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. First, in order to see where we are going for this week, let’s take a look at where we’ve been in the week that was.
May was a historic month for Major League Baseball. Hitters went on a rampage, slugging the most home runs in a calendar month… EVER! Vladimir Guerrero Jr. broke the record previously held by August 2017 (1,119); when all was said and done, major league hitters belted 1,135 taters into oblivion. Interestingly enough, four of the top five monthly HR totals have now come since 2017 (three in 2017; May, June, August), and the other month was back in May of 2000, the height of the Steroid Era. Will 2017-present be known as the Launch Angle Era or Juiced Ball Era? These are two factors which may be in play, causing the boom in HRs. Why do you think long balls are up to historic levels? A more important question for Fantasy Baseball enthusiasts is, “Do we care?” Our pitchers do, but hopefully, the good outweighs the bad!
Speaking of Vlad Jr., he has been on a rampage of his own, hitting .318 over the last seven days and still has his Coors series to finish at the time of this writing. What’s more, Junior – can I call him that without showing disrespect towards Ken Griffey Jr.? – had a wOBA of .315 last week (.343 wOBA overall). The 20-year-old rookie is coming into his own and paying off for those who drafted him, rewarding the leap of faith Blue Jays would smarten up and promote him.
I recommended Pablo López as my top starting pitcher to stream last week, and the results were overall good (6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 5 K), yet, we weren’t rewarded with the win. Cost of doing business streaming a Marlin (despite matchup with another inept offense, SF). I’ll try to do even better this week. It’s important to me our MLB subs do well, make the right calls and win matchups. I’ve always enjoyed causing greatness in others, even more so than myself. I enjoy winning too; don’t get it twisted.
Where I really failed you was my bold call of Marco Gonzales (TEX, LAA). He got absolutely shelled at home by the Rangers and clearly didn’t have it from jump street. The numbers told me otherwise, but these same numbers say he could still yet rebound today against the Halos, as they have even worse numbers vs. LHP (.211/.299/.363/.662). After previously dominating the Rangers in Texas, Joey Gallo & Co. brought the Rolodex north to Seattle (more on Gallo later). This will be interesting matchups down the stretch, as the Mariners face Texas nine more times and LAA nine more as well. Oh, by the way… Gonzales is scheduled to face Angels again on 6/7. History can, and often will, repeat itself.
Who’s Up/Who’s Down
UP – Anytime a player is mentioned in the same sentence as Babe Ruth, you know they are doing something right. Louis Gehrig. Hank Aaron. John Goodman… ok, I know the last one is an actor, but ‘The Babe’ is iconic. Cody Bellinger may just be Bambino Incarnate. He’s been having a fantastic season, no doubt.
DOWN – Trevor Bauer has been dominant so far this season. Wait, sorry… that was from last year’s writeup. Bauer and the Indians have been struggling in the absence of Corey Kluber. He will be inevitably taking a nosedive in the rankings this week but not quite “pitch or ditch” territory. Maybe he should put down the book, stop preoccupying his mind with all the analytics, and just pitch. Allow me to diagram the analytics. Ever since I wrote my first article for FantasyGuru and chose Bauer as the cover (see Povia Cover Boy Jinx here), he has gone on to pitch 36 innings (six starts), give up 31 runs and six home runs, walk 14 and own an awful 50.7 FB% with a 0.92 GB/FB (five-year low). I’m not great at math, but those numbers just don’t jive.
For more on Bauer’s troubles, see Ray’s Ramblings: Mound Mavens, May 29th.
GAME BREAKDOWN GRID
Pick the better spot: Matthew Conforto versus five righties? Brewers at launching pad known as Miller Park all week?? Red Sox and Rays bats set for seven games this week??? Cause I love them all!
At first glance, Angel hitters appear to be in a smash spot, playing seven games with the make-up game against the Cubs. However, Halos will face this bevy of arms this week:
- Jon Lester, LHP
- Frankie Montas, RHP
- Daniel Mengden, RHP
- Mike Fiers, RHP
- Marco Gonzales, LHP
- Wade LeBlanc, LHP
- Yusei Kikuchi, LHP
Let’s see if you read above about Angels and left-handed pitching. Taking a risk with David Fletcher or even Pujols could be rewarded, as LeBlanc is average at best and Kikuchi has been shelled last two times out.
