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Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve is slashing .360/.407/.800 over his last seven games heading into Saturday's action against the Royals. Altuve is posting a 1.022 OPS in the month of September as he continues his torrid streak in the second half of the season. Since the All-Star break, Altuve is slashing .344/.395/.651 with 14 doubles, 18 home runs,. 42 runs batted in and 52 runs scored over the span of 58 games. Altuve is back to elite offensive form and will be an excellent pick in DFS tournaments through the final weeks of the season.
The Toronto Blue Jays have a young core of position players that could make them competitive in the shortened 60-game season, and starting pitcher Nate Pearson, MLB's eighth-ranked prospect, could be the X-factor. The 6-foot-6 23-year-old right-hander had a 2.30 ERA with 119 K's and 27 walks in 101 2/3 minor league innings in 2019. Pearson is a flamethrowing power pitcher that brings strikeout upside to a starting rotation that mostly lacks it in Hyun-Jin Ryu, Matt Shoemaker, Tanner Roark and Chase Anderson. He was performing well earlier this spring, too, but the promising pitching prospect is ranked outside the top 100 starting pitchers because he might not see enough innings in this peculiar season.
Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Jesus Luzardo, baseball's No. 12 overall prospect per MLB Pipeline, could change the makeup of the A's starting rotation in the 60-game season this year. Oakland's starters have a 6.9 K/9 the last two seasons, which is the lowest in baseball. Luzardo, a 22-year-old left-hander, has a 10.8 K/9 in his minor league career and struck out 16 hitters in 12 innings of relief late last season. He was also impressing earlier this spring before the season was shut down. It'll be interesting to see how the A's deploy him in 2020, but the pure stuff is there and the strikeout upside is too tough to pass up as a top-50 fantasy hurler. Catcher Sean Murphy and lefty starter A.J. Puk are two more highly touted A's prospects who could make impacts this year.
Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Josh Bell is a prototypical slugging designated hitter, and the Pirates could use Jose Osuna at first base if they decide to use Bell as the primary designated hitter in 2020. Another option in the DH role would be outfielder Gregory Polanco, with Guillermo Heredia, who is an excellent defender, in the outfield. It's probably unlikely with the short season, but prospect Oneil Cruz would be a nice power bat at designated hitter. Bell, 27, boosted himself into top-10 consideration at first base after he broke out to the tune of 37 home runs in 2019. The former second-round pick was an All-Star for the first time, slashing .277/.367/.569 with 116 RBI in 143 games.
San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence is the obvious candidate for the team's designated hitter spot this year given his age (37) and the fact that he's coming off a season with the Rangers where he mostly served as the DH while also dealing with injury and posting an OPS of .910. Pablo Sandoval could be another option, as his main position of third base is blocked by Evan Longoria. Wilmer Flores gives the Giants strong depth at almost every infield position, but he's another DH option after hitting a career-best .317 with the Diamondbacks in 2019. Pence finished with a .297 average and 18 home runs in 83 games for Texas. If he's given consistent at-bats as the DH during the 60-game season, he might actually be worth a late-round flier in deeper leagues, but don't expect too much.
San Diego Padres outfielder Wil Myers was seemingly left to compete for playing time with 22-year-old Josh Naylor and 25-year-old Franchy Cordero in 2020 after the Padres traded for outfielders Tommy Pham and Trent Grisham. Myers had a down year in 2019, but he had a 112 OPS+ in his first four seasons in San Diego and totaled 58 home runs and 48 stolen bases in 2016 and 2017. The 29-year-old should see most of his at-bats at designated hitter in the shortened 60-game season, which would allow the team to get longer looks at Naylor and Cordero and possibly prospect Taylor Trammell. Myers won't help your batting average much, but with more playing time, his power/speed combination will make him relevant in all fantasy leagues.
Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Andrew Toles, who was arrested after he was found sleeping behind the Key West International Airport in Florida last week, has been in at least 20 mental health facilities since 2019. His sister, Morgan Toles, said "we didn't know whether he was dead or alive." His family seeks legal guardianship, but they are powerless to obtain it without Toles' consent. The speedy left-handed hitter emerged in 2016 and was set to have an everyday role in 2017 before he tore his ACL in May. He spent all but 17 games in the minors in 2018 and didn't play in the big leagues last year. Toles was officially diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia last year, making it unlikely that he'll make it back onto a big league field anytime soon. Hopefully, Toles is able to get his life under control and focus on his mental health issues.
Pittsburgh Pirates manager Derek Shelton said that he expects third baseman Colin Moran to see most of the playing time at third base this year. "I dont think its an open competition. I think youre going to see Colin [Moran] there a lot," Shelton said. Other candidates to see time at the hot corner this year include Erik Gonzalez, Jose Osuna and Phillip Evans. Ke'Bryan Hayes, the team's No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline, could also be in consideration, but he's unlikely to be an option until later in the 60-game season. Moran, a 27-year-old lefty hitter, slashed .277/.322/.429 with 13 home runs and 80 RBI in 149 games in 2019. He doesn't do any one thing particularly well, though, and his struggles against lefty pitchers make him more of a DFS commodity and corner infield depth in NL-only affairs.
St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said that relief pitcher Jordan Hicks (elbow) will start the regular season on the Injured List while recovering from Tommy John surgery last June. However, the Cardinals expect Hicks to contribute in a late-inning role soon, so it may not be long before he's an option for the ninth inning during the 2020 season. The 23-year-old flamethrower can reach triple digits on the radar gun with his fastball, which makes him an intriguing fantasy closer. However, starting the season late in a 60-game schedule means that Hicks won't be all that attractive in redraft leagues. When he's ready to return, it could be a committee situation in the ninth inning for the Cardinals, including Hicks and Giovanny Gallegos.
St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Miles Mikolas (elbow) is healthy entering the start of this week's summer camp after suffering a flexor tendon strain earlier this year. Mikolas would've missed at least the first month of the regular season had COVID-19 not interfered, but now it sounds as though he'll be part of the team's five-man starting rotation on Opening Day in late July. With St. Louis sticking with a five-man rotation, it could mean that Carlos Martinez and/or Kwang-Hyun Kim are relegated to the bullpen. The 31-year-old Mikolas was a surprise success story in 2018 when he made the All-Star team, but he fell back to Earth with a 4.16 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 7.0 K/9 in 32 starts last season. The right-hander isn't much of a strikeout guy (career 6.7 K/9) and will mostly be an innings-eater in NL-only leagues.
New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka is back in the United States after spending his break from baseball in Japan. That means that Tanaka will not be at risk for travel-related delays that could have impacted his readiness for the start of the season. Tanaka is looking to rebound from a relatively poor 2019 season that saw him post a 4.45 ERA, and the 31-year-old worked to develop his cutter this offseason to improve his overall performance. Tanaka enjoyed a hot spring training that saw him post a 2.08 ERA with 11 strikeouts over 8 2/3 innings, and hell look to carry that hot start into spring training 2.0 and the regular season.
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