June 2, 2017
Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner
It's time to preview the hurlers scheduled for two starts in the upcoming week. As the old wrestling promoters would always say: “Card Subject to Change,” because injuries and tinkering managers can make this less than a science. Should new information present itself, we can go over it in the comments.
Most of these recommendations are based on a combination of ADP/auction price and PECOTA projections for opponent strength. As the season progresses and we get more concrete data points for how the pitchers and their opponents perform, the formula will evolve into a performance-based projection. For more information on some key terms—Auto-Start, Start, Consider and Sit—click here.
Martinez has continued his evolution as an ace this season. He got tagged in a couple of outings, but since giving up five earned runs to the Brewers in late April, he has tossed 50 1/3 innings with a 2.32 ERA, while striking out nearly a batter per inning.
Scherzer is incredible. Yet again. Start with confidence.
Arrieta has enjoyed a slight bump in velocity as the season has progressed, however he is still down over two ticks from his peak fastball with the Cubs. He has two strong matchups this week, so if he is ever going to fully bounce back, now is the time.
Sometime in May, Ray decided that it would be in his best interest, as a pitcher, to not give up any runs, culminating in a complete game shutout in Pittsburgh, which included 22 swinging strikes. This week he faces two offenses prone to strikeouts against left-handed pitching. Giddyap!
Sure, Samardzija’s 1-7 record is, um, less than stellar, but he’s actually been pretty solid this season. He has made a concerted effort to throw his curveball more, leading to stellar results of a 3.32 ERA with 49 strikeouts and one walk in 40 2/3 innings. He has also shown impressive skills when running into the pile during on-field melees.
Straily’s 2016 seemed a little fluky, but he’s been better this season so far, striking out a batter per inning and limiting baserunners with a 1.12 WHIP. He’s getting decent matchups this week against teams that have struggled at the plate. I’m leaning toward riding the wave.
The longtime Cardinals’ ace hasn’t been dominant for a while now, but he has shaved nearly three runs off his ERA over his past four starts. The WHIP is still unpalatable, but something might be brewing with Waino.
The Dodgers have creatively used the 10-day DL yet again, this time allowing Wood to skip a start with a sore sternum. The stint comes in the middle of a 25 1/3 inning scoreless streak for the 26-year-old lefty, where he has fanned 37 batters compared to only six walks.
In a recent outing against the Braves, Cain got 17 (!) ground-ball outs in seven innings. That’s Matt Cain, with the career 38 percent ground-ball rate. It was an outlier, sure, but he could be a sneaky stream at home against the Twins.
Garcia hasn’t been exactly the rotational rock that the Braves might have been hoping for, but this week he gets two offenses that are both hitting below .240 against lefties. In addition, both starts come at home, where his ERA is 1.88 this season (in only 14 1/3 innings, but still).
Lamet’s PECOTA comps (Harrison Musgrave, Andre Rienzo, Ariel Pena) aren’t especially inspiring, but his performance thus far in a sample has been intriguing. The 24-year-old Dominican has a fastball that flirts with 99 mph and a wipe-out slider that gets whiffs nearly a quarter of the time. He’s a fly-bally pitcher, so I’m starting him with confidence (fine—maybe a better word is “bravado”) at home against the Royals.
Adleman has been better recently, but his 5.20 DRA and mediocre strikeout totals make it tough to start him with any reliability. And, not to pile on the Reds, but the same goes for Bonilla.
The Butler did it—if what we’re talking about is “walking everyone” and “not striking anyone out.”
After 19 big-league seasons, it finally looks like Colon is on his last legs. We’ll always have that homer off Shields, Big Sexy.
I would be less nervous hunting polar bears with John Locke than I would be starting Jeff Locke in fantasy.
On the surface, there’s a lot to like with Senzatela. The 22-year-old touches 99 mph with his fastball and has seven wins in his first 10 starts. Trouble could be just around the corner, however, as his DRA is close to 6.00 and his 6.7 percent swinging-strike rate is almost 4 percentage points below league average. Oh, and he pitches his home games at Coors Field.
The 28-year-old Rays’ ace has a sparkling 1.85 DRA and gets two decent home matchups this week.
It’s true, the Tigers’ ace has been a little more 2014 Verlander and a little less 2016 Verlander. He is walking a few more batters than normal, but even that trend has been correcting itself over his past handful of starts. The velocity is still there, as well as the track record, and I continue to trust Verlander to anchor a staff.
Injuries have been the biggest obstacle for Happ this season. Injuries and dingers. The lefty has only managed 20 innings and has already surrendered six bombs. He still is better than average at limiting free passes and is striking out more than 10 hitters per nine innings, so perhaps two starts in pitcher-friendly parks will cure him of his homer-itis.
Manaea struggled in his first start off the DL against the Mariners, but has reeled off three strong outings in a row, striking out 20 in 19 innings, while giving up only three earned runs. The time off also has helped the lefty regain his velocity, which helps.
According to manager A.J. Hinch, Musgrove’s trip to the DL will be a short one, and the 24-year-old will make his return against two tasty matchups. Aside from a shelling at the hands of the defending American League champs, Musgrove has been solid in May, even going seven shutout innings in his previous outing, complete with 16 swinging strikes.
As colleague George Bissell put it on Twitter:
I for one, couldn’t be happier. Very close to jumping up to the “Auto-Start” category.
After a pretty meager start, Quintana’s trade value might be down to a bag of balls, three cases of Big League Chew, and a player to be named later. I’m still a big-time believer in the talent, however, as his velocity has remained unchanged and he’s actually striking out a batter per inning, which is a career high. Now is the time to pounce.
Like, I don’t really want to start Fiers any more than you do, but if you’re not starting him at Kauffman Stadium and then against a Trout-less (still sad about this btw) Angels team, when will he ever find his way off the hypothetically fantasy pine?
In his last two starts
Santiago brought an ERA under 2.50 into May. In seven May starts, the lefty has an ERA close to 7.00 and is averaging just over three homers per nine innings. This week he gets two starts, in big parks, against teams that struggle to hit left-handed pitching, so it’s pretty much now or never. Plus, it’s not May anymore, so there’s that.
Tanaka is baffling right now. I still like him, but I’m having a harder and harder time with the justification.
Look, I actually like Chavez a little bit, and he has usually been a good bet to at least pitch deep into games. Having said that, he has given up at least one home run (he’s averaging nearly two per nine innings) in every start since Opening Day, and this week he faces two teams, on the road, which hit lots of dingers.
Kennedy has always been prone to the occasional homer, or two. That problem has been exacerbated by the uptick in walks he has experienced. Combine the homers with the walks with a .203 BABIP, and that could add up to trouble on the horizon.