Week 5 Starting Pitcher Streaming Options 4/30 – 5/6

As we continue to search for starting pitchers to stream, the player pool starts to get thin. We are entering week 5 of the MLB season so there’s a decent sample from pitchers and the cream always rises to the top. Keep in mind these are all pitchers who are owned in 25% or less of Yahoo & ESPN leagues per FantasyPros. Last week Tyler Anderson left after 1.1 IP in his start, so we ended up with limited streams. My streaming picks last week went

0 W 3.44 ERA 1.20 WHIP 15 K in 18 1/3 IP; more solid ratios, limited wins

Kyle Gibson (MIN) 9% at home vs TOR on 5/1
Kyle Gibson is good you guys. That’s something I never thought I’d say. Gibson sports a cool 10.0 K/9 which is supported by a very good 13% SwStr rate. While the walks are high, they haven’t hurt him because he’s given up only one home run all season. All of Gibson’s secondary pitches (slider, change, curve) have yielded plus pitch values on FanGraphs. He also gets to pitch at home against the Donaldson-less Blue Jays who sport a 25.5% K rate as a team. It’s Gib-SON. STREAM

Andrew Triggs (OAK) 6%  on the road vs SEA on 5/1
Triggs has performed well thus far, he’s soft tosser (90 mph FB) with a sinker, curve/slider, and a change. He induces a high amount of grounders and will face a fully healthy Mariners club. It’s an underrated lineup filled with veterans and some solid left handed hitters (Cano, Seager, and Gordon). Triggs typically doesn’t miss many bats but his 9.0 K/9 says otherwise. However, looking deeper, the 8.4% swinging strike rate and 93.9% zone contact rate tell me that he’s due for regression. I don’t usually rely on batter v pitcher numbers, but in 10 plate appearances, Cruz and Cano have a combined  for 6 hits and 3 HRs against Triggs and Seattle as a team has hit .426 against the righty. STAY AWAY

Sean Newcomb (ATL) 22% away vs NYM Tuesday 5/1
Newcomb has upside in terms of strikeouts for a streamer but also has blowup potential due to his elevated walk rate. The Mets have a 27.4% strikeout rate as a team! He’s also been a bit unlucky with his .343 BABIP and a sub 70% LOB rate. He’s been inducing more ground balls this year limiting the potential for home runs. STREAM, but only if you need strikeouts.

Yonny Chirinos (TB) 6% Home/Away vs Blue Jays on 5/4
Can I forgive Yonny for another rough start this week? Maybe, let’s see. He’s getting lucky with a .250 BABIP and and 80% left on base rate. I love a guy who doesn’t give free passes but a 43% hard contact rate against with a sub 8.0% HR/FB rate does not compute. Toronto isn’t all that scary, especially at the Trop, but Chirinos will be limited to 80-85 pitches so a win and high strikeout totals will be difficult. The chances of a 3-4 inning blow up are higher than a gem, I’m passing. STAY AWAY

Marco Gonzalez (SEA) 6% Home vs LAA on 5/5
Can Marco contain the LA Trouts? The former highly touted prospect is off to a poor start based on his surface numbers: 5.56 ERA and 1.46 WHIP. However, an insanely high .422 BABIP with a 64% LOB rate tells me there’s some positive regression coming. His 10.7 K/9 is great but combined with a 2.48 BB/9 is excellent. (FYI excellent is better than great IMO). It’s a tough task but the Angels will strikeout and Gonzalez doesn’t give up a lot of fly balls. That, combined with limiting walks should yield positive results. I’m good with streaming Marco. STREAM.

Trevor Cahill (OAK) 9% Home v BAL on 5/5
It’s 2017 all over again. Cahill is mowing down batters with a K rate that sits at 10.5 K/9 through two starts. The long reliever/short starter is sure to burn out by mid-July, but he’s fresh now and I like the way he’s getting the job done. The Machad-Os are struggling. Yes, they get Schoop back, but he may be cold as he’s been out for three weeks. Cahill isn’t concerned because he’s got his ground and pound approach going to the tune of 60% ground ball rate. You see that 15% SwStr rate? Yes, yes I do. STREAM

Marco Estrada (TOR) 20% of the road vs TB on 5/6
I’m not starting Estrada against the Twins on Tuesday, it’s a bad match-up, the Twins are sneaky good. If he gets a second start this week, it’ll come on Sunday against the Rays. Estrada has always suppressed BABIP evidenced by a career .264 BABIP. He does this by being an extreme fly ball pitcher inducing a ton of popups and weak contact. There’s also a home run risk with Estrada, but the Rays don’t concern me, the lineup is it good. STREAM

Weekly Rundown – 4/21 – 4/27

HOT Hitters

The Notorious DIDI is at is again blasting 5 homers and driving in 13 runs while hitting over .450 this week. The league leader in RBI has continued his onslaught on MLB pitching. I’ll admit when I’m wrong and I was way off on Didi Gregorius coming into the season. He’s walking at a career high and striking out at a career low. He’s hitting that ball very hard and his high drive percentage is a hair under 20% (league average is around 6.1%). His xStats are great but the one interesting note is that xHR sits under 5 (currently has 10 homers). He’s outperformed his Stats in the past so I’m riding this out with Didi especially if he continues to hit in the middle of the Yankee lineup.

