In the following MLB weekly preview, we have a game breakdown for all 30 teams, pitching rankings and latest IL info to dominate Fantasy Baseball…
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 that 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.
Scroll right to the part of the MLB Weekly Preview you need in just one click!
Below, you will find an interactive table of contents. Simply click on the section of the article you wanna read and boom.. presto… alakazam.
I have a little housekeeping to attend to before we get into the questions for this week. First off, a huge congratulations to everyone who made their league’s playoffs. MLB is a grind, and all of your hard work has been rewarded with an opportunity to take down the big prize.
Secondly, and more importantly, I owe all of you a big apology for not posting last week. I’m gonna come clean; Week 1 in the NFL flat out kicked my ass. There are no two ways about it. As some of you may know, I am a lead editor for all three sites of the Elite Sports Network. The flurry of the weekend overwhelmed me, and I felt it irresponsible to put something out with low research time. Still, I couldn’t shake the feeling of abandonment right as the playoffs were beginning. In an effort to clean it up with some of you on Twitter, I spent time going in-depth to your questions. Here are some of the fruitful conversations that may have benefit for many.
@andrew.colarullo – I’m looking two weeks ahead for some double starts. Is Ross Stripling staying in the rotation? Or just a spot start? Is there anyone else who could be a double start in 2 weeks? (submitted 9/8)
I do believe Stripling is staying in rotation to manage everyone’s innings (esp Hyun-jin Ryu), but how deep Ross goes in each remaining contest remains up in the air. Based on this uncertainty, I’d steer clear if you can. Final week possibly facing Padres in SD is appealing for Stripling and is under consideration for the last Pov Special of the season.
As for other two-starts: Zach Davies/Gio Gonzalez (SD, PIT), Dylan Bundy (TOR, SEA), or a deep dive could be Jorge Lopez (@OAK, @MIN). Lopez has recently looked more like the pitcher who began the year with a 3.71 ERA than the 6.09 pitcher he had been before his last two starts. These trips to the bump were against the Marlins and White Sox, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves, and Lopez profiles as a mediocre pitcher at best. But if in a deep league of 16-18 teams, beggars can’t be choosers. Lopez could help in a strikeout category or be a source of some cheap points due to good park factors (Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum – 0.921 R; 0.846 HR & Target Field – 1.052 R; 1.030 HR).
(AC continued) I also need five hitters out of this bunch: Brett Gardner, Trey Mancini, Nick Martini, Danny Mendick, Nick Solak, Harrison Bader, Nate Lowe and Raimel Tapia… Need avg and homers. (submitted 9/9)
I’d roll Gardner, Mancini, Solak, Bader and Martini (has started seven of the last eight but may sit against LHP).
Bader was my most shaky pick, but he does see regular playing time. If you wanna take a chance on Lowe instead of Bader, I won’t hate ya based on category needs. I did consider Mendick based on what he’s done last 3-4 games, but again, my concern is playing time. He could help your categories, but where are they regularly playing him? He’s a fringe prospect, so not sure how much ChiSox want to see for 2020 besides filling a utility role. However, bench coach Joe McEwing is a big fan of Mendick – big surprise, as McEwing was known as “Super Joe” in reference to his penchant for fielding any position during his playing days – and Mendick is the same type of player. He is definitely grasping upper management’s attention this September, and we should keep an eye on him.
@JoeyColonna – I’m trying to close this championship out. I’m in 4th but every day it changes.. was as high as 2nd last week. I need HRs. Are any of these names worth adding over someone like Cron, Aguilar, O. Narvaez – I own Ramos; 1 C league; OPS instead of avg. (submitted 9/9)
I’m a big fan of Rowdy Tellez, and he can certainly help you in both HR and OPS (somewhat). He does whiff but is seeing lion share of starts at 1B over Justin Smoak while TOR is in “tank mode.” I feel the Blue Jays wanna see if they have an everyday starter in Tellez down the stretch. Even if they play Smoak at 1B, Tellez will DH. I’d drop Cron or Aguilar and hold Narvaez. Some turmoil around Ramos. He’s a Met now… it’s a Queens thing. #Drama
A deep player not on your list who is worth keeping an eye on or even swooping up with the last of the FAAB dollars is Rangel Ravelo. Since you are in need of HRs, Ravelo demonstrated some prestigious power with this 487-foot jack!
Available everywhere, Ravelo may see an uptick in starts if Cardinals can clinch the NL Central. Never really having much power despite hitting in a very hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League (41 HR over four seasons), Ravelo has two home runs in 30 major league at-bats. No surprise, as this past week saw the 6,106th homer in MLB this year, breaking the mark set in 2017. We knew we’d get there. 7K? A stretch, but who bloody knows. My point is, in the last two weeks of the season, we can get power from virtually anywhere if we pay attention to our Twitter feeds.
