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Starting Pitcher Streamers – Week 2 (7/27 – 8/2): Fantasy Baseball

Welcome back to my weekly streaming article. This year I’m doing things a little differently. I’ll pick one streamer for each day that is 25% owned or under based on FantasyPros combined Yahoo!/ESPN ownership rates. In previous seasons, I more or less handpicked the best streaming options for the week and therefore didn’t necessarily choose an option each day. Here’s how last year went and the Google sheet where I tracked the results.

IP ERA WHIP K W QS
Season Totals 654 3.91 1.22 643 52 51

2019 wrapup article. Considering the juiced ball environment, that wasn’t too bad. The degree of difficulty is higher this year now that I don’t have the ability to choose more than one option each day. I will also list a backup option to stream but only if the primary option is skipped or does not pitch for some reason. Here, we go!

 

Monday – July 27th

Pablo Lopez (SP – MIA) Home vs BAL, 9% owned
Lopez at home against a terrible Orioles club is my lock of the week. In 2019 at home, Lopez managed 3.39 ERA with a 1.08 WHIP. His strikeout rate wasn’t great last year but he’s added a cutter to go with his nasty changeup. Hopefully, the Marlins can give Lopez some run support, but I fully expect Lopez to net a strikeout per inning with great ratios on Monday. You may want to hold Lopez after this start because I have a feeling his ownership and popularity may begin to rise.

Backup option: Griffin Canning (SP – LAA), @ OAK – 24% owned 


 

Tuesday – July 28th

Kyle Gibson (SP – TEX) Home vs ARI, 6% owned
I went back in forth between Josh Lindblom and Kyle Gibson. Lindblom has an easier matchup against the Pirates but I just haven’t seen him pitch much. Gibson is a bit underrated. He was somewhat unlucky with a .330 BABIP and a 67.5% strand rate last year. However, he struck out a batter per inning and cut down on his walks. Now, he’s in Texas in the new stadium. By all accounts, it should play more like a pitcher’s park compared to the old Globe Life Stadium. Did you know Gibson managed a 36% O-Swing% and a 13% SwStr rate in 2019? Those rank seventh and 16th respectively among pitchers with at least 150 innings last year. Long story, long, stream Gibson. Backup option: Josh Lindblom (SP – MIL) @PIT – 7% owned

 

Wednesday – July 29th

Danny Duffy (SP – KCR) @DET, 8% owned
Last year, the Tigers were the worst offensive club in the Majors based on wRC+. They also struck out 26.4% of the time, worst in the league. They added C.J. Cron and Jonathan Schoop this offseason but still have one of the weakest teams in 2020. Duffy was OK in his first outing giving up two earned runs in 4.1 IP. That was against the Indians and I fully expect him to reach 5-6 inning against the Tigers. He won’t WOW you but he’s a decent pick on Wednesday. Backup Option: Patrick Sandoval (SP – LAA) Home vs SEA, 0% owned

 

Thursday – July 30th

John Means (SP -BAL) Home vs MIA – 12% owned
Means is currently on IL as he was slotted to pitch opening day for the Orioles. Obviously, that didn’t happen. By all accounts, he should be back for the start next Thursday and the matchup is juicy. He’s hoping to follow up an impressive 2019 where he finished with a 3.60 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. He won’t strike a ton of guys out but doesn’t get beat by walking batters. He’s also better at home. In 2019, he had a steller 2.74 ERA in Camden Yards. His fastball isn’t all that great but he wields a good change (of course, I love changeups) and a solid slider. That should be enough to beat the Marlins.
Backup Option: Brady Singer (SP – KCR) Home @DET, 17% owned



 

Friday – July 31st

Vince Velasquez (SP – PHI) @TOR – 9% owned
There aren’t many great options next Friday so I’m rolling the dice with VV. He’s featured a new changeup and it looks like it could be a PutAway pitch. He’s been extremely inconsistent over his career, so this stream is not without risk. The Blue Jays are young and not familiar with Velasquez. I give the edge to VV there. I don’t expect him to go more than five innings but given the fact that the Blue Jays strike out quite a bit, he could pile up the Ks. I’m streaming here but like other options next week better.
Backup option: Spencer Turnbull (SP – DET) home vs CIN, 7% owned

 

Saturday – August 1st

Wade Miley (SP – CIN) @DET – 5% owned
Looks like we are picking on the Tigers and that’s OK. Miley doesn’t have the ceiling of some other options next week but has a great chance to post a quality start with good ratios. You might be surprised to know that Miley has had an ERA under 4.00 each of the last two seasons. He focuses on his cutter and changeup to minimize damage. His ground ball rate has been right near 50% the last three seasons. That should play well in Comerica next week and let’s not forget, the Tigers strike out more than any team, so there’s a small amount of K upside here as well.
Backup option: Reynadlo Lopez (SP – CHW) @KCR – 25% owned

 

Sunday – August 2nd

Austin Voth (SP – WSH) @MIA – 5% owned
I’m curious to see what Voth looks like in his first go around this year but I’ve been a fan of his all offseason. Here’s what I said about him way back in January.


“At age-27, he’s not a highly rated prospect but showed impressive skills in 2019 with a 17.8% K-BB% and a 3.30 ERA in 43.2 innings. His fastball wasn’t bad, but it’s his secondaries that get me going. All three of his secondaries, CU, CT, CH generated swinging strike rates north of 16.5%. The curve is the best of the bunch with a 38.9% strikeout rate. We are dealing with limited samples but hell, it’s after pick 250 and there is a top-150 ceiling here.”

