Fantasy Baseball Weekend Preview: Could Carlos Correa’s injury open up an opportunity for Royce Lewis?

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Before we get to the preview for this weekend, the big news coming out of Thursday’s games was that Carlos Correa suffered what is feared to be a fractured ring finger. It’s not clear how long the injury might keep him out, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a fairly lengthy absence here, which could open up an opportunity for top prospect Royce Lewis. Lewis is hitting .310 / .427 / .560 in his first 23 games at Triple-A after missing all of last season with a torn ACL, and his eight steals suggest he’s doing just fine, physically. Scott White included him in his prospects report this weekand Lewis could be worth adding as soon as this weekend in all formats, especially category-based ones.

Scott has you covered with everything you need to know for Week 6 of the Fantasy Baseball season with his two-start pitcher rankings and top sleeper hitters and pitchers, but before we get there, we have a whole weekend’s worth of games to get through. We’ll have reactions to the weekend’s action in Monday’s waiver-wire recap, but what we’re going to do every Friday this season is preview the upcoming weekend with waiver-wire pitchers and hitters to keep an eye on and pounce on if they perform well, players on the cut watch list, closer situations to watch, plus some updates on injuries heading into the weekend.

Here’s what you need to know for this weekend’s games:

Waiver-wire starting pitchers to watch

Marlins pitcher Max Meyer could be called up soon. Meyer is the best of the Marlins pitching prospects, having posted a 2.16 ERA in 137.1 innings as a professional to date. He has struck out 50 of the first 140 batters he’s faced in seven starts at Triple-A going back to last season and could be one more Elieser Hernandez dud away from getting his chance. Meyer would be a must-add when he does get the call, so consider stashing him now.

Friday

  • Jordan Hicks @SFG: Hicks remains someone I’m keeping my eyes on, as he’s mostly maintained his ridiculous stuff while pitching as a starter. The results haven’t been great so far, with a 3.65 ERA hiding an uglier 5.36 expected ERA. Control has been an issue, as has quality-of-contact suppression, and it’s possible his stuff just won’t play as a starter the way it did in shorter bursts out of the bullpen. But there’s a ton of upside here if he can figure it out.
  • Glenn Otto @NYY: Otto does not look the part, but he’s gotten enough strikeouts and groundballs in the majors to be worth keeping an eye on – his 3.21 FIP in 32.2 innings is a lot prettier than his 7.44 ERA. But I definitely wouldn’t be looking to stream him against a team that can drop bombs like the Yankees.

Saturday

  • Drew Rasmussen @SEA: Rasmussen made dramatic changes to his pitch mix, refining his slider to add more sweep while adding a harder cutter, and the results have been pretty good so far, although the peripherals do not necessarily back up the 3.13 ERA. He’s not getting enough strikeouts is the big key, though there’s enough swing-and-miss here to think he could solve that problem. Rasmussen isn’t a must-roster player outside of leagues where his SPARP eligibility really matters, but if he starts generating more whiffs that could change quickly.
  • Chris Paddack Vs. OAK: Paddack has lost a couple of ticks on his fastball, but it’s still been an effective swing-and-miss pitch for him, which is good to see. The better sign is that he’s throwing his curveball a career-high 19.6% of the time and has been mixing a slider in recent starts, too. I’m skeptical, but if he can start generating more swings and misses, he’s doing enough else well that I’m intrigued.
  • Michael Lorenzen WAS: The challenge for Lorenzen is also to start generating more swings and misses, and that might be a tough one given that his slider has gotten crushed to the tune of a 1.333 slugging percentage against. Of course, that is only on six at-bats, which highlights the issue for him this season – he hasn’t been able to put batters away with his secondary pitches when he gets to two strikes. If he can figure that out, he’ll start to look a lot more interesting.
  • Dane Dunning @NYY: Dunning probably doesn’t have good enough control or contact suppression skills to be a useful Fantasy option, so I’m glad to see he’s leaning more on his slider and changeup this season. If he can turn that into an above-average strikeout rate, there’s some intrigue here, although not against the Yankees. Not yet.

Sunday

  • Bruce Zimmermann KC: With a 2.59 ERA and 24.5% strikeout rate, Zimmerman’s results have been pretty impressive in the early going. But his fastball remains a real liability – he has just an 8.6% whiff rate and a .559 expected wOBA on the pitch this season. He’s using it less than ever, and it helped, but his 4.59 expected ERA suggests there is still room to improve.
  • Aaron Ashby @ATL: I wonder what would happen if the Brewers just committed to Ashby as a normal rotation piece for a while. His control has been an issue early on with a 16% walk rate, but everything else has looked good enough that I wonder if it’s not just the inconsistent usage holding him back. In a small-sample size, all of his secondary pitches look pretty good in terms of swings and misses, so there could be something here if they let him get rolling.

