Weekend Roundup: Notes and Fantasy Takeaways

There was just so much information and news over the weekend and I hope this helps everyone catch up. This is spanning Friday, 7/3/2020 to Sunday night, 7/5/2020. This might not be 100% of the news so feel free to reach out on twitter or comment on the article itself if I missed any fantasy relevant news.

Quick note: There were various players testing positive for COVID-19 and other players opting out or considering opting out. This is not to make light of these situations. I do not blame any player for sitting a shortened season and putting their family and personal well being first. I also wish all players a speedy recovery. You should also not blame them. They are real people and have their own concerns to consider and no player should be chastised for their decision.

With that said, I will be providing the news as I have found it and providing fantasy takeaways in response to said news. If I missed anything feel free to let me know on twitter @Mike_Kurland. Or if you have any questions, let me know.

NL EAST 

Washington Nationals

Notes:

  • Per Davey Martinez “as of right now,” he expects Carter Kieboom to be the starting third baseman.
  • Max Scherzer threw 32 pitches in two simulated innings to live hitters on Friday. 

Fantasy Takeaway:

  • Kieboom was already projected to start in my mind prior to hearing this news and I ranked him as such. He is a solid prospect and has plenty of potential but he is slated to hit at the back end of the lineup and if he starts slow, as he did last season in his short stint, he could be someone you’re cutting earlier than later. In a short season, we don’t have the luxury of waiting on a young player to come around and we also cannot stash players for long periods of time due to each spot on a roster is more valuable than ever. The skill set is great if it plays up right away, but if it does not I would move on rather quickly.
  • Max Scherzer is just a stud. he already move back up to the three spot in my starting pitcher ranks. I am such a Scherzer guy that I knew it wouldn’t take much to move him back there. I would even argue, he belongs in the top tier with Cole and deGrom but the injury last season does slightly concern me and how it lingered into the playoffs. I know he no longer is injured but at his age and how he is a gamer, a re-aggravation of an injury like that would not surprise me unfortunately.

New York Mets

Notes:

  • Mets Manager Luis Rojas suggested that he could employ a closer-by-committee approach. 
  • Michael Conforto said Saturday that Yoenis Cespedes (ankle, heels) “looks like a monster” early on in summer camp workouts.
  • Yoenis Cespedes has ramped up his sprint speed since spring training was shut down. Team wants to see him workout first before clearing him for further drills. Yoenis Cespedes has since played an inning in LF during simulated game. 
  • Jed Lowrie worked out in a leg brace on Friday. Still a murky situation.

Fantasy Takeaway:

  • Closer-by-committees are the WORST. With that said, I am not surprised to be hearing this. I still believe Diaz gets the first shot and if he does well, I doubt he won’t continue to get said closer work until he falters. We saw him struggle mightily last season and wording the situation this way, allows the Mets to give themselves an out if he struggles again.
  • Cespedes is picking up steam and he looks to finally be trending towards being healthy. He is playing for a contract and with all this down time, it may of allowed him to heal fully. He did get an inning in at LF. I am unsure of the frequency of playing time in the field or at DH but his stock is on the rise and he is worth drafting at the back end of your mixed league rosters if you find yourself needing power at the back end of the draft.
  • Jed Lowrie is just not coming around. The injury doesn’t seem to be fully healed and his fantasy value is not likely to rebound in 2020.

Philadelphia Phillies 

Notes:

  • Aaron Nola and Adam Haseley added to the COVID-19 IL. No additional details available at this time.
  • Hector Neris was at the field on Sunday. He did not work out but it should mean he cleared the testing protocol.
  • Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola may not be ready for the start of 2020 season, per Joe Girardi.

