Fantasy Baseball Weekly Planner: Week 8
MLB changed the disabled list rules and reduced the 15-day DL to a 10-day DL. If you’re feeling like DL stints are up as a result of this change, your perception is correct. Eno Sarris of FanGraphs actually dove into the numbers to quantify the change in DL usage, and you can check that piece out here. Unfortunately, the surge in DL usage is impacting fantasy leagues. In a 14-team keeper league I’m participating in with friends at ESPN, we recently voted to add a DL spot and bump the number of DL slots up from two to three. The league unanimously voted to add the extra spot, however, league manager tools don’t allow for changing roster settings post draft. A league mate informed me he’d run into the same issue in a Yahoo! hosted league, but his commissioner in that league was able to have a DL spot added by emailing their customer service. It doesn’t appear there’s an easy fix across the industry in-season, and my advice to frustrated gamers in recurring re-draft or keeper leagues is to begin dialogue with league mates and your commissioner in order to prepare accordingly for 2018. Now, let’s move on and look at the week ahead.
Matchup Notes for Hitters
Yankees vs. Royals (4), vs. Athletics (3)
No team has been better offensively at home this season than the Yankees. They lead the way with a 137 wRC+, per FanGraphs, and are up 12 points of wRC+ on the next closest team. Sure, the sample size is small, but with these hitter-friendly park factors, it’s not a surprise that the Yankees do damage with their sticks at home. They’re home for all seven games next week, and a full complement of games is a boost for the Yankees bats, too.
Reds vs. Indians (2), @ Indians (2), @ Phillies (3)
The Reds also play seven games next week. Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia suppresses run scoring a bit, per StatCorner’s 3-year rolling averages, but it also amplifies homers to lefties and righties substantially. The other four games they play next week will be played in homer- and run-amplifying environments at home and in Cleveland. In addition to favorable hitting conditions, Cincinnati’s hitters will be treated to a run of soft pitching matchups next week. Carlos Carrasco is the only probable starter who stands out as a tough draw.
Mariners @ Nationals (3), @ Red Sox (3)
The Mariners won’t enjoy the services of a designated hitter to start next week with three games in a National League park against the Nationals. Making matters worse for M’s hitters, Tanner Roark, Gio Gonzalez, and Max Scherzer are the three pitchers they’ll be facing in Washington before facing the formidable trio of Drew Pomeranz, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Rick Porcello in Boston. Three of the six probable pitchers they’re slated to face are lefties, and the Mariners are tied for just 22nd in wRC+ (86) against southpaws while tallying a putrid .078 ISO.
Blue Jays @ Brewers (2), vs. Rangers (3)
The Blue Jays play only five games this week. That’s a ding to the value of their hitters. They’ll also be without the services of a designated hitter for the first two games of the week in Milwaukee. They don’t have dreamy pitching matchups to make up for the negatives next week (even accounting for forthcoming regression for some of the pitchers they’ll be facing), either.
Lucas Sims (ATL)
Usually, the pitcher notes have been reserved for injured pitchers who are rehabbing, but I’ve caught the prospect fever with June approaching. The Braves spent the 21st pick in the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft on righty Lucas Sims. He was no stranger to top prospect lists, but his stock dipped entering this year after getting knocked around at the Triple-A level in 2016 while sporting a putrid 15.4% BB%. Sims reached the upper minors (Double-A, specifically) in late July of the 2015 season, and in 36 starts between Double-A and Triple-A in the 2015 and 2016 seasons, the righty walked 14.6% of the batters he faced. Yuck. Even with a 25.9% K%, the walks didn’t bode well for him actualizing his potential. Kelsie Heneghan of MiLB.com wrote about Sims a few days ago, and the biggest take away from her article is that Sims set out to be more aggressive this year. So far, the results support Sims assertion. Through seven starts spanning 41.2 innings in the Triple-A International League, he’s walked just nine hitters (5.7% BB%) while continuing to strike out batters in bunches (26.6% K%). The combo of missing bats and limiting free passes has helped him craft a 2.16 ERA (3.00 FIP and 3.38 xFIP) and 0.82 WHIP. Sims’ stock is back on the rise, and gamers in deep leagues and keeper formats should keep tabs on him. Atlanta’s starters own the sixth highest ERA (4.73) this year, and the advanced metrics are even uglier. The opportunity should be there for Sims to get a look this summer as long as he doesn’t revert back to the walk-happy hurler from previous seasons.
