Still waiting on the Cardinals
The Cardinals season remains in limbo, and the earliest the team will return to action is this Thursday. Fantasy managers will need to bench all Cardinals and Pirates for the next three days. If there is a small silver lining to this situation, it’s that talented prospect Dylan Carlson could soon be summoned to help this depleted roster.
Speaking of prized prospects
Spencer Howard failed to impress in his big league debut, giving up four runs on seven hits (two homers) and a walk over 4.2 innings against the Braves. Atlanta’s superstar duo of Ronald Acuna Jr. and Freddie Freeman each took the youngster deep. Despite the rough start, Howard should be added in virtually every league. This is a skilled prospect who should have some dominant outings this summer.
Speaking of Acuna
The No. 1 pick in many 2020 leagues busted out of an early season slump on Sunday, going 5-for-8 with three homers. Acuna has just one steal, but his tally in that crucial category should soon rise if he continues to swing a hot bat.
Speaking of the Braves
Max Fried has emerged as the ace of Atlanta’s staff and a borderline fantasy ace. The southpaw is sitting at 3-0 with a 1.59 ERA and a 0.84 WHIP. His swing-and-miss skills are solid, and he induces plenty of ground balls, which is a great recipe for success in this homer-prone era. Managers who have Fried on their squad should avoid the urge to trade him.
Speaking of emerging stars
Fernando Tatis Jr. is going to be a first-round pick in every 2021 league. In fact, he will receive consideration for the No. 1 overall selection if he continues his rapid ascension. The 21-year-old has hit .318 with 30 homers and 20 steals in his initial 100 Major League games, which is absolutely absurd for a middle infielder. With six long balls in his past six contests, Tatis is baseball’s hottest player.
Speaking of players from the Dominican Republic
Ramon Laureano is facing a significant suspension after igniting a brawl in Sunday’s win over the Astros. The outfielder was off to a solid start (.938 OPS) and should be retained in all leagues no matter how much time he misses.
Speaking of players who may miss time
Zach Plesac was sent home and will be quarantined for at least three days after going out with friends on Saturday night. Fantasy managers in weekly leagues can consider other options, although Plesac has been dominant thus far (1.29 ERA, 0.67 WHIP) and could make a start later in the week.
Speaking of pitchers
Here is a quick rundown on closer situations worth monitoring. Seth Lugo picked up his third save and is already a top-10 closer option. He remains available in 27 percent of Yahoo leagues. Taylor Williams is more widely available (14 percent rostered) and struck out three Rockies en route to a save on Sunday. I’m not ready to call Williams the Mariners closer, but he is definitely in the mix. Scott Barlow earned a save on Sunday, with Trevor Rosenthal needing a day off after closing out narrow wins on each of the previous two days. Rosenthal is clearly the Royals stopper and is available in 79 percent of leagues. And last but not least, Rafael Montero is screaming “add me” after looking good while picking up saves on Friday and Saturday. He is available in 71 percent of leagues.
Charlie Morton left his Sunday start against the Yankees in the third inning with tightness in this shoulder that landed him on the 10-day IL. The 36-year-old is not off to a great start this season (5.40 ERA, 1.50 WHIP) but believes that he will not miss much time and should be retained in the shallowest leagues.
Madison Bumgarner left with back spasms after two awful innings and is headed back to Arizona for further examination. He should be benched everywhere and dropped in many mixed formats.
Tim Anderson is expected to return from the IL on Tuesday and should rejoin the active lineup in virtually all leagues.
Corey Seager remains out of the lineup with a back injury since leaving Friday’s game. He is not expected to head to the IL at this point.
Mike Moustakas was placed on the IL on Sunday (retroactive to August 6) with a left quad bruise. He could return by the end of this week.
Giancarlo Stanton was placed on the IL with a left hamstring strain. Stanton continues to be someone who alternates between tape measure homers and frustrating injuries. He is arguably fantasy’s most volatile star.
Favorable Monday-Thursday Hitting Matchups
The Phillies will play four games at their hitter-friendly home park, with three of those contests coming against an unreliable Orioles staff. Andrew McCutchen and Jean Segura are two players who could soon reverse a slow start to the season.
The Rays hitters will be happy to play four games against a makeshift Red Sox staff at offense-inducing Fenway Park. Hunter Renfroe could be good for a homer or two, while Willy Adames and Joey Wendle are solid middle infield options in deeper leagues.
The D-backs and Rockies will meet up for three games at the launching pad that is Coors Field. David Peralta and Christian Walker should be inserted into shallow-league lineups, while Kole Calhoun can be considered in deep leagues. For the Rockies, Daniel Murphy and Ryan McMahon deserve the benefit of the doubt.
Starters to Stream
Randy Dobnak (@MIL)
Kyle Gibson (vs. SEA)
Tyler Alexander (vs. CWS)
Brandon Bielak (vs. SF)
Chris Bassitt (@LAA)
Dylan Cease (@DET)
Austin Voth (@NYM)
Jake Arrietta (vs. BAL)