Fantasy Baseball Weekly Planner: Week 3
Three teams are saddled with a lowly five-game schedule in the third week of the fantasy season, and the trio is highlighted below. Of the 11 teams playing a full complement of seven games, seven of them get the nod for discussion. A pair of teams with six-game weeks stood out as worthy of inclusion, so they’re thrown under the microscope. The hitter notes section feature the game’s best player and a host of others. The pitcher notes section is filled with injury news, but it also includes the presence of an electric righty who’s quickly laying the foundation for a Cy Young Award-caliber season.
Astros at Athletics (2), at Rangers (3)
Houston’s five-game schedule is less than ideal, but the pitching matchups aren’t intimidating. Their stud hitters are fantasy lineup mainstays, too.
Athletics vs. Astros (2), vs. Blue Jays (3)
The A’s also play only a five-game week, but they avoid the likes of Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole for their two-game set at home against the Astros. They’re projecting to face four right-handed pitchers and just one southpaw. Matt Chapman has earned every-week starter status even on a short slate. Marcus Semien is off to a fast start, but given the short week and lack of southpaws on tap — he’s been much better against lefties than same-handed opposition in his career — he’s a bench candidate in leagues with weekly roster changes if rostering a solid alternative at shortstop and/or middle infielder.
Pirates at Tigers (2), vs. Giants (3)
Pittsburgh’s the last of the teams with five games next week, but they get a bump from swapping the pitcher out of the lineup for a designated hitter during a two-game set in Detroit. That’s not enough to offset the low volume of games played, so knock Pittsburgh’s hitters’ value down a few pegs.
Rockies at Padres (2), vs. Phillies (4)
Three of Colorado’s Opening Day starters — Daniel Murphy, David Dahl, and Ryan McMahon — are on the injured list, but those still standing will have a chance to wake up from their early-season slumber with four games at home to cap off the week.
Yankees vs. Red Sox (2), vs. Royals (4)
It seems fitting the Yankees follow the injury-beleaguered Rockies, as the Bronx Bombers have been ravaged by injuries (more on those to come) as well. Last year, they ranked second in ISO (.213) and first in wRC+ (120) at home, per FanGraphs. Yes, their lineup isn’t identical to 2018’s healthier grouping, but it still packs some punch and will be aided by MLB’second-highestst park factor for homers (1.265) for six games next week. The pitching matchups are drool-inducing, too, providing a bump to all of the Yankees’ healthy hitters.
Reds at Dodgers (3), at Padres (4)
The Reds are road-bound for all seven of their games next week, and the pitching matchups could potentially be challenging. Having said that, volume is king, and a full slate of seven games is a plus for Cincinnati’s hitters. They project to face four southpaws, though, making the left-handed hitting Jesse Winker a poor option in deeper leagues (or OBP formats) with weekly lineup changes.
Royals at White Sox (3), at Yankees (4)
Kansas City’s overall lineup is bad, but it does feature a couple of top-flight fantasy options in Whit Merrifield and Adalberto Mondesi. That duo gets a boost from playing seven games with favorable pitching matchups. Sluggers Ryan O’Hearn and Jorge Soler are usable options in deeper leagues thanks to the volume and the homer-friendly nature of both road parks they’re playing in next week.
Dodgers vs. Reds (3), at Brewers (4)
It feels like Groundhog Day covering the Dodgers again this week. As was the case last week, they’re projected to play seven games against only right-handed starting pitchers. Toss in four games at hitter-friendly Miller Park (1.019 for runs and 1.104 for homers), and the outlook is great for their hitters.
Brewers vs. Cardinals (3), vs. Dodgers (4)
Glance back up at Miller Park’s factors cited above. That’s home to all seven of the Brewers’ games next week. The arrow is pointed upward for Milwaukee’s hitters.
Twins vs. Blue Jays (4), at Orioles (3)
Minnesota’s offense has been fantasy friendly out of the gate, and while Target Field might not be the first park that comes to mind for scoring, it’s eighth in park factor for runs (1.052) and 13th for homers (1.030). The Twins will play in those confines for next week’s first four games against the Blue Jays’ non-threatening rotation. They’ll close the week with a three-game series against Baltimore’s punching-bag pitching staff in a more homer-friendly (1.121 park factor for homers) park. Also of note, Nelson Cruz is good to go as a designated hitter after sitting in Philadelphia and New York (Mets) for the past two series.
