10 Things to Know for Week 4 (Fantasy Baseball)
Week 3 is over with controversial bat flips and plenty more injuries now in the rearview mirror. Today I’ve got 10 more 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 4!
#1 J.D. Davis is going to end up being the pickup of the year
Let’s kick this article off with a bang, and truly, this is not written as hyperbole. I strongly believe Davis is going to win people fantasy championships like Max Muncy did last year and J.D. Martinez several years ago. The Houston castoff batted .342/.406/.583/.988 in Triple-A last year and finally is getting his chance with the Mets as a 26-year-old. He is making the most of it, posting an absurd .469 xOBA. That suggests that the quality of his contact has been among the best hitters in baseball. He is .001 below Christian Yelich for 7th in baseball and ahead of Ronald Acuna, Pete Alonso and Bryce Harper. While he isn’t technically the starter at any position for the Mets, they have found a way to play him virtually every day lately, and I expect that to continue if he keeps slugging like a superstar. Davis is owned in just 4% of leagues, folks.
#2 Matt Manning is the new minor leaguer to own with Vlad Jr. called up
No, Manning is not a generational prospect like Vlad Guerrero Jr. nor is he certain to be called up within the next month, let alone week, but if your league has deep enough benches to stash prospects, especially if it is a dynasty league, Manning requires your immediate attention. He is carving up hitters in Double-A right now in the Tigers organization with a 1.62 ERA, 39% K-rate and just a 0.60 WHIP. The promotion to Triple-A is due any day and it could be a short stay like we saw from Walker Buehler last year before he tore up the big leagues over the second half. Manning could be a top 25 fantasy starter from the moment he is called up and even that might be conservative.
#3 Ryan Zimmerman and Yan Gomes are the top offensive streamers
These two will start their week in Coors Field for three games, and while I won’t advise you to hang onto either all season, they should both be extremely useful over the next six games, at which point you can replace them with next week’s streamers. Not only do they play in Coors but they follow that up with three games against Padres’ lefties. Both Zimmerman and Gomes are subpar against righties but mash lefties enough to warrant a start each day.
#4 Keep an eye on Jose Quintana‘s ownership after his first start
You might think this is wild, but fantasy owners can make rash decisions sometimes. Quintana owners may already be losing patience thanks to two rough starts in Milwaukee and Texas but he has otherwise been phenomenal, striking out 18 and allowing no runs through 14 innings. If Quintana posts another bad start against the lefty-crushing Dodgers this Tuesday, you can bank on his ownership plummeting from 81% to near 50%. Picking him up quickly could prove to be a league-winning decision as the peripherals suggest this is the best version of Quintana we have ever seen.
#5 Domingo German and J.A. Happ are the top two-start streaming SPs
The Yankees have a favorable schedule this week, starting with a trip to Angel Stadium of Anaheim before they travel up north to San Francisco for a series. Not only are these ballparks some of top environments for pitchers (much much better than Yankee Stadium) but the offenses they will face are both abysmal. When they take on the Giants, it will be in a non-DH game as well so additional strikeouts are to be expected.
#6 Jorge Alfaro might be making the jump to tier two of fantasy catchers
If you didn’t draft one of the top four fantasy catchers, odds are high that you are hurting at the position right now. Don’t worry, Alfaro is available in 65% of leagues and may be in the range of Willson Contreras and Wilson Ramos before long. The Marlins’ youngster is mashing baseballs according to statcast. His 59% hard-hit rate and 92.5 MPH average exit velo are both among the tops in the league. The only thing lacking is consistent playing time, but Miami seems to be answering that bell of late. We’ve now seen a full season’s worth of career games from Alfaro and he has given us a .273 batting average with 18 homers and 57 RBIs. That, friends, is a top-five fantasy catcher and there may be much more to come before long.
#7 Injury strategy differs depending on your league type
If you play in a roto league, you can’t continue to roster 10 guys who are on the IL. First of all, sorry that you had such horrible luck, and know that I am right there with you. You aren’t out of it though unless you continue to be optimistic about your team turning it around when they return. By then, it will be too long to catch up on the counting stats. You have a sunken cost so cut your losses and move on. In head to head leagues, however, you should be stockpiling guys like Luis Severino and Scooter Gennett. Chances are high that you’ll make the playoffs in a head to head league so make sure to sacrifice today to ensure you’ve got the strongest team heading into the playoffs.
#8 Don’t be fooled by Jordan Lyles getting another win against ARI Wednesday
Lyles has posted downright filthy numbers to begin the season and will likely continue that this Wednesday at home against an Arizona team that bats Wilmer Flores third. You might think this is a sudden breakout, but I can assure you picking him up will only bring pain later on. Had James Shields to come out of retirement and taken on the schedule Lyles was handed from the early going, he too would have ridiculous numbers. Lyles drew the Giants and Reds at home (two of the four worst offenses against righties) plus pitched in Chicago on a cold windy night with a wind chill below freezing. Most likely, Lyles will return to a fringe top 100 fantasy starter for the rest of the season.
#9 A.J. Minter is a top 15 rest of the season reliever
You might not love the idea of rostering a guy who has struggled so much early on, but try to remember that we are just 12% of the way through the season. A pitcher with an 8.00 ERA will lower his ERA to 3.45 if he pitches at a 3.00 clip for the remainder of the season. Expect that from Minter, who has always been a quality reliever. Now that Arodys Vizcaino is out of the way and they seem to be shying away from Craig Kimbrel, we’ve got to approach Minter as a better version of Cody Allen who is owned in 83% of leagues. Minter should have better ratios and more save opportunities yet is owned in just 42% of leagues.
#10 Let’s hold off on cutting top 150 picks until Memorial Day
I’ve seen this mistake made far too often in my 20+ years of fantasy baseball. Your 10th round pick gets off to a dreadful start (see Josh Donaldson or A.J. Pollock) and the owner cuts bait before they can turn the season around. It would be one thing if we were talking about C.J. Cron or J.A. Happ struggling but we are talking about someone who you spent precious draft capital on, and there is a reason he was that expensive. 80 plate appearances or 4 starts are both extremely small sample sizes. I’m sure Anthony Rizzo fantasy owners were happy they hung onto him when he was batting .180 through mid-May. Chances that you’ll regret keeping your top 150 draft pick are much slimmer than if you let your opponent pick him up and reap the benefits of his inevitable bounceback.