20 Things to Watch For in Week 13 (2021 Fantasy Baseball)
This week, I’m taking over for the great Brendan Tuma with the 20 things to watch for in Week 13. With sticky substances dominating our baseball information, we’ll focus on two-start pitchers, weekly matchups, players returning from injuries, and more. We’ll avoid dropping our pants like Sergio Romo and discuss some home run binges by Kyle Schwarber and Jonathan Schoop. With bats heating up, we need to be careful with our streaming pitcher picks. With a packed article, let’s dive in the pool during this heatwave.
1. Triston McKenzie’s Two-Start Week vs. DET & vs. HOU
The key pieces to Cleveland’s starting rotation took a hit in recent weeks, with Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac, and Aaron Civale hitting the injured list. That leads to Eli Morgan, J.C. Mejia, Cal Quantrill, Sam Hentges, and Triston McKenzie. In both redraft and dynasty leagues, McKenzie is the most actionable and relevant starting pitcher. Back in one of the depth chart review articles, I noted that Cleveland kept making McKenzie doing burpees after calling him up and sending him down.
Triston McKenzie tied the American League record for most consecutive strikeouts with 8.
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) May 31, 2021
Interestingly, the velocity dropped on McKenzie’s four-seamer and curveball in 2021 compared to 2020. Mckenzie’s four-seam sits at 91.3 mph, and curveball sits at 78.7 mph, which dropped from 92.8 mph on the four-seamer and 80.1 mph on the curve in 2020. Keep in mind that we have small samples with both seasons, including 75 2/3 innings pitched in the majors.
McKenzie will face the Tigers and Astros in his two-start week, which leads to a difficult decision next week. The Astros have the best wOBA at .398 over the past 14 days, while the Tigers surprisingly have a .332 wOBA (No. 12) during that stretch. It’s a bit risky, but hopefully, McKenzie relies on his curve and slider, which have a swinging-strike rate above 18% in 2021.
2. The Rockies Play All Seven Games at Home
Oh, baby, we love when the Rockies hitters play all seven games at home. Per EV Analytics Park Factors, Coors Field ranks 1st in wOBA, batting average, and BABIP. Meanwhile, Coors Field ranks 7th in home run park factors. We’ll discuss Rockies hitters to stream in the next bullet points, but don’t forget about the Pirates and Cardinals hitters playing in Coors Field.
In shallow leagues, maybe Paul DeJong heats up since he is hitting .095 with one home run since returning from the injured list on June 11. It’s difficult to recommend any fringey Pirates hitters like Colin Moran, Gregory Polanco, or Kevin Newman since they’re struggling as well.
3. Stream Brendan Rodgers
In my weird world called my brain, I imagine Brendan Rodgers singing the song that goes, “finally, it has happened to me.” It’s happening. One of the Rockies’ top prospects drafted No. 3 overall in 2015 is finally putting it together and staying healthy. Typically, we joke about the Rockies giving veterans a ton of playing time and not allowing their young players to work through the natural struggles of baseball.
In June, Brendan Rodgers is hitting .290 with a .922 OPS that comes with four home runs, six runs, and 14 RBI. During this month, Rodgers boasts a 9.8% barrel rate, .389 wOBA, and 134 wRC+. Last I checked, Rodgers is rostered in 11% of Yahoo leagues, so he is available in shallower formats. Pick up Rodgers to stream at home next week.
4. Stream Yonathan Daza
If you’re looking for batting average, look for Yonathan Daza, who is batting second in nine straight games that he started. In one game against the Brewers, he pinch-hit for the pitcher, so the game logs show him batting 9th that day. During that stretch, Daza is hitting .333 with one home run, eight runs, and six RBI.
Daza doesn’t provide a ton of power, but he thrives off of making a high level of contact overall and in the zone. Since moving to the two-hole, Daza rocks a 94.6% Z-Contact% and 91.4% Contact%. In 15-team leagues, look for Daza on waivers to stream this week for batting average.
