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.
Frankie Montas MLB Suspension
Like an all too familiar bombshell, Montas received an 80-game suspension after testing positive for PEDs. Simply ridiculous in this day and age with all the team personnel to guide a player on the dos and don’ts. I could go on and on for paragraphs, ranting about the stupidity of a player getting popped, but Ray Flowers already handled that for us. This is a huge blow for the Athletics and our fantasy teams, as Montas has been without question Oakland’s top starter this season (2.70 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 9.70 K/9, 4.62 K/BB). Those numbers are now lost till the last week of the regular season. Let that sink in… what an asshole!
On to brighter skies; what this suspension does do is create opportunity, and opportunity we can maximize. Jesús Luzardo has been rehabbing from a strained rotator cuff in his left (throwing) shoulder, which cost the #12 overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline an opportunity to vie for an opening day spot in the rotation. Across 2+ minor league seasons, Luzardo possesses a 2.48 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 188 K in just shy of 160 innings. Luzardo looked strong in his outing with High-A Stockton, fanning nine over four innings, and is set to make his next rehab start at Triple-A Las Vegas. He’ll likely require at least a few more appearances prior to being activated from the injured list, so an immediate replacement will have to come from elsewhere.
Other Options on the Mend: Sean Manaea / A.J. Puk / Jharel Cotton are all options to pitch at the big level at some point but are currently working their way back from injury. I have them listed in order of fantasy interest. While Manaea and Puk’s arsenal intrigue me greatly – Puk’s 97+ mph fourseam fastball makes me go six-to-midnight – Cotton may be best suited for the bullpen. Manaea has the best upside for starting.
WEEKLY REPORT CARD
Brett Anderson was my top SP stream for last week, and he absolutely dished against Baltimore at home on 6/18 (7 IP, 4 H, ER, 2 K – W). Only two Ks, but pitching to contact was the proper recipe in a 16-2 win. The earned run was a solo shot by Jonathan Villar, corresponding to his 0.84 HR/9 for the season (0.85 career). With a second start upcoming 6/23 vs. the Rays (also at home), I expect him to come through for all MLB subscribers who rolled the dice. I don’t even care if he shits the bed for me, as he has many times over the years, but I get torn up when I give bad advice. Tampa Bay has scored the 3rd fewest runs in MLB over the last seven days; I’m confident you will be rewarded! *Update: Welp, he did it again folks. I knew I was playing with fire here. Anderson was rocked by Tampa Bay for seven runs on nine hits and two walks in only 3 IP, taking the loss. Overall Letter Grade: C
MLB GAME BREAKDOWN GRID
Yankees and Red Sox carry a lot of offensive firepower into an unfortunate 5-game week due to next weekend’s two-game affair in jolly old London. Six teams in total play five games this week (CIN, STL SD, BAL). Does anybody know if this will be a regular thing, international games in London? Displaying one of, if not, the fiercest rivalries in all of sports is very wise for the business known as MLB but no so much for our fantasy teams. I play fantasy baseball to escape London games for Pete’s sake! Any of us who have a piece of the All-Star team known as the New York Yankees, aka Baby Murderer’s Row, will be forced to endure the 5-game stretch. I’m serious, 1-7 is as follows: Judge – Sanchez – Didi – Stanton – E5 – Hicks – Gleyber.
Have you been enjoying the Shohei Ohtani Show? The broadcast was temporarily interrupted while Albert Pujols had his victory lap for the fans of St. Louie, and thus no DH. Prior to this respite, 24-year-old Ohtani was batting .361 with three home runs and seven extra-base hits over a 10-game span. He’ll look to hit the ground running by attacking a potential five RHPs back in LA. Tommy La Stella, Kole Calhoun and hot-hitting rookie Luis Rengifo will be looking to jump aboard, facing this cast of characters:
- Tyler Mahle (We target Mahle; that’s what we do)
- Tanner Roark (4.38 xFIP, .252 BAA / .323 BABIP and 75.5% LOB rate that’s bound to decline)
- Tanner Anderson (Triple-A stats: 6.26 ERA / 7.32 FIP / 6.01 xFIP in 54.2 IP, 6.09 K/9, 2.30 HR/9)
- Mike Fiers (Despite the no-no, Fiers carries a 4.28 ERA with a 5.36 xFIP… Trout Double Dong???)
