Week Ahead: Straight A's

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MLB careers usually see their fair share of ups and downs, but Oakland lefty Sean Manaea has reached a high point in 2021.

He's coming off a sub-par abbreviated 2020 season, showing diminished velocity and posting a 4.50 ERA and 7.5 K/9 over 11 starts. Those numbers are hardly what most fantasy managers want to employ in their lineups, and as a result, Manaea's fantasy stock plummeted coming into this season.

The results this season have been far better, especially recently. He has back-to-back scoreless outings spanning 15 innings and has allowed a total of two runs over his last four starts. The strikeout rate has also bounced back to a strong 8.7 K/9, with Manaea's velocity coming back to what we saw early in his career in 2017.

The former first-round pick is showing front of the rotation stuff again, so it's no surprise that he's arguably been Oakland's best pitcher so far this season. The ERA metrics suggest it will hold with a sub-4.00 FIP and SIERA to this point.

A long injury history does give fantasy managers reason to keep expectations in check, but when on the mound, Manaea is looking like a safe play again. A tough upcoming week with starts against the Angels and Yankees shouldn't deter fantasy managers from using him next week.

-For fantasy managers who practiced untold amounts of patience, it's finally paying off with Reds starter Luis Castillo. He's had consecutive strong outings, showing better command in June and lowering his ERA by more than one run over his last three starts. Granted, Castillo still leads the NL in earned runs and has an eye-popping 6.47 ERA at this point, but the recent success and excellent stuff should finally give his fantasy managers confidence in using him. Castillo goes on the road for starts at Milwaukee and San Diego next week.

-There seems to be no stopping Freddy Peralta in what's looking like the breakout season we've all been waiting for since he was promoted by the Brewers in 2018. His ERA is down to 2.25 with an incredible 13.0 K/9 and league-low 4.1 H/9. He's allowed two or fewer earned runs in six consecutive starts, and has at least six strikeouts in every outing this season. We shouldn't expect him to continue pitching at quite this level with an unsustainable .188 BABIP, but it seems apparent that the ace-level pitching is here to stay.

-After a relatively light week of games, next week features 18 teams playing at least seven games. The Rockies also return to Coors Field for a seven-game week.

Going Twice…

Note: Probable pitchers as of Friday, June 11, and are subject to change.

American League

Strong Plays

Tyler Glasnow: @CHW, @SEA

Lance Lynn: TB, @HOU

Hyun-Jin Ryu: NYY, @BAL

Decent Plays

Jordan Montgomery: @TOR, OAK

Nathan Eovaldi: TOR, @KC

Matthew Boyd: @KC, @LAA

Casey Mize: @KC, @LAA

Sean Manaea: LAA, @NYY

Shane McClanahan: @CHW, @SEA

Alek Manoah: @BOS, @BAL

Brad Keller: DET, BOS

Dallas Keuchel: TB, @HOU

Marco Gonzales: MIN, TB

At Your Own Risk

Dylan Bundy: @OAK, DET

Jean Carlos Mejia: BAL, @PIT

Randy Dobnak: @SEA, @TEX

Sam Hentges: BAL, @PIT

Matt Harvey: @CLE, TOR

National League

Strong Plays

Trevor Rogers: @STL, @CHC

Decent Plays

Freddy Peralta: CIN, @COL

Taijuan Walker: CHC, @WAS

Luis Castillo: @MIL, @SD

Tucker Davidson: BOS, STL

Adam Wainwright: MIA, @ATL

Tony Gonsolin: PHI, @ARI

Tyler Anderson: @WAS, CLE

Ryan Weathers: @COL, CIN

At Your Own Risk

Spencer Howard: @LAD, @SF

Patrick Corbin: PIT, NYM

Brett Anderson: CIN, @COL

Austin Gomber: SD, MIL

Jake Arrieta: @NYM, MIA

David Peterson: CHC, @WAS

Vladimir Gutierrez: @MIL, @SD

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Streamer City

The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:

American League

Wednesday, June 16: Jake Odorizzi vs. TEX

Odorizzi's performance has been inconsistent since coming off the injured list, but has a strong matchup vs. Texas next week. The Rangers remain near the bottom of the league with a .669 OPS vs. right-handers.

Thursday, June 17: Cal Quantrill vs. BAL

Quantrill is a risky spot start showing inconsistency throughout his MLB career, but he looks like an interesting streamer next week against the O's. Baltimore has a .662 OPS against right-handers this season.

Friday, June 18: Alex Cobb vs. DET

If you haven't been paying attention, Cobb is showing flashes of his old self this season with a 10.9 K/9 and 4.24 ERA in eight starts. If still available, he should certainly be added vs. the weak Detroit lineup next week.

National League

Monday, June 14: Sammy Long vs. ARI

An unheralded prospect, Long flashed plus stuff in his MLB debut this week. He gets a very favorable matchup on Monday against the reeling Diamondbacks, who rank near the bottom of the league in hitting.

Friday, June 18: Joe Ross vs. NYM

It's been an inconsistent return from a 2020 optout for Ross so far this season, but he's pitched adequate recently and had one of his best starts early in the year against the Mets. He toes the rubber again vs. their middle of the road lineup next week.

Friday, June 18: Chad Kuhl vs. CLE

Kuhl has been a viable spot starter in two outings since returning from the injured list, and faces a Cleveland lineup in the bottom half of the league in hitting and without the DH.

Total Games

American League

5: TEX

6: BOS, HOU, KC, MIN, NYY, OAK

7: BAL, CLE, CHW, DET, LAA, SEA, TB, TOR

National League

6: ATL, LAD, MIA, PHI, PIT

7: ARI, CHC, CIN, COL, MIL, SD, SF, STL, WAS

8: NYM

The Infirmary

Here’s some injuries to prominent players from the last week, and other players to watch for in the coming week. You can get a full listing of injured players at NBCSports Edge’s Injury Page.

Adbert Alzolay: Placed on IL (blister)

Chase Anderson: Placed on IL (COVID-19)

Javier Baez: Day-to-day (thumb)

Daniel Castano: Placed on IL (shoulder)

Garrett Cooper: Placed on IL (back)

Aledmys Diaz: Out 6-8 weeks (hand)

Alex Dickerson: Placed on IL (back)

Michael Fulmer: Placed on IL (shoulder)

Joey Gallo: Day-to-day (groin)

Kyle Garlick: Placed on IL (hernia)

Jon Gray: Placed on IL (shoulder)

Sonny Gray: Placed on IL (groin)

Danny Jansen: Placed on IL (hamstring)

Ian Kennedy: Placed on IL (hamstring)

Evan Longoria: Out 4-6 weeks (shoulder)

Nick Madrigal: Placed on 60-day IL (hamstring)

John Means: Placed on IL (shoulder)

Colin Moran: Day-to-day (hand)

Matt Peacock: Day-to-day (finger)

Cody Poteet: Placed on IL (knee)

Rob Refsnyder: Day-to-day (hamstring)

Travis Shaw: Out indefinitely (shoulder)

Alex Verdugo: Day-to-day (back)

Austin Voth: Placed on IL (nose)