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10 fantasy baseball thoughts from the third week in July

The Astros aren't shy about using their pitchers to the fullest.

Getty Images/Pete Rogers Illustrations

Major League Baseball returns next week! (Fingers crossed.)

  1. Fun random fact courtesy of ESPN earlier this week: Prince and Cecil Fielder are the only father-son combo to have 50-homer seasons. One LONG shot to challenge this record are Luis Gonzalez (57 HRs with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001) and his son Jacob Gonzalez (taken 58th overall in the 2017 draft). Jacob hit 10 homers across 125 games in low-A ball last year as a 22-year-old. He is at a 60/70 raw power according to Fangraphs and is one of the best raw talents in the Giants farm system. Biggest issue is he can’t hit anything that breaks.
  2. Not to put the cart before the horse, but let’s say the most aggressive pitchers have 80 innings pitched in 2020. How does this play out for the 2021 season. Are they more prone to injury or can they pitch even longer with a “rested arm?” Do those who pitch in the playoffs have a more severe effect having pitched almost 1/3 more than the rest of the field? I ask this for dynasty reasons. How should I view pitchers with a heavier workload like Shane Bieber, Trevor Bauer, Gerrit Cole, and even an aging Justin Verlander for 2021?
  3. Along those lines, the Astros are the only team to have two pitchers among the top 10 in innings pitched in each of the last two years. Granted, that’s because they had Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. But it makes me wonder if we see a severe uptick in Zack Greinke or Lance McCullers Jr. over the coming years.
  4. Speaking of the Astros, I’m believing in Myles Straw as finally having a breakout campaign this year. I’m not sure if an injury gives him his chance or something else, but he is quick enough to fit into CF, SS, (heck any outfield spot). And while I think he doesn’t play a full season, he plays at least 25% this year and he gets a chance to prove his worth.
  5. Madison Bumgarner was the only pitcher among those in the top 10 in innings pitched last year who had single-digit wins.
  6. Among the top 20 in innings pitched last season, the only pitcher with a higher HR/9 than Justin Verlander (1.45 allowed) was Mike Leake (1.87).
  7. Speaking of Leake: Four pitchers had above a 1.80 HR/9 allowed and had double-digit wins: Caleb Smith, J.A. Happ, Domingo German and Mike Leake. Understanding that Leake is almost 33 years old, he has posted double-digit wins in six of his last seven years pitching—and only pitched above a 4.50 ERA once during that time. While not the most ideal candidate, he’s a decent late-round candidate for innings pitched and wins. ***Editor’s note: Mike Leake has opted out of the 2020 MLB season. Don’t draft him!***
  8. Austin Riley, Johan Camargo, Yangervis Solarte, Adeiny Hechavarria, Adam Duvall, and Ender Inciarte. Are the Braves deepest team in the MLB? Is this good or bad for the fantasy implications for this team? Will we see more “days off” for Freeman, Albies and Ronald Acuña Jr.?
  9. Marco Gonzalez is a good pitcher. Like John Means, you can dig into specific stats on why you aren’t sold or just let it pass the eye test. These guys aren’t Max Scherzer but they are guys who can get you the stats you need.
  10. Two-man outfield in a shortened season…the death of drafting Tampa Bay outfielders this year?