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. However, having a more dominant week than May 20-26 may prove difficult if we were riding with our dawgs from last writeup. Let’s have a peak, shall we?
Gleyber Torres remained scorching hot, to the surprise of no one (4 @BAL, 3 @KC). Torres became 1st player in MLB history to hit 10 of first 12 HRs in a season vs. one opponent (Orioles). The human dumpster fire that is Dan Straily aided this with two homers allowed to Torres on 5/22 and has now allowed 14 HR in 34.2 IP this season (t-2nd most HR allowed in MLB). When we last looked at Torres’ teammate, Aaron Hicks, the seven-year vet (wow) was making his return from beginning season on the IL. After taking a couple 0-for-4’s, Hicks began to find his stroke (5/18, HR, 6 BB:6 K). The competition, or lack thereof, helped and expect his stroke to keep getting sweeter.
I almost felt like I was cheating, suggesting Frankie Montas on the road against Cleveland as a bold play. Kid is having a phenomenal season, posting career highs in ERA, K rate and WHIP. What is eye-gouging is his 176 ERA+, 2.72 FIP and 3.50 SIERA. However, Indians at home was a true test, and Montas passed with flying colors (6 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 9 K, W). He always had a good fastball and slider, but at times in the past, Montas could become predictable. Adding in the split-finger fastball has given batters one more thing to think about and has helped keep them off-balance this season. This pitch has been excellent and has racked up the strikeouts. Montas has not allowed a HR in last 44 IP (2nd longest streak this season).
Who’s Up/Who’s Down
A pair of first basemen…
UP – Pete Alonso hit his 17th HR in first 50 games of his career – 7th in MLB history to hit that many that quickly. More so, Alonso is terrorizing relief pitchers. 14 of his 17 long balls have been against the pen. Quickly picking up the moniker “Mr. Clutch” for the Mets and your fantasy teams.
DOWN – Joey Votto has been on a year & a half decline and is really grinding right now. He always choked up but is entering Ted Bundy territory at a near 4-inch choke on the bat; largest I’ve ever seen with Votto. He is losing his once elite bat speed as he gets older, so Votto has to cheat on the fastball like other older players before him. He has also traded his level swing for more of an uppercut, sacrificing line-drives to get his slugging up. As a result, contact is down (>25% K rate this season – 18% career), and his slugging is still falling behind (.333 in 2019; lifetime .524).
All culminating, Votto’s spectacular career OBP of .424 is down to .318 this season. Time to part ways, perhaps? Wait for a mini hot streak and pawn off on some unknowing soul! He did go 2-for-4 with a double on 5/24 (against Kyle Hendricks; see last week’s BvP King) and has hit safely in nine out of last 11 games.
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
If you recall me hyping up lefty Yankee bats last week, you have a better memory than I do, because if I hadn’t written those words, I wouldn’t have remembered. It pays to have a short memory in fantasy sports, sometimes. It is with the Yankees this week, as they will be facing FIVE left-handed pitchers. And albeit it some quality arms (David Price, Eduardo Rodriguez, Joey Lucchesi), these lefties can be had. Of course, Torres and Gary Sanchez are lock button, but I would be interested in starting Luke Voit (.243/.349/.471/.821 in May; .876 OPS vs. LHP 2019), Clint Frazier (3 HR last three games) or DJ LeMahieu (1.067 OPS vs. LHP 2019) with seven games total this week.
Rays will see six right-handed pitchers this week, which is wonderful news for a resurgent Brandon Lowe. Often riding the pine vs. LHPs, Lowe should see a steady amount of at-bats this week, and the one lefty, Clayton Richard, poses no threat to Lowe. I could see him starting all seven games (did face Kershaw and Hill this week in the 9 hole) due to his torrid .304/.333/.609 last seven days. Going back to his last 14 games, Lowe carries a .802 OPS.
Another player sitting pretty for this week is Yoán Moncada (7 G, 7 RHP). The switch hitter is performing much better from the left batters box, slashing .284/.353/.560/.913 vs. righties. Some other notable lefties who make interesting starts: Yonder Alonso, Leury García (SW), Charlie Tilson. Eloy Jiménez is ok too from the right side, although eight strikeouts in last five games tarnish the 3 HRs in same time span.
