There's a lot that's probably gone wrong with your Fantasy Baseball team headed into Week 3 -- or Week 2 if you played with the extra-long first scoring period like you should have. One of the anchors of most of my teams, Ketel Marte, is out for at least this week (and likely much longer) due to a hamstring, and other big names like Cody Bellinger, Fernando Tatis, Mookie Betts, and Tim Anderson are injured heading into the week as well. And that's not to mention guys like James Paxton and Trevor Rosenthal who you've already likely cut, or slow starters like Keston Hiura who are giving you headaches.
There is only so much I can do to ease your troubles, but I'll do my best. I reached out to my Twitter followers Sunday evening asking for tough lineup dilemmas, trade questions, and more as we head into Week 3. Let's kick things off with one of the big names potentially returning from injury this week:
Should i start Zack Gallen?— Scott (@zackdanielssr) April 12, 2021
Because Gallen was one of my favorite pitcher targets both before and after the injury, I'm pretty psyched to see him returning so quickly, and this was a decision I've had to make in several leagues. For Week 3, at least, I opted to not start Gallen, because we're just not 100% sure he'll be making the start Tuesday -- it has been reported as a possibility at this point. I expect he will make a start this week, however because he only threw 67 pitches in his game at the Diamondbacks alternate site, there's a chance they may opt to have him make one more start to get up to 80-plus pitches before joining the rotation. Even if they do start him this week, a pitch count may limit how helpful he could be.
Also, as a general rule, I'd prefer to give pitchers a start to get their feet wet before throwing them back in my starting lineup. That may not apply if, say, Gerrit Cole misses a start because of an ankle injury, but when we're dealing with a multi-week absence due to an upper body injury, I'd rather let them get that first start in and make sure they are fine before throwing them out there. In Gallen's case, the decision was helped by the fact that he's still on the IL, so I can leave him there and avoid having to make a roster decision for another week. In one league, I left Gallen on the IL so I could get one more look at Andrew Heaney, who is coming off a nine-strikeout game against the Blue Jays after struggling in the opener. I'd like to see if he can carry that success over before I have to make a decision to drop or keep him. Don't be afraid to take advantage of a situation like that to have an artificially higher roster size for a few days.
Which prospects to target?
Can you discuss prospects and when you think a call up may happen for each and ranked them for rest of season vs keeper— Brian Johnstone (@Brian91186) April 12, 2021
Last season, with no minor-league games at all, teams had to figure out whether the best course of action for a top prospect's development was to push them aggressively up to the majors before they might be "ready" or leave them playing in a simulated quasi-training camp environment facing the same opponents over and over -- a pretty sanitized environment that may not have been best for development.
This season starts off with a similar situation for prospects, who are training and playing scrimmage games at the alternate sites for now. Which could tilt the balance toward being more aggressive with prospects, who have only seen opponents outside of the organization in limited spring action since 2019. However, the minor-league season is expected to start in May, so the incentives may be tilted back toward being a bit more patient with top prospects -- especially given the inherent financial incentives to keep prospects down until mid-to-late May to avoid Super Two designations in arbitration.
With that said, I would expect we'll start to see the likes of Jarred Kelenic, Wander Franco, Julio Rodriguez, Alex Kirilloff and the rest of the near-ready top prospects beginning in May. It just makes too much sense -- right or wrong -- for teams to wait a little longer for the Super Two "deadline" (that isn't really a deadline) and to get their guys some game action. I've got Jo Adell and Franco stashed in several leagues, and it's been tough to keep them on my bench, but I'm trying to avoid dropping them until I absolutely need to. Maybe injuries will force the Angels hand with Adell, especially since his service time clock was already started last season.
Which D-Backs OF to add?
Locastro or Calhoun?— Michael Govier (@mjgovier) April 12, 2021
I actually find Locastro to be pretty interesting, but unfortunately, he's got a weird skill set that makes him an awkward Fantasy player. He gets on base at a high rate, but not because he's a good source of batting average or because he's particularly patient at the plate -- he's a career .257 hitter with a 6.5% walk rate. But, he has a .360 on-base percentage because he just loves getting hit by pitches -- 7.4% of his plate appearances in the majors have ended in a HBP. You don't get any inherent value from that in a Roto league, so his on-base skills are more valuable in a points league, but he's not a good enough hitter to be useful in a 12-team, three-outfielder league, the standard for a points format.
But, he also doesn't hit for much power at all in addition to his poor average, so he doesn't fit in super well in Roto leagues, except for the fact that he's a very good base stealer -- 39 steals in 145 games at Triple-A (88.6% success rate), 31 in 141 games at Double-A (81.6%), and 28 (100%) in 155 games in the majors. With Ketel Marte out, Locastro has been moved up to the leadoff spot over the last four games, and if you need steals, he's a very good choice for as long as Marte is out.
