Prospect Promotions Taking Over Start/Sit Hitting Decisions for Week 9
Prospect promotions are taking over Start/Sit hitting decisions for Week 9 after the waiver wire flood of week eight. Fantasy owners love potential and nobody’s profile is filled with more potential than prospects. Owners that bid big to acquire them are going to want to start them and will feel pressure to justify those bids. Whether or not the matchups justify a start or not is the question I address with some of the hottest rookies.
Week nine also has stars underperforming and teams with both really good and less than ideal matchups. Five game weeks are a problem for borderline starters, but so are difficult pitching matchups against pitching staffs that have been stingy about allowing home runs and runs to be scored. But, owners shouldn’t get down. The Dodgers may face two of the tougher pitching staffs in baseball, but the Texas Rangers have a loaded schedule against two of the worst staffs. The baseball gods giveth and they taketh away, as they say.
And last, but not least, the best left/right splits for Daily Fantasy Sports players to target and exploit for Week 9. It’s all here to help owners make those difficult Start/Sit hitting decisions.
Prospect Start/Sit Hitting Decisions for Week Nine
The story of Week 8 in Fantasy baseball was the flood of elite prospect promotions and the official on-field announcement by Vlad Guerrero Jr. that he has arrived with the first two home run game of his career. I won’t bother to try and make the case that owners should be benching Baby Vlad, though there is one to be made. However, there are legitimate cases for and against the recent prospect promotions.
Prospects are talented, but they are inconsistent. They are trying to navigate their way in waters that are nothing like what they are used to on a level with expectations and scrutiny that they have never had to deal with before. Major league baseball is only one level above minor league ball, but it may as well be Mars looking down at Earth. There is a reason rookies don’t win MVPs. Being a rookie is extremely difficult and they struggle as a result. Excitement can be compelling and make owners do things they shouldn’t, and that’s what we will look at today.
Here are the matchups for the most recently touted prospects for Week 9.
Brendan Rodgers, SS Colorado Rockies
Chris Archer/Trevor Williams/Jordan Lyles/John Means/Andrew Cashner/David Hess
Rodgers has been better versus right-handed pitchers than lefties at Triple-A in 2019, to the tune of eight home runs and a 1.147 OPS in 94 at-bats. In Week 9, the matchups are very much in his favor. Not only will he have five right-handed pitchers on the bump, but he is scheduled to face a struggling Chris Archer and an Orioles staff, in Coors field, that is giving away gopher balls like candy on Halloween.
Rodgers was hot prior to his call up and walks into a great week of matchups to succeed right out of the gate. A Must-Start player in yearly leagues and a strong DFS target as well.
Austin Riley, 3B Atlanta Braves
TBA/TBA/Jeff Samardzija/Madison Bumgarner/Miles Mikolas/Daniel Hudson/Jack Flaherty
Riley has also been great at Triple-A against right-handed pitchers with 13 home runs, a .330 batting average, and a 1.152 OPS. He walks into a seven-game week with at least four righties on the bump. He will have to earn his at-bats going forward, but the Braves didn’t promote him to sit him and while he slugs home runs he should remain a starter. His value for the rest of the season will continue to be a work in progress, but Week 9 is looking like a week worth a start for the upstart prospect.
Keston Hiura, 2B Milwaukee Brewers
Sonny Gray/Luis Castillo/Jared Eickhoff/Jake Arrieta/Zack Eflin
Hiura has batted .359 with a 1.194 OPS against right-handed pitching this season. Like Riley in Atlanta, Hiura will have competition for at-bats as the season progresses, but in Week 9 the matchups and circumstances don’t appear to be in his favor.
Hiura walks into a five-game week with two starts against a Cincinnati Reds pitching staff that has been one of the stingiest in home runs allowed and runs scored allowed. To his benefit, they are all at home, a friendly hitters park.
The alternative options should dictate how to make the Start/Sit hitting decision on Hiura, but five games and the Reds on the slate has me leaning Sit, all things being equal. The fact that he has only stolen four bases and was caught twice lowers his ceiling and makes me less willing to start him as well.
Hiura was one of the hottest prospect names promoted, he has started well for the Brew Crew and owners that paid the heavy price will feel like they must start him, but week nine isn’t ideal for the youngster.
Nicky Lopez, 2B Kansas City Royals
Michael Wacha/Adam Wainwright/TBA/J.A. Happ/Domingo German
Lopez has the speed to be a viable Fantasy contributor while he has below-average power and a five-game slate in Week 9. There is Fantasy potential because of his speed and .296 career batting average, but he is a low-end option who lacks ceiling and this week’s matchups are not ideal for success.
