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20 Things to Watch: Nolan Jones, Jake McCarthy, Bobby Miller (Fantasy Baseball)

20 Things to Watch: Nolan Jones, Jake McCarthy, Bobby Miller (Fantasy Baseball)

The season is well underway, and it is important to look at some key storylines and aspects this week in order to stay ahead of the curve and gain an edge over your league mates.

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20 Things to Watch: Fantasy Baseball

Here are 20 things to keep an eye on this week.

Week 9 Schedule Notes

The following teams have just five games this week:

  • St. Louis Cardinals vs KC, at PIT
  • Kansas City Royals at STL, vs COL

The following teams have seven games this week:

  • Boston Red Sox vs CIN, vs TB
  • Tampa Bay Rays at CHC, at BOS
  • Cleveland Guardians at BAL, at MIN
  • Minnesota Twins at HOU, vs CLE
  • Houston Astros vs MIN, vs LAA
  • Los Angeles Angels at CHW, at HOU
  • Arizona Diamondbacks vs COL, at ATL
  • Colorado Rockies at ARI, at KC

Fantasy Baseball Players to Watch

Nolan Jones Called Up

With Brenton Doyle hitting the IL, Nolan Jones will be making his 2023 debut with the Rockies. Jones is a former top prospect that has struggled on and off in the minors and had a mediocre debut last season. However, he has made a swing change in the minors and is striking out a lot less and walking a ton while also showing plenty of power and some speed. He is a pretty interesting pick-up in leagues where you need power.

Jake McCarthy Returns

McCarthy is returning to the Majors after getting sent down earlier this season. McCarthy was great in AAA, hitting .333/.419/.533 with four home runs and four stolen bases while only striking out at a 12% clip. He struggled in the Majors at the beginning of the season, but was really unlucky in the BABIP department in spite of making a lot of contact. He was game-changing in fantasy last season and should be picked up in most formats.

Miller Time

Bobby Miller made his Major League debut last week and was pretty impressive. He has a 100 mph fastball and good secondary pitches. With the Dodgers missing a number of starting pitchers, Miller has a really nice opportunity to cement himself in the rotation. He pitches for arguably the best team in baseball, so the run support should provide him with a lot of win potential. He is the big-ticket pick up this weekend.

Eloy On His Way Back

Eloy Jimenez is close to returning from the IL. Jimenez is recovering from emergency appendectomy surgery, but he healed a lot quicker than originally expected. He struggled in his first 106 plate appearances this season, but was starting to turn it around just before hitting the IL for his surgery. He should immediately be put back into your lineups after activation.

Michael Soroka To Return

Soroka is expected to make his Major League return very soon; he has not pitched in the Majors since 2020 due to a myriad of injuries. When healthy, he can be a very effective innings-eater, but one that doesn’t get you a ton of strikeouts. However, to get max value, he needs to rack up a lot of innings which may be difficult considering how few innings he’s thrown in the last three years. We need to watch whether or not the Braves are willing to let him go deep into games to really know what his value could be moving forward.

Is James Going To Be Outman?

James Outman started off his career with an absolute bang, hitting .292 with seven home runs and four stolen bases in his first month of the season. However, he has struggled in May, hitting just .179 with two home runs and one stolen base. If you read my “Buy Low/Sell High” column each week, you may remember he was on the “Sell High” portion last month and if he doesn’t turn it around quickly, he may end up heading back down to the minor leagues.

Tyler Glasnow is Back

Glasnow is expected to have returned from the IL over the weekend. He is a top-tier pitcher when healthy, but he’s struggled to stay on the mound during his career. Typically, I would think the Rays would be a bit more conservative with him considering his injury history, but Rays may not have that luxury considering how many starting pitchers they’ve lost recently. He went six innings in his most recent minor league rehab start, so he should be fully stretched out.

A’s Closer Chaos

The A’s don’t win a ton of games so if you don’t play in a deeper format, then you probably do not care about the A’s closer committee. However, those of you in AL Only and deeper mixed leagues may want to watch the committee being run in Oakland. It was expected that Trevor May would grab the job once he came off the IL, but he hasn’t been good. Now Austin Pruitt, Richard Lovelady, and Sam Moll are factoring in. Watching the usage here in Oakland will be really important to seeing who can seize this job.

Mauricio On The Cusp

Ronny Mauricio is crushing it in AAA, hitting .348/.384/.586 with seven home runs and nine stolen bases. There have been rumors that the Mets may call him up to take the second base job pretty soon. He made huge strides in the minors over the last two seasons to lower his strikeout rate and it is just 15.6% right now. Stash him if you can.

Esteury Ruiz Running Wild

Ruiz has been pretty amazing in the stolen base department this season, stealing 27 bases in 30 attempts for the Oakland A’s. Last season, only eight players stole at least 27 bases and we are only through May. He is currently on pace for about 80 stolen bases and the last player to steal that many in a season was Rickey Henderson. The A’s have no reason not to let him continue running, so this should be fun to watch.

Christopher Morel On Fire

Morel has been unreal since being called up by the Cubs, hitting .303/.343/.758 with nine home runs and a stolen base in just 70 plate appearances. However, the underlying skills are truly terrifying. He is making just 73.9% zone contact, which is over 10% less than league average, and swinging outside of the zone 40.9% of the time. His swinging strike rate is 21.3% which is among the worst in baseball. These skills are atrocious and he is in for massive regression. As the skills begin to drag everything down for him, the Cubs will begin to bench him. We need to be watching for when this starts to happen.

13-15: Streaming Options

Daniel Lynch vs COL

Daniel Lynch has made his 2023 debut for the Royals and now gets a Rockies team who struggles on the road in the spacious Kansas City ballpark. There is some risk, but this is a great spot.

Jared Shuster at OAK

Shuster struggled in his first go-around in the Majors, but he has looked much better recently, posting a 3.78 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 16.1 innings. He gets to face the Oakland A’s, the worst team in baseball, in their pitcher’s ballpark

Brandon Williamson vs MIL

Williamson has not been great outside of his first start in Colorado since his callup, but he gets a fantastic matchup; the Brewers are currently the worst team against left handed pitchers this year. Milwaukee has struck out at a 30% rate and has a league-worst .275 wOBA and .615 OPS versus southpaws this year. High risk/high reward play.

16-20: Two Start Recommendations

Rich Hill at SF, vs STL

Hill struggled in his last outing, but he has been pretty good otherwise this season. He has a tough matchup with the Cardinals, but then a great one against a Giants team that struggles a ton versus left handed pitching. This one has some risk to it, but I am rolling with him.

Yusei Kikuchi vs MIL, at NYM

Kikuchi has been up and down this season, but this one is more about the matchups. The Brewers have been the worst team in baseball versus left handed pitching and it is not particularly close. The Mets have also been mediocre to poor against southpaws. I am willing to take the gamble that he can survive both and deliver some wins and strikeouts.

Tyler Wells vs CLE, at SF

Wells has been good this season, throwing 57 innings of a 3.47 ERA and 54 strikeouts. He is a bit homer-prone, but I’m not scared of these two offense and he’ll be playing in two very good parks.

Michael Kopech vs LAA, vs DET

Kopech struggled to start the season but he has looked like a different pitcher over his last two starts, throwing 15 scoreless innings with only one walk allowed and getting 19 strikeouts. His pitches have also been much better. He has a tough start to the two-step, but he is close to a must start.

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