He draws the Marlins in Miami and while they moved the fences in (a little), I’m not convinced it’ll change the results all that much. I’m rolling with Both and holding him in deep formats.

So many options next Sunday but many things can change in one week (especially in 2020), so here are the top 2 backup options. Tyler Mahle @DET – 2% owned, Yonny Chirinos @BAL



Photo Credit: Jasen Vinlove / USA Today

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Starting Pitcher Rankings 31 – 152 (FreezeStats Fantasy Baseball)

Last week I released my top 30 starting pitchers for 2020. I wrote a quick blurb for each starter explaining why they were ranked where I had them. You can see that post here. I dropped Mike Clevinger to 15 overall after the news of his offseason knew surgery came through. He’s probably going to miss the first month of the season, so his ceiling is probably 165 innings. I was very high on him coming into 2020 (early rank was seven overall) but I think he can still provide some value. Last season, he threw only 126 innings and finished as the 18th ranked starting pitcher per the Razzball Player Rater. It’s reasonable to project him for around 150 innings which slots him right around the 15th SP in my opinion. Let’s dive into the rest of my starting pitcher rankings for 2020.



2020 Starting Pitcher Rankings Table 31-50

SP RankPlayerTeam
31Frankie MontasAthletics
32Zac GallenDiamondbacks
33Madison BumgarnerDiamondbacks
34Zack WheelerPhillies
35Max FriedBraves
36Mike SorokaBraves
37David PriceDodgers
38Kenta MaedaTwins
39Kyle HendricksCubs
40Hyun-Jin RyuBlue Jays
41German MarquezRockies
42Matthew BoydTigers
43Eduardo RodriguezRed Sox
44Dinelson LametPadres
45Julio UriasDodgers
46Joe MusgrovePirates
47Robbie RayDiamondbacks
48Andrew HeaneyAngels
49Mike MinorRangers
50Shohei Ohtani (SP only)Angels

Mike Soroka is known for his power sinker. It generated a ton of ground balls and weak contact. That’s great but his strikeout rate was 7.4 per nine innings. That’s not quite what you’re looking for in a top-40 arm. Remember when I was discussing Clevinger in the introduction? Well, he had a 12.1 K/9 and 27 more strikeouts than Soroka in 50 fewer innings. This isn’t about Clevinger but you can see how valuable strikeouts are.  Soroka does utilize a slider and an elite changeup that can be used as a second putaway pitch to improve his K%. With three plus-pitches, he could take the next step and become a top-25 SP. Zac Gallen and Max Fried are my top targets in this range. Of course, they have a ton of helium going into draft season, so I’ll have to pay up for them.

German Marquez is doomed thanks to Coors Field but his skills looked as sharp as ever in 2019. Maybe he was a tad lucky in 2018 but I believe he was unlucky last year. Can he tame Coors Field? That’s a tall task but I believe he should be even better on the road in 2020 than he was last year. If can post a low-3s ERA with a 1.10 WHIP and 10 K/9 on the road, he should provide enough value to warrant this rank. Shohei Ohtani likely won’t pitch in a Major League game until May. If he throws every six games, that’s 20-22 starts. Averaging six innings per start is asking a lot but that would be his ceiling in terms of innings pitched. So, I’m projecting him for 120 innings which caps his value.  I think they will be very good innings but not quite Clevinger-esque. That’s why he slots in at 50.

Here’s what I said about Musgrove this week at FantasyPros: “Musgrove added about 0.5 MPH on his fastball last year, but the big adjustment was his increased usage of his changeup. The changeup became an elite offering for him, as he got hitters to chase the pitch outside the zone over 50% of the time! In addition to getting batters to chase, Musgrove can also throw the pitch for strikes and generate below-average contact on pitches inside the zone. He pairs the elite changeup with his established slider. Between the two-plus pitches for Musgrove, he should be able to bump his strikeout rate to the 23-24% range. Given his 68% first-pitch strike rate, I anticipate another walk rate well-below league average, keeping his WHIP below 1.20. For 2019, I project Musgrove for 11 wins, 3.80 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and 160 strikeouts in 163 innings.”
– Max Freeze (Freeze Stats)

2020 Starting Pitcher Rankings Table 51-70

SP RankPlayerTeam
51Griffin CanningAngels
52Jesus LuzardoAthletics
53Lance McCullers Jr.Astros
54Jake OdorizziTwins
55Luke WeaverDiamondbacks
56Masahiro TanakaYankees
57Mitch KellerPirates
58Jose UrquidyAstros
59Dylan BundyAngels
60Mike FoltynewiczBraves
61Michael KopechWhite Sox
62A.J. PukAthletics
63Carlos MartinezCardinals
64Marcus StromanMets
65Jon GrayRockies
66Caleb SmithMarlins
67Dallas KeuchelWhite Sox
68Kyle GibsonRangers
69Chris ArcherPirates
70Anthony DeSclafaniReds



Griffin Canning has a rocking slider with a 21.7% SwStr rate in 2019. His curve and change are decent as well but he served up eight homers off his fastball. I think he’s going to strikeout over 25% of the batters he faces but could run into some issues with home runs and walks. He’s likely going to be a bit of a headache but has the ability to jump a tier. Can Masahiro Tanaka get his feel back on his splitter? That’s going to be the key to his success. If he can, we are looking at a top-35 starter but I am not as confident. I expect more inconsistent outings from Tanaka in 2020. Forget Mitch Keller‘s 7.45 ERA in 48 innings last year, his stuff was ridiculous. Alex Chamberlain’s Pitch Leaderboard had him pegged for about a 30% K rate and a 23% K-BB%. That’s entering the elite territory. He has everything I’m looking for is a breakout. He averages 95-96 mph on his fastball, has an elite putaway pitch, and a curveball that induced a ton of ground balls and weak contact.

