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Starting Pitcher ROS Rankings – May Update (Fantasy Baseball)

Wow, quite a bit has changed since Opening Day back in late-March. We are just under two months into the season so a starting pitcher rankings update was well overdue. I also included my relief pitcher ranking updates as well. In the blurbs below, I’ll cover the pitchers who have seen significant movement since opening day. If a player has been injured, they, of course, have dropped in the rankings. I won’t cover them as it’s obvious why they have fallen. There are some pitchers who are intriguing and have shown skills changes (both good and bad) discussed below. Note: The ECR +/- is based on FantasyPros Expert Consensus Rankings, not my previous ranks. Click here for my preseason rankings.

 

BIGGEST RISERS

Caleb Smith (SP – MIA) +73 and Pablo Lopez (SP – MIA) +93
Yeah, Smith has been unbelievable this year. I had him ranked just inside the top 100 (99th) at the start the season and now he’s inside the top 20! To my credit, I did rank him as the top Marlins pitcher followed by Richards and Lopez. Smith has earned a 28.5% K-BB% which ranks fourth in all of baseball! All of the ERA estimators have him regressing closer to an ERA near 3.00, but given his skills, that puts him inside the top 20 overall for SPs.  Lopez has jumped over Richards as the Marlins second best option. His 5.06 ERA does not indicate how good he’s been. He has a 1.17 WHIP, an 18% K-BB%, and his ERA estimators have him closer to 3.65. I’ve bumped him up to 56th overall but could be higher if he didn’t pitch for one of the worst teams in the league. The same could be said for Smith (who could be top 15). Smith is long gone but Lopez may still be available in 12-team leagues.

Lucas Giolito (SP – CHW) +95
How fitting. Giolito just threw a complete game shutout against the Astros striking out nine batters. He’s been an absolute beast this year. I thought about bumping him up even more but feel that he’s safe in the upper-30s. Clearly, I was not in on Giolito coming into the season after a disastrous 6.13 ERA in 2018. He’s doing everything right. His K% is up to a whopping 12%, his walk rate is down over two percent, and he’s given up just three homers in 52 innings! That home run rate probably won’t stick but his improvements look somewhat legit. He dropped his sinker usage and is throwing his changeup more. Increasing his FB velocity has helped as well. He’s getting ahead of hitters and has a career-high zone rate. Now for the not so great. I don’t want to completely throw cold water on Giolito but he doesn’t quite have elite swing and miss stuff and when the weather heats up in Chicago, he’s in for some regression. Still, I think he’s more of 24-25% K rate pitcher with a home run per nine innings. I’d put him closer to a 3.50-3.60 ERA with near a strikeout per inning. 

Matt Boyd (SP – DET) +33
Based on FantasyPros Expert Consensus, my rank was on average 28 spots higher than the other experts. I guess you could call this one a victory for me but then why do I only own one share? Sad. I loved what I saw with his slider last season and he was one of my favorite weekly streamers. He really was just one step away from being very good which is why I boosted him in my preseason ranks. Well, he’s taken that next step and looks a lot like Patrick Corbin from last season. Other than very little run support, Boyd looks like a great SP2/3 this year with some upside. The AL Central is full of mediocre and poor offensive clubs (sans Minnesota), so I don’t see much regression in Boyd’s numbers.

Chris Paddack (SP – SD) +44
The rookie sensation has been fantastic in the early going. He’s got the stuff, he’s got command, and he’s got control. It will be interesting to see how the Padres handle him. He’s rumored to get only 140 innings this year but he’s starting every sixth day. At his current pace, he would be shut down with about three weeks remaining in the regular season. That kind of sucks for head-to-head leagues but should be just fine for roto leagues.

Clayton Kershaw (SP – LAD) +16
Kershaw might not be the best pitcher in baseball but he’s doing the best with his declining velocity and skills. He’s throwing his breaking balls nearly 60% of the time but it does appear to be working. His control and command are elite and should be a top 15 starting pitcher if he remains healthy. Let’s just hope his back issues stay away for four more months.

