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. Last time out, we celebrated our wins, and there were many good calls. But this time, there were some losses (in more ways than one) and a few missed calls. It’s easy to point out where we succeed together but a little more uncomfortable and a blow to the ego to harbor focus on where we went wrong. However, just like in Daily Fantasy Sports, it is oh-so-important in order to learn and become better fantasy players!
One miss, and previously hinted at loss, was Michael Conforto. If you recall, his image headed last week’s article, representing the player I was most geeked-up about for the week. For superstitious diehards, you will soon learn of “Povia Cover Boy Jinx.” Scott Bondar has long decreed this is not superstition but hardcore fact. Just ask him… he’ll tell ya from articles I have edited for him. Need further evidence? Look back two weeks only to see Trevor Bauer’s tough, chiseled jowl. He had a sweet two-step for the week (CHW, @OAK), strong supporting analytics and had been pitching lights-out. The results? 5.0 IP, 10 H, 7 ER, BB, 7 K, 2 HR, L vs. White Sox and 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 10 K, ND vs. Oak. A mixed bag, and despite the strong second start, still a let down of our grandiose expectations.
So if you see a player you own gracing the pages of Fantasy Guru for the MLB Weekly Preview, run! [Red Alert: Justin Verlander] As I wrote about Conforto last week, “(he had a) three-hit performance, including a 420-foot homer with an EV of 107.1 mph. He got his hips around and really turned on the pitch, hitting the ball out in front of the plate.” So he was showing signs of breaking out of his slump. Against Washington, Conforto had tasty matchups with scrapheap members Jeremy Hellickson and Aníbal Sánchez but struggled with tough lefty Patrick Corbin, who overmatched left-on-left. What I didn’t foresee was Conforto catching a shoulder check from teammate Robinson Canó, like he was Tie Freaking Domi! His week was cut short, and he now finds himself on the 7-day IL. Luckily, he stroked a three-run homer before his exit for some parting gifts this past week.
Unless you are Cisco Ramon from team Flash, you can’t foresee injury. The lesson to be learned here is to look for a hotter stretch of ABs (7-14 days minimum) before pulling the trigger on a player. I thought I was good with Conforto set to face 5-1 RHP:LHP, but we’ll never know how it would have turned out… whelp, next!
Don’t get it twisted; we were right about a few of our focal areas. Our Cleveland bats have done some mighty fine yard work this week, led by a rejuvenated Francisco Lindor. Joey Gallo has been murdering baseballs, and friends have been jumping on for the ride (Rougned Odor, Shin-soo Choo) as predicted. Verlander was downright filthy in his old stomping grounds, and Lucas Giolito squaring off against Toronto proved to work out twice in a seven-day period (Sun/Sat), seeing a 19.5-21% ownership increase in most leagues. I’ll say it again however, pay attention to his matchups and beware of the long hall!
As always, if there are any requests for information I can provide or a player/team you would like me cover, drop a line in our VIP Chat Room.
GAME BREAKDOWN GRID
Coming off a week with a low number of seven-game teams, this week sees a spike with 13. Offenses will dictate the flow much more substantially this week, so be contentious when selecting weekly-lock lineups. There will also be lots of decisions for daily leagues.
Chris Davis has been a true Rags to Riches story this season, going from a dude who couldn’t hit his way out of a wet paper bag to fantasy relevancy (8/38, 2 HR, .318 OBP last 15 days). Some may be tempted to roll him out for a seven-game week, including a three-game set in Coors. But not so fast, my friend! Orioles are set to face three LHPs, and he still has the same MO: strikeout master (12:5 K:BB also last 15). It’s often the players you don’t start who win you weeks. Don’t get cute with Lush Davis.
Yankees will face Davis’ team four out of seven games to begin the week, and six out of seven games will be against RHPs. Lefty Yankee bats will be a hot commodity this week, and Mike Tauchman may be cleared for launch. And speaking of launching the ball, Gary Sánchez is crushing MLB’s hardest homers. Aaron Hicks is set up to reacclimate to the bigs in a big way after a slow start coming off IL, and no one on the Yankees has been hotter than Gleyber Torres (14/41, 6 XBH, 3 HR, .341/.386/.634/1.021 last 15 days).