(JC continued) Yeah, Ray puts out some great content, as do you. Really appreciate all of the work you have put in to help us all this season! While you’re here, I’m also in need of Ks.. Do you like any of these options moving forward?
My gut is Caleb Smith for Ks, but brutal schedule down the stretch. Since you’re 5th in Wins & WHIP, 4th in ERA, 9th in Ks, Caleb would not be a good option for you, as he’ll hurt in wins too much for the pursuit of strikeouts. I think your guy is Dylan Cease. He may be in a similar boat as Caleb, but Cease has been pitching better, has 77 K in 70 IP and look at his projected matchups: @SEA, @DET, and then CLE or DET again! I’d drop DeSclaf for him.
MLB GAME BREAKDOWN GRID
WEEKLY INTERLEAGUE OUTLOOK
Tell me this. Why are there Interleague games in the last two weeks of the season? I can see not being able to have all divisional games, but when games are of the utmost importance, these shitty games do absolutely no one justice – teams competing for a Wild Card spot or our fantasy teams needing sure-footed performances. We rely on sample sizes to indicate future trends in this business, people! So we have to hope for a park factor bump in value. Giants get a decent upgrade, visiting Fenway for three, but the other three visiting teams are S.O.L. Progressive Field does offer more runs scored than Citizens Bank, 1.095 – 0.979, so expect a higher-scoring series between the Phillies and Indians.
Not even a fucking rivalry series to round out the year… ya gotta be kidding me! Possibly, the Charlie Manuel Bowl?
TOP TWO-START PITCHERS
IN ORDER OF PREFERENCE
- Justin Verlander (TEX, LAA)
- Stephen Strasburg (@STL, @MIA)
- Robbie Ray (MIA, @SD) – Blister Issues
- Dallas Keuchel (PHI, SF)
- Sonny Gray (@CHC, NYM)
- Yu Darvish (CIN, STL)
- Matthew Boyd (@CLE, CHW)
- Marco Gonzales (@PIT, @BAL)
- Dakota Hudson (WSH, @CHC)
- Luis Severino (LAA, TOR)
- John Means (@DET, SEA)
- Dylan Bundy (TOR, SEA)
- Kyle Gibson (CHW, KC)
- Miles Mikolas (WSH, @CHC)
- Zach Davies/Gio Gonzalez (SD, PIT) – Both pitch twice; pick your poison!
- FADE: Cole Hamels (CIN, STL) – Weather can shift in Chicago where the winds blow in over 10+mph out of the blue; commonplace at Wrigley, so this fade could blow up on us, especially with the Cubs fighting to hold onto the Wild Card. With four teams on their tail, Chicago will be motivated to win for the duration. Hamels, quite frankly, has been dog shit. He’s gone six innings twice in his last nine starts. Strikeouts have been ok (35 K in 35.2 IP), but walks have been elevated (17, same time period). As a result, his ERA has ballooned from 2.92 to 3.89. I don’t trust Hamels at this stage of the game, facing two offenses who have been playing well. Even if, it is the “Friendly Confines.”
- FADE HARDER: Steven Matz (@COL, @CIN) – This one is self-explanatory… Coors Field, Great American Ballpark. Matz has a stunning 1.94 ERA at home in 13 starts. His road ERA, you ask? 6.08 in 14 starts. He NEEDS to be on your bench this week. Five quality starts in his last seven may give you *beer goggles* but facts are facts and this changes nothing. Five of those same seven starts came at home.
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 SEPTEMBER 16–22
Originally slated for a multi-inning relief role this September, Jesus Luzardo could be inserted into the rotation this week if Mike Fiers is deemed unhealthy to go (nerve irritation). The club was rolling out a six-man rotation, so there is not an immediate need. Keep Watch!
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 the MLB Weekly Preview early in the week.
By now, you have heard the awful news of 2018’s (2019 hopeful) MVP Christian Yelich (fractured right knee cap). The ill-fated foul ball extinguished his season and put a damper on your playoff runs. No one is replacing him, but after this season’s journey we have taken, you should have qualified pieces on your bench. If not, see MLB Mailbag for some guys you can add. The positive is Yelich will not require surgery and will have a clear path to return next season with zero limitations or long-term effects.
What you may not have heard is Shohei Ohtani will undergo surgery to address a bipartite patella in his left knee. The timetable is 8-12 weeks for a full recovery, and thus, his season is over. This came purely out of the blue, but did it? Angels season is way over, and we have preached in this article series to be wary of those stars on teams with nothing to play for remaining in the season. We were fortunate to get hitter value while Ohtani *rehabbed* from Tommy John surgery, but apparently, the club wished to address another lingering problem to have Ohtani fresh for 2020’s campaign. He finishes 2019 with a .286 batting average, an .848 OPS and a .352 xOBA. The 18 home runs were behind 2018’s pace, but I liked how he continued to swipe bags (12) to go along with his power.
