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Fantasy Baseball Outlook: Week 7

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Fantasy Baseball Outlook: Week 7

It's May 14th, the season is more than six weeks old and the Nats are finally playing great baseball. As fun as it is to follow a team that seemingly can't lose, it's also still important to focus on your fantasy team (if you care about winning, that is). This is the time of year when apathy starts to set in for fantasy owners who have gotten off to slow starts, and it's up to you to take advantage.

It's never easy paying close attention to everything going on throughout Major League Baseball during the grind of the regular season, but don't let that keep you from putting forth your best possible roster. As always, we're here to help. It's your team, and your decisions you ultimately have to deal with, but that doesn't mean you can't turn to us for advice every once in a while.

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 7 (5/14-5/20)

One Nationals pitcher to start: Max Scherzer

Yes, this is the most duh advice we could possibly give. Obviously, you're starting the number one player in most fantasy scoring formats this season. This is mainly to highlight the fact that there are no borderline playable starters on the Nats worth using this week.

The rotation as a whole has been great this season, but with only five games on the docket and all coming against the Yankees and Dodgers, this is a week to avoid everyone but the studs.

One Nationals position player to start: Pedro Severino, C

With Matt Wieters hurting, Severino has a clear opportunity to get most of the starts, and that rings especially true given the matchups this week. With only five games, Severino could find himself with every catcher at-bat this week, and he has ranked against lefties all season long with a .389 batting average.

Catcher has been a notorious wasteland in fantasy baseball this season, so anywhere you can find quality at-bats is worth looking into. Severino almost certainly isn't owned in your league, and he should provide value over the next five games at least.

One Nationals pitcher to sit:  Jeremy Hellickson

Hellickson has pitched well this season, especially during the month of May so far. That said, it's been well-documented that Dave Martinez wants him to avoid facing opposing lineups for a third time through the order, and the limit on his innings is probably too much to overcome for him to be valuable in a one-start week.

Innings are the biggest market inefficiency in Major League Baseball right now, and starting a pitcher who is all but guaranteed to give you fewer than six innings in a given week isn't the way to exploit the current status quo.

One Nationals player to sit: Matt Adams, 1B

We recommended him last week, but this week we're singing a different tune. Not only are the Nats facing tough matchups in their limited number of games, but it's likely that three of their five games will be started by lefties. As dominant as Matt Adams has been this season, and it has been quite impressive, he has still struggled against southpaws, hitting just .250 with just one of his home runs.

It's fair to want to keep riding his hot streak while he's seeing the ball so well, but you have to play the odds here, and his numbers against lefties just aren't worth using in most lineups.

Any 2-start pitchers for the Nationals this week?

Nope. The Nats get both Monday and Thursday off, meaning they only play five games this week, so each pitcher will get just one start.

Any 2-start pitchers worth streaming around MLB this week?

Jack Flaherty of the St. Louis Cardinals is my favorite option this week. One of the top pitching prospects in baseball, Flaherty is only as available as he is in most leagues due to a lack of opportunity in the Cardinals starting rotation. Now that a few of their pitchers are banged up, Flaherty is back in the big leagues.

He's the type of guy whose talent you trust in, regardless of Major League experience or matchup. In a week where a talent like that takes the mound twice? Sign me up, and hope that he performs well enough to earn consistent starts going forward. 

One player you might not realize you should pick up: Seung Hwan-Oh, RP (Blue Jays) 

Oh hasn't been the clear option to replace Roberto Osuna (who was recently arrested)  just yet, but he seems to be the more talented reliever over Tyler Clippard, and he has far more closing experience. The fact that he hasn't gotten the ninth-inning opportunities just yet means he might be available in your league, and if he is, he's worth a speculative add.

Saves are often difficult to come by in competitive leagues, so any time a guy comes along who could end up in the closer's role for a quality team, he's worth owning in all but the shallowest of formats. If he's available, pick him up right away, and if he continues to not earn save opportunities, he'll make for an easy drop the next time you need a roster spot.

One player you might not realize you should drop: Aaron Hicks, OF (Yankees) 

Hicks has been a popular sleeper candidate for a couple of years now, and early on this season, it appeared 2018 might be the season it finally happened. Unfortunately for him, as has been the case all too often, he found himself dealing with an injury right as he was getting hot. Now, he's struggling to find his stroke again.

Hicks is batting just .213 on the year, and his four stolen bases and spot in the best lineup in baseball aren't nearly enough to overcome his slump. Keep Hicks on your scout team in case he starts to get hot again, but for the time being, consider him very droppable if you're looking to make a change in your outfield.


- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?

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Fresh round of cuts helps Nationals Opening Day roster take shape

Fresh round of cuts helps Nationals Opening Day roster take shape

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The Opening Day roster became much clearer Saturday following a slew of player moves by the Nationals.

Right-handed pitcher Joe Ross was optioned to Triple-A Fresno. After consideration of using Ross in the bullpen, the organization decided to send him to Triple A and stretch him out there. Manager Davey Martinez said they view Ross as a starter now and in the future.

