Fantasy Baseball Weekly Planner: Week 24 (2019)
There are just a few weeks left in the fantasy season, and that means jostling for every available point in roto leagues and fortifying rosters for head-to-head playoffs. Interestingly, no teams are saddled with a five-game week next week, and the games-scheduled splits are 18 teams playing six games and 12 playing seven. A couple of series at Coors Field next week means a few teams playing there covered in the notable matchups section. The hitter notes and pitcher notes are filled with injury updates on some key players, including one do-it-all outfielder slated to return Friday night.
Rockies vs. Cardinals (3), vs. Padres (3)
The Rockies are home for a pair of three-game series next week. Per usual, the stock of their hitters is up for their home games. Additionally, the pitching matchups aren’t intimidating, either. Get your Rockies hitters in your fantasy lineups.
Dodgers at Orioles (3), at Mets (3)
The Dodgers opening next week with a three-game series in Baltimore provides a double dose of good news for their hitters. First, the lineup will get a lift from having a designated hitter. Second, they’ll be teeing off against a pitching staff responsible for an MLB-high 5.81 ERA, according to FanGraphs. The week concludes with a potentially challenging trio of games opposing Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, and Zack Wheeler. As a whole, the outlook’s good for the Dodgers’ hitters.
Cardinals at Rockies (3), vs. Brewers (3)
The Red Birds are one of the teams visiting Coors next week, and that’s an insta-boost to the value of their hitters. Furthermore, pitching matchups with Chi Chi Gonzalez (7.29 ERA and 6.45 SIERA), Antonio Senzatela (7.19 ERA and 5.69 SIERA), and Tim Melville (3.86 ERA and 5.68 SIERA) in Colorado are downright drool-inducing. Matchups with right-handed pitchers Adrian Houser and Jordan Lyles could be semi challenging given the righty-heavy nature of St. Louis’ lineup, but righty Chase Anderson’s reverse platoon split (.390 wOBA allowed to 271 right-handed batters faced this year) plays into the hands of the Red Birds.
Brewers at Marlins (4), at Cardinals (3)
Next week’s schedule is a mixed bag for the Brewers. Playing in Miami for four games isn’t ideal, as Marlins Park is the most pitcher-friendly park in MLB with a 0.826 park factor for runs, and it’s a difficult place to hit homers in, too, with a park factor of .759 for taters (second lowest). Having said that, playing seven games is a plus. Six of the games are against right-handed pitchers, so Eric Thames is a viable option in weekly leagues for gamers looking for power. In 331 plate appearances against righties this year, Thames has 19 homers with a .272/.366/.551 slash.
Padres vs. Cubs (4), at Rockies (3)
The Friars are the other team headed to Coors Field next week. They will also play seven games. The volume and trip to Coors Field is a boon for their bats. They’ll open next week with a trio of southpaws (Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, and Cole Hamels) on tap. Speedy outfielder Manuel Margot has hit .361/.459/.494 in 99 plate appearances against lefties this year, and he’s a career .282/.343/.441 hitter against them in 421 plate appearances. Margot’s rostered in only 15% of Yahoo leagues and 8% of ESPN leagues, making him a sneaky streamer when factoring in the southpaws to open next week and the trip to Coors to conclude it.
Javier Baez (CHC) and Kris Bryant (CHC)
Both Baez and Bryant were initially in Chicago’s lineup on Thursday. However, only Bryant remained in the lineup. Baez was a late scratch with thumb soreness. Bryant can be used in fantasy lineups once again, but Baez will need to continue to be benched and monitored. Given his late-scratch status Thursday, it doesn’t seem like he’s too far from a return.
