Now nearly completely through the first month of the 2021 MLB season, we have a much clearer picture of how the Fantasy landscape will shape up the rest of the way. To kick off each week of the season, I'll be reaching out to Fantasy Baseball Today's Scott White and Chris Towers to ask them a few big questions that can hopefully help lead to actionable advice. In this Q&A, we're looking back at the fourth weekend of the season with a specific focus on players we are trying to trade for and trade away -- depending on the category they fit.
1. Who is your favorite buy-low player you're sending out trade offers for ASAP?
- Scott: The key to a successful buy-low is for the other person to think you're doing him a favor, and with that in mind, the one who drafted Christian Yelich has to be freaking out right about now. Yelich has been out longer than expected with a mysterious back ailment and was struggling with an elevated strikeout rate before then. Because the MRI came back clean, though, I'm trusting he'll be back sooner than later. You wouldn't want to give up anything that would severely hamper your chances in the meantime, but you should be willing to go right up to that limit.
- Chris: After Sunday's start, I think it's gotta be Luis Castillo. It's been a concerning start, for sure, and his 17.1% strikeout rate is even more concerning than his 6.29 ERA -- he hasn't been below 28.9% since 2018. It's not what you want to see, but it's also not like we've never seen something like this before. In March/April of 2018, he had an 18.3% strikeout rate and 9.9% walk rate to go along with a 7.85 ERA and 1.67 WHIP. So, even worse than this start. He had a 3.57 ERA with 141 strikeouts in 141 innings the rest of the way. He's an easy buy.
- Frank: Dominic Smith, mostly because I imagine you can get him for next to nothing. Smith has been one of the unluckiest hitters in terms of expected stats to this point. He's batting .232 with a .375 slugging percentage whereas his expecting batting average is .336 while his expected slugging is .656! Better days are coming.
We break down the weekend waiver wire and whether to add Michael Kopech on the Fantasy Baseball Today in 5 Podcast. You can follow us to get the latest episodes on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.
2. Who is your favorite buy-high player you're sending out trade offers for ASAP?
- Scott: Joe Musgrove seems like a perfect target here, particularly after he labored for three innings against the Dodgers on Sunday. It might come off as him coming back down to earth, and his mediocre track record helps in that regard. He saw a jump in whiffs late last year, though, and he has sustained that increase in velocity this year while also tweaking his arsenal to get even more whiffs. Combined with his elite command and ability to work deep into games, he's shaping up to be a poor man's Shane Bieber.
- Chris: I'm really buying into Jesse Winker's start to the season. He won't post a 1.000-plus OPS, but he's backing up his small-sample breakout from 2020, sporting elite batted-ball quality numbers, and I think he'll be a must-start outfielder in all formats moving forward. He's turned into the guy we hoped he would be back when he was a prospect.
- Frank: John. Means. Business. He's not going to continue to be this good, but that's exactly why somebody else might think they're selling high on Means. Add in the fact that he's on the Orioles and pitches in the AL East, and I think he can be had for a fairly reasonable price. He has top-40 upside at starting pitcher, maybe even top-30.
3. Who is your favorite sell-high player you're trying to trade away?
- Scott: I'd be happy with whatever value I could get for Matthew Boyd. Fading his changeup for more of his slider is what helped put him on the map a couple years ago, so flipping the script this year doesn't seem like a winning move. And because his slider appears to have lost its bite anyway, I don't know that he has a real weapon anymore. His 4.93 xFIP (about the same as last year, actually) gives us some idea of what his future holds.
- Chris: Jazz Chisholm. It pains me to say it, and I would love to be proven wrong. But I'm not sure Chisholm can keep this up and remain a high-end Fantasy option. After Sunday's 0-for-4 showing against the Giants, he is hitting .274 despite a .371 BABIP -- a 32.9% strikeout rate will do that. Chisholm is a tremendous talent, with plenty of athleticism to spare, but I'm just not sure he can live up to the pretty lofty expectations people have started to saddle him with.
- Frank: Justin Turner who is currently a top-three hitter in both H2H points and Roto. I think Turner can be very good but he's also 36 years, has dealt with injuries and plays for the Dodgers are very cautious about their players. Don't just sell for the sake of it but if you can get a top-10 hitter at another position or a top-25 starting pitcher, I would pull the trigger.
4. Which preseason prediction has you looking the best right now?
- Scott: Pretty sure I started the "John Means business" meme when hyping him up on a podcast this winter. Maybe I'm wrong about that -- or if it even qualifies as a meme -- but he has indeed meant business, coming close to matching last year's velocity gains while compiling a 1.50 ERA and 0.90 WHIP with nearly a strikeout per inning.
- Chris: Byron Buxton. I had him as a top-20 outfielder in Roto formats and I was definitely out on a limb on that one. Maybe he'll get hurt and ruin it like everyone expects, but Buxton's breakout as a power hitter in 2018 and 2019 was for real, and it took too long for everyone else to catch up. There's nobody doubting it now. He's always been an elite talent, and he's figured out how to put that into action consistently.
- Frank: It's Joe Musgrove even though he got roughed up by the Dodgers on Sunday. Even with that start he has a 1.55 ERA on the season. It seems as though the Padres have unlocked his potential, getting more breaking pitches out of Musgrove. He just needs to stay healthy and he could be a top 20 starting pitcher.
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5. Which preseason prediction has you looking the worst right now?
- Scott: I was higher on Kenta Maeda than the general consensus (largely because I was lower on Walker Buehler and Jack Flaherty) and have gotten quite a bit of flack for it. I wasn't too worried about it until his fastball was down a couple miles per hour in his latest start. But the whiffs were intact before then, and he seemed to be working efficiently enough. I'd still say he's more of a buy-low than not, but I'm not saying it with the same gusto.
- Chris: I was concerned about Trent Grisham for a few reasons. First of all, I was worried he was going to be stuck lower down the lineup, especially against left-handed pitchers, which would limit his appeal. I also had some questions about his skills as a hitter -- he struck out a bit too much and hit a few too many popups for me to fully buy in. And those issues are still there so far, to be clear. But right now, my pessimism looks pretty silly.
- Frank: You can just insert Chris Paddack's name here every week until he turns it around, but if I had to choose another, I would go with Raisel Iglesias. While he has three saves, he's done it with a 6.75 ERA. The underlying numbers suggest he's going to bounce back and be just fine, but I had him pegged as a top-five closer coming into the season.