- Brett Anderson (Hoping back off Anderson here)
- Chris Bassitt (I respect Bassitt, but he does give up gopher balls to lefties – 13 XBH, 6 HR, .211 ISO this season)
Despite all AL teams maxing out at six games, I really like how Houston’s schedule maps out. Home all week? Check. Hitting in Texas weather? Double Check. Great pitching matchups… well, you get the idea. Great week to bust out a new shiny toy you may have spent oodles of FAAB dollars on in Yordan Alvarez. Michael Brantley has been swinging a hot stick as of late, and all season for that matter. Finally offering consistent fantasy performances, Yuli Gurriel makes for a nice play this week as well.
Jeff McNeil continues to rake. The weekend saw a 5th straight multiple-hit game for the Squirrel… this dude rolls outta bed and hits the baseball. A snapshot of this season’s resume: .341 BA, .372 BABIP, .383 wOBA, .151 ISO, 10.9% K-rate. Unsustainable numbers, you say? More than likely. These are crazy stats minus the ISO, which just illustrates his ability to hit for moderate power as well as for contact. McNeil’s ability to hit anything sniffing the plate is reminiscent of Tony Gwinn and Ichiro Suzuki. Great week for Met lefties in general with 6 RHPs scheduled plus struggling Max Fried, who is still tough on fellow southpaws.
Do you think it’s a good idea to start every Brewer hitter under the sun? Look at the opposition:
- Marco Gonzales (5.15 SIERA, 5.33 xFIP, .270 BAA)
- Wade LeBlanc (126 ERA+, 1.40 WHIP, 1.75 HR/9)
- Mike Leake (5.16 FIP, 1.96 HR/9)
- Steven Brault (4.60 BB/9, 5.28 xFIP, .316 BABIP, 1.55 WHIP)
- Mitch Keller (Can strike out the world, but in 12 MLB innings, he’s sporting a 10.50 ERA – 21 H, 14 ER)
- Trevor Williams (Creme of this crop but still just meh…)
Yeah, so did I. #Analysis
I do declare this to be Joc Peterson week. As LH platoon split for left field, he should command majority of ABs this week vs. an estimated SIX right-handed pitchers. The usual suspects of their lefty-laden lineup version are of course in play, especially with seven games on tap and four in Coors. What’s that, you say? Play both sides of that series this week… not so fast! Before Coors, Rockies are in San Fran for a three-game set. Tough park in which to hit on the road and Rockies don’t travel well with their offensive numbers down on the road. Once back at home, they will see Dodgers’ Ryu, Maeda, Kershaw and a hungry Ross Stripling returning to the rotation for Rich Hill (forearm – likely out until August). It will be interesting to see if Stripling holds onto vacant rotation spot, or if Julio Urias eventually lands the gig.
WEEKLY INTERLEAGUE OUTLOOK
Manny Machado, Domingo Santana and Stephen Piscotty have revenge series against their former clubs. I have almost always found, in these scenarios, said player goes off to show former club what they passed upon, in one form or another. I call it the Ricky Vaughn Syndrome. This is intensified with the rarity these six clubs play each other. When making your evaluations this week, keep this as a tiebreaker. Franmil Reyes will see extra ABs as the DH, but with only five games total, this becomes a moot point in weekly leagues. Daily league owners will enjoy a potentially home run-filled series from Reyes in Camden Yards. On the other side of the Potomac, Washington will be able to field Brian Dozier, Matt Adams and Kendrick for their series with the Tigers. Expect the good times to continue to roll for Washington.
TOP TWO-START PITCHERS
IN ORDER OF PREFERENCE
- Max Scherzer (@MIA, @DET)
- Gerrit Cole (PIT, SEA)
- Zack Greinke (LAD, @SF)
- Clayton Kershaw (@ARI, @COL)
- Madison Bumgarner (COL, ARI)
- Blake Snell (@MIN, TEX)
- Zach Eflin (NYM, @MIA)
- Lucas Giolito (@BOS, MIN)
- Kyle Gibson (TB, @CHW)
- Robbie Ray (LAD, @SF)
- Julio Teheran (@CHC, @NYM)
- Zach Davies (SEA, PIT)
- Eduardo Rodriguez (CHW, NYY – London)
- Jon Lester (ATL, @CIN)
- Steven Matz (@PHI, ATL)
- FADE: Max Fried (@CHC, @NYM) – It’s not breaking news Fried has fallen off from his early season success. A quality start last time out against one of the two teams he faces this week (NYM) may have some thinking he is back. Unlike John Wick, I’m pretty sure Fried is NOT back. I’m still seeing the lack of control that has plagued him over seven of his last eight starts. Cubs matchup is scary, and I’m laying money rematch goes a different way with the Mets, who have been hitting much, much better at home this season.