Sticking with the Angels, Mike Trout has STILL not returned to the lineup since undergoing a minor procedure on his right foot 9/9. The cryoablation procedure performed was treating neuroma in his right foot. There is no risk of reinjury; it is merely a pain-management issue. Apparently, his paw is still a bit tender. *UPDATE: Trout to have season-ending surgery this week to address lingering right foot injury. Dropping like flies!
Mookie Betts (foot) remained on the bench 9/15 due to soreness. He will see a doctor in order to determine the extent of his injury, which came about on 9/14, resulting in a late scratch. Continue to monitor, as Boston has little to play for remaining this season.
Edwin Encarnacion (internal oblique strain) was removed from 9/12’s doubleheader action after what was originally thought to be a wrist injury. Upon further review, it was a minor strain in the oblique and he will most likely miss the remainder of the season. Major blow, as us owners were patiently awaiting E5’s return from a lengthy IL stint prior to this nine-game stretch. Continue to roster if you have the room in case the minor strain is alleviated before the end of the season, but the constantly banged-up Yanks would be best served to save Edwin for the playoffs.
Gary Sanchez left game two of the doubleheader on 9/12 due to left groin tightness… that’s what she said. He was later diagnosed with yet another groin strain this season and is day-to-day for now. His expected return date is right around the final few days of the regular season.
Largely ineffective over last 10 appearances, recording a 9.00 ERA, Brad Hand is believed to be going through a dead arm period. He will test out his tired arm on 9/15 after an MRI revealed no serious issues. The next course of action will be determined after this session as well as his ability to close games for the Tribe.
Josh Bell (groin) missed a second straight game after leaving 9/13’s contest with left groin discomfort. Pirates consider Bell DTD for now, though, no need to push the All-Star first baseman at this point of the season. POPPYCOCK, I SAY! We have a championship(s) to win, motherfu……
Blake Snell (elbow) is finally returning to a major league mound on 9/17 @LAD, just in time to help no one. He isn’t stretched out fully and should top out around 35-45 pitches. I guess he’ll help the Rays should they make the playoffs… just a little bit.
POV SPECIAL – TOP SP STREAM OF THE WEEK
→ Justus Sheffield, LH SEA (@BAL) – The once prized possession of the New York Yankees and now young future stud of Seattle faces one of the worst teams in the league and a squad we have picked on all season long. Really no need to examine Sheffield, but I will.
Sheffield’s last two starts versus the Cubs and Reds have been exemplary of his talent and prospect level (11 IP, 12 H, ER, 5 BB, 11 K). I’ll be expecting an even greater uptick in fantasy production against Baltimore. The Orioles have a 26% team K-rate along with a poor .246 team BA and a substandard .718 team OPS. Sheffield took a step back in his development this season for Triple-A Tacoma. After posting a sparkling 2.56 ERA / 3.13 FIP / 3.69 xFIP in 2018 for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Yankees), he posted 6.87/7.18/6.05 in 2019. Different league and luck could be responsible, but the 6.71 BB/9 is the real culprit. The walks continue, as do the strikeouts. Baltimore’s walk rate? 8%.
Sheffield’s fastball doesn’t blow you away (93mph), but his lethal 84mph slider has had many batters baffled at the plate. For more on his stuff, check out Sheffield’s pitch repertoire by Brooks Baseball.
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)
- Nolan Arenado vs. Hyun-Jin Ryu – 9/21 (15/28, 8 XBH, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 3:2 BB:K, .536/.581/1.107/1.688)
- Bryce Harper vs. Julio Teheran – 9/18 (18/45, 11 XBH, 8 HR, 19 RBI, 11:7 BB:K, .400/.526/1.000/1.526)
- Joe Panik vs. Antonio Senzatela – 9/16 (9/21, 4 XBH, 2 HR, 2 RBI, .429/.429/.810/1.238)
- Eugenio Suarez vs. Jon Lester – 9/18 (14/39, 8 XBH, 5 HR, 11 RBI, .359/.409/.821/1.230)
- Starling Marte vs. Chase Anderson – 9/20 (16/37, 6 XBH, 2 HR, 3 RBI, .432/.488/.730/1.218)
- Charlie Blackmon vs. Walker Buehler – 9/22 (12/30, 6 XBH, 2 HR, 7 RBI, .400/.441/.767/1.208)
- James McCann vs. Jose Berrios – 9/16 (7/21, 5 XBH, 3 HR, 9 RBI, .333/.333/.857/1.190)
- Anthony Rizzo vs. Michael Wacha – 9/20 (20/45, 5 XBH, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 2:3 BB:K, .444/.480/.689/1.169)
Congrats to Jorge Soler! A once-prominent Cub prospect and young player who fell on hard times has come to fruition with the Royals. Now the all-time Royals HR leader, he is pushing Pete Alonso, Trout, Cody Bellinger and Suarez for the major league lead. A true feel-good story… in reality and for our fantasy teams!