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.
New addition for the MLB Weekly Preview!
Below, you will find an interactive table of contents. Simply click on the section of the article you wanna read and boom.. presto… alakazam.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are on the precipice of the fantasy playoffs. Coupled with the beginning of fantasy football season, September marks a special time of year. Only a few times a year do we have the opportunity to enjoy such bliss… March Madness and fantasy baseball draft season, Memorial Day weekend jumpstarting the summer, the holiday season with our loved ones – eh, who am I kidding? This is the most wonderful time of the year. Some of you may be beginning your playoffs this week in semi-final, two-week matchups. Best of luck, and I am here for you!
One can easily be distracted by the NFL kicking off, taking our attention away at a most inopportune time. Don’t let months of hard work go down the drain because “you have too much on your plate.” I don’t wanna hear that garbage! The finish line is on the horizon. With the last four weeks to go, it’s gut-check time. I live by this adage, “If you want something done, and done right, give it to a busy person.”
Focus, multitask and rely on your man Pov to answer your questions down the stretch.
@Winston_Wolf – How would you rank these guys for next week at my Utility spots in H2H points league? *E. Andrus (3@NYY, 4@BAL – 5 RHP/2 LHP), *B. Reynolds (3vMIA, 3vSTL – 6 RHP), *J. Villar (3@TB, 4vTEX – 4 RHP/3 LHP), *B. Bichette (2@ATL, 4@TB – 5 RHP/1 LHP)
Full Disclosure: I stole this first question from the MLB VIP Chat, which was directed at Ray Flowers. The subject matter is just too perfect for our MLB weekly preview. Winston, you are probably best served to listen to Ray’s advice. But maybe I can shed some light on your decision.
Andrus and his Texas mates may be facing 5 RHP if Jonathan Loaisiga takes CC Sabathia’s place in the rotation – unless New York opts for a bullpen game. No matter, as Andrus’ .275 BA is in the middle of his .274 BA vs. righties and .280 vs. lefties. Seven of his 10 home runs have come R vs. R, and 18 of his 27 stolen bases have come with RHPs on the mound, which makes sense as it’s easier to discern the pitcher’s pick-off move with a righty. Good parks and weaker pitching opposition make him my first selection for a Utility spot.
The other spot is between Bichette and Reynolds. Really hard to sit Bo after he set another Blue Jays record with 45 hits in his first 30 games. Of those 45 hits, 23 have gone for extra bases with 15 2B and 8 HR. However, his 26% K-rate may not mix too well with Mike Soroka, a resurgent Mike Foltynewicz and Charlie Morton. Reynolds has been equally hot, going 13-for-33 with 6 XBH including an HR over the last seven games. Seeing the weaker side of the Marlins and Cardinals staff, which is putting it mildly, my pick for your second Utility spot is Reynolds.
@jasonstaley78 – Thanks for answerin my question in the last MLB Weekly Preview.. any Sept. callups I should keep an eye on?
September 1st brings more options at our disposal, that’s for sure. Yet, it also brings question marks. Which September callup will see the most playing time? And as a result, which fantasy all-star will see some bench in preparation for his team’s playoff run? Can result in a lot of headaches and Da Vinci Codes to solve. The good news is, rosters will expand to 40 men for the LAST TIME EVER this year. Next season, the September 1st limit will be 28, as decreed from the rule changes made this past offseason. Makes for a more level playing field on the diamond as well as less guesswork by fantasy owners during the most crucial time of year. As you can see, Jason, you struck a nerve here.
No worries! Let’s answer your question.
A big positive is dynasty league players get to see those rookie stashes in action. We’ll begin there. Jesus Luzardo would have been called up long ago if not for a strained rotator cuff and lat injury derailing his season. He’s fully recovered now and is coming off a 10-strikeout, six-hit, one-run performance for Triple-A Las Vegas Aviators. He did toss 93 pitches in this game, so while he is fully stretched out to start games, his path to the majors will most likely come in a multi-inning relief role. Not particularly exciting for fantasy owners, and throwing that many pitches on 8/30 will result in missing the first wave of callups upon roster expansion. However, with the A’s pen struggling, Luzardo could see high-leverage spots to gain holds and even a save or two.