Fantasy Takeaway:

  • Aaron Nola was the 20th ranked starting pitcher in my ranks at the beginning of the weekend. Now I have not fully adjusted but he easily falls outside the top 30 or even top 40 at his point. We need more details before I can accurately rank him but I know he falls at least 10 spots due to the fact that he may not be ready for the start of the season. Any missed time is a huge issue for any player and will significantly alter their draft value.
  • Hector Neris was on the field so that would make one assume he passed testing. He seesm back and should slot right back into his mid tier closer rank.
  • Zack Wheeler opting out is a very real possibilty. He is another player I am moving down my ranks. I knoe he is healthy but he has voiced his concern with playing as he is expecting his newborn at the end of this month or early next month. That alone will cause him to miss a start or two and then add on that he may not report back to camp. I cannot draft him with any sense of confidence right now and I would let someone else take that risk on draft day.

Atlanta Braves

Notes:

  • Freddie Freeman tests positive for COVID-19 and shows symptoms. Could potentially be away from the team a while per reports. 
  • Braves mentioned Austin Riley, Adam Duvall and Johan Comargo as first base fill-ins if Freeman is not ready to go.
  • Felix Hernandez opts out of the 2020 season. 
  • Touki Toussaint tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently asymptomatic. 
  • Will Smith tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently asymptomatic. 
  • Cole Hamels threw his third bullpen on Friday. Looks like he’s en route to be ready by Opening Day. 

Fantasy Takeaway:

  • Freddie Freeman is progressing but we are still unaware at the timeline. He is stronger today but this virus affects people differently and we need to be mindful of that. He now slips to the third or fourth round at the very least until we see him trending towards playing Opening Day. I would bet against him being fully ready as of now with talks of fill-ins as well.
  • Speaking of fill-ins, Duvall seems like the obvious fit but Riley would be a good fit as well. Riley should be playing everyday between third base and first base regardless. He is someone I expect to be up from the start now and should help in the power categories.
  • King Felix appeared to be inline to grab the 5th starter spot but with him opting out, we can see Kyle Wright or Sean Newcomb, among others, step in as the fifth starter on this team. Both names are interesting and are worth grabbing in 15 team leagues or deeper and could be good streaming options in shallower formats.
  • Will Smith is asymptomatic and that should help him remain in shape and throwing while he’s in quarantine from the team. That is assuming no symptoms arise or he has any setbacks. I would drop him slightly in relief pitcher ranks just in case.
  • Cole Hamels on his third bullpen already is a great sign of health. Although the best days are clearly behind him, that changeup can still be effective and he can still provide your rotation some help on the back end.

NL Central

St. Louis Cardinals

Notes:

  • Carlos Martinez and Alex Reyes have both been absent from early summer camp workouts. They could be “compromised” for the start of the season per president John Mozeliak. 
  • Giovanny Gallegos has tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • Paul Goldschmidt stated his elbow is 100%. 

Fantasy Takeaways:

  • Car Mart and Alex Reyes were in the running as potential closers in the short season with Jordan Hicks opening the season on the IL. Now it is a toss up. We aren’t sure of the issue but we tend to assume it is COVID related. This is a situation to monitor.
  • Speaking of Cardinals closer, Gallegos was thought to have the inside track with the Hicks news but now he is someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and his status is also being monitored. This bullpen is a complete mess. I would just avoid it or take my shot on Gallegos if he does fall a bit.
  • Goldy is healthy but I was not really in on him and still am not. He has been on a steady decline in a few different areas over the last couple seasons. Add in that he does not steal, he doesn’t have anything that stands out about his skill set and he just continues to slot towards the back end of my top 10 at the first base position.

Milwaukee Brewers

Notes:

  • Brewers pitching coach Chris Hook on Sunday would not commit to Corey Knebel (elbow) being ready for Opening Day. He could be ready but the Brewers will be cautious with workload.

Fantasy Takeaway

  • This adds some confidence to Hader’s usage as the primary closer entering the seaosn but regardless, I do not like banking on saves from a guy coming off Tommy John and could start off slow in the process. With less time to recover from bad ratios, chasing saves in this situation could prove risky and should be avoided if possible. With that said, if you need cheap saves this is a guy to target for a handful because I believe he ultimately grabs a few.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Notes:

  • Joe Musgrove states he feels much better now than he did this spring. He apparently felt worn down after those Spring Training starts and it could’ve explained the struggles he had. 