Michael A Taylor has had himself a week after a slow start filling out the stat sheet with 2 homers and 3 steals hitting .313. Taylor has been a great source of steals with 9 on the season but I’m not buying the hot streak. He has contact issues, hits too many ground balls and a lot of poor contact. His walk rate is up which is good and I’d hold him if you need steals or are in a deep league. In shallow leagues, he’s a sell for me right now.

Brandon Belt, the Prince of xStats is murdering baseballs. He’s hitting .455 this past week with 3 homers and leads the league in OPS (last 7 days). Whoops, nope, that’s Didi, Belt is second. The 6 homers on the season is a third of his career high in a single season. He’s rolling with career highs in both hard (high) and soft contact (low) which which tells me he’s selling out for power evidenced by his elevated O-swing and SwStr rates. I like the power gains but I’d sell him while he’s hot. If he maintains the power, which will be difficult at AT&T Park, he’s likely to lose 50 points on his average.

Kyle Schwarber has blasted 4 home runs this past week and has followed up a terrible 2017 with a hot start to 2018. So far, things are looking great, the strikeouts are down, the walks are up and the lower SwStr and O-Swing back that up. The one negative, I noticed is his launch angle is down to only 7 degrees. He’s hitting less fly balls, the ones he’s hitting have been fantastic, just check his 40% HR/FB rate. As great as that is, it won’t last. He’s not a sell, because he’s still stinging the ball and this lower LA could keep his average above .260.

Matt Davidson has 4 dingers this past week and continues to prove doubters wrong. He’s got 9 homers on the season but there are some underlying numbers that make me concerned about his season long term. The strikeout rate sits over 34% and his launch angle is below 9 degrees which is not ideal for a power hitter. As a result, he’s only hit fly balls 33% of the time which is more in line with a mid-teens to 20 homer type FB rate. Here’s the outrageous number of the day, his HR/FB is 60%! Yes, that’s correct, it leads the league by nearly 20% and almost doubles Bryce Harper’s 33% which ranks 3rd in MLB! In OBP leagues, I’m holding him because he has improved his walk rate but I’d sell high on him in standard leagues.

Freezing Hitters

J.D. Martinez is hitting .238 this past week. His Ks are up and BB are down. Has the decline for JDM begun? No, not even close, he’s hitting 60% of his batted balls hard. When he makes contact, it’s Judge-like, his average exit velocity is over 95 mph and his high drive rate is nearly 30% which is almost triple the league average! Per xStats, he’s actually been unlucky and should have more HRs and a higher average. If this cold stretch continues, I’m buying!

Chris Taylor has gone 5 for his last 26 with 2 runs, no homers, no RBI, and no steals. Ugh, this follow up to his 2017 breakout is a nightmare. He hasn’t stolen a base and his BABIP sits nearly 100 points lower than in 2017. We knew the .361 from last year was a bit inflated but this is low. He does have 3 homers and 10 XBH, and his contract rate is right where it was last year. He’s not hitting the ball quite as hard but I expect the numbers to up a bit, he’s a hold or moderate buy.

Andrew McCutchen is 2 for his last 16, that’s a .125 average but at least he taking walks, right? He hasn’t homers or stolen a base in that stretch and is now hitting under .200 for the season. Slow start for Cutch, but other than a slight increase in K rate, he’s the same guy. He’s still walking a ton, the BABIP will come back up and his 3 homers + 3 steals is solid. I’m buying Cutch right now.

Anthony Rizzo is 5 for his last 23 without a homer with a total of 1 bomb this year. He’s walking less and striking out more, very uncharacteristic of his track record. I’m worried about big Riz. His value hits are half of the league average and his poor hit rate is nearly 25% which is 5% over league average. His xStats don’t paint a much prettier picture, so it’s possible he’s hurt. If he keeps struggling the next couple weeks and they don’t DL him, I’m selling.

Justin Upton is in one of his slumps going 4 for his last 22 without a home run. Even though Upton was able to hold off an long slumps in his incredible 2017 campaign, he’s been known for prolonged slumps throughout the season. Nothing out of the ordinary for Upton. His batted ball profile and plate dicsiline is right in line with his previous seasons. It’s funny because the fantasy community believes Upton is inconsisten (especailly head to head players), but he’s as bankable as they come. He’l end up with a .260 BA, 26-30 HR, and 90-100 RBI.

Dee Gordon is hitting .192 in the last seven days without a steal. Where is Gordon’s value without steals? Now, he can’t steal bases every week but if you’re expecting 60 from him, you want that consistent production. The 9 steals on the season are nice and puts him on pace for over 50 steals. His speed hasn’t declined yet and so that’s good but he’s swinging and missing more so less opportunities to steal bases. If this keeps up, he’s probably more of a .285 guy with 50 steals than a .300-60 guy.

HOT Pitchers

Sean Manaea followed up his no hitter against the Red Sox with a gem against the World Series Champion Astros. No surprise, he’s the number one pitcher over the last seven days with 2 wins, 17 strikeouts, no earned runs and a WHIP of 0.44. He’s been amazing but he’s not an ace. His 98.2% LOB and a .148 BABIP just won’t stick. Don’t get me wrong , I love Manaea but he’s probably a 3.40-3.60 ERA pitchers with a K rate around 8.5/9. A solid #2 or 3.

