Did you realize we're already more than halfway through the Fantasy Baseball regular season? At least in points leagues, that's true, with the Fantasy playoffs a mere nine weeks away as we head into Week 13. That kind of blew my mind when I realized it today.
I'm Chris Towers, here for Dan Schneier to help you get prepped for the weekend of Fantasy Baseball action. I've got the top streamers and waiver-wire targets to keep an eye on for this weekend's action, plus the latest injuries and news you need to know about.
Before we get to all that, though, here's what you might have missed from the FBT team this week:
- FBT Podcast: Dexter Fowler joined us to chat about the new rule changes, Shohei Ohtani's brilliance, and more
And now, here's what you need to keep an eye on this weekend:
Waiver-wire starting pitchers to watch
These players are listed roughly in order of how interested I am in adding them. They're also (mostly) viable streamers this weekend:
Louie Varland vs. DET (Sunday) – Varland is coming off his two worst starts of the season, which has pushed his ERA up to 4.70. He's struggled with the long ball but does a lot else well, sporting an above-average K-BB% and 4.02 SIERA through his first nine starts. Another poor start is going to cause a real exodus for Fantasy players, but if he does well, I'll be looking to add.
Andrew Abbott @HOU (Friday) – Abbott is up to a 76% roster rate after allowing no runs and only six hits in his first 11.2 innings. He hasn't been racking up huge strikeout numbers, and the six walks are a bit much, but this might be your last opportunity to get him where he's available. Remember, Abbott had a 2.50 ERA with 90 strikeouts in 54 innings in the minors before his call-up.
Braxton Garrett @WAS (Saturday) – Garrett has finished six innings just once in 12 starts this season, and he did it only five times in 17 games a year ago, so there's probably a ceiling on how good he can be. However, he also has a 3.80 ERA and 9.4 K/9 over the past two innings, so I think he's definitely a useful Fantasy option. Less so in points leagues, where you're looking for quality starts and innings, but still.
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Patrick Sandoval @KC (Friday) – I'm just a sucker for Angels lefties, I guess, because I still believe in Sandoval and Reid Detmers. Sandoval's slider and changeup remain very, very good swing-and-miss pitches, but he's just not putting himself in position to get enough strikeouts right now. If he figures that out, he could take off. The matchup against the Royals, who rank 26th in wRC+ and 22nd in strikeout rate against lefties, could help him get going.
Brayan Bello vs. NYY (Saturday) – Bello just limited the Yankees to two runs in seven innings of work, albeit with just three strikeouts, as he remains a clear work in progress. His changeup is a real weapon, though, and the Yankees lineup remains pretty uninspiring without Aaron Judge, so don't be surprised if he has another solid outing.
Griffin Canning @KC (Saturday) – The Royals offense struggles against pitchers from both sides of the mound, so Canning is another decent streamer. His velocity is up this season, but it hasn't necessarily led to different results overall, though he is riding a nice little stretch with a 2.63 ERA and 27 strikeouts over his past four starts.
Tanner Houck vs. NYY (Friday) – Houck's 5.23 ERA probably doesn't tell the whole story, as evidenced by his 3.86 xERA. I think he could have another gear if he starts throwing his splitter more – it has a massive 47.5% whiff rate but he throws it just 12.1% of the time, almost exclusively to lefties. He might just be a bit too predictable with his pitch selection, but the potential for growth is there.
Matthew Liberatore @NYM (Sunday) – Despite a solid velocity bump, Liberatore still isn't getting any strikeouts, while his 10.2% walk rate remains too high. My expectations remain pretty low, but he still has the talent to turn things around, and his most recent start was his best yet.
Waiver-wire hitters to watch
These players are listed roughly in order of how interested in adding them I am:
Luis Matos, OF, SF – Matos got the start in his first game after being called up, but he was pulled for a pinch-hitter after three plate appearances, and that's the concern here. The Giants are happy to throw four or five platoon bats in their lineup at a time, and there might be limits on how much Matos can contribute if he isn't playing every day, so I'd like to see him in the lineup every day this weekend. There's plenty of upside with some moderate power/speed and good contact skills.
Jake Burger, 3B, CHW – With Yoan Moncada going on the IL Thursday, Burger's path to everyday playing time seems clear for now. He's been so good this season – .250/.299/.600 with 15 homers in just 50 games – that I think he's got a chance to force the White Sox to trust him if he stays hot in this upcoming stretch.