Getting out of Baltimore and AL East is the best move for Dylan Bundy. He leaves one of the worst parks for home runs to a more neutral park in LAA. He also will avoid the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays multiple times per year. He brings a very good slider and changeup to the table, so he has a chance at a sub-4.00 ERA with a strikeout per inning. I’ll take a chance on that after pick 225. Kyle Gibsons slider has a 27.1% SwStr%! Oh, and his changeup has a 20.3% SwStr% with a 60% ground ball rate. Those two pitches alone should make him more valuable but he struggles to find the zone. That and both of his fastballs are just trash. He’s going to be a bumpy ride but could find his way to some very elite outings.

2020 Starting Pitcher Rankings Table 71-100

SP RankPlayerTeam
71Sean ManaeaAthletics
72Pablo LopezMarlins
73Brendan McKayRays
74Sandy AlcantaraMarlins
75Steven MatzMets
76Garrett RichardsPadres
77Adrian HouserBrewers
78James PaxtonYankees
79Yonny ChirinosRays
80Miles MikolasCardinals
81Josh JamesAstros
82Aaron CivaleIndians
83Joey LucchesiPadres
84Merrill KellyDiamondbacks
85Kevin GausmanGiants
86Tyler BeedeGiants
87Spencer TurnbullTigers
88Dustin MayDodgers
89MacKenzie GorePadres
90Josh LindblomBrewers
91Jose QuintanaCubs
92Wade MileyCIN
93Dylan CeaseWhite Sox
94Cole HamelsBraves
95Chris BassittAthletics
96Jon LesterCubs
97Ryan YarbroughRays
98Johnny CuetoGiants
99Michael PinedaTwins
100Jeff SamardzijaGiants

Sandy Alcantara is getting a lot of love as a sleeper for 2020, but I just don’t get it. He was much better over the last two months of 2019 when he threw his sinker more often. His sinker is his best pitch but it’s not going to get a ton of strikeouts. His changeup is decent but his slider and fourseamer are bad. He’s kind of like a hard-throwing Marcus Stroman without the elite ground ball rate. Jame Paxton! UGGGHHHHHH! The injury/surgery basically puts him into the DO NOT DRAFT LIST. The timetable for his return has him coming back in May or early-June but I’d bet on late-June. I usually add a few weeks for rehab, he could basically be valuable for only three months of the season. That’s too much risk to take on. Now, Luis Severino is having forearm soreness. The Yankees need to already do some damage control with their rotation and we haven’t hit March yet. He will drop in my rankings but I can’t say how much just yet.


Josh James has electric stuff with questionable command and will be competing for the fifth starter spot in Houston. He was a popular sleeper heading into 2019 and it did not pan out. I need to see a little more out of his third pitch, his changeup, to see if he can make it as a starter. But, his fastball is legit and he flashed it with a 14.1% SwStr rate on it in 2019. Unfortunately, the numbers from the bullpen won’t translate linearly if he becomes a starter but I’m drafting skills not roles after SP75 overall.

You all know I love Tyler Beede. I talked about him on Benched with Bubba and wrote about his curveball in my underutilized pitches piece at Pitcher List. He actually has three pitches that generated a SwStr% over 15% and averages almost 95 mph on his fastball. He has the stuff to vault into the top-50 but he needs to reduce his fastball usage and throw his secondaries more often. I think Dustin May is a great breakout candidate but once again the Dodgers have 7-8 options to start games, so guessing how many innings May will get is a fool’s errand. Because of that, I can’t take the plunge on May in 12-team formats unless some favorable news coming out of Dodgers camp but in a 15-team format, he’s a great late-round flier.

Dylan Cease must work on his fastball command to become successful. He only threw it in the zone 43% of the time in 2019. That’s not good. It was also crushed when batters swung at it in the zone with a 189 wRC+ against it in 2019. That means he was missing his spots. Additionally, walks around going to be an issue, especially early on. His slider is good and the changeup has some potential, so he’s a late-round dart in 15-team formats.

2020 Starting Pitcher Rankings Table 101-152

SP RankPlayerTeam
101J.A. HappYankees
102Jordan LylesRangers
103Ross StriplingDodgers
104John MeansOrioles
105Jakob JunisRoyals
106Jake ArrietaPhillies
107Alex WoodDodgers
108Tyler MahleReds
109Austin VothNationals
110Dakota HudsonCardinals
111Zach EflinPhillies
112Kyle WrightBraves
113Cal QuantrillPadres
114Luis PatinoPadres
115Domingo GermanYankees
116Forrest WhitleyAstros
117Patrick SandovalAngels
118Nathan EovaldiRed Sox
119Austin PruitAstros
120Justus SheffieldMariners
121Julio TeheranAngels
122Daniel NorrisTigers
123Trevor WilliamsPirates
124Drew SmylyGiants
125Matt ShoemakerBlue Jays
126Homer BaileyTwins
127Freddy PeraltaBrewers
128Nate PearsonBlue Jays
129Corbin BurnesBrewers
130Reynaldo LopezWhite Sox
131Nick PivettaPhillies
132Elieser HernandezMarlins
133Trent ThorntonBlue Jays
134Anibal SanchezNationals
135Tanner RoarkBlue Jays
136Chase AndersonBlue Jays
137Marco GonzalesMariners
138Mike LeakeDiamondbacks
139Mike FiersAthletics
140Sean NewcombBraves
141Brad KellerRoyals
142Martin PerezRed Sox
143Gio GonzalezWhite Sox
144Casey MizeTigers
145Eric LauerBrewers
146Rich HillTwins
147Chad KuhlPirates
148Vince VelasquezPhillies
149Zach DaviesPadres
150Michael FulmerTigers
151Asher WojciechowskiOrioles
152Logan WebbGiants


If Austin Voth earns the fifth rotation spot for the Nationals, I will bump him up at least 15 spots. Here’s what I said about Voth two months ago.