Kyle Gibson has looked great in his last two starts with an ERA under 3.00 and a WHIP below 1.00 in that stretch along with 17 Ks in just over 12 innings. I’d be picking him up in 12 team leagues and deeper where available. His Swinging strike rate is up 3%, that is not insignificant. Yes, that’s a double negative. Otherwise, he’s the same guy, but more Ks equal less blow ups. I think he can be a solid number five or six, so hold or pick up for now.

Miles Mikolas has proved to be more than ready to dominate Major League hitters giving up only four earned runs in his last three starts. He needs to be owned in even the shallowest of leagues if available. He was bit by the long ball in his first few starts and could be an issue going forward, but he’s averaging over 95 mph on his fastball and allows a lot of weak contact. I’m buying now, but keep an eye on the velocity, if that dips, he may be starting to fatigue. If that happens, you need to sell.

Chris Tillman, yes everyone Chris Tillman pitched seven innings last night without giving up a homer or a run for that matter. He struck five and has a 2.77 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP in his last two starts. Here’s my advice for you on Tillman, don’t pick him up and if you own him in a super deep league SELL! He’s allowing a .313 BA with a .571 SLG. xStats actually says he’s been lucky! His walk rate and strikeout rate are identical. Excuse me….Sorry, I just threw up, but I’m back. SELLLLLLLL

Freezing Pitchers

Marcus Stroman has an 8.88 ERA on the season with his worst starts coming this past week.  He’s given up 14 runs (12 ER) in his last 10.2 IP, he also walks four in his start against the Yankees. Ground ball rate is great vut his hard contact given up is high. His average exit velo against is over 92 mph. That’s not good fam. He has been unlucky but his control is off as well with a 12+% BB rate, so he’s paying for allowing the walks and the hard contact. I don’t like what he’s doing and his velocity is down. I’m selling, he’s a streamer, nothing more.

Luis Castillo has given up eight earned runs in his last six innings along with 13 hits and six walks! This one really hurts. His velocity wasn’t bad last night, he was regularly hitting 96 mph and touched 97 but his command and control was off. He’s stuff is good but he’s making way too many mistakes. He also doesn’t trust his slider, he threw a total of three sliders and they all went for balls. This is a problem, if he’s not hurt he’s droppable in 10 team leagues. In deeper leagues you have to hold him for now. If he hits the DL then at least there’s a reason for his poor performance.

Danny Duffy has given up 10 earned runs in his last two starts while striking out only five batters in 10.2 IP. I’ll make this quick, I’m out on Duffy, Velocity is down a bit, swings and misses are down, contact up, hard contact up, I could keep going. He’s a drop in shallow leagues and ell low in deep leagues.

Clayton Kershaw has not looked sharp as he walked six batters, yes SIX, in his last start against the Marlins of all teams. It’s not just the walks but his 14 hits allowed in his last 12 innings is also no Kershaw like. Check out this great deep dive into Kershaw’s struggles from Nick Pollack on RotoGraphs. Basically, his fastball command is off and his velocity is down. It’s completely devalued the pitch which has been so great for Kershaw in his career and throws off the sequencing of his awesome curve and slider. I had Kershaw as the #3 SP coming into the year and if he can’t correct this fastball issue, I may be dropping him outside the top 5 or 6 overall SPs. Don’t sell yet, but monitor the situation.

Tim Anderson – Player Profile

I want to start doing some deep dives on player profiles as the season progresses. Now that we are in our fourth week of the season, many statistics begin to stabilize.  We can start weeding out some players who had hot starts and find out whether you can drop, hold, or buy these players. The first player I’ll write on is Tim Anderson.

If you slept on Tim Anderson this off-season, please do yourself a favor and check out his category juice to date. I wouldn’t worry about the 5 RBI total, focus in on the power-speed combination. He’s currently ranked second in the league in combined HR + steals with 11 with Mike Trout (of course) leading the way with 14. Not bad for a guy drafted after 175 overall in most drafts this off-season. I was guilty of being off Anderson coming into 2018 mostly due to his 24.6% K-BB rate. No, that’s not his strikeout rate, it’s his strikeout rate after you subtract his walk rate! What’s changed with Anderson this year? The guy who only stole 15 bases in 2017 in over 600 plate appearances now has eight in less than 20 games.

Anderson did steal 49 bases back in 2015 in Double-A and totaled 95 steals in 331 minor league games. That’s about one steal every 3.5 games. Anderson only attempted 16 steals in 2017 and was successful on all but one. Ok, so a 94% success rate is pretty good. The White Sox aren’t winning this year (and most likely next year) so why not get aggressive on the bases? I like the aggressive approach from Manager Ricky Renteria with some of the young athletes the Sox have, that includes Yoan Moncada who is getting hot of late. It’s clear that Anderson has been given the green light evidenced by a stealing a base when down by four runs in the ninth inning of a ball game. Or when he attempted to steal third in a five-run game with Justin Verlander on the mound. This one is just funny. Fantasy owners are going to be just fine with this aggressive approach.

