Fantasy baseball: Weekend preview June 20-23 (2024)

  • Tristan H. co*ckcroft and Eric Karabell

Jun 20, 2024, 07:05 AM ET

The top two teams in the NL East and near-certain playoff entrants, the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves, will (separately) take part in some of the weekend's most compelling series. The Phillies and Arizona Diamondbacks meet in a rematch of last year's NLCS at Citizens Bank Park, while the Braves visit Yankee Stadium to face their opponents from the 1957, 1958, 1996 and 1999 World Series in the New York Yankees.

Fantasy managers should also bear in mind a couple of scheduling quirks Sunday. There is an 11:35 a.m. ET game, the third Sunday this season with a start time before noon ET, the finale of the Diamondbacks-Phillies series. Five of the next eight Sundays will have an 11:35 a.m. ET game on Roku. Additionally, the Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers are both off Sunday, following a two-game series Friday and Saturday, the third consecutive season in which these teams played Friday and Saturday before getting the final day of the week off.

What should we expect from these games and others from the weekend ahead? Our analysts, Tristan H. co*ckcroft and Eric Karabell are here to get you ready for it.

Fantasy baseball: Weekend preview June 20-23 (1) co*ckcroft: One of the things that most stands out to me from those two series is where the Braves-Yankees series takes place. The Yankees have had a big home-field advantage this year, having won 23 out of 34 games in the Bronx this season, good for a .676 winning percentage. Additionally, four of their 11 losses at Yankee Stadium were by just one run (Wednesday's included). The Braves, meanwhile, are a sub-.500 team on the road (17-18, .486 winning percentage).

Two of the Yankees' scheduled starters, Carlos Rodon (Friday) and Nestor Cortes (Sunday), have been noticeably better at home. Cortes' home/road splits are especially stark, as he has a 1.57 ERA in his eight home starts this season and has a near-two-run ERA differential in that split since the beginning of 2022 (2.39 home ERA, 4.28 road). Typically I don't lean heavily into such splits, but there are a handful of exceptions, and Rodon and Cortes against a Braves lineup that isn't quite so threatening now with Ronald Acuna Jr. and Michael Harris II absent seem like unexpectedly solid plays.

That said, the Braves have some solid pitching going in the series in the form of Chris Sale, Charlie Morton and Max Fried. Sale has been excellent this year, and there's no reason to worry about his matchup, either, despite the opponent and park factor.

Fantasy baseball: Weekend preview June 20-23 (2) Karabell: It is a compelling series, especially since the Braves have started hitting lately (notably 3B Austin Riley, 1B Matt Olson, C Sean Murphy), but I think you buried the lead. Yankees OF Aaron Judge was hit by a pitch in the hand on Tuesday, and he sat out Wednesday. The Yankees claim all is well, but this is the top power hitter in the sport. We watch all of his at-bats. I hope all is well, but I want to see what happens. After all, Judge has been known to miss a few games.

The motivated Phillies, still hurting from shockingly losing Games 6 and 7 at home to this upstart Diamondbacks team in October, got their shortstop back this week (Trea Turner), but demoted their center fielder (Johan Rojas) and remain without their starting catcher (J.T. Realmuto). Perhaps those in ESPN standard leagues do not care about OFs Brandon Marsh, Cristian Pache and David Dahl, and 2B/OF Whit Merrifield, but they are all playing. Arizona will throw at least one left-hander (Jordan Montgomery) in this series. The Phillies could start playing Kody Clemens and Edmundo Sosa in left field, too. I'm watching!

The Sunday night game on ESPN is New York Mets at Chicago Cubs. It's not quite Yankees-Braves or Phillies-Diamondbacks, but nearly every NL team is a contender! Does this series intrigue you?

Fantasy baseball: Weekend preview June 20-23 (3) co*ckcroft: I suppose, in that it makes me ask, can Grimace come back to pitch? The Mets finally lost their first game since Grimace celebrated his birthday by throwing out the first pitch on June 12, a 5-3 loss to the Texas Rangers, but he's been the talk of Mets-town. The Mets rotation doesn't especially impress me -- Luis Severino is closest to fantasy relevance, yet he has a bland 17.4% strikeout rate -- and that's especially the case for the trio they have on tap for this weekend (Jose Quintana, Tylor Megill, David Peterson). Grimace to the rotation!

The Cubs, meanwhile, have run really, really cold, winning only 14 of their last 38 games to go from first to last place in the NL Central. I'm not used to seeing this from a Craig Counsell-led team, but the Cubs are simply not hitting, their middle relief has been so-so and now closer Hector Neris has fallen into a mighty funk (7 ER over his last 2 2/3 innings). At least we're seeing better play from Ian Happ (32.1% available in ESPN leagues), and Nico ho*rner has more utility for our purposes out of the leadoff spot.

Boston Red Sox-Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park intrigues me from this weekend's series, although that's more on the hitting side, knowing the park factors at that venue. Jarren Duran has had a great year as Boston's usual leadoff man, but it's Ceddanne Rafaela who has most picked up his play of late, batting .377/.406/.475 in the month of June. I mentioned him briefly as a Mookie Betts replacement on Monday, but I should have leaned further into that, apparently, especially since he has a decent chance at capturing the same OF/2B/SS eligibility that Betts has.

Fantasy baseball: Weekend preview June 20-23 (4) Karabell: I love all the stolen bases coming from the Red Sox, and want to see Duran and 2B/SS David Hamilton leading that lineup and wreaking havoc on the basepaths for the rest of the season. Speaking of havoc, the Colorado Rockies are home this weekend! Even Grimace wouldn't have a chance.

Back in March, if I asked you to choose between Rockies OF Nolan Jones or Washington Nationals OF Jesse Winker this season, you would have laughed out loud. Jones was the clear consensus pick. Yet now, after a 20/20 rookie season, Jones is barely hitting his weight, with just one home run. Winker, whom nobody considered, has seven homers and 11 steals. Baseball!

Now Winker heads to Coors Field! Expect a big weekend for available OFs Winker and Lane Thomas. On the Denver side, SS Ezequiel Tovar and OF Brenton Doyle are legit, and OF/1B Hunter Goodman (and four games at catcher!) is slugging .731 against lefties, and he will face several this weekend.

For more on this weekend's matchups, check out our 10-day hitting matchup ratings and pitching projections.

Fantasy baseball: Weekend preview June 20-23 (2024)

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