OR, the Athletics will rest/replace some of their aging staff with semi-regular starts for Luzardo. Whenever he does crack the rotation, he may not let go, as he is leaps and bounds Oakland’s best starter, especially with Frankie Montas suspended. Montas will come off his suspension the last week of the season, but hard to imagine he jumps right back in after not playing competitive baseball for 80 games. Sean Manaea is set to be called up and start 9/1, either marking a six-man rotation or taking the place of Brett Anderson or Homer Bailey. Depending on his success or failure, this could give an opportunity to Luzardo. If available in your league, the time to pounce is now. Grab/Stash Luzardo or Manaea
Other Players to Watch:
- Gavin Lux, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers – Scalding hot in Triple-A over the last two months (.396/.480/.734; 192 AB) and will help you win your league when called up. Grab if/when available
- Luis Robert, OF, Chicago White Sox – Not as hot as Lux, Robert is still spitting hot fire in the minors this year. Cruising through High-A ball and Double-A, he has gone on to hit .301 with a .993 OPS and 15 home runs in Triple-A. He’s ready, but Chicago may opt to wait till next season for that extra year of control. Watch, but hold off on grabbing unless in 15-team or dynasty
- Ryan Mountcastle, SS, Baltimore Orioles – Mr. Consistency throughout his minor league career since Baltimore selected him in the first round of the 2015 draft. Has had a full year in Triple-A but also falls into that extra year of control situation. O’s do have the room and need for him at shortstop so a higher probability we see him this season over Robert. Grab in 15-team or dynasty/Watch in smaller leagues
- Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros – Outshined by their other young stud — some guy named Yordan Alvarez — Tucker has put together a 30/30 season in the minor leagues this year. With Josh Reddick doing his best impression of a ficus tree, and by that I mean absolutely nothing, I can see Tucker finally getting the call and immediate playing time. Grab if available
- Carter Kieboom, INF, Washington Nationals – He is a name many know, but only an average of 40% still retain his services. So he’s available and will most certainly be called up at some point in September, slashing .321/.431/.595 through 65 games for Triple-A Fresno. He’s also been playing some third base in an obvious contingency plan should Washington not be able to resign Anthony Rendon. I could see him spelling Rendon, Brain Dozier, Asdrubal Cabrera and Howie Kendrick, but not enough playing time to be worth it. Watch in all leagues
- Bobby Dalbec, 1B/3B, Boston Red Sox – Deep-sea diving here, but Dalbec’s power is real. The Bosox may give him some run at 1B, where they would have an opening as they evaluate for 2020. Even though they have crept back to five games out of a Wild Card spot, I don’t see them surpassing Oakland and Tampa Bay, who are tied for the No. 2 WC. Given regular playing time, he could blast 5-8 long balls this September. He’s currently slated for PawSox lineup on 9/1, meaning he wouldn’t be part of Sunday’s wave. Grab in 15-team or dynasty/Grab in smaller leagues if you are looking to make up some ground in homers
Didn’t get your question submitted in time? Drop me a line on Twitter or throw out your questions in the Chat Room (see links below).
MLB WEEKLY PREVIEW REPORT CARD
- Jose Abreu (8/19, 3 R, 3 XBH, 2 RBI); Daniel Murphy (4/20, 2R, 2B, HR, 4 RBI); Marcus Semien (9/30, 5 R, 4 XBH, 3 HR, 11 RBI); Corey Dickerson (8/21, 4 R, 3 XBH, 2 HR, 5 RBI) – Top BvP Hitters
- Justin Verlander (5.1 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 4 K, 6:10 GB:FB, W vs. TB, @TOR on 9/1) – Top Arm
- Adam Plutko (5.2 IP, 3 H, ER, 2 BB, 9 K, 4:7 GB:FB, W at DET, @TB on 9/1) – Top SP Stream of the Week
An MLB weekly preview high of four BvP hitters crushed the baseball this week. A wide selection of our hitters overall performed well, and those who rolled out Dickerson were rewarded handsomely. Verlander didn’t pitch many innings but didn’t need to in a 15-1 rout of Tampa Bay. He would have gone longer had he not mouthed off at home plate umpire Pat Hoberg. He was tossed because of arguing balls and strikes. It was a good start for most pitchers but didn’t measure up to Verly’s standards. He’ll be well-rested for Toronto.* Next to a stream of the week call for Dinelson Lamet in the beginning of August, Plutko may have been my greatest call yet. Excuse me while I go knock on some wood to avoid jinxing his next start at Tampa Bay.
