Early season trends taking shape, closer conundrums and the week ahead

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 16: Joc Pederson #31, Cody Bellinger #35 and Mookie Betts #50 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate defeating the Los Angeles Angels 8-3 in a game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 16, 2020 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 16: Joc Pederson #31, Cody Bellinger #35 and Mookie Betts #50 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate defeating the Los Angeles Angels 8-3 in a game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 16, 2020 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

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The Dodgers have an MLB best run-differential of +63, showing their balance as a team. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

With most teams having played roughly 20 games, we are essentially one-third of the way through this shortened season. And some teams are emerging as favorable or unfavorable targets for fantasy managers. Here are the matchups to look for and the ones to avoid.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Pitching staffs to target with hitters: BOS, SF, SEA, PIT, DET, ARI, PHI, NYM are the eight clubs with a team ERA above 5.00. The Red Sox are in a world of their own right now, and that’s not a good thing. Beyond Boston, Seattle, San Fran and Pittsburgh are the best staffs to target.» data-reactid=»33″>Pitching staffs to target with hitters: BOS, SF, SEA, PIT, DET, ARI, PHI, NYM are the eight clubs with a team ERA above 5.00. The Red Sox are in a world of their own right now, and that’s not a good thing. Beyond Boston, Seattle, San Fran and Pittsburgh are the best staffs to target.

Pitching staffs to avoid with hitters: LAD, CLE, MIN, OAK. The Dodgers and Indians are lights-out in the pitching department this season, while the Twins combine a solid rotation with a good bullpen and potent lineup. The red-hot A’s have an effective staff from top to bottom.

Offenses to targets with starters: PIT, SEA, TEX, MIL, CLE, MIA. The Pirates and Mariners are by far the two best teams to target when steaming starters. The Indians have fared poorly on offense but offer less win potential due to their dominant rotation. My guess is that the Marlins will become an even more favorable target as the season moves along.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Offenses to avoid with starters: NYY, PHI, COL, LAD. The Rockies need only to be avoided when they are at home. Meanwhile, the Yankees and Dodgers should be avoided in all circumstances. The Phillies are one of just two teams with an OPS over .800, so they can be avoided until they cool off.» data-reactid=»40″>Offenses to avoid with starters: NYY, PHI, COL, LAD. The Rockies need only to be avoided when they are at home. Meanwhile, the Yankees and Dodgers should be avoided in all circumstances. The Phillies are one of just two teams with an OPS over .800, so they can be avoided until they cool off.

Wrapping up a busy week

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Based on the Yahoo Player Rater, a few players who remain available in many leagues were studs in the past seven days. Jesse Winker (available in 52% of leagues) is probably the top option in that group, while Dominic Smith (rostered in 48% of leagues) is also worth a long look. D-backs Kole Calhoun and Nick Ahmed are red-hot but likely fool’s gold, as their stats were enhanced by a trip to Coors Field. And for those who need steals, Andres Gimenez (8% rostered) remains widely available after regularly flashing his fleet feet of late.» data-reactid=»44″>Based on the Yahoo Player Rater, a few players who remain available in many leagues were studs in the past seven days. Jesse Winker (available in 52% of leagues) is probably the top option in that group, while Dominic Smith (rostered in 48% of leagues) is also worth a long look. D-backs Kole Calhoun and Nick Ahmed are red-hot but likely fool’s gold, as their stats were enhanced by a trip to Coors Field. And for those who need steals, Andres Gimenez (8% rostered) remains widely available after regularly flashing his fleet feet of late.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="On the pitching side, an exciting middle reliever has emerged in Freddy Peralta (16% rostered). In his past three outings, the righty owns a 19:2 K:BB ratio across nine innings. By continuing to limit walks, Peralta can make a major impact in every format.» data-reactid=»45″>On the pitching side, an exciting middle reliever has emerged in Freddy Peralta (16% rostered). In his past three outings, the righty owns a 19:2 K:BB ratio across nine innings. By continuing to limit walks, Peralta can make a major impact in every format.

