With games being played in Taiwan and the KBO about to start in Korea, how major league baseball plans to return continues to evolve. This week’s plan speculates on games eventually being played in major league stadiums with no fans. There’s no guarantee saying games will ensue in them at the onset of a truncated season, but fantasy baseball players must be pliable when putting together their rosters. Keeping this in mind, here’s the proposed divisions from Bob Nightengale’s article in USA Today:

Before delving into each potential division, it appears the West will feature two strong contenders in Houston with the Dodgers plus a dark horse in Oakland. It also boasts of many pitcher parks which further depresses the value of Rockies hitters in a shortened season. Especially in this scenario. 

Cincinnati gets an upgrade in the Central adding Detroit and Kansas City to the schedule but will also face in-state rival Cleveland. Atlanta and Minnesota could emerge as the top contenders in this division with St. Louis lurking. Getting both teams from Chicago in the same division along with the battle for Ohio makes for an intriguing set-up. 

In the East, the defending World Series champion Washington Nationals would lock horns with the Yankees and Rays while adding to rivalries. Washington versus Baltimore, the subway series in New York along with battles for Florida and Pennsylvania. 

Weighing all of this, more pieces seem to be falling into place. For one, the minor league season seems over before it started with teams looking to put together taxi squads for 2020: 

 

Then not much later, this tweet also emerged which signals everything remains fluid: 

 

Also, the three city hub idea or Arizona only appears to be worst case scenarios:

 

Just in case something happens soon regarding the new divisions to depress travel but keep teams in major league ballparks, here’s each one broken down. Using the potential rotations in each division along with the team’s projected win percentages courtesy of Fangraphs before this realignment allows for wrinkles of information if this plan goes forward. 

 

East Division

Baltimore Orioles

First and foremost, a tip of the cap along with best wishes to Trey Mancini in his battle with cancer. Our own Andy Spiteri knows this well and the Fantasy Alarm family roots for each of them. This encapsulates why Mancini’s so popular with fans and teammates alike:

 

As for Baltimore, losing Mancini for the upcoming season means a longer leash for Chris Davis along with more at-bats in the heart of the lineup for its remaining players. Suffice it to say, target this staff when getting bats in DFS or in fantasy leagues. If you do not believe me, ask Gleybor Torres how enticing facing these arms can be. 

Boston Red Sox

Added Collin McHugh in the offseason prior to roster’s locking adds potential depth to a staff sorely needing it. Boston also intimated they would deploy openers and sometimes multiple ones to overcome its lack of starting pitching with Chris Sale out for the year. News of how ready Alex Verdugo will be remains varied so watch his at-bats closely when spring training resumes. 

Miami Marlins

Most of the fantasy intrigue with the Marlins lies in how well BrIan Anderson adjusts to his new home park with the right-center field fence moved in. Plus, if a universal designated hitter becomes a rule, will they use Garrett Cooper or Jon Berti in the role? 

New York Mets

In a very top heavy division, the Mets own enough pitching to stay relevant but will the bullpen hold up in a shortened season? It needs to be better than last year to compete for the expanded play-offs. 

New York Yankees 

As time passes, the Yankees continue to heal. Paxton appears ready to start the next phase of spring training adding to his allure in any upcoming drafts. Montgomery boosted his velocities making for a strong fifth starter. New York deployed the opener strategy out of necessity at times last year with Chad Green and could do so again if necessary. Aaron Hicks could be ready by mid-to-late July, Giancarlo Stanton ’s swinging a bat and Aaron Judge continues to progress from his rib injury:

 

Philadelphia Phillies

One of the more intriguing camp battles centered on the fifth spot in the rotation. It’s far from decided if Velasquez or Eflin win the last two spots in the rotation. Keep tabs on Nick Pivetta and Ranger Suárez once spring training resumes. Added time of rest helps Andrew McCutchen prepare for the upcoming season but do not forget Jay Bruce if there’s a universal designated hitter. 