- LAST STAND: Jake Arrieta (NYM, @MIA) – If Jake can’t get it done this week, 86 the mother f…..
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 24-30
If a broken nose can’t stop Max Scherzer, who in the hell will on Miami or Detroit. This is as good as it gets for fantasy matchups, and there is zero dispute who the #1 pitcher is this week. After taking one off the schnoz, Max still went out and pitched 24 hours later against Philadelphia (7 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 10 K – W). Phillies bats were obviously petrified from this mug staring in on them.
Adbert Alzolay didn’t make the spot start last week for Kyle Hendricks (IL, right shoulder impingement – may be out till All-Star break now) as expected, but he might as well have (4 IP, 5 K, ER – W). Both Tyler Chatwood and Alzolay combined for a quality outing; so much so, the Cubs have decided to start them both next time around the rotation and go with a 6-man this week. Keep this in mind!
Tread lightly with Lucus Giolito this week, coming off rough start on the North Side yet again. I’m not losing faith in Giolito already. He has made great strides with maintaining a consistent arm angle and demonstrating elite control in what is bordering on a breakout season. But you are only as good to me as your most recent start when it comes to fantasy baseball.
It’s wise to be practical, and both matchups are as tough as they come: one elite offense and the other plays at home in Boston. I’m strongly considering sitting Gio this week, as stats normalize and every pitcher has valleys during the long stretch of a season. Unless you are backed into a corner with all other pitchers only having one trip around the merry-go-round, at which point, you have no choice but to start him. Sitting a two-start pitcher, especially one who is having the type of season as Gio, is certainly a Bold Strategy Cotton play, but even Clark Kent didn’t become Superman overnight.
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.
- Trevor Story (sprained right thumb) was placed on IL 6/20. Look for Brendan Rodgers to get the biggest boost in playing time.
- Marwin Gonzalez hit the IL on 6/19 with a strained hamstring. It’s not clear when he suffered the injury, but he was removed for a pinch hitter late in the game. His injury may not be serious.
- Poor Mike Clevinger (ankle sprain) suffered his injury in first start back after returning from a two-month stay on IL for a back injury. Can’t make this stuff up. Move was retroactive to 6/18, and he will miss at least one turn through the rotation.
- Ketel Marte (DTD – groin) was not in the lineup on 6/22 after suffering a left groin cramp the day prior. Labeled as not too serious, we’ll continue to monitor as the breakout star gets some much-deserved rest. *Update: Back in lineup 6/24.
- Jose Berrios exited game on 6/22 after firing seven scoreless innings with a blister on his right ring finger. *Update: Blister turned out to be minor, and Berrios shouldn’t miss a start!
POV SPECIAL – TOP SP STREAM OF THE WEEK
→ Logan Allen, LH SD (@BAL) – Keeping this simple, as the Padres turn towards a new fifth man in the rotation after moving Cal Quantrill to the bullpen. Allen gets the most targeted team in MLB due to obvious reasons I won’t bore you with here. In his first start of the season, Allen dominated the staunch offense of the Brewers (7 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 5 K – QS/W). Beginning his minor league career in the Red Sox organization and moving up the ranks within San Diego, Allen posted a 3.08 ERA, 9.83 K/9, 1.19 WHIP and .229 BAA in 89 total appearances.
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)
- Khris Davis vs. Tyler Skaggs – 6/28 (9/21, 6 XBH, 4 HR, 8 RBI, .429/.458/1.095/1.554)
- Freddie Freeman vs. Zack Wheeler – 6/28 (12/24, 5 XBH, 2 HR, 12 BB/7 K, .500/.649/.875/1.524)
- Mike Trout vs. Mike Fiers – 6/27 (9/24, 7 XBH, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 5 BB/7 K, .375/.483/.917/1.399)
- Daniel Murphy vs. Jeff Samardzija – 6/26 (10/20, 4 XBH, HR, .500/.500/.850/1.350)
- Cody Bellinger vs. Zack Greinke – 6/24 (9/22, 4 XBH, 2 HR, .409/.435/.773/.1.208)
- Eugenio Suarez vs. Jon Lester – 6/30 (10/34, 6 XBH, 3 HR, .294/.342/.647/.989)
- Edwin Encarnacion vs. Rick Porcello – 6/29 (13/46, 8 XBH, 3 HR, 10 RBI, .283/.298/.587/.885)
- Charlie Blackmon vs. Clayton Kershaw – 6/29 (16/53, 5 XBH, 2 HR, .302/.362/.509/.872)
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