Fantasy Baseball Weekly Planner: Week 8
The National League Central drew the short straw for next week with three of that division’s clubs playing only five games. Two other teams also have a five-game schedule, and all of them are highlighted below. The Rockies are home for one of their two series next week, which creates a streaming opportunity for some of the lower-owned players on the visiting club. Almost half of the league — 13 teams, to be exact — play a full complement of seven games. A few of the more noteworthy clubs in that group get the nod in this week’s piece.
Reds at Brewers (2), at Cubs (3)
The Red Legs play only five games, all on the road, next week. Three of those games project to be against southpaws, so gamers in leagues with weekly lineup changes should sit Jesse Winker and the struggling Joey Votto.
Royals at Cardinals (2), vs. Yankees (3)
Kansas City’s offensive options aren’t just hurt by the short week; the Royals also lose the services of a designated hitter for their two-game series in St. Louis.
Dodgers at Rays (2), at Pirates (3)
The Dodgers play only five games next week, but their lineup will get a lift from the use of a designated hitter for two in Tampa Bay. Blake Snell projects to oppose them in one of the two games, and they may see southpaws Jalen Beeks (as the bulk man after an opener) and Steven Brault. Joc Pederson (.158/.158/.158 in 19 plate appearances against southpaws this year, per FanGraphs) should be glued to the fantasy pine in leagues with weekly lineup changes. Left-handed hitting Max Muncy (.277/.333/.617 this year after hitting .255/.361/.529 against them last year), however, isn’t a must-bench option in weekly leagues.
Brewers vs. Reds (2), vs Phillies (3)
Milwaukee’s five-game week is a bummer, but playing all of them in their hitter-friendly and homer-friendly park — 1.019 for runs and 1.104 for homers — partially helps offset the small number of games. They’re projected to face right-handed pitchers in each contest, which could lead to some starts for left-handed hitting first baseman/outfielder Eric Thames. Having said that, his sporadic playing time makes him a poor option in leagues with weekly lineup changes, but a potential streamer in deeper leagues with daily lineup changes.
Cardinals vs. Royals (2), vs. Braves (3)
Like their division foe Brewers, the Cardinals are slated to play just five games against only right-handed starting pitchers next week. Their lineup is righty-heavy, but they rank ninth in wRC+ (108) against right-handed pitchers. Additionally, the pitching matchups are mostly soft with the exception of Mike Soroka.
Rockies at Pirates (3), vs. Orioles (3)
Next week is like the tale of two halves for the Rockies. First, they open with three games in a pitcher-friendly park (0.951 for runs) that’s the fourth hardest in which to hit homers (0.841 park factor). Then they close the week with three games in their hitters’ paradise. When factoring in favorable pitching matchups, the outlook is good for Colorado’s hitters.
Padres vs. Diamondbacks (3), at Blue Jays (3)
San Diego’s lineup will get some extra length and thump to close out next week with three games in Toronto. The addition of a designated hitter to the mix for three games will unclog some of the Friars’ playing time crunch.
Orioles vs. Yankees (4), at Rockies (3)
The O’s are projected to face four righties and three lefties next week. They’ll be without a designated hitter for three games in Colorado, but that’s more than offset by the cushy hitting conditions there. After his nightmarish start to the year, Chris Davis has heated up in a big way. Since snapping his hitless streak to open the year on April 13, he’s slashed .279/.355/.544 with five homers in 76 plate appearances. Even with three lefties on tap next week, he’s a solid corner infield option in leagues with weekly lineup changes and as shallow as 12-team mixers. Dwight Smith Jr. has played surprisingly well this year, and he’s a solid start in weekly leagues as shallow as 12-team mixers, too. Gamers in deeper leagues (namely those with daily lineup changes who can take advantage of starting him only against righties) can give Stevie Wilkerson a look as a streamer.
Cubs vs. Phillies (4), vs. Reds (3)
Unlike the other teams from the NL Central featured in this piece thus far, the Cubs aren’t saddled with a five-game week. Instead, they boast a full complement of seven games. Six of them are projected to be against right-handed starters. Kyle Schwarber has had a poor start to the year, but next week could be just what the doctor ordered. He’s been one of the unluckiest hitters in MLB this year with just a .217 average compared to a .257 expected average and a .375 slugging compared to a .469 expected slugging, according to Statcast data at Baseball Savant. Gamers in need of some thump who don’t own him would be wise to inquire about his availability before next week. He’s a startable option in weekly leagues as shallow as 12-team mixers.
Yankees at Orioles (4), at Royals (3)
The Yankees are on the road for both series next week, but that’s the only fly in the ointment. They’ll play a full slate of seven games, and the pitching matchups are drool-inducing.
Miguel Andujar (3B – NYY)
Andujar attempted to rehab and play through a torn labrum in his shoulder, but he wasn’t effective and has opted to undergo season-ending surgery. There’s obviously now no reason to hold him in re-draft leagues. Giovanny Urshela and his reworked swing has a clear path to keep seeing regular playing time at the hot corner.
Buster Posey (C/1B – SF)
Posey’s expected to return from the 7-day concussion IL Friday. Even in his decline years and after a slow start, he’s still a starting option in single-catcher leagues.
Jose Altuve (2B – HOU)
Altuve hit the IL last week after straining his left hamstring beating out an infield single. He’s without a timetable for return, but more could be revealed this weekend. Regardless, he’ll have some hoops to jump through before returning and can safely be benched or stashed in an IL position next week.
Justin Upton (OF – LAA)
Upton’s begun some baseball activity that included throwing and hitting in a cage, per Angels beat writer Jeff Fletcher. He doesn’t have an updated timeline, but the initial estimate was that he’d return sometime in June. That timetable appears to remain a possibility.
Trea Turner (SS – WAS)
Turner began a rehab stint earlier this week at the Single-A level, and, while a final decision hasn’t been made at the time of writing, appears likely to be activated from the IL in time for Friday’s game. Lock the speedster back into starting fantasy lineups immediately.
Andrew Heaney (LAA)
Heaney successfully completed a 58-pitch rehab appearance in extended spring training, and he’s reportedly feeling fine. It’s not yet time to activate him from the IL in fantasy leagues, but he could be back before the end of the month. The lefty is owned in under 40% of ESPN and Yahoo leagues. I strongly endorse stashing him in 14-team mixers, and he’s not a bad option to add in shallower leagues on rosters that haven’t been bitten by the injury bug.
David Price (BOS)
Price is set to throw a final bullpen session Friday, and if he suffers no setbacks, is expected to be activated from the IL next week to face the Blue Jays. Typically, I like to see an injured starter take a turn in the rotation before using them. However, this is a case for making an exception to the rule. Toronto’s a bottom-five offense against lefties this year.
Tyler Glasnow (TB)
Glasnow left last Friday’s start early with forearm tightness, and he’s since undergone an MRI that revealed a forearm strain. He was off to a Cy Young Award-caliber start to the year, but he’s expected to be sidelined for four to six weeks. The good news is that the injury isn’t season-ending, and he’s clearly a hold universally.
Zack Greinke (ARI)
Greinke exited his most recent start with abdominal tightness. He hasn’t hit the IL, but he’ll undergo an MRI on Friday to determine the severity of the injury. More should be known about his playing status for next week by Friday night or over the weekend.