- George Springer is playing like the MVP candidate we all expected he'd be when he first broke into the big leagues, and Christian Yelich could rival Barry Bonds' record of 28 first-half home runs. It's time to set the table for another week of baseball.
The SI.com Fantasy Baseball Table Setter gets you ready for the week ahead with a focus on the hitters and pitchers who deserve extra attention in the coming days, and all the schedule details you need to get your lineups set for this week’s games.
Pitchers to Watch
Carlos Carrasco, Indians
Carrasco got off to a sluggish start this season, but he has looked excellent in his last two trips to the mound. Granted, both of those outings were against the White Sox, but they’re not the pushovers they’ve been in recent years, and it’s encouraging to see him take a step in the right direction. He didn’t allow a run in 12 innings against the White Sox, surrendering eight hits while fanning 12 and walking none. The first of those two games was called after five innings due to rain, and Carrasco was dealing that night, with six strikeouts and just two hits allowed. He’ll get two starts this week, drawing the A’s on Monday and Rays on Saturday.
Caleb Smith, Marlins
Smith’s quality start streak came to an end at six in his last outing, with the lefty removed after 5 1/3 innings and 106 pitches. Still, he struck out eight batters in that start, allowing two runs on two hits and four walks in a loss to the Rays. It’s a miserable season down in Miami, but Smith has been a revelation, pitching to a 2.25 ERA and 0.92 WHIP with 64 strikeouts against 14 walks in 48 innings. He’s slated for two starts this week, facing the Tigers on Tuesday and Nationals on Sunday.
Jake Odorizzi, Twins
The Twins’ rotation has been among the brightest surprises in the league, and Odorizzi is a microcosm of that unexpected success. The veteran righty has thrown 48 innings across nine starts, amassing a 2.63 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 46 strikeouts against 17 walks. We’ve seen him lean more on his curveball this year, though it hasn’t been a huge out pitch for him, and it’s the only real change in his repertoire from last season. That could warrant a deeper dive that goes beyond the bounds of the Table Setter, but, nevertheless, he’s worth keeping an eye on this week when he goes up against the Angels on Monday and White Sox on Sunday.
Domingo German, Yankees
German keeps on dealing, allowing one run on six hits across seven innings in his last start, a win over the Orioles. He struck out eight batters and walked just one in that outing, running his strikeout rate to 26% while lowering his walk rate to 7.5%. German has been quite possibly the most important Yankee through the first two months of the season, giving the team a Luis Severino facsimile. He has a 2.50 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 52 strikeouts against 15 walks in 50 1/3 innings. He’ll take the ball in a couple of favorable outings this week, taking on the Orioles on Monday and Royals on Saturday.
Chris Bassitt, A’s
It might be time to take Bassitt for real. The 30-year-old, who didn’t stick on an MLB roster until his age-26 season and has never made more than 13 starts in a year, owns a 1.93 ERA and 0.92 WHIP with 38 strikeouts against nine walks in 32 2/3 innings. It’s the strikeouts that really jump off the page, even in this era of heightened swing-and-miss baseball. Bassitt has never been much of a strikeout pitcher, even in the minors. This year, his strikeout rate is up to 29.9%. That would rank 12th in the majors if he had enough innings to qualify for the leaderboards, which he soon will. His pitch mix shows an increase in four-seam usage, and that offering does have a whiff rate of 17.5%. It’s something that bears monitoring when he makes his lone start of the week against the Indians on Tuesday.
Hitters to Watch
George Springer, OF, Astros
This is the Springer season we’ve been waiting for since he broke into the league back in 2014. He’s been on the shortlist of the best players in the league this year, hitting .318/.402/.665 with 17 homers and 42 RBI in 209 plate appearances. What’s more, his underlying numbers suggest this is sustainable. His BABIP is a high-but-not-ridiculous .325, and that’s more than supported by a 49.3% hard-hit rate. He’s 25th in barrels per batted-ball event, and 15th in barrels per plate appearance, a remarkable achievement for a player who will be among the league leaders in trips to the plate.