Luis Castillo (SP – CIN) +15
Everywhere you look, people are calling for regression with Castillo and we saw some of that against the Brewers on Wednesday but his quality of contact against has been elite. Per BaseballSavant, his xwOBA is .249 which is just insane. My boo from last offseason is off to a hell of a start and has now essentially been an ace over the last calendar year. Here are his numbers since May 24th, 2018:
182.2 IP 12-9 3.25 ERA 1.08 WHIP 193 Strikeouts

That’s what I call a borderline ace. His changeup has been the best in the bigs this year. He’s close, but not quite there. His zone rate is dangerously low and it’s really bumped his walk rate. If he can dip his BB% to 8-9%, he’s going to be a monster.

FALLERS

Nick Pivetta (SP – PHI) -55
Ouch Nicky P. Was Pivetta a sleeper if everyone loved him coming into the season? Unfortunately, K-BB% isn’t everything. Quality of contact and location of pitches in the zone are extremely important. Pivetta may be recalled soon as he’s pitched well in Triple-A, I’m just no running to the waiver wire to add him save for deep leagues. He’s walking more batters and his BABIP is low in the minors. In over 315 innings in the bigs, his BABIP is .335. He just won’t succeed if those numbers continue.

Kyle Freeland (SP – COL) -65
Outside of injury or demotion, Freeland is the biggest faller from my preseason ranks. Coors Field is a bitch, amirite? Freeland has already given up 12 home runs this year after giving up 17 in all of 2018. We all knew regression was coming but no one expected this much. He’s still struggling with walks and the juiced ball has really hurt his home run rate. But, he’s also turned into a fly ball pitcher with his fly ball rate over 40% (up 6%). He’s not likely this bad but given him limitations with strikeouts, he’s not rosterable in 12 or even 14-team leagues. 

Miles Mikolas (SP – STL) -43
I had him at 24 in my preseason rankings as I believed his stuff could induce more swings and misses and therefore net more strikeouts. That has clearly not been the case. It figures that a pitcher who pitches to contact would get bitten by the juiced ball. Duh. As strikeout rates continue to rise, Mikolas’ K rate is falling. Mikolas doesn’t appeal to me as a fantasy player in this era. I missed on this one.

Ross Stripling (SP – LAD) -35
Well, we knew the risk going into the season with Stripling and other Dodgers starters. There’s a ton of skill and depth in that rotation but also a lot of uncertainty in terms of health. It’s difficult to rank Stripling any higher even though he’s been very successful as a starter. As a bullpen arm, he falls outside the top 100 but as a starter, he’s a top 40 option. In deep leagues, hold him, in shallow leagues, he’s a clear cut.

If you have any questions, hit me up on Twitter @FreezeStats


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Starting Pitchers to Stream 4/15-4/21 (Fantasy Baseball)

Last week did not start well but I was salvaged by Trevor Richards and Jeff Samardzija. Here are the results from last week.

Week 2
4/8-4/14 Name IP H ER BB K W QS
2 Jordan Zimmermann 4.33 4 4 2 4 0 0
2 Freddy Peralta 3.33 8 7 1 5 0 0
2 Trevor Richards 6 1 0 5 7 0 1
2 Frankie Montas 6 3 3 1 3 1 1
2 Jeff Samardzija 7 3 0 1 7 1 1
2 Michael Pineda 6 8 3 0 5 1 1
32.66 27 17 10 31 3 4
4.68 ERA 1.13 WHIP

The ERA isn’t good, there’s no way around that but when you consider the league-wide ERA is 4.40, it’s not quite a killer. Besides, the quality start and win totals are solid and the 1.13 WHIP is fantastic. The average WHIP in MLB is currently 1.32, so that’s something! Overall, it was a mixed bag but Freddy Peralta did us in. I’ll try to avoid that blow-up, but that’s part of the game. Here are the streaming options for week 3 4/15-4/21.


