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…
Ahh, the smell of the fresh-cut grass. Chalk lines are being drawn, and the pine tar can. . . You know what, screw this long-winded introduction, with the only purpose being to pad my word count so homie can get paid. If you followed my column last season, did you even read about Mans, Ray and I around the metaphorical campfire? Maybe the first time you read my MLB Weekly Preview, but no, you did not. That’s not what YOU paid for when you subscribed to FantasyGuru. So, no more long-winded intros, just the meat and potatoes. Come to the table, fam; dinner is served!
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. Plus, new this season: PITCH OR DITCH!
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.
MLB Rookies on FIYA
With the absence of minor league baseball this season, we have witnessed many rookies and young prospects “learning on the job.” This has been a blessing in disguise, an opportunity to see how those stashes in dynasty and deep keeper leagues measure up to major league hitting/pitching. And in redraft leagues, it has been a way to measure ADP potentialities for the 2021 season and beyond. Sixto Sánchez has been every bit as advertised and is the total package. Luis Robert and Jake Cronenworth have lit the world on fire. Beyond these standout stars, who have been the elite of elite prospects? Let’s have a look, shall we?
Ranked over the last week but all stash worthy:
- Randy Arozarena, OF, Rays
- Ian Anderson, RHP, Braves
- Devin Williams, RHP, Brewers
- Joey Bart, C, Giants
- Willi Castro, SS/3B, Tigers
- Andrés Giménez, SS/2B, Mets
- Keegan Akin, LHP, Orioles
- Triston McKenzie, RHP, Indians
- Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, Pirates
- Dean Kremer, RHP, Orioles
- Tony Gonsolin, RHP, Dodgers
- Alec Bohm, 3B, Phillies
- Luis García, SS/2B, Nationals
- Ryan Mountcastle, 1B/OF, Orioles
- Tarik Skubal, LHP, Tigers
Randy Arozarena went 7-for-14 last week for a .500/.563/1.143 line over five games. He went deep three times, highlighted by a two-homer, three-hit game. Arozarena has added a power-hitting righty bat to a largely left-handed lineup. Acquired from the Cardinals in the Matthew Liberatore trade, Arozarena posted a .344 BA (1.003 OPS) between Double-A and Triple-A in 2019 with 15 HR, 40 XBH and 17 SB in 399 plate appearances (92 games). I can see him beginning 2021 in Triple-A with a call up shortly after Super Two.
Devin Williams has been FIYA the past week (4.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 10 K), but the 25-year-old rookie has been slinging it all season. He’s given up one earned run on four hits over 17 innings (an opponents’ batting average of .070), walking six and striking out 35. His changeup is borderline unhittable. Opposing hitters are 0-for-39 with 26 strikeouts against the pitch. Williams is the reason why the Brewers were listening to offers for closer Josh Hader at the trade deadline, no matter how bananas the asking price was.
Joey Bart went 8-for-18 last week (.444/.500/.556), with a triple and three RBIs. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 Draft has hits in 7-of-8 games started and four of them were of the multi-hit variety. For more on Bart, read Ray’s Player Profile.
Andrés Giménez continues to see time at three infield positions, including a lot of time at his natural position of shortstop over slumping Amed Rosario as New York rides the hot hand vying for a playoff spot. He has 27 hits in 94 at-bats, including two home runs and seven extra-base hits. He also drove in ten and has stolen seven bags in as many attempts. For the season, the 22-year-old has a .287/.340/.426 line and a legit shot at NL Rookie of the Year honors, along with Alec Bohm and Ian Anderson. The future’s looking bright in the NL East.
A bit under-appreciated at times among the Dodgers’ deep stable of young pitchers, Tony Gonsolin has been incredibly good this season. However, he’s yet to collect a win for his efforts. For the season, he has a 1.57 ERA over five starts with a .178 BAA and 0.84 WHIP. Last pitching five innings in a bulk relief role, Gonsolin will rejoin the Dodgers’ starting rotation this week.
As always, if there are any requests for information I can provide or a player/team you would like me to cover in this section of the MLB Weekly Preview, drop a line in our VIP Chat Room or hit me up on Twitter, @Rob_Povia.