Twins Prolific Offense: 2nd team in MLB history to reach 100 HR in their first 50 games (1999 Mariners). The 8 HRs hit on 5/23 against Angels were a big push towards this mark and were much appreciated in my Twins DFS stack that evening. 1-9, every hitter in this lineup can be started in leagues, depending on size and roster depth. Jonathan Schoop has been leaving that minty-fresh taste in managers’ mouths, hitting four of his 10 home runs in the last seven days, good for 11 rib eye steaks. Jorge Polanco (.339 BAA, 1.029 OPS) has been a revelation this season and is a must start at this point. Eddie Rosario is quite possibly the best bat in baseball NOBODY talks about!
Nationals have been downright dreadful, especially that bullpen, which is approaching historic levels of suckiness. The offense hasn’t been the issue, as they are slowly working their way back to full strength. Juan Soto and Matt Adams hit back-to-back HRs off 100+ MPH heat this past week (Soto: 100.1, Adams: 101.5). It was the first time a team has hit two HR off 100+ MPH pitches in one game in pitch-tracking era (since 2008). Actually, the first time a team has hit two in a *season* … these lefty bats are scheduled to face five right-handed arms, and some are juicy: Jose Urena, Tyler Mahle, Tanner Roark. Sonny Gray and Max Fried are sprinkled in there too, so temper expectations for the week.
Pittsburgh plays a doubleheader on Memorial Day at Great American Ballpark (HR Park Factor: 1.366; 5th) and thus has a whopping eight-game week. If you have held onto any other Pirate besides Josh Bell (May Stats: .405 BAA, 10 HR, 26 RBI, 1.339 OPS), this is the week to use em! If not now, when? PS: Anthony DeSclafani should fall on Tuesday or Wednesday, and he comes bearing gifts – Jersey Fresh tomatoes and gopher balls!
The Brew Crew will miss the homerdome known as Miller Park this week with six games on the road. Well, technically it’s a convertible roof stadium, but these are just semantics. For Christian Yelich, sure, he too will miss Miller Park (16 HRs in 20 games; 1.673 HOME OPS), but does it matter where he’s hitting? After sitting for two games with back stiffness, Yelich launched his 20th homer of the season on 5/24 vs. Philadelphia, tops in MLB. It was also the fastest to 20 homers in Brewers franchise history (45 games), besting the mark set by Prince Fielder. Keep in mind, Yelich hit his 20th tater on August 20th of 2018, his MVP season.
Kevin Cron has been promoted by the Diamondbacks.. D’Backs start the week in Coors for four… POUNCE!!!
We have a Coors week on her hands with Rockies home for seven games. The hurler selection they will face is a bit of a roller coaster ride between elite, solid major leaguers, young arms with something to prove and a 14-team journeyman.
- Zack Greinke
- Merrill Kelly
- Robbie Ray
- Taylor Clarke (We’ll see if the rookie sticks in the rotation)
- Edwin Jackson
- Marcus Stroman
- Aaron Sanchez
Trevor Story reached 100 career home runs in fewer games (448) than any other shortstop in history! He has great BvP numbers vs. Greinke (see below) and will give the Blue Jays his best Tulo impersonation during Interleague play. Daniel Murphy will face 6 RHPs to continue his lukewarm/hot streak.
Padres have played one Interleague game in an AL park as of this writing (5/24) and called up rookie prospect Josh Naylor to fill the DH position. Just when you think they can alleviate logjam in outfield, they bring up Naylor to #OccupyDH. The reasoning is well understood, as Wil Myers is mired in one of the worst slumps in his career (and that is saying something about the streaky 28-year-old). Since May 12, Myers is 2-for-24 with 13 Ks, and looking back even further, he is batting .173 in the month of May. Myers’ .297 wOBA is not getting it done, and now Naylor gets an opportunity while San Diego is touring the AL East. Stay Classy! *UPDATE: Well, Myers decided to heed my advice and stay classy with two home runs on 5/25. Feeling the pressure and the footsteps, Myers responded in a big way. He could be breaking out.
ANALYSIS – I want a piece of Randal Grichuk in Coors!!! Justin Smoak and Tellez will battle for 1B time. Initially, I would give the edge to Smoak for all three starts, but Tellez has been tearing the cover off the ball last seven days (8/24, 4 XBH, 3 HR, 6 RBI). I would imagine a 2:1 split in favor of Smoak, who is the better fielder and has also had himself a week (6/23, 4 XBH, 3 HR, 5 BB last seven days; .346 wOBA 2019).
