“Who freaking cares.” That’s the question I asked myself as I sat down to write the 1,000th bold prediction article that you’re going to see this coming week. Listen, I love those types of articles. But me writing another bold predictions piece is basically like taking a piss in the ocean. It may feel good and be kind of exciting, but it ultimately gets lost in the vast ecosystem and means absolutely nothing. For my last article of the pre-season, I want to at least give you something actionable. That’s why this week we’ll be looking ahead at favorable early-season matchups for both hitters and pitchers, which hopefully will help you get off to a nice start in your fantasy leagues. Hold on a sec, let me go take a piss (in a toilet bowl) and then we’ll get right to it.
Projected: @Seattle, vs. Colorado, @Miami, @Philadelphia, vs. Colorado
Projected: @San Diego, vs. Colorado, @ Miami, vs. Miami, vs. Colorado
We don’t know for sure how the Giants will line up their rotation, but it’s likely that DeSclafani and Webb will pitch the third and fourth games of the season. Not only do I look at this this early schedule and feel all tingly inside, but I actually think both of these pitchers have the potential to be solid season-long contributors for your fantasy squads. Let’s talk Webb for a second. Wolverine is absolutely showing out in Spring Training, as he has 17 strikeouts vs. 1 walk in 11 innings thus far. According to this article, Webb has reduced his fastball usage and is relying more on his off-speed stuff this Spring. Listen, I understand that it’s Spring Training and we can’t get too crazy with that ridiculously small sample. But as I mentioned in last week’s column about NFBC Draft Strategy, we can’t just sit around anymore and wait for a large enough sample. The cost is nothing, and I feel confident that Webb is going to at least provide serviceable production for that first month of starts. The upside is that the 24-year-old, who plays half of his games in a fantastic pitcher’s park, takes a step forward in his development and becomes someone that you’re starting more often than not.
As for DeSclafani, he was injured last year, which is overshadowing the fact that he had a mini-breakout for the Reds in 2019. I trust in this Giants’ regime and believe that they can get Tony Disco back to where he was two years ago. Again, target him for these beautiful matchups, while holding out hope that there’s upside for more. Just a quick note: Stream the literal shit out of pitchers when they’re at home and facing the Rockies this season.
First 2 projected starts: @Detroit, vs Seattle
This one is actually a majestic 2-start week. Let’s also consider the fact that Happ will be pitching these games in Detroit and Minnesota, two cold-weather environments that will likely put him at an even further advantage. I’m not high on Happ as someone that you hang onto long-term, but I do think he can provide decent value in the right matchup. The other reason I bring up Happ is because it gives me an opportunity to segue into talking about one of my pre-season darlings. First name, Randy, last name, Dobnak. I was infatuated with him before Spring Training, so much so that I slid into Randy’s DMs and tried to land an interview with him for one of my articles. He never responded but trust me, there’s no love lost here. If anything, that adoration has increased after seeing his new slider induce 18 strikeouts in 13 innings so far this Spring. Dobnak doesn’t have a clear spot in the rotation at this moment, but there’s very little chance that the triumvirate of Pineda, Happ, and Shoemaker stay healthy for long. Shit, Dobnak may still nab that final rotation spot if he continues to shove in Spring Training and the maker of shoes continues to produce Starburys instead of Nikes (shout out to anybody who ever owned a Starbury sneaker). Pick Dobnak up immediately in deep leagues and keep him on your watch list in shallower formats.
First 4 projected starts: Pittsburgh, @Arizona, vs. Cleveland, @St. Louis
Our next stop is in Spin-Cinnati, where it looks like the Reds’ 4th/5th starter is going to be set up for a beautiful opening month of matchups. This rotation may get reconfigured once Michael Lorenzen and/or Sonny Gray return from injury, so just keep an eye on that. I think it’s safe to at least project Hoffman for the Pirates start and then I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s Lorenzen after that. Regardless, I’m a believer in what the Reds are doing with their pitchers so I’ll be keeping these guys on my waiver wire-speed dial throughout the year.
Here’s a quick word of advice for those of you who still have drafts coming up. I know that Sonny Gray is currently dealing with back spasms, but I think it makes sense to take advantage and draft him at his current discount. Remember people, we’re back to the long grind of a 6-month season, meaning that a pitcher missing a few starts isn’t the end of the world. We knew Gray wasn’t going to be throwing 200 innings anyway. Pick up one of these replacements for those first few starts to hold you over until Gray returns.
First 6 projected starts: vs. St Louis, @Atlanta, @San Francisco, vs San Francisco, @Washington, vs Arizona
I brought up Trevor Rogers in part 1 of my “Mapping out the Main Event” series from three weeks ago. At the time, I was planing to take a stab on him in round 28. Fat chance, Torres. Rogers has gotten all kinds of hype this Spring, causing his ADP to shoot through the roof. He’s going to be the Marlins’ 5th starter and he’s rocking a cool 13.7 K/9 in 19 innings so far this Spring. Not only does Rogers have the skills to be a potential break-out, but he also starts the season off with 5 glorious matchups. I’m not crazy about that road assignment against the Braves but the rest of those spots are absolute must-starts. Expect to see a lot of “Trevor Rogers, Rookie of the Year” talk after the first few months of the season.