Angels may only see six games this upcoming week, but what a fine six-pack it is! With all six at home, Los Angeles will enjoy the home cooking just as their offense is firing on all cylinders. No coincidence the offense has picked up with the return of Shohei Ohtani. He is batting .289 since his return, and the Angels are 6-3 in the nine games he has played. Best part is Ohtani has a mere three strikeouts in his last five games, which is an improvement on his career 30.7% K rate. Angels will look to even out their splits (9th most runs this season/.815 OPS vs. RHP; 9th least runs/.650 OPS vs. LHP), facing an even distribution of lefty and righty subpar pitchers this week:
- Jake Odorizzi (4.66 xFIP, unsustainable 80% LOB percentage)
- Michael Pineda (5.55 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, .287 BAA, 4.37 SIERA)
- Martin Perez (4.18 xFIP, .293 BABIP, 3.74 BB/9)
- Jose Leclerc – Opener; Ariel Jurado (Like chocolate for Stilwell Angel… gimme, gimme, gimme)
- Drew Smyly (6.85 ERA, 1.73 WHIP, 1.64 HR/9, 145 ERA+)
- Mike Minor (2.61 ERA/3.61 FIP/4.25 xFIP, 4.19 SIERA)
Trout may hit 10 homers this week (kidding, maybe!).
With the potentiality of facing four LHPs, I am shying away from starting Mets batters this week, even with the seven-game schedule. On top of Conforto being out, New York is in the midst of a 20-game stretch without the benefit of a day off. Gonna be some tired arms and legs out there, and this club perpetually struggles against lefties. 2019 season stats vs. LHP: 46 runs (10th worst), 10 HR (9th worst), .256/.334/.410/.744, .304 wOBA. If you feel compelled, or need to due to injury, J.D. Davis or even a recently “luke-warm” Todd Frazier could make ok options this week, but I’m not going to make the same mistake as I did with Conforto and here are the confirmed starters facing New York: Corbin, Scherzer, Strasburg, Turnbull. Yikes!
ATTENTION: Kris Bryant is taking flight… and just in time for seven games in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field. This IS the torrid stretch we have been waiting for from Bryant. Since May 12th, he is 11/23 with four bombs overall. Expect it to continue versus these arms:
- Jake Arrieta (Bryant has never faced his former teammate but should be familiar with arsenal)
- Zach Eflin (Bryant’s BvP: 6/10, 1.300 OPS)
- Cole Irvin (Rook)
- Aaron Nola (Bryant’s BvP: 2/7, .762 OPS – not great but Nola scuffling)
- Anthony DeSclafani (Bryant’s BvP: 5/15, .733 OPS)
- Tyler Mahle (Bryant’s BvP: 0/3 but we pick on Mahle. That’s what we do)
- Tanner Roark (Bryant’s BvP: 7/14, HR, 1.286 OPS)
After scrolling through these arms (six RHP), it has me feelin’ Kyle Schwarber and now healthy Anthony Rizzo.
News Flash: Cody Bellinger is having a historic season. He is currently hitting .404 as of this writing and has me reminiscing of this legend. Too bad he and his fellow Dodgers only have five games this week, but hey, that is good for the average, right?
Six interleague series this week so there is fun to be had if you’re into that sort of thing.
LA begins their week with a quick, two-game set with the Rays, and good luck figuring out pitching matchups because I can’t even… but it doesn’t matter. There’ll be openers involved but of the RHP variety so Bellinger and the left-handed hitters’ brigade will be salivating at the mouth. Only two games, but I can see Chris Taylor and Joc Pederson at DH. Not the greatest homer-friendly park, but Tropicana Field is certainly not the worst (9th most HR/G 2019, 1.224).
Comerica Park sits at 11th most with 1.210 and will see Miami come in for a three-game series. Too bad Marlins lineup is so inept to take advantage of this or the DH; Jeter might even throw on a Marlins uni and take 4 ABs. In all seriousness, I’ll wager Starlin Castro sees time at DH, as he was a bit worse for wear after weekend series with Mets and could enjoy some time off the field. As for Detroit, they play TWO interleague series this week and travel to Queens for three games against the Mets. However, this time they lose the luxury of DH. Expect super-utilityman Niko Goodrum to man first base while Miggy rests them old bones.
