Fantasy Baseball Weekly Planner: Week 9
One team stands alone with a week-low of five games next week, allowing gamers to turn their primary focus to the quality of pitching opposition and park factors when deciding between starting and sitting similarly skilled hitters. At the other end of the spectrum, there is one team scheduled to play eight games next week because of a doubleheader on Monday. The hitter notes section is filled with injury updates for a plethora of middle infielders and outfielders. The pitcher notes section includes news on the forthcoming return of some starters.
Braves vs. Nationals (2), vs. Tigers (3)
Atlanta’s week doesn’t begin until Tuesday, and the Braves are also off on Thursday, leaving them with a five-game week. Stephen Strasburg is one of the two projected starters they’re slated to face when the Nationals come to town, making one of those five games a challenge for Atlanta’s hitters. Studs Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuna Jr. are mainstays in fantasy lineups regardless of the variables, but in leagues with weekly changes where Josh Donaldson, Ozzie Albies, and Dansby Swanson are only fringe starters, gamers wouldn’t be crazy to consider a similarly talented — or even slightly less talented — alternative if they play six or seven games next week.
Cubs at Astros (3), at Cardinals (3)
The Cubs will be road-bound for their two three-game series next week. The first will be in Houston, meaning they’ll pick up the services of a designated hitter for three games before heading to St. Louis to face their NL Central rival. Both road venues the Cubs travel to next week suppress runs and homers, and the pitching matchups are average. They do project to face five right-handed pitchers in six games, so continue to keep Kyle Schwarber in your lineups. The slugger’s actual stats continue to lag behind his expected stats, per Baseball Savant.
Brewers at Twins (2), at Pirates (4)
The Brewers are another NL Central club that will pick up a designated hitter for a road series, but they only play two games in Minnesota next week. One of those is against lefty Martin Perez, so gamers rostering Eric Thames should temper optimism and expect him to start just one of the two bouts. It will take an injury to a regular ahead of him to make Thames more than an occasional streamer. He could get some playing time in Pittsburgh — they’re projected to trot out at least three right-handed starters — to close out the week in addition to his likely start in Monday’s game in Minnesota against Michael Pineda.
Padres at Yankees (3), vs. Marlins (3)
San Diego’s lineup will get a lift with the addition of a designated hitter for three in New York against the Yankees, and the hitters will also get a pick-me-up from a 1.060 park factor for runs and 1.265 for homers in the Bronx. Speaking of hitters on the Friars, Franmil Reyes remains criminally under-owned with an ownership rate south of 70% at Yahoo and under 55% at ESPN. The Franimal has 31 homers in 458 big league plate appearances, and he’s not a total batting average liability. He should be universally owned.
Blue Jays at Rays (3), at Rockies (3)
Usually when an American League club travels to a National League park, their offense gets dinged a bit for losing their designated hitter. One exception is when they travel to Colorado to play at Coors Field. The Blue Jays will have to tangle with Blake Snell for one of three games in Tampa Bay, and German Marquez and Jon Gray make for potentially tricky opposition in Colorado, but Coors Field still provides a value boost to Toronto’s hitters for a three-game set to close out next week.
Diamondbacks at Rockies (4), vs. Mets (3)
The Diamondbacks’ lineup will also get a lift from visiting Colorado, and they’ll get that pick-me-up for one more game than the aforementioned Blue Jays. Even with tough matchups against Jacob deGrom and Zack Wheeler on tap, four of seven games in Colorado makes for a net positive for Arizona’s hitters next week.
Reds vs. Pirates (4), vs. Nationals (3)
The Reds play seven games next week, but they should be treated more like a six-game-week squad as a result of a Monday doubleheader pushing their total to seven. They’re home for all seven games, and Great American Ball Park enhances run scoring (1.045) and homers (1.205).
Rockies vs. Diamondbacks (4), vs. Blue Jays (3)
The Rockies are home for seven games next week. These are the weeks gamers rostering Colorado’s hitters look forward to. You know what to do.