Fantasy Takeaway:

  • Joe Musgrove was looking rough in spring training and it is great to hear he is feeling better. He was better in a full season in my opinion, but I still really like him in this shortened season. I want to see how he adjusts his game with the new pitching coaches there as well. I would still peg Musgrove as a top 50-ish starting pitcher.

Cincinnati Reds

Notes:

  • Trevor Bauer has the potential to start every fourth day. 
  • Eugenio Suarez’s shoulder is 100% healthy. 
  • Nick Senzel’s shoulder is 100 percent healed. 

Fantasy Takeaway:

  • I have a hard time buying into the report on Bauer pitching every 4th day. With that said, it came from the pitching coach himself and it is Bauer we are talking about here. If there is any truth to this, he could be a tremendous value. He could win you strikeouts and be a huge boost to wins in a short season. Not to mention, we still know Bauer can be fantastic or blow up as well in terms of ratios but the innings he would scoop up starting every 4th game is huge and difference making to any fantasy team that rosters him.
  • Suarez and Senzel being healthy was expected. they are both not moving much in ranks and with Aquino being placed on the 30 player taxi squad and the implementation of the DH, that should get Senzel everyday playing time. Suarez being healthy makes him a solid, big power, four category producer in the middle of the early rounds and I see him as a solid value.

Chicago Cubs

Notes:

  • Yu Darvish has a new pitch, a two-seam/ splitter hybrid, in camp on Sunday. He calls it “The Supreme”. 

Fantasy Takeaway:

  • Darvish gonna Darvish. He did not need an 11th pitch. Although, if it proves effective he will likely add it to his arsenal and that could make him even more effective. With Darvish it is simply about the control. The skills are never a question.

NL WEST

Colorado Rockies

Notes:

  • Brendan Rodgers shoulder is “full go”.
  • Small update on Charlie Blackmon. He will not be available for the beginning of summer camp and will be in quarantine for a bit longer. No information on if he is showing symptoms. 

Fantasy Takeaways:

  • The Rockies are a pain to deal with. Rodgers is healthy and will further muddy the waters of the situation there.
  • Blackmon is still not ready to report and we are unsure when he will be. Anyone with COVID does take a small ding in value and we just need more info to proceed further.

San Diego Padres

Notes:

  • Kirby Yates not currently at summer camp due to a COVID-19 related family issue. Will do intake testing on Monday and Tuesday.

Fantasy Takeaway:

  • Nothing to say here until we get his results. Be mindful he may have been exposed but the test will answer if he has it soon enough. Hoping for health here of course.

San Francisco Giants

Notes:

  • Buster Posey arrived to camp Saturday. Have heard mention he is or has considered opting out.

Fantasy Takeaway:

  • Posey is obviously not what he used to be, but in 15 team leagues or two catcher formats, he still had value. I would just move him down draft boards and pivot to a different catcher as your second catcher in the formats and keep an eye on Bart. If teams can bring up players after roughly a week without losing a year, maybe we do see Bart up for a shot after the time for him has passed.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Notes:

  • Clayton Kershaw, Ross Stripling and Alex Wood have already thrown three inning simulated games. This could or should lean towards starters being stretched out in time for Opening Day. 
  • Ross Stripling said Sunday he’d be ready to go six innings by the start of the season. 
  • Kenley Jansen and A.J. Pollock have not reported to summer camp yet. Pollock is expected to report soon. Details around Jansen are not as clear. 
  • Walker Buehler said he will face hitters for the first time next week, calling himself traditionally a “slow starter”.
  • David Price opts out of the 2020 season. 

Fantasy Takeaway:

  • Kershaw, Stripling and Wood seem to be on track to be able to throw five innings on opening week. I know earlier reports suggest less but I don’t see them holding them back if they’ve safely ramped up by then. 
  • Stripling separately mentioned he’d be ready for six innings come Opening Day. I peg him as the favorite to grab a rotation spot with David Price opting out. The opt out also could open up chances for Tony Gonsolin or Dustin May. They gave Gonsolin some run last year and although we all want May, it could very well be Gonsolin getting the first shot if one arises. I still see both behind Stripling in terms of opportunity for the final rotation spot. 
  • Jansen is a bit concerning. It’s leaning towards the assumption of possibly having COVID. He was a closer I really came around on targeting in draft season as I viewed him as a safe bet for saves. Now it’s a bit of a question mark and you should tread lightly. 
  • Pollock will be reporting soon and then have to clear testing. Nothing to add here. 