George Springer’s 17th home run of the season leaves him only five shy of his 2018 total. He’s halfway to the career-high 34 he hit in 2017.— Jake Kaplan (@jakemkaplan) May 18, 2019
Brendan Rodgers, 2B, Rockies
Rodgers was the final edge of this week’s prospect wave, joining the Rockies on Friday. It’ll be interesting to see how the team uses him in his first few weeks in the league. Rodgers can play anywhere on the infield, but he’s not moving Nolan Arenado or Trevor Story off the diamond. That leaves the right side, where Daniel Murphy and Ryan McMahon are the team’s default starters. We could be looking at a three-player mix for two spots, though it’s clear the Rockies didn’t promote Rodgers to be a bench bat. Keep a close eye on this one. Rodgers raked at Triple-A Albuquerque before his promotion, hitting .356/.421/.644 with nine homers and 10 doubles in 152 plate appearances.
Christian Yelich, OF, Brewers
The record for homers before June 1 is 28, set by—who else?—Barry Bonds in 2001. Yelich probably isn’t going to catch him, but he could make things interesting. He has 18 dingers and 10 games remaining in May, including Milwaukee’s series finale with the Braves on Sunday. Remember, Yelich started the year with homers in four consecutive games, and he later had an eight-homers-in-six-games binge. It’s improbable that he’ll match or break Bonds’ record, but not impossible.
Tommy La Stella, 2B/3B, Angels
This season has delivered no shortage of surprises, but, if forced to pick the biggest one, I’d have to go with La Stella turning into Jeff Kent. The former utility infielder has made the most of his everyday job with the Angels, hitting .289/.372/.579 with 11 homers and 26 RBI in 141 plate appearances. Coming into this year, La Stella had 10 homers in his entire career. This season, he has more homers than Mike Trout, Anthony Rizzo, Manny Machado and Mookie Betts, just to name four players.
Byron Buxton, OF, Twins
Is it…is it happening? Can we get excited? Is Byron Buxton becoming BYRON BUXTON? It really seems like the long-promised breakout might be upon us. Buxton is hitting .281/.338/.525 with four homers, a league-leading 18 doubles, two triples, eight steals, 24 runs and 24 RBI on the season. He’s been even better of late, going 17-for-50 with three homers, six doubles and 13 RBI in his last 14 games. I think it’s finally safe to start believing.
Pitchers scheduled to make two starts this week (Alphabetical order by team)
Luke Weaver, Arizona Diamondbacks
Mike Soroka, Atlanta Braves
Julio Teheran, Atlanta Braves
Andrew Cashner, Baltimore Orioles
David Hess, Baltimore Orioles
David Price, Boston Red Sox
Eduardo Rodriguez, Boston Red Sox
Yu Darvish, Chicago Cubs
Jose Quintana, Chicago Cubs
Dylan Covey, Chicago White Sox
Carlos Carrasco, Cleveland Indians
Trevor Bauer, Cleveland Indians
German Marquez, Colorado Rockies
Spencer Turnbull, Detroit Tigers
Brad Peacock, Houston Astros
Justin Verlander, Houston Astros
Caleb Smith, Miami Marlins
Jake Odorizzi, Minnesota Twins
Zack Wheeler, New York Mets
Domingo German, New York Yankees
J.A. Happ, New York Yankees
Brett Anderson, Oakland A’s
Jake Arrieta, Philadelphia Phillies
Zach Eflin, Philadelphia Phillies
Chris Archer, Pittsburgh Pirates
Chris Paddack, San Diego Padres
Mike Leake, Seattle Mariners
Shaun Anderson, San Francisco Giants
Dereck Rodriguez, San Francisco Giants
Mike Minor, Texas Rangers
Edwin Jackson, Toronto Blue Jays
Marcus Stroman, Toronto Blue Jays
Patrick Corbin, Washington Nationals
Erick Fedde, Washington Nationals
Teams playing seven games: Braves, Orioles, Red Sox, Cubs, White Sox, Indians, Astros, Mets, Yankees, Phillies, Giants, Blue Jays, Nationals
Teams playing six games: Diamondbacks, Rockies, Tigers, Angels, Marlins, Twins, A’s, Pirates, Padres, Mariners, Rays, Rangers
Teams playing five games: Reds, Royals, Dodgers, Brewers, Cardinals