Man, I wish Brewers/Twins Interleague series was seven games… hmm, I may have just had a wonderful premonition! For now, we get two games, and that’s two games with a DH for the Brewers. Brewers, who were once an AL team as of 1998, are currently constructed like an AL team and have one of the biggest benefits of any NL team traveling to an AL ballpark. Initially, I viewed Jesus Aguilar and/or Eric Thames as the most likely DH candidates. But earlier this season against Angels, Ryan Braun and Yelich each saw a game at DH. Plus, both Aguilar and Thames have been struggling at the dish past seven games. Thames will most likely man first base, while Yelich can continue to rest his back as designated hitter.
Cubs/Astros could very well be another preview of World Series baseball. Kyle Schwarber has seen nine of the 21 DH ABs for the Cubs this season (Kris Bryant saw two starts at DH vs. Seattle when he was nursing an injury end of April). Expect that trend to continue.
TOP TWO-START PITCHERS
IN ORDER OF PREFERENCE
- Max Scherzer (MIA, @CIN)
- Gerrit Cole (CHC, @OAK)
- Clayton Kershaw (NYM, PHI)
- Jacob deGrom (@LAD, @ARI)
- Zack Greinke (@COL, NYM)
- Lucas Giolito (KC, CLE)
- Masahiro Tanaka (SD, BOS)
- Matthew Boyd (@BAL, @ATL)
- Cole Hamels (@HOU, @STL)
- Sonny Gray (PIT, WSH) – Now set for two starts this week, Gray shoots up the rankings. I failed to list him below in pitcher rankings table. I would now have him ranked 30th.
- Marco Gonzales (TEX, LAA)
- Rich Hill (NYM, PHI)
- Jon Gray (ARI, TOR)
- Steven Matz (@LAD, @ARI)
- Matt Strahm (@NYY, MIA)
- Rick Porcello (CLE, @NYY) – Pitching better as of late, but these two starts are Uuuuugly! He does own a 2.56 ERA vs.Yankees last three seasons, but full disclosure… I always try to list at least 15 two-start pitchers for you guys, and this plays a part in how he made the list.
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
There is an elite grouping of two-start pitchers in the top-5 of that category. However, after these arms, there is a sharp decline in quality, or in the case of Lucas Giolito, a decline in high-performance case history. But what a fine last five starts the once National prospect has had! His last start was his best in the bigs, a complete game shutout with 9 Ks, ONE WALK and a mere four hits allowed. Expect the good times to roll this week.
Last week, we were treated to some Must-See TV with deGrom vs. Scherzer, and the game did not disappoint. This week, deGrom faces another ace and Cy Young award winner in Clayton Kershaw. Thanks to righty bats Alonso and Wilson Ramos, along with Frankenstein projects Carlos Gómez and Rajai Davis, Mets are faring better against LHPs of late. But once again, like last week, ace vs. ace offers a lower probability for the win. Thus, each pitcher’s ceiling takes a hit. Hopefully, again like last week, each pitcher’s peripheral stats make them a successful start.
Joey Lucchesi makes an appearance on this week’s rankings despite a tough assignment, traveling to the Bronx for a date with Yankees. He had a great bounce-back performance against Toronto (6.2 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, BB, 11 K) last time out, but this will be a much tougher test. The biggest issue I see with Looch is his changeup. He has a 28.2 K% on changeups in 2019 after posting 41.9 K% on changeups last season (changeup is 2nd most frequent pitch thrown). I’m gonna start him in my points league and sit him in NFBC Main Event. (See Below)
This week’s “Bold Strategy Cotton” Play is Marco Gonzales. 27-year-old Gonzales has two starts scheduled this week, but the matchups will be challenging, to say the least. However, upon further review, they may be better than first thought. It helps both games will be at home, which is a positive park factor for SPs. Gonzales has been better on the road but still possess a 3.86 ERA in Seattle. The key element is left-handed pitchers do far better against these teams, Texas especially. The Rangers have a mediocre .227/.308/.421/.729 slash line and have scored 59 runs (14th) vs. lefties this season. Gonzales’ numbers when facing Texas this season: 2 GS, 0.64 ERA, 12 K:1 BB in 14 IP. As for the Halos, their slash line vs. lefties is even worse at .211/.299/.363/.662, and they have scored 54 runs (19th).
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.