Pittsburgh Pirates

How major league baseball handles the minor league season and Super-2 prospect clocks affect potential roster manipulation moves by this organization. Expanded rosters could allow Chad Kuhl to win a spot in the bullpen and Cole Tucker to break camp with the team. A universal designated hitter could be a boon for Gregory Polanco who scouts noted could barely throw during his first round of spring training. 

Tampa Bay Rays

Although there’s still enough left-handed pitchers to keep José Martínez busy, playing a different division and even games among these nine teams caps his value since he punishes southpaws. It’s apparent this franchise remains sound in its approach to analytics having a deep farm system sets the Rays up well. Brendan McKay lies in wait to spackle in starts when needed or perhaps as the doubleheader arm to survive a sprint. A healthy Snell and Glasnow makes the top three in this rotation a dangerous one in the playoffs. 

Toronto Blue Jays

Talented prospect Nate Pearson tantalized in early spring with high octane heat and strikeouts. If Toronto sniffs the play-offs, Pearson could get the kid wheels taken off making for an intriguing late round flier in mixed league drafts. 

Washington Nationals 

Extra time off allows the Nationals top three starters extra time to heal and rest from a long postseason run. Gifted with depth, do not forget Austin Voth in drafts since he could be the extra starter when necessary for a playoff contending team. Also, Howie Kendrick gets a boost in appeal if a universal designated hitter option emerges with new divisions. 

Central Division

Atlanta Braves

Blessed with starting pitching depth to weather the storm created by a shortened season benefits Atlanta. Kyle Wright and Ian Anderson lie in wait if injury or ineffectiveness affect one of its starters. Losing games with Washington and New York for the likes of Kansas City along with Detroit add to the appeal of targeting these arms. 

Chicago Cubs

Biggest winner here could be Kyle Schwarber in a potential division loaded with right-handed pitchers. Many overlook his second half gains last year but his improved power and approach in this potential division could yield a breakout season. Davish also gains value with games versus Kansas City and Detroit added to a balanced schedule. Do not forget Alec Mills in deeper formats as an arm to displace Chatwood during the season. 

Chicago White Sox

While Atlanta and Minnesota try to win this division, the White Sox put themselves in place for playoff contention with a busy off-season adding veterans to the roster. Plus, time allows uber-prospect Michael Kopech to rehab and they can add depth with Carlos Rodón on the mend as well. 

Cleveland Indians

Recalling the demotions of Aaron Civale and Zach Plesac before the shutdown, Cleveland managed their service time with the move. Under expanded rosters with a sprint of a season, Civale and Plesac remain worthy fliers. Noting the potential changes, slugger Frammil Reyes tearing the first portion of spring training provides hope of an under the radar home run leader for the season ahead. 

Detroit Tigers

Trips to Milwaukee and Cincinnati could help hitters like C.J. Cron in a shortened season. In the rotation, this could hurt Boyd a bit facing a tough schedule with eight teams projected for better than .500 records prior to this divisional alignment. For fantasy owners trying to procure runs and stolen bases late in drafts, do not forget about Cameron Maybin

Kansas City Royals

Hoping for the go-go Royals to steal bases with reckless abandon could be depressed by Mike Matheny, time will tell. Focus on Jorge Soler ’s reduced price in drafts and profit if he carries over the gains. Duffy started strongly in the spring and there’s a chance Trevor Rosenthal finds his way to saves in the year ahead. 

Milwaukee Brewers

Perhaps one of the most interesting rotations to speculate on. Can Freddy Peralta or Corbin Burnes break through in terms of fantasy value? Their roles could be fluid but yield a bounty of strikeouts. A universal designated hitter increases the value of Ryan Braun and Avisaíl García if they do not need to share at-bats. 

Minnesota Twins

With the season shrinking, the potential value of Rich Hill increases with his ability to generate strikeouts using his curveball with aplomb. They will also receive a boost from the return of Michael Pineda when his suspension lapses. Not sure if Miguel Sanó can stay healthy for a full year, but with 108 games or less and transitioning to first base should help him going forward. 

