Like fantasy managers, Major League executives are feeling the pressure to make a move in the standings. We can see this sense of urgency by the influx of notable prospects this week, which includes several big names who were promoted on Thursday.
Joey Bart is the big fish for fantasy managers to pursue. The Giants prospect owns a lifetime .824 OPS in the minors and produced 16 homers and five steals in 313 at-bats last season. He should play regularly, and his appeal in a weak catcher pool is obvious, as there are likely a few managers in each league who can use his help. That being said, the need for just one catcher in most formats means that some will have no interest.
Sixto Sanchez is expected to slide into the Marlins rotation after producing a 2.76 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP in the minors last year. Sanchez has yet to show dominant swing-and-miss skills, but his outstanding ratios at lower levels makes him enticing in most leagues. Especially given the lack of quality rotation options across fantasy baseball.
Triston McKenzie is expected to make his first Major League start for the Indians on Saturday. The righty excelled at Double-A in 2018 (2.68 ERA, 1.00 WHIP) before missing all of 2019 due to multiple injuries. McKenzie was once a notable prospect and the Indians have a great track record with developing starters. But to stick in the rotation, McKenzie will need the Indians to keep Mike Clevinger and Zach Plesac at their alternate training site.
Slater steals the show
Austin Slater moved into a seven-way tie for the Major League lead in steals last night, and he has the fewest plate appearances among that seven-man group. The speedster is also one of just three members in that group with more than a pair of home runs. He hit out of the leadoff spot on Thursday and could make a huge roto impact in the coming weeks.
German Marquez got Coors Field-ed, giving up 10 runs across five innings. The right-hander brought a 2.25 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP into this start and had notched a pair of quality outings at home. But Thursday’s debacle is another reminder that no matter who well things are going for Marquez, he needs to be benched when pitching at Coors.
Mets disrupted by COVID
The Mets became the fourth team to postpone games because one of their players contracted COVID. They did not play against the Marlins on Thursday and their weekend series against the Yankees may be postponed entirely. At this time, just one Mets player has had a positive test result.
Lugo to rotation
Staying with the Mets, they’ve shifted Steven Matz to the bullpen and made a commitment to use Seth Lugo out of the rotation for the remainder of the season. This isn’t great news for fantasy managers, as Lugo would have been more valuable as the team’s closer than as a starter. Still, the right-hander has been one of baseball’s best pitchers since the outset of 2018 and could continue to have his share of fantasy value. He owns a 4.06 career ERA out of the rotation, but it is worth noting that his last start came in 2018.
Basically, everyone in baseball is injured. Here are the Thursday details.
The big injury news is that Alex Bregman is on the IL and headed for an MRI after suffering a right hamstring strain on Wednesday. The infielder should be retained in all leagues, but this is obviously a major blow to those who tabbed him in Round 1 or 2 of drafts.
James Paxton left his start with soreness in his elbow and forearm. He will undergo an MRI. An IL stint seems likely.
Gleyber Torres tweaked his hamstring running down the first base line and left the game. He could require an IL stint.
Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins said that Bo Bichette should return this season. Still, the shortstop seems to be a few weeks away. The same can be said for closer Ken Giles, who is throwing from 120 feet and should soon progress to bullpen sessions.
Yasmani Grandal remained out of the lineup with a back injury. He last played on Monday.
The Yankees placed Zack Britton on the IL with a left hamstring strain. With this injury and the recent return of Aroldis Chapman, Britton can be dropped in most leagues.
The Twins lost Mitch Garver (intercostal strain) and Byron Buxton (shoulder) to the IL. A coveted catcher in 2020 drafts, Garver was off to an awful start and can be dropped in most leagues.
Sandy Alcantara threw a simulated game and could shift from the COVID-IL to the Marlins rotation next week.
Finally, some good news. Yadier Molina returned from the COVID-IL and drove in three runs. He and Joey Bart are fine replacement options for those who drafted Mitch Garver.
Favorable Weekend Hitting Matchups
The Brewers head to Pittsburgh, where they will face starters Chad Kuhl, Derek Holland and JT Brubaker. Justin Smoak and Orlando Arcia are deep-league weekend options, while Ryan Braun should be active in most formats.
The Orioles will work at their hitter-friendly home park against a failing Red Sox staff. Baltimore doesn’t offer much in terms of waiver-wire options, but Renato Nunez, Pedro Severino and Hanser Alberto should be active in shallow leagues.
The Indians will face the three struggling Tigers starters. Michael Fulmer owns a 7.56 ERA in three starts, Tarik Skubal is coming off a forgettable debut and Matthew Boyd gave up two more homers while I was typing this sentence. Carlos Santana could get on track during this series, while Cesar Hernandez is a solid stopgap middle infielder.
Starters to Stream
Adam Plutko (vs. DET)
Kolby Allard (@SEA)
Brandon Bielak (@SD)
Alex Cobb (vs. BOS)
Pablo Lopez (@WSH)
Tyler Mahle (@STL)