What a weekend it was as we head into the All-Star break. The biggest (and most unfortunate) news of the weekend came with Ronald Acuña, who will miss the rest of this season with a torn ACL. There is no replacing a talent this massive in Fantasy Baseball, but we try our best with some suggestions below.
The other big storyline from the weekend was Gerrit Cole, who marched into Houston and shut everybody up a 129-pitch, 12-strikeout shutout of the Astros. It seems maybe I was too quick to worry about one of the game's best starting pitchers, sticky stuff or not. While he's not Cole, Triston McKenzie did his best impersonation Friday with nine strikeouts over seven shutout innings against the Royals. McKenzie has had a rough season mostly due to his lack of control, but this guy was a big-time prospect who flashed in 2020. He can be added in deeper leagues for now but is more of a wait and see in shallower leagues.
The worst news of the weekend was undoubtedly Braves OF Ronald Acuna Jr. tearing his ACL. He is out for the remainder of the season. ESPN's Jeff Passan says Acuna is expected to miss 9-10 months so that should take him some time into next April/May. Of course, make sure you don't do anything rash if you roster him in keeper or dynasty leagues.
In Fantasy Football, a true workhorse top-scoring running back solidifies himself as an almost untradeable asset and the same could be said about Acuna and only a few others in Fantasy Baseball. Viewed as one of the elite Roto format hitters, Acuna was actually better in H2H points formats this year. He was the fourth-best Roto hitter but averaged the third-most points with 4.2 FPPG. Acuna finishes the 2021 season with a .283 batting average, 24 homers and 17 stolen bases through essentially a half a season of play.
Moving forward, Chris is a bit concerned with how a torn ACL might impact the speed element in Acuna's game. If he's expected to miss the first month (at least), and with concerns moving forward about how many bases he might steal, Chris is projecting he'll come off the board between No. 30 and No. 40 overall in drafts. I think he's still going to be a late first or early second-round draft pick. When Francisco Lindor opened the season on IL, he still landed in the rounds 2-3 range.
It won't be easy, but here are some potential replacements for Acuna:
In H2H points leagues: Mets OF Brandon Nimmo 67% rostered, Royals OF Andrew Benintendi 68%, Twins OF Alex Kirilloff 68, White Sox 1B/OF Andrew Vaughn 63%
Chris leans Nimmo overall and for sure in H2H points leagues, but he likes Benintendi as a sleeper in Roto leagues due to his speed. Chris' rankings of preference: Nimmo, Vaughn, Kirilloff, Benintendi in H2H points leagues. I'm with Chris on Nimmo as the H2H target.
In Roto/Categories leagues: Tigers OF Akil Baddoo 50%, Red Sox OF/2B Kike Hernandez 43%, Astros OF Myles Straw 46%, Marlins OF Jesus Sanchez 32%
Straw is the pick if you're desperate for speed, but Baddoo and Sanchez are Towers' top choices.
Trade targets: I'm throwing out Blue Jays OF Teoscar Hernandez. He has the best strikeout rate of his career and the underlying numbers suggest a big second half could be coming. He also has a speed profile. If you're looking for help now, Chris throws out Rays OF Randy Arozarena as a trade target.
Chris suggests trying to trade for a big-time hitter currently on the IL -- Ketel Marte, Adalberto Mondesi, Luis Robert -- you'll need to take a bit of risk on.
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Cole gets back on track in a big way
Yankees SP Gerrit Cole turned in his best game ever as a member of the Yankees against his old team in the Astros. Cole delivered a complete game shutout and allowed just three hits and two walks. He struck out 12. The odd thing is that he generated just 13 swinging strikes on 129 pitches for a super lowly 10% swinging strike rate. The good news is that he was still started in 89% of leagues.
Chris thinks the margin for error is smaller for Cole now in a post-sticky substance world but still has him ranked SP2 and views him as a top five SP option. He still throws nearly 100 mph with command and a deep arsenal. The spin rate may be down, he may not generate anywhere near the swing-and-miss he got accustomed to when allegedly using foreign substances, but he still has a profile to get the bottom-line box score stats done.
More news and notes
- Padres SP Yu Darvish had an awful start Thursday but it was revealed afterwards that he was pulled with back and hip tightness. He was placed on the IL Sunday, retroactive to July 9
- Brian Snitker said Braves SP Ian Anderson experienced shoulder soreness during his start Sunday and will likely require a stint on the IL.
- Astros 3B Alex Bregman said he expects to go on a rehab assignment in mid-July. He's on the IL with a quad strain.
- Astros SP Zack Greinke was removed after just four innings Saturday due to right shoulder soreness. Apparently it's been bothering him for the past month.
- Marlins SP Pablo Lopez set the MLB record with nine straight strikeouts to open Sunday's start against the Braves.
- Orioles OF Ryan Mountcastle left Sunday's game after being hit on the left arm by a pitch.
- Diamondbacks SP Zac Gallen threw a 44-pitch bullpen session Saturday. He's on the IL with a hamstring injury and could be back shortly after the break.
- Mets SP Carlos Carrasco could rejoin the Mets before being fully stretched out. Manager Luis Rojas has this to say: "We were thinking of him, potentially, joining us not being at a full stretch, not being at the six innings, or five, so he could join us even before that. So let's see how this week goes and then we'll share more on what the plan is."
- Yankees SP Luis Severino tossed a couple bullpen sessions within the past week and his next step will be facing live hitters. He strained his groin in June while on a rehab assignment.
- Rays 2B Vidal Brujan was recalled Friday but didn't start until Sunday.
- Twins C Mitch Garver is closing in on a rehab assignment. He's 49% rostered but wasn't playing every day (.224 batting average with 8 HR in 41 games).
- Marlins RP Zach Thompson was scratched from his start Friday as he was feeling under the weather.
- The Tigers demoted SP Matt Manning to Triple-A after Friday's start.
- Cole Hamels will throw for interested teams July 16. He's 37 years old and made just one start last season. He's 1% rostered
- The following players were placed on the IL this weekend: Padres SP Blake Snell with gastroenteritis (which he's been dealing with for a few weeks now, expected to start next weekend); Padres RP Drew Pomeranez with a forearm; Yankees 3B Miguel Andujar with a wrist; Nationals C Yan Gomes with a left oblique; Phillies OF Odubel Herrera with ankle tendonitis.
- The following players were placed on the COVID IL: Phillies 3B Alec Bohm tested positive for COVID and will miss at least 10 days, Phillies SP Aaron Nola was scratched from Sunday's start due to contract tracing, Mariners SP Yusei Kikuchi had a symptom but tested negative, Astros SS Carlos Correa was placed on the IL Friday due to health and safety protocols.
Starting pitchers (65-72% rostered)
- Yankees SP Jameson Taillon in his last start vs. HOU: 6 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 9 SS on 85 pitches. He's had consecutive quality starts and is 71% rostered.
- Rockies SP Jon Gray in his last start at SD: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 17 SS on 90 pitches. He's 69% rostered.
- Rays SP Shane McClanahan who is 65% rostered.
- Astros SP Jake Odorizzi in his last start vs. NYY: 6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 5 SS on 103 pitches but 10 HH balls. He's 72% rostered and has a 2.29 ERA, 0.86 WHIP (3.93 xFIP, 9.5% SwStr) in his last seven starts.
Starting pitchers (45-65% rostered)
- Rays SP Ryan Yarbough in his last three starts: 2.81 ERA, 1.13 WHIP. He's doing a great job limiting hard contact and is 62% rostered.
- Mariners SP Chris Flexen has a 1.76 ERA in 10 home starts. He is 60% rostered.
- Cardinals SP Kwang Hyun Kim in his last six starts: 1.95 ERA but 4.74 xFIP. He is 47% rostered.
Starting pitchers (fewer than 40% rostered)
- Reds SP Vladimir Gutierrez has quality starts in three of his past four, is 39% rostered.
- Angels SP Patrick Sandoval is 38% rostered.
- Dodgers SP David Price is 31% rostered.
- Angels SP Alex Cobb is 30% rostered.
- Angels 2B David Fletcher is on a 24-game hitting streak batting .439 and he hit his first two homers of the season this weekend. He is 62% rostered.
- Mets 2B Jonathan Villar ripped a double dong on Friday and he is 33% rostered.
- Dodgers OF AJ Pollock is starting to heat up a bit and is 38% rostered.
- Nationals 2B Starlin Castro has 17 hits over his last nine games and is 38% rostered.
- Rockies 1B CJ Cron went 3 for 4 with a homer and two doubles on Sunday and is just 46% rostered.
- Rockies C Elias Diaz went 2 for 5 Sunday and here's his past 15 games: .320 average with five homers. Still just 16% rostered!
- Giants OF Darin Ruf is batting .267 with nine homers and a .959 OPS. He's crushing the ball: 94 mph average exit velocity, .281 xBA, .574 xSLG. 1.174 OPS vs. LHP, .780 OPS vs. RHP, 3% rostered (1B/OF eligible).
- Phillies SS Ronald Torreyes grabbed a homer and steal on Sunday -- deeper league stash!