“At age-27, he’s not a highly rated prospect but showed impressive skills in 2019 with a 17.8% K-BB% and a 3.30 ERA in 43.2 innings. His fastball wasn’t bad, but it’s his secondaries that get me going. All three of his secondaries, CU, CT, CH generated swinging strike rates north of 16.5%. The curve is the best of the bunch with a 38.9% strikeout rate. We are dealing with limited samples but hell, it’s after pick 250 and there is a top-150 ceiling here.”

In addition to Voth, here are some of my favorite dart throws after SP-100. Ross Stripling, Tyler Mahle, Patrick Sandoval, Austin Pruitt, Drew Smyly, Corbin Burnes, and Chad Kuhl. Kuhl missed all of 2019 with Tommy John Surgery and hasn’t thrown a pitch in a big-league game just yet. I’m skeptical but if he wins a starting spot out of spring training, I think he’ll be valuable once he gets his rhythm down.



Photo credit: Prospects Live

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Starting Pitcher Rest of Season Rankings Update (June 2019)

It’s nearing the end of June and we are rapidly approaching the mid-point of the 2019 season. I can’t believe had quickly the first half has gone! It doesn’t matter whether you are in first place or in the bottom third of your league, you should still be competing. Two years ago, I was in a head-to-head league where I was in 10th place (out of 12 teams) at the end of June and managed to make a couple of trades and key waiver wire pickups where I vaulted all the way to third place by September. I ended up staying hot and winning the league after three weeks of playoffs. I understand that in Roto formats, this is much more difficult to do, but even if you’re in the middle of the pack, you have a chance. Below are my rest of season rankings for starting pitchers and relief pitchers for standard roto 5×5 leagues. If you have questions regarding specific players in the format in which you play, please feel free to comment. Keep in mind the vs ECR and +/- ECR is based on the expert consensus rankings, not my previous rankings. Click here to see my May update.


 

Risers

Dallas Keuchel (SP – ATL) +44 (93 to 49)
After a long layoff, Keuchel has finally signed with the Atlanta Braves. It’s a sweet spot to land given the soft schedule in the NL East, the quality of the ballclub as a whole, and the pitcher-friendly environment at SunTrust Park. Plus, the infield defense for Atlanta has been pretty good which compliments Keuchel’s extreme ground ball approach. Yes, Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies have not been great per FanGraphs Defensive metrics but it’s not a great measure of success in smaller samples and both ranked in the top five at their respective positions in 2018. Keuchel won’t pile up the strikeouts but he should limit walks and home runs. The projection systems have him at an ERA just under 4.00, so he should provide fantasy teams in 12 and 15-team leagues with plenty of value going forward.

Lucas Giolito (SP – CHW) +19 (39 to 20)
Giolito once again is a big mover as he pushes the top 20. Maybe I was a little reluctant to fully buy-in after only one month of success. However, since 4/17, he’s basically been the best pitcher in baseball with eight wins, a microscopic 1.25 ERA, a 0.82 WHIP, and 77 strikeouts in 65 innings (last night excluded). Everything I said last time applies to this update with Giolito with the exception of the elite strikeout rate. Since my late-May update, he’s had a nasty 18.6% swinging strike rate (SwStr%) and has a 33.6% strikeout rate. I still think the home run rate and BABIP will rise which is the reason for my hesitation in putting in the elite class. Regression can hit hard like it did last night against the Cubs. Still, owners have hit the jackpot with the soon to be 25-year-old.

Griffin Canning (SP – LAA) +30 ( 76 to 46)
Despite the hype of many other young pitching prospects, it’s Canning who has come out and been unexpectedly successful. So, his .244 BABIP is likely to rise but all of the other metrics seem to be in line with his surface numbers. Besides, he’s rocking a 21.5% K-BB rate that’s tied for 20th among pitchers with at least 50 innings pitched. Canning is an extreme fly ball pitcher, so home runs will occasionally be a problem but keeping his 94+ MPH fastball up in the zone while keeping his changeup and breaking pitches down has helped boost his strikeout rate. His 16% SwStr rate is absolutely insane. I’m riding Canning but know that an innings cap could be in order especially once the Angels are out of the playoff race.



Lance Lynn (SP – TEX) +- (unranked to 40!)
I never thought I’d be ranking Lance Lynn in the top 40 starting pitchers, but here we are. Lynn’s career-low walk rate in a full season is 8.6% way back in 2012. He’s currently sitting on a walk rate of just 6.1% which he combines with a current career-best 26% strikeout rate. K-BB rate is one of the best in-season measures of future success and Lynn’s 19.8% K-BB% ranks 16th among qualified starters. No, I don’t trust his 4.16 ERA because his .345 BABIP is sure to come down based on his career .305 BABIP. He’s also throwing harder with an average fastball velocity of 94.6 MPH (up 0.6 MPH from 2018 and up 2.0 MPH from 2017)! I think I trust his xFIP of 3.85 more than anything. Let’s call it 3.75-3.85 going forward which is pretty solid given the current landscape of pitching.