Trevor Richards (SP – MIA) – 24% Owned; 4/15 Home vs CHC
Why not role with Richards in a second straight week? Yes, the Cubs are hitting well but Miami is not a great place to hit. Richards really has one great pitch and it’s his changeup. It’s amazing though. Since the start of 2018, the results against the change are .154/.215/.260 with a crazy-low .122 wOBA! It nets a ton of strikeouts and he’s throwing it nearly 40% of the time. Now, his fastball has gained some movement and is getting more swings and misses but he’s also struggling to throw it for strikes, so his walk rate is up. This is a toss-up but I’m leaning in favor of Richards given the fact that he’s pitched better at home in his career. STREAM (but tread lightly)

Jake Odorizzi (SP – MIN) – 12% owned; 4/15 Home vs TOR
The Blue Jays are striking out 28% of the time, good (bad) for second most in the Majors. They are also batting just .202 with a putrid .273 wOBA. There are some rumblings about Vlad Jr, getting the call soon but I think we are still about a week away from that happening. Odorizzi has some serious strikeout upside in this matchup. His walk rate is very high but it’s not an issue with his zone rate and first pitch strike percentage; those are near league-average. Hitters aren’t chasing his pitches outside the zone but they also can’t hit them in the zone either. I’ll risk taking advantage of the Blue Jays aggressiveness and Stream.

Jordan Lyles (SP – PIT), 3% Owned @DET 4/16
The Tigers are ranked 27th in wOBA and currently carry a 27% strikeout rate as a team. You know that when I start with how bad the team is, it means the streamer isn’t very good. Well, obviously, Lyles is just three percent owned! This is a flier. The Pirates starters have been great thus far and Lyles is showing some swing and miss in his game. His overall contact and strikeout rates are both better than league average. There’s regression coming of course, but I like that Lyles has two swings and misses pitches in his curve and changeup. Miggy doesn’t scare me anymore and Niko Goodrum is batting cleanup. Stream

Caleb Smith (SP – MIA) 10% owned Home vs WAS 4/19
Here’s the deal. Caleb Smith might be the best Marlins starting pitcher this year. He utilizes a good slider, a solid changeup and his fastball is more than serviceable. I don’t love this matchup but Smith might be good enough to overcome a deep Nationals lineup at home.  His
swinging strike rate sits at 16.2% which ranks seventh among starters with over 10 innings pitched this season. Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto are among the most difficult outs in baseball and Smith is going against Scherzer in this matchup. Let’s put this option under the stream but don’t expect a win or quality start here. I’m expecting 5+IP with a couple of earned runs and a 1.25ish WHIP with 6 strikeouts. If that will help you mid-week, go ahead and stream.

Anibal Sanchez (SP – WAS) 16% owned @MIA 4/19
It has not been a great start to the season for Sanchez but the cutter/changeup combination is back! His pitch mix is nearly identical to last season with nearly 50% CT/CH. He was extremely successful last year and I think he will be a fine backend starter or streamer this year. The Marlins in Miami is a dream matchup. Are they the worst team offensively in the league? No, but they are tied for 26th, so don’t overthink this one. Stream

Derek Holland (SP – SF) 16% Owned @PIT 4/20
Holland had a rough couple of starts but really got on track against the Padres at home this week giving up one ER with nine strikeouts. He relies heavily on his breaking balls to put away hitters via the strikeout. The Pirates have produced just an 86 wRC+ thus far in 2019. I would prefer this game be played in Oracle Park but PNC Park plays well for pitchers. Holland goes up against Chris Archer in this one, so a win may be difficult but I like Holland’s chances to reach a quality start with solid ratios and 5+ strikeouts. Stream.

Follow me @FreezeStats. Check out my work at FantasyPros and Pitcher List.


Photo Source: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

Starting Pitchers to Stream – Week 9

Back for another edition of streamers with candidates in Yahoo/ESPN leagues owned in 25% and under per FantasyPros.com. Now that we are 1/3 of the way through the season, small ample sizes start to go out the window. Last week I had a tough time choosing streamers as the options were limited so I ended up with three pitchers last week: Trevor Cahill, Ross Stripling, and Daniel Mengden. I don’t usually brag but I was more than impressed with the results from these three pitchers. I hope you stuck with me after a tough week 7, but here were the results:

2 Wins, 0.79 ERA, 0.62 WHIP and 18 Ks in 22.3 IP

No, those are not typos, Stripling and Mengden were ridiculous and Cahill fared well above average. I’ve got more options this week, unfortunately Stripling’s ownership has tripled and he’s over 25% owned in most leagues.

