Fantasy Baseball Weekly Planner: Week 20
There’s some good news on the health front for a few players featured in the Hitter Notes and Pitcher Notes below. As we enter the stretch run and near the fantasy playoffs in head-to-head leagues, now is as good of a time as any to remind gamers to be cognizant of move limits. The number one goal is obviously to use your moves wisely and reach the playoffs, but if you have a comfortable cushion, saving moves for streaming purposes or injury insurance is wise.
Diamondbacks vs. Astros (2), @ Astros (2), @ Twins (3)
There’s a mix of good news and bad news for Arizona’s offense, but the good far outweighs the bad. The bad news is that five of their games next week are on the road, and they’ve hit just .235/.308/.389 on the road. The good news is that they play two games at home, too, where they’ve hit .277/.353/.494 and also bringing their game total to seven. As an added bonus, their five games on the road are all in American League ballparks, thus, providing the lineup a boost with the addition of a designated hitter.
Braves @ Rockies (4), vs. Reds (3)
Next week is a great week to be a hitter on the Braves. They open the week with four games at Coors Field, and they close the week with three games against a Reds squad that’s the only one with a team ERA above five this year.
Cubs vs. Reds (4), vs. Blue Jays (3)
Speaking of the uber-giving Reds, the Cubs open next week hosting them for four games before hosting the Blue Jays for three contests. According to ESPN’s projected probable pitchers, the Cubs will face right-handed starting pitchers in six of their seven games next week.
Rockies vs. Braves (4), vs. Brewers (3)
The Rockies play seven games next week and they’re all at home. You know what to do.
Astros @ Diamondbacks (2), vs. Diamondbacks (2), vs. Athletics (3)
The Astros lead MLB in wRC+ on the road and at home, according to FanGraphs, so it doesn’t really matter where their juggernaut lineup plays. They play the full complement of seven games next week.
Angels @ Nationals (2), @ Orioles (3)
It’s a short week next week for the Angels with days off on Monday and Thursday, meaning a five-game week. Making matters worse, all are on the road and two are in National League parks. Yuck.
Dodgers vs. White Sox (2), @ Tigers (3)
Like the Angels, the Dodgers will only play five games next week as a result of having Monday and Thursday off. They do get an offensive pick-me-up with a designated hitter for three games to close the week in Detroit.
Brewers vs. Pirates (2), @ Rockies (3)
The Brewers make it three straight featured teams with only five games next week. The lack of a couple days of games is offset by playing three at Coors Field to close the week out, though.
Phillies @ Padres (3), @ Giants (4)
The Phillies are in California for all seven of their games next week, and that means a pair of series in pitcher-friendly parks with Petco Park and AT&T Park suppressing homers and runs significantly.
Rays @ Blue Jays (4), vs. Mariners (3)
The Rays’ hitters not only get a fantasy bump as a result of playing seven games next week, they also get one from some soft probable pitching matchups.
Rangers vs. Tigers (3), vs. White Sox (4)
The Rangers have a pronounced home/road split that strongly favors playing at home (.262/.340/.462 at home compared to .218/.288/.402 on the road). They’ll look to get fat on some home cooking next week with seven games in Texas.
Trea Turner (WAS)
There isn’t an exact timetable for the return of Turner, but, according to a piece from Chelsea Janes of The Washington Post, the speedy shortstop, “will start hitting soon.” Eight to 10 weeks was a loose timetable speculated when he fractured his wrist on June 29, A firmer timetable should shape up once he begins hitting, but gamers shouldn’t hold their breath in expectation of a return before early to mid September.
