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20 Things to Watch: Triston McKenzie, Jordan Walker, Alek Manoah (2023)

20 Things to Watch: Triston McKenzie, Jordan Walker, Alek Manoah (2023)

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.

Schedule Notes

The following team has just five games this week:

  • Seattle Mariners at SD, at LAA

The following teams have seven games this week:

  • Toronto Blue Jays vs HOU, vs MIN
  • Houston Astros at TOR, at CLE
  • Chicago Cubs at SD, at LAA, at SF
  • Cincinnati Reds vs MIL, vs LAD, at STL
  • Milwaukee Brewers at CIN, vs BAL, vs OAK

MLB Daily Lineups

20 Things To Watch for June 5 to June 11

Jordan Walker Returns!

The Cardinals’ top prospect was recalled from AAA last week. Walker made the Cardinals’ Opening Day roster at the beginning of the season in spite of being only 20 years old and hit .274/.321/.397 with two home runs and two stolen bases before being sent down in large part because of the crowded situation in St. Louis. The Cardinals have sustained a number of injuries and underperformance so he has an opportunity to play regularly, but if he doesn’t produce, then he may be ticketed back to the minors.

Time to Drop Manoah?

Alek Manoah has struggled mightily this season, throwing 57.2 innings with a 5.46 ERA and a 1.77 WHIP. He was a top-25 pitcher coming into the season, but there is not much in the profile to predict that he is going to turn it around. All of his ERA indicators are actually worse than his surface ERA, and he is giving up the worst zone contact of his career while getting fewer whiffs. He has a tough two-step versus the Astros and Twins, but if he cannot show signs of life, he should likely be dropped in all formats.

The Returns of Triston McKenzie and Aaron Civale

The Guardians are expecting to get both Triston McKenzie and Aaron Civale back from the IL this week. While the Cleveland rotation is now stacked, this means that both of these pitchers, as well as Logan Allen and Tanner Bibee, need to continue pitching well to keep their spots long-term. At some point, Cal Quantrill will return, and the Guardians will be put into a situation where someone will need to lose their spot in the rotation.

Kirilloff Not Blasting Off

Since making his season debut on May 6, Alex Kirilloff has been pretty good, hitting .304/.439/.468 with three home runs. However, Kirilloff has not had the projected power some have for him, and he has a long injury track record. The underlying numbers are not good for his power production. At some point, he may lose playing time if he does not improve on these skills.

Hayden Wesneski Returns

With Justin Steele hitting the IL, Hayden Wesneski will reenter the rotation for a two-start week versus the Angels and the Giants. Wesneski was a popular sleeper pick coming into draft season but struggled before being demoted to AAA last month. He has looked better in the minors, so this might be a really nice chance to take a gamble on him if he can pitch well in this two-step.

De La Cruzing

Bryan De La Cruz has quietly been really good since the beginning of May, hitting .333/.388/.519 with five home runs and two stolen bases for the Marlins. He has even started to hit in the top three of the lineup over the last week. If this trend continues, he could be a valuable piece for the rest of the season.

The Harris Sequel

Michael Harris II has really been struggling since returning from the IL, hitting .161/.248/.258 with two home runs and three stolen bases. While he has gotten unlucky, there are really concerning signs in the underlying profile, with him having a zone contact way below league average and swinging a lot outside of the zone. While some may be looking at him to be a buy-low, I am watching to see if he can improve upon these underlying skills.

Tiny Tim

We are now two months into the season, and Tim Anderson has yet to hit a home run. While he at least has six stolen bases, only one of them has come since May 1. The power issues are a swing issue as he has a paltry 2-degree launch angle. Anderson was a bounce-back target, but unless we see him start to raise that launch angle and move on the bases, he is looking more like a bust.

Verlander Broken?

It is time to wonder if something is wrong with Justin Verlander. He has a 4.25 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP, with the worst strikeout rate for him since 2008. He is giving up more zone contact than he has pretty much his entire career and not getting many swings and misses at all. Is he cooked, or is he just ramping up from starting the season on the IL?

Royce Lewis Returns!

Since returning from the IL, Royce Lewis has hit two home runs in five games and has played in every game for the Twins. Lewis is a top-tier prospect that has struggled to stay healthy in the minors, but the Twins could really use his bat. Ha has bounced around the lineup thus far, but I am watching to see if he is playing every day and where in the lineup he is hitting.

Jake The Snake

Since returning from AAA, Jake McCarthy has been fantastic, hitting .320/.370/.360 with six stolen bases for the Diamondbacks. McCarthy was a league-winning pick-up last season for fantasy managers but struggled to start the season this year and was sent back to the minors. However, he was getting really unlucky on balls in play and probably would have turned it around. Now he is back and hot. We need to watch to see if he moves up the lineup because if he does, he could be a league winner again with his ability to steal bases.

13-15. Streaming Options

Jaime Barria vs. CHC

Barria has been fantastic this season, throwing 34 innings with a 1.59 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP with 34 strikeouts. He gets a struggling Cubs offense and probably should be rostered in most formats.

Michael Soroka vs. WAS

If you are looking for a guy to help your ratios, Soroka might be the man for you, He faces a bad Nationals team but one that doesn’t strike out much, which is fine because that is not what Soroka excels at.

Tyler Wells vs. KC

Wells has quietly been really great this season, throwing 63 innings with a 3.29 ERA and a .83 WHIP, and now faces one of the worst offenses in baseball at home, which has been a fantastic place to pitch this year.

16-20. Two Start Recommendations

JP Sears at PIT, at MIL

Sears has been very good in his last four starts, throwing 22.1 innings with a 2.42 ERA and 16 strikeouts. While he doesn’t get a lot of opportunities for wins because he is on the A’s, he does line up against the worst team in baseball against lefties in the Brewers and another team that has struggled versus lefties over the last 30 days. This is worth taking advantage of.

Johan Oviedo vs OAK, vs NYM

While Oviedo’s surface numbers have been bad, his underlying numbers have been intriguing. If you look at his last four starts, he has a 2.57 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 21 innings. He gets the worst team ever constructed in Oakland and a mediocre Mets offense this week.

Mike Mayers at MIA, at BAL

Mayers has quickly been great since debuting for the Royals, throwing 13.1 innings with a 1.35 ERA, a 1.13 WHIP, and 14 strikeouts in three outings. He has a pretty nice two-step with a bad Marlins offense and a struggling offense in the Orioles. He is one of the few bright spots of a bad Royals team right now.

Braxton Garrett vs KC, at CHW

If it weren’t for an 11-earned-run outing against the Braves at the beginning of May, Garrett’s surface stats would be much better, which keeps him a bit under the radar. Since then, he has a 2.67 ERA in 27 innings with 32 strikeouts and a .96 WHIP. He has two good matchups here, and I am using him everywhere I can.

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