St. Louis Cardinals

Another team benefiting from a delayed start to the year giving Mikolas time to rehab nearing a return to action when it occurs. Just in case, Kwang-Hyun Kim lies in wait for a spot in the rotation or as a sixth arm when needed. Also, do not forget this guy could be back by August:

 

West Division

Arizona Diamondbacks

In a division loaded with pitcher’s parks, perhaps Bumgarner gets a boost. Also, note how many left-handed pitchers could lie ahead for Arizona in this division making Stephen Vogt an intriguing deep league option at catcher. 

Colorado Rockies

Trying to discern how to treat Rockies hitters in these different formats but this one may be the biggest hit to them. Adding games in Seattle, Angel Stadium, and Oakland will not help with power numbers. Plus a schedule heavy in southpaws hurts Sam Hillard along with Ryan McMahon and David Dahl

Houston Astros

It remains to be seen if the Astros will break camp with this rotation, but James owners hope so. Bryan Abreu and Framber Valdez can fill in if necessary. There will be some tough contests but in this environment, letting Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve drift in drafts could be a mistake. 

Los Angeles Angels

No team accrued fewer innings from their starting pitching than the Angels last year. Adding Teheran and Bundy will help but upside will be difficult in this division. Using Bundy versus the weaker teams in pitcher parks will be very useful. Managing teams takes guile and will. As for Shohei Ohtani , his ability to hit and pitch makes him one of baseball’s least talked about stars. Before the shutdown, Ohtani could rehab and was slated to pitch on Wednesday’s to return to hitting on Friday through the weekend before his next outing. 

Los Angeles Dodgers

It’s alluring to move up Urias on draft boards but will he outearn Price? In this shortened season, the Dodgers added to the bullpen with Brusdar Graterol, Kenley Jansen ’s velocity returned in spring and they can keep Dustin May ready for spot starts to provide rest. By the way, Justin Turner could rake in this division. 

Oakland Athletics

Not listed but a factor in the pitching will be Chris Bassitt . There’s no way to know how many games there will be or how much Luzardo or Puk will pitch, but Oakland could be an intriguing team in this division and the playoffs. Matt Chapman and Marcus Semien may thrive versus the bevy of left-handed pitchers on tap. Not to mention a bounceback by Khris Davis

San Diego Padres

Who denies backing a rotation led by a young stud with the nickname of “The Sheriff”? Paddack started last year with aplomb and could be adding a curve to his arsenal. There’s some upside to be mined in this staff and do not forget about Cal Quantrill in deep formats. Prospects led by MacKenzie Gore could also emerge if the Padres can contend. Do not sleep on Manny Machado in this setup, facing this many left-handed pitchers could set his rebound up nicely compared to last year. Remember he’s hit at least 30 home runs in five straight seasons. 

San Francisco Giants

Knowing the Giants will be in rebuilding mode, how they handle prospects will be of great interest to fantasy owners with Joey Bart and Heliot Ramos lying in wait for playing time. Until then, perhaps signing Yasiel Puig as future trade bait makes sense but this division could be unforgiving at times to this franchise. 

Seattle Mariners

So, taking any Mariners pitcher comes with some risk. Speculation on their staff suggests a 3-3-3 approach to games at times with expanded rosters and to protect the young arms. If Kikuchi transforms into an opener going three innings, it hinders any chance at a win. However, if there’s no minor league season, Jarred Kelenic could make his debut this summer which excites many. 

Texas Rangers

Beefing up the rotation looks better with the truncated season on tap. It’s known to use left-handed pitchers versus the Rangers in DFS and this potential division sets up poorly for Rougned Odor . On the other hand, Isiah Kiner-Falefa raked in the first portion of spring and could be a deep league target with Todd Frazier when viewing the match-ups in this alignment. 

Again, all of this remains speculation. As more information becomes available, be sure to stay with Fantasy Alarm to remain ahead of the competition. 

Also, for an idea of how games could feel like in an empty stadium, here’s a link to read about it: 

 

Until next time, stay safe and be well Fantasy Alarm family. 

 

Statistical Credits

Fangraphs.com

MLB.com

Winning percentage courtesy of ZiPS by Dan Szymborsk

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