5. Danny Duffy is Back for Two Starts at BOS & vs. MIN
On Wednesday, Danny Duffy returned from the injured list to face the Yankees. Duffy pitched two scoreless innings with zero hits, three walks, and four strikeouts. Before landing on the IL, we noticed Duffy’s velocity was up on all of his pitches. For reference, Duffy’s four-seamer velocity jumped to 93.8 mph, up from 92.2 mph (2020) and 92.3 mph (2019). The same goes for the secondary pitches in the slider and changeup.
Granted, it’s a small sample of two innings since Duffy’s injury, but the velocity looked about the same, if not a tad higher than before the injury. Let’s see how that settles in the coming weeks. With Duffy’s absence extending past a month, check the waiver wire in 15-team leagues as he heads into a two-start week against the Red Sox and Twins. Over the past 14 days, the Red Sox rank 11th with a .331 wOBA, and the Twins rank 15th with a .318 wOBA. It’s a bit risky to start Duffy this week, but the early success may sway fantasy managers.
6. Chris is Flexen On Us
Mariners starting pitcher Chris is Flexen on us recently.
Chris Flexen the past three starts:
🟢1.74 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 23.2% K%, 4.1% BB%
🙃.235 BABIP, 91.5% LOB%
🔥13.4% SwStr%, 42.9% O-Swing%, 72.6% F-Strike%
Flexen also adjusted his pitch mix in each of those starts#FantasyBaseball #SeaUsRise pic.twitter.com/gFHhb6O77h
— Corbin (@corbin_young21) June 24, 2021
Flexen is dominating by controlling the walks, limiting BABIP, stranding runners, and getting ahead of the count. Although Flexen doesn’t have the massive strikeout upside, neither does José Urquidy. Flexen doesn’t strike out as many batters, but he provides a similar profile to Urquidy.
This week, Flexen projects for a two-start week at the Blue Jays and home against the Rangers. The first start is risky with the Blue Jays, evidenced by a .359 wOBA (No. 2) over the past 14 days plus the hitter-friendly environment in Buffalo per EV Analytics. I would try to avoid the Blue Jays if I could, but I still want to ride Flexen’s hot streak.
7. Kyle Schwarber’s Home Run Binge
Since Kyle Schwarber’s home run binge starting on June 12, he has 12 home runs, 14 runs, and 23 RBI with a .347 batting average with a 1.462 OPS. During that stretch, Schwarber has a 39.4% barrel rate and 57.6% hard-hit rate. That barrel rate is just silly.
Hopefully, fantasy managers hung onto Schwarber. Enjoy the power and hot streak. On Friday, Schwarber hit yet another home run. As a leadoff hitter in June, Schwarber hit 13 home runs with nine in his past six games. Wow.
8. Schoop Up Jonathan Schoop in Shallow Leagues
In June, Jonathan Schoop is also on a home run binge, but to a lesser extent. This month, Schoop has 15 home runs, 36 runs, 40 RBI, and one steal with a .275 batting average. Although Schoop’s batted ball data isn’t as mind-blowing as Schwarber’s, his 17.1% barrel rate in June helped boost his production. Schoop him up in shallow leagues with the positional flexibility.
9. Rays Play Five Games
This week, the only team to play five games includes the Rays. It doesn’t mean sit all Rays hitters, but rather temper expectations with the fringey bats outside of Brandon Lowe, Wander Franco, Randy Arozarena, and Austin Meadows.
10. Brief Look at Wander Franco
In three games since Wander Franco’s callup, he batted second or third, which is good to see for a player’s MLB debut. It’s such a small sample, but Franco showed his patience at the plate, evidenced by a 21.4% walk rate and 22.6% O-Swing%. A couple of concerns surrounding Franco involved the ground ball rate and exit velocity numbers, which we’ll need to monitor moving forward. Even though the Rays play five games, I would still start him in a weekly lineup league.
— MLB (@MLB) June 23, 2021
11. Astros On Fire and Stream Abraham Toro
The best offense over the past 14 days – the Houston Astros with a .404 wOBA. Be careful streaming pitchers against the Astros until further notice, but pick up Astros hitters and stream Abraham Toro in deeper formats. Since Toro’s callup on June 17, he is hitting .370 with two home runs, five runs, ten RBI, and one steal with a .457 wOBA. One concern involves the low 4.3% barrel rate and 26.1% hard-hit rate during that stretch.
