Welcome to Week 16 (JULY 24 through JULY 30, 2017).
The Dog Days of Summer are upon us. Hopefully, your pitchers stay cool and refreshed and don’t wilt in the sun like I did yesterday. Thank goodness for swimming pools. But swimming pools can be hazardous as well, especially if you own a “Pool Hammock”. When you own a pool, you have to be ready for anything, even something you never heard of. Warning: Pool Hammock. Let someone know you are getting in the pool and be sure to tell them your plans to use the Pool Hammock. It is so soothing and cooling that you WILL no doubt fall asleep in it. I’ve fallen asleep in it, so have others in my family. Always set your lineup before lounging in the Pool Hammock. I’d say more but I’m slowly falling asleep here trying to keep my laptop out of the water. No, that is not me in the picture, nor does she frequent my pool. She just came attached to the Hammock box. If you read last week’s article, the next picture is more representative of a scene from my pool. Is it cool enough for you Chuck?
A couple of important injury notes:
First the good. Dallas Keuchel is still nearing the end of his rehab assignment, as now is Corey Kluber, who may re-appear in Week 16. Jharel Cotton should be activated to make two starts in week 16, and both Kendall Graveman & Chris Bassitt are nearing comebacks as well. (Who needs Sonny Gray with all that?) Kyle Hendricks should be back to start Monday, and Hyun-Jin Ryu should be back to continue competing with Kenta Maeda for the 5th starter role (And the Cubs thought their rotation is deep). Ryu is not in my write up today as his schedule is a bit iffy, but if he gets the Twins at home which is tentatively scheduled for Monday it would be a worth while spot start. He is 35% owned in Fantrax and was pitching pretty well before getting hurt. If they stay with a 6-man rotation next week he gets the one start. If something changes and he gets moved up a day, he’d also get the Giants at home on Sunday which is even more meaty of a start.
The bad news: Michael Pineda did, in fact, have TJ surgery (2nd go-round) and was put on the 60-Day DL. Likely spelling the end of the Pineda experiment in NY. Aaron Sanchez is dealing with blisters, again, and Tyler Chatwood is out with a calf strain. Sam Gaviglio had fun while it lasted but he was sent to the minors to pave the way for the immortal Yovanni Gallardo to re-enter the Mariners rotation. (Ho-Hum)
On the trade front, a couple of SP are likely on the move next week, notably, Sonny Gray, linked to several teams and Jaimie Garcia is likely headed to Minnesota, possibly ending the decades long run of Bartolo Colon. Those respective rotations are now subject to change.
WEEK SIXTEEN: JULY 24 through JULY 30: Like the past few weeks, some pitching schedules are subject to change. This time, because it is the week leading up to the Non-Waiver Trade Deadline. You know what that means.
If you play DFS, don’t forget to look at my picks at the bottom of the article.
Spotters from the <50% owned crowd:
***TWO-START PITCHER***Jhoulys Chacin, RHSP, SD (23% owned in ESPN, 61% owned Fantrax) vs NYM TUE 7-25 & vs PIT, SUN, 7/30: Chacin debuted in this spot last week and gets a reprise as a two-start pitcher this week. Chacin has pitched a quality start in eight of his last nine starts, including his most recent at SF where he went six innings giving up two earned runs on four hits and a walk. He gained a Win and four K’s while not letting any pitches land in the seats. That leaves him at 9-7 with a 4.26 ERA, yet his Fantrax ownership only increased 2% to 61% since that last start. Over his past ten starts, he has not given up more than three earned runs and is one inning shy of all nine being QS. In fact, May 23 is the last time he gave up more than three runs. Over that ten start run, he is 5-3, 2.73 ERA, 1.12 WHIP with 47 K’s in 56.1 IP. Another nice stat is that he has only given up three HR in his past six starts. If he is on your wire and not part of your rotation you better have a damn good rotation. Either way, he needs to be universally owned next week. First he gets the Mets at home, and to be honest the Mets are 3rd in the MLB in wOBA (.333), though only 16th in BA (.252). I can’t tell you not to skip that start, but the Mets are not exactly hitting like a juggernaut now. The Pirates, on the other hand, are 19th in BA (.249) and 15th in wOBA (.315) vs RHSP away. for his part, Chacin is pitching to a 1.94 ERA and .98 WHIP at home in 2017. Need more?
