Mookie Betts making case to be fantasy baseball's MVP

Fred Zinkie
·Yahoo Fantasy Contributor
·5 mins read

The Best Bet(ts)

With all due respect to Fernando Tatis Jr., Mookie Betts is the No. 1 player you should want on your roster right now. The Dodgers newest superstar produced two homers and a pair of steals on Sunday and is now hitting an even .300 with 11 long balls and five swipes on the season. Tatis has been slightly better to this point, but Betts’ incredible 2020 numbers combine with his long-term success to make him the best bet to finish the season in the top spot on the Yahoo Player Rater.

Betts wasn’t the only one who checked off homer and steal boxes on Sunday. Teoscar Hernandez went deep and also swiped a pair of bags. The 27-year-old has been one of this year’s best waiver-wire finds and is now hitting .296 with 10 home runs and four steals. With Sahlen Field proving to be a launching pad, Hernandez has a good chance for a strong finish. Gregory Polanco matched Hernandez with a long ball and two swipes. Unlike Hernandez, Polanco is off to an abysmal start. I need to see more before recommending him.

Niko Goodrum also produced a homer and a steal. The multi-position asset is not having a good season (.202 average, .706 OPS) but is finding ways to stay on fantasy rosters with his diverse skill set (five homers, three swipes). The Tigers should continue to start Goodrum regularly, and he has the ability to make a major impact during a hot stretch. Kevin Pillar matched Goodrum with a homer and steal. One of my personal favorites among the current waiver-wire options, Pillar has a diverse skill set and plenty of opportunities from atop of the lineup with Andrew Benintendi on the shelf. And finally, Manny Machado was part of the Sunday homer-steal club. I don’t have much to say on Machado, who is clearly a lineup lock.

Dazzling debuts

The Indians announced on Sunday that they plan on giving Triston McKenzie another start, and why not? After all, the lanky youngster struck out 10 Tigers across six innings of one-run ball on Saturday. While demoted starters Mike Clevinger and Zach Plesac should eventually return to the rotation, McKenzie’s debut was so good that he should be added in most leagues.

Rays lefty Josh Fleming had an effective but less dazzling debut when he held the Blue Jays to two runs across five innings on Sunday. The 24-year-old is a control artist who would likely have spent most of this year in Triple-A, but he still warrants attention in some fantasy leagues. Managers shouldn’t expect plenty of whiffs, but the Rays have room in the rotation and have a long track record of developing effective pitchers.

Closer conundrums

The ninth-inning wheel continues to spin. Here are the updates from Sunday:

Joe Jimenez was pulled from an appearance after giving up a homer and two walks while getting one out. With a 12.46 ERA, Jimenez could soon be replaced by Gregory Soto or Jose Cisnero, who got the save on Sunday. With Keone Kela ailing, Richard Rodriguez closed out a 5-4 win over the Brewers. Rodriguez has been effective this year and could pick up several saves if Kela goes on the IL. Craig Kimbrel was good (two strikeouts) and bad (two walks) before being replaced by Jeremy Jeffress. The Cubs closer situation continues to be a three-headed monster of Kimbrel, Jeffress and Rowan Wick. Emilio Pagan got his second save and has emerged as the Padres closer now that Kirby Yates and Drew Pomeranz are both on the IL. Pagan excelled last year as the Rays closer and is the most desirable reliever in this paragraph. And finally, Taylor Williams continued to lock down the Mariners closer role by picking up his sixth save.

Injury Notes

The biggest injury news for fantasy purposes may have been the placement of Nick Anderson on the IL with right forearm inflammation. The best reliever on one of baseball’s best teams, Anderson should be retained in most leagues.

Ronald Acuna took batting practice yesterday and should come off the IL sooner rather than later.

Corey Dickerson left Sunday’s game with a possible shoulder injury but isn’t expected to miss much time.

Stephen Strasburg will undergo season-ending carpal tunnel syndrome surgery on Wednesday.

Matt Shoemaker was placed on the IL with right shoulder inflammation and can be dropped in virtually all mixed leagues.

Will Smith returned from the IL and will share catcher duties with Austin Barnes.

The Cardinals are getting healthy. Paul DeJong returned from the COVID IL, while Ryan Helsley and Carlos Martinez could return this week.

Kevin Newman (abdomen) and Colin Moran (possible concussion) left Sunday’s game against the Brewers.

Justin Turner missed Sunday’s game with a sore hamstring.

Favorable Monday-Thursday Hitting Matchups

The Cardinals will continue to make up for their time off by playing five games during the first four days of the week. Tommy Edman, Paul DeJong, Yadier Molina and Kolten Wong are all off to mediocre starts but deserve the benefit of the doubt.

The Astros will spend four games hosting an Angels staff that is going to send out some suspect starters. Kyle Tucker should be active in all leagues, and those with Michael Brantley should move him straight from their IL to lineup.

The Rays will wrap up their Toronto series before playing Baltimore thrice. Figuring out Tampa’s starting lineup isn’t always easy, but Yandy Diaz and Willy Adames are two regulars who are commonly sitting on waivers.

Starters to Stream

Brad Keller (@STL)
Framber Valdez (vs. LAA)

Adam Wainwright (vs. KC)
Marco Gonzales (@SD)

Dakota Hudson (vs. KC)
Jon Lester (@DET)

Garrett Richards (vs. SEA)
Chris Bassitt (@TEX)

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