Closer conundrums

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Closer volatility continues across the Majors, but this paragraph should help fantasy managers to choose their saves sources. Aroldis Chapman is ready to return to the Yankees closer role, which will push Zack Britton to the eighth inning. The Rockies plan on using a closer committee, which may be led by Daniel Bard and Carlos Estevez. Anthony Bass is dealing with back tightness, which could make Jordan Romano the Blue Jays temporary closer. Andrew Miller picked up the Cardinals first save since the team returned to action, but Giovanny Gallegos is the St. Louis reliever I want to roster. Ryan Pressly picked up a save Saturday and a win Sunday, which should cement him in the closer’s role.» data-reactid=»47″>Closer volatility continues across the Majors, but this paragraph should help fantasy managers to choose their saves sources. Aroldis Chapman is ready to return to the Yankees closer role, which will push Zack Britton to the eighth inning. The Rockies plan on using a closer committee, which may be led by Daniel Bard and Carlos Estevez. Anthony Bass is dealing with back tightness, which could make Jordan Romano the Blue Jays temporary closer. Andrew Miller picked up the Cardinals first save since the team returned to action, but Giovanny Gallegos is the St. Louis reliever I want to roster. Ryan Pressly picked up a save Saturday and a win Sunday, which should cement him in the closer’s role.

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Injury notes

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The big injury news comes from Buffalo, where Bo Bichette has been diagnosed with a right knee injury that could keep him sidelined for four weeks. And with the Blue Jays slowly falling out of the race, Bichette may play in very few games the rest of the way. Fantasy managers can hold Bichette for now but may need to release him in the coming days.» data-reactid=»65″>The big injury news comes from Buffalo, where Bo Bichette has been diagnosed with a right knee injury that could keep him sidelined for four weeks. And with the Blue Jays slowly falling out of the race, Bichette may play in very few games the rest of the way. Fantasy managers can hold Bichette for now but may need to release him in the coming days.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="DJ LeMahieu was placed on the IL with a left thumb sprain. Tyler Wade should fill in at second base for the Yankees and is an interesting steals option in deep leagues.» data-reactid=»66″>DJ LeMahieu was placed on the IL with a left thumb sprain. Tyler Wade should fill in at second base for the Yankees and is an interesting steals option in deep leagues.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Yordan Alvarez was scratched from the Astros lineup due to right knee soreness. This situation bears monitoring, as Alvarez has dealt with knee issues dating back to spring training.» data-reactid=»67″>Yordan Alvarez was scratched from the Astros lineup due to right knee soreness. This situation bears monitoring, as Alvarez has dealt with knee issues dating back to spring training.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Jacob deGrom played catch on Sunday and is on course to return to the rotation this week.» data-reactid=»68″>Jacob deGrom played catch on Sunday and is on course to return to the rotation this week.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Tyler Chatwood was placed on the IL with back tightness and should be sent to waivers in all leagues.» data-reactid=»69″>Tyler Chatwood was placed on the IL with back tightness and should be sent to waivers in all leagues.

Favorable Monday-Thursday hitting matchups

The Phillies will work four times at their hitter-friendly home park. The first two contests come against a Red Sox staff that has been abysmal of late, and the other two games come in a double-header that will be handled by two of the Blue Jays weakest starters. Didi Gregorius should be active in shallow leagues, and Alec Bohm can be considered in deeper formats.

The Astros will face the Rockies at home twice before playing in a pair of contests at Coors Field. Josh Reddick is a sneaky option this week, as he has been hitting high in the lineup.

The Angels will play four games against a Giants pitching staff that has given up the most runs in the National League. Tommy La Stella has been hitting high in the lineup and can be used in 12-team leagues, while Brian Goodwin is an option in deep formats.

The Dodgers should feast on an ineffective Mariners staff. A.J. Pollock deserves the benefit of the doubt and Chris Taylor deserves strong consideration.

Starters to stream

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Monday
Alex Cobb (vs. TOR)
Jordan Montgomery (vs. BOS)
Brandon Bielak (vs. COL)» data-reactid=»82″>Monday
Alex Cobb (vs. TOR)
Jordan Montgomery (vs. BOS)
Brandon Bielak (vs. COL)

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Tuesday
Tony Gonsolin (vs. SEA)
David Peterson (@MIA)» data-reactid=»83″>Tuesday
Tony Gonsolin (vs. SEA)
David Peterson (@MIA)

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Wednesday
Pablo Lopez (vs. NYM)
Patrick Sandoval (@SF)» data-reactid=»84″>Wednesday
Pablo Lopez (vs. NYM)
Patrick Sandoval (@SF)

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Thursday
Alex Young (@OAK)» data-reactid=»85″>Thursday
Alex Young (@OAK)

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