Let’s check out Statcast speed scores. Anderson is tied for 9th best in the league with the usual suspects near the top like Buxton, Hamilton, Gordon, Trevor Story….. Wait, what?? I better dig deeper on Story, but that’s for another day. Part of the issue in 2017 with Anderson was his lack of on-base skills. His .276 OBP was the worst for any leadoff hitter and ranked third from the bottom among qualified hitters. This year, that awful 2.1% BB rate currently sits at 9.0%. Now, that’s only seven walks, but that’s just six less than all of 2017. Is this walk rate for real?

Tim Anderson Plate Discipline  
SeasonZone%Swing%O-Swing%F-Strike%
201643.950.336.467.5
201745.354.741.366.3
201845.753.137.668.0

Not quite. He’s simply swinging just about as much as ever, he has cut down on his O-Swing (or chase rate) a bit but has actually seen more first-pitch strikes. So he’s working from behind more often than he has in the past. The only reason I can muster is the fact that he’s swinging and missing more which of course means his contact rate is down. In reality, this could help his walk rate but should also be a hindrance to his strikeout rate which is actually down about 5% this year. Based on this information, I expect a steep decline in walks going forward, which is bad for his stolen bases.

We haven’t talked about the power yet. In those 331 minor leagues games mentioned earlier, Anderson popped a total of 19 homers. He’s already got 29 bombs in 260 Major League games and three early this year. I believe in his power production, he’s increased his fly ball percentage each of the last three seasons. He currently has an average exit velocity of 93.8 mph on his fly balls and line drives and has barreled nearly 7% of his batted balls. Compare that to last year’s 91.4 mph EV on his FB+LD and only 3.6% of his batted balls were barreled. I know it’s early, but Anderson looks a lot like a 20 homer hitter to me.

This is where shizz gets sexy!  We now know that the 20 homer pop is legit based on the increased fly ball rate, increased hard contact, and his pull percentage which currently at 54% (typically around 42%). This leads me to believe that an improvement from his 14.4% HR/FB rate in 2017 should improve to somewhere between 15-18%. Given about 600 plate appearances, I see 21 dingers from Timmy. Oh, and those steals. Well, given a high ground ball rate and his foot speed, the .294 BABIP should jump up little to somewhere between .325-.335 giving him a .260-.270 batting average. The OBP should sit around .300 which isn’t great but better than 2017.

The positive outlook for Anderson in terms of steals is there because he’s attempting a steal about 30% of his possible opportunities. That’s a blistering pace to keep up, it’s basically a Billy Hamilton-type pace. Even if we drop that to a more realistic 20%-22%, he should push 35-42 SB attempts, call it 38. At a 75% success rate, that’s 29 steals to go along with his 21 HR. Ok, so we have Byron Buxton from 2017 with these projections.

While these are clearly realistic projections, I tend to believe they are more in the range of a 75% projection. That being said, those numbers push top 50 overall and even something similar to last year’s 17 homers with an uptick to about 25 steals means a solid bargain for what owners paid on draft day. I’d be buying for a reasonable price especially if you need speed.

 

 

Week 4 SP Streaming Options 4/23 – 4/29

Ended up with some solid streams last week with a final line of:

2 Wins 2.92 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 28 K in 31 1/3 innings

Let’s keep it going this week.

Trevor Cahill (OAK) 1% 4/23 on the road v TEX
I would have preferred that this one was is Oakland but Rangers are a big swing and miss team and haven’t hit their stride yet offensively.  Cahill looked good in his first start and his fastball velocity was over 93 mph along with an increased curveball usage (which is his best pitch). Maybe he can capture some early season success similar to last year. STREAM

Matt Boyd (DET) 6% 4/25 road  v PIT
The fact that this is on the road doesn’t bother me. PNC Park is a fine pitchers park and Boyd should face the pitcher at least twice instead of the DH. However, Boyd is a lefty and many of the Pirates best hitters are right handed or switch hitters. Boyd sports a 5.1 K/9, a 98% left on base percentage, and a .132 BABIP. I’m betting on shit going sideways in this one. STAY AWAY

Chad Kuhl (PIT) 3% 4/24 at home v DET
My love/hate relationship continues with Kuhl. He throws 96 mph with a very good slider. Except he’s throwing that slider less. Hmmm, that’s odd. He’s been hurt by a .371 BABIP but he also isn’t getting many whiffs or hitters to chase. I can’t recommend Kuhl against the Tigers. They aren’t scary but have some professional hitters that I believe will get to Kuhl knocking him out early in this one. STAY AWAY

Ivan Nova (PIT) 25% 4/26 home v DET
Seems like I’m picking on the Tigers this week. They have been heating up recently, so it might not be the cake walk most think. However, Nova has been solid over his last several starts going at least 6 innings with 3 runs or less in his last three while striking out an uncharacteristic 18 batters in just over 19 innings. His ground ball tendencies should hold up against the mostly weak hitting Tigers. The fact that the best hitters on the Tigers are right handed lies in Nova’s favor. STREAM