- Dee Gordon (wrist) was rushed back too soon. I remember when he was hit by a pitch on the right wrist and missed a few weekend games. I was surprised to not see him on IL come that Monday morning. Clearly, the injury was still an issue upon his return to lineup, and as of 5/21, Gordon will spend time on IL after all and miss more time when it could have been treated right away. I loathe medical training staff mismanagement. He will be eligible to return May 31.
- Robinson Cano (quad) finally busted one down the line, and look what happened (insert sarcasm here). He suffered the injury running down the first base line on Wednesday night. He’ll likely be sidelined for a couple of weeks. Brittle, they knew he would be. Side Note: Jarred Kelenic is making Mets’ trade look even worse, belting his eighth home run at Single-A West Virginia this week.
- George Springer (hamstring) is likely headed to injured list. Ironically, he had just returned to the lineup after missing the previous four games with a stiff lower back. Springer suffered injury to his left hamstring while pursuing a fly ball curling towards foul territory. Aledmys Díaz, Yuli Gurriel and Springer were all aggressively sprinting to make the catch, and Springer had to slide in order to avoid hitting the wall as well as his teammates. Springer immediately grabbed his hamstring and asked to leave the game, reports Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. *Update: Hamstring injury is better than initially feared but still diagnosed as a Grade 2 strain. Astros did place Springer on IL and haven’t given a timetable for his return. Grade 2 hamstring strains historically carry four to eight weeks of recovery, so expect Springer to be out longer than 10 days.
- Andrelton Simmons headed to injured list this week with a Grade 3 left ankle sprain. The positive news is Simmons will not require surgery, but he will still likely be out through the All-Star break. The swelling around the ankle will need to subside before a more definitive timetable can be established.
- Updating the status of Fernando Tatis Jr., the young shortstop was looking to get into some extended spring training games in order to regain 100% run capacity. However, this hamstring injury (like many) has been lingering, delaying his rehab. The Padres already ruled him out for their current road trip and want to see him get some at-bats in extended spring games, which finally occurred on 5/23. The earliest Tatis could return would be May 31 at home against the Marlins, although, a return to action beginning of June looks more probable.
- Michael Conforto (concussion) should be activated from IL as soon as 5/26, as he has been symptom-free for the past four days. *Activated 5/26
- Chris Paddack was scratched from Sunday’s start against Blue Jays with neck stiffness, Dennis Lin of The Athletic reports. Padres currently plan for Paddack to retake the mound Wednesday against Yankees (Update to starting pitching rank above: 30th, as he will now face Yanks in New York rather than Marlins in San Diego. Joey Lucchesi shifts to face the Marlins 5/31, which moves him up to 44th ranked SP).
POV SPECIAL – TOP SP STREAM OF THE WEEK
→ Pablo López, RH MIA (SF, 5/29) – San Fran has been a team we have picked on all season. Their anemic offense has compiled a .219/.283/.366/.649 team slash line, scored 188 TOTAL runs on the season (28th), and .594 OPS over the last seven days. Not even The Panda can save this offense. They are mid-pack in strikeouts (27.1 K%) so López’ K upside isn’t quite as high as I would like. Although, he has whiffed 50 batters in 51.2 IP, and I feel he can make quick work of the Giants with his .250 BAA and 1.24 WHIP.
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)
- Mike Trout vs. Mike Leake – 5/31 (11/21, 7 XBH, HR, .524/.600/.952/1.552)
- Starling Marte vs. Chase Anderson – 5/30 (13/27, 6 XBH, 2 HR, 2 BB:3 K, .481/.533/.889/1.422)
- Charlie Blackmon vs. Robbie Ray – 5/29 (18/39, 5 XBH, 4 HR, 11 RBI, .462/.488/.821/1.308)
- Freddie Freeman vs. Stephen Strasburg – 5/28 (17/48, 9 XBH, 4 HR, 16 RBI, .354/.421/.708/1.129)
- Steve Pearce vs. J.A. Happ – 5/30 (11/35, 8 XBH, 6 HR, 16 RBI, 5 BB:5 K, .314/.419/.886/1.304)
- Starling Marte vs. Chase Anderson – 5/30 (13/27, 7 XBH, HR, 4 BB:4 K, .481/.533/.889/1.422)
- Trevor Story vs. Zack Greinke – 5/27 (11/38, 7 XBH, 5 HR, 12 RBI, .289/.308/.737/1.045)
- Mookie Betts vs. Masahiro Tanaka – 6/2 (13/42, 7 XBH, 2 HR, .310/.333/.571/.905)
I honor those who have served and died for this country as we remember them this Memorial Day.