Oakland too sees seven games (it’s an AL West thang this week) and similarly is scheduled to face four left-handers. This is where the similarities end. Athletics love them some lefties, as evident by their 83 runs this year vs. LHP (4th MLB). Their southpaw slash line of .277/.342/.508/.850 could revitalize Khris Davis (.248 ISO) coming off the IL and continue to feed Matt Chapman (.279 ISO). However, both sides of the plate are eligible against this hodge-podge:
- Griffin Canning (well, he’s good)
- Tyler Skaggs (4.50 ERA, 4.42 xFIP, .297 BABIP vs. .245 BAA tells us hits are forthcoming)
- Andrew Heaney (2nd start of the year)
- Lance Lynn (.346 BABIP, 4.66 ERA, 4.11 xFIP)
- Adrian Sampson (Don’t let the last three starts fool yeah… straight trash) – DBH
- Drew Smyly (6.98 ERA, 6.66 FIP, 6.07 xFIP) – DBH
- Mike Minor/Spot starter (When will Bionic Man fall apart? On four days rest is how… expect the spot start)
“FADE PADRES,” cried catholic schoolboys everywhere. They may be home all week for seven games, but Petco is a pitcher’s park and these arms are coming to town: Aaron Nola, Jake Arrieta, Patrick Corbin, Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. Hide yo wife; hide yo kids!
Not much on tap interleague wise this week. Will Kevin Cron stick around longer this time to DH???
TOP TWO-START PITCHERS
IN ORDER OF PREFERENCE
- Stephen Strasburg (CHW, @SD)
- Blake Snell (@DET, @BOS)
- Kyle Hendricks (COL, STL)
- Aaron Nola (@SD, CIN)
- Luis Castillo (@STL, @PHI)
- Walker Buehler (@ARI, @SF)
- Max Fried (@PIT, @MIA)
- Shane Bieber (MIN, NYY)
- Noah Syndergaard (SF, COL)
- Madison Bumgarner (@NYM, LAD)
- Frankie Montas (@LAA, @TEX)
- Robbie Ray (LAD, @TOR)
- Martín Pérez (@CLE, @DET)
- Chris Paddack (PHI, WSH)
- Masahiro Tanaka (@TOR, @CLE)
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
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn must have the patience of a saint, persevering through three-seasons of futility to finally see the Adam Eaton trade pay dividends. Lucas Giolito has connected the dots between great stuff and great performance. His shutout of Houston on 5/23 was the culmination of both patience and faith. Giolito had a 1.35 ERA in five May starts. “He was doing really anything he wanted to,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “He’s changed his delivery, his arm action a little bit. He came in and really commanded the game from the very beginning.” Fire him up for this week, although, I sincerely hope facing same Royals team twice in a row doesn’t bode poorly for the 24-year-old.
This week sees a rematch of the 2016 NL Wild Card game between Noah Syndergaard and Madison Bumgarner. Boy, have times changed. In 2016, Thor and the Mad Bum would have been ranked in the top-10. In 2019, these once titans are ranked #25 & #26. They both have shown flashes of former brilliance, so only one way to go… maybe. By facing off, each pitcher individually has a lower win probability. #Analysis
Martín Pérez is my “Bold Strategy Cotton” Play. Sometimes, a guy needs a change of scenery and maybe a new approach to things. Pérez was signed by the Rangers at 16, and he was in the big leagues at 21. This season, things have clicked in a way they seldom did during 128 starts for the Rangers. The Twins cannot get enough credit for identifying the potential in Pérez and then helping turn it into performance. Indian bats pose a serious threat, but Tiger bats do not. I expect Pérez to bounce back from a rough last start and continue his breakout season.
INJURED LIST REPORT
Besides names already listed, here is the latest injury news on a few of your fantasy studs. I will update early in the week.
- With Austin Barnes (groin strain) on the IL, Dodgers called up the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will Smith. No, not that Will Smith, although he does walk up to the plate to the classic theme song. In his debut on 5/29, Smith looked good at the dish and had an idea of what he was doing with a sweet level swing, high leg kick in his load, and great upper body rotation (2-4, 2B). Smith was mashing in Triple-A, posting a .954 OPS over 138 at-bats. Overall, in his four years in the minors, Smith has a .244/.351/.439/.790 slash line. Thus far defensively, Smith looks like a modern analytics dream player, not that this exactly helps our cause for fantasy but can’t hurt. Coming out of Louisville, he was a high contact, gap-to-gap hitter, but surprised last season with a pull-oriented approach. He has good bat speed, especially for a catcher, and won’t be a liability against power. Also, Smith’s 20% K-rate doesn’t break the bank in this day and age. He’s an interesting waiver wire grab if available in dynasty leagues. An owner could gain some short term value while Barnes is on the shelf, and it would be short term as it appears Barnes will miss only the minimum. If Smith can tear it up as he did in his debut, he also plays 3B and could maybe stick around for depth. His long term value is the real attraction.