Even though interleague play is antiquated, and I would prefer seeing more games versus out-of-division counterparts within the leagues, I do still enjoy these “Rivalry Series.” We have the Show-Me Series between Royals and Cardinals this week, and there should be some electric baseball over the two games. Jorge Soler may miss out on the fun unless the Royals opt to start him in right and sit rookie Nicky Lopez in favor of Soler and two-hit Whit. Would be hard though, as all Lopez has done is post a slash line of .300/.391/.450/.841, .365 wOBA, and rake three doubles in 20 MLB at-bats. Cardinal bats will feast on old whipping boy Homer Bailey (7.11 ERA last three years vs. STL – 6 GS) and Brad Keller.
Padres travel north of the border for three games and will enjoy an opportunity to clear out logjam in outfield. The most obvious move would be to start Manuel Margot in CF and Wil Myers at DH. Although, an interesting move could be in the works. San Diego is hoping to have Fernando Tatis Jr. back from IL in time for this series, and with Tatis not yet running at full speed, a few games at DH may be just what the doctor ordered.
TOP TWO-START PITCHERS
IN ORDER OF PREFERENCE
- Trevor Bauer (OAK, TB)
- Justin Verlander (CHW, BOS)
- Patrick Corbin (@NYM, MIA)
- Carlos Carrasco (OAK, TB)
- Caleb Smith (@DET, @WSH)
- German Marquez (@PIT, BAL)
- Chris Paddack (ARI, @TOR)
- Domingo German (@BAL, @KC)
- David Price (@TOR, @HOU)
- Spencer Turnbull (MIA, @NYM)
- Eduardo Rodriguez (@TOR, @HOU)
- Mike Soroka (@SF, @STL)
- Luke Weaver (@SD, @SF)
- Zack Wheeler (WSH, DET) – Beware of start against Nationals, as they have OWNED Wheeler this season (9.77 ERA, .323 BAA, 10:15 BB:K in 15.2 IP) and are finally healthy. Save for Detroit start in daily leagues.
- J.A. Happ (@BAL, @KC)
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
Wednesday, May 22nd is setting up for some Must-See TV! Max vs. Jake.. Scherzer vs. deGrom… Ol’ Blue Eye vs. Mr. Cy Young, well, you get my point. Always have these games circled on the calendar. However, deGrom has not been deGrominating like last season, enduring a 10+ ERA in two of his last five games. He looked back on track in three games between, albeit, against slightly lower competition (CIN, SD, MIA). But that same Marlins team just tattooed him for seven runs (six earned) in five innings. This is why I have him ranked down this week, and perhaps I didn’t go low enough, facing Scherzer and having lower probability for the win.
Justin Verlander has a sweet two-step this week, facing off against a pair of Sox. Wait, I know whatcha thinking… but it’s O’Dweeds, mon! Chicago may be tasty, but Beantown could wind up leaving that sour, bitter taste in your mouth only Yankee fans truly know, however infrequent it may be. Not so fast! Over the last three seasons, Kate Upton’s significant other possesses a 2.10 ERA, has given up only 19 hits in 30 innings pitched (.181 BAA) and whiffed 23 Boston batters. But as we spoke of in the opener, Verlander is this week’s cover boy, so he will inevitably get shelled. Mark it an eight, Dude!
Good variety of two-start pitchers are mixed in throughout this week’s rankings. This means inflated fantasy team scores from our aces, mid-tier pitchers as well as arms who can be had off the waiver wire. Be cunning! Besides Verlander above, you have to love German Marquez at Pittsburgh and hosting Baltimore at Coors Field. If only every home start for Marquez could be against the lowly Orioles… wishful thinking.
This week’s “Bold Strategy Cotton” Play is Frankie Montas. Montas has been blistering hot over his past three starts, including a game against the very same Indians team he will be facing this week. Issue here is Cleveland bats have been equally hot and this time, they’ll be home. I will still start Montas confidently. His 10.5 K/9 against Cleveland may have me dancing all the way to the cashier. I realize there is no actual cashier for fantasy baseball, but I imagine one in my head, gosh darn it!
INJURED LIST REPORT
Besides the names already listed, here is the latest injury news on a few of your fantasy studs. I will update throughout the week.
- Masahiro Tanaka (shin) exited game on 5/18 with two outs in the sixth. The right-hander was hit by a 111.3-mph grounder off the bat of Yandy Diaz and was in much pain. Being cleared of any structural damage, NY is hoping he can make his next scheduled start Thursday in Baltimore. This is why he is asterisked and ranked lower above. *Update 5/20: On Sunday morning, Tanaka walked into the clubhouse without a limp – the first signal that he might be ready to go on Thursday afternoon. His arrival on Sunday “was at least encouraging that he walked in feeling pretty well,’’ manager Aaron Boone said. “Definitely some soreness in there, but walking is not an issue.’’