Tyler Anderson (COL) 3% 4/27 road v Mia
I’m not a fan of Tyler Anderson but a road start against the Marlins changes that. Anderson pitched well at home against the Cubs on Saturday, maybe he can carry it into this start. He’s inducing a lot of swings and misses which appears to be more smoke and mirrors. This one is risky especially if his control is bad. With warmer weather, I think his control will be better, I’m rolling with one. STREAM

Zack Wheeler (NYM) 22% 4/28 road v SD
The Mets have moved Harvey to the bullpen meaning Wheeler has a shot at staying in the rotation for the time being. Wheeler’s velocity looks good in his first 2 starts. He’s dropped the sinker and his slider is still a good pitch. I like his chances against a young inexperienced Padres team. STREAM

Weekly Rundown: 4/14 – 4/20

Alright fam, here’s another weekly rundown article with all of you hottest and coldest players along with buys/sells, holds. Stay up to date on the most recent fantasy baseball news. I’ll make sure you’re doing the right thing with these players.

HOT

The Todd Father, Todd Frazier has had a nice week hitting .409 with 3 bombs and driven in 8 runs. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m buying! I don’t expect this to last but right now, he’s swinging and missing less, hitting the ball much harder than last year, and not hitting popups which has really plagued him the last few years. I love that he’s walking at an 18% clip as well. Like I said, I don;t expect him to keep this up, but ride it until the wheels fall off.

Christian Villenueva is scorching hot. He followed up his 3 HR debut with three more dingers this past week and hitting a robust .588! Nope, I’m not buying it. His BABIP is .440 and his K rate is almost 32%. The 37.5% HR/FB will not last, not even Aaron Judge can keep that rate up. His plate discipline is a complete mess with an O-Swing near 40% and a SwStr over 17%. Check out the most recent episode of Benched with Bubba podcast, we discuss Villenueva among others on this list.

Mookie Ballgame! He’s really just Mookie Best, nothing new here. Move along.

Jed Lowrie everyone! Your AL RBI leader! He’s also bashed 3 homers this week. I’m holding Lowrie. Some of the gains are legitimate. Lowrie had 66 XBH last year but only 14 homers. Well, he’s hitting more fly balls and hitting them harder and as a result, more long balls. You likely paid nothing for Lowrie, I’d ride this out, but he is an injury risk.

Teoscar Hernandez was called up a week ago and has hit 2 homers and added on a steal. I wish he started the season with the big club but instead the Blue Jays needed 49 year old Grandy and trade for Grichuk. But I digress. He’s up now and playing well. I’m buying him everywhere. He’s a good source of power and speed, the batting average will be low but Teoscar is primed for a breakout.

Charlie Morton has continued his transformation from a Salt salesman into an Ace. But wait, the Astros already have Verlander and Cole! This seems unfair! Anyways, Morton has struck out 20 batters in his last 13 innings with a 1.38 RA and a 0.77 WHIP. He’s also manged a 60% GB rate which is just insane. He only threw 146 innings in the regular season last year but an additional 23 innings in the postseason. The 169 IP would be the second most of his long career. I wouldn’t count on 200 innings but 150+ of this would be like Rich Hill but better LOL.

Eduardo Rodriguez has 3 starts off the DL and has pitched excellent in in his last two games. He’s got 2 wins and 20 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings. His velocity looks good and I like him long term. I’d be picking him up if he’s not owned. There are a couple red flags to be aware of including a BB rate sitting at 4.0/9, a 49% fly ball rate, and a low zone rate. If he continues to get hitters to chase at an above average rate, he should be fine but walks + fly balls in the summer equal bad starts.

Jake Faria has twirled two great starts giving up only two earned runs while striking out 13 batters in just over 1 innings. This coming after a disaster against the Red Sox on April 7. I loved Faria coming into the season but there’s a lot that has me concerned right now with Faria.  He’s been lucky in terms of HR/FB sitting under 8% with an over 40% fly ball rate. His ground ball rate is only 25% and his strikeout minus walk rate is 5.1%. That’s not good. I’m leaving him on the wire until he figures things out.

COLD

Matt Chapman had a great start to the season and now he’s hitting .136 with no homers the last 7 days. This is bound to happen. I’m not worried, Chapman looks even better than I anticipated. These weeks will happen. I’m holding him or buying if an owner isn’t feeling him.

Carlos Santana continues his early season struggles hitting .167 the past week with no homers and only 1 RBI. His BABIP is a sickly .135 but he’s near the leaders in exit velocity. Eventually, the hits will come. His K minus BB rate is about 2%, meaning he’s walking just about as much as he’s striking out. His 50% fly ball rate will result in a ton of homers but his batting average could suffer even with a correction in his BABIP. Hitting in behind of Cesar Hernandez (.430 OBP) and in front of Rhys Hoskins (BEAST) will yield great R + RBI production. BUY LOW

Joey Votto, what is going on? 7.8% walk rate? His previous career low is 10% way back in 2008, his first full season and hasn’t been below 16% since 2011. He hasn’t homered yet and has a total of one extra base hit! He’s not hitting the ball hard but he isn’t chasing, he’s not swinging and missing and he’s hitting a high quantity of line drives. Here’s some extremes: he’s hitting .087 on ground balls (typically about .240) and 0.067 on fly balls (typically about .205), so yes unlucky. I’m BUYING. It’s Joey Votto, he had a poor first half in 2016 and hit over .400 in the second half.

