The fantasy baseball world is abuzz with the news that the game’s top pitching prospect — that per Kiley McDaniel’s preseason rankings — Miami Marlins right-hander Eury Perez, will be promoted to make his big-league debut on Friday.
Perez has thoroughly dominated the Double-A Southern League, posting a 2.32 ERA, an 0.81 WHIP, 35.9% strikeout and 7.7% walk rates over six starts to begin the season, giving him a career 2.85 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 35.1% K and 8.1% walk rates through 44 professional starts. While he might be kept on a limited pitch count initially — he has averaged 83.2 pitches per outing and threw just 79 in his most recent outing this past Sunday — his combination of a mid-90s fastball with a 70-grade changeup should make him an instant, impact fantasy asset, even if he typically delivers somewhere in the five-inning range for his first few big-league turns.
Perez’s debut comes at Miami’s LoanDepot Park, one of baseball’s more pitching-oriented environments and a far softer matchup for him than had he faced the opposing Cincinnati Reds in their homer-friendly home venue. It also comes against a below-average Reds offense that struggles mightily against high-velocity offerings (second-worst 29% miss rate against pitches clocked 95-plus mph). He has already seen his roster percentage in ESPN leagues swell by 9.5% overnight, but that means he’s still out there on the waiver wire in roughly 90% of leagues.
Should you add and start Perez? YES!
Rangers ready for the road
He’s not the only recommended pitching pickup for the weekend ahead. The Texas Rangers, who enter the weekend with a three-game lead in the AL West, can expand that gap in a four-game road series against the Oakland Athletics, who are fresh off a cross-country flight back from New York, where they were swept in a three-game set. This Athletics team is off to a historically bad start, and probably won’t have its most effective starter, rookie Mason Miller, available due to elbow tightness, stacking the deck for the Rangers.
Three of the top-20 and four of the top-34 projected weekend starting pitchers, per the Forecaster, play for the Rangers, as Thursday, Saturday and Sunday starters Nathan Eovaldi, Jon Gray and Andrew Heaney are all projected to score at least 10.7 fantasy points. Friday starter Martin Perez, meanwhile, is less than a half point beneath the double-digits threshold. All of them are available in more than 25% of ESPN leagues, and Heaney and Perez are out there in more than 65%.
Here’s the best part about that series for Texas: Rangers hitters match up even better than do their pitchers, which is good news for a hot-and-cold offense that has scored in double-digits nine times, but also been held to two runs or fewer on 10 occasions, across 36 games. Meanwhile, Oakland’s team ERA is 7.43, the highest number by any team through 38 games in the modern era — and the 1996 Tigers, at 7.19, is the only other one within even a half of a run.
Considering that the Athletics are set to start two left-handers during the series (Ken Waldichuk and JP Sears), this is a heck of a weekend to stream readily available Rangers hitters Jonah Heim, Robbie Grossman and Ezequiel Duran — in that recommended order — thanks to their strong Forecaster grades against lefties.
Rays face the Judge
Speaking of historic starts and New York tourism, the Tampa Bay Rays, with a series win against the rival New York Yankees this weekend, would match the 1998 Yankees’ 32-10 start, and with a series sweep would boast the fifth-best start through 42 games in the modern era. As Aaron Judge‘s return partly coincided with the Yankees’ three-game, week-opening sweep, this is a scarier matchup than when these teams squared off last weekend in Tampa Bay.
The Forecaster concurs, grading New York as the favorites in each of the four games — that’s in part because the formulas tend to deflate the odds for teams that are matchups-oriented and rely a good share on their bullpens — but I’m hesitant to agree. I prefer Drew Rasmussen and his side on Thursday, Shane McClanahan and the Rays on Saturday, consider Sunday’s game a coin toss and wouldn’t have any fear of rolling with my usual Rays in fantasy. There’s no way I’m benching Wander Franco for any game of that series, 1-grades be damned.
Other matchups of note
Forget Ranger Suarez‘s 2023 debut (which occurs on Saturday), Philadelphia Phillies hitters get to play three games at Coors Field! It’s the line we love to read in fantasy, and it’s great timing for surging Nick Castellanos, a .365/.375/.683 hitter with five homers and 13 RBI over his last 16 games. The opposing Colorado Rockies are set to start two left-handers in the three-game series, which suits Castellanos just fine.
Go righty-heavy when picking from the Seattle Mariners roster, as their grades from that side during their three-game visit to the Detroit Tigers are excellent. Rookie Bryce Miller, who has delivered quality starts in back-to-back turns to begin his big-league career, remains out there in 60% of ESPN leagues. Ty France, who is riding an eight-game hitting streak, should capitalize upon matchups against lefties in 2-of-3 and spot-starter Alex Faedo in the third. Teoscar Hernandez, who has been one of the more dropped hitters in the game recently, could be due for a breakthrough series, considering the volume of lefty pitching present in that series.
Can the disappointing New York Mets straighten things out with a weekend of fantastic matchups ahead? After they finish their three-game series in Cincinnati on Thursday, they head east to visit the Washington Nationals, a team that took 2-of-3 from them in New York, for four games (the finale is on Monday). Mets lefty bats enjoy 10-grades per the Forecaster, which means Brett Baty, Brandon Nimmo and perhaps even Daniel Vogelbach should find space in your lineups.
What are some of the other things I’m watching for, even if I’m not necessarily embracing them for my fantasy lineups?
One is Michael Soroka‘s prospective Sunday start in Toronto, which would be his first since Aug. 3, 2020, after recovering from an Achilles injury. Frankly, that entire Atlanta Braves–Toronto Blue Jays series should be a good one, but Soroka’s outing is merely one to track for future matchups play.
James Paxton‘s 2023 debut for the Boston Red Sox is scheduled for Friday, against a severely underperforming St. Louis Cardinals team. He’s in a similar boat to Soroka, though he might be of more help for our purposes sooner, if he looks good in his first outing back. .
Most importantly, though? Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there! Make sure to get all your lineups in early, so as to be freed up to properly celebrate the occasion — and that’s especially wise with an 11:35 a.m. ET game on the schedule this Sunday.
Fantasy baseball – Weekend preview May 11-14