294 BA,.368 OBP, .800 OPS).
Speaking of smash spots, it wasn’t hard to see the lefty power bats of the Rangers will crush at home all week with the warm weather of Texas. Even with Joey Gallo still working his way back from the IL, Rougned Odor, Shin-soo Choo and Asdrúbal Cabrera are all in play. Nomar Mazara was pulled from game at Cincinnati due to right hamstring tightness; exit labeled as precautionary, so if health checks out, roll him out too.
Jorge Soler has rewound the clock back to 2015 over the last two weeks and has been raking (.300 BA, 7 XBH, 3 HR). He’s scheduled to face some juicy lefties who have been scuffling of late: Yusei Kikuchi, Marco Gonzales, Martín Pérez. Side Note: I’ll be firing up a Whit-Mondesi-Soler-Cuthbert stack many times over this week in DFS.
The aforementioned Cardinals return to St. Louis, the home of the new Stanley Cup Champion Blues, for all seven games next week. The offense has been firing on all cylinders, minus Goldschmidt who has been mired in a slump. I expect such bats as Matt Carpenter, Paul DeJong, Kolten Wong and Bader to feast on these pitchers:
- Elieser Hernandez (2nd MLB start of the year: 5.87 ERA, 5.03 xFIP; high K upside based on 34.3% K-rate in Triple-A but also had a .315 BABIP for the New Orleans Baby Cakes… what a name!)
- Jordan Yamamoto (May be hard-pressed to replicate the seven shutout innings he delivered in Miami a few days ago; also 2nd MLB start)
- Trevor Richards (5.17 xFIP, 3.79 BB/9)
- Pablo López (Pitching well, but .230 BAA bound to rise with .282 BABIP)
- Griffin Canning (No feast here, just famine)
- Felix Pena (After opener)
- Tyler Skaggs (5.00 ERA is slightly unlucky with 4.01 FIP & 4.45 xFIP; 3.43 BB/9 and .320 BABIP is just deserts for his poor pitching)
Cody Bellinger and the suddenly surging Kyle Schwarber will be the creme of the crop this week. The Astros @ Yankees weekend series will offer a TON of fantasy value for our bats!
WEEKLY INTERLEAGUE OUTLOOK
The Crosstown Showdown rivalry series highlights this week’s four-pack of interleague contests. The North Siders play hosts for a short two-gamer, as all NL teams do. If you have been starting James McCann as a catcher, relying on the DH ABs to couple with behind the dish, probably best to look elsewhere this week. Yordan Álvarez will ride the pine after his meteoric rise in the bigs, which may dash most of those who will be paying a hefty chunk of their FAAB dollars this weekend. Shohei too will lose three games worth of ABs, dampening the spirits of those who enjoyed the week prior (see intro).
TOP TWO-START PITCHERS
IN ORDER OF PREFERENCE
- Justin Verlander (@CIN, @NYY)
- Clayton Kershaw (SF, COL)
- Zack Greinke (COL, SF) *UPDATE: Appears Greinke will be shifted to solo start 6/19 vs. COL. Bumps down from #3 in overall rankings, but still a fine spot to roll out this week.
- Jose Berrios (BOS, @KC)
- Jacob deGrom (@ATL, @CHC)
- Luis Castillo (HOU, @MIL)
- Cole Hamels (CHW, NYM)
- Patrick Corbin (PHI, ATL)
- Mike Soroka (NYM, @WSH)
- Mike Clevinger (@TEX, DET)
- Jack Flaherty (MIA, LAA)
- Kenta Maeda (SF, COL)
- Brandon Woodruff (@SDP, CIN)
- Zach Eflin (@WAS, MIA)
- Masahiro Tanaka (TB, HOU)
- FADE: Wade Miley (@CIN, @NYY) – I don’t care how well he has been pitching lately. These matchups and park factors belong in the Overlook Hotel. If you’re still thinking of starting Miley, I have a better suggestion. Put down your phone or tablet. Go stand in front of a bare wall in your home. Proceed to bang your head again and again until you pass out. Hopefully, you come to after lock!
- LAST STAND: Miles Mikolas (MIA, LAA) – He was lit up against Miami last time out, but I’ve always been a proponent of reverse results when facing a team twice in a row. Marlins returning back to their losing, low-scoring ways can only help. If Mikolas has another down week, he’s officially dead to me.
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 JUNE 17-23
The Lord taketh (last week), and the Lord giveth (this week) when it comes to two-start pitchers. Last week was tough sledding, while this week is bountiful! However, the tough decisions may lie in which two-start pitcher you select for your weekly lineups and which remain on the bench. Daily or even bi-weekly leagues could give a flying fuck and will be in hog heaven.
Last week’s Bold Strategy Cotton Play, Dakota Hudson, had a great first start of the week vs. Miami (W, 7 IP, 4 H, ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 93 PIT). He lowered his season BAA to .268 and ERA to 3.47. He’s really coming on at the right time, as rotation spots are up for grabs in St. Louis. We’ll see how he completes the week vs. the Mets. This week, I’m rolling with Julio Teheran at home against the Mets. He has been quietly having a tremendous season (2.92 ERA, 1.188 WHIP, 76 K in 83.1 IP). At home this season, the ERA drops to 1.85, as Teheran has finally figured out how to pitch in SunTrust. Earlier this season, Teheran owned New York over six strong innings, picking up the quality start and the victory.
Last week, we briefly touched upon the Multiple Starter Strategy, owning and even running out 2-3 starters from the same team. As stated last week, it has its perks in weekly/biweekly leagues as well as daily formats and virtually guarantees you rostering two-start pitchers every week, but it can hamper wins because teams see their fair share of wins and losses.