Toro is 56% rostered in 15-team TGFBI leagues, so he is likely available in some 15-team leagues and shallower formats. Of course, consider Myles Straw for some speed, but I prefer Toro with the better overall profile this week and moving forward until Alex Bregman returns from his injury.
12. Stash José Alvarado
Héctor Neris has struggled in recent weeks, particularly in June with a 10.80 ERA, 1.80 WHIP, a .400 BABIP allowed, and 61% LOB%. Neris hit a bit of misfortunate, and thus José Alvarado looks to earn the next save chance.
Jose Alvarado will get first crack at save opportunities for now for #Phillies, according to Joe Girardi.
— Scott Lauber (@ScottLauber) June 25, 2021
In June, Alvarado is pitching better with a 0.96 ERA and 0.96 WHIP with a 30.3% strikeout rate and an 18.2% strikeout rate. If your team is struggling for saves, pick up Alvarado, especially in 15-team leagues. However, keep in mind that you may need to pay up in FAAB.
Update: Alvarado blew the save chance in one of the doubleheader games after allowing one hit, one unearned run, and one walk with two strikeouts in 1 1/3 inning. Then, Neris pitched a clean 8th inning in the doubleheader with one strikeout to earn his 11th save. Regardless of the news earlier on Friday, both relievers need to be rostered.
13. Add Michael Wacha
In a pitcher’s duel on Thursday, Michael Wacha threw five scoreless innings with one hit, two walks, and seven strikeouts. Wacha’s changeup performed well with a 43% whiff rate yet only a 27% CSW% since he had zero called strikes on the pitch.
Since the Rays only play five games, Wacha faces the Nationals for one start. The Nationals have been heating up with a .339 wOBA (No. 8) over the past 14 days (thanks to Kyle Schwarber). Keep in mind that Wacha likely won’t go past five innings, but he is worth streaming.
14. Tony (not Shawn) Kemp Dunking On Us
The Athletics have a fantasy-friendly week coming up with three games against the Rangers and three against the Red Sox. On the season, the Rangers allowed a .332 wOBA (5th worst), and the Red Sox allow a .327 wOBA (8th worst). Kemp provides value in batting average and OBP leagues, evidenced by his .292 batting average, .408 OBP, and 16.2% walk rate.
In June, Kemp is hitting .339 with a 1.062 OPS, 16 runs, three home runs, 12 RBI, and one steal. Similar to Abraham Toro, Kemp is available in over half of the 15-team leagues in TGFBI. However, the difference with Kemp – he has consistently produced all season. Be ready for Tony (not Shawn) Kemp to dunk on those matchups this week and beyond.
Update: With Mark Canha hitting the injured list, Kemp should move up to the leadoff spot where he batted at the past three games. That means more opportunities for runs and counting stats.
15. Who is Cal Raleigh?
Since playing in two-catcher leagues with 15 teams, keeping an eye on catcher callups is a part of the fun. The switch-hitting catcher Cal Raleigh smashed 22 home runs in 2019 at High-A, then added nine more home runs at Double-A that season for 29 total. However, Luis Torrens is hitting well since coming back up with a .368 batting average, three home runs, five runs, and five RBI in 20 plate appearances.
The #Mariners have a promising young catching prospect who's tearing up Triple-A in Cal Raleigh, so why isn't he in the big leagues? GM Jerry Dipoto says that while Raleigh is likely ready for MLB action, Seattle has its reasons for keeping him in Tacoma.https://t.co/Q2WR9dZQeD
— 710 ESPN Seattle (@710ESPNSeattle) June 25, 2021
At Triple-A this season, Raleigh has eight home runs and three steals with a .354 batting average and 1.079 OPS. Raleigh’s OPS ranks 8th amongst qualified minor league hitters. He lowered his strikeout rate to 12.3% in Triple-A, down from 29.6% at Double-A and 19.8% at High-A. Let’s see if those numbers stick, and maybe the Mariners call him up late in the season, but we’ll note Raleigh isn’t on the 40-man roster at this time.