Matt Harvey continues his downward decent into fantasy irrelevance. Two more poor starts against the Braves and the Brewers. There’s even talk of sending him down to the minors. If he’s owned in your league, you can safely drop him and I’m sorry you had to endure his start to the season.

Sonny Gray has managed only 6 1/3 IP in his last two starts giving up 11 earned runs. Rough start for Gray but you have to hold him. What really concerns me is his 11 walks and several wild pitches early. The weather has been cold in his bad starts and it’s possible Gray is being a fair weather pitcher. He doesn’t appear to have feel for his pitches. I’d wait a few more start before doing anything drastic as the weather warms.

Masahiro Tanaka has back to back 6 ER outings in 5 innings. Would you be surprised if I told you that he’s been hurt by the long ball? No Yeah, me either. His K and BB rates are great, the ground ball looks fine. Listen, you understand the home runs will be an issue but should come with a 9+ K/9, low walks leading to great WHIP. Tanaka is a BUY LOW.

 

Week 3 Streaming Options 4/16 – 4/22

Chad Kuhl messed up a near perfect streaming week for me, but I’m still happy about the results. The numbers last week look like this: 1 Win, 2.22 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 17 K, 24 1/3 innings.

Again, the strikeouts were low. Obviously, most high strikeout pitchers are owned in over 25% of leagues, but I still need to do a better job of streaming some high K plays. Pivetta, Junis, and Chirinos were fantastic! Pivetta will be streamed again this week as he slides under the 25% ceiling. Junis is too high, so he’s disqualified. Minnesota got about 2 feet of snow this past weekend so no games were played in that series throwing off my Rey Lo pick last week. Reynaldo is now at 37% owned, so I can no longer stream him. (maximum 25% owned in ESPN/Yahoo leagues).

Hyun-Jin Ryu (LAD), 11% 4/16 away v SD
This is less of an endorsement of Ryu and more about the banged up Padres. I’m not a believer in his 9+ K/9, but I do like his 50% ground ball rate so far in 2018. Wil Myers and Manual Margot are on the DL. I’m not worried about Hosmer too much. Franchy Cordero is an interesting name but, I think Ryu can go 6 innings with 2 ER or less and piles up 5 to 6 strikeouts. STREAM

Nick Pivetta (PHI), 21% 4/17 Away v ATL
I’m not sure how Pivetta is still under 25% owned but he is, SO GRAB HIM NOW!. Atlanta is on fire offensively and they just beat up on Cubs pitching. Oh, and some guy named Ronald Acuna should be called up any day, maybe tomorrow. I’m taking my chances because Pivetta has been great to start the year. Pivetta continues to average just about 95 mph on his fastball and can get plenty of whiffs on his curve and slider. He’s also limited hard contact to just under 21%. The Braves are the 5th hardest team to strikeout and in the top 10 in BB rate. I don’t expect a dominant performance but a quality start with 5 to 6 Ks is in order. STREAM.

Daniel Mengden (OAK): 2% 4/17 Home v CWS
The White Sox are striking out 26.4% of the time, as a team! That’s not good and the White Sox are not good. While Mengden is not know for his strikeouts, he has a chance at a handful against the White Sox free swingers. Mengden doesn’t allow many free passes and his LOB% is an impossibly low 35.7%. His O-Swing is at 31.2% which is above league average, so some weak contact may be in order as well. The home park should limit the long ball this week as well. Plus he’s got an 80-grade mustache! STREAM

Sean Newcomb (ATL): 20% 4/19 Home v Mets
Newcomb is a high risk/high reward option. He just handled the Cubs with 5.1 IP, 7 Ks, and 2 ER. However, he tied to the WHIPing Post with 6 hits and 4 walks. That’s Newcomb though, his K rate is over 12.0/9 but his walk rate is 4.6/9. The Mets are hot right now but I need strikeouts as I mentioned in the intro. Newcomb has been unlucky in terms of BABIP and I like his ground ball rate which sits at 50%. His infield defense is very good with Swanson, Albies, and Freeman all well above average and Flaherty has held his own at 3B. The Mets strikeout and walk at above average clips. This is either a 6 inning 9 K QS or a 3 inning 5 K 5 ER blowup. I’m gonna take the risk. STREAM

Tyson Ross (SD): 4% 4/18 Home v LAD
No, he’s not out of the league and has posted 2 wins in 3 starts this season with a 3.50 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. He’s pitched well and I do like his 54% ground ball rate but I think he’s due for some serious regression. He hasn’t induced a popup yet and is allowing an above average line drive with a below average BABIP. The heavy left-handed lineup of the Dodgers wakes up this week against Ross. Maybe this is what Bellinger and Seager need to get going. I’d STAY AWAY from Ross in this one.

Mike Minor (TEX): 10% 4/20 Home v SEA
The former starter and reliever is back in a starting role. His overall numbers are ok, but I find it odd that his ground ball rate currently sits at 19% with a fly ball rate over 60%! That explains his low BABIP but how he’s only allowed a 7.7% HR/FB rate with over 35% hard contact, I can’t figure. He’s also sporting a below average O-Swing and a 50% first pitch strike percentage. With the likes of Nelson Cruz back this week and hot hitting Robinson Cano and Mitch Haniger, I’m sensing a blow up here. STAY AWAY!

