Fantasy Baseball Weekly Planner: Week 16
The All-Star break has finally come to a close, but the Cubs and White Sox utilized the days off from games to consummate a blockbuster deal. The Pale Hose shipped their lefty ace to the Cubs in return for four prospects headlined by Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease. More on the lefty ace below, but the deal serves as a reminder that not all teams will wait until the non-waiver trade deadline to complete a deal. The rebuilding White Sox probably aren’t done dealing, and the name most people expect to move is closer David Robertson. In deep or savvy leagues, it’s a good time of year to speculate on potential moves and get ahead of the curve as opposed to waiting for a domino to fall and paying the new mark up price for a freshly minted closer or reserve who’s bumped into starting duty. Let’s move on, though, and take a look at next week’s action.
Diamondbacks @ Reds (3), vs. Nationals (3)
The Diamondbacks start their week off with three road contests next week. They’re not nearly as formidable offensively on the road ranking 28th in wRC+ (79). They conclude the week with three home games, but facing Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg is not a walk in the park.
Orioles vs Rangers (4), vs. Astros (3)
It’s a full complement of seven games for the O’s next week, and all are at Camden Yards. Cole Hamels and Lance McCullers Jr. stand out as tough draws, but otherwise, the pitching matchups are non-threatening.
White Sox vs. Dodgers (2), @ Royals (3)
The Dodgers and Royals haven’t revealed their entire rotation’s schedule for the second half yet, but it appears the Pale Hose will draw Clayton Kershaw for one of only five games played next week. It’s not a good week to use White Sox hitters in leagues with weekly lineup changes.
Reds vs. Nationals (1), vs. Diamondbacks (3), vs. Marlins (3)
The good news for Cincinnati’s hitters is that they play a game every day next week and all of them are at their hitter-friendly home digs. The bad news is they open the week with three tough pitching matchups against Stephen Strasburg, Zack Greinke, and Robbie Ray.
Indians @ Giants (3), vs. Blue Jays (3)
The Indians will be hit with a double whammy to start next week. First, they’ll be without the designated hitter in a National League park. Secondly, it’s not just any NL ballpark. AT&T Park is death on homers and suppresses run scoring for both lefties and righties.
Rockies vs. Padres (3), vs. Pirates (3)
The Rockies are at home for all six of their contests next week. If you need a reminder of just how hitter-friendly Coors Field is, you can check the park factors here. Colorado ranks fourth in wOBA (.352) at home.
Tigers @ Royals (4), @ Twins (3)
The Tigers can’t get out of their own way on the road this year. They rank tied for 24th in wRC+ (83) and 26th in wOBA (.297) away from Comerica Park, and they’ll be on the road for all seven games next week.
Angels vs. Nationals (2), vs. Red Sox (3)
The Angels play only five games next week, and they’re scheduled to face at least three southpaws.
Marlins vs. Phillies (3), @ Reds (3)
The Marlins face two of the worst pitching staffs in baseball next week. The Phillies have the 10th highest team ERA (4.62), and the Reds have the second highest team ERA (5.05).
Brewers @ Pirates (4), @ Phillies (3)
The Brewers are on the road for all seven games next week and will face right-handed starting pitching in each contest.
Mets vs. Cardinals (4), vs. Athletics (3)
The Mets have a seven-game week, but they’re home for all seven. They rank tied for 22nd in wRC+ (91) and 28th in wOBA (.301).
Yankees @ Twins (3), @ Mariners (4)
While the Mets are in New York all next week, the Yankees are on the road for seven of their games. Don’t worry, though, the Bronx Bombers have brought their thunderous sticks on the road ranking fourth in wRC+ (104) and seventh in wOBA (.328). They’re better at home than on the road, but they’re plenty good away from Yankee Stadium.
Pirates vs. Brewers (4), @ Rockies (3)
In addition to playing a game every day next week, Pittsburgh’s hitters will be treated to three games at the hitter’s paradise known as Coors Field.
Padres @ Rockies (3), @ Giants (4)
The Padres are the other squad visiting Coors Field. They’ll start their week there for three games before playing in the polar opposite scoring environment at AT&T Park for the final four games of the week.
Giants vs. Indians (3), vs. Padres (4)
No offense has been worse at home than the Giants. They rank dead last in wRC+ (75) and wOBA (.275). San Francisco’s bats won’t get a break from their pitcher-friendly park.
Rangers @ Orioles (4), @ Rays
The Rangers are a top-10 offense at home in wOBA and just outside the top-10 ranking 12th in wRC+. They’re not at home at all next week. They’re awful on the road ranking tied for 24th in wRC+ (83) and 25th in wOBA (.298) while seeing their strikeout rate explode from 22.0% in Texas to 27.4% on the road.
Blue Jays @ Red Sox (4), @ Indians (3)
The Blue Jays face two of the top pitchers in The Show next week drawing Chris Sale on Thursday before seeing Corey Kluber on Friday. They’re on the road for all seven games, but at least the offense will get a boost from hitter-friendly park factors at both Fenway Park and Progressive Field.