George Springer (HOU) and Carlos Correa (HOU)
Springer suffered a concussion on Tuesday while crashing into the wall to make a catch. Adam Wexler of Click2Houston reports the team is hopeful he’ll return next week. Gamers will have to work around Springer’s injury the remainder of the week. Gamers will be without Correa even longer. Houston has their eyes on the postseason, and they can take their time with their stud shortstop. David Barron of the Houston Chronicle relayed that the hope is Correa will get some games in before the playoffs. In re-draft leagues, if gamers are lacking an IL spot to stash Correa in, they can cut bait and add a healthy player to help them for the final few weeks of the season. Even if Correa does return before the end of the regular season, it’s possible he’ll struggle while shaking off the rust.
Ramon Laureano (OAK)
Laureano’s return is upon us. He’ll be activated from the IL Friday. He’ll provide fantasy lineups a nice jolt as an across-the-board contributor. Despite last playing on July 28, his 12 stolen bases this year are tied for the 39th most. He’s rostered in 60% of Yahoo leagues and only 36% of ESPN leagues, and he should be universally rostered as a difference-maker in all formats.
Jorge Polanco (MIN)
Polanco was out of Minnesota’s lineup Thursday due to a sore middle finger on his right hand that forced him out of Wednesday’s game in the eighth inning, per Phil Miller of the Star Tribune.
Jorge Polanco came out of the game in the 8th inning because the soreness in his right middle finger, which has been bothering him “for awhile now,” Baldelli said, got worse. Might need a day or two to let it heal, Baldelli said.
– Phil Miller (@MillerStrib) September 5, 2019
Gamers will want to make sure he’s back in the lineup before starting him in fantasy, but it appears to be a day-to-day issue and nothing worse.
Max Muncy (LAD)
Muncy’s progressed from his fractured wrist and is taking ground balls and swinging at soft toss, according to Bill Plunkett of The Orange County Register. Plunkett also shares a quote from manager Dave Roberts saying Muncy could play in a game, “sometime next week.”
Yu Darvish (CHC)
Darvish was scratched from his start on Sunday with forearm tightness, but Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times reports he’s expected to toe the slab for his normal rotation turn on Saturday. The 33-year-old righty got off to a sluggish start and struggled with his control. However, in his last 19 starts spanning 115.2 innings and dating back to the middle of May, he’s been excellent with a 3.89 ERA (3.32 SIERA), 0.96 WHIP, 4.1% BB%, and 30.1% K%, per FanGraphs. In his last start prior to being scratched, he held the Mets to just one run on five hits, one walk, and seven strikeouts in eight innings. As long as Darvish returns on Saturday in Milwaukee as expected, he should be in fantasy starting lineups.
Craig Kimbrel (CHC)
Kimbrel’s back on the IL again. This time, he’s on the IL with elbow inflammation. Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports president of baseball operations Theo Epstein expects Kimbrel back by the end of next week. He’s first eligible to be activated on September 12. Kimbrel owns an ugly 5.68 ERA, and his 12.5% BB% and 1.53 WHIP are bad, too. Gamers in desperate need of saves with an IL spot open can stash Kimbrel, but most should cut bait.
Rich Hill (LAD) and Julio Urias (LAD)
In the previously linked piece from Plunkett, it’s mentioned that Hill is scheduled to throw to hitters on Friday in a simulated game in which he’ll throw about 30 pitches. Roberts said, “assuming that goes well we’ll pencil him in somewhere the following week in a big-league game.” Hill could be a useful head-to-head league pitching option in the fantasy playoffs. He shouldn’t be used in his first start back from the IL after a lengthy stay, especially since he’ll likely be on a highly restricted pitch count. However, if he can get up to 70-80 pitches in his turn after that — assuming he continues to avoid any setbacks — he could be a dart throw for pitching-needy streamers.
Urias is an even better and more immediate fantasy option. He’s spent most of the year in the bullpen, primarily to manage his innings, but he started in his last appearance after serving a 20-game suspension for violating MLB’s Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy. Urias is expected to start again next Tuesday against the Orioles in Baltimore, and he’s a solid starting option even with a likely pitch restriction after throwing only 44 pitches in his last start.