MLB GAME BREAKDOWN GRID
As you can see in the grid above, I’m running out of colors to differentiate the number of games. What a season!
You can also see 15 out of 30 teams play seven or more games this week. Orioles, Phillies and Brewers play eight games, Marlins and Pirates play nine, and Cardinals play a whopping 10 games due to COVID makeup doubleheaders. Furthermore, 15 out of 30 are scheduled for fewer than seven. Been preaching it all season, it’s imperative to pay attention to the schedule when setting your weekly lineups. The silver lining of postponements was our hitters would have many seven-game (or more) weeks down the stretch for the fantasy playoffs, and now is the time to maximize on this. Sit a struggling stud player or one who has fewer games scheduled/less ABs projected. In their place, start a secondary player with good pitching matchups and seven or more games. Just do it.
WEEKLY INTERLEAGUE OUTLOOK
For (at least) the 2020 season, every game will see a designated hitter with the universal DH rule. As a result, this section of the MLB Weekly Preview loses its regular functionality, but I felt compelled to continue documenting interleague series for informative purposes. #KnowledgeIsPower
What are your thoughts about the new universal DH rule? Should MLB consider adopting it on a permanent basis? Or is it merely fodder for the unusual 2020 season? Let us know your thoughts in the chat room or on Twitter, @FantasyGuruSite.
*Rivalry Series: Vedder Cup (SEA vs SD; it’s a thing), Battle of the Bay
TOP TWO-START PITCHERS
IN ORDER OF PREFERENCE
- Jack Flaherty (@MIL, @PIT)
- Clayton Kershaw (@SD, @COL)
- Trevor Bauer (PIT, CHW)
- Dinelson Lamet (LAD, @SEA)
- Jesús Luzardo (@SEA, SF)
- Carlos Carrasco (@CHC, @DET)
- José Berríos (@CHW, @CHC)
- Corbin Burnes (STL, KC)
- Pablo López (PHI, WSH)
- Tony Gonsolin (@SD, @COL)
- Marco Gonzales (OAK, SD)
Cristian Javier (TEX, ARI)
- Sandy Alcantara (BOS, WSH)
- Matthew Boyd (KC, CLE)
- Taijuan Walker (@NYY, @PHI)
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 14 – 20
2020 has been a rough year for millions of people across the globe. Means is towards the top of the list. After months of uncertainty whether a baseball season would happen and if he’d be able to follow up a rookie campaign which saw him virtually come out of nowhere to not only make the All-Star team but also finish second in Rookie of the Year, his arm goes dead right before the season. He works through it, makes two starts, and then his old man passes away. I say “old” purely as an expression, as his father was only 57… only 16 years my senior. Bereavement to be with his family, and when he rejoins the team, COVID complications. Amazing the dude could even have the courage to pick up a baseball. But, he did, and it has not gone well as you can see in the stats above.
What catapulted Means last year was the superior command of his fastball and rhythmic mix of his changeup while keeping a 9mph difference between the two. When you come out of nowhere and have max velocity in the mid-90’s, pitching becomes less about athleticism and more about the battle of wits and being an artist with the strike zone. This season, it hasn’t been there nor has the slider, a third pitch he has had zero feel for and has cut down to 13% usage. With no out pitch, the man has been torched, and based on his 2020 journey, it’s no wonder why. But. . .
Means enjoyed his best outing of the season last time out, holding the Mets to one run over six solid innings. As a Met fan, I watched this start live. You could see the pain in this young man’s eyes when on the mound, trying desperately to make his father proud but not getting the results. All he needed was some breaks to go his way, a momentary glimpse of luck, and he got it in the early goings. After allowing some baserunners in the second inning, Means induced a groundball double play due to Baltimore’s shifted defense and he escaped allowing one run. I saw him take a deep breath, and it was as if a huge weight fell from his shoulders. From that point on in the ball game, I saw John Means of 2019. He’s back, ladies and gentlemen. I’m calling it now.