Waiver-wire hitters to watch

The cut watchlist

Pitchers

* My preference would be to hang on to these two if at all possible, even if they struggle again this weekend. That might be less true in, say, a 10-team league, but it would take a lot to make either droppable in my eyes.

** Brash was sent down and will work out of the bullpen for the time being. That does not necessarily mean he’s done as a starter, but his two-and-a-half-pitch mix might work better in shorter bursts in the bullpen if he can throw strikes consistently. He could make for an interesting late-inning option eventually, but I do not think you have to stash him outside pretty deep leagues.

Hitters

Closer situations to watch

  • Cardinals: My sense is that this is still Giovanny Gallegos’ job, with Ryan Helsley’s two-inning save last week more of an outlier than anything. Helsley has been very impressive with the added velocity on his fastball, but unless Gallegos falters, I do not think he’s at risk of losing this job.
  • Marlins: Jonathan Bender has returned to the closer job more or less consistently even when he has struggled this season, but it’s fair to wonder whether that will remain the case when Dylan Floro returns. Floro has been on his rehab assignment since last weekend and could be back any day. He was the presumptive closer before starting the season on the IL, so it’ll be interesting to see if he gets any opportunities soon.
  • Reds: The Reds have won just three of their first 24 games, so it hasn’t mattered much so far who their closer is. That being said, Sims did get a save shortly after his return from the IL in late April, and is likely to get the next one, whenever that is. That being said, he’s allowed a run in two of his four appearances, with seven allowed total in four innings, with four walks and just two strikeouts, so his grip may not be entirely secure.
  • Astros: Ryan Pressly was back from the IL Thursday and blew a save, but there’s no reason to think his job is at any risk. You can safely drop everyone else here.
  • Red Sox: The Red Sox have blown four leads in the ninth inning or later, with Matt Barnes, Hansel Robles, and Jake Diekman all responsible for at least one. There’s an opportunity for someone to step up here and run away with it, and Robles has been the best of the bunch overall. If you have to chase someone here, it’s Robles.
  • Mariners: The Mariners have 12 wins and somehow only three saves, so we haven’t had a lot of opportunities for them to provide clarity. In the long run, I still think Ken Giles ends up the closer if he gets healthy, but he isn’t returning from that finger tendon injury imminently, so we’re looking at the likes of Andres Munoz, Diego Castillo, Paul Sewald, and Drew Steckenrider in a confusing committee. I’d avoid it.
  • Twins: The Twins haven’t settled on any one option, but it looks like Jhoan Duran and Emilio Pagan have separated themselves enough that we can at least view this as a two-man committee. Duran is the sexier name, but unless Pagan implodes, I’m not sure Duran is likely to run away with the job all on his own. Pagan’s seven walks in 6.2 innings of work are one potential warning sign.
  • Royals: This looks like a true committee between Scott Barlow and Josh Staumont, though that will only be true as long as both are more or less getting the job done.

Injury report updates

  • Nick Castellanos exited Thursday’s game after getting hit by a pitch near his wrist / forearm area. X-rays were negative, so hopefully he avoided a serious injury.
  • Teoscar Hernandez was not activated Thursday, instead playing another rehab game as he returns from his oblique injury. He should be back for the Blue Jays this weekend, and he’ll be back in your lineup next week.
  • Andrew Vaughn was placed on the IL Thursday with a bruised hand. He’ll likely miss another week, at least, and the hope is he’ll return to the everyday lineup before long. .
  • Blake Snell made his second rehab start Wednesday at Single-A. He gave up four runs over four innings, striking out eight and getting the pitch count up to 66. He should be back next week, though what the Padres rotation looks like remains to be seen.
  • Luke Voit is expected to need a one-week rehab stint at Triple-A, though that is likely more about getting his swing right after a slow start than not being healed.
  • Nick Lodolo is penciled in to return from the IL and start Saturday against the Pirates. He’ll get the Pirates again next week and looks like a viable starter against those matchups, at least.
  • Kyle Lewis will be on his rehab assignment for most of the 20 days allowed, as he’s trying to get up to speed after missing the spring.
  • Cole Irvin was placed on the IL with left shoulder soreness, retroactive to May 2.
  • Nelson Cruz has missed two straight games with back stiffness. He was available to pinch hit Thursday but he did not make an appearance, so he’s a bit of a risk for this weekend.
  • LaMonte Wade is expected to be activated from the IL Friday. He hit .253 with 18 HR and 6 SB last season, but playing time could be hard to come by. He’s worth keeping an eye on.
  • Nate Pearson is scheduled to throw a bullpen on Friday. He threw 26 pitches on Tuesday.
  • Dylan Bundy, Luis Arraez and manager Rocco Baldelli all tested positive for COVID Thursday.
  • Stephen Strasburg will face live hitters Friday and could begin a rehab assignment shortly. I’m skeptical you’ll get much from him, but if you have an IL spot to play with and he’s available, consider it just in case.

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