It looks like the Royals plan to make room for Lopez going forward and that bodes well for consistent future at-bats, but the skill set is weak for Fantasy viability. Owners should monitor his stolen base attempts and at-bats to see if he justifies starting, but owners should wait and see rather than start and hope this week.
Oscar Mercado, OF Cleveland Indians
Brett Anderson/Chris Bassitt/Frankie Montas/Blake Snell/Charlie Morton/TBA/TBA
Mercado has 14 stolen bases along with a .294 batting average in only 30 games played and he has stolen 33 bases or more in four consecutive seasons. That’s a skill set that makes him a viable consideration going forward. What limits his potential is that home runs haven’t been a significant part of his game and he has a career .254 batting average. That is what makes Mercado a risky play this week.
In Week 9, Mercado faces a Tampa Bay Rays staff that has been one the toughest in baseball and he will face Blake Snell to compound the potential struggles. With his contact issues, minimal power, and difficult matchup, Fantasy owners are best advised to watch and learn when making their Start/Sit hitting decisions regarding Mercado. He could earn his way into Fantasy lineups, but better safe than sorry with this rookie promotion.
Willie Calhoun, OF Texas Rangers
Mike Leake/Erik Swanson/Marco Gonzales/Griffin Canning/Tyler Skaggs/Felix Pena
Calhoun has always hit and I fully expect him to continue to do so for the Rangers as long as he is given the opportunity. In Week 9, he faces two of the worst pitching staffs in baseball in the Angels and Mariners.
Calhoun’s issue going forward will be how the Rangers find at-bats for a player that doesn’t have a defensive position. For Week 9 the matchups are juicy good, making him a strong start. For the short-term, at-bats should be there and the bat plays in home runs, batting average, RBIs and runs scored. He is one of the most valuable of the hoard of prospect promotions for 2019 and the best in week nine.
Start or Stash: The Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers
Matchups are key to making difficult Start/Sit hitting decisions. It makes sense for owners to look at the best and the worst pitching staffs in home runs and runs allowed to see where opportunities may lie and it’s the Rangers and Dodgers that won and lost this week.
The Seattle Mariners rank last in runs allowed (270) and are the second worst pitching staff – to the abysmal Orioles – with 76 home runs allowed. Fifth worst in home runs allowed are the Los Angeles Angels with 67. The biggest beneficiaries of these numbers are the Texas Rangers, who have a six-game week against these Mariners and Angels.
The Week 9 Texas Rangers
Here are the Rangers players that benefit from a flukey-good week nine schedule.
Mike Leake/Erik Swanson/Marco Gonzales/Griffin Canning/Tyler Skaggs/Felix Pena
Rougned Odor, 2B
Recent 14-Day Sample Size:
10/46 AB – 5 HR – 13 RBIs – .217 BA
A beneficial week of matchups against homer-prone pitching staffs and a strong seven and 14-day stretch of performance has Odor on a hot streak that Fantasy owners would be wise to get while the getting is good. He’s a risky player to love and his low batting average is tough to swallow with confidence, but he is a viable option.
Joey Gallo, 1B
13 HRs – 32 RBIs – 32 Runs Scored – .276 Batting Average
Homer-prone opponents for one of the most powerful sluggers in baseball is exactly what the doctor ordered for Gallo owners. He was probably a Must-Start without the additional scheduling incentive, but DFS players should have Gallo on their radar for multiple starts this week as well. The fact that he is batting .276 for the season gives me more confidence to trust in Gallo.
Shin Soo-Choo, OF
6 HRs – 28 Runs Scored – .293 BA
Choo isn’t a Fantasy star, but he hits for average and has enough pop to turn bad pitching into home runs. That’s what the friendly matchups provide this week.
As good as matchups against the Orioles, Mariners, and Cardinals have been, facing the Tampa Bay Rays, Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates has been the opposite. They have been three of the stingiest staffs in both runs and home runs allowed.
The Rangers benefit from a friendly week nine schedule and the Los Angeles Dodgers may suffer because of the unfriendly randomness of it.
The Week 9 Los Angeles Dodgers
Cody Bellinger has been an MVP-calibre beast while Justin Turner has been hot both recently and has batted .326 in 95 at-bats against right-handed pitching this season. It’s difficult to impossible, bad schedule or not, to sit either of them, but the rest of the roster isn’t so immune to scrutiny.
