Fantasy baseball analyst Fred Zinkie takes a look back at Thursday’s MLB news and offers up his top takeaways.
Big Trouble in the Big Apple
Mets fans had their worst fears realized on Thursday, as Max Scherzer discovered that the pain that knocked him out of Wednesday’s game was an oblique injury that will sideline him for 6-8 weeks. The right-hander is among baseball’s most competitive players and will surely try to shorten his timeline, but he is also 37 years old and may not heal as quickly as he would have earlier in his career.
My advice for fantasy managers is to expect Scherzer to make his next start shortly after the All-Star Break. This is a big loss, especially for those who did not find many breakout starters such as Carlos Rodon or Pablo Lopez in the subsequent rounds. My best advice for Scherzer managers is to stream starters in favorable matchups, such as Cardinals are adding prospect Matthew Liberatore (more on him below) this weekend. And to supplement those streaming starters with skilled middle relievers, such as Clay Holmes or Michael King from the Yankees.
Cardinals make their move
Sitting at 20-18, the Cardinals are in the thick of the NL postseason race. And the club took a major step towards pushing ahead of the competition when they promoted their top hitting and pitching prospects to the Majors on Thursday.
Let’s start with infielder Nolan Gorman, who is already third base eligible in Yahoo leagues and will gain eligibility at second base after making five starts at the position. Gorman is ranked as the 29th prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline, and 12 of the prospects ahead of him are not expected to debut this season. In fact, we will be able to count the number of prospects on one hand who are ranked higher than Gorman and make their 2022 debut during the remainder of this campaign.
Gorman has lived up to the prospect hype in the Minors, including hitting .308 with 15 homers and a 1,044 OPS across 34 games in Triple-A this year. The youngster would have to fall flat on his face with the Cardinals to ever return to the Minors, and he could quickly ascend to a premium lineup spot. Overall, I prefer Gorman to any other hitting prospect who has debuted during May, including Alek Thomas, Jose Miranda, MJ Melendez and Juan Yepez. Aside from 10-team head-to-head leagues, Gorman is an instant add in every format.
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On the pitching side, the Cardinals are adding prospect Matthew Liberatore to their rotation on Saturday. Liberatore is only slightly behind Gorman in the MLB Pipeline prospect rankings, placing 39th overall. The left-hander spent all of last season in Triple-A, posting a 4.04 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP as a 21-year-old. He was off to a solid start this year, with a 3.83 ERA and a 46:12 K: BB ratio across 40 innings. Liberatore was a first-round pick by the Rays in 2018 and was the key return in the Randy Arozarena trade prior to the 2020 season.
The future for Liberatore is less clear than that of Gorman. The 22-year-old will start against the Pirates on Saturday, which is the product of the Cardinals needing an extra starter after playing a double header earlier this week. After that game, Liberatore could return to the Triple-A. There are no obvious openings in the recent rotation, as their only starter with a bloated ERA is Steven Matz, who has logged a 44: 8 K: BB ratio. I like the idea of steaming Liberatore in 12-team leagues on Saturday and then seeing where things go from there.