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 from Elite Sports Network booming, was 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.
“But who, in the blue hell are you?!” you may be asking yourself. Well, you are justified in this thought process. But you will soon get to know ‘Your Man Pov’ when I guide you to fantasy baseball win after fantasy baseball win and championship after championship. I have been playing seasonal baseball leagues since the mid-’90s. Yep, that’s right… predating online formats. Us league members met in Alexander Library at Rutgers University every Monday morning to examine USA Today & Baseball Weekly’s box scores, tabulated the stats, and determined winners. #StoneAge
After working in education for the university 12+ years, I decided to make my “hobby” a career. Follow your passions, make them goals, and CRUSH them is a mantra of mine. Since taking on the next challenge in my life, I’ve been editing for the various sites of Elite Sports Network. Now, the tiger has been let out of the cage!
In the following weekly preview, you will find a game breakdown for all 30 MLB teams (including Interleague play if applicable), 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. One thing I’m most excited about for this week is my Colorado Rockie hitters have juicy matchups at Coors, all week long!
One player you won’t be able to gain services from for the time being is Matt Kemp, who was let go by Cincinnati while on the IL. Pretty shocking, considering Reds are on the hook for $15.75 million of his $21.75 million last year of deal. He will more than probably get scooped up by some team in need once healthy for the league minimum (make Jake Taylor proud!). But with his .200/.210/.283 slash line in 62 plate appearances for the Reds this season (19:1 K/BB, yuck!), you more than likely weren’t rostering him anyway. Hopefully, he imparted some wisdom to rookie Nick Senzel, who hit his first tater (of many) in MLB career over the weekend.
GAME BREAKDOWN GRID
Astros bats in your lineup are a must this week with seven home games and a plethora of meaty matchups – and by meaty, I mean super tender filet mignon from Morton’s:
- Jakob Junis (5.12 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 10.2 H/9; 4.13 FIP bodes well for him, however.)
- Danny Duffy (He has pitched well so far this year in 11 innings of work, but it’s only a matter of time before the blowup… this week?)
- Jorge López (5.09 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 1.5 HR/9)
- Mike Minor (Having a career year or at the very least a quality throwback, but regression is coming.)
- Lance Lynn (5.45 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 10.4 H/9)
- Drew Smyly (recently off IL)
- Adrian Sampson (3.58 ERA + 4.71 FIP = Danger Zone)
Angels will SMASH this week… load up. Facing an even distribution of lefties and righties, both sides of the plate will perform this week. Just look at this list of pitchers they’ll be facing:
- Daniel Norris (3.47 ERA, but 1.50 WHIP & 4.62 FIP illustrate the type of pitcher he is.)
- Matthew Boyd (Lone diamond in the rough; 3.05 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 57:11 K/BB)
- Tyson Ross (He is absolutely horrid. #Analysis)
- Dylan Bundy (5.30 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 2.9 HR/9)
- John Means (.221 BAA, 2.81 ERA but recent shelling by hapless ChiSox rose that ERA from 1.74; 4.48 FIP says he’s been extremely lucky and will be owned by Trout & company)
- Andrew Cashner (Dumpster Fire)
Andrelton Simmons (.292/.308/.438/.746) has solid BvP numbers vs. the projected pitchers above and can serve as a good source of production from right side of the plate. Borderline calls like this win you weeks; feel free to roll out Simmer along with the usual suspects.
That’s a whole lotta righty bats for Bryce Harper, Odúbel Herrera and company to get right this week. Keep the Faith and Ring the Bell.
Brewers are in an awkward spot. They face three righties at home, but two of their names are Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. Then they face three lefties on the road, and two of their names are Cole Hamels and Jon Lester with José Quintana being the third. I would sit my Brewers not named Ryan Braun or Christian Yelich, although, it may be a light week for Mr. MVP.
Cincinnati Reds bats may be finally starting to warm up, and if that pitching maintains (it will not), they could possibly be competitive in the NL Central. They will be productive this week despite negative park shifts, but they do have that sweet one-game carryover in the 4-game series vs. the Giants at home. They’ll see them again in San Fran by week’s end, but not before they stroll through “scenic” Oakland Coliseum to face Aaron Brooks (5.74 ERA, 1.34 WHIP), Mike Fiers (6.81/1.49) and Brett Anderson (3.89/1.41).
Arizona Diamondbacks offense has really surprised me, and I was already aboard the Ketel Marte train for his combo of power and speed plus mucho position eligibility. They may continue to amaze this upcoming week, and they will need to vs. a very solid projected list: Snell, Morton, Glasnow, Soroka, Teheran, Fried and Foltynewicz. Tough sledding!
Continuing where we left off in the previous section, the Dbacks travel to Tampa Bay for some Interleague action. By gaining DH, I can see steady ABs for Dyson throughout the series, as either David Peralta or Adam Jones could see time at designated hitter while Dyson takes the field. If you’re trailing large in SB category, could be a nice roll of the dice. Rangers lose the DH when they visit the Pirates at Three Rivers, ur um, PNC Park. Can’t see Choo losing at-bats; sorry Mr. Pence, but it is only two games after all. Besides facing the aforementioned “Mötley Crüe” of misfit arms, the Reds gain an extra bat in the lineup to either display prized-prospect Senzel or play Dietrich, who has been real good coming off the bench for Cincy.