Phillies vs. Mets (3), at Rockies (4)
Philadelphia’s loaded offense opens next week with three games in their bandbox before closing with four in the crème de la crème of offensive venues in Colorado. As an added bonus, the Phillies avoid drawing Jacob deGrom in their three-game series with the Mets. Everything comes up roses for their hitters next week.
Mariners vs. Indians (3), at Angels (4)
Seattle’s offense has been steamrolling opponents, and they’ll look to keep rolling with a full slate of seven games next week. They have some challenging pitching matchups against the likes of Trevor Bauer, Shane Bieber, Carlos Carrasco, and Trevor Cahill, but they also have some mouth-watering matchups in Chris Stratton, Matt Harvey, and Felix Pena. With nothing but right-handed pitchers on tap, look for the Mariners to continue to find ways to get Daniel Vogelbach’s breakout bat into the lineup. Despite the logjam between first base, designated hitter, and the outfield, Mallex Smith, Mitch Haniger, Jay Bruce, Domingo Santana, Edwin Encarnacion, and Vogelbach are all worthy of starting consideration in most leagues.
Gary Sanchez (C – NYY)
Aaron Hicks (OF – NYY)
Giancarlo Stanton (OF – NYY)
Miguel Andujar (3B – NYY)
Sanchez opened Wednesday’s contest on the bench with tightness in his lower legs, but he later served as a pinch-hitter. Although his day off initially appeared precautionary, the Yankees placed him on their expanding IL Friday. They plan to get Hicks work in the batting cage next week. His power, speed, and run-production upside make him worth stashing in an IL or bench spot — where provided a deep bench — in leagues as shallow as 12-team mixers. Stanton has started swinging a bat, and he could be back by the end of this month.
Andujar took part in a 25-toss session at 60 feet Wednesday, and he came out of it feeling better than he expected. It’s early in the rehab process, but it’s a step toward him avoiding season-ending surgery. He’s going to play catch again and swing a bat on Friday, and how he responds to that could be telling for his outlook. Given the lack of a timetable for his return and the potential for the shoulder injury sapping his power, he can be cut in 14-team mixed leagues or shallower where gamers have small benches or no available IL spots.
Mike Trout (OF – LAA)
Shohei Ohtani (DH – LAA)
Trout has not played since leaving Tuesday’s game early with a groin injury, and he will miss the weekend series against the Cubs. Gamers will want to check for an update after getting reevaluated Sunday to see if he can avoid an IL stint. The Angels haven’t revealed a firm timetable for Ohtani, but the initial estimation of a May return — if not sooner — remains a possibility.
CC Sabathia (NYY)
Clay Buchholz (TOR)
I wrote about Sabathia and Buchholz as deep-league pitching options earlier in the week. Both are still scheduled to return from the IL to start for their respective clubs Saturday.
Jon Lester (CHC)
Lester is on the IL with a hamstring injury. He didn’t rank inside my top-80 SPs entering the season, and his first three starts did nothing to change my bearish outlook. He’s not worth stashing in anything shallower than 16-team mixed leagues or NL-only formats.
Luis Severino (NYY)
Severino opened the season on the IL with an inflamed rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder, and he’s now shut down for six weeks with a Grade 2 strain of the latissimus muscle. The fact the setback is unrelated to his shoulder is a positive for his long-term outlook, but even if everything progresses smoothly going forward, a July return is the best-case scenario. Severino’s talent is elite, but gamers in re-draft leagues who are dealing with numerous injuries can cut Severino and use their IL spot(s) to stash others with nearer return dates.
Tyler Glasnow (TB)
Glasnow has coughed up only one run in three starts spanning 17.0 innings, and he’s struck out 21 batters while walking only three. He was once an elite prospect, and his stuff is electric. He has legitimate SP1 upside, so don’t feel compelled to sell high on this burgeoning ace.
Chris Archer (PIT)
Archer was handed a five-game suspension for throwing behind Derek Dietrich, but he’s starting Saturday while appealing. Gamers should anticipate MLB upholding the suspension and being without his services next week.
Clayton Kershaw (LAD)
Kershaw will make his much-anticipated season debut Monday. He’s made two rehab starts, throwing 81 pitches in his most recent tuneup. Manager Dave Roberts doesn’t anticipate any restrictions on Kershaw in his first start.