Fantasy Baseball Weekly Planner: Week 13
A tweet from Rudy Gamble of Razzball caught my attention the other day. You can check out that tweet as well as his expanded thoughts in his replies to the initial tweet here. The tweet from Rudy cautions gamers against the perils of using weather and ballpark factors together in daily projections.
While daily gamers benefit the most from avoiding projection issues related to overlap issues between warm weather and park factors for ballparks in warmer climates, those who gain an advantage from streaming and playing matchups in season-long leagues can benefit from filing this info away in their memory, too. Now, we’ll move along to a look at the week ahead.
Diamondbacks vs. Phillies (1), vs. Cardinals (3), vs. Rockies (3)
Not only do the Diamondbacks play a game every day next week, but they also do so at home for all of them! “The Snakes” are one of the best offenses at home, ranking tied for the lead in AVG (.293) with the Rockies, second in OBP (.364), and tied for first with the Yankees in SLG (.522). They also face only right-handed starting pitchers.
The next lowest ERA for the projected probable pitchers they’ll face is Joe Biagini’s 4.45 ERA. Four of the seven starters have an ERA over five, and Marco Estrada barely falls short of a five ERA at 4.98.
Cubs @ Nationals (4), @ Reds (3)
The start and end of the week are night and day in terms of pitching quality. The will face Gio Gonzalez, Max Scherzer, and Stephen Strasburg in their first three games next week before rounding out the week with four favorable matchups against Joe Ross, Scott Feldman, Amir Garrett, and Tim Adleman.
Indians vs. Rangers (4), @ Tigers (4)
The Indians are in store for an overstuffed eight-game week with a doubleheader next Saturday. The offense should pile up plenty of crooked numbers with a smorgasbord of downright awful starting pitchers on the docket next week.
Rockies @ Giants (3), @ Diamondbacks (3)
The Rockies play all of their games on the road next week, and the first three are in a ballpark that’s on the complete opposite end of the scoring spectrum of their home park.
Angels @ Dodgers (2), vs. Dodgers (2), vs. Mariners (3)
The Angels open the week facing four straight lefties, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to pick on the likes of Clayton Kershaw and Alex Wood — who represent half of the four lefties they’ll be facing.
Twins @ Red Sox (4), @ Royals (4)
The Twins, like the Indians, play an eight-game week as a result of a doubleheader Saturday against the Royals. Interestingly, six of the eight games the Twins play next week will be against left-handed starting pitchers.
Yankees @ White Sox (4), @ Astros (3)
The Yankees play all seven of their games on the road next week, but don’t fret. While they’re world beaters at home, they’re also one of the best offenses on the road ranking third in wRC+ (104), according to FanGraphs. They’re hitting .265/.337/.425 on the road this season.
Phillies @ Diamondbacks (1), @ Mariners (2), @ Mets (3)
The Phillies play six road contests next week, and no team has been worse on the road than they have as measured by wRC+ (72). They’re hitting a paltry .235/.293/.373 out of the City of Brotherly Love.
Mariners vs. Phillies (2), @ Angels (3)
The Mariners draw the short straw next week with only five games.
Stephen Vogt (C/DH – OAK)
It was just a few weeks ago I questioned how much longer the A’s would trot Vogt out as their starting catcher. We now have an answer, as they’ve designated him for assignment.
Vogt’s 39 stolen bases allowed this year remain the highest total among catchers, but now you’ll have to turn elsewhere to stream steals. Derek Norris ranks second with 32 stolen bases allowed, and you can check out the full list in descending order from most stolen bases allowed to least here.
Andrew McCutchen (OF – PIT)
I preached caution with Cutch in shallower leagues only utilizing three outfielders last week, and I’d like to apologize and walk it back now. He’s a must start in even the shallowest of three outfielder formats at this point. He’s popped another three homers since last week and is hitting an eye-popping .409/.481/.758 with six homers this month.
He’s been a bit below average against righties this year as measured by wRC+ (97), per FanGraphs, and his .246/.317/.424 slash leaves something to be desired, but he’s working on correcting that quickly. If you’re curious in reading more about what’s helped fuel McCutchen’s heater, Dave Cameron took a look at him over at FanGraphs a couple days ago.
Freddie Freeman (1B – ATL)
Freddie Freeman, third baseman? Yup. Freeman hit the disabled list after breaking his left wrist on May 17, and Atlanta acquired Matt Adams to fill in for Freeman.
The 27-year-old was expected to be on the shelf for 10 weeks, but his cast has been removed, and Freeman could return before the All-Star break. He pitched the idea to the club about playing third base — a position he hasn’t played since playing in five games in the GCL back in 2007, per ESPN. Already a top-flight option at first base, picking up third base eligibility would serve to bolster his value the rest of the year and even more so in keeper leagues.
Matt Adams (1B/LF – ATL)
The reason Freeman is willing to try playing third base and the club is considering it is because Adams has raked with the Braves. He belted another homer yesterday and is up 13 in 188 plate appearances this year.