Arizona Diamond Backs

Notes:

  • Madison Bumgarner threw 35-to-40 pitches of live batting practice Saturday. This was the first day after reporting for summer camp.

Fantasy Takeaway:

  • Not too bad for his first day back to camp. I expect Mad Bum to be ready to roll come Opening Day. He should still get you roughly a K per inning, maybe a tick less, and pitch five to six innings per start rather quickly. I am still a little lower on him. Even though he has the innings, which holds value, it could come with rough ratios and the lackluster K rate could hinder his upside as well.

AL EAST

Tampa Bay Rays

Notes:

  • Tyler Glasnow won’t face any workload restrictions in 2020 
  • Jose Alvarado stated he feels 100%. 
  • Austin Meadows was not present for either Saturday’s or Sunday’s summer camp sessions. This was after attending the first one Friday.
  • Jose Martinez missed the Rays first summer camp workout on Friday. Undisclosed reason. 

Fantasy Takeaway:

  • Glasnow not facing restrictions is huge. He has jumped into my top 15 starting pitchers. We saw how amazing he can be in a small sample last year and now he gets the same small sample this year. Add the fact he added a splitter to the arsenal and we could be on the brink of the full blown breakout. If he finished top 10 at the position, no one should be surprised. He is a dark horse Cy Young award candidate.
  • Jose Alvarado back to being healthy this year I expect him him to slide in and grab a handful of saves in what’s become a likely three-headed monster between Alvarado, Castillo and, of course, Nick Anderson.
  • Meadows news is interesting and concerning. Is there an injury? Is it COVID related? Is it absolutely nothing? We just don’t know but we need to watch out for any potential news here.
  • Jose Martinez missed the first workout and, again, we just assume it’s COVID related and until we’re told otherwise, we lean towards that assumption. He isn’t mix league relevant and he might’ve been slated to be on the short side of a platoon as is. I don’t see much value in Martinez outside of AL only formats this season.

Baltimore Orioles

Notes:

  • DJ Stewart is a “full go” for the season. He’s on track to be 100% after recovering from microfracture surgery  on his ankle. Will be battling for the everyday LF spot. 

Fantasy Takeaway:

  • This is only AL only relevant. Maybe draft and holds as well. I wouldn’t get overly excited here.

Boston Red Sox

Notes:

  • Kevin Pillar expected to start against lefties.
  • Eduardo Rodriguez is absent from camp after being exposed to someone with COVID-19. Still waiting on results. 

Fantasy Takeaways:

  • Although I have him on no teams, Pillar was often a player I viewed as a 5th outfield type in 15 team leagues who offered some cheap speed. Hearing he will likely play on the weak side of a platoon kills any possible value he had. In a short year, or any year, a short side platoon is tough to roster. Playing time is key and if he isn’t getting it, I’d look elsewhere.
  • E-Rod has been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Not sure if he’s symptomatic or is positive for it yet. We are waiting for more news on it.

Toronto Blue Jays

Notes:

  • Blue Jays Manager, Ross Atkins, was non-committal when asked about chances of Nate Pearson breaking camp with the team on Opening Day.

Fantasy Takeaway:

  • This shouldn’t surprise anyone. Just as they did with Vlad, I expect them to play the manipulation game with Pearson. Apparently if a player accumulated less than 62 days at the major league level then teams can call them up and get the extra year of service time. This equates to roughly a week of being in the minors so at his price, if he’s missing a start or two it would be worth taking a shot on him. It’s not a guarantee but I am speculating he’s up this year.