Aaron Hicks (NYY)
Hicks was activated from the disabled list last night, and he slotted second in the lineup and played left field. He’s enjoying a breakout season hitting .290/.398/.515 with 10 homers and seven stolen bases in 242 plate appearances with a 15.3% BB% and 17.4% K% prior to hitting the disabled list. Room was made on the active roster for Hicks by placing rookie Clint Frazier on the disabled list. I suspect Hicks will get near everyday playing time with Aaron Judge and Brett Gardner while Jacoby Ellsbury and Matt Holliday — whenever the latter returns from the disabled list — are left fending for the scraps. Hicks should be owned in all but the shallowest of formats, and he can quickly play himself into being rosterable in those leagues, too.
Rhys Hoskins (PHI)
The long awaited call up to The Show came for Hoskins last night, and he started in left field while laying claim to the seventh spot in the order. Last year, he smashed 38 homers with a .281/.377/.566 slash line, 12.1% BB%, and 21.2% K% in a breakout campaign at the Double-A level. He’s validated the breakout by belting 28 homers and hitting .280/.383/.571 with a 13.6% BB%, and 16.0% K% at the Triple-A level this year. Even with power up across the game, Hoskins’ thump can help fantasy rosters right out of the chute. In shallow mixed leagues, he’s not a must-grab player, but in standard leagues and deeper formats, he’s worth speculating on.
Eduardo Nunez (BOS)
Did the Red Sox acquire Nunez or Ted Williams from the Giants? The utility fielder is earning everyday playing time around the diamond with a scalding hot bat. Since joining the Red Sox, he’s hit .422/.447/.822 with four homers (matching his total with the Giants), and three stolen bases. He’s also hit in each of the top four spots in the lineups for Boston which is a boon for his run-production numbers. Hopefully you didn’t prematurely cut bait before seeing how his playing time shook out in his new home.
Jay Bruce (CLE)
The Indians acquired Bruce as a rental down the stretch, and the left-handed slugging outfielder gets a huge park factor upgrade swapping Citi Field for Progressive Field as his home digs. Michael Brantley and Lonnie Chisenhall are both on the disabled list, so Bruce won’t have any immediate competition for playing time. However, Brantley’s ankle sprain doesn’t appear to be too serious, so he might not be out for long. Chisenhall is in the midst of a career year, but he could be further away from a return than Brantley. Chisenhall’s progressing, but a rehab assignment schedule hasn’t even been mapped out yet. The trade represents an immediate upgrade, but gamers in head to head leagues need to be aware of the potential for a playing time crunch when Cleveland’s outfield is entirely healthy.
Stephen Strasburg (WAS)
Strasburg’s return date remains unknown, per Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post, but he took another step in the right direction throwing his full arsenal over the course of a 57-pitch simulated game on Wednesday. Strasburg indicated the next step is likely a rehab game, so gamers in leagues with weekly lineup changes should keep him on their disabled list or bench. If his rehab appearance takes place Monday or Tuesday, it’s possible he could return next weekend for Washington’s series in San Diego.
Mark Melancon (SF)
Melancon is nearing a return, and he could be activated as soon as tonight or this weekend. It’s been a disappointing first season with the Giants, but Melancon should provide some saves down the stretch. Sam Dyson will no longer be fantasy relevant once Melancon reclaims the closer role, but it’s possible the Giants ease him back into that role. Save-needy gamers who have Dyson can wait a few games to see if Melancon receives a couple low-leverage appearances to ease back into action.
Robbie Ray (ARI)
Ray remains on the disabled list after suffering a concussion on a comebacker, but he’s progressing in the right direction. He threw a 28-pitch bullpen session on Monday and responded positively to that, per Richard Morin of AZCentral.com. Keep tabs on his progress over the weekend.
Blake Treinen (OAK)
Treinen has nailed down Oakland’s last two saves, and he appears to be the man to own in the A’s bullpen. He’s made 13 appearances for his new club totaling 13.1 innings in which he’s spun a 1.35 ERA (3.36 FIP, 3.32 xFIP, and 3.46 SIERA), 1.05 WHIP, 11.5% BB%, 26.9% K%, a 62.9% GB%, and 12.4% SwStr%, according to FanGraphs. He should be owned universally.