Yankees vs. Padres (3), vs. Red Sox (4)
Yankee Stadium isn’t Coors Field from a run-scoring perspective, but it enhances them nonetheless and isn’t far behind for enhancing homers (1.265). The Bronx Bombers are home for a full complement of seven games next week, and they project to face at least five southpaws. The southpaw-heavy slant of pitching matchups boosts the value of Aaron Hicks, Luke Voit, and DJ LeMahieu. The only notable Yankee whose value takes a hit with the lefty-leaning nature of next week’s pitching matchups is Brett Gardner. He should be benched in leagues with weekly lineup changes.
Pirates at Reds (4), vs. Brewers (4)
The Buccos are the outlier with eight games next week. They play two on Monday in Cincinnati to start the week. They’re projected to face at least six right-handed starting pitchers. Pittsburgh’s offense as a whole is bad, but Gregory Polanco, Starling Marte, and the white-hot Josh Bell will have an extra game to help their fantasy owners.
Jose Altuve (2B – HOU)
Altuve took batting practice and did baseball drills on the field Wednesday, per Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. The Astros haven’t laid out an exact timetable for Altuve’s return, but he’s nearing a rehab assignment. More could be revealed over the weekend, and a return before the end of the month seems plausible.
Christian Yelich (OF – MIL)
Yelich was scratched from Milwaukee’s lineup Tuesday with back spasms, and he remained out Wednesday before Milwaukee’s off day Thursday. The back issue doesn’t appear to be serious (which is supported by the fact he hasn’t hit the IL), but gamers will want to make sure he’s back in the lineup Friday.
Scooter Gennett (2B – CIN)
Gennett’s slowly ramping things up. He anticipates coming back in a couple of weeks if he avoids any setbacks. In 1,135 plate appearances with the Reds since joining them before the 2017 season, he’s ripped 50 homers and slashed .303/.351/.508. Gennett is available in more than half of ESPN leagues and over 40% of Yahoo leagues. Gamers with an IL spot or bench spot to work with would be wise to snag him during this weekend’s FAAB bidding to save some money as opposed to waiting until closer to his return and paying full freight.
Giancarlo Stanton (OF – NYY)
Aaron Judge (OF – NYY)
Stanton’s weird injury-filled season took an odd turn. He’s been shut down for a week to 10 days as of Wednesday after suffering a mild calf strain he believes occurred as the result of being hit by a pitch. Although teammate Judge remains without a timetable, he played catch and tracked pitches Wednesday.
Robinson Cano (2B – NYM)
Jeff McNeil (2B/3B/OF – NYM)
Brandon Nimmo (OF – NYM)
The Mets’ offense was dealt a blow with Cano (quad strain), McNeil (hamstring strain), and Nimmo (neck inflammation) hitting the IL. None of them will be a fantasy option next week. Cano’s injury appears to be more serious than McNeil’s, but a timetable for the return of each will be more clear when both are re-evaluated. There’s also no timetable for Nimmo, who has endured on-and-off neck pain for the past month.
Nathan Eovaldi (BOS)
The flame-throwing righty is progressing from surgery to remove loose bodies from his throwing elbow. He threw a 35-pitch bullpen session Tuesday that included his cutter and splitter. Eovaldi will need at least another bullpen session before the next course of action is determined. He got off to a rough start this year, but he was outstanding last year, twirling a 3.81 ERA (3.71 SIERA) and 1.13 WHIP with a 22.2 K% in 22 games (21 starts) spanning 111 innings. Pitcher-needy gamers in leagues as shallow as 12-team mixers who have a bench or IL spot to work with should scoop up Eovaldi.
Andrew Heaney (LAA)
Heaney dazzled in a rehab start Monday at the Triple-A level. He threw 73 pitches in 4.1 scoreless innings in which he allowed just two hits and one walk while striking out 10 of 16 batters faced. The southpaw could be back as soon as Sunday, though another rehab outing to boost his pitch count closer to 90 is another possibility, per Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com. Heaney’s a higher-priority waiver option than Eovaldi in leagues where both are available.
Kenta Maeda (LAD)
Maeda’s 10-day IL stint will last only the minimum number of days. He’s the confirmed starter for Sunday’s game in Pittsburgh and he can be started in fantasy lineups immediately.