To justify this assessment, Johns Means, in Yankees Stadium, despite the down year, pitched beautifully again (6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 K). He was spotting that damn fastball and the change was falling off the table. His favorite movie must be John Wick, as with this performance, he said Yeah, I’m thinking I’m back! What I’ve seen is a melancholic, lethargic pitcher transform into a fast-paced and effective hurler… and a man who IS making his father proud, win, lose or draw. Thank you for humoring me by reading all of this. I’ve been meaning to get these thoughts out and the opportunity presented itself.
MLB WEEKLY PREVIEW | 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 you early in the week. Initially, there was NO MORE 10-DAY IL FOR PITCHERS, but then COVID-19 hit, and we are back to the 10-day for pitchers… understandably.
Walker Buehler (blister) was placed on the 10-day injured list retroactive to 9/9. After the issue arose in his last start, LA was still hopeful he could avoid the IL and make his next start. This was not the case, and he will be eligible to return 9/20, where he could make 1-2 starts before the end of the season (@COL, OAK or LAA). Hold ‘em if you can.
Sonny Gray (mid-back strain) – The 30-year-old surrendered five runs over 3.1 innings during his last start, and he was apparently battling the back issue during the outing (and even his start prior). It’s unclear how long Gray is expected to be sidelined, but he’ll be eligible to be reinstated Sept. 21. Gray was enjoying another fine season before his back started acting up.
Max Fried (back) is expected to return from the injured list when first eligible. Braves do not believe that the muscle spasm in Fried’s back is particularly serious, and Fried will likely start on 9/18 at Citi Field.
Eric Hosmer (fractured finger) – Hosmer is recovering from a fractured left finger suffered during a bunt attempt. He fielded groundballs and stood in to see pitches during a bullpen session on 9/11. Hosmer is not swinging yet, but the Pads are hopeful he can begin training at the alternate site this week. That could set him on track to log some major-league at-bats before the end of the regular season.
Yankees Blue Jays IL Report – Lately, Toronto has taken the torch for most banged up and most injured list activity.
The Blue Jays have become the new Yankees, both in the standings and on the IL report. Teoscar Hernández (oblique) took swings off to the side during Toronto’s batting practice on 9/13. Manager Charlie Montoyo expects Teo will be ready to go well before the regular season conclusion on 9/27. The same can not be said for Rowdy Tellez (strained right knee), who will not likely return before season’s end. However, it’s not all bad news. Ken Giles and Bo Bichette have returned to action this past weekend. Giles will likely regain closer’s role before end of season but will pitch in low leverage situations as a form of rehab with no minor leagues. Bo will be Bo – he went hitless just once in his first 14 games while posting a 1.063 OPS and homering five times.
Matt Chapman (hip) is out for the year after undergoing surgery on his torn right hip labrum. He ends the season with 10 home runs, 25 runs batted in, 22 runs scored and an .817 OPS.
Spencer Howard (right shoulder stiffness) – Howard was removed during the fourth inning 9/12 due to shoulder issues and will be sidelined for at least 10 days. No timeline yet, but can come back as early as 9/23. Not much time left for a young pitcher who could never find his grove in 2020… but he will find it.
Mitch Keller (strained left oblique) will return from the IL to start either game one or two of the doubleheader on 9/14!
POV SPECIAL – TOP SP STREAMS OF THE WEEK
→ Caleb Smith, LHP ARI (@LAA – 80% owned) – Smith will be looking to lock down a rotation spot for next season. This is a good spot vs. a recently struggling offense, but he’s gotta shake the rust and show he’s built up. Caleb will make for an interesting stream down the stretch. Potential remaining opponents after this trip to the mound: vs. TEX, vs. COL.
Honorable Mentions: Brady Singer, RHP KC (@DET – 50% owned)
For more streaming options on the mound AND at the plate, visit Vlad’s FAAB Values!
PITCH OR DITCH
The key to winning in daily fantasy baseball leagues is determining which starting pitcher should start in your lineup and who should sit on your bench. Or worse yet, which MLB hurler belongs in the land of The Walking Dead (aka waiver wire). Every day, I will update the article with the daily slate of men toeing the rubber. Recommended starts will be marked in Bold Green – sits will be marked in Bold Red – and the “fool’s gold” will be marked in Bold Yellow and should be cast to the waiver wire. Of course, the size of your league matters… that’s what she said! Come back on each day when pitchers are set in stone. If you play in leagues with daily roster locks, you’re going to wanna check back with the MLB Weekly Preview …on the daily!
