The 2018 Major League Baseball season is well underway at this point, and with it comes another year of fantasy baseball.
The time and effort required to succeed in fantasy baseball dwarfs the commitment necessary to win your fantasy football league, so to help you out, every week we'll be making your lineup decisions a little easier.
These tips will have a Nationals slant, offering some players in D.C. to avoid, and some you definitely want to play in any given week. We’ll also suggest some players around the league you should have interest in.
NOTE: Don’t expect to see guys like Bryce Harper or Trea Turner mentioned too often. They are clear must-starts every week. Don’t overthink it.
Week 3 (4/16-4/22)
One Nationals pitcher to start: Gio Gonzalez
As well as the Mets have played this season (and yes, they’ve been superb), they’ve still struggled against left-handed pitching, scoring just 11 runs in 13 games vs southpaws.
Gonzalez has a 2.20 ERA this season, and facing a team with a collective .210 batting average against lefties, he should be a nice sleeper this week.
One Nationals position player to start: Wilmer Difo, 2B/SS/3B
With Daniel Murphy on the Disabled List and Anthony Rendon nursing a toe injury, Difo will have plenty of opportunities to play this week. He’s barely owned (1% of Yahoo! leagues), but he’s 5-for-14 since April 10th, and is hitting an a talented lineup.
You won’t want to start him most weeks, but he could be a sneak-good value for the next few days, if you have the flexibility to pick him up.
One Nationals pitcher to sit: Stephen Strasburg
Let’s be honest; you’re not sitting Strasburg. He’s probably your best pitcher (maybe second-best at worst), and he’s been great to start the season. Plus, the Dodgers play in a notorious pitcher’s park.
Still, if there was ever a matchup in which you’d even fathom sitting a guy like Strasburg, it’s when the pitcher for the other team is Clayton Kershaw. It’s always an uphill battle going up against the best pitcher of his generation.
One Nationals player to sit: Michael A. Taylor, OF
The combination of his excellent defense and Adam Eaton’s injury gives Taylor a high floor for playing time this week, and it’s easy to get tempted by his 4 stolen bases.
Still, Taylor is someone to avoid. As much as he helps on the basepaths, he’ll hurt in batting average, as he’s still at just .167 on the season, with next to zero power to go with it.
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Any 2-start pitchers for the Nationals this week?
A.J. Cole, but even with the two starts, you probably want to avoid him in anything but the deepest leagues. Cole will be facing the white-hot Mets while going up against the talented Jacob deGrom, and then will battle maybe the best team in the National League on the road when the Nats take on the Dodgers.
Any 2-start pitchers worth streaming around MLB this week?
Blake Snell, who’s coming off a terrific start against the White Sox where he struck out 10 batters in 6.0 innings. Snell is supremely talented, and has been great this season in 2 of his 3 starts (we’ll forgive him for struggling at Yankee Stadium). Start Snell this week and thank us later.
One player you might not realize you should pick up: Trey Mancini, 1B/OF (Orioles)
A lot of people have overlooked Mancini in his young career. He didn’t enter the majors with high prospect pedigree or an overwhelming skill, but he showed excellent power last season, and this year has turned into a quality contact hitter since settling in atop the Orioles lineup.
He’s 9-for-23 since April 9th, and while he has just one home run so far this season, he’ll end up with around 20-25 dingers on the season. Plus, dual-eligibility is always a nice bonus. He’s available in over 30% of Yahoo! Leagues, so check to make sure he’s not owned in your league.
One player you might not realize you should drop: Manuel Margot, OF (Padres)
This is dependent on your league settings, as Margot is currently on the Disabled List. If you’ve got room to keep him in a DL slot without taking away a roster position, then feel free to hold onto him. But, if you need to drop him to take a flier on a talented pitcher or upcoming prospect, don’t hesitate.
The popular sleeper choice in drafts this spring started off slowly before hitting the 10-day DL, and playing half his games at Petco Park is never going to help. Margot is talented, but he’s still inexperienced, and sometimes it pays to be proactive in moving on from busts early.
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