Byron Buxton (MIN)
In the Featured Pros bold prediction piece I took part in, I made a bold prediction about Buxton. The toolsy outfielder has flashed his potential for stretches in the Majors (including last September), but I’m willing to buy into him really turning the corner this time. In the month of July, he’s hitting .379/.438/.483. Most importantly, his strikeout rate has dropped to a season-low 21.9% while he’s walking at a hearty 9.4% clip. It’s only a nine-game sample (eight starts and one pinch-running appearance), but he’s tallied a 26.9% O-Swing% (29.7% league average this season) and 8.8% SwStr% (10.4% league average). Spitting on pitches out of the zone and making more contact is a recipe for success. The 23-year-old is already an asset in stolen bases with 16 in 17 attempts, and if he gets on base more often like he has this month, he’ll have a chance to be a stolen-base monster in the second half.
Manny Machado (BAL)
Machado hasn’t lived up to preseason expectations with just a .230 AVG, 38 runs, and 47 RBIs, but he has swatted 18 homers and stolen four bases, so he hasn’t been all bad — not that his RBI total is awful, either. Regardless, he’s included in the hitter notes due to his hot finish to the first half. He’s in the midst of a six-game hit streak in which he’s hit .407/.429/.704 with a pair of doubles, a pair of homers and just three strikeouts in 28 plate appearances. Machado’s a stud, and he should be counted on to perform like the guy who hit .290/.351/.518 with 72 homers in 2015-2016.
Lonnie Chisenhall (CLE)
Chisenhall is putting together a career year hitting .305/.376/.576 with a dozen homers (one shy of his career high set in 2014). Unfortunately, he’ll have to put adding to his totals on hold. Chisenhall will open the second half on the disabled list, and it could be for a “few weeks.”
Mike Trout (LAA)
I’ve saved the biggest fish’s — I’m not sorry for this — update for last among the hitters. Trout will be returning to the Angels’ lineup tonight. Remarkably, last year’s American League MVP was posting career high offensive numbers before his injury. Suffice to say, he should be back in all starting lineups immediately.
Jose Quintana (CHC)
Quintana’s the lefty ace I referred to in the opener, and he’ll move from facing the designated hitter in the American League to facing National League lineups with the pitchers hitting for themselves. The 28-year-old’s season got off to a poor start, and he bottomed out allowing 15 earned runs total in a two-start stretch to conclude May. Since bottoming out, he’s rebounded in his next seven starts. In those seven starts, he’s tallied a 2.70 ERA (3.40 FIP, 3.52 xFIP, and 3.82 SIERA), 1.20 WHIP, 9.6% BB%, 27.1% K%, and 9.2% SwStr%, according to FanGraphs. The lefty’s strikeout rate is likely to drop, but I’d peg Quintana as an SP3/SP4 the rest of the year.
Sean Manaea (OAK)
Manaea made five starts in the month of April before hitting the disabled list. In those five starts, he recorded a 5.18 ERA (3.43 FIP, 4.07 xFIP, and 4.02 SIERA), 1.19 WHIP, 11.4% BB%, 25.7% K%, 63.9% GB%, and 13.8% SwStr%. There was some good mixed in with the bad, but he’s kicked things up a notch and performed at an extremely high level since returning from the DL. In his 11 starts since his activation from the DL, the 25-year-old lefty has spun a 3.26 ERA (3.60 FIP, 3.96 xFIP, and 4.10 SIERA), 1.22 WHIP, 7.8% BB%, 23.4% K%, 43.9% GB%, and 13.9% SwStr%. The southpaw’s ability to miss bats exceeds his strikeout rate in his last 11 turns, so there’s upside for more. Manaea’s a fringe SP2 and high-end SP3 going forward.
Rich Hill (LAD)
Hill’s a maddening pitcher to own. He’s — predictably — spent time on the disabled list and pitched just 61.0 innings in the first half. Making matters worse for those who drafted him is that he failed to pitch like a stud on a per-inning basis like he has since the end of 2015. The lefty’s worst start was against the Indians on June 15. In that start, he coughed up seven runs (all earned) in just four innings. Since that start, he’s been a stud. It’s only a four-start stretch, but it’s a brilliant four-start stretch. In those four turns, Hill’s pitched 26.0 innings to the tune of a 1.73 ERA (2.38 FIP 3.37 xFIP, and 2.81 SIERA), 0.77 WHIP, 6.0% BB%, 35.0% K%, and 13.5% SwStr%. Hill continues to carry injury risk as well as the risk of losing it — as he has earlier this year and previously in his career — but his upside on a start-by-start basis when he’s locked in is massive.
Brad Peacock (HOU)
Peacock is up to nine starts this year, and his excellence in the bullpen has translated to production in the rotation. In the nine starts, he’s totaled 45.1 innings in which he’s recorded a 3.18 ERA (2.55 FIP, 3.80 xFIP, and 4.05 SIERA), 1.39 WHIP, 13.8% BB%, 31.6% K%, and 12.3% SwStr%. The righty’s poor control could result in some blow-ups down the stretch, but his ability to miss bats is impressive. A look under the hood reveals that he’s done an elite job of inducing soft contact with a 25.5% Soft% as a starter.