Fantasy Baseball Weekly Planner: Week 8 (2020)
All year, we’ve described this season as a “sprint.” We’ve reached the end.
Technically, there is still one more week of baseball following Week 8, but we have officially passed the end of all fantasy regular seasons — for those leagues that have playoffs. Months — and then some more months — of preparation have led to this. Thankfully, there is still plenty more baseball to be played, many of which include tight postseason races.
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St. Louis Cardinals at Brewers (5), at Pirates (2), vs. Pirates (1), at Pirates (2)
Ten games! Weeks ago, we noted that the St. Louis Cardinals would have to catch up to the rest of the league in terms of games played, and we’re seeing this come to fruition with a ten-game schedule in a seven-day span. What’s more amazing is that St. Louis will only play two different teams, but all ten games away from its home park — the long “home” game is the second in a doubleheader that will still be played in Pittsburgh.
We have a long way to go before we can see where the Cardinals end up in 2020, but fantasy owners will have extreme volume at the most important time of the season.
Miami Marlins vs. Phillies (1), vs. Red Sox (3), vs. Nationals (5)
Similarly to the Cardinals, the Miami Marlins were always primed for a volume-heavy week. It has arrived, and we can prepare for nine games against three teams in seven days.
“Arrived” is the keyword in Miami, as a handful of the organization’s top prospects are playing with the Big League club. More importantly, they are delivering for the Big League club. It’s not too late to aggressively add some weapons for the final two weeks of the year.
Chicago White Sox vs. Twins (4), at Reds (3)
The Chicago White Sox were one of the trendiest teams to pick for a surge in 2020, and they have reversed a slow start to deliver on their promise. At the time of this writing, Chicago sits atop the American League Central.
The first four games of the week will be against the reigning division champions, which serves for excellent drama as the Major League Baseball postseason races to a close.
Colorado Rockies vs. Athletics (2), vs. Dodgers (4)
It’s been quite the roller-coaster season for the Colorado Rockies, and they now find themselves on the outside of the playoff picture. There’s still time, but losing three-of-their-last-ten games has been disastrous.
The good news for fantasy owners is that Colorado will have six home games in Week 8. Those who drafted for the benefits of the team’s home ballpark will have exposure to it for the playoffs.
Houston Astros vs. Rangers (3), vs. Diamondbacks (3)
The Houston Astros have been on a different roller coaster than the aforementioned Rockies, but one that leaves them slightly more comfortable in the playoff race. Houston has fallen to .500 on the season but still has a decent lead on the Mariners for the second spot in the division — which now earns a postseason berth.
The Astros do have a favorable schedule on their side. They play six home games in Week 8, and the two teams they face have a combined record of 30-56.
Trea Turner (SS – WAS)
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the possibility of a .400 hitter in this shortened season. It now seems unlikely with no batter hitting above .360, but Trea Turner is making noise regardless.
Turner is now leading Major League Baseball with a .359 average and 60 hits. Hitting for a high average is not foreign to Turner — he finished his 73-game rookie season batting .342.
Trevor Story (SS – COL)
Prior to the season, one of the hot topics within fantasy baseball circles was the debate about Trevor Story’s stolen base totals. Would he continue to run? If so, we would be possibly looking at a top-three fantasy hitter. If not — and if the stolen bases evaporated entirely — would he even be worthy of a first-round pick.
Not only has Story answered the question, but he now leads Major League Baseball with 13 steals. Once we factor in the ten home runs, we can look at Story as one of the premier fantasy players for 2020.
Adam Duvall (OF – ATL)
While the actual story of Week 7 was the 29-run output of the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday night, Adam Duvall deserves special recognition for both his contribution to the game and his recent streak.
Duvall hit three home runs on the infamous 29-run night, but he also has nine total home runs and the fifth-highest Offensive WAR of all hitters in the past two weeks. What’s most amazing is that Duvall actually had two three-home run nights over this hot streak.
Michael Conforto (OF – NYM)
I continue to highlight players who have moved into the upper tier of a particular category, and Michael Conforto is the newest on the list. Thanks to a scorching hot month of September — he is batting .410 through nine games — Conforto has moved into the top-five for Offensive WAR on the season, passing Mike Trout in this category.
Not coincidentally, the New York Mets are averaging 6.89 runs-per-game in September.
Alex Bregman (3B/SS – HOU)
The Astros were mentioned in the “Notable Matchups” section of this column for their upcoming schedule and the current record, one of the bigger pieces of news involves their third baseman. After missing roughly one-third of the season, Alex Bregman is returning from injury.
On the season, Bregman is only batting .260 with four home runs through 26 games — a far-cry from his career averages — but the team had lost six consecutive games in early September and could sorely use help. Bregman could be the jolt Houston needs to get back on track.
Corbin Burnes (SP – MIL)
Thanks to a three-game stretch in which he did not allow an earned run, Corbin Burnes has now moved into second in the league in FIP while lowering his ERA to 1.99.
Perhaps the most impressive part of Burnes’ story is that he was given a start early in the season and then worked out of the bullpen for three consecutive games before moving back to the rotation. It appears as if he has found his home, as Burnes has allowed more than one earned run in only one of his six starts on the season.
Dallas Keuchel (SP – CWS)
What a shame. Midway through August, Dallas Keuchel had delivered a fine, but an unimpressive season. He had struck out more than four batters only once in his first five starts and carried an ERA of 3.07. He then began to dominate, allowing a total of three earned runs over his last four starts — including back-to-back scoreless outings.
Now, Keuchel has been placed on the injured list, and fantasy owners will lose his services for the first week of many leagues’ playoffs. Because his injury is backdated, he might not miss too much time, but it’s certainly a tough loss for any fantasy team who had seen Keuchel turn a corner.
Sixto Sanchez (SP – MIA)
If there’s one word to describe Sixto Sanchez, it’s “fun.” The young starting pitcher for the Miami Marlins is undoubtedly “fun” to watch.
To date, Sanchez has walked only two batters while striking out 25. His ERA is an absurd 1.80, and his WHIP is 0.920. Sanchez was famously traded from the Phillies to the Marlins in the deal that sends catcher J.T. Realmuto to Philadelphia, but it looks like Sanchez is finally delivering on his top prospect status that many have followed for years.
Deivi Garcia (SP – NYY)
From one former top prospect to another, Deivi Garcia has been less electric than the aforementioned Sanchez, but just as impressive. Garcia has also walked a total of two batters to date, and he steadily delivered six strikeouts in each of his three starts. What stands out most for Garcia, however, is how well he fared in an important game in his last outing.
Garcia went seven innings against a solid Toronto Blue Jays lineup — and a team that was above the New York Yankees in the standings at the time — and only allowed two earned runs — on one swing, at that — in a victory. It was Garcia’s first career win and, while he has spent time taxiing back-and-forth between the Yankees’ alternate site and the Major League roster, it’s clear that Garcia belongs in the rotation. He’d be a solid add for the fantasy playoffs.
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Mario Mergola is a featured writer at FantasyPros, as well as the creator and content-editor of Sporfolio. For more from Mario, check out his archive and follow him @MarioMergola.