New York Yankees 

Notes:

  • Gerrit Cole had his child over the weekend. Should not affect his Opening Day status.
  • James Paxton threw a simulated game on Sunday. No setbacks reported.
  • DJ LeMahieu and Luis Cessa tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Masahiro Tanaka took a liner off the head from Giancarlo Stanton. He did walk off after several minutes with assistance. Has since been diagnosed with a mild concussion.
  • Mike Tauchman & Clint Frazier in the mix for an OF role.

Fantasy Takeaways:

  • Tauchman and Frazier are depth pieces who require some other names to be hurt to get full run. I don’t have much interest in them right now. Judge may not be ready but I’d expect the rest to be and I also have Andujar getting the playing time in the OF ahead of these two.
  • Cole had his child. Congrats to the new father. With that said, he can return to camp soon, won’t miss any time and will pick up in his prep where he left off. All systems seem to be a go.
  • Paxton is healthy and ready to roll. He isn’t coming back from a baseball related injury so I don’t have much concern outside the usual injury risk with him. The skill set plays up compared to his current draft price and I’d take him as my third starting pitcher every time.
  • Good news! Tanaka has been released from the hospital and was diagnosed with a mild concussion. He took a 112 MPH Stanton line drive off the head. Ouch. Glad that he’s ok and should be back as soon as he can pass the concussion protocol.

AL CENTRAL

Chicago White Sox

Notes:

  • Carlos Rodon threw a three-inning simulated game on Sunday. No setbacks noted.
  • Michael Kopech not in camp for personal matters. No timetable on when he will show up. 

Fantasy Takeaway:

  • Kopech is M.I.A. And it’s unknown as to why. With so many arms there and him coming off TJ, I’m concerned we see him as an Opener for a good portion of the season and that hinders him greatly in 2020.
  • Carlos Rodon is still young and that potential still remains. He’s already throwing Three-inning simulated games and could be another pitcher relegated to opening or piggybacking off another starter in a long relief role. I’m very intrigued to see what the White Sox do with this rotation.

Kansas City Royals

Notes:

  • Salvador Perez positive for COVID-19. He is asymptomatic as of now. 

Fantasy Takeaway:

  • Being asymptomatic is always preferable. As long as they remain that way. That allows the player to remain in playing shape and doing drills on their own. Again, assuming they remain healthy as they have recover from it. He is still a top 10 catcher for me but as soon as he comes back he’d jump up to the 6th best catcher for me.

Cleveland Indians

Notes:

  • Shane Bieber will remain Cleveland’s opening day starter. 
  • Carlos Carrasco says he is ready to go and is already built up to pitch six innings. 

Fantasy Takeaway:

  • Bieber is still a stud and should be drafted as one. Great division to pitch in and should go deep into games sooner than later.
  • Carrasco not only opting to play in 2020 but states he’s built up to pitch six innings is amazing to hear. Francona is known to let his pitchers pitch deep into games and if a Carrasco proved to be healthy and built up, I bet he gets to go out there and do his thing. I still am wary of the health issues that could arise with his medical history but the upside is there and at his ADP he could provide good draft day value and return on investment.

Minnesota Twins

Notes:

  • Miguel Sano positive for COVID-19. Unknown severity.
  • Willians Astudillo tested positive for COVID-19 he is asymptomatic 
  • Rich Hill threw a successful bullpen session Friday afternoon. “It didn’t look like he was holding anything back.” Per Twins President Derek Falvey. Appears to be a full go for Opening Day 2.0. 

Fantasy Takeaway:

  • Sano is dealing with personal issues beyond the virus. Adding this to his plate is a lot for one person to deal with and there a whole mental aspect of this we may not be considering enough. We don’t have details on his current status and just need to wait and see.
  • Astudillo wasn’t someone I was targeting in a shortened season. He had some appeal as a third catcher in two catcher formats over a long season but over a short season I just don’t see much fantasy value.
  • A healthy Rich Hill is awesome but typically short lived. With his elbow being held together by tape, it could give out any day. If there was ever a season to take a shot on the guy, it’s this one. He just needs to hold it together for 60 games and he could be so great. If the price gets pushed up too much then the risk outweighs the reward. Don’t reach on him but be mindful that he is buried in the ADP still and can be had for cheap if your draft room isn’t paying attention.