- Justin Turner left with a left shin contusion in the fifth inning after fouling a ball off his leg two innings prior. Turner won’t be in the lineup for a couple days, but a stint on the injured list is not likely, according to manager Dave Roberts. X-rays were negative, and he pinch-hit against Cincinnati on 5/19. *Update 5/20: Turner was back in the lineup for Sunday’s series finale, which is obviously a positive sign. Roberts said, “We thought about giving him an extra day with the off-day coming tomorrow, but Justin was adamant and training staff was good with him playing. Swelling is down. We’ll keep an eye on him, but we’re confident.”
- Zack Greinke’s (abdominal tightness) MRI came back clean on 5/17, two days after the right-hander exited his start in the eighth inning. He threw his last pitch anyway, and D’Backs were likely being precautionary with MRI, understandably so. He threw a bullpen Saturday without any issues, and manager Torey Lovullo said the right-hander will start Tuesday against the Padres in San Diego.
- Eloy Jimenez (high right ankle sprain) could be nearing his return. The hope is that the 22-year-old, who is on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Charlotte, will be back during the White Sox trip to Houston from May 20-23. *Update 5/20: The Sox optioned outfielder Nicky Delmonico to Charlotte after Sunday’s game, possibly clearing a spot for Jimenez to return. They’ll announce a corresponding roster move before today’s game in Houston.
- Jorge Alfaro (left calf strain) exited 5/18’s game against the Mets after being shaken up in a collision at second base. He was diagnosed with a left calf strain but said he should be back in the lineup early next week. He was to get a scheduled day off Sunday prior to the injury.
- George Springer left game on 5/20 against Boston in the fifth inning with stiffness in his lower back (a reoccurring issue for the 29-year-old All-Star outfielder). Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Springer is day-to-day but definitely will not play on Monday when the Astros open a series against the White Sox at home.
POV SPECIAL – TOP SP STREAM OF THE WEEK
→ Erick Fedde, RH WSH (@NYM, 5/21; MIA, 5/26) – Ok, hear me out. Fedde will take the spot of Anibal Sanchez, while he is out 10 days with a bum hamstring. Starting a bullpen arm coming into the rotation is almost always a risky proposition, but Fedde has illustrated good peripheral numbers. He owns a 3.38 ERA on the year with a 1.03 WHIP. Fedde gives up home runs at a 0.84 HR/9 clip and owns a 79 ERA+. Marlins are the worst hitting team in baseball (don’t tell that to the Mets). Speaking of New York, the team he faces first, they are giving Miami a run for their money in that category as of late. When these two teams faced each other on 5/18, Mets were able to muster ONE bloody hit on the FIRST pitch of the game. The starter? Pablo Lopez, an average starter at best.
For more streaming options on the mound AND at the plate, visit Vlad’s FAAB Values! Biggest free agent period in fantasy baseball history!!!
Top Hitter BvP for the Week (minimum 20 ABs)
- Joey Votto vs. Kyle Hendricks – 5/24 (9/21, 4 XBH, 3 HR, 11 BB/5 K, .429/.625/.905/1.530)
- Jose Abreu vs. Justin Verlander – 5/21 (15/41, 7 XBH, 5 HR, .366/.435/.780/1.215)
- Jay Bruce vs. Lance Lynn – 5/21 (15/39, 6 XBH, 3 HR, 11 RBI, .385/.422/.744/1.166)
- Charlie Blackmon vs. Andrew Cashner – 5/25 (8/23, 5 XBH, 2 HR, .348/.375/.783/1.158)
- Justin Smoak vs. Rick Porcello – 5/22 (12/40, 8 XBH, 5 HR, 14 RBI, 7 BB/12 K, .300/.404/.750/1.154)
- Yadier Molina vs. Homer Bailey – 5/21 (20/50, 6 XBH, 3 HR, 3 BB/ 6 K, .400/.426/.640/1.066
- Anthony Rendon vs. Steven Matz – 5/23 (8/25, 3 HR, .320/.346/.680/1.026)
- Marcell Ozuna vs. Julio Teheran – 5/26 (17/47, 5 XBH, 3 HR, 9 RBI, .362/.362/.596/.957)