Is it Week 2 or Week 3 in fantasy baseball? You can decide. Me, I’m saying it’s the third one. Of all the things to argue about, let’s not argue about this thing.
Before we dive in, I’ll mention a few guys who should absolutely be owned in your league: Zach Plesac (56% owned), Ian Happ (47% owned), Teoscar Hernandez (45% owned), Tyler Chatwood (46% owned), and Trent Grisham (42% owned) all come to mind. Almost any Cleveland pitcher reads like a good bet right now, and Chatwood looks like a different guy this year. The red-hot Happ got the leadoff gig last night with Kris Bryant sidelined, and Grisham has been a power/speed dynamo so far, with three homers and two steals to his name.
Now let’s get into the sneakier names...
2B, 3B Colin Moran, Pittsburgh Pirates (43% owned)
Sometimes you just gotta ride the hot hand, especially in a 60-game season. Moran is only 27 years old (28 in October) which feels off. He seems like a venerable elder, what with that luscious man-beard and all. Anyway, nothing stabilizes after only 26 plate appearances. But it’s nice that Moran ranks sixth in the majors with a .518 xWOBA. Again, who knows what sticks over this small a sample, but Moran does have a career-high pull rate (70.0%) and fly ball rate (40.0%) thus far. He began the year batting fifth for the Pirates, but that only lasted two games. Over the last seven games (including Sunday) he’s batting cleanup. I don’t think you can afford to ignore the hot hand here, not with five homers to his credit already.
SP Brady Singer, Kansas City Royals (30% owned)
In the words of William Wallace: “HOOOOOOOOOOOOLD!” This may not be the week to go all-in, as Singer should travel to Wrigley to face the Cubs and then complete his two-step by hosting the formidable Minnesota Twins at home. But through two starts against the Indians and Tigers, he’s managed 10 innings, a 3.60 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, and 10 strikeouts. So even if the second half of his week goes poorly against the Twins (see Clevinger, Mike) then you can get lucky and snatch him up if his owner cuts bait.
LHP Cristian Javier, Houston Astros (26% owned)
Full disclosure, I don’t know Javier well. More on that in a second. So here’s the descriptive analysis...the Astros placed Justin Verlander on the 10-day IL (strained forearm) and they are still without Jose Urquidy (undisclosed). Verlander may or may not be done for the season, as there are conflicting reports. Best case, he’s missing half of the 60-game season given his two-week shutdown. Urquidy has been at the Astros’ alternate site for about a week now, having been cleared on July 24th. We are ASSUMING his absence was COVID-19 related, but that’s an assumption. Either way, this is a paper-thin rotation in Houston at the moment. We’ve got Lance McCullers Jr., Zack Greinke, and Josh James...followed by Javier and Framber Valdez? So there’s a clear opportunity here, especially with Urquidy not expected back for “at least” two more weeks.
Next, it looks like Javier lines up to face the Arizona Diamondbacks in the middle of this week. That’s some nice opportunity given that the D-backs are one of the worst-hitting teams in the majors right now (.080 ISO, .254 wOBA, 59 wRC+). You can do far worse as a streaming option for this week, and Javier has the chops to stay around in 2020. He’s 23 years old and he’s shown double-digit strikeout stuff in the minors—where he traversed through an impressive three levels in 2019.
SS J.P. Crawford, Seattle Mariners (19% owned)
As stated with Moran (and really any of these guys) we are dealing with a small sample. So citing sweet stats like xWOBA might be fun, but when the small sample applies I like to lean instead on opportunity. Whereas Moran is now in an RBI-producing spot in his lineup and all fears of Ke’Bryan Hayes are a distant memory, Crawford now finds himself securely nestled in the leadoff spot for Seattle, where he has swiped a pair of bags and scored 10 runs already. Today (Sunday) marks the fifth straight day he has batted leadoff. He’s tied for the MLB lead in runs scored, with Trent Grisham and Mike Yaztrzemski. Only Tommy Pham, Fernando Tatis Jr., Dansby Swanson, and Myles Straw have more steals. Again, it’s early. But it’s time to buy-in, so you don’t miss the boat.
Nick Burdi, Pittsburgh Pirates (15% owned)
Fellow reliever Kyle Crick blew a save on Monday and then hit the IL with a shoulder injury. As of now, there’s no timetable for his return. Keone Kela (COVID-19) has been cleared for workouts, but isn’t even expected back early this week. Add in some ramp-up time and what you have at least a two-week leash for Burdi to make his mark. I’m shelling out the dough for Burdi in spaces where he’s available. Get this man into your lineup if you’re desperate for saves, folks.
Lastly, a couple of outfielders are available should you need more depth. JaCoby Jones (32% owned) and Tyler O’Neill (4% owned) are cheap. And if Crawford was snatched up already in your league, consider Donovan Solano (21% owned) of the San Francisco Giants, if you’re in need of middle infield help. No, the home environment isn’t great, but Solano hits the ball hard and he’s finding his way to playing time—after missing three of the first five games, he’s now started five in a row.
Hope this helps someone, somewhere! And as usual, if you have specific questions you can drop ‘em in the comments. Myself or the rest of the crew here would love to take a shot at helping you out.