Fantasy Baseball Weekend Preview: What to watch, with MacKenzie Gore slated for his debut and more

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A lot can happen in a weekend of baseball action. The Sunday episodes of the Fantasy Baseball Today podcast are always the toughest to prepare for, because we’ve got three games of action to catch up on. That means three days of home runs, steals, save opportunities, injury news, and everything else that comes along with it.

Scott White has you covered with what you need to know for Week 3 with his two-start pitcher rankings and top sleeper hitters and pitchers, but before we get there, we’ve got 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 watchlist, 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

  • MacKenzie Gore Vs. ATL, Friday: Gore is making his MLB debut Friday with Blake Snell on the IL, and I’m very excited to see how he looks after re-working his mechanics this offseason. He could be a top-40 SP in Fantasy pretty quickly.
  • Mitch Keller Vs. WAS, Friday: Keller’s average fastball velocity was up 2.4 mph in his first start, but he still wasn’t terribly impressive. I remain intrigued, but if he does not impress Friday, I’m not going to call him a must-roster player.
  • Drew Rasmussen @CWS, Friday: Rasmussen was throwing a new cutter in his first start and it got a few whiffs, but also got hit hard. Let’s see if he can continue refining it, because he needs a put-away pitch.
  • Jameson Taillon @BAL, Saturday: Taillon got a bunch of whiffs in his debut and looked pretty good overall. I want to see him prioritize his slider again.
  • Andrew Heaney Vs. CIN, Sunday: Heaney reworked his curveball this offseason, throwing it harder and with more drop, and it resulted in nine whiffs on 31 pitches. He’s always had talent, so maybe that refinement can help him unlock another level.
  • Reid Detmers @TEX, Friday – Fastball command was still an issue for Detmers in his debut, but the more concerning thing might be that he did not get a single whiff on 22 curveballs. I like Detmers’ talent, but he needs to start showing it.
  • Aaron Ashby Vs. STL, Sunday – Ashby’s 3.01 expected ERA last season shows there’s more upside than his surface numbers suggest. He has RP eligibility for points leagues and could be a difference maker if he impresses in his first start and can remain in the rotation.

Waiver-wire hitters to watch

  • Jo Adell: Adell’s playing time remains an issue because he has started just four of seven games. He needs to start hitting to force the Angels to keep him out there.
  • Andrew Vaughn: Vaughn is crushing the ball, and as long as he keeps doing that, he should play more. Hopefully.
  • Gavin Lux: Lux is off to a strong start, but most importantly has started five of six games – and he got two PA off the bench Thursday, too.
  • CJ Abrams: Abrams needs to start hitting to force the Padres hand too, and the early returns as far as quality of contact goes are not promising.
  • Josh Lowe: Playing time has not been an issue for Lowe so far, but his 35% strikeout rate is.
  • Bryson Stott: If Stott can start hitting, Alec Bohm’s defense may just earn Stott an everyday job.
  • Nick Senzel: Senzel had a strong spring but that hasn’t carried over so far. He needs to get hot or be relegated to the NL-only realm for good.
  • Seth Beer: Beer is hitting the ball well but has started just three of six games.
  • Jorge Mateo: Mateo is hitting .272 / .333 / .400 with seven steals in 38 games since joining the Orioles. That speed will play if the batting average is at least useful.
  • Joey Bart: Bart is looking like a Three-True-Outcomes superstar in the early going, and that can play at catcher – if he can get his strikeout rate to a more manageable level, like 30%.
  • Andres Gimenez: Gimenez has useful speed if the bat can take a step forward. Early returns are positive.
  • Cavan Biggio: With Teoscar Hernandez (oblique) on the IL, Biggio has a chance to play more, but he’s done nothing in limited chances so far.
  • Owen Miller: Steven Kwan is getting all the headlines, but Miller has arguably been the better hitter so far, with seven extra-base hits in six games. His minor-league track record doesn’t back that up, but Miller’s batted-ball data is strong enough to suggest it isn’t a total fluke.

The cut watchlist

  • Jo Adell: Of course, if Adell doesn’t start hitting, it’s going to be hard to justify keeping him on your roster.
  • Mitch Keller: I hope you did not pass on the likes of Tylor Megill, Jesus Luzardo, or Alex Cobb to hang on to Keller. If he has another mediocre start, do not pass on the next exciting pitching options for him.
  • Aaron Civale: At 94% rostered, Civale is probably the worst pitcher on a lot of teams. I wouldn’t have dropped him for any of Megill, Luzardo, Cobb, Matt Brash, or Mackenzie Gore, and I would not hesitate to drop him if another exciting option comes up and he struggles again.
  • Tarik Skubal: Skubal is still young and theoretically full of potential, but I’m going to need to see some swings and misses and strikeouts if I’m going to keep dreaming.
  • Hyun-Jin Ryu: Ryu got hit by a comebacker in his first start of the season, but he wasn’t particularly good before that anyway. I wouldn’t want to drop Ryu, who I do think has some bounce-back potential, but the leash is short.
  • Frank Schwindel: Schwindel’s results aren’t terrible so far, but he isn’t hitting the ball hard at all. He’s a fringe-y option as is.
  • Miguel Sano: Sano is streaky as is, but I’m not sure he’s good enough these days to keep riding the cold streaks.
  • Alec Bohm: Bohm is droppable in any 12-team league, and probably in 15-teamers too unless he really gets hot.
  • Randal Grichuk: I thought Grichuk had a chance to be a difference maker with the Rockies, but he just hasn’t been playing every day. I want to give him a chance, but I need to see him in the lineup, too. If he’s a part-time or platoon player, Grichuk is probably best left for deeper than 12-team leagues.

Closer situations to watch

  • Orioles: Jorge Lopez seems like the guy, but he’s unproven.
  • Red Sox: Hansel Robles got the most recent save, working 1.1 innings after bailing Jake Diekman out of a jam in the eighth.
  • Cubs: David Robertson got the first two saves of the season, but it was Mychal Givens who got the save Thursday. Maybe it’s just because Givens has experience pitching at Coors Field?
  • Reds: Tony Santillan came into the eighth inning of a tie game on the road against the Dodgers on Thursday after the leadoff hitter got on and blew the game open. He and Art Warren have the dispute two saves, but I still think Lucas Sims is the guy in the long term. He made his rehab debut Thursday.
  • Twins: The Twins actually do not have a save yet this season. Tyler Duffey, Emilio Pagan, and Jhoan Duran are all seemingly in the mix, with Duran possessing the most upside.
  • Cardinals; Giovanny Gallegos got the first and so far only save for the Cardinals, but they haven’t named an official closer. Still, it’s probably Gallegos.
  • Giants: Camilo Doval seems to be in the lead, but he’s been a bit shaky. Jake McGee hasn’t been used in a closer situation yet this season.
  • Mariners: Between Diego Castillo, Drew Steckenrider, and Paul Sewald, the Mariners have no shortage of options. The first two seem most likely to get save chances, but I’m not sure there’s much separating them at this point.
  • Rangers: There is absolutely zero clarity here, because none of the prospective options have been particularly impressive and the Rangers do not have a save yet. Joe Barlow still seems like the best bet to emerge.

Injury report updates

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