Kyle Gibson (SP – MIN) +19 (64 to 45)
While others are salivating over prospects such as Zac Gallen or Dylan Cease, Kyle Gibson is out there slinging it with a career-best K-BB rate of 19.3%. Gibson is already dealing with a home run issue evidenced by his 19.3% HR/FB rate that’s nearly five percent over the league average and he’s still managing a 3.70 ERA and a sparkling 1.17 WHIP. Gibson might be the definition of a boring veteran. But that’s OK. The issue with rookie pitchers, especially for ones on non-contending teams is an innings cap and inconsistencies. I’d rather roll with a veteran like Gibson who is showing the best skills of his career and plays for a contender in a weak division. Besides, his metrics are all trending in the right direction despite a subpar outing last night.

Yu Darvish (SP – CHC) +11 (46 to 35)
OK, so it’s not like we can fully trust Darvish but take a look at his numbers over the last four starts: 2.96 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, a 25.5% strikeout rate, AND just a 7.5% walk rate. That includes a four ER start in Coors Field. I’m focused more on the walk rate that was north of 14% just a couple weeks ago. Darvish is throwing his cutter more and his slider less. He seems to have better control and command of the pitch and its yielded very solid results. In fact, his cutter is a Money Pitch (42.1% O-Swing, 50.4% Zone%, and 20.6% SwStr%) and has a minuscule .198 wOBA against the pitch compared his career .301 wOBA. Compare that to the .360 wOBA against the slider this year. I think Darvish is headed in the right direction, so he gets a bump. Although, he does have top 20 upside, so there’s still a ways to go.


Zac Gallen (SP – MIA) +13 (98 to 85) and  Dylan Cease (SP – CHW) +16 (117 to 101)
After slighting these two in the Kyle Gibson blurb, I’ve gone ahead and moved up both Cease and Gallen. Both will have their limitations as I previously discussed but both are nearing promotions with Gallen getting called up with Pablo Lopez hitting the 10-day IL. Gallen at least has the backdrop of Marlins Park to soften his inconsistent starts, so I prefer him to Cease for the rest of this season. In addition, the projection systems prefer him to Cease. That being said, both are very talented prospects and given the starting pitcher options ranked below, I’ll roll the dice on these top prospects for the upside alone. 

Fallers

German Marquez (SP – COL) -11 (21 to 32)
We knew Coors Field would make for rocky starts but now Marquez has begun to struggle on the road as well. His K-BB rate remains solid at 18.5% but his ERA has ballooned to 4.57. Even in a year with the inflated league-wide ERA, that stings a little from one of your top two or three pitchers. I’m not completely discouraged because the ERA-estimators still show solid skills, but we can’t trust them as much as we would like given the Coors backdrop. There are some positive signs, he hasn’t lost any velocity and he’s throwing his curve and slider more than ever. The issue is with his slider. It’s not performing well after it basically saved his 2018 season. After checking the movement of his slider, he’s lost about an inch of drop and a half inch of horizontal movement. As a result, it’s getting hit hard when he leaves it in the zone.

Based on the heatmap, he’s either burying it off the plate or leaving it center cut. Fortunately, the results against his slider in terms of O-Swing, O-Contact, and SwStr are still great. It’s about location. He’s not far off which is why I didn’t drop him further. If an owner is giving up on him, I’d go buy him on the cheap.

Joe Musgrove (SP – PIT) -18 (36 to 54)
Musgrove was one of my favorite mid-tier starting pitcher targets this year. I landed him on a couple of teams and was feeling good after the month of April. Since then, Musgrove has been a different guy. His strikeouts are down, walks are up, and while he’s getting unlucky with his low strand rate, his home run rate looks like it’s due to elevate a bit. I believe in Musgrove’s talent but between his velocity dip and Ray Searage’s pitch-to-contact philosophy, I feel the need to drop him in the rankings. It’s too bad because his slider is getting better results than it ever has in the past. In addition, his curveball has seen an increase and it’s also yielded great results. The problem is his fastball and he’s throwing it over 60% each of the last two outings. I’d like to see it under 50% and see something like 25% sliders, 15% curveballs, and 12% changeups.

Jimmy Nelson (SP – MIL) -33 (60 to 93)
Coming off a devastating shoulder injury and surgery, Nelson has clear rust to shake off. It’s been nearly two years since he last pitched prior to his first start earlier this month. This is not someone I’m taking a risk on given the length of his layoff. I think we will see flashes of brilliance from Nelson but those starts will not outweigh the rough outings where he can’t find his control. In addition, the feel for some of his pitches may go in and out as well. This is not a roller coaster I want to get on. I will very likely be back in on Nelson in 2020 as long as he can stay healthy. 

Yusei Kikuchi (SP – SEA) -35 (44 to 79)
After showing some flashes in April, Kikuchi has proved to be unusable in 12 team leagues. He now has an ERA above 5.00 and a strikeout rate below 7.0 per nine innings. He has been absolutely crushed by the long ball giving up 17 home runs in just 80.1 innings pitched. He’s already given up 10 homers off his fastball and a .406 wOBA against the pitch. It’s evident that he needs to reduce his fastball usage that is just north of 50% usage to date. His slider and curve have been decent and the slider can get plenty of whiffs. That’s the reason I haven’t completely buried him because I think he has a chance to be a somewhat successful junkballer. If that happens, his strikeout rate should improve and he could be useful. I’ll be monitoring his pitch mix going forward.