If you don't need steals specifically, I would go with Calhoun, who has been batting second since his return from knee surgery and should be a decent source of power and run production -- he has 49 homers and 114 RBI in 206 games between 2019 and 2020.
Studs or two-start SPs?
Would you ever sit a Buehler, Plesac, or Morton when the have bad matchups for pitchers like, Lopez and Ynoa, 2starts? (*I don't draft these guys to be my studs...I draft them to help me win during the season...and sometimes 2 steps from lower pitchers are better! Sometimes not!— Content Mets Fan (@MSR2KTWENTY) April 12, 2021
Generally speaking, I'm a "Start Your Studs" guy in Fantasy sports. Perhaps to a fault -- I'll probably stick with a struggling star for too long because I believe in their ability to pull out of it. In this instance, however, I especially see no reason to sit Walker Buehler or Charlie Morton -- I'm a bit less bull-ish on Zach Plesac, generally, and I do consider Pablo Lopez to be very much in his class.
I will say, this question is dependent on format to a certain extent. In a head to head points league, the value of a middling two-start pitcher is much higher, because they can't wreck your ratios, and negative starts are relatively rare. Buehler has averaged 20.5 Fantasy points per start this season, but was at 11.4 in 2020 and 17.4 in 2019, so if you can get two starts from someone like Pablo Lopez --12.9 in 2020, 9.1 in 2019 -- that could be more valuable than one from Buehler. Still, I wouldn't be starting a pitcher outside the top 40 in my rankings with two starts for a top-15 guy with one.
Dropping Dane Dunning before a 2 start week or a better bench player like India, Canha or Trevor Rogers (need to activate Urshela from the IL)— Bret Brillante (@BretBrillante) April 12, 2021
As a general rule, if you aren't willing to use a pitcher in a two-start week, he's droppable. I like Dunning well enough, and if I needed pitching depth, I think I'd rather hang on to him instead of Canha if I can afford to. But Canha has also been hitting the ball extremely hard, and in a points league, his plate discipline as a leadoff hitter combined with his power makes him a very, very valuable potential starter, so it depends on team need here.
Best MI options?
16 team, categories, 2B/SS slot. Which three do I start on a regular basis: SS Willy Adames, 2B Jazz Chisholm, 2B McKinstry, 2B Nick Solak, SS Polanco— luke (@ljay_6) April 12, 2021
It hasn't been a great start for this group, but I think Polanco and Solak should probably be viewed as the lineup mainstays here. McKinstry is interesting in a "Where do the Dodgers find these guys?" kind of way, but I would have him last among the remaining trio because I'm just not sure he's going to play enough when the Dodgers outfield is healthy and I haven't seen enough special skills from him to think he's a star in the waiting. Chisholm could be, and I would lean in his direction over Adames, while acknowledging that Adames' floor is much higher. Chisholm could be a legitimate 20-20 player, and I'll shoot for upside this early in the season. If you have to cut one, McKinstry is the guy.
Stick with Garrett and Romano?
Keep Amir Garrett and Jordan Romano, or pick up Ian Kennedy or Yimi Garcia?— Austin Schoen (@AschoenPERT) April 12, 2021
Garrett is probably a stronger keep candidate than Romano because I'm more convinced he'll get the next save for the Reds than Romano will for the Blue Jays. However, Romano may be the better pitcher, and Garrett probably needs to turn things around quickly to keep his job -- especially with the re-emergence of Sean Doolittle as a potentially elite reliever with his velocity way up. Romano still hasn't gotten a save opportunity, and I would guess Julian Merryweather gets the next one, but Romano might get the next one after that, given that the Blue Jays may not want to use Merryweather on consecutive days right now.
I'm not sure I'd drop either for Kennedy or Garcia, but if I was desperate to pick up saves, I think Garcia is the better option than Kennedy.
Smith, Perez or Mercedes?
Looking to settle my C situation so I can upgrade OF. I have W. Smith, S. Perez and Y. Mercedes in a 16 team h2h points league with 5 OF slots and only 1 util. spot. Hoping to finding a trade with some positional versatility.— jake (@808sJake) April 12, 2021
Smith has been better so far than Perez, but he's started just six of 10 games so far, while Perez has started all seven for the Royals. I think Smith is the better hitter between the two of them, but Perez will play more games and likely have a bigger impact in points leagues as a result. Still, I would be perfectly content with Smith and Mercedes as my duo if someone wants to offer more for Perez. My suggestion would be to put both Smith and Perez up for grabs and see if you can get someone like Eddie Rosario or Lourdes Gurriel in return.
I will add, however, that if this is a two-catcher league, I would actually make trading Mercedes more of a priority. While I really like what we've seen from him to date, I wouldn't want to rely on him as one of my only two options for the rest of the season, because there's no guarantee he's a regular for the White Sox all season. Selling high on him in a two-catcher league is probably the smarter move for your team, and I would try to see if I could get a slow starter like Ian Happ or Max Kepler.