Matt Boyd (DET): 3% 4/20 Home v KC
YEAH BOYYYYYYD! Ok, not many strikeouts from Boyd, I understand that. That’s why I took Newcomb though! Boyd has a ton of luck on his side in terms of BABIP, HR/FB, and LOB%. I don’t trust him this season but against the Kansas City Royals in a great ball park, I’ll take my chances. Boyd doesn’t give out many free passes and his SwStr rate is over 10%, so maybe he can grab us a few Ks. Let’s give Boyd one more chance. STREAM

 

Weekly Rundown 4/7 – 4/13

Another week in the the books for the 2018 season! I’ll take a look at some of the hottest and coldest hitters this past week. I will give some thoughts on buys/sells/holds based on recent performance and underlying analysis. Quick note, my boy Ozzie Albies has 2 more XBHs today with a bomb and a double and continues to be the best 21 year old in the bigs. Tommy Pham appears to have corrected his issues with his eyes increasing his walk rate and swinging out of the zone only 20% of the time. Oh and has 2 steals today giving him 5 on the season. A 20-30 season is within reach.

Mookie Betts doing Mookie things. He’s hitting .375 with a homer, 11 runs and 9 RBI. He’s walking more than he’s striking out and is boasting a near 50% hard contact rate. His O-Swing and SwStr are both abut half of the league average. He’s poised for one of his best seasons especially if he keeps this up when the weather heats up.

Javier Baez had back-to-back two homer games earlier this week and he’s chipped in with a steal. He’s only hitting .211 in the last seven days. This is what you get from Baez. If you can sell him high, I’d go ahead and try it. His O-Swing and Swstr are just about in line with his career numbers. I don’t believe he’s improving in his approach even though his walk rate is up to 12% due to four IBB. There will be great games like this from Baez but there will be long cold stretches throughout the season.

Asdrubal Cabrera just keeps hitting. He was overlooked in drafts with the signing of Todd Fraizer and Amed Rosario in line as the starting shortstop. However, he’s basically been the everyday second baseman for the Mets. He’s hitting .440 with 3 homers this past week. This looks legit and I’m picking him up in 2 team and deeper leagues. He’s hitting more fly balls and making more contact than ever. He’s hit .280 each of the last to years averaging more than 18 homers. With more contact and more fly balls, he could hit 20-25 bombs given every day at bats.

Jose Martinez is for real! He’s on a .417 2 homer, 10 RBI week. The good: 7% K rate with a 10.7% walk rate backed up by a 3.8% SwStr rate and a 38% Swing rate. The bad: 51% ground ball rate, 20% IFFB, and only 29% hard contact rate. I’m not sure how to take all this information. It’s incredible that he’s able to make that much contact at 6 foot 6! I’d definitely own him but I wouldn’t buy high. I’m currently holding him in leagues where I own him. I want to see a little more from him before I make a conclusion, but he should be owned in all leagues (obviously).

Steve Pearce has had a nice week hitting 3 bombs and driving in 6 runs. That’s nice. Pearce is a decent hitter but a terrible fielder. With the injury to Donaldson, he may get some extra playing time but they recalled Teoscar Hernandez who I loike if he can stick around. Go ahead and sell Pearce of you can or leave him on the wire.

Edwin Encarnacion is 3 for his last 25 with no homers and RBI this past week. Most of the Indians forgot that the season started early this year and are taking a while to heat up. E5 bashed 3 dingers in week 1 but hasn’t done anything since. I’m a little concerned as his strikeout and walk rates are heading in opposite directions (in a bad way). His batted ball profile looks ok other than a low liner rate but that should stabilize. I’m holding for now, but keep an eye on E5 as he’s now 35 and the decline could be immanent.

Nicholas Castellanos is on a 6 for 27 stretch with 1 run and 2 RBI this week. He’s without a home run on the season and I’m buying. See in an owner is getting tired of his lack of fire power. He’s hitting the ball over 50% of the time and is hitting nearly 30% line drives. He likely won;t maintain that percentage but he’s poised to hot for a high average and his fly balls should increase as the line drives go down. The homers will come. I’m not ruling out a possible 30 homer campaign from NC.

Pitchers

2016 Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello has an ERA of 1.88, 0.56 WHIP, and 2 wins in 14 1/3 innings this past week. After a disappointing 2017, he was an afterthought in drafts. I’m buying back in 2018. No to the Cy Young level, but he looks different. He’s throwing his sinker, slider, and change more and his fastball (which is bad) is being thrown only 12% of the time. I wouldn’t grab him for Ks but should be able to check a sub 4.00 ERA with a good WHIP if he continues to limit walks. The Red Sox should be able to gift wrap a ton of wins as well.

