Fantasy Baseball Weekly Planner: Week 18 (2021)
Next week, three teams draw the short stick with only five games scheduled. At the other end of the spectrum is one team with eight games. Sandwiched in the middle, 13 teams are scheduled for six games, and 13 have seven on the docket. The hitter and pitcher notes this week are chock full of injury and trade updates.
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. HOU (2), vs. LAA (3)
The Dodgers are one of the three teams with only five games scheduled. Lance McCullers Jr. and Shohei Ohtani project to be challenging matchups in their five-game week, making matters worse. It’s okay to bench their fringe fantasy options in leagues with weekly lineup changes.
Oakland Athletics vs. SD (2), vs. TEX (3)
The A’s are the second of the three five-game-week teams featured in this space. Oakland’s pitching matchups are less challenging than the Dodgers’, making them slightly more desirable to use in fantasy leagues next week.
San Diego Padres at OAK (2), vs. ARI (3)
The Friars are the final team on the low end of games scheduled next week. However, they get a double dose of good news. First, their pitching matchups are ho-hum. Second, their lineup will get a lift from the services of a designated hitter for two contests at Oakland to start the week.
Chicago Cubs at COL (3), vs. CWS (3)
Spoiler alert, the Rockies are home for both of their series next week. The Cubs are the first team to visit the hitter’s paradise known as Coors Field. Gamers in leagues with daily lineup changes can turn to the Cubs as a source of streaming options at Coors Field to start next week.
Cincinnati Reds vs. MIN (2), vs. PIT (4)
The Reds are home for six games next week. As a reminder, Great American Ball Park has the second-highest park factor for runs (1.106) and leads the way for homers (1.347). Their pitching matchups aren’t daunting, either.
Colorado Rockies vs. CHC (3), vs. MIA (3)
I teased this above. Yet, here are the Rockies. They’re home for six games next week. The stock of their hitters is up for this scoring period.
Houston Astros at LAD (2), vs. MIN (4)
The Astros play two games in a National League park to start next week. They start a series in San Francisco on Friday, perhaps providing some insight into how they’ll utilize Yordan Alvarez and Michael Brantley without the services of a designated hitter. Both have shared outfield and designated hitter duties. Use the information gleaned from the trip to San Francisco this weekend to inform your decision using — or benching — Alvarez or Brantley in leagues with weekly lineup changes next week.
Los Angeles Angels at TEX (4), at LAD (3)
Here’s another team included because of the lack of a designated hitter. Ohtani has yet to start in the outfield, playing only 7.1 innings in the outfield, per FanGraphs. Regardless, four games against the Rangers and their seventh-highest team ERA (4.74) as well as the at-bats he’ll log likely starting one game in Los Angeles make him a must-start option, even in leagues with weekly lineup changes.
Toronto Blue Jays vs. CLE (4), vs. BOS (4)
As I consistently harp on in this space, volume is king. The Blue Jays play a week-high eight games next week. Further, their pitching matchups are favorable. The stock of Toronto’s hitters is through the roof next week.
Francisco Lindor (NYM)
Lindor’s not a few weeks away from a return, per the timeline presented by Mets beat writer Anthony DiComo.
Francisco Lindor (right oblique strain) should require a 4-6 week recovery, per Mets GM Zack Scott. That would make mid- to late August a realistic return date for the Mets’ starting shortstop.
– Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) July 26, 2021
Adam Frazier (SD)
The trade deadline has been busy, and the Friars opened the flurry of trades by acquiring a versatile leadoff hitter. Frazier’s versatility has resulted in a start at second base and in the outfield, and he’s slotted in his familiar leadoff role with his new club. Frazier’s value gets a boost joining a substantially more potent offense.
Christian Yelich (MIL)
Trea Turner (WAS)
Yelich and Turner both tested positive for COVID-19 this week. The earliest they’ll be available is late next week. There could also be more forthcoming news of players on the Nationals testing positive.
Davey Martinez says 12 positive tests in total, 4 of them players (including Trea Turner), plus “a bunch of staff members.” A few have symptoms.
– Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) July 28, 2021
Starling Marte (OAK)
The A’s made a splash, trading for Marte. As a result, he joins a better lineup, boosting his upside for runs and RBIs.
Joey Gallo (NYY)
Anthony Rizzo (NYY)
Gallo’s prodigious power plays in any ballpark. However, a trade to the Yankees is a boon for his chances at some extra cheapies. He leaves Globe Life Field, home to a left-handed park factor for homers of 0.977. Comparatively, Yankee Stadium’s mark is 1.140.
Rizzo’s park-factor boost is even more significant. Wrigley Field’s left-handed-batter park factor for homers is only 0.868. Both Gallo and Rizzo add length to a lineup that could explode down the stretch. The stock is up for each.
Brandon Crawford (SF)
Crawford was reinstated from the injured list on Thursday. He’s had a surprisingly good season as a result of changing his approach and batting stance. Gamers should get him back in their lineups.
Jesus Luzardo (MIA)
Luzardo was the return the Marlins received for Marte. The flamethrowing lefty’s disappointed this year. He’s been knocked around at the Triple-A level, too. Perhaps a change of scenery will straighten him back out. The long-term potential is still there. Still, I don’t advise racing out to snag him in re-draft formats.
Carlos Carrasco (NYM)
Carrasco will debut with the Mets tonight, albeit on a pitch count since he’s still being stretched out. Gamers should keep him stashed on the injured list if able to game the system. Otherwise, activate him and keep him on the bench for his first start tonight and assess his value in forthcoming starts.
Stephen Strasburg (WAS)
Strasburg’s season is over. He’ll undergo surgery for neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome. The hope is a return for spring training next year.
Kendall Graveman (HOU)
Rafael Montero (HOU)
Yimi Garcia (HOU)
The Astros bolstered their bullpen with the additions of Garcia, Montero, and Graveman. Current closer Ryan Pressly‘s been great this year, so there’s no reason to think they’ll yank him from the role for any of the incoming options. Still, Graveman’s pitched well enough to hold to confirm they don’t make a surprising decision to insert him as the closer or utilize a committee.
Diego Castillo (SEA)
The Mariners traded for Castillo, and he enters the mix as a potential closing candidate for the aforementioned Graveman. However, don’t discount the possibility of Paul Sewald and/or Drew Steckenrider closing games.
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