Before yesterday’s blast, he was hitting .294/.346/.647 in 130 plate appearances for the Braves. Continue to ride his hot bat.
Odubel Herrera (OF – PHI)
Herrera has been making headlines for some boneheaded plays on the bases lately, and manager Pete Mackanin is “not pleased” about it, but that’s not why Herrera is highlighted here. Entering June, he was hitting only .218/.262/.249 with a 5.3% BB%, 24.8% K%, three homers, four stolen bases and three caught stealing. He’s snapped out of his funk in a big way this month hitting .346/.361/.593 with two homers, one stolen base, a 2.4% BB%, and 20.5% K%.
The left-handed hitting outfielder’s walk rate is poor, but he’s cut back on his punch outs and raised his season line to .256/.294/.408. Herrera has been extremely inefficient stealing bases with five successful attempts in nine tries, but he did steal 25 bases in 32 attempts last year and 16 in 24 attempts the year before. If he’s been cut loose in your league and you’re in need of stolen bases, give him a look in the hopes of him tightening up his efficiency and stealing at a clip that better resembles his work the last two years.
Derek Fisher (OF – HOU)
Fisher was optioned back to the minors after a brief and electric cup of joe in the majors. In just 21 plate appearances he smacked a pair of homers and stole a base while hitting .278/.381/.611 with a 14.3% BB%, and 23.8% K%. The 23-year-old is having a big breakout year and is a very attractive option to continue to stash in deeper leagues and keeper/dynasty formats.
The Astros have the best record in baseball and can award Fisher more time to marinate in the minors — with the added benefit of not using anymore service time for the time being — while a couple of struggling veterans like Carlos Beltran (90 wRC+ in 258 plate appearances) and Nori Aoki (71 wRC+ in 165 plate appearances) attempt to turn things around, but the leash could be shrinking for that duo. We should see Fisher again over the summer, and he could push for a regular role over the summer if Aoki and Beltran don’t turn things around quickly.
My guess is if either or both are struggling to enter the All-Star break in a few weeks, the Astros will give Fisher a look to start the second half so that he has some time to go through possible adjustment periods against big-league pitching well in advance of the postseason. That’s merely speculation on my part, though.
Charlie Morton (SP – HOU)
Morton is a few rehab starts away from being activated from the disabled list, but he has one under his belt. Last night, he pitched two innings allowing one earned run (a homer by Justin Ruggiano) on a pair of hits and a walk with one strikeout. Morton threw just 36 pitches (22 for strikes, per MiLB.com) and tallied all of his batted ball outs on the ground.
Morton wasn’t great in his first 10 starts of the year, but he did some things great such as inducing ground balls at a 51.3% clip and recording a 25.8% K%. There’s enough to like in Morton’s statistical profile to justify stashing him on the DL in 12-team mixed leagues and deeper.
Homer Bailey (SP – CIN)
I provided an update on Bailey last week and advocated stashing him on the DL in deeper leagues, and after a solid showing in his last rehab start for Triple-A Louisville, he’s slated to make his return Saturday against the Nationals. I wouldn’t toss Bailey right into the fire in fantasy leagues, but he could be an option in deeper leaguers and as a matchup-based stream in other leagues, too.
Brandon Finnegan (SP – CIN)
Finnegan is nearing a return as well after his third rehab appearance this week, and he should be back next week, according to Call to Pen. The lefty is a better bet to help fantasy teams than Bailey since he’s played at a fantasy relevant level more recently than his right-handed teammate.
After the All-Star break last year, Finnegan tallied a 2.93 ERA (4.45 FIP, 4.29 xFIP, and 4.25 SIERA), 1.29 WHIP, 10.6% BB%, and 24.6% K%. The southpaw’s electric stuff makes him a helper in strikeouts, and his ability to retire batters via punch outs help him work around his spotty control.
Chase Anderson (SP – MIL)
Glancing at leaderboards can be fun. And, would you look at that, over the last 30 days, Anderson’s 28.8% K% is the 10th highest among qualified pitchers. He turned in another quality start on Thursday allowing two earned runs on two hits (one homer) and a pair of walks with seven strikeouts in six innings.
For the year, he’s the owner of a 2.29 ERA (3.45 FIP, 4.32 xFIP, 4.16 SIERA, and a 4.39 DRA, per Baseball Prospectus), 1.12 WHIP, 7.5% BB% and 23.3% K%. The 29-year-old has never recorded an ERA below four in the majors since debuting back in 2014, and most of the advanced metrics still peg him as a pitcher whose true talent level is north of a four ERA, but he’s in the midst of what’s easily his best season in “The Show.” The righty’s plate discipline numbers this year are remarkably similar to those he posted in his rookie season in 2014 with a slight uptick in empty swings, which helps explain the 1.2% difference in strikeout rate between the two seasons (21.6% in 2014 and 22.8% this year).
If you set expectations at his 2014 level of play, that’s fair and unlikely to result in disappointment. Looking ahead, he faces the Reds at Great American Ball Park next week and should be started in all but the shallowest of leagues despite the homer-friendly nature of GABP.