Shohei Ohtani has been a man among boys so far from both sides of the plate. The pitcher Ohtani has been almost unhittable thus far. Owners likely aren’t selling and I’m ok with that. I know what we’ve seen to date has been incredible and he’s more than proven he’s a stud. I worry about the fatigue over the course of the entire season with Ohtani playing both sides and not getting enough rest. I also think the second and third time teams face him combined with fatigue could lower his value in the second half. I’m buying in dynasty but in redrafts, I might sell after a few more starts ONLY if you can get a haul. I’d sell him for a top 25 hitter or a top 10 SP, no less than that in redrafts.

Sonny Gray has not had a great start to the 2018 season. His 6.92 ERA and 1.92 WHIP is not what owners expected when he was drafted as a top 30 starter. His BB percentage is over 10% for the first time in his career and a .409 BABIP and likely the two culprits of Gray’s poor start. His 10+ K/9 however, is a great sign. Also, a 60% ground ball rate and a 27% hard contact rate make me want to buy Gray where you can. The velocity looks good and he’s throwing the curve over 30% for the first time, so the Ks may be there to stay.

Week 2/3 – Pitchers to Stream (4/9 – 4/15)

Last week was kind of a mixed bag in terms of streamers. I did not receive a single win and the strikeout numbers were low. The WHIP somehow managed below 1.00 and the ERA was over 4! It really was the Reynaldo Lopez show who of course I’m streaming again this week until his ownership goes over 25%. I suspect that to happen by week’s end. The final numbers from last week:

0 W 4.56 ERA 0.98 WHIP 19 K, 3 QS in 5 starts

I’m try to do better this week looking at more strikeout upside and hopefully a couple wins. Here are my streaming options for 4/9-4/15.

Jakob Junis (KC), 24% 4/9 Home v Sea
No Nelson Cruz or Mike Zunino which is good. Junis will still have to deal with hot hitting Cano among other left hand hitters Dee Gordon and Kyle Seager. However, without Cruz, the Seattle lineup just isn’t all that scary. I like that the game is in Kansas City which is not only a pitcher’s park but the weather is going to be in the low 40s so again, favor Junis. STREAM

Nick Pivetta (PHI), 5% 4/11 Home v CIN
Yup, Nicky P is legit. 12 strikeouts in 9 ⅔ innings against only 2 walks. He’s given up 9 hits but that’s fueled by am inflated .375 BABIP. I don’t love his home park and the Reds have some hitters that can take him deep but they also have a ton of free swingers. Now that Suarez is hurt (who I believe is their second best hitter), I’m not concerned outside of Joey Votto. The weather should be cool, so that should keep the ball in the yard and it’s not like Pivetta has given up much hard contact thus far, under 21%. STREAM

Hyun-Jin Ryu (LAD), 10% 4/11 Home v OAK
Ryu had a rough first start lasting only 3 ⅔ innings, striking out 2 and walking 5 batters. This is a home start against the Athletics who were just mowed down by Babe Ohtani. Ryu is no Ohtani though. The Athletics have a ton swing and miss in their game but also a ton of power. Much of it from the right side except for Olson. Ryu isn’t a big strikeout pitcher, so I’m concerned that if he can’t get his walks under control he’s going to pay against the As. He gives up a lot of hard contact and home runs have been an issue in the past. I can see a blow up with a couple of HRs given up with men on base. STAY AWAY

Chris Stratton (SF) 4/12 3% v SD on the road
Stratton is destined to be a streamer all year long. The positives with Stratton: great home park, limits homeruns (yes that’s a skill to a certain extent), and he’s improved his velocity. Negatives: Limited strikeout upside, control is average, and the Giants aren’t very good. I understand that the Padres aren’t good but the ballpark is actually a better park than AT&T Park. Stratton has limited homers more at home than on the road, so this makes sense. I need to see more from Stratton. This has the makings of a 5 IP, 5 hits, 3 BB, 3 ER, 3 K type start. STAY AWAY

Chad Kuhl (PIT) 4/13 4% v MIA on the road
Kuhl is one of my sleepers coming into 2018. He’s got good stuff along with a 96 mph fastball. He really just needs to execute to be successful. So far after two starts, he’s got a K rate over 9.0 and a walk rate at 2.5/9. He’s been a little unlucky in terms of BABIP against at .375 due to an unsustainable 37.5% line drive rate. I don’t love Kuhl’s pitch mix so far (more sliders please) but the Marlins don’t scare me. STREAM

Reynaldo Lopez (CHW) 4/14 22% v MIN on the road
Not much to say here, his percentage will keep rising, so grab him and hold him if he’s available. He’s been dominating and yes his walks are a little high and his BABIP is cannot be maintained but his swinging strike and first pitch strike percentages tell me that his K rate should rise his walk rate should drop. STREAM until you can’t anymore.

Bonus Stream: Yonny Chirinos (TB)
Yonny isn’t scheduled to start due to the Rays having a 4-man rotation, good luck with that. Chirinos did make spot start last week and was solid over 5 innings without allowing a run or a walk, while striking out four. I’ve been intrigued by Chirinos since the start of 2017. He’s has success at every level, isn’t a major strikeout pitcher but has incredible control, gets ground balls and there’s value in that. He’s not fully stretched out, but if he gets the start, he could see 80 pitches +/- which should be good for 5-6 innings, 4-5 Ks and good ratios. STREAM (if he gets a start)