10 Things to Know for Week 2 (Fantasy Baseball)
This season I’ll be writing a weekly article where I tell you about the 10 things I deem most important for fantasy owners to know for the upcoming week. It may be a two-start SP streamer with hot matchups, a guy to keep on waiver wire speed dial, a minor league call up, or a change in the depth chart/lineup. I’ll have the info for you every Saturday morning. Now let’s dive into Week 2!
#1 Drew Pomeranz is throwing harder than ever before
I know what you are thinking: there is no way I’m adding that guy. Look, I never said it was going to feel sexy but if you want to win your league, it might be the right move. After struggling in Coors Field, Pomeranz pitched 257 innings for the A’s and Padres, posting a 2.84 ERA and 1.12 WHIP over two and a half seasons. Now that he is back in a pitcher’s park with the Giants, we should see solid ratios again. Add in that his fastball velocity is up 2.7 MPH (best in baseball) and he just might be the surprise fantasy asset of the year. You may want to nab him before his next start versus the Rays this Sunday in case you lose your chance to add him.
#2 Christian Walker is now starting every day
Jake Lamb is now on the shelf which means his platoon partner, Walker, will play every day. It can be difficult to get excited about a 28-year-old with a .206 career BA but Walker has smashed minor-league pitching to a tune of 92 Triple-A homers including hitting .305 with 185 RBIs in the past two years (just 217 games). Walker is a lefty-destroyer but can hit righties as well, as evidenced by three homers in his first 10 trips to the plate against them this year. Don’t be surprised if he morphs into this season’s version of Jesus Aguilar.
#3 Underlying metrics suggest Dansby Swanson may be breaking out
The former top prospect may never live up to the lofty offensive expectations set for him, but at age 25, there is still plenty of untapped potential. It is early in the season, but underlying metrics are indicating a major change from Swanson. His walk rate is doubled, his k-rate down to 17.4% and his barrel rate up to a career rate under 4.0%. This may just be short sample size noise, but in case it isn’t, you may be best served to scoop him up this week. The Braves travel to Coors for three games and play every single day next week. If you need an under-the-radar streamer, Swanson is owned in just 13% of leagues and may prove to be more of a long-term asset.
#4 Matt Boyd deserves your complete attention
After generating a whopping 25 swinging strikes in his last start, Boyd now sits tied with Jacob deGrom with 20.2% SwStr-rate this year. Granted, we are only two starts into the season, but there are a mere dozen or so starters who ever post a 20% or higher SwStr-rate through any two combined starts. Even if Boyd were to just cut the difference from last year in half the rest of the year, we’d be looking at 15.5% which would have been good for third-best in baseball last year behind Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin. Boyd’s repertoire has greatly improved over the off-season so this dominance may be here to stay.
#5 Jake Junis and Jordan Zimmermann are useful two-start streamers
I’m not telling you that you have to roster these guys long term. Just plug your nose and do it for one week. If it helps, think of it this way instead: You aren’t rostering these subpar starters but instead, you are rostering the opponents to the Indians’ putrid offense (for both pitchers), Twins (for Zimmerman) and Mariners (for Junis). No one is saying they will strike out a dozen batters or even pick up two wins with stellar ratios, but with two starts, both should be in the range of 13 Ks, 3.50 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and a win. You’d take that from Noah Syndergaard in one start so you might as well be glad to have it from Junis or Zimmerman.
#6 Jeremy Jeffress could be closing games by next week for Milwaukee
Josh Hader is holding down the fort in Milwaukee for now, and while we all know he could do the job all season as well as literally any reliever in baseball, Craig Counsell doesn’t believe the closer to be the most important reliever on the team. Rather, Hader is expected to return to his extended role in the toughest situations no matter the inning. That means Jeffress (or Matt Albers) are the favorites to eventually fall into a gob of saves for one of the best teams in baseball. Jeffress was remarkable last year, striking out 89 in 75 innings with a 1.29 ERA and 0.99 WHIP. He is already back to throwing and could be plugged back in as the closer with 10 days of this article.
#7 Make sure to check in case Ryan McMahon was dropped in your league*
Everyone and their grandmas were clamoring for McMahon to have a huge season, but now that we are 6 games in and he is batting just .227 with 0 homers, impatient owners have already begun cutting him. People! He hasn’t played a game in Coors yet! No one said he was going to be a beast in away games. We are relying on Coors to make him a utility-man version of Corey Dickerson. Hold your horses and wait for Coors to kick in. If he was released in your league, race to go pick him up now.
*Editor’s note: Ryan McMahon was placed on the 10-day injured list with a left elbow strain after this article was published.
#8 Jay Bruce may be back to a 30-homer, 100-RBI monster
Last season was an absolute nightmare for Bruce owners. He hit 9 homers and batted .223. We’ve only got a .179 average from him this year but with 3 homers and a tremendous spring to back it up. Keep in mind, too, that he knocked 36 homers and 101 RBIs just two years ago before his bout with plantar fasciitis last year. Foot injuries can be crippling to power, and believe me when I say plantar fasciitis is immensely painful. Standing up to do the dishes is difficult enough. Trying to swat 30+ homers is impossible. If he remains healthy, Bruce will be an incredible value.
#9 Josh Phegley can fill your catcher gap for just this week
“LOL lol lol lol lol! Josh Phegley!? Get out of here with that one. The dude hits .204 every year with like 2 homers.” Again, it isn’t the player I’m excited about, it is the matchups and ballparks he’ll play in. The A’s travel to Baltimore and Texas this week to take on two putrid pitching staffs in hitter’s havens. Phegley may not have hit much in the majors thus far, but he is a career .275/.333/.470 Triple-A hitter who walloped 57 extra-base-hits in 107 games the last time he played a full season in the minors. We might see that type of production for a week with these ideal matchups.
#10 Lewis Brinson has quietly been knocking the cover off the ball
Like McMahon and Swanson above, Brinson is also a former top prospect. You wouldn’t know it from his .199/.240/.338/.577 line last season, however. His pedestrian .642 OPS with 0 HR and 2 RBIs this season may seem to be the same, but the 24-year-old has actually been crushing the ball. This spring, he was among the best hitters in the Grapefruit League with 5 homers and an .896 OPS. Now through one regular season week, Brinson has been among the most unlucky hitters in baseball. His batted ball metrics suggest his wOBA should actually be .394 (Aaron Judge, Paul Goldschmidt range) but the balls have only dropped in enough to put him at .282 (JT Riddle, Devon Travis range). Over time, the two numbers tend to meet up so don’t be shocked when Brinson’s slow start suddenly becomes a quality season.