Kevin Gausman (SP – ATL) -62 (45 to 107)
I know Gausman landed on the IL, but that’s not why he has dropped in the rankings. It’s because of his 6.21 ERA and 1.51 WHIP. Now, his K-BB rate isn’t all that bad at 14.1% and I think his .339 BABIP and 57.6% strand rate are due for some positive regression, but he’s become a two-pitch pitcher. He throws is his fastball and splitter over 95% of the time. The increased use of his splitter is the reason for his bump in strikeout rate but also has hurt his walk rate. Given the fact that hitters can just sit on the fastball, he’s been crushed the second time through the order with an 8.14 ERA! I’ll be monitoring his pitch mix upon his return but if he continues throwing two pitches, I’m not even giving him a look despite his second-half success in the past.

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


Photo Courtesy of  JAE C. HONG AP


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Weekly Rundown – When Wil Myers Ever Slow Down?

Welcome to a special edition of Weekly Rundown with the All-Star break coming up this week. There’s actually nothing special about it except I gush over Jose Ramirez. Just as we all predicted, he’s tied for the league lead in homers and the Phillies are in first place. Does anyone realize than Franky Lindor has 85 runs already! How about Scooter Gennett leading the NL in batting average with Nick Markakis right on his heals. That seems about right. Nope. It’s baseball.

HOT Hitters
Welcome back Wil Myers! Myers is on a homer binge as he’s blasted 6 HR in the last 7 days and has chipped in with 2 steals, he’s been the top player over the past week. Is it just me or has Myers put up more production since coming off the DL than Hosmer has all season? I’m kidding obviously, but Hosmer has really had a boring season hasn’t he? I’ll touch on him later. Anyways, Myers has got his groove back and is no longer swinging at garbage outside the zone as much and in return has got a 50% hard contact rate over the past week. Remember, Myers is a 30-20 type player, so he could rip off double digit homers and steals the rest of the way.

Brett Gardner is playing baseball everyone! At nearly 35 years old, he’s still putting up some solid numbers as he’s popped 4 dingers and stolen 2 bases this past week. Get this, in the last two weeks, Gardner has a 12.9% walk rate with a 9.7% strikeout rate to go with a minuscule 2.7% swinging strike rate and a 100% zone contact rate (yes, he has not had a swing and missed in the zone since June 29th). Now, the rest of his batted ball profile leaves something to be desired, but as long as he’s making contact and getting on base, he will have value.

Whoa Starling Marte has hit a couple home runs and stolen 6 bases while hitting .407 in the last eight days. I’ll admit, I did not expect Marte to bounce back so well offensively, especially in the power department. But, here we are and Marte has 11 HR and 24 steals. Yup, those are stud type numbers. Actually, it basically matches Trea Tuner’s output to date. The issue is that Marte rarely plays 150 games, a total he’s reached once in his career. So, personally, I’m selling high. Now that he’s killing it going into the break, maybe you can flip him for a top 10 SP or a top 25 hitter.


Carlos Gonzalez has shown some life hitting three home runs, driving in 9 runs and hitting .450 this week. Now, the Rockies have been at home for a good portion of these numbers, but it’s still impressive. Unfortunately, I’m not buying this. He’s stockpiling stats at home but his IFFB% is up, his soft contact is up, and he’s swinging more but pitchers are throwing him less strikes. He’s also doesn’t run much anymore, so you aren’t getting value there. Oh and then there’s the Home/Road splits. He’s hitting .320 with 7 homers at home, good for a .409 wOBA but is hitting .243 with 3 homers good (bad) for a .280 wOBA on the road. Obviously, ride this out until the break, maybe you can flip him. He’s kind of a hitting streamer, but only at home from here on out.

We are past the 81-game mark and therefore Brian Dozier has started to go nuts. This dude has blasted 49 home runs in the second half the last two seasons! To put that in context, he’s hit 43 home runs in the first half of the last THREE seasons. Dozier basically turns into Aaron Judge in the second half. As I look at his profile, I’m not predicting 20+ homers in the second half this time around, but wouldn’t be surprised if he rips off another 15 with a handful of steals. That’s good for a top 35 player the rest of the way.

Mike Trout or Jose Ramirez, rest of season, who ya got? It’s seems crazy, but it’s not. Ramirez has four more home runs this week to tie him with Just Dong Martinez on the season, and has added a couple steals over the past 7 days. He’s driven in 10 runs over that time and there’s literally no stopping him. The best part about Jo-Ram’s transformation which began in 2017 is that he’s improved hard contact and increased his fly ball rate without sacrificing his already elite plate discipline. He’s actually improved on O-Swing the past three seasons. Oh and his .296 batting average could be unlucky with his .272 BABIP.

Hot Mentions: Alex Bregman has 4 HR and 8 RBI; Justin Smoak 4 HR and 7 RBI, Mookie Betts hitting .552 with 11 runs and 8 RBI this past week

HOT Pitchers
Do I have to lead with Chris Sale every week? No, but he’s striking everyone out and has allowed 1 ER in his last two starts. He’s struck out 24 batters in his last 13 IP, that gives him five straight games with at least 11 strikeouts. I think I’m bumping Sale up to number one overall for SPs in my All-Star break rankings coming out in a few days. Sale is kind of a machine. A really tall, rail-thin baseball slinging machine. At some point in his career he may breakdown, but I’m not betting against him at this point. No fire sale here.

Kyle Gibson just won’t go away. He’s grabbed a couple wins along with 18 Ks in his last two outings and this looks legit. Gibson is breaking out at age 30! I know, that’ seems late to be stuck with acne, but I digress. Look, Gibson has improved on his strikeout rate but he’s also throwing less strikes. As a result, the walks have jumped up. His hard contact against is up this year but the HR/FB is down. I’m not completely sold that he can keep this up. Walks + hard contact does not mix well. He’s 12-team viable, but as a back end starter.