First 2 projected starts: vs Pittsburgh, @Pittsburgh
This one is simple. The Pirates are fucking dreadful. I have no interest in holding onto Arrieta past these two starts, but I do think he’s a relatively safe option to start the season in NL-only and deep mixed leagues. Zach Davies is being drafted in most leagues but take note that he draws the Pirates in his first 2 starts as well.
Kiké Hernandez/Bobby Dalbec
Through May 11th: 10 games against Baltimore, 4 against Texas, 3 against Detroit
Red Sox manager Alex Cora confirmed that Kiké is going to start off the season as the Red Sox lead-off hitter, making the Red Sox second baseman a perfect guy to steam in your MI spot over the first five weeks of the season. Look at those matchups, y’all. The Orioles are so abysmal that they actually signed Matt Harvey to be their 5th starter, which officially makes their rotation more disgusting than Cinnamon Toast Crunch filled with shrimp tails. Just like we’ll be streaming the shit out of pitchers facing Road Rockies, we’re going to be taking full advantage of any hitter going up against the dregs of the Orioles rotation. I’m also eyeing Dalbec for those first five weeks, as I think there’s a high likelihood that he provides some massive power numbers while possibly even giving you a palatable batting average during that early stretch. Bank those stats and possibly look to move Bobby D once the schedule tightens up a bit. By the way, I better be hearing a lot of “JD’s back!” talk by the time we reach May or else I’m going to actually start having some real concern about Mr. Martinez.
Through May 20th: 23 games against combined against Toronto, Baltimore, Detroit, and Texas
As we know, I’m a huge injury risk snob. But anybody who’s actually read my articles (hi Mom) knows that I’m also a big context snob. And there’s no better context than hitting third in the middle of the Yankees’ lineup, especially when they start out with a glorious schedule like this. Is Hicks going to stay healthy the whole year? It’s doubtful. But he’s healthy now, and I’m more than happy to bank Hicks’ counting stats over the first month and a half (if he can even make it that far). If you still have a draft coming up and you like Clint Frazier, I think it makes sense to go back-to-back, belly-to-belly by drafting both Frazier and Hicks. There’s certainly a chance that both of those guys are profit picks even if nothing changes. However If Hicks gets hurt, that guarantees full-time at-bats for Frazier and moves him up in the lineup.
Another Yankee that I’ll be paying close attention to in the season’s opening month is Gary Sanchez. We heard all the glowing reports coming into Spring Training about how Sanchez had worked diligently in the offseason and was ready to put his horrid 2020 behind him. He’s had mixed results this Spring, so it’s hard to say if we’re actually going to see an improved Sanchez in ’21. Personally, I’ve been reluctant to draft him this season because I think a bad start could put Sanchez into a 50/50 timeshare or worse with Kyle Higashioka. Maybe this early schedule helps get Sanchez off to the hot start that he needs and we see the return of The Kraken in 2021.
Two 7-game weeks in weeks 2 and 3
We just received word that George Springer is dealing with a Grade 2 oblique strain, putting his status for Opening Day in serious question. I’m bummed about Springer but the upside is that this means it’s time to get Rowdy. Tellez was everybody’s favorite breakout earlier this offseason, however, that quickly changed when it appeared that he was going to be challenged for playing time after the Semien and Springer signings. What many didn’t realize, however, is that Tellez had about 7 different paths to full-time at-bats. Well, here’s one of them. Anybody with the foresight to draft discounted Rowdy is going to be rewarded with a magnificent opening schedule. Week 2 looks particularly sweet, as the Jays draw a full 7-game slate and get to face the likes of Jordan Lyles, Kyle Gibson, and Alex Cobb. Another sneaky schedule consideration is that Toronto will be playing at least their first month of home games at their Spring Training site in Dunedin. So while the majority of the country is playing in chilly 40 and 50 degree weather, the Blue Jays are going to be in the warm open air of Florida, where hopefully the deceased baseballs will be lively and flying out of the ballpark. Oh yeah, and don’t forget about Randal Grichuk! He’s sitting on the wire in one of my 12-teamers and I’m looking at him right now with more desire than 10-year-old Torres looked at Topanga when watching Boy Meets World. By the way, did you know that Topanga is married to the Cinnamon Toast Shrimp guy? And her real name is Fishel? There are just too many seafood-related coincidences going on, let me go check my most-owned player…ANTHONY BASS!!!! Get me out of this simulation!
A late add due to this morning’s Luke Voit news, with Voit being out for 4 weeks or so. Go grab Bruce!
That’s all folks! This is my last article at Razzball (for now), as I need to go focus on some other life stuff at the moment. I just want to say a quick thank you to anybody who’s read my work over the past few months. You’ve learned a lot about me, including my favorite sex position, my pre-pubescent mustache, and my 12-year-old fantasies. There was also some fantasy baseball stuff sprinkled in there, which I hope was informative and helped to make you a better fantasy player. Lastly, I want to thank Grey, Blair Williams, and Donkey Teeth for giving me an opportunity to write for a site that I’ve long been a fan of. Appreciate y’all, best of luck to everyone this year.