AL WEST

Houston Astros 

Notes:

  • Josh James is expected to join the Astros soon. He was tending to a personal matter not related to COVID-19.
  • Jose Urquidy isn’t at Astros camp due to an undisclosed “condition” per Dusty Baker. 
  • Yordan Alvarez is not in camp yet due to “league mandates”. No specific answer and we should get used to that. 
  • Lance McCullers threw a live bullpen on Saturday. No setbacks noted. He said on Friday he feels great and having the extra downtime makes him feel even better. 

Fantasy Takeaway:

  • Urquidy and James were both looking to lock down spots in the rotation and both were assumed to have them but with Urquidy having an unknown issue and could be out for an unknown amount of time that could hurt his chances and may relegate him to a relief role or at the very least delay his ramp up time and get him off to a slow start.
  • McCullers is throwing bullpens and progressing nicely. I expect them to take their time with him but once he’s ramped up I expect 5 inning outings on a regular basis. His draft price isn’t being pushed up like Luzardo and Uriah’s and there’s still some value at his ADP. It’s all about health here and he could be worth the gamble as he seems to be on the right track.
  • Yordan’s knees were already a concern now add in possibly coming in and being behind on conditioning. Good thing he’s likely the everyday DH so he won’t require as much conditioning as a typical player. Hope all is well but my confidence in drafting him at his current ADP isn’t what it once was.

Texas Rangers

Notes:

  • Jose Leclerc could be utilized in more in multi-inning situations.

Fantasy Takeaway:

  • This slightly hurts his potential for getting all the save opportunities. In such a short season, saves as a whole will be tough to truly get a grasp of and any talk of who was supposed to be the “closer” getting utilized as something else does hurt the value even if it’s just a small amount.

Oakland Athletics

Notes:

  • Jesus Luzardo status is “pending”. A’s are still awaiting the COVID-19 results for Luzardo. Mike Fiers has also been absent from summer camp. 

Fantasy Takeaway:

  • The A’s as a whole have delayed test results and it’s causing issues for them to get camp rolling. Not sure if it’s COVID related or test results just delayed. Let’s hope for it is just a delay.

Los Angeles Angels

Notes:

  • Mike Trout has been in camp, but is still not 100% certain he will remain there and has mentioned he is considering opting out. This is largely based on his concern for the well being of his family and child on the way.
  • Griffin Canning says his right elbow “feels like normal” and feels “10 times better” than it did during spring training. He has already built up to throw 60 pitches as well.
  • Julio Teheren has not arrived at camp yet. Undisclosed reasons at this time. 
  • Andrew Heaney is locked in as the Opening Day starter.

Fantasy Takeaway:

  • Trout is a hot topic and between him missing what could be at least a week as is if he only misses the time for his child birth and the talks of opting out, he becomes a big time draft day risk. I cannot take him in the first round comfortably for the first time and it pains me to say it. I totally understand his concerns and if he opts out I also understand that and have zero issue with it. But in terms of fantasy, it’s just too much unnecessary risk to take in the first round. It could pay off huge if he falls but it could cripple your team as well and there’s no coming back from that loss in production in a short season.
  • Canning being healthy and feeling like normal is great news. He was a player a lot of analysts out the breakout tag on. He still could show us flashes this year but being a part of what’s said to be a six man rotation it will limit his potential and with the start totals taking a hit, that places a hit to his value. No two start weeks and roughly 3 starts less than any other start will really cap what he can offer.
  • Heaney is in the same boat as Canning. Heaney I really like but with less starts and no two start weeks, I cannot see myself drafting him outside of daily formats. He is mix league relevant but you need to realize the limitations he comes with.
  • Teheren is on the COVID watch list. He hasn’t reported and there’s nothing saying he has it but, as with previous players, it is the assumption at this point. He was a fringe top 100 arm at best and this definitely drops him out of there. He is only 15 team or deeper relevant for now. Ultimately, I just hope all these players are healthy and will return soon.

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