August 11, 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.
Bumgarner’s velocity is creeping back up, and so are the strikeouts. If you weren’t completely confident in his return before, it’s safe to dive back in.
Road starts against the Cubs and Braves aren’t no-doubters, but Castillo has (not surprisingly) been much better away from Great American Ball Park, posting a 2.97 ERA in 30 ⅓ road innings. Pair that with over a strikeout per inning, a ground-ball rate sniffing 60 percent, and a fastball that touches 100 mph, and the combo turns me into Jessie Spano after too many caffeine pills.
I could spout off some really smart numbers about how Eickhoff has been rounding back into form since his return from the DL, but really all you need to know is that he’s facing the Padres and Giants on the road this week. Start him.
Hendricks has been a poor man’s version of, well, Kyle Hendricks. He was elite last season, and is slightly worse across the board this year. That’s still playable, however, and he’ll get two decent matchups this week at Wrigley Field, a place where he boasts a career 2.51 ERA in 265 innings.
To say Velasquez’s 2017 has been slightly inconsistent would be akin to saying Oceanic 815 was a slightly bumpy flight. The 25-year-old spent all of June on the DL and has struggled with his control since coming back, walking 12 batters in 21 innings. The stuff is still tantalizing, however, and based on the matchups, this could be the week we see things click.
Do you like living on the edge? Can you handle strikeout totals that even Jordan Zimmermann would consider paltry? Do you want me to stop asking rhetorical questions? Cool, yeah, I guess consider Blach.
In his past five starts since rejoining the big club, Conley has impressed, finally learning to cut down free passes, en route to a 3.48 ERA in 31 innings. The only problem is that the strikeouts have all but dried up, with the lefty fanning a mere six batters per nine innings during that span. This week he gets the hapless Giants, and a Mets team that is considerably better against right-handed pitching.
After getting shelled by the Diamondbacks and Royals in consecutive June starts, it would appear that Lamet made a conscious effort to throw more sliders, a pitch that has induced over 22 percent whiffs this year. The pitch mix tinkering has resulted in a solid 3.75 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 50 1/3 innings. It’s tough advocating for any non-elite pitcher against the Nationals, but I’d have no issue running Lamet out at home against the Phillies.
First things first: It’s good to see Ray back on the mound (assuming he comes off the concussion list as expected). However, the Astros at Chase Field represent a pretty tough matchup for the southpaw this week, as they lead the league in wRC+ against lefties, and 11 of Ray’s 16 homers have come at home.
Wojciechowski struggled as a starter earlier this season, but a bullpen stint seems to have turned things around (well, relatively) for the 28-year-old righty. In his last two starts, his strikeout-to-walk ratio stands at a tidy 11:1, and he has surrendered only four runs in 10 2/3 innings. He also boasts the absolute hardest name to spell in all of baseball, so if your league awards points per letter, invest.
Leake is fine, but if I’m taking a chance, I’d rather have a little bit of upside.
Almost a quarter of Teheran’s starts have resulted in six or more earned runs. The 26-year-old has nearly doubled his walk and home run rates this season, and makes a start at Coors Field this week.
The Phillies have the fifth lowest wRC+ against lefties, so if you’re in a pinch I guess you could consider Wood. I’d probably prefer not to, however.
This might seem a bit premature, but Salazar has looked like an ace since returning from the DL. I’m a big fan of shameless plugs, so check out the Fantasy Freestyle I wrote this week regarding his resurgence. I’m in.
Speaking of resurgence, Verlander is striking guys out again, averaging nine and a half strikeouts per nine innings over his last 10 starts.. Both the Rangers and Dodgers strike out a lot against right-handed pitching, making the flame-throwing veteran a strong option.
I totally should’ve saved the “Speaking of resurgence” intro for Gausman, because after being left for dead by fantasy writers that totally weren’t me (fine—it was me), the 26-year-old has been great in his past five starts, tossing 33 innings and striking out 38 batters with an absurd 1.64 ERA. He’s done it in part by throwing more splitters, a pitch that he used to much success last season. According to the PITCH f/x leaderboard, the pitch moves horizontally more than any other splitter in the league, getting whiffs around a quarter of the time and groundballs in 60 percent of balls in play. Not too shabby.
Sonny, yesterday your life was with the A’s.
Sonny, now with the Yanks let’s please keep up the K’s.
Now the Bay days are gone, and the Bronx days are here
Oh Sonny one having such a strong year, Sonny you’re so true, I’m starting you.
McHugh didn’t throw many sliders in the past, but after learning a new grip from Peacock, he has thrown it over 22 percent of the time in his four starts off the DL. The result has been a swinging strike rate over 20 percent and his best strikeout rate since 2014. Chase Field scares me some, but I’m leaning toward greenlighting both Astros’ hurlers this week.
Somehow, opponents are hitting .388/.456/.791 against Tanaka during day games, leading to an 11.81 ERA. That’s, that’s... wow. Luckily for us, the righty is penciled in for two evening starts this week, where he’s clearly more comfortable with a 3.15 ERA and 102 strikeouts in 103 innings.
Bauer dazzled for the second-consecutive outing in his recent romp against the Rockies. If you zoom out even farther, the enigmatic, 26-year-old hurler has actually been fairly solid over his past 12 starts, striking out a batter per inning while holding opponents to four homers in 63 1/3 innings.
Sadly, it looks like the Trevor Cahill experiment is on its last legs. In three starts post-trade, the sinkerballer has thrown only 11 innings with an 8.18 ERA. Yes, the 30.8 percent HR/FB rate should come down, but the fall from grace has been drastic. I guess Lorde is right.
I poked some fun at Estrada’s recent run in a previous edition of the FSPP and the veteran has clearly taken it upon himself to make me look bad. He’s been very Marco Estrada-y in his recent starts, getting more whiffs with his vaunted changeup on the way to an ERA under 3.00.
The Astros lead baseball in dingers. Cotton serves up nearly two dingers per nine innings and has a 7.38 DRA. I’d opt for a different fabric this week.
I really want Snell to be good, but he’s walking so many dudes, and isn’t getting nearly enough strikeouts to make up for an unplayable WHIP.