*UPDATE: Verlander tossed his 3rd career no-hitter vs. TOR on 9/1! Raise in a letter grade, fo sho!
Overall Letter Grade: A
MLB GAME BREAKDOWN GRID
WEEKLY INTERLEAGUE OUTLOOK
No rivalry series to speak of this week in a very lackluster interleague schedule. All these games do is presumably take such hot hitters as Soler and Alvarez out of our lineups during the *make it or break it* week of the fantasy season. These interleague games can’t end soon enough. Quite frankly, I’m tired of writing and researching about them in the MLB weekly preview.
TOP TWO-START PITCHERS
IN ORDER OF PREFERENCE
- Gerrit Cole (@MIL, SEA)
- Max Scherzer (NYM, @ATL)
- Mike Clevinger (CHW, @MIN)
- Noah Syndergaard (@WSH, PHI)
- Jose Berrios (@BOS, CLE)
- Jack Flaherty (SF, @PIT?) – Would be ranked ahead of a scuffling Berrios if we knew second start was for sure.
- Mike Soroka (TOR, WSH)
- Kyle Hendricks (SEA, @MIL)
- Mike Minor (@NYY, @BAL)
- Jake Odorizzi (@DET, CLE)
- Ryan Yarbrough (BAL, TOR)
- Aaron Civale (CHW, @MIN)
- Tanner Roark (LAA, DET)
- Adam Wainwright (SF, @PIT)
- Mitch Keller (MIA, STL)
- FADE: Masahiro Tanaka (TEX, @BOS) – Coming off a dominant performance in Seattle, many believe Tanaka has righted the ship, and you may have a point there. He has given up two or fewer runs in three of his last four games (@TOR, CLE, @OAK, @SEA). But he was crushed by the A’s for eight hits and five runs and was taken to the woodshed by Baltimore a game prior to these four starts. He is still inconsistent, despite recent positive results, and has been leaving the ball up in the middle of the plate for hitters to take advantage. Rangers at home are far better than in Texas, but his 9.00 ERA in two starts vs. the Rangers last season and 7:5 BB:K in 10 IP still tell me to avoid. Plus, the nightmare of his Boston Massacre on 7/25 still haunts my dreams.
- LAST STAND: Alex Wood (PHI, ARI) – Call me sentimental, but I’ve been rooting for Wood since he returned to the mound on 7/28. His All-star season of 2017 was only two years ago, where he finished 9th in Cy Young voting. However, in the game of baseball – a game people say moves “too slow” – months move more like years when it comes to depreciating talent. Wood’s 5.80 ERA, 6.39 FIP and 1.40 WHIP is proof positive. Phillies have been hot offensively since Charlie Manuel returned but still strike out quite a bit (MLB rank: 15th – season, 17th last seven days). Wood struck out eight Marlins batters in his last start and looked good, but again I repeat, that was the Marlins. This week will be a true test to see if we can use Wood as bottom-of-rotation starter or cast him away into the wastelands.
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 2–8
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.
Ketel Marte (hamstring) has had problems with a bulky hammy all week. First, it was a cramp on 8/27 after hitting a home run that led to an early departure. He darn near looked like the Babe rounding the bases – ok, not really, but it does paint the picture. After an off-day, he returned to the lineup only to be pulled again and miss the next two starts. As of the moment, he is in the D-back’s 9/1 lineup, but we will continue to monitor.
Yu Darvish (right forearm tightness) was scratched from his 9/1 start versus the Brewers. He’s only expected to miss the one start and should take the bump 9/7 at Milwaukee. The 33-year-old has reportedly had tightness for the last month but has pitched very well despite the lingering discomfort. To the surprise of, well, everyone, Darvish’s wild tendencies have diminished, walking a mere THREE batters since 7/3 and including an 18.1 inning streak of zero walks. The time off should be just maintenance, but we should monitor throughout the week.
Francisco Mejia (right oblique strain) was placed on the 10-day IL due to the strain. He had missed three games prior, and now we know fully why. No current timetable for a return.