16. The Bobby Witt Jr. Watch Party
After some struggles in May with a .233 batting average, seven home runs, and six steals, Bobby Witt Jr. is turning it around in June at Double-A. This month, Witt has four home runs, five steals, and a .325 batting average. Even with Adalberto Mondesi hitting the injured list, it doesn’t seem that the Royals want or need to call up Witt at this time.
Bobby Witt Jr. is hitting .500 over the last week.
He’s the No. 1 prospect in today’s hot sheet.https://t.co/g4EL30WHOc
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) June 21, 2021
Especially with Nicky Lopez playing well, they don’t have a glaring need to call up Witt since Lopez has seven steals, a .260 batting average, .352 OBP, and a 12.1% walk rate. Lopez also plays solid defense and ranks in the 87th-percentile in Outs Above Average. Every so often, we’ll check up on how Bobby Witt Jr. is doing for a heat check.
17. Jameson Taillon’s Quality Start
After seven straight brutal and mediocre starts where Jameson Taillon pitched 5 1/3 innings or fewer, Taillon threw his second quality start of the season against the Royals. On Thursday, Taillon went 6 1/3 innings while allowing five hits, one earned run, and two walks with six strikeouts. The results were solid, but the underlying skills weren’t mind-blowing, with a 24% whiff rate and 29% CSW% overall. Taillon’s slider performed the best with a 33% whiff rate and 35% CSW% on Thursday.
Hopefully, Taillon can build upon Thursday’s start as he projects for two starts versus the Angels and then the Mets, both played at home in New York. The Angels look like a tougher matchup with a .349 wOBA (No. 5) over the past 14 days. Although the Mets rank 26th with a .277 wOBA in the past two weeks, Michael Conforto returned, and Lindor is slowly turning it around recently. I want to see a bit more from Taillon, but fantasy managers could start him this week in hopes of one solid start in 15-team leagues.
18. Relievers for Ratios
Here is the median ERA by month this season.
- April – 4.06 ERA
- May – 4.09 ERA
- June – 4.43 ERA
With the league cracking down on the sticky substances and offense ticking up, fantasy managers may want to turn to some relievers that provide solid ratios with chances at wins. A few that come to mind include Collin McHugh, Jonathan Loaisiga, and Giovanny Gallegos.
- McHugh – 2.15 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 36.2% K%, 6% BB%
- Loaisiga – 2.52 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 21.2% K%, 5.8% BB%
- Gallegos – 2.06 ERA, 0.66 WHIP, 31.5% K%, 5.6% BB%
Instead of streaming pitchers with fringey matchups, it might be a good idea to pick up a reliever to plug into lineups for ratio help.
19. Akil Baddoo or Don’t
After a hot streak to begin the season for Akil Baddoo, he cooled down and ended up in a platoon role for a stint. In Baddoo’s first 46 plate appearances, he hit .295 and 1.054 OPS with four home runs, six runs, 13 RBI, and one steal. Then from April 23 to the end of May, Baddoo hit .194 with one home run, seven runs, seven RBI, and four steals. Meanwhile, in June, he is hitting .380 with a .966 OPS, zero home runs, and three steals.
What we love about Baddoo – he displays solid on-base skills evidenced by a 13.2% walk rate, .374 OBP, and a 26.5% O-Swing%. Even during Baddoo’s cold streak, his chase rate remained about the same, but Baddoo wasn’t making contact.
- April 23 – May 31: 27.2% O-Swing%, 71.6% Z-Contact%, 65.5% Contact%
- June 1 – June 24: 25.5% O-Swing%, 78.5% Z-Contact%, 71.4% Contact%
If you need outfield help, check the waiver wire for Baddoo, particularly in 15-team leagues with five outfielders.
20. Keston Hiura’s Return
On Wednesday, the Brewers called up Keston Hiura after Daniel Vogelbach hits the injured list. Hiura went hitless in two at-bats on Wednesday with one walk. Then on Friday, Hiura went 1-for-4 with one home run, one run scored, two RBI, and two strikeouts. Hiura recorded a 107.4 mph exit velocity on his home run, which made it the second hardest-hit batted ball of the game. If you have the room, speculatively pick up Hiura to see how he fares this week in their seven-game week.
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