Yes. Yes, it is.
I’m sure our Pitcher List graphics expert Justin Paradis thought I was having a heat stroke (shout out to Justin for his outstanding work all season long, check out more of his stuff on Twitter, @JustParaDesigns) when I told him who I was choosing for my graphic, but both guys are legitimate streaming options that I’m excited about this week.
Sánchez hasn’t been fantasy relevant since before he was traded away by the Yankees while Teheran has made just 13 major league appearances with three different teams since leaving Atlanta after the 2019 season. Every year unexpected names come out of the woodwork to make a fantasy impact and 2023 is no different. Fantasy managers have to look past their biases and find the players that will benefit their teams the most… even if it makes them feel like they’re time-travelling.
Welcome to June. Fantasy baseball is about to get weird.
Five teams will take the field every day this week as the Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Houston Astros, Milwaukee Brewers and Toronto Blue Jays each play seven games while the Seattle Mariners play just five times, with off days on Monday and Thursday (so try to avoid suiting up Seattle hitters in the early week segment of NFBC leagues).
SEVEN GAMES: CHC, CIN, HOU, MIL, TOR
FIVE GAMES: SEA
Investment Rating System
Nolan Jones ($$$): It may be too late to scoop Jones after he debuted early last week. Since being recalled, he’s batting .318 (7-for-22) entering the weekend series with a home run and four RBI. The eight strikeouts are slightly concerning, but he plays six games in Coors this week… sooooo… the bat plays.
Jordan Walker ($$$): Finally back in the majors after what seemed like an eternity (but in reality was only a few short weeks), Walker is poised to make an impact in the Cardinals’ outfield. With Tyler O’Neill and Lars Nootbaar on the IL, Walker will have ample opportunity but will need to make the most of it if he wants this trip to the majors to be more than just a cameo.
Brenton Doyle ($$): A little speed, a little pop, and six games at Coors. Seriously, that’s all it takes to be a roster-worthy outfielder in 15-team leagues.
Akil Baddoo ($$): Compared to last season, Baddoo has shown significant improvements in his plate discipline, walking at a career-high 14.3% clip while reducing his strikeout rate to a career-low 19.0%. Though his hard contact numbers could use some improvement, Baddoo has found ways to get on base and has enough speed to make an impact on the basepaths.
Jesús Sánchez ($$): It seems like the weekly FAAB Insights article is incomplete without listing at least one Miami Marlins outfielder. The flavor of this week is Jesús Sánchez, with his absurd .409 xWOBA and his career-high 14.5% barrel rate. Sanchez has started 5-for-10 with a home run since his return from the IL and looks like a legit middle-of-the-order bat for the Marlins. He’s the perfect left-handed complement to protect Jorge Soler in the lineup.
Willi Castro ($): Last week I said this about Castro: “It’s hard to imagine he’ll be fantasy relevant once the Twins get healthy.” Well, Willi might be playing his way into the lineup after a solid week from the plate. Entering Friday, Castro was 5-for-10 with five runs, an RBI and a stolen base in three games played. Eligible at third base and outfield, he’s still worth a cheap add, assuming he stays in the lineup.
Pavin Smith ($): Batting leadoff in the majority of games for the Diamondbacks, Smith has a clear path to at-bats for the time being. As long as Arizona doesn’t call up left-handed outfielders Alek Thomas or Dominic Fletcher, Smith should see regular at-bats at the top of the order.
Royce Lewis ($$$): Royce Lewis was hyped up pretty hard last season and looked very good in a handful of major league at-bats before a season-ending injury. In just under a year, he earned the call back to the Twins and has already made an impact with his bat. Through four games, Lewis has already swatted a pair of home runs and should continue to see regular at-bats in the Minnesota lineup.
Mauricio Dubón ($$): If Dubon was dropped when Jose Altuve returned to action, it may be time to scoop him back up. Altuve is back on the sideline with a hamstring issue, and the Astros are operating cautiously with the franchise star. Dubon should see ample opportunity at second base in his stead, and may also get reps in the outfield even if Altuve returns. He’s productive, especially when hitting at the top of the Houston lineup.
Kiké Hernández ($): A low-rostered solid veteran bat in the middle of a Boston lineup that has scored the fourth-most runs in MLB, Hernandez should be picked up in nearly every 15-team league. Boston is one of the few teams playing seven games this coming week, and “Kiké” will likely feature in at least six of them. Fire up the veteran bat and hope he gets hot.
Jon Singleton ($): Formerly a highly-touted prospect in the Astros’ organization, Singleton is getting the call for the Brewers who have shuffled through first basemen like hotcakes so far this season. Singleton has moderate power and a decent amount of swing-and-miss history, but his plate discipline helped him to a solid .375 OBP a year ago in Triple-A. He’ll be cheap and he might get at-bats in the middle of a decent lineup.
Harold Castro ($): The ultimate utility bat for fantasy managers, Castro has stepped into a starting role with the injury to Kris Bryant (and C.J. Cron). With six games at home, any full-time Rockies player is probably worth a cheap add this week.
Connor Joe ($): A regular in the Pirates’ lineup for the past two weeks, he could see a slight drop in opportunity with the return of Carlos Santana. However, he’s a lineup lock against lefties, and the Pirates are scheduled to face at least two left-handed starters from the Oakland rotation.
