The Thursday schedules for the rest of the season are really sparse, so for the last five weeks of the 2018 slate, we’ll be using Thursdays to do some up/down stock watch pieces for those teams with off-days. We’ll be using 2018 average draft position data from the National Fantasy Baseball Championship’s 12-team leagues that were drafted between March 15 and March 30 this year (sample size of 108 leagues…we narrowed this from last week after considering the changes that happened in the first three weeks of spring training) to say whether we think a player is “way up,” “up,” “even,” “down,” or “way down.”
You can read the first version of Stock Watch here.
- OF Steven Souza Jr. led off for the second consecutive game, picking up two hits. Souza Jr. hadn’t been particularly sharp before his two-hit games yesterday and Wednesday, going 3-for-26 in his previous eight starts before getting the move up to leadoff.
- SS/3B Johan Camargo hit second last night for just the fourth time this season with OF Ender Inciarte, the recent regular number two hitter, getting a night off. It said a lot that Camargo was moved up and 2B Ozzie Albies stayed in the six hole in the order. Camargo had another big day, going 2-for-3 with a run scored.
- Stock Watch: SP Alex Cobb (ADP: 253) – Down: This may seem shocking consider Cobb’s overall terrible numbers this year, but we think enough savvy fantasy players are going to look past his brutal first half and give him the benefit of the doubt that he’ll be at least an average starter in 12-team mixed leagues next year when considering that he’ll get a full spring training to ramp up. We think he ends up going in the late 200s, where he’ll be a bench pitcher in most 12-team leagues. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 280)
Boston Red Sox
- SP Rick Porcello was not particularly sharp again, allowing four runs on eight hits and three walks in five innings against the White Sox. After his near perfect game against the Yankees on August 3, Porcello’s other five starts in the month saw him pitch a total of 28 innings to a 6.43 ERA.
- C Willson Contreras went 1-for-4 with a double and two RBI yesterday. Contreras has really struggled to find his power this season, but he has hit three doubles in his last six games.
Chicago White Sox
- SP Lucas Giolito struck out eight in 6 1/3 innings, allowing only two singles, two walks, and one run in an incredibly tough matchup at his hitter-friendly home ballpark against the Red Sox. That’s four consecutive quality starts for Giolito and eight quality starts in his last 10 outings dating back to July 8. He’s lowered his ERA from 6.59 to 5.66 in that span.
- SP Cody Reed got his first real chance to start and own a game this year, going 4 2/3 innings and allowing only one run on four hits and three walks. He struck out three and generated 10 groundball outs to just one flyball out. Reed has been good in August, working 14 1/3 innings over eight appearances and allowing only four earned runs (2.51 ERA) and striking out 11.
- RP Brad Hand worked the ninth inning yesterday with RP Cody Allen setting him up. Allen was better than he was in his meltdown on Wednesday, though he was only asked to work 2/3 of an inning, and he did walk a batter. Hand struck out three batters in closing out the ninth, but he did allow a solo home run and a walk.
- SP German Marquez was dominant on the road again, this time in San Diego, striking out 13 in eight innings and allowing only two runs on a triple, a single, and a walk. In eight starts since the All-Star Break, Marquez has thrown 54 2/3 innings and allowed only seven earned runs (1.15 ERA), striking out 67.
- 1B/2B Niko Goodrum went 4-for-5 with a home run and a stolen base, his 14th and 10th of the season, respectively. He’s emerged as a solid top-20 option at second base in AL-only leagues and at age 26 he could be an interesting asset in fantasy for the next few seasons.
- 1B Yuli Gurriel went 0-for-3 yesterday, his third straight game without a hit. Gurriel was pretty mediocre in August, hitting .247 in 85 at-bats with only two homers and 10 RBI.
- C/DH Evan Gattis did not play again yesterday, his fourth straight day without a plate appearance.
Kansas City Royals
- Stock Watch: 2B/OF Whit Merrifield (ADP: 63) – Up: This is based solely on the scarcity of batting average and speed on the market right now, two categories where Merrifield ranks in the top 10 among all fantasy hitters right now based on the ESPN Player Rater. Merrifield will only be 30 to start next season and should have at least one more full season as an elite speed source. We think he goes in the late round four/early round five range. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 50)
Los Angeles Angels
- SP Shohei Ohtani will start for the Angels as a pitcher on Sunday against Houston, his first time on the mound for the Halos since June 6. He’ll be on a strict pitch count and shouldn’t be started in any format yet.
Los Angeles Dodgers
- SP Rich Hill was sharp for the first four innings of his outing yesterday, shutting out Arizona, but he gave up a three-run home run with two outs in the fifth inning and didn’t get to start the sixth. He struck out seven and allowed six hits in addition to those three runs.
- Stock Watch: C J.T. Realmuto (ADP: 124) – Way Up: Realmuto is probably the number one catcher on our list heading in to the offseason thanks to his track record and the injury woes with Yankees C Gary Sanchez and Giants C Buster Posey. Realmuto’s power spike looks sustainable, and he’s produced more than enough in the team-dependent categories like RBI and R to believe that he’s good enough to overcome what will likely be another poor Marlins squad. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 60)
- RPs Joakim Soria and Josh Hader each bounced back from rough outings on Wednesday to earn the win and the save on Thursday, respectively. Soria worked a scoreless 10th inning to earn his first win as a Brewer, and Hader worked the 11th after the Brewers took the lead and was perfect, earning his 11th save.