Marco Gonzales (SEA) 7% vs TEX at home Monday 5/28 & Home v TB Sunday 6/3
Two starts from Gonzales this week against below average opponents at home. Gonzales had some incredibly unlucky numbers early in the season but he’s started to turn things around in recent weeks. His BABIP is still at .352 so there’s still some regression there. He probably won’t get you a ton of strikeouts but he limits walks and gets a bunch of ground balls. The Rangers offensively ranks 22nd against lefties and has a 26% K rate as a team. The Rays aren’t as inept against lefties but since it’s a home start, I’m rolling with both starts. STREAM x 2.

Caleb Smith (MIA) 25% Away vs SD, Monday 5/28
Another lefty! Smith has seemingly come out of nowhere to become fantasy relevant. His strikeout rate is great, but his walk rate is terrible. I’ve seen him compared to Robbie Ray, so that can be good and bad. The Padres offense ranks 24th against lefties with a near 26% K rate. The Padres have a ton of young, free swingers so I believe Smith will limit walks and pile up the strikeouts. STREAM

Dan Straily (MIA) 6% Away v SD, Tuesday 5/29
Straily somehow has managed a 3.12 ERA to date with a 17% K rate and a 15.8% BB rate. His FIP is an unsightly 6.22 and he’s carrying a .200 BABIP and a 90% LOB. The match-up is good but Straily isn’t missing enough bats and did I mention his 49% hard contact against? No? Well, that’s terrible. This one is too risky, Straily is a ticking time bomb.  I could see Straily giving up 2-3 HR in this one. STAY AWAY.

Daniel Mengden (OAK) 23% v TB, Thursday 5/31
Do you realize Mengden’s ERA is below 3.00 this season? Yeah, pretty crazy. He’s not completely doing it with smoke and mirrors but a 16.2% K rate doesn’t provide much confidence. However, his 2.3% BB rate is pretty fantastic. Plus he has an 80-grade mustache, so there’s that. In all seriousness, Mengden is NOT a sub-3.00 ERA pitcher, he might not even be a sub-4.00 ERA but he’s using his meh stuff at an elite level, if that makes sense. His first pitch strike percentage is great and his secondary stuff is above average. Limiting home runs and walking nobody doesn’t hurt. He’s going to turn into a pumpkin at some point but I’m willing to bet he handles Tampa Bay next week. I’m on board for at least one more. STREAM

Jordan Lyles (SD) 19% Home vs MIA, Thursday 5/31
The Miami Marlins are hitting .230 as a team with a pathetic .112 ISO and a league worst .284 wOBA! That’s like rolling out an entire team comprised of Alcides Escobars. Yes, Jordan Lyles has a 5.34 career ERA but he was very young with the Astros and also pitched in Colorado. Let’s not hold that against the 27-year-old. This year, he’s got decent strikeout and walk rates but has been very lucky in terms of BABIP. He does give up too many fly balls but has career highs in SwStr, F-Strike%, and Z-Contact. I’m not buying into Lyles as a 12-team viable starts but in 15+ team leagues, I’d own him. For this start against the Marlins, I’d be all over it. STREAM

Trevor Cahill (OAK) 23% vs KC, Friday, June 1
Let’s see how many Oakland and Miami starters we can get on this list! Look, they both have soft AF schedules while the Astros test their skills against the Yankees and Red Sox, the Athletics get to feast on the Rays and Royals. The issue I’m having with Cahill is the Royals don’t strike out. As a team, their collective K rate is under 19%, which is 0.6% less than the next lowest team (the Pirates). The Royals also don’t walk and are in the bottom 10 in wOBA. Cahill is getting ground balls 60% of the time and his change and sinker have been decent. Hitters are chasing and he’s getting swings and misses. I like Cahill to go 6 IP with a handful of Ks and a bunch of ground outs. I’d STREAM

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Starting Pitcher Streaming Options Week 6

Welcome back to this week’s addition of streamers for week 6 of the fantasy baseball season. I hope you were able to stream Trevor Cahill this week, he completely dominated and bolstered the numbers for this week. We still have Marco Estrada going today, so let’s hope for a win. Here’s how we did last week.

