With the Fantasy Baseball season starting to wind down, it is essential to look at some important MLB storylines in order to be ahead of the curve and gain an edge on your league mates.
Fantasy Baseball 20 Things to Watch
This Week’s Schedule Notes
- No teams are limited to five games this week!
- The following teams have seven games this week:
- Baltimore Orioles vs STL, vs TB
- Boston Red Sox vs NYY, at TOR
- New York Yankees at BOS, at PIT
- Tampa Bay Rays at MIN, at BAL
- Toronto Blue Jays vvs TEX, vs BOS
- Chicago White Sox vs KC, vs MIN
- Minnesota Twins vs TB, at CHW
- Texas Rangers at TOR, at CLE
- Miami Marlins at MIL, vs ATL
- New York Mets vs ARI, vs CIN
- Washington Nationals at PIT, at MIL
- Milwaukee Brewers vs MIA, vs WAS
- Pittsburgh Pirates vs WAS, vs NYY
- Arizona Diamondbacks at NYM, vs CHC
- Colorado Rockies vs CHC, vs SF
- San Francisco Giants vs CLE, at COL
The Playoff Races
I know that, on the surface, it is not fantasy related, but we have some great playoff races. Only two of the six division races are uncompetitive. There are four teams battling for the three AL Wild Card spots while six teams are battling for the three NL Wild Card spots. Even if you don’t care about anything but fantasy, it is important to watch the real life standings too.
As teams fall out of the races or pull far ahead in them, they will start to make roster moves. Pitchers will get skipped or shut down and younger players have been promoted to give them a taste of the Majors or help their team win games down the stretch. The closer we get to the end, the more important playing time is.
Lawlar is a top tier prospect widely considered one of the ten best in baseball. While the hit tool isn’t great, he has power and a lot of speed in the profile and has made gains with the hit tool and with his defense.
Lawlar looks like he is going to be the Diamondbacks every day shortstop moving forward with Geraldo Perdomo being moved to third, but we need to see if he is going to be buried at the bottom of the lineup and if the gains he made this year in hi strikeout rate can stick
Now that the Rangers have lost Adolis Garcia to a knee issue, they have called up their top prospect. Carter doesn’t profile as a future stud but a really high floor guy that can do enough of everything.
I think the power is minimal, but he can get on base and steal bases which could be very valuable down the stretch. Carter has a fantastic eye and has posted double digit walk rates throughout the minors, so he is a must pickup in OBP leagues and a guy to watch in standard formats.
Rafaela has made his Major League debut and has been playing regularly since his callup on 8/28. He is splitting his time between centerfield and shortstop for the Red Sox. Rafaela hit .302 with 20 home runs and 36 stolen bases this season between AA and AAA and profiles as a hitter with average power and plus speed.
Most importantly, Rafaela is an elite defender which could help him if he struggles to make contact which has been his Achilles Heel. He has made improvements with the strikeout rate in the minors so if those can stick, then he would be a really interesting fantasy option.
The Dodgers Rotation
With the recent news about Julio Urias likely missing the remainder of the season and both Tony Gonsolin and Walker Buehler being shut down, the Dodgers are in a tough spot with their starting pitching. They are reliant on a struggling Lance Lynn and three rookies (Emmet Sheehan, Bobby Miller, and Ryan Pepiot) to take them to the finish line.
While they pretty much have their division wrapped up, it will be interesting to see how the Dodgers handle their starters and bullpen down the stretch knowing that they need to be fresh for the postseason.
Ohtani has been dealing with an oblique issue that has kept him from hitting even though his pitching days are over for the season. Ohtani is about to enter free agency and the Angels are out of it, so if he hits the IL over the weekend or early in the week, he likely would miss the rest of the season.
India is expected to return from the IL this week after missing all of August and the first part of September with a foot issue. India was widely speculated as a guy that could be traded before the injury, but now with Matt McLain out, he should return right back to the starting lineup. This should have an effect on other Reds hitters as Spencer Steer or Christian Encarncion-Strand could lose playing time with India manning second base.
The Rangers Bullpen
The Rangers have been struggling mightily as of late as of late and it is not different in the bullpen with both Aroldis Chapman and Will Smith posting over 4 ERAs and blowing multiple saves in the last thirty days. With their struggles, Jose Leclerc could jump back in the mix for saves unless one of them becomes more reliable for the stretch run. .
Garcia was recalled from the minors for the Washington Nationals on Friday. It was surprising that he was demoted back in May because while he was struggling some, he had hit .259 with six home runs and eight stolen bases on a team struggling to generate offense. While he wasn’t electric at AAA, he did improve his walk rate and strikeout rate which is what the Nationals likely sent him down for. He could be a cheap accumulator the rest of the way.
Means is making his 2023 debut this week after recovering from Tommy John Surgery. Means was fantastic in 2021 and looked to be headed for a breakout season in 2023 when he tore his UCL. The new Camden Yards dimensions should help him avoid home runs at home which has been his biggest problem throughout his Major League career. Guys returning from TJ typically struggle with control, but this is someone to watch for deep league streaming and his value for next year.
12-17. Streaming Options
Michael King (NYY) at BOS
King has been fantastic since entering the rotation and is now stretched out enough to qualify for a win. If he is still available in your league, pick him up.
J.P. France (HOU) at KC
France has been struggling lately but the Astros have been hot and they are heading to a pitcher’s park to face a bad Royals offense. If you need ratio help, look elsewhere, but getting a cheap win right now is worth the gamble.
Hunter Brown (HOU) vs OAK
Brown has been up and down as well, but nothing fixes what ails you like facing the worst team ever constructed.
Kyle Harrison (SF) vs CLE
Harrison has been bad on the road and great at home since being called up and now faces a bad offense at home.
Cal Quantrill (CLE) at SF
Quantrill looked good in his last start coming off of the IL and gets a struggling Giants offense in one of the best parks in baseball to pitch in.
Johan Oviedo (PIT) vs WAS
Oviedo is always a bit risky, but this is a nice matchup at home in Pittsburgh which has been a fantastic place to pitch this season.
18-20. Two-Start Options
Jordan Wicks (CHC) at COL, at ARI
Wicks has been great since being called up to the Major Leagues, posting a 2.16 ERA in his 16.2 innings over three starts. However, there is a reason we avoid Colorado starts and it is because they can be so disastrous. I think I am still rolling with him in a number of formats. He has a full arsenal so he should be able to make it work somewhat. There is risk here, but there aren’t a lot of great two-start options available off the wire.
Zack Littell (TB) at MIN, at BAL
Littell has been up and down as of late posting three straight bad outings before cruising through the hottest team in baseball in the Mariners in his last start. The problem is he is very hittable which makes him very difficult to trust. That being said, I am not overly afraid of the Twins lineup and while the Orioles are a good offense, pitching in Baltimore is a good place to protect him from the home runs that can be an issue. I would use him in all deeper formats and some shallower ones as well, especially if you are win seeking or don’t really need the strikeouts
Dean Kremer (BAL) vs STL, vs TB
Kremer has been really good in the second half, throwing 56.2 innings of a 2.86 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP with 47 strikeouts. While these matchups aren’t great, they are both at home where he has done his best work this season. If for some reason he is on your waiver wire, he may be the best two start option that isn’t widely rostered.