We see a lot of positive examples of this strategy this week and how the pros outweigh the cons based on schedule layout. For example, when scrolling through the starting pitcher rankings, you can see the benefits of owning Kershaw, Maeda and/or Hill. Barring injury, no matter how the week shapes out, you are guaranteed two two-start SPs plus a fifth start out of three arms. That is a great return on roster number no matter what league format you play in, not to mention the matchups are all spectacular and in Chavez Ravine.
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.
- Corey Seager (hamstring) hit the IL on 6/13 one day after exiting early with what was initially described as a Grade 2-plus left hamstring strain. According to Bill Plunkett of The Orange County Register, an MRI on Wednesday revealed the shortstop is dealing with a Grade 1-to-2 strain. This was a relief for the Dodger brass, as prognosis was better than originally feared, yet timetable for Seager’s recovery is still 4-to-6 weeks. Chris Taylor should occupy shortstop while Seager is on the mend.
- Adam Wainwright (mild left hamstring strain) hit IL on 6/13 and will be re-evaluated in one week according to Jim Hayes of FOX Sports Midwest. This gave Vlad’s boy, Daniel Ponce de Leon, another cup of coffee. He was wild in his start against the Mets, and although it didn’t bite him in this contest, I noticed something huuuuuge while watching film. He tips his curveball with a double tap/larger tap of the ball into his glove during his delivery! This will get exposed eventually, but with Alex Reyes being a candidate to make a spot start for Wainwright’s next turn in the rotation against the Marlins, it may not be this time around.
- Ken Giles was placed on the 10-day injured list with right elbow inflammation Wednesday. He should only require the minimum 10 days.
- Kyle Hendricks (right shoulder inflammation) doesn’t think his shoulder injury is serious, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Rest should hopefully do the trick and return Hendricks after the minimum 10 days. In the meantime, Tyler Chatwood or Mike Montgomery could make spots starts, but I think Cubs will call up prized prospect Adbert Alzolay (ranked #52 above if he is called up for start on 6/20). “Alzolay is on a real roll at Triple-A, and we’d been planning even before this [injury] to possibly give him a couple of spot starts at some point over the next month or so,” Theo Epstein said.
- Vlad Guerrero Jr. (hand, DTD) was plunked on the hand 6/14 and left game for x-rays, which luckily came back negative. He sat out 6/15 and is day-to-day.
- Edwin Encarnación (back, DTD) was out of the lineup the last two games as a precaution due to a minor back issue… reports stating his absence was also due to trade with the Yankees. Playing time is going to be interesting with…
- Aaron Judge (oblique) / Giancarlo Stanton (shoulder) both moved their rehab to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on 6/14. If all goes well, Stanton could return to the lineup as early as 6/18, while Judge could return shortly thereafter.
- Noah Syndergaard (right hamstring) came up lame after another battling start on 6/15. Diagnosed as a strain as of this writing, but no word on severity or potential absence timetable. Already being labeled a strain can’t bode well. *UPDATE 1: Syndergaard does indeed hit the 10-day IL. He underwent an MRI on 6/16 and the results should shed light on a timetable for return. In the meantime, will we see top prospect Anthony Kay? Despite dominating Double-A ball in Binghamton (7-3, 9.50 K/9, 1.49 ERA, .162 BAA), Kay was a little roughed up in his first start for Triple-A Syracuse and the meat thermometer needs more time to pop. **UPDATE 2: MRI Results showed strain is low-grade, and Syndergaard is only slated to miss one start. He was spotted playing catch before Mets game in Atlanta as well as doing agility drills. He was walking without a limp and says he’s in “tip-top” shape.
POV SPECIAL – TOP SP STREAM OF THE WEEK
→ Brett Anderson, LH OAK (BAL, TB) – Allow me to begin with saying I have trepidation for this stream. I have been burnt by Anderson many times over the years, usually by injury. His last five starts have been quality ones, and these matchups are primo! Anderson has faced these two teams already this season and posted quality stats (2 GS, 13 IP, 14 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, W/ND). Great park factors are in his favor, so as long as his arm stays on, he should pay off for his price plus he’s available in roughly 50% of leagues.
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)
- Freddie Freeman vs. Zack Wheeler – 6/17 (10/20, 5 XBH, 2 HR, 12 BB/5 K, .500/.667/.950/1.617)
- Kike Hernandez vs. Madison Bumgarner – 6/20 (19/38, 7 XBH, 3 HR, .500/.513/.842/1.355)
- Charlie Blackmon vs. Robbie Ray – 6/20 (18/39, 5 XBH, 4 HR, 11 RBI, .462/.488/.821/1.308)
- Anthony Rizzo vs. Jacob deGrom – 6/23 (9/20, 2 XBH, HR, .450/.500/.650/1.150)
- Curtis Granderson vs. Jake Arrieta – 6/22 (13/37, 7 XBH, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 4 BB/ 4 K, .351/.395/.730/1.125
- Trevor Story vs. Zack Greinke – 6/18 (11/38, 7 XBH, 5 HR, 12 RBI, .289/.308/.737/1.045)
- J.D. Martinez vs. Kyle Gibson – 6/19 (10/31, 3 XBH, 2 HR, .323/.382/.548/.931)
- Howie Kendrick vs. Dallas Keuchel – 6/21 (8/21, 2 XBH, HR, .381/.381/.571/.952)
Happy Father’s Day To All The Proud Papas!!!