The Miami Marlins have slipped into a funk since the trade deadline, winning only one of six contests in that time, while having to scratch and claw to claim their only win, a 12-inning, walk-off against the Philadelphia Phillies last Wednesday. It's a critical time for them to make a push back into wild-card position as fantasy baseball's Week 18 dawns, and the Marlins will begin their week with the return of a familiar name, one who headlines this week's pickups list.
You know the name, as Perez has the sixth-most Wins Above Replacement (2.0) among rookie pitchers, despite spending 56 days on the active roster this season. He was tied for the 19th-most fantasy points among all pitchers over that 56-day span and was riding a stretch of four out of five quality starts at the time the team returned him to Double-A Pensacola. The move, while somewhat unexpected, was by design, as the Marlins were trying to rein in Perez's workload after he totaled 84 1/3 innings combined between the majors and minors, after only 78 and 77 in his first two professional seasons.
Singer has always had the skills to be fantasy-relevant after being the No. 18 overall pick in the 2018 amateur draft. He was regarded as a top-100 prospect in 2019 and 2020 and had a breakthrough season in 2022. Singer was seen as a pitcher who could take the next step in 2023, but he struggled mightily early, posting a 7.12 ERA through his first 11 starts.
He appears to have straightened things out since the All-Star break, with a 2.67 ERA in his past four starts and a 26.2% strikeout rate and 2.9% walk rate over that same time span. Besides the improved control, the command and performance of his slider has also made a difference this season. Singer has generated a 43% whiff rate with the pitch since the break, greater than the 34% whiff rate he had with it in 2022 and the 30% whiff rate he had during the first half of this year. With the slider as his go-to strikeout pitch, it's a signal that he might be back to prospective breakthrough status. Singer faces a pretty decent upcoming schedule -- at BOS, SEA, at CHC, at SEA, PIT and CWS as his next six projected assignments -- with any changes potentially landing him in even more fantasy-friendly matchups (STL, at OAK, at CWS as possibilities).
Candelario is more of a deeper-league name that was moved at the trade deadline. He now fits the "what-if" description for fantasy baseball managers moving forward. The Cubs are 5-1 since the trade deadline, totaling 55 runs in the process, have won 15 of their past 19 games and are now in wild-card position. The team's decision to go for it has been a plus for their red-hot offense, and Candelario has been no different, batting .571 (12-for-21) with a .905 slugging percentage in his six games for them since the trade. He's hardly an elite fantasy hitter, with Statcast percentile grades that have been merely above-average even in his best years. But his above-average talent batting in the middle of a potent offense can deliver the production we need. What if this Cubs offense, which is indeed better on paper than you think, continues to score at a top-10-in-baseball level the rest of the way? What if Candelario manages to move himself up to the No. 2 or No. 5 spot in the lineup, helping pad his plate appearance and RBI/runs potential? He's well worth the pickup right now on either chance.
Big week for the Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox are another team that has struggled since the trade deadline, losing four in a row since that night. Boston faces a critical week that will be spent entirely at Fenway Park, hosting the Royals and Tigers for four-game series before heading to Washington to face the Nationals for their first three games of Week 19.
The Red Sox have only six players who are rostered in more than half of ESPN leagues, including Chris Sale who is potentially set to return this week, which means plenty of matchup-driven opportunities. Triston Casas was highlighted last week, though it's a negative that he's scheduled to face three left-handed starters in those seven games. However the two-start pitchers who stand out this week are Brayan Bello and this next guy:
Kutter Crawford, SP, Boston Red Sox
As he fights for his long-term rotation spot, with Tanner Houck and Garrett Whitlock also close to returning from injury, Crawford has pitched remarkably well of late. He has a 3.05 ERA, a 24.7% strikeout rate and a 6.2% walk rate, including a pair of 20-plus fantasy point performances in his four starts since the All-Star break. The Royals and Tigers rank 27th (.296) and 30th (.291) in weighted on-base average against right-handed pitchers for the season, making this a good week to stream Crawford in weekly formats.