TOP TWO-START PITCHERS
- Trevor Bauer (CHW, @OAK)
- Max Scherzer (@MIL, @LAD)
- Jacob deGrom (@SD, MIA)
- Jose Berrios (@TOR, DET)
- Stephen Strasburg (@MIL, @LAD)
- Blake Snell/Charlie Morton (ARI, NYY)
- Gerrit Cole (KC, TEX)
- Caleb Smith (@CHC, @NYM)
- Masahiro Tanaka (SEA, @TB)
- Walker Buehler (ATL, WSH)
- Cole Hamels/Jon Lester (MIA, MIL)
- Marcus Stroman (MIN, CHW)
- Max Fried (@LAD, @ARI)
- Anthony DeSclafani (SF, @SF) – Beware of the double start but pitching well!
- Madison Bumgarner (@COL*, CIN) – For daily leagues, I would skip first start for obvious reasons and start vs. Reds. Weekly leagues may have to bite the bullet unless in a shallow league (10/12 teams).
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
A lot of Grade-A Beef coming into the week with two starts scheduled. Point-based leagues should see a bump in average score, and thus, how many points you will need to win. It has me personally reaching a bit for some other two-start pitchers from the Grade-C chuck steak variety (i.e. DeSclafani). At least it’s better than Taco Bell meat (Grade D But Edible), and there’s nothing like a well-cooked chuck steak.
My favorite single-start pitcher this week is Justin Verlander vs. Texas. Over the past three seasons against the Rangers (9 GS), he has a 2.68 ERA, .205 BAA and 72 Ks in 57 innings. Every year is a new year, and past data can only say so much, but you have to like one of the best pitchers in the game versus a team strikeout percentage of 24.8%.
Now four starts removed from his IL stint to begin the season, Clayton Kershaw found his swagger over his past two starts vs. Pittsburgh and at San Diego. Atlanta will serve as a stronger test for the 12-year vet, but Kersh dominated this very same Braves ball club last season in two starts – one of which was in the postseason (15.2 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 11 K and two wins).
I firmly believe Caleb Smith makes a statement this week, going against the surging Cubs offense and the scuffling Mets. Both starts are on the road, which is concerning since Smith’s ERA was two full points higher on the road last season (5.18). But he’s been darn near lights out this season, and hopefully, colder weather in Chitown and Queens will be a factor for the bats. This very well may wind up being my “Bold Strategy, Cotton” so let’s see if it pays off!
INJURED LIST REPORT
Here is the latest news on a few key MLB players and their current status:
- Corey Kluber (fractured right forearm) won’t require immediate surgery, and he will be re-examined in 3-to-4 weeks, Mandy Bell of MLB.com reports.
- Juan Soto (back spasms) was placed on the IL by the Washington Nationals on 5/4. The 20-year-old OF had missed three-straight games before the Nats made the designation, so move is retroactive to May 1. Soto hasn’t quite lived up to the hype of last season, but the team and fantasy owners alike will miss his slash line of .248/.368/.467 (117 OPS+) and six home runs during a season-defining stretch.
- Fernando Tatis Jr. (hamstring) is eligible to return on May 10th but may need extra time to recover. In the meantime, the Padres have two options at shortstop. They could use Greg Garcia at shortstop or move Manny Machado over and start Ty France at third base.
- A.J. Pollock (elbow) will undergo surgery to remove the metal hardware that was inserted in his problematic right elbow – his third surgery on the elbow since 2010 – and has no timeline on a return. Alex Verdugo benefits the most for increased playing time. While on the field, he has been spectacular, hitting .342/.368/.616 with four homers and 16 RBI in 76 plate appearances.
- Jameson Taillon (right elbow flexor strain) will be shut down for at least the next four weeks. Taillon had a 101 ERA+ through his first seven starts. He’d recorded nearly four times as many strikeouts as walks and had three quality starts.
- Steven Matz (forearm) will travel back to New York to have a nerve issue in his left forearm examined, Tim Healey of Newsday reports. Matz came up a little lame (what else is new) after his last start Friday against the Brewers where he turned in his third solid performance in a row and four in his last five. He is scheduled to take the hill again Wednesday in San Diego, but all concerns will need to be wiped away in New York for this to happen… stay tuned. Update: Tests on Matz confirm a nerve irritation issue. He’s likely to miss a start or two, but the good news is there is no structural damage and the 27-year-old LHP may or may not hit the IL. Club has not confirmed as of yet.
- UPDATE: David Price (left elbow tendinitis) heads to the 10-day IL and will miss that juicy start @BAL.
POV SPECIAL – TOP SP STREAM OF THE WEEK
→ Matt Strahm, LH SD (NYM, 5/8)
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)
- Brett Gardner vs. Felix Hernandez (14/37, 3 XBH, 1 HR, 6 BB/8 K, .378/.465/.514/.979)
- Justin Smoak vs. Martin Perez (8/20, 4 XBH, 5 BB/4 K, .400/.520/.600/1.120)
- Edwin Encarnacion vs. Masahiro Tanaka (11/25, 4 XBH, 2 HR, .440/.481/.760/1.241)
- Christian Yelich vs. Jeremy Hellickson (9/26, 2 XBH, 1 HR, 2 BB/2 K, .346/.433/.500/.933
- Trevor Story vs. Madison Bumgarner (6/26, 3 HR, .577 SLG, .863 OPS)