***TWO-START PITCHER***Patrick Corbin, LHSP, AZ (21% owned in ESPN, 60% owned Fantrax) vs ATL, TUE 7-25 & @ STL, SUN 7-30: Let me get this straight. At least 40% of you have no use for an LH starter that K’s nearly a strikeout per inning, has the D’Backs behind him scoring runs, and has been pitching pretty well lately? Go grab him for this week already. The Braves are 7th in wOBA (.349), and 5th in BA (.286) vs lefties away from home, so it will not be easy unless Corbin has his strikeout pitches working. STL should be easier as they are 14th in wOBA at .322 against lefties at home. I’m relaxing my usual red flags for Corbin this week as he is a bonafide MLB SP in my mind, not your run of the mill spot starter. I own him in nearly all my leagues. In each of his past eight starts, he has given up three or fewer runs.
Brent Suter, LHSP, MIL (20% owned ESPN, 38% Owned in Fantrax) vs CHC, FRI 7-28: That is right, another holdover from last week. I’m running him out against the Cubs and anyone else until something goes wrong. I was late to the Suter party but now I’m very intrigued. The Suds starting pitching was their biggest perceived weakness coming into 2017 but is now the main reason they are at the top of the NL Central. Suter had a pretty good 1st half in the pen, but then they stretched him out to be a starter. In his last three games, he has gone 17 IP, with 4 walks, no homers, 4 ER and 15 K’s. At age 27 he could finally be reaching his stride. On Friday he gets the Cubs at home in Milwaukee in what could be a pivotal series in the NL Central. We’ll see if he is up to the task, but at 27 I like his makeup. The Cubs are 3rd in the MLB in wOBA vs lefties away from Wrigley (.366), 7th in BA (.280), and 6th in ISO at .202. Those are some scary numbers so if you roll out Suter you are in the high-risk high-reward neighborhood. The good news is that in four MLB starts he has not given up more than two runs yet.
Chad Kuhl, RHSP, PIT (4.6 owned ESPN, 29% Owned in Fantrax) @ SD, FRI 7/28: Yup, picking on the Padres this week. The Padres are one of the worst offenses at home vs right handed SP, 25th in the MLB with a .311 wOBA and 28th in BA at home vs RHSP with a .244 average. Kuhl has been pitching pretty well lately. In his last start he gave up four runs in six innings pitched, but that was in the thin air of Colorado. In his last six starts he has four Quality Starts and was 1/3 of an inning shy of a fifth, Colorado being the lone exception. In that stretch, he has gone 27.2 IP, with a less than sparkling 21/11 K/BB, but a 3.31 ERA. The very young looking girl in the pic is Chad’s GF, Amanda, who went on to be crowned Miss Delaware & later competed in the Miss America Pageant. You better pitch well Chad.
Anibal Sanchez, RHSP, DET (6.5% owned in ESPN, 29% owned Fantrax) vs KC, WED 7/26: One final holdover from last week, Sanchez ownership went down from 32% in Fantrax to 29% after a pretty good start last week. Sanchez was terrible in the first two and a half months of the season. He bought himself a ticket to the bullpen and then was called upon again by the Tigers. He has six starts now since being reinstated in the rotation and has delivered three of six Quality Starts, with a total of only three runs or less in five of the games. Two more would have been QS but he didn’t quite make six innings. The success all had to do with cutting down the walks and HR, the magic formula. In those six starts we are talking four HR (three of them in the one bad game), seven walks, and 29 K’s in 35 innings. The first four starts were against SF, SD, CLE, & SEA, so it was not the creme of the MLB offenses, but his past two were against MIN and TOR. The Royals are 30th, or dead last in the MLB in wOBA vs RHSP away from KC.
Not for the faint of heart. Pitchers from the abyss:
***TWO-START PITCHER***Seth Lugo, RHSP, NYM (14.4% owned ESPN & 47% owned Fantrax) @ SD, TUE 7/25 & @ SEA SUN 7/30: Lugo is only in the “Not for the Faint of Heart” section because he pitches for the New York Mets. I don’t need to explain that do I? The Padres are one of the worst offenses at home vs right handed SP, 25th in the MLB with a .311 wOBA and 28th in BA at home vs RHSP with a .244 average. Seattle will be a little tougher as they are 11th in the MLB in wOBA vs righties at home, while their ISO is only 18th in the majors. Lugo needs to keep the ball in the park and Seattle is not a great HR park. Lugo has Quality Starts in his past two starts and three of his past four. In his most recent start, he threw 70% of his pitches for strikes. Overall he is 4-2 with a 4.05 ERA and five QS in seven starts. I wonder if Lugo’s wife is Kuhl’s wife’s sister?