Tampa Bay Rays Pitching Update: Blake Snell (elbow) had a successful first bullpen session following late July arthroscopic elbow surgery. He’s scheduled for two more BP sessions and one live batting practice before returning to the Rays sometime in mid-September. Tyler Glasnow (forearm) is coming along nicely as well. His first rehab outing with Triple-A Durham Bulls (after rehab start with High-A Charlotte was moved due to inclement weather) went smoothly, firing a scoreless first inning on just eight pitches. His next start will come again with the Bulls on Monday, according to manager Kevin Cash, and will be a truer test of his health. He should go two innings as he works his arm back to strength.
Depending on how this start goes, he could rejoin the Rays next weekend and would be employed as a starter, despite reports he may fill the role of a multi-inning guy following an opener. Either way, he won’t be stretched out enough to pitch many innings but could be used as an excellent, sneaky weapon in an RP slot down the stretch for those who stashed him.
Lastly, the Twins placed Kyle Gibson on the 10-day injured list after he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. YUCK!
POV SPECIAL – TOP SP STREAM OF THE WEEK
→ Tony Gonsolin, RH LAD (SF) – Gonsolin, if available in your league, makes for a fine stream this week. But, you better hurry, as he has been grabbed in over 10% of leagues over the past 24 hours. He’s pitching against light-hitting(ish) San Fran, who we have picked on all season long. Gonsolin hasn’t been in the rotation for very long, so we don’t have much head-to-head stats vs. the Giants; and by that, I mean none. What we do know is this: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, BB, 7 K, W vs. STL; 4 IP, 5 H, ER, 0 BB, 2 K at ATL; 5 IP, 2 H, ER, 2 BB, 2 K, W vs. NYY; 5 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 K at ARI. Albeit short outings, those are some awesome numbers verses pretty stiff competition.
Gonsolin relies on a fourseam fastball clocked at 94mph, so he’s not blowing batters away. But he does mix in a nasty 88mph slider and a curve with exceptional 12-6 movement. He does generate a 48.8% hard-hit rate and 41.5% FB% but has managed to keep his HR/9 at .96. A 4.71 xFIP doesn’t correlate well with his current 2.89 ERA, but I don’t see the Giants lineup taking advantage of his flaws. I do see them chasing that slider and curveball, however.
If you are in your playoffs already, stick with what got you here and don’t get cute with Gonsolin. If you are a man down heading into the championship chase or trying to squeak your way into the dance this week, your boy Tony is sneaky, sneaky.
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 – 9/4 (14/26, 8 XBH, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 2:2 BB:K, .538/.571/1.154/1.725)
- Whit Merrifield vs. Daniel Norris – 9/3 (8/21, 6 XBH, 4 HR, 5 RBI, .381/.381/1.095/1.476)
- J.D. Martinez vs. Masahiro Tanaka – 9/8 (8/21, 5 XBH, 3 HR, 8 RBI, .381/.435/.905/1.340)
- Mike Trout vs. Mike Fiers – 9/3 (9/27, 7 XBH, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 5:8 BB:K, .333/.438/.815/1.252)
- Michael Conforto vs. Max Scherzer – 9/3 (9/28, 5 XBH, 4 HR, 5 RBI, .321/.406/.786/1.192)
- Eddie Rosario vs. Jordan Zimmermann – 9/2 (7/20, 5 XBH, 2 HR, 6 RBI, .350/.350/.800/1.133)
- Anthony Rendon vs. Noah Syndergaard – 9/2 (12/37, 4 XBH, 2 HR, 7 RBI, .324/.359/.541/.900)
- Kyle Seager vs. Justin Verlander – 9/7 (10/33, 7 XBH, 4 HR, 10 RBI, .303/.361/.758/1.119) Could find similar success due to classic no-no letdown game
Finally, some history makers to round up the MLB Weekly Preview. Minnesota set the single-season MLB record with 268 homers, breaking the Yankees mark from last year… they have 26 games to go.
Mike Trout made history again, becoming the youngest player to rack up 200+ homers and 200+ stolen bases. In his age-28 season, he bested Barry “US” Bonds by 425 days. It was his 200th stolen base to capture the mark.