The Dodgers have been hit with a double-whammy of Fantasy misfortune in head-to-head league formats in Week 9. Their players have only five games and they face two of the toughest staffs to hit home runs and score runs against – the Tampa Bay Rays and Pittsburgh Pirates.
There is a silver lining or two. They will avoid Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow, who is on the IL, and they will have an opportunity to feast on Chris Archer, who has been injured or bad most of the 2019 season. And, they are significantly more explosive against right-handed pitching than left. They could, potentially, face three right-handers against Pittsburgh and a potential variety of righties in two starts against a Rays pitching staff that uses a “staff by committee,” opener approach. It makes their more borderline starters slightly more attractive than they might be if they had multiple lefties on the bump instead.
Here are the Dodgers that Fantasy owners should spend an extra moment or two considering due to their matchups and five-game schedule before making their Start/Sit hitting decisions.
Corey Seager, SS
14-Day Statistical Sample:
11/37 – 2 HR – 0 SB – .297 BA
30-Day Statistical Sample:
20/86 – 2 HR – 0 SB – .233 BA
I have never been a big Seager guy, especially in head-to-head formats, because he doesn’t steal bases and shortstop is no longer a thin position. Home run contributions at shortstop are great, but if he struggles in batting average then he offers nothing else and everyone has rough weeks making contact. I sold high on the “Seager name” pre-Tommy John surgery in Dynasty leagues and didn’t draft him in yearly leagues this year.
Seager hasn’t hit for average this season even though he has had a resurgence in recent weeks. I advise owners to bench Seager for his lack of home runs, but the off-year in batting average makes it an easier Start/Sit hitting decision. The fact that he has a short week of games and bad matchups makes the decision easier. Sit Seager, now, and until the power returns.
Joc Pederson, OF
14 HR – .218 BA – .927 OPS
Relevant Road Stats:
.193 BA – 4 HR
Alex Verdugo, OF
.316 vs. Right handed pitching
.250 BA on the Road
Kike Hernandez, 1B/2B/SS/OF
Relevant 2019 Stats:
.186 BA on the Road (5 road games this week)
.183 BA vs. Right Handed Pitching
Max Muncy, 1B/2B/3B
Relevant 2019 Stats:
7 HR – .270 BA on the road
5 HR vs. Right Handed Pitching
Start/Sit Hitting Decisions for Stars
Stars are a different breed. They cost more and we expect more. Their reputations can function like a crutch and are often a detriment to responsible decision making.
The stats are there for consumption and I like to bring them to Fantrax readers attention to do with them what they wish. Sometimes, it’s Stars on The Hot Seat, and sometimes it’s just NoteWorthy. Either way, here are the Stars’ Stats you need to know when making Start/Sit hitting decisions for Week 9.
Miguel Sano,1B/3B Minnesota Twins
Stats Since IL Return:
At-Bats 3/13 – 1 HR – .231 BA
At-Bats 38 – 12 Hits – 2 HR – .316 BA – 943 OPS
Felix Pena/Trevor Cahill/Matt Harvey/Reynaldo Lopez/Manny Banuelos/Dylan Covey
There hasn’t been enough of a 2019 sample, at the major or minor league levels, to matter and Sano’s career splits in batting average, OPS, wOBA and wRC+ have been essentially equal versus right and left-handed pitching, making matchups irrelevant when making Start/Sit hitting decisions.
Owners that have concerns about starting a player “getting back into the swing of things” after a stint on the injured list have their reason if they wish, but there isn’t any statistical or matchup-justification to bench Sano this week. On the plus side, the Twins roster has killed right handed pitching in 2019 and Sano should benefit from being a part of that group. Owners that have sat on him should be starting him now that he is back from the IL.
Joey Votto, 1B Cincinnati Reds
At-Bats 33/153 – 4 HRs – 1 SB – .216 BA
12 HRs – 2 SB – .284 BA
AB 10/47 – 1 HR – 1 SB – .3 RBI – .213 BA
AB 20/96 – 3 HR – 1 SB – 5 RBI – .208 BA
Gio Gonzalez/Zach Davies/Kyle Hendricks/Yu Darvish/Jose Quintana
Votto has been a controversial baseball player and Fantasy figure as a result. He is revered by advanced metric warriors for his approach and at times, he has been a fantastic Fantasy contributor as well. He has made his bones with elite batting averages and on-base percentages (career BA of .308 and .425 OBP), but he has only had two 30-plus home run seasons, a low number for the high expectations we’ve had for first baseman over the years.