Is Ross Stripling an Ace? I’m asking for a friend. Check out this post from @Smada_bb from yesterday basically comparing what Stripling has done in the first half compared to the best pitchers in the game. The answer is yes, he’s an ace. His strikeout rate is great, he doesn’t walk anyone, induces nearly 50% ground balls and an above average IFFB%. Sure, the LOB% isn’t going to stick at 90% and I do think the strikeout rate dips just a bit. Even still, he’s probably a 2.75-3.00 ERA pitcher with a great WHIP and solid strikeout rate. So, yeah, that’s a borderline top 10 SP.


I finally get to pour myself a nice glass of Jameson and discuss Taillon with you. He just came off a 10 K outing and has 16 over his last two starts. His 2.87 ERA and 0.87 WHIP in that time frame is more than solid. It’s all the slide-piece that he’s added. He’s had nine games started since the addition of the slider and here are the results: 3.29 ERA 1.19 WHIP 24.6% K%, 6.4% BB%, 11.2% SwStr, and a 3.07 FIP. MMM, that’s smooth, just like my favorite Irish Whiskey. I’m exciting for this development, but I still think Taillon is capped around a top 30-35 starter the rest of the season. That’s helpful, but I wouldn’t sell the whole barrel (get it) for him.

Zack Goldey has turned in a couple nice starts and even threw a scoreless inning in between this past week+. He’s given up only 2 ER in his last 13 IP with 16 strikeouts. Godley teased us earlier this year looking like he was getting back to last year. The problem is his cutter. It’s not good this year like is was in 2017. It’s way to hittable (if that’s a word), contact is up 8% against it and he’s given up an OPS of 1.015 when throwing the pitch. His control is off as well, so the walks are an issue. I’m not trusting this from Godley. You hurt me before bro, I won’t let you do it again.

Freezing Cold Hitters
I mentioned Eric Hosmer in the Wil Myers blurb and here he is! He’s been trash this past week netting 3 hits in 35 at bats without a homer or steal. I think Hosmer is the new example I use for Ground and Pound. I’ve been wanting to dig into Hosmer’s profile because I need a good dry heave. He’s upped his strikeout rate by 6%, swinging out of the zone more than league average and it’s backed up with an elevated 12.1% swinging strike rate. Here’s the kicker, he’s hitting the ball on the ground 62% of the time! That’s worse than Yelich, like way worse. Now he’s hitting under .250 with a .305 BABIP. Sure, he probably brings that up to .275 but with under 20 HR, he’s not worth much in terms of fantasy. No thanks.

Anthony Rizzo has just never got on track this year. He’s two for this last 23 without a home run. His power numbers are down but his season has been partially salvaged by driving in 60 runs. Really proving the the RBI stat is super meaningful. A .242 average and 12 HR is not going to cut it. Who does he think he is, Eric Hosmer? Rizzo has been unlucky with his .243 BABIP, especially with a solid 25% line drive rate, that does not compute. His hard contact is down, which is concerning because his fly ball rate is also down. Unless he changes his approach, we might have to expect a modest 20 homers from Riz this year. The average should rebound some and he will drive in over 100 runs, so there’s that.

Speaking of Chicago First baseman, Jose Abreu has been awful with only 1 hit this past week and a pathetic OPS of .100! Come on man, it’s the second half, you’re supposed to go nuts. Abreu has me more concerned than Rizzo. His hard contact is way down, like 6% down and his IFFB% is up. He may be pressing because his O-Swing is trash right now. He’s got to correct that by not chasing at bad pitches. If he’s not pressing, then he’s hurt. Either way, I cannot recommend him as a buy in the second half.

Trea Turner is hitting .138 this past week but has somehow managed 4 runs! “Thanks Anthony Rendon for driving me in whenever I’m on base.” That was Turner to Rendon after one of their games. Turner hasn’t stolen a base this week and I’m beginning to think he won’t sniff 50 SBs this year. Trea will be fine just as the Nationals heat up. He won’t reach the heights we hoped for but owners will be happy with Trea at the end of the season. Would I take Marte over Turner right now? Not a chance.

Hey Chris Taylor, maybe your 2017 was a bit of a fluke. It’s his lack of contact that’s the problem. He’s actually swinging outside the zone less but is whiffing more. His zone contact is nearly 5% below league average. That’s not good. I think he could still hit 20 homers but is only 4 out of 9 on the bases. Without a significant speed component to his game, he’s just another guy who is eligible at a bunch of positions. Best case scenario, he goes 20-10 with a .265 average.


Freezing Cold Pitchers
Mike Foltynewicz has been beaten around recently with 10 ER in his last 12.2 IP along with 4 homers! I’m willing to look the other way a bit because he came off the DL three weeks ago, but he was due for a little bit of regression prior to the injury. I am encouraged because his swing strike rates in the last three games have all been higher than his season rate of 10.6%. If Folty can prove that he can maintain his elevated strikeout rate, he’s a top 25 SP. A this point, I need to see a couple more starts before making a recommendation on buying or selling.

Dylan Bundy’s roller-coaster season continues as he’s allowed 10 ER in his last 7.1 IP with 5 walks and only 5 Ks. I recently rage dropped Bundy in my H2H 12-team mixed league. He’s too sporadic for H2H leagues and gives up far too many homers. His only plus pitch is his slider and when his control is off, you’re bound to get stuck with a 5-6 ER outing. A 1.74 HR/9 just isn’t going to play. I love the swing and miss stuff and believe in his upside, so I’d hold in 15-team leagues and deeper. Here are his earned runs given up in his last 7 games: 5, 5, 2, 4, 0, 0, 3. He also has two 7 run outings as well. Ugh, frustrating.