Joey Gallo, OF, MIN – Gallo's .194 average is tough to swallow, and that's always the issue with him. But, if you can make it work, his power and OBP will play, and his 32% roster rate on CBS Fantasy strikes me as too low now that he's healthy.
Ryan Noda, 1B, OAK – Noda got on base three times Thursday and is now hitting .319/.467/.426 in the month of June. That batting average isn't sustainable, but he's going to walk a ton and should hit for power, and is a viable replacement for the likes of Vinnie Pasquantino or Pete Alonso, especially in points leagues.
Spencer Torkelson, 1B, DET – Torkelson is another potential replacement for Pasquantino or Alonso, and he's showing signs of figuring it out. He had a .784 OPS in the month of May and is hitting .240/.345/.480 in June. There's still a bit too much swing and miss here, but the quality of contact metrics are trending in the right direction, with his xBA up to .264 and his xSLG up to .450. Torkelson might be on the verge of a breakout.
Danny Jansen, C, TOR – Jasen homered twice Thursday and has eight in 39 games so far this season, albeit with just a .214 average. He's a fine No. 2 catcher, given his playing time concerns.
Ezequiel Tovar, SS, COL – Tovar is hitting .273 with six homers and three steals since the start of May, a 21-homer, 10-steal pace over 150 games. He's not the start we wanted him to be, but he's a very solid option if you need a SS.
Leody Taveras, OF, TEX – Taveras had a very good May and has been just as good so far in June, hitting four homers and stealing two bases. The underlying numbers are largely strong, and his 35% roster rate is probably too low at this point.
Nick Pratto, 1B, KC – Pratto has really struggled at Triple-A since his 36-homer breakout in 2021, but with Vinnie Pasquantino out for the season, he's going to continue to get a real chance to prove himself with the Royals, and he's been decent enough so far, hitting .278/.362/.424. The power has been disappointing, and there isn't much in the underlying numbers to suggest better days are ahead, but I still think he's worth keeping an eye on.
Injuries, news & notes
Max Fried was recently cleared to throw short-distance bullpen sessions. He's been on the IL since early May with a forearm strain, and he's still probably out until mid-July if all goes according to plan. Kyle Wright also began a throwing program as he recovers from a shoulder issue. He's likely behind Fried.
Max Muncy said that his left hamstring strain is a minor issue, not a Grade 2 strain as was previously reported. He should be back in the lineup this weekend.
Cody Bellinger and Byron Buxton were both activated Thursday and should be good to go moving forward. For what it's worth, Bellinger started at first base Thursday and could be used there for the time being, a sign that this knee injury may linger. The Cubs sent Matt Mervis back to Triple-A as a result.
Blake Snell will start Saturday against the Rays despite dealing with ankle swelling. He's been terrific of late, with a 0.75 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 24 innings over his last four starts, though anyone who has ridden Mr. Snell's Wild Ride before knows that consistency is not exactly his bag.
Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo did not commit to Ryne Nelson making his next scheduled start after allowing five runs on Thursday. Drey Jameson could get another shot in the rotation, though he's given up six runs over his past three outings, so I'm not sure they'll be super enthusiastic about that. Maybe Brandon Pfaadt could get another look; he struggled in his first taste of the majors, but does have 15 strikeouts in 12.2 innings since going back to the minors. Keep an eye on that one.
Zach Neto was placed on the IL with a left oblique strain, unfortunate timing as the rookie had three homers in his last three games before the injury.
Yoan Moncada was placed on the IL with a back injury, which means Jake Burger should see more playing time moving forward. We talked about Burger quite a bit on Thursday's episode of FBT, and he seems like a legitimate 30-plus homer guy, albeit with a batting average that might be tough to stomach.
Alex Wood is likely to return from the IL and start Saturday against the Dodgers. It's been a few years since Wood was consistently useful for Fantasy, and the Giants have let him throw past the fifth inning just once, so I don't have particularly high expectations.
Mike Clevinger has no structural damage to his arm after exiting Wednesday's start early.
Tarik Skubal put together another strong rehab start, this time at Triple-A, with three scoreless with five strikeouts. He has 12 strikeouts and just one unearned run in eight innings so far, and is worth stashing in deeper formats.