David Price (BOS)
Price was supposed to make a rehab start last Sunday, but because it was rained out, the Red Sox opted to have him throw a simulated game to keep him on a five-day schedule, per Ryan Hannable. Price is now expected to make his minor-league rehab debut tonight. The expectation is that he’ll throw about 90 pitches. Price could join the Red Sox after that start depending on how it goes, according to Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald. Gamers in leagues that set lineups weekly will want to monitor the situation over the weekend following his start to determine whether or not he’s an option for next week.
Aaron Hicks/Matt Holliday/Chris Carter (NYY)
The Yankees draw three lefties at home next week. Check out this trio’s work against lefties since 2014 here, Streaky Chris Carter is off to a bad start against southpaws this year, but both Holliday and Hicks are pummeling them as you can see here. Hicks is playing so well this year that he warrants starting any time he’s in the lineup for the Yankees, but Holliday and Carter are better deployed against lefties and only bad righties in leagues that allow daily lineup changes. With three games against lefties in their hitter-friendly confines at home, the latter duo joins Hicks as startable commodities in larger leagues.
Jason Castro (MIN)
Castro’s batting average is hovering around the Mendoza Line, and that’s resulted in his exile from many fantasy rosters. I wrote about the reasons why his average has been rather unlucky this year for RotoGraphs today, but I won’t dive into that here. Instead, I’ll simply direct you to his xStats slash line of .245/.342/.414, per xStats.org. The veteran catcher’s batted ball profile indicates that’s what his line should be this year with normal luck. The lefty-swinging backstop has a massive platoon split for his career that favors facing righties, and he’s in luck next week with the Twins facing a righty starting pitcher in all six of their contests. As an added bonus, according to ESPN’s probable starting pitchers which are posted through June 3rd, the Twins don’t face a lefty starter the following week, either.
Cameron Maybin (LAA)
Speaking of players who are underperforming their xStats, Maybin’s xStats slash for the year is .267/.373/.356. Feast your eyes on that gaudy xOBP. He’s begun correcting his unlucky BABIP by piling up eight hits in his last two games, and he’s sporting an eye-popping 14.1% BB%. The speedster has a .345 OBP even with bad luck on batted balls this season, and he’s sat atop the order for the Angels in their last two games. His new prime lineup spot increases his plate appearances and, thus, his opportunities to get on base. More opportunities to get on base mean more opportunities to steal a base. Maybin has successfully stolen nine bases without getting caught yet this year, and the Angels rank in the top 10 in stolen base attempts in 2017.
Leury Garcia (CWS)
Garcia offers another low-owned streaming option for steals. He’s been caught stealing twice in five attempts, but that means he’s also stolen three bases in 34 games played and 123 plate appearances. Garcia has multiple seasons of 30 or more steals on his minor-league resume, but his inability to produce offensively has prevented him from showing off his wheels in the majors. This year, he’s hitting .301/.339/.469 and earning regular playing time. The next step is putting his speed to work on the bases. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies in terms of pitcher and catcher matchups next week, but there are some positives. The White Sox conclude a three-game series in Arizona facing Taijuan Walker, and Walker’s rather easy to run on allowing four stolen bases in eight games this year after surrendering 16 in 25 games last year. Four games against Detroit wrap up next week for the Pale Hose, and James McCann has allowed the fifth most stolen bases (18) among all catchers this year, and he’s only gunned down three would-be base-stealers. If Garcia plays in only one of the two games in the doubleheader on Friday next week, keep your fingers crossed it’s the later game against Anibal Sanchez. The 33-year-old righty is completely inept at controlling the running game. He’s ceded three stolen bases in 10 relief appearances this year, allowed 22 stolen bases in 35 appearances (26 starts) last year, and has a lengthy track record of ceding stolen bases to base runners.