The Thursday schedules for the rest of the season are really sparse, so for the last three 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) to say whether we think a player is “way up,” “up,” “even,” “down,” or “way down.”
- SP Clay Buchholz was a late scratch from yesterday’s start against the Rockies, with SP Matt Koch stepping in. Buchholz is dealing with stiffness in his right elbow, which is not good considering the variety of elbow issues he’s had in the past.
- Stock Watch: OF Ender Inciarte (ADP: 122) – Even: Inciarte is young enough to see potential growth in his already-valuable skill set, particularly in power categories with the Braves lineup improving drastically this year. He’s already an elite-level contributor in stolen bases when you factor in his production and consistency, and his batting average should bounceback next year to keep him as a high-end OF3 in 12-team leagues. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 112)
- SP Dylan Bundy pitched his first quality start since August 4 yesterday, limiting the Orioles to two runs on six hits and no walks over six innings, striking out eight. He’ll finish out his season with a one-start week next week against the Blue Jays, then a two-start week at the Red Sox and home for Houston.
Boston Red Sox
- SS/3B/OF Eduardo Nunez left last night’s game due to right knee soreness after going 1-for-2 with a double. Nunez has been dealing with knee issues since spring training, which explains some of his struggles this season. He’ll sit out at least tonight’s game against the Mets.
- RP Pedro Strop suffered a hamstring injury in the 10th inning of yesterday’s win against the Nationals, and his regular season is almost definitely over based on manager Joe Maddon’s comments. RP Brandon Morrow won’t be back until next week at the earliest, so if we had to pursue saves here, we’d add RP Jesse Chavez.
Chicago White Sox
- Stock Watch: OF Avisail Garcia (ADP: 199) – Down: He’s starting to find a mix of something that’s made his power come out, as he’s boosted his fly ball rate and hard-hit rate for three straight seasons. Still, he took way too much of a step back in batting average and overall plate discipline to gain people’s trust entering next season as anything more than a late-round, high-power lottery ticket. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 217)
- Stock Watch: 2B Scooter Gennett (ADP: 210) – Way Up: Elite batting average, emerging power in hitter-friendly ballpark, and his last season before a potentially huge free agent contract in winter 2019. All of that adds up to a lot of helium for Gennett, who should cut through some of the other noise at a deep position to move in to the top 100. His one downside is a lack of speed compared to other elite middle infielders. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 99)
- Stock Watch: SP Corey Kluber (ADP: 13) – Down: He’ll be 33 two weeks after Opening Day next season, and his strikeout percentage took a massive dip from 34.1 percent in 2017 to 25.6 this year. His hard-hit rate allowed also jumped from the 27-29 percent range between 2014-2017 to 36.3 percent this year. That said, the Indians will still be an elite team next year and Kluber is still incredibly safe, so we don’t expect him to fall much further than the late second/early third round range. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 25)
- OF David Dahl led off yesterday with OF Charlie Blackmon getting a day off, and Dahl took advantage with a three-hit day that included a double and two RBI.
- 3B Nolan Arenado hit his 34th home run of the season, a solo shot in the first inning, and also added a single and two runs scored in five at-bats. He’s OPS’ing .990 in September after posting his worst month of the season in August (a .795 OPS).
- Stock Watch: SP Michael Fulmer (ADP: 187) – Way Down: Injuries, lack of strikeouts, and a terrible team behind him will conspire to crush Fulmer’s spring value next year. But he’s taken a step forward in strikeout percentage and his changeup was an elite pitch this season, so he’ll still be a back-end starter for all 12-team leagues. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 264)
- Stock Watch: SP Lance McCullers (ADP: 118) – Even: This is the same question as last season – do owners have the ability to stomach McCullers’ increased injury risk? He’s the 54th ranked starting pitcher on ESPN’s Player Rater this year simply because he’s stuck in the same range of volume that he’s been for three of the last four years – 22 starts, between 118 and 126 innings. If you’re in a shallow league, McCullers is a great choice at this predicted ADP because it is easy to find replacement innings when he’s hurt. Otherwise, you’re passing up a potential league winner at your SP4 spot by taking McCullers’ limited upside. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 113)
Kansas City Royals
- After allowing six runs in 2 1/3 innings last time out, SP Heath Fillmyer bounced back to go 7 1/3 innings and earn a win last night against the Twins, striking out six. Fillmyer allowed five hits and one walk, leading to four earned runs. He continues to have fly ball problems that hurt him on the road, but Kauffman Stadium is the right home park to have for his kind of profile.
Los Angeles Angels
- OF Justin Upton snapped his power drought last night with a solo home run, also adding a single and a walk in three at-bats. It was Upton’s first homer since hitting them in back-to-back games on August 13 and 14.
Los Angeles Dodgers
- RP Kenley Jansen struggled last night, allowing two runs (one earned) on two walks and a single in an inning of work.
- 2B/SS/OF Chris Taylor stayed hot with a 2-for-5 day out of the leadoff spot, scoring twice and driving in one. He’s now slugging .857 in the last 15 days.
- 1B Peter O’Brien hit his first home run since being called up, and he started both ends of yesterday’s doubleheader. If O’Brien starts every game this weekend, he’s a boom-or-bust power source to consider in NL-only leagues for the last two weeks.