Gary Sánchez ($$): Seriously, what year is it? Sánchez has started all four games since arriving in San Diego and homered in two of them. The Padres play their weekend series in Coors. It’s a perfect storm for The Kraken.
Patrick Bailey ($): Entering the weekend series against the Orioles, Bailey had recorded more at-bats than counterpart Blake Sabol, even with Sabol getting action in the outfield. With three games at Coors this week, Bailey is a solid streaming option.
Blake Sabol ($): Three games in Coors and all of them opposing a (scheduled) right-handed starter? You could do a lot worse.
Darick Hall ($): He’s headed to Triple-A Lehigh Valley to continue his rehab assignment, but the Phillies may be in need of a corner infielder sooner than later with Alec Bohm suffering an injury recently. Hall did not do much for fantasy owners who drafted him before heading to the IL, but perhaps the warmer weather will warm up his bat. He’s got power to spare, but it hasn’t translated at the big-league level so far this year.
Braxton Garrett ($$$): Likely unavailable in 15-team leagues, Braxton Garrett has one of the best two-step slots of the week with projected starts at home against the Kansas City Royals on Monday and then a matchup with a White Sox offense that has really struggled later in the week. Garrett ranks Top 10 in the majors with a 32.3% CSW and owns a 54.7% ground ball rate as well.
Michael Soroka ($$$): Nobody needs a reminder about how good Soroka used to be. He didn’t quite look like the same guy in his long-awaited return, but the numbers indicate that he basically is, except that he used his changeup at nearly double the rate that he had in any of his past seasons, up to 28% in his first start. The results of the changeup were solid, including six whiffs on 23 pitches, but his bread and butter has always been the sinker. He peppered the zone with his sinker for a 95% strike rate and earned five of his 14 outs with the pitch. He’ll need to refine his mechanics to keep it more consistently down in the zone, but there were encouraging signs in Soroka’s first start back. Watch his start against Arizona on Sunday afternoon and keep him on your FAAB radar for this coming week’s outing against the Nationals.
Julio Teheran ($$): Guys, stop laughing. I’m serious! Teheran looked really good in his 2023 debut, before holding the vaunted Toronto Blue Jays lineup to just one run on four hits over six innings last week. Teheran went heavy on the sinker-slider mix, generating a 21.0% CSW and 61.1% ground ball rate on the sinker while recording a 28.6% CSW on the slider. He faces two of the weakest lineups in the league this week: at Cincinnati (where his ground ball rate should neutralize the ballpark factor at least slightly) and against Oakland. All right, now that you’ve bought in on Teheran… let’s get Dallas Keuchel back in the majors!
Johan Oviedo ($$): Oviedo is a two-start option for the coming week and should be able to pay off his pickup price in just one start. Using his slider at a 45% clip, Oviedo should do well against an Oakland lineup that has not hit well against right-handed sliders. If he can manage to not get blown up by the Mets later in the week, he’ll be an outstanding streaming value.
Mike Clevinger ($): Clevinger has been downright good in each of his last three outings, including a pair of quality starts and five shutout innings against Detroit his last time out. Strangely, he was pulled after just 73 pitches against the Tigers, perhaps something to watch. With upcoming matchups at the Yankees and at the Dodgers, fantasy managers will see if he’s actually improved or if he’s just picking on lackluster AL Central lineups with mediocre stuff.
DL Hall ($): The next Orioles’ pitching prospect in line for promotion, assuming Grayson Rodriguez is still working on his craft, Hall could come up as soon as this week with the Orioles yet to announce a starter for Saturday’s game at Kansas City. Hall saw major league action earlier this season as the 27th man in an April doubleheader against the Tigers. He pitched three innings and allowed two earned runs on five hits but rung up seven strikeouts. He’s a speculative add, but could make an impact if he sticks in the rotation, especially with the prolific Baltimore offense backing him.
Jason Adam ($$$): Pete Fairbanks is back on the IL, which clears the path for Adam to begin collecting saves again. With as much as the Rays are winning this season, Adam is a very solid add for saves in any format that he is available.
Liam Hendriks ($$$): Would you rather have the guy who is currently in the closer role for the White Sox or the guy who will be in the closer role in about two weeks? Kendall Graveman has the role now, but as soon as Hendriks looks even close to ready the ninth inning will be his once again. Hendriks recorded his first strikeout since his return on Saturday and if nothing else is exciting to watch.
Kendall Graveman ($): See above. Enjoy it while it lasts.
Hunter Harvey ($): Harvey has been one of the most consistently inconsistent pitchers in baseball so far this season, but the Nationals seem to like him in a high-leverage role out of the bullpen. Currently in a closer-by-committee situation opposite Kyle Finnegan, Harvey blew four saves out of seven chances in May but came back and earned a neat little save on Friday night. He hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last three outings, so fantasy managers (and the Nationals) can ride the hot hand.
Yency Almonte ($): Almonte may not factor into many save opportunities, but the Dodgers reliever has been rock solid over the last two weeks. In six outings, Almonte has allowed just two baserunners on one walk and one hit while ringing up seven strikeouts. It’s not sexy, but he could help bring down ratios if he keeps up the success.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)