- 3B Miguel Sano went 1-for-4 with a home run and two strikeouts yesterday. After showing some positive signs at the plate when he first came back up in late July, Sano has gone 7-for-47 (.149) in the last 15 days, striking out 20 times.
New York Mets
- Stock Watch: SS Amed Rosario (ADP: 262) – Even: Similar to Merrifield, this has a lot to do with our belief that the market will have a major scare put in to it regarding scarcity of speed. Rosario has elite sprint speed that gives credence to his recent boost in SBs, and his defense is good enough at a young age to believe the Mets will give him everyday playing type despite his bat’s slow development. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 250)
New York Yankees
- OF Andrew McCutchen was traded to the Yankees in exchange for a Triple-A prospect. McCutchen may not get as much playing time as he did in San Francisco, but he is going to a far superior hitters park and should remain solid in all categories.
- SP Frankie Montas wasn’t helped by his defense in his first start since July 29, allowing seven runs but only four earned in six innings. He settled down after a rough first two innings and overall allowed eight hits and two walks, striking out four.
- Stock Watch: 1B Carlos Santana (ADP: 182) – Way Down: Santana’s never been a big batting average producer, with a contact rate than has been somewhere between 80.7 and 82.6 percent for six straight seasons now, an absurdly narrow range of outcomes. But we think the market may overrate his drop from a high-.250s/low-.260s hitter in the last few seasons to the .222 average he has entering Thursday’s action, especially with the growth in HR/RBI needed to win categories and the lack of elite numbers Santana provides there. We expect him to be a nice buying opportunity at our predicted ADP. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 305)
- 2B Josh Harrison remained relegated to pinch-hitting duty yesterday, with 2B Kevin Newman getting the start in his place. Newman still hasn’t been allowed to find a rhythm at the plate since being called up, playing in 10 games but only getting 23 plate appearances. Harrison struggled to run to first base in his pinch-hit appearance on Wednesday and looks unlikely to return to the starting lineup this weekend.
San Diego Padres
- 2B Luis Urias is hitting second in the order in his first three starts with the big club. He’s gone 3-for-12 with a double, a run scored, and a steal.
San Francisco Giants
- Stock Watch: OF Andrew McCutchen (ADP: 101) – Down: McCutchen is actually the 67th ranked hitter in fantasy this year for roto leagues, but unless he lands in a splashy market or in a clear hitter’s park, we think he’ll be downgraded next season with the influx of new outfield talent. This is another buying opportunity for a veteran who we think has at least one or two strong seasons left in the categories he’s always been helpful in. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 135)
- OF Mitch Haniger hit his 23rd home run of the season yesterday, capping off a great August in which he hit over .350 with an OPS close to 1.000. That’s a great bounceback after he posted a .618 OPS in 80 plate appearances in July.
St. Louis Cardinals
- SP John Gant was very good over 5 2/3 innings yesterday to earn his third win in six starts in August. He didn’t allow a run and gave up just three hits and three walks, striking out six. Gant showed some growth in August, throwing 32 2/3 innings overall with a 3.03 ERA and 28 strikeouts to 12 walks.
Tampa Bay Rays
- Stock Watch: OF Mallex Smith (ADP: 251) – Up: Speed risers, part 3. Smith, though, is much more like Merrifield than Rosario, with a rapidly-improving approach at the plate that saw him make August 2018 the best month of his career, with a 1.045 OPS, more walks (12) than strikeouts (10), and nine stolen bases in just 84 plate appearances. The only reason Smith isn’t a “way up” is because we think the market will be a little worried about his playing time ceiling in what is shaping to be a crowded Tampa Bay outfield. That might be wishful thinking, though – remember, Texas OF Delino DeShields was going in the 130-140 range late in spring training this year, with no real strong track record and simply the promise of everyday playing time to show off his elite speed. Smith is going to enter next season with a great second half and a skill that very few fantasy options have, making him a likely high riser in March. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 220)
- Stock Watch: SP Elvis Andrus (ADP: 61) – Way Down: The 46th-ranked shortstop based on ESPN’s Player Rater this season is going to take a huge fall thanks to more talent coming in to the market at the position. But Andrus just turned 30 this week and has shown top-50 overall upside when healthy, so we suggest keeping an eye on him in September to see how he looks at the plate. He could be another veteran value in March. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 120)
Toronto Blue Jays
- Stock Watch: SP Aaron Sanchez (ADP: 171) – Way Down: The myriad finger problems that have plagued Sanchez – blisters, suitcase-crushed fingers, etc. – all have one thing in common: they aren’t elbow or shoulder injuries that would justify fear in a pitcher losing stuff or talent. Sanchez may be brought along slowly next season after two full seasons without a workload, but he’s still only going to be 26, so another like 2016, where he finished 7th in the AL Cy Young voting, could easily be in order. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 290)
- Stock Watch: SP Max Scherzer (ADP: 8) – Up: This is a bet that the market will label Scherzer the top starter over newer options with only one season as an ace (Aaron Nola, Blake Snell, Trevor Bauer, Gerrit Cole), older options with injury questions (Chris Sale, Corey Kluber, Clayton Kershaw), or high-end aces on bad teams (Jacob deGrom). (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 5)