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“65Mustangs”Pick Your Spots 2017 Week One Spot Starting Guide for Fantasy Baseball & DFS.

Are you ready for Baseball Season? I have been since the last pitch of the 2016 World Series. We’ve done our studying, our prep and our drafts, now it is time to PLAY BALL! I’m sure you already set your lineup and made some post draft add/drops or trades, but what about your pitching plan? I know it is early but you don’t just want to throw them all out there do you? Especially if you are in Roto or DFS where the first week of the season can be extremely volatile when it comes to starting pitching. History, and Yanks Radio Announcer John Sterling say that the pitchers are always ahead of the hitters in Spring. If you ever owned CC Sabathia, even in his heyday, you know that is not always true.

Many leagues only let you roster seven or so starting pitchers but have innings minimums requiring you to spot start as well. Between injuries and other issues you will likely need 10-12 starting pitchers to get through a season anyway. Some leagues allow all out streaming. Some DFS gamers like to go contrarian in pitching to get an edge in hitting. Choosing, or not choosing the right starting pitchers to use on any particular day or week could very well be the difference between winning or losing the day, the week, or the season. I got a lot of mileage in 2016 out of pitchers that you would never roster, like Jeff Locke, Tom Koehler, Bud Norris and Tyler Anderson. However, I also found some I never dropped so they became part of my own rosters such as Chris Tillman, Bal,  Zack Davies, Mil and Danny Duffy, KC.

Last season I began a weekly column “Pick Your Spots” (First 6 2016 articles here) where I outlined 5-7 SP per week (less than 50% ownership) that I thought were your best bets for a quality start (QS) or better. It went well, and my research improved  over the course of the season so I ended up with a QS or better about 67% of the time. I was proud of that considering the pool I was choosing from. Enough people asked me to do it again this season and I’m all in. I’ll add a twist or two this season as well.

What you can expect in 2017:

Criterion Used: Platoon splits, LH/RH, Day/Night, Month, Half, stadium splits, team against splits, metrics like GB/FB rate, K & BB rates, Babip, Trends, etc