Fantasy Baseball Weekly Planner: Week 16
The two most hitter-friendly ballparks in MLB won’t host any games next week, but it’s not all bad news for the Rockies and Rangers. Both teams are included in the notable matchups this week. They’re joined by a trio of teams stuck with a short five-game week. A couple of American League clubs playing six games also make appearances in the notable matchups section due to playing in National League parks. The hitter notes section is filled with injury news on a few middle infielders as well as a pair of outfielders. The pitching notes wrap things up with a potentially forgotten former stud who could be back in September, a right-handed hurler who suffered a setback, and a returning flamethrower who’s going to step into closing duties upon his return. There’s also a southpaw on the mend and an update on this year’s second-ranked starting pitcher to date.
Braves vs. Royals (2), at Phillies (3)
The bad news for the Braves is they’re one of three teams at the bottom of the games-scheduled ladder next week with only five. The good news is the pitching matchups for those contests are rather soft. All five of the pitchers (all right-handers) Atlanta is scheduled to face have an ERA between 4.16 (Zach Eflin) and 4.87 (Vince Velasquez). Additionally, they each have ERA estimators that are higher than their actual ERA.
Dodgers vs. Angels (2), at Nationals (3)
The Dodgers play only five games next week, and it’s unclear who they’ll face for the three in Washington. Having said that, gamers shouldn’t sit most of their top hitters in standard leagues anyway. With the matchup uncertainty and the short week, though, gamers might want to sit Joc Pederson in leagues with weekly lineup changes.
Phillies at Tigers (2), vs. Braves (3)
The use of a designated hitter for two games would have been far more interesting for the Phillies when at full health. It’s less intriguing now, but it could allow them to give J.T. Realmuto a “fake” day off by using him as the DH instead of donning the tools of ignorance for both games in Detroit. The value of Philadelphia’s hitters is knocked down a couple of pegs due to the short week.
Reds at Brewers (3), vs. Rockies (3)
The Reds’ week is split between three games at hitter-friendly and homer-friendly Miller Park (1.019 for runs and 1.104 for homers) and three at home (1.045 for runs and 1.205 for homers). The park conditions are dreamy. They’re also projected to face only right-handed starters, a positive for Jesse Winker, Joey Votto, Scooter Gennett, and — depending on how he’s deployed as a frequently used reserve — Derek Dietrich.
Astros vs. Athletics (3), at Cardinals (3)
The Astros are slated to face an unimposing six-pack of right-handed hurlers next week, but that’s not primarily why they’re included in this section. They will play three of their games in a National League park, which could result in some days off for stud rookie Yordan Alvarez. He’s still reportedly dealing with pain related to fouling a fastball off of his knee back on June 25, according to Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle.
When the Astros visited Colorado on July 2 and July 3, Alvarez was on the pine and failed to even appear as a pinch-hitter. Even with the potential for him to sit for a game (or all three) in St. Louis, I’d still suggest starting him in leagues with weekly lineup changes unless your alternatives are exceptionally good. Three games from Alvarez against mediocre to worse right-handed pitching — as well as a pinch-hitting appearance or two — has a chance to be better than most alternatives can provide in more games.
Angels at Dodgers (2), vs. Orioles (4)
While Alvarez’s role in a National League park is uncertain next week, Shohei Ohtani’s status for the two games at Dodger Stadium isn’t in question. He hasn’t played a game in the field, serving exclusively as the Angels’ designated hitter while he continues to rehab from Tommy John surgery. Don’t immediately dismiss using Ohtani in leagues with weekly lineup changes, though. Four games against the Orioles’ lackluster pitching is a mouth-watering spread for him to feast on.
Rockies at Nationals (4), at Reds (3)
The Rockies are on the road all next week, but they’re one of 13 teams playing seven games. Even with the full week, the stock’s down for Colorado’s bats with only road tilts and some challenging pitching matchups on tap.
Rangers at Mariners (3), at Athletics (4)
The Rangers are nearly in the same boat as the Rockies, playing all seven games next week away from their dreamy hitter-friendly home ballpark. There is a major difference, however. The Rangers’ pitching matchups are far more inviting than Colorado’s. The easier opposition plus seven games result in a much more favorable outlook for Texas’ hitters.
