Fantasy Baseball Weekly Planner: Week 4
Only three teams are saddled with five-game schedules next week. Nine teams play a game every day, and a few of the noteworthy clubs from that group make the notable matchups section below. The Rockies are home for one of their two series, so they’re discussed along with the club visiting Coors Field for three games. A slugging American League team that’s shuffling a crowded lineup situation will be without a designated hitter for a two-game series in San Diego. I’ll attempt to sort out the fantasy ramifications for their Week 4 outlook.
Padres vs. Mariners (2), at Nationals (3)
It’s a short week for the Friars, and one of their matchups is with the studly Max Scherzer. Stephen Strasburg hasn’t been himself yet this year, but he’s still a potentially daunting opponent as well. It’s an unfavorable layout for San Diego’s hitters.
Giants at Blue Jays (2), vs. Yankees (3)
San Francisco is lacking in fantasy options, and a five-game week does nothing to help the cause of even its deep-league options. Buster Posey is off to a painfully slow start, but given the dearth of offensive options at the backstop, he’s still a fantasy starter almost universally even on a short week.
Blue Jays vs. Giants (2), vs. Athletics (3)
As is the case with the aforementioned Giants, the Blue Jays lack much in the way of fantasy appeal. That will change, however, perhaps as soon as next week. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is nearing his big league arrival, but unless a promotion is announced over the weekend, gamers in leagues with weekly lineup changes will want to keep him on the bench a little longer.
Rockies vs. Nationals (3), at Braves (3)
The Rockies split their six games between their hitters’ paradise and Atlanta. They avoid Scherzer but draw Patrick Corbin. As good as the southpaw is, he’ll have his hands full with lefty-killers Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story at Coors. Both are lineup mainstays, and so is the scuffling Charlie Blackmon even with his rough start in mind. Beyond that trio, the injury-riddled lineup is toxic for fantasy purposes despite playing three games in Colorado.
Mariners at Padres (2), vs. Rangers (4)
Everybody’s favorite beer-league-softball looking slugger, Daniel Vogelbach, has slowed down a bit. But his batted-ball data, upper-minors success, hot start, and elite plate discipline have earned him some leash to remain on fantasy rosters. Having said that, with two games in a National League park and two southpaws on the docket, he’ll likely sit twice or more next week. He should be benched in weekly-lineup change formats. Ditto for Jay Bruce, who has been a homer-or-nothing contributor thus far this year.
Nationals at Rockies (3), vs. Padres (3)
The Nationals are next week’s visitors to Colorado, and their hitters get a bump in value. They also have at least four lefty pitchers on the layout in six matchups. Anthony Rendon is raking regardless of the opposing pitcher’s handedness, but the lefty-leaning split is ideal for him. Although Ryan Zimmerman is off to a slow start, he’s a viable streamer in leagues as shallow as 12-team mixed leagues due to his hitting prowess against southpaws. Brian Dozier will also have an opportunity to turn around a rough April, and veteran utility man Howie Kendrick makes for a sneaky streamer who could see some starts.
Red Sox vs. Tigers (4), vs. Rays (3)
The defending World Series champs are digging themselves quite the early hole, but their bats will have a chance to enjoy some home cooking in their hitter-friendly home park (1.100 for runs, third-highest in MLB) for a full slate of seven games. Bump up their hitters next week.
Astros vs. Twins (3), vs. Indians (4)
Houston is also looking at a full week of games at home, but Minute Maid Park has the third-lowest park factor for runs (0.866) and suppresses homers (0.945) as well. The volume of games is still more important than the park factors, and depending on who Cleveland tabs to fill a rotation vacancy created by injury (more on that to come), the Astros will potentially face right-handed starters in all seven games. Left-handed hitting outfielder Josh Reddick moves into startable territory in 12-team mixers that start five outfielders.
