Fantasy Baseball Weekly Planner: Week 26
It’s the final Fantasy Baseball Weekly Planner of the 2019 season, and if you’re reading at this point, congratulations on having skin left in the game. The final week of the regular season is an unusual one that requires gamers to be extra attentive and prepared to change gears. Some teams preparing for the postseason in real life are bound to change their projected probable starting pitchers in order to set their postseason rotation in their preferred order. As teams wrap up divisions and sew up Wild Card spots, hangover lineups are a potential result.
What is known is that two National League East foes each have potentially high-scoring matchups in eight-game weeks and both are discussed below. At the other end of things is a trio of teams with only five games scheduled next week that also make the cut in the Notable Matchups section. Additionally, it seems fitting that the section features a look at the Rockies and their opponent for their home series at Coors Field, too. Things are wrapped up with prominent injury updates for hitters and pitchers and a few September performers worth a look.
Braves at Royals (2), at Mets (3)
The Braves have already clinched a playoff berth and are on the cusp of clinching the National League East, too. Toss in a five-game week next week, and that’s a perfect recipe for a nightmarish situation for gamers in leagues with weekly lineup changes. The Braves could definitely opt to give some of their regulars a game (or games) off. Tread carefully.
Royals vs. Braves (2), vs. Twins (3)
The Royals don’t have a postseason to get ready for, but like the Braves, they are saddled with a week-low five games on the docket next week. On the plus side, they could face some soft pitching matchups if the Braves opt to skip Julio Teheran and/or Mike Soroka to have them fresh for the postseason and if the Twins are able to wrap things up and opt to not start Jose Berrios and/or Jake Odorizzi.
Yankees at Rays (2), at Rangers (3)
The Yankees are basically in the same boat as the Braves, and the caution I suggest with the Braves can be applied to the Bronx Bombers, too.
Rockies at Giants (3), vs. Brewers (3)
Three games at pitcher-friendly Oracle Park (0.956 park factor for runs and 0.688 for homers, lowest in MLB) outweighs three games at Coors Field. Those in leagues with daily lineup changes (especially at fantasy providers that allow players to be used on the day they’re added) can turn to Coors Field for streaming options during the final three-game homestand of the year for the Rockies to close out their 2019 campaign.
Brewers at Reds (3), at Rockies (3)
The Brewers close their season at Coors, as I noted in Colorado’s write-up. They play three games at homer-friendly Great American Ball Park (1.205 park factor for homers, fourth-highest in MLB) before that, though. Stock is up for Milwaukee’s healthy bats in the final week of the regular season.
Phillies at Nationals (5), vs. Marlins (3)
Nationals vs. Phillies (5), vs. Indians (3)
I’ll lump the analysis of the Phillies and Nationals together, as they both are co-leaders for most games in the final week of the regular season with eight games each. They reach that total as a result of playing a doubleheader against one another on Tuesday. Volume’s king for the counting stats (i.e. runs, homers, RBIs, and stolen bases) for hitters, so the stock is up for hitters on both of these National League East teams next week.
Mike Trout (OF/DH – LAA)
Trout’s 2019 campaign is over. The two-time American League MVP underwent surgery for a foot issue called Morton’s neuroma. It’s a damaging blow for fantasy rosters one week after defending National League MVP Christian Yelich was highlighted in this spot for his own season-ending injury.
Anthony Rizzo (1B – CHC)
Rizzo suffered a lateral ankle sprain fielding a bunt on Sunday, but he made a surprising return to the lineup Thursday night. How surprising was his return? The reports surrounding the ankle injury were pessimistic enough to prompt me to initially suggest dropping Rizzo before his insertion in Thursday’s lineup led to a re-write. He homered in his first game back, and he should be started in fantasy lineups immediately.
Ketel Marte (2B/SS – ARI)
Marte is yet another player who’s possibly done for the year. He underwent an MRI on Wednesday on his lower back and it reportedly showed inflammation in his lower back and hip area, per Nck Piecoro of AZCentral.com. With expanded rosters, teams like the Cubs (with an injured Rizzo) and Diamondbacks (with Marte) aren’t using the IL. Unfortunately, that means Marte should also be cut for a healthy player.
Kyle Tucker (OF – HOU)
This entire section isn’t filled with downer news! Stud prospect Tucker is a widely available (25% Yahoo ownership and 9% ESPN ownership) option for gamers scrambling for help with the spate of impactful season-ending injuries. In 42 plate appearances as a September call-up, Tucker’s smacked a pair of homers, hit .325/.357/.550, and stolen four bases. He put together a 30/30 (34 homers and 30 stolen bases) campaign at the Triple-A level, and he’s a worthwhile addition in even the shallowest of leagues.
Cavan Biggio (2B – TOR)
Biggio scuffled in July and August, but he’s closing on a heater. In 49 plate appearances in September, he has two homers, four stolen bases, and has slashed .333/.469/667. If he was kicked to the curb in your league due to his slump during the dog days of summer, be sure to scoop him up now.
Blake Snell (SP – TB)
Tyler Glasnow (SP/RP – TB)
The Rays have received some pitching reinforcements. Snell returned to start on Tuesday against the Dodgers, and he threw two perfect innings in which he struck out four of the six Dodgers he faced. Unfortunately, he threw only 26 pitches, so there isn’t time for him to get stretched out to a full workload during the final week of the regular season. The Rays are fighting for a playoff berth and will likely have him throw more pitches in his next turn while trying to get him stretched out for a postseason rotation spot, but that doesn’t help his fantasy utility. However, his dominance in two innings in his return from the IL does make him a potential ERA and WHIP helper, so gamers will have to weigh their specific circumstances when deciding whether or not to hold him or cut him for someone else.
On the other hand, Glasnow was up to 51 pitches in his last turn and gets the ball against the Red Sox on Saturday. He’s knocking on the door of a loose enough pitch count to potentially hit the five-inning mark and be eligible for a win, and in his two starts since returning in September, he’s totaled 10 strikeouts and allowed only two earned runs on three hits and three walks in five innings. He’s a more desirable fantasy option than Snell the rest of the year.
Lucas Giolito (SP – CWS)
Gamers who drafted or scooped up Giolito this year were treated to an incredible breakout season, but he won’t be helping gamers in head-to-head championships or those battling for pitching points in roto formats. Unfortunately, the right-handed hurler has been shut down with a mild lat strain that was revealed in an MRI on Monday. Giolito is keeper and dynasty league gold given the likely minimal cost for keeping him following a surprising breakout for the once highly-touted prospect. He’ll likely be a top-10 starting pitcher selected in 2020 fantasy drafts.
Luis Severino (SP – NYY)
Severino made his highly-anticipated debut on Tuesday, and he pitched four scoreless innings at home against the Angels, allowing two hits, two walks, and striking out four. He was throwing cheddar with average fastball velocity of 96.7 MPH, per FanGraphs, and he should be deployed if he gets the ball on Sunday against the Blue Jays, as he’s projected to.