Carlos Correa (SS – HOU)
Correa began his rehab assignment at the Triple-A level Monday. He’ll have a chance to continue shaking off the rust for at least the bulk of next week. Because he’s on the 60-day IL, he’s not eligible to be activated until July 26. Unless he suffers an unexpected setback, that’s when he’s expected to return. Gamers in leagues with weekly lineup changes should obviously hold off on moving him back into starting lineups, but he’s good to go in leagues with daily lineup changes as soon as he’s back on the parent club.
Brandon Lowe (2B/OF – TB)
This is a repeat visit to this section for Lowe, which isn’t usually a good thing. True to form, this isn’t a good thing. However, it might not necessarily be a bad thing either. Follow all that? At this time last week, the thinking was that Lowe would be activated from the IL over the weekend. He wasn’t, and he remains sidelined with a right shin contusion suffered when fouling a couple of pitches off it on July 3. MLB.com writer Juan Toribio reported that the Rays still don’t know exactly when Lowe will be back.
Adalberto Mondesi (2B/SS – KC)
Mondesi was once again bitten by the injury bug. This time, he suffered a partially dislocated shoulder diving for a foul ball. He’s on the IL without a timetable for return. Mondesi’s 31 stolen bases lead MLB, making his absence from fantasy lineups an impossible one to fully replace. The stolen-base leaderboard is littered with players who are highly owned.
One name that stands out as widely available, though, is Manuel Margot (11% ownership in Yahoo and 5% in ESPN). He doesn’t play every day due to San Diego’s crowded outfield, but his superior defensive work and recent stellar play at the dish of late could earn him more playing time. Since the beginning of June, Margot is slashing .275/.402/.538 with four homers, six stolen bases, and identical 16.5% walk and strikeout rates, per FanGraphs. He’s not really worth rostering in 12-team mixers, but gamers desperate to replace Mondesi’s speed in 14-team leagues or deeper might wish to scoop up Margot. There’s also the possibility San Diego unclogs their outfield with a deadline deal.
Nick Senzel (2B/3B/OF – CIN)
Senzel was out of Cincinnati’s lineup Thursday with a hamstring strain, but he’s not expected to go on the IL. Instead, he’s considered day-to-day, and gamers should keep tabs on Cincinnati’s lineups through the weekend before automatically slotting in Senzel as a fantasy starter.
Mike Trout (OF – LAA)
Trout missed the first three games of the week, but he returned to the lineup Thursday night. It goes without saying, but you should obviously get him back in fantasy lineups.
Garrett Richards (SP – SD)
Richards is working his way back from Tommy John surgery, and it appears he has a chance of returning in September. Former Associate Scout for the Brewers and co-founder of Prospects Live Jason Pennini recently tweeted out a video with a report of Richards sitting 93-95 mph while topping out at 96. He mixed in a plus slider and curve in two innings of work in an Arizona League rehab start.
– Jason Pennini (@JasonPennini) July 18, 2019
Richards is a potential stash option in deep head-to-head formats where even a few starts can have a big impact, but he’s also a sneaky stash option in deeper keeper leagues depending on your league’s rules for keeping waiver-wire additions. For instance, if he can be added and kept for a last-round pick or the minimum salary, he’s extremely intriguing.
Nathan Eovaldi (SP – BOS)
As long as Eovaldi doesn’t encounter a bump in the road after a Thursday rehab appearance in which he struck out the side, he’s expected to return as Boston’s new closer over the weekend. He’s rostered in only 63% of Yahoo leagues and just 49% of ESPN leagues, so gamers would be wise to check their free-agent pool to see if he’s available. He should be universally rostered.
Brad Peacock (SP/RP – HOU)
Peacock, like the aforementioned Lowe, is a repeat visitor from last week’s piece. The news isn’t great for him either. Jake Kaplan of The Athletic said the right-handed pitcher experienced a setback after batting practice Sunday.
Cole Hamels (SP – CHC)
Hamels is recovering from a strained oblique. According to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, things are going well enough that he could pitch a simulated game or minor-league rehab appearance late next week. If that happens, there’s a possibility Hamels could be back at the end of this month.
Max Scherzer (SP – WAS)
Scherzer’s on the IL with a mid-back strain, but he’s making progress. Unfortunately, it’s unclear at this time if he’ll be ready to start Sunday’s game, per Mark Zuckerman of MASN. Regardless, it doesn’t appear as if the injury is serious. Still, gamers will want to follow his progress before setting their lineups Sunday and next week.