Tyson Ross was a pretty cool story for the first two months. Since then, he’s sporting a 5.91 ERA with only 29 strikeouts in 42.2 IP. Ross looks toast and probably needs the break more than anyone. Maybe he should take a couple weeks off on the DL. If he doesn’t, he is going to be a pitcher I look to stream against. Even if he does hit the DL, I can’t trust him again this year. Move along everyone.

Matt Boyd is another long-shot coming into the year. He showed some promise over the last year+ and with the addition of Chris Bosio as the pitching coach, I figured either Boyd or Norris would see some improvements. I don’t know what happened to Norris. He’s probably living in a van down by the river, literally. Boyd at least looked great for a couple months. He still wasn’t getting strikeouts. Turns out hes more or less the same guy he was last year. A low-end streamer. I guess Bosio isn’t some magic pitching genius. Oh well.

Starting Pitchers to Stream – Week 8

Well last week wasn’t great but Hellickson dominated and we did get that huge strikeout performance from Vincent Velasquez against the suddenly strikeout-prone Giants. What’s interesting is that the Giants, previously known for putting the ball in play (only 19.6% K rate as a team in 2017), are now striking out 25% of the time as a team. They’re also in the bottom third of the league in wOBA. It’s becoming apparent that we need to move the Giants into the “stream against” category, especially with their home park being as pitcher friendly as any in the league. Some other teams in the bottom third in both K rate and wOBA: Padres, Orioles, Rockies (surprise), and Rangers. I’d throw the Marlins in there as well as they are last in the league in wOBA and middle of the pack in K rate. I don’t expect the Rockies to stay there, and obviously you’re not streaming in Coors.

Tyler Anderson (COL) 8% away vs SD 5/14 and away vs 5/20 SF
Anderson gets two starts next week both on the road against the Padres who are 2nd to last in wOBA, and against the Giants who are 23rd in wOBA. Anytime a pitcher is throwing outside of Coors he gets a bump. Anderson is no exception and he’s increased his K rate and swinging strike rates. Both teams he faces this week are in the bottom five (or top five depending how you look at it) in strikeout rate, meaning they strikeout a lot. I’m not a fan of Anderson’s new sinker but his change up and cutter have been pretty good. I’m starting him with confidence in both starts. STREAM

Sal Romano (CIN) 1% Away vs SF 5/14
Romano has been getting it done with smoke and mirrors thus far in 2018. His K rate and walk rate are much too close for my liking. In an era when everyone strikes out, Romano can’t even muster a K/9 of over 6.0. His fastball has not be effective like it was in the minors and while the Giants don’t scare me at all, I think the veteran hitters like Posey, McCutchen, and Longoria get to Romano in this one. I see a short 4 inning start with crooked numbers in a bad way. STAY AWAY

Nick Pivetta (PHI) 25% Away vs BAL on 5/15
I’m not sure how Pivetta is only 25% owned in Yahoo and ESPN leagues. He’s had a couple of rough starts where he’s been BABIP’ed to death but his HR/9 remains stellar at 0.92/9. He still sports a 9.7 K/9 and a 2.3 BB/9, those are fantasy #2 type numbers. Now, I’m not calling him a #2 but he should be owned in all leagues. I don’t love this one on the road where he has to face a DH but the Orioles are not good you guys. The only teams with lower wOBA are the Marlins and Padres. They also are in the bottom five in walk rate. As long as Pivetta can avoid Machado, he should go 6-7 IP with 6-7 Ks and solid ratios. STREAM

Chad Kuhl (PIT) 13% at Home vs SD 5/17
I had hopes for Kuhl to have a solid season and so far it’s more of the same. He’s very inconsistent start to start. I’m not worried about the Padres as a club, it’s more about can we trust Kuhl? The walks are down, the strikeouts are up a hair, his velocity is 96+ mph, but he’s been killed by the long ball. His curve and his slider are his two best pitches but he only throws them 29% of the time. It’s hard to feel confident in this one, but he is pitching at home where he’s been better and again, against a weak opponent. I’m going with this one if I’m desperate hoping for 5+ Ks, 3 ER and a win. STREAM but with caution.

Kyle Gibson (MIN) 25% at Home vs MIL 5/18
Right on the cusp of being owned in too many formats, but Gibson gets the Brewers at home in this one. Milwaukee gets to add a DH but with Thames out, they area little thin offensively. Surprisingly, the Brewers are in the bottom six in terms of team wOBA. I mentioned this last week, Gibson is good and needs to be owned, it’s just going to take a while for the fantasy community to come around on the 30-year-old. Every single one of his pitches have seen increased swing and miss percentages with the exception of his four-seamer. But he’s essentially eliminated that pitch as its usage is under 10%. He’s got to get his walks under control but a high ground ball rate and limiting barreled contact should keep this start within 3 ER or less with 6 to 7 strikeouts. STREAM

Andrew Heaney (LAA) 5% at Home vs TB on 5/19 or 5/20
Heaney has always had trouble staying healthy and I’m not touching him for his first start on Monday against the Astros but if he comes out of that one in tact, I like him in the start against the Rays. His surface numbers aren’t great but he’s rolling with a high BABIP of .347 and a low LOB rate of 64%. His strikeout rate is over 25% and his walk rate is 7%. He’s also inducing a lot of weak contact at over 10% which is over his 8% barreled contact. For the first time in his career he’s getting more weak contact than barreled balls. The Rays offense is better than anticipated but they don’t hit for a lot of power. I think Heaney rolls against the Rays next weekend. STREAM

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

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.