Yankees at Angels (4), at Giants (3)
The banged-up Yankees will get some reinforcements soon, and they’ll need them for a full week of seven games. The Bronx Bombers will be in California for all of them, and they’ll be without a DH for the final three games at pitcher-friendly Oracle Park. The pitching matchups are non-imposing, and the pros outweigh the cons for Yankees hitters.
Phillies at Mets (3), vs. Marlins (4)
Philadelphia’s offense has been as good as advertised, and it will have a chance to pile up more offensive stats in seven games next week. Things will kick off with facing Steven Matz, who was unable to record an out against the Phillies on Tuesday. Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom represent potentially challenging matchups. While the former was solid against them Wednesday, the latter hasn’t been sharp in back-to-back turns, coughing up five homers and 18 baserunners in only nine innings of work. Don’t shy away from using Philadelphia’s hitters against Miami’s starting pitchers.
Gary Sanchez (C- NYY)
Giancarlo Stanton (OF – NYY)
Sanchez is expected to be activated from the injured list when first eligible Sunday, and Stanton could come back next week after successfully completing a vigorous hitting session off of a machine. The former can be activated from fantasy IL spots and reinserted into lineups next week if he returns on Sunday. Unless a firm timetable for Stanton’s return is revealed this weekend, he’s best left on benches or in an IL spot for another week.
Miguel Sano (1B/3B – MIN
Sano’s on the mend from a lacerated foot, and he headed to Florida earlier this week to begin his equivalent of spring training. He should be on the parent club in a few weeks. Neither C.J. Cron nor Marwin Gonzalez has lit the world on fire in his stead, so a healthy Sano should reclaim starting third base duties with the ability to shift across the diamond to first base if Gonzalez heats up and Cron remains cold. The 25-year-old slugger had a 2018 he’d like to forget, hitting only .199/.281/.398 with 13 homers and a 38.5 K% while “earning” a demotion to High-A and Triple-A for an extended period of time. He’s nevertheless a rebound candidate after hitting .254/.348/.496 with 71 taters in his first 1,313 plate appearances in the majors from 2015-2017. Sano’s power is of the upper-echelon variety, and he’s rostered in just a quarter of ESPN and Yahoo leagues, making him a great bench or IL stash for power-needy gamers.
David Dahl (OF – COL)
Ryan McMahon (1B/2B/3B – COL)
Dahl was reinstated from the injured list Thursday, and he was promptly slotted into the two-hole in Colorado’s lineup. Get him back into fantasy lineups immediately. The Rockies also activated McMahon, who started at first base while homering from the fifth spot on Thursday. He’s yet to translate his minor-league success to the game’s highest level, but fewer than 300 big league plate appearances are hardly a reason to give up on him just yet. He’s a hold in 12-team mixers and deeper leagues.
Arodys Vizcaino (RP – ATL)
Vizcaino’s season is likely over after undergoing shoulder surgery. A.J. Minter is Atlanta’s top closing option in house, but he has walked four batters while striking out only five in 4.2 innings. A reunion with former closer Craig Kimbrel could be in the offing.
Mike Clevinger (SP – CLE)
Clevinger was untouchable in his first two starts of the year, but he’s on the 60-day IL with a back injury. Colleague Shane McDonald wrote about Clevinger’s injury — and others — earlier in the week, and you can check out that piece here.
Lucas Giolito (SP – CHW)
Giolito simply can’t catch a break. I discussed him earlier in the week, and he showcased the upside that has me holding out hope for a turnaround by punching out five of 10 Royals faced before exiting with a hamstring strain. He’s now on the IL. If you have an open IL spot in 14-team mixers or larger, he’s worth a stash. In shallower formats, he should be cut. Keep tabs on his progress from the injury, though, and don’t be shy about picking him up before he’s activated.
Hyun-Jin Ryu (SP – LAD)
Ryu’s IL stint for a strained groin will be short, as he’s returning to the rotation to start Saturday without even going on a rehab assignment. I wouldn’t immediately start him against the Brewers, but as long as he comes out of the game without a setback, he’s a go next week for a juicy matchup with the Buccos.