Catcher Spencer Kieboom and right-handed starter Erick Fedde will go to Double-A Harrisburg. This is the first instance of a decision based on the change in Triple-A affiliation. The Nationals switched from Syracuse to Fresno in the offseason -- a move they did not have complete control of. So, Kieboom and Fedde will go to Harrisburg in order to be readily available should something happen to a player on the 25-man roster during the opening homestand.

Prospect Carter Kieboom, right-handed starter Henderson Alvarez, right-handed reliever Aaron Barrett, right-handed reliever Scott Copeland and left-handed reliever Vidal Nuno have been reassigned to minor-league camp.

Carter Kieboom impressed at the plate throughout the spring. He continues to learn second base after sliding over from his traditional shortstop position. Barrett takes another step in his comeback following Tommy John surgery and a fractured elbow. Martinez said he thinks Barrett will help the parent club at some point this season.

Washington has three spring training games remaining. Patrick Corbin and Joe Ross pitch in split-squad games Sunday. Monday, the team is back in the District for its final game of the exhibition season. The season opener is Thursday, March 28.

This round of cuts drops the team’s options to 30 players. Koda Glover (forearm), Howie Kendrick (hamstring) and Michael A. Taylor (hip/knee) are unlikely to be ready for Opening Day. That trio appears heading for the injured list. Which leaves two bench spots among utility player Adrian Sanchez, outfielder Andrew Stevenson or first baseman, and out-of-nowhere minor-leaguer, Jake Noll until Taylor and Kendrick are ready. Two bullpen spots are available to Wander Suero, Justin Miller and Austen Williams in that alignment.

The Nationals could keep all three relievers for Opening Day. That would give them a bench of catcher Kurt Suzuki, utility player Wilmer Difo, first baseman Matt Adams, and likely Stevenson as the fourth outfielder.

Another wrinkle: reliever Kyle Barraclough, who has a 5.19 ERA and has allowed three home runs in 8 ⅔ innings, still has options. Sending him down would be a significant pivot after the organization often touted him as one of its featured relievers.

Last, multiple off-days to start the season play into this equation. If the Nationals choose a smaller bullpen group, it will have more time than usual to recover. What we know is these players are coming to play Thursday:

Starting pitchers:
Max Scherzer
Stephen Strasburg
Patrick Corbin (L)
Anibal Sanchez
Jeremy Hellickson

Tony Sipp (L)
Matt Grace (L)
Wander Suero
Trevor Rosenthal
Sean Doolittle (L)

Position players:
Yan Gomes (C)
Kurt Suzuki (C)
Ryan Zimmerman (1B)
Brian Dozier (2B)
Trea Turner (SS)
Anthony Rendon (3B)
Adam Eaton (RF)
Victor Robles (CF)
Juan Soto (LF)
Wilmer Difo (Utility)
Matt Adams (1B)

A few decisions remain to determine who will join them.


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Davey Martinez reveals the top -- and bottom -- of his lineup

Davey Martinez reveals the top -- and bottom -- of his lineup

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- We have a decision: Adam Eaton will leadoff, Trea Turner will hit second.

And, Victor Robles will reside at the bottom of the order in the ninth spot. Nationals manager Davey Martinez waffled during the spring about how to handle the top of the lineup. He recently made a decision, but declined to reveal it until asked again Saturday.

“After running all the numbers, I kind of like it,” Martinez said. “I like the fact he’s the first hitter they face. He’s a pest. I like the fact that he goes up there and sometimes gives 7-, 8-pitch at-bats, 9-pitch at-bats. And him hitting in front of Trea...Trea can hit and can drive in runs as well, so, having Robles hitting ninth, Eaton one, Trea two, that’s a pretty good combination.”

Both Eaton and Turner have led off the majority of their careers. Both would prefer to leadoff if given a straight choice. Here, Martinez decided for them.

A natural question is how such a structure would influence Turner’s opportunities to steal with either Juan Soto or Anthony Rendon right behind him. Martinez said it should have no bearing. Turner can just go.

“We want him to go,” Martinez said. “I think his biggest fear is maybe hitting in front of Anthony and Soto, but that shouldn’t deter what you do. We want him to steal bases.”

Robles is often going to hit ninth in order to align with Eaton and Turner. Martinez argues there is only one time when a player is the actual “leadoff” hitter. After that, the lineup churn begins.

So, here’s an Opening Day projection:

Eaton (L)
Soto (L)

One possible glitch is the catcher hitting in front of the pitcher. That could lead to situations where the pitcher is moving a runner, and the runner happens to be a catcher. Though, Gomes and Kurt Suzuki are above-average runners for their position.

Martinez said more information on the how and why of this decision is to come.

“Just what’s best as a whole lineup-wise, construction-wise,” Martinez said. “You’ll know more Opening Day why we want to do it, but I like Adam leading off.”