- Zach Eflin (mid-back tightness) was placed on IL 5/31, although, it doesn’t seem too serious. Being retro to 5/28, Eflin could return this Friday against the Reds after missing just one start. The shelling he received on 5/26 by Milwaukee was the precursor, as it was his shortest outing of the year. Prior, Eflin was enjoying a true breakout campaign. He has utilized a new pitch in the cutter along with a commitment to pounding the strike zone and pitching to contact. Among qualified NL starters, Eflin has the fifth-lowest ERA (2.76) and a respectable 1.15 WHIP (14th).
- Joey Gallo (left oblique) left 6/1’s game against the Royals after grabbing at his side following a check swing. In hindsight, Gallo injured the oblique making a throw from the outfield, and the check swing put him over his pain threshold. No word on severity of the injury or IL potentiality as of this writing, but I will update as soon as I hear anything.
- Yadier Molina (right thumb tendon strain) was placed on the IL, and I’m not exactly sure when the injury occurred. It may have dated back to last weekend before heading to Philadelphia. Nevertheless, we haven’t seen Yadi since 5/28 and will have to wait 10 more days. *UPDATE: After further testing, it was revealed Molina has a slight tear between his right thumb and forefinger.
- Mike Moustakas (right hand bruise) exited the ballgame on 6/1 after being hit by a pitch not long after belting his 16th HR of the season. X-Rays came back negative and Moose is DTD for now… aren’t we all?!?
- Jacob deGrom (right hip) went down awkwardly during the 7th inning of the eventual Mets loss to Arizona in extra innings on 6/1. On a ground ball hit up the middle, deGrom did well to avoid contact, allowing a double-play opportunity to manifest. He immediately clutched at his hip and tried to shake it off. After the Mets training staff examined him – oh no, don’t let them butchers near my fantasy pitcher – Jake stayed in the game for two more batters before being pulled. He may have been coming out anyway, as he was finally starting to get touched up after what was a deGrominate performance. Monitor this situation!
POV SPECIAL – TOP SP STREAM OF THE WEEK
→ Ariel Jurado, RH TEX (BAL, 6/6) – Jurado impressed in his last start against the Angels, firing 6.1 innings and allowing two runs on six hits along with two walks while striking out three. Jurado didn’t get many swings and misses, inducing a mere two swinging strikes, but the 23-year-old righty from the Dominican was efficient and effective. Baltimore is a far easier test than Los Angeles, and their 25.7% K-rate should increase Jurado’s K upside (only 6.67 K/9). Jurado tossed 101 pitches his last start so he is now fully stretched out to be a full-time starter. This stream does come with risk, but Jurado is good for allowing soft contact and ground balls. Getting creative here in order to fulfill my commitment from the introduction.
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)
- Matt Carpenter vs. Anthony DeSclafani – 6/5 (11/24, 6 XBH, 3 HR, 7 BB:5 K, .458/.581/1.000/1.581)
- Jose Abreu vs. Anibal Sanchez – 6/5 (13/24, 5 XBH, 2 HR, .542/.556/.917/1.472)
- Marcus Semien vs. Tyler Skaggs – 6/6 (10/21, 6 XBH, 2 HR, .476/.500/.952/1.452)
- Freddie Freeman vs. Jose Urena – 6/7 (9/23, 6 XBH, 3 HR, 4 BB:5 K, .391/.481/.957/1.438)
- Kiké Hernández vs. Madison Bumgarner – 6/9 (18/35, 7 XBH, 3 HR, .514/.528/.886/1.413)
- Starling Marte vs. Chase Anderson – 6/9 (13/29, 6 XBH, 2 HR, .448/.515/.828/1.343
- DJ LeMahieu vs. Clayton Richard – 6/4 (7/20, 2 XBH, 3 BB: 1 K, .350/.435/.500/.935)
- Marcell Ozuna vs. Cole Hamels – 6/7 (9/32, 3 HR, .281/.303/.563/.866)