Zack Wheeler, RHSP, NYM (13.7% owned in ESPN, 57% owned in Fantrax) @ SD, THU, 7/27: Wheeler is in this section because of the same Met’s reasoning as Lugo, but also because he has hit some speed bumps lately in his first year back from two missed seasons of TJ rehab. In his first nine starts of 2017 he pitched to a 3.45 ERA with eight K’s per nine innings. In his past six starts, he’s given up 26 runs in 23.2 innings pitched (10.09 ERA, ouch), with a 25/14 K/BB. Getting the Padres at PNC Park could be just what the doctor ordered to get him back on track. The Padres are one of the worst offenses at home vs right handed SP, 25th in the MLB with a .311 wOBA and 28th in BA at home vs RHSP with a .244 average.
DFS PLAYERS: You may want to re-think starting him:
Jason Vargas, LHSP, KC @ BOS FRI 7/28: Boston is the 3rd best hitting team in baseball against lefties at home with a .352 wOBA against.
Justin Verlander, RHSP, DET vs HOU SUN 7/30: Houston is the best hitting team in baseball against righties away with a .375 wOBA against, Yikes!
Chris Archer, RHSP, TB @ NYY: The Yanks are the #1 team in wOBA at home vs Righties with a .361 wOBA against, Yikes again!
Yu Darvish, RHSP, TX vs MIA: Just when you thought it was safe to throw Yu out there he gets the Marlins in Texas. Miami is 7th in MLB in wOBA against righties away from the Trop. .326 wOBA against.
DFS PLAYERS: Match-ups of the week:
Justin Verlander, RHSP, DET vs KC MON, 7/24: YES, he was also on the “Do Not Start List” for his matchup on Sunday with Houston, but on Monday he gets the Royals at home. The Royals are dead last in the MLB in wOBA away vs righties at .290. Kate is wondering what that means that he is on both lists???
Carlos Carrasco, RHSP, CLE vs LAA: The Angels are 28th in MLB vs righties away with a .291 wOBA against.
Gerrit Cole, RHSP, PIT @ SF: The Giants are the worst team in the MLB vs Righties at home with a .282 wOBA at home vs RHSP. Hmm. She looks like the other two girls as well. Maybe not but she is the sister of Giants SS Brandon Crawford making for some interesting family dinners.
Jake deGrom, RHSP, NYM @ SD, MON 7/24: The Padres are 25th in the MLB in wOBA at home vs righties at .311.
CONTRARIAN PLAYS: Save some cash for your offense:
Rick Porcello, RHSP vs KC, SAT 7/29: The Royals are dead last in the MLB in wOBA away from KC vs Righties, at .291.
Danny Salazar, RHSP, CLE @ CWS: Yeah, he is fresh off the DL but the Chisox are 29th in the MLB with a .302 wOBA at home vs righties. Salazar may be rusty but he gets the prize for the best nerd pick this week.
What to expect in 2017: (If you read this part in last week’s article, skip the next few paragraphs.
Criteria Used: Platoon splits, LH/RH, Day/Night, Month, Half, stadium splits, team batting against splits, metrics like GB/FB rate, K & BB rates, Babip, wOBA, FIP, Trends, etc. Sources are Fan Graphs, Baseball Reference, Fantrax, ESPN and more.
Pitchers from the under 50% ownership group – I’ll list three or four pitchers, less than 50% owned who I believe are primed for a good start the following week, or better yet two good starts. I’ll list two or so pitchers that are less than 20% owned and look like a good choice based on the above criterion.
DFS Suggestions – I’ll pick out a few aces to avoid in DFS and a couple who should be in your lineup, especially if I see a great contrarian start.
My crusade for 2017/2018: Pitchers and other players seem to be getting injured so fast that most leagues don’t have enough DL spots to accommodate them all. Roster limits force tough decisions which are a good thing for competitive league balance and showcasing owner skills, but this season’s overcrowded Disabled-Lists have proven to test traditional capacity at times. I think it is a combination of pitchers being more injury prone, but also the abundant use of the new in 2016 7 day concussion DL, and the new in 2017 10 day DL rule that has MLB teams easing their own roster limitations at the expense of our fantasy limitations and resources. In light of the 7 day & 10 day DL rules, I recommend any owners who have 2 to 4 DL spots to petition the League Manager to increase the number of DL spots to whatever is appropriate for that format. Most good LM’s won’t change rules or settings once the season starts, and rightly so, but at least it will be in place for 2018. Don’t feel victimized by the new rule. Adjust to it.
Thanks for reading and good luck in week Fourteen, especially with your pitching. If you have a question about these or any other SP match-ups next week don’t hesitate to leave a message in the comments, write me, or check out my “Pick Your Spots” thread every Sunday on the /r/fantasybaseball Sub-Reddit where I’ll talk starting pitching all day.
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