- Stock Watch: 3B Mike Moustakas (ADP: 141) – Way Down: Here are some guys who rank ahead of Moose on the ESPN Player Rate at third base: Jed Lowrie, Eduardo Escobar, and Jurickson Profar. Why? Because Moose is a homer/RBI source and nothing else. In today’s fantasy environment, that’s not exciting, and unless he lands an incredibly hitter-friendly park where he could potentially level up to a 35-homer guy, he’s going to fall next season behind more well-rounded options at third base. (Early 2019 ADP diction: 195)
- OF Jake Cave went 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI last night. He’s got hits in four straight games and is hitting .295 this month over 46 plate appearances, including three homers, seven RBI, and nine runs scored. Cave seems to have carved out a real case for a starting role to open next season.
New York Mets
- OF Michael Conforto went 3-for-8 over yesterday’s doubleheader, including a solo home run, a double, and four RBI. He’s had a fantastic month in the power categories, with six homers and 15 RBI in 52 at-bats.
New York Yankees
- Stock Watch: OF Giancarlo Stanton (ADP: 7) – Down: He’s played through some nagging injuries to remain a relatively-consistent source of value all season, ranking 13th among outfielders and 52nd overall on the Player Rater. This ADP prediction may seem generous, but there are still a lot of fantasy owners out there who place outsize value on getting surefire production from their first three or four picks. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 14)
- SP Brett Anderson was activated from the 10-day disabled list to make a start last night against the Orioles, getting hit hard over 3 1/3 innings. He allowed seven singles and a walk, leading to four earned runs, while only striking out two. Anderson has displayed great command when he’s been healthy, but the downside of that is that he’s been giving up more and more hits. He’s not worth owning in mixed leagues.
- Stock Watch: C Wilson Ramos (ADP: 164) – Up: Here’s how awful this position has been in 2018: Ramos has played less than 70 percent of his teams’ games this season and is still the number two producer at the position. His overall power growth looks real despite a scary-low 24.8 percent fly ball rate this year, and this season is a good reminder that he can be a very valuable player even when only giving you 105 or so games (that’s a projection since he’s at 97 now with about 15 games left in the season). (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 139)
- Stock Watch: SP Jameson Taillon (ADP: 169) – Way Up: He’s smashed his career-high in innings this season, sitting at 171 after throwing 133 2/3 last year. He turns 27 in November, and he has a deep prospect pedigree dating back to being the number two overall pick in 2010’s draft. That’s the recipe for a big jump in perceived value next season, especially when you consider his increased strikeout percentage and improvement on his fastball, as well as the strength of his newly-discovered slider. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 101)
San Diego Padres
- Stock Watch: 1B/3B/OF Wil Myers (ADP: 59) – Way Down: Adding third base eligibility, which Myers has now locked in for 2019 by playing 23 games there this year, gives Myers some value to make up for the fact that he was hurt again this season after two straight seasons of full health. At age 28, there will be some natural fear that Myers is more of an increased injury risk, but he’s still managed to almost hit double digits in homers and steals in just 281 plate appearances this season, and that upside will keep him right at the edge of the top 100. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 92)
San Francisco Giants
- Stock Watch: SP Madison Bumgarner (ADP: 74) – Way Even: MadBum dropped this year because of spring injury concerns, and we don’t expect him to get much higher next season because he’s getting older, the Giants are falling apart, and Bumgarner’s skills have slowly eroded with this year providing his lowest strikeout percentage (20.3 percent) since his rookie year in 2010 and his highest walk percentage (8.4 percent) of his career. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 80)
- DH Nelson Cruz went 2-for-4 last night with a three-run home run and two runs scored. He’s homered in back-to-back games and has 36 on the season, an impressive number considering he’s missed almost 20 games this year for various reasons.
St. Louis Cardinals
- 2B/3B/SS/OF Yairo Munoz has started the last two games after sitting twice to open the week, and he’s gone 3-for-8 with a walk, a double, and three runs scored over those contests. Munoz is a great play for owners looking to stabilize their batting average to close out the season – he’s 11-for-33 this month with only four strikeouts and four walks.
Tampa Bay Rays
- Stock Watch: SP Blake Snell (ADP: 178) – Way Down: This is an obvious one, and there are some signs that point to Snell getting some good luck on his side this year as he potentially backdoors his way to a Cy Young Award win. Still, the combination of prospect pedigree, clear development in the majors, a friendly home ballpark and a potentially up-and-coming team around him will conspire to push Snell in to the back-end SP1 draft range next year. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 43)
- Stock Watch: SP Mike Minor (ADP: 341) – Up: He’s moved past the hurdle of whether his arm can handle the workload as he converted back to a full-time starter. The Rangers are bad, they should be again next year, but Minor is a great choice as a streaming option to open the season when Arlington isn’t as hitter friendly a ballpark as it is in the brutally-hot Texas summers. (Early 2019 ADP Prediction: 323)
Toronto Blue Jays
- SS Lourdes Gurriel Jr. has been getting regular run in the top part of the Jays lineup since coming off the disabled list in late August. He led off yesterday and went 2-for-5 with a solo home run and two runs scored, giving him nine hits in his last seven games, with seven runs scored in that span.
- RP Sean Doolittle has allowed runs and multiple baserunners in two of his three outings since coming off the disabled list. He took the loss in yesterday’s extra-innings contest with the Cubs, allowing three hits and a run in 1 1/3 innings.