1 Win, 2.25 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 33 Ks in 24 IP. It’s too bad we didn’t get more wins, but those ratios and strikeouts will help in all leagues.

Here’s how the streaming options have performed for the entire season to date from this site.

4 Wins, 2.87 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 112 Ks in 125 2/3 IP

That’s all the streamers 25% owned or less in Yahoo/ESPN consensus ownership via FantasyPros. Those wins have been elusive, but at least we are getting great ratios! If you enjoy these, give me a follow on Twitter @FreezeStats.
Moving to week 6, there’s literally nothing I like on Monday 5/7. I could see Jarlin Garca performing well against the Cubs with the Cubs scuffling right now, but he’s owned in over 25% of leagues.

Jeremy Hellickson (WAS) 2% Away v SD Tuesday 5/8
Hellickson is not a good pitcher. However, his team, the Nationals is a very good team and his homer happy ways get to pitch in cavernous Petco Park. While he’s not striking out batters, he’s locating his pitches well and getting a lot weak contact. He’s limiting walks and limiting home runs by inducing more ground balls that he typically does. I’m looking for a solid 6 IP with maybe 4 Ks and a couple ER as he walks away with a win. That’s good enough for me to STREAM.

Mike Minor (TEX) 9% Home v Det Tuesday 5/8
I’d actually prefer this one on the road but beggars can’t be choosers. His SwStr rate tells me that his strikeouts should be better and he’s really not walking many hitters. He’s finally stretched out as he’s gone 6 IP each of the last two starts. I think he’s got upside against a weak Detroit lineup especially if Miggy can’t go. There’s some risk of a blowup but I’m rolling with it thinking of a 7 K upside and decent ratios. STREAM

Vincent Velasquez (PHI) 10% Home vs SF Thursday 5/10
VV finally turned in a solid start yesterday got my 5 IP with 1 ER and earned the win. Sure it came with 4 walks but that’s why he’s on the wire. But check this out, his K% is 25% and his BB.% is only 7%. xStats absolutely loves him and pegs him for a mid-3 ERA pitcher thus far. There’s always walk and HR risks with Velazquez but I’m using him here, his velocity is up and he looks healthy. STREAM

Caleb Smith (MIA) 17% Home vs ATL Thursday 5/10
On one hand he’s striking out 33% of the batters he faces, on the other hand he’s walking 12% of them, on the third hand who the hell is this guy? Don’t get me wrong I’m impressed by how well he’s done thus far in the season but he allows a lot of fly balls and a lot hard contact. At some point when you mix hard fly balls (get those checked out) with walks you got problems. Atlanta’s got a few patient hitters and the young core scares me; even veteran Nick Markakis is mashing right now. I’m guessing this one goes sideways. STAY AWAY

Marco Gonzalez (SEA) 9% Away vs DET Friday 5/11
So, Marco was ok last night as he went 6 IP 4 ER 7 K. That was against the Angels, and it was one rough inning (the 6th), now he get to go to Comerica to face the Detroit Tigers. Do we really need to analyze this one? A ground ball pitcher who gets decent Ks and walks no one against one of the worse offensive clubs? Yeah, ok let’s roll. STREAM

Kyle Gibson (SEA) 18% Away vs LAA Saturday 5/12
More Kyle Gibson! Did you know he is 6’6″? Wow he’s tall. Ok, let’s get to it. Gibson’s strikeouts are up, his home runs against are down but his walks are up. Basically, he’s not giving up as much contact as in the past. While I like what’s doing this year, I don’t think I want any part of him on the road against the Angels. If this was at home , I’d consider it. There could be a couple of long balls in this one on the Angels side (maybe one from Trout) and with the high walk rate, they could turn into 4 or 5 runs. I envision a 5 IP 4 ER 2.00 WHIP and 4 Ks. STAY AWAY