Sunday, September 20, 2020
(Record, ERA / xFIP / SIERA)
Ryan Yarbrough (LHP, TB: 1-3, 3.97 / 4.56 / 4.66) @ John Means (LHP, BAL: 1-3, 5.63 / 5.52 / 5.00)
~Having posted a 3.11 ERA over his last three starts, Means is turning his season around (see Pitcher Spotlight above). While I don’t think he has a bad game, the level of opponent has me playing it safe. Rays have a team OPS of .796 vs. LHPs.
Deivi García (RHP, NYY: 2-1, 3.28 / 4.59 / 4.02) @ Tanner Houck (RHP, BOS: 1-0, 0.00 / 3.35 / 4.04)
Carlos Carrasco (RHP, CLE: 2-4, 3.27 / 3.84 / 4.06) @ Matthew Boyd (LHP, DET: 2-6, 6.75 / 4.75 / 4.41)
Kyle Wright (RHP, ATL: 1-4, 7.20 / 5.84 / 6.36) @ Rick Porcello (RHP, NYM: 1-5, 6.06 / 4.40 / 4.59)
Dylan Cease (RHP, CHW: 5-2, 3.20 / 5.83 / 5.82) @ Michael Lorenzen (RHP, CIN: 2-1, 4.56 / 4.84 / 4.90)
Max Scherzer (RHP, WSH: 4-3, 4.04 / 3.41 / 3.44) / Ben Braymer (LHP: 0-0, 3.86 / 3.99 / 4.36) @ Sandy Alcantara (RHP, MIA: 2-2, 3.45 / 4.38 / 4.58) / TBD (0-0, -.– / -.– / -.–) – Seven inning doubleheader
Brad Keller (RHP, KC: 4-2, 2.06 / 4.42 / 4.93) @ Josh Lindblom (RHP, MIL: 1-3, 5.26 / 4.18 / 3.92)
Madison Bumgarner (LHP, ARI: 0-4, 8.53 / 6.77 / 5.98) @ Jose Urquidy (RHP, HOU: 1-1, 2.70 / 5.73 / 5.73)
~MadBum has been just as bad as he was before sitting out with the back injury. Clearly, he did not read my past article with mechanical suggestions lol. Vlad was right to cut bait earlier in the year. He may be done ::sad face emoji::
Taijuan Walker (RHP, TOR: 3-3, 3.05 / 5.07 / 4.92) @ Adonis Medina (RHP, PHI: 0-0, -.– / -.– / -.–)
Tony Gonsolin (RHP, LAD: 1-1, 1.51 / 4.32 / 4.15) @ Antonio Senzatela (RHP, COL: 4-2, 3.30 / 4.67 / 4.84)
Jack Flaherty (RHP, STL: 3-2, 5.52 / 3.58 / 3.97) @ Joe Musgrove (RHP, PIT: 0-5, 5.74 / 3.89 / 4.22)
Dinelson Lamet (RHP, SD: 3-1, 2.12 / 3.51 / 3.24) @ Justin Dunn (RHP, SEA: 3-1, 4.11 / 6.35 / 6.16) → Game being played at Petco Park due to Wildfires.
Tyler Anderson (LHP, SF: 2-3, 5.06 / 5.90 / 5.63) @ Mike Minor (LHP, OAK: 1-5, 5.40 / 4.61 / 4.43)
Kyle Cody (RHP, TEX: 0-1, 1.42 / 5.64 / 5.91) @ Julio Teheran (RHP, LAA: 0-3, 8.90 / 6.06 / 5.84)
José Berríos (RHP, MIN: 4-3, 4.15 / 4.32 / 4.43) @ Yu Darvish (RHP, CHC: 7-2, 1.86 / 2.70 / 3.05)
The socially distanced walk-off celebrations continue…