Because of these narratives there are analysts and Fantasy owners that are still waiting for “Votto to be Votto.” This is what confuses me. 2018 was a disaster by not only “Votto” standards, but by any, and 2019 has been worse. Star players deserve patience. They have earned the benefit of every doubt. But, Votto is 656 at-bats into what looks to be full decline. I couldn’t find a statistical sample to justify buying or starting him unless you go all the way back to 2017, which was likely a “last hoorah” rather than a signal that the Votto we knew is still there. He isn’t a “buy low,” he is a “buy bad.” And, he needs to be benched.
Daniel Murphy, 1B/2B Colorado Rockies
AB 12/63 – 2 HR – 0 SB – .190 BA
Chris Archer/Trevor Williams/Jordan Lyles/J Means/Andrew Cashner/David Hess
Having his 2018 season diminished by injuries and the move to Coors field as a free agent had owners excited about the possibilities in 2019. Those same reasons are why owners may be looking to buy low on Murphy. I’m not ready to advocate for that, but there are reasons for optimism in Week 9.
Murphy faces a Pirates pitching staff that has been stingy about serving up home runs or allowing runs in general, but there is a comforting underbelly that otherwise would appear to be bad. One of those stingy Pirate starters will be Chris Archer, who has been anything but stingy as a Pirate. He has a 2019 ERA of 5.58 and a WHIP of 1.40. And, he was lit up by the Arizona Diamondbacks in his return from the IL. Murphy also has three games at Coors field against a Baltimore Orioles pitching staff that is hemorrhaging homers – leading the league with 93 home runs allowed. That’s four of six games with extremely favorable circumstances.
I started researching this article assuming I would advise owners to bench Murphy due to his 2019 struggles, but the circumstances suggest he has a shot to succeed. He isn’t a Must-Start and his recent performance offers plenty of reason for concern, but there is justification to insert the struggling Rockie or at least consider him when making a tough Start/Sit hitting decision.
Here are some individual batters with overwhelmingly beneficial splits in Week 9 that may not be on Fantasy owners radar when making their Start/Sit hitting decisions, but could be impactful in season-long leagues as well as DFS formats.
Mitch Moreland, 1B Boston Red Sox
2019 Stats vs. Right Handed Pitching
107 ABs – 12 HRs – 28 RBI – .234 BA – .925 OPS
Moreland leads the Red Sox in home runs and RBIs against right-handed pitching this season with 12 and 28 respectively. There aren’t many first basemen better than Moreland when a righty is on the bump and he will face five, possibly six, in Week 9.
He’s definitely a Daily Fantasy target, especially against homer-prone Aaron Sanchez in Toronto, but his splits and amount of opportunities are impressive enough that he is a Must-Start in yearly leagues as well. Even Justin Verlander, who has a 2.38 ERA and .79 WHIP, has allowed a team-high 11 home runs this season. Moreland could be a sneaky-explosive, contrarian play bargain against the Astros this week.
Jake Marisnick, OF Houston Astros
Manny Banuelos/Dylan Covey/Ivan Nova/Lucas Giolito/Chris Sale/Eduardo Rodriguez/TBA
2019 Stats vs. Right Handed Pitching
47 ABs – 4 HRs – 3 SBs – .917 OPS
The Astros are scheduled to face three right-handed pitchers with a To Be Announced that could be a right-handed starter against the Boston Red Sox on Sunday as well.
There aren’t enough guaranteed at-bats to justify starting, nevermind stunning other league members, in yearly leagues, but his splits and discount price warrants a serious look in Daily Fantasy formats.
Marcell Ozuna, OF St. Louis Cardinals
2019 Stats vs. Right Handed Pitching
144 ABs – 11 HR – 3 SB – .850 OPS
11 of Ozuna’s 13 home runs have been against right-handed pitching and he has a few juicy targets to feast on in Week 9. Jorge Lopez has allowed 11 home runs and has a 6.29 ERA and 1.50 WHIP. Ozuna will also face Mike Foltynewicz, who has served up eight home runs in only 21.1 innings pitched, and Julio Teheran, who has allowed eight home runs in 55.2 innings pitched.
Ozuna’s batting average hasn’t been glowing, but he leads the Cardinals in home runs and the matchups are too good to ignore. He is probably starting in all yearly leagues regardless of the matchups, but he needs to be a priority target for DFS players against Lopez and Foltynewicz with a strong look against Teheran as well.
You can follow me on Twitter @CJMitch73 or on Facebook in the Fantasy Sports group “A Podcast To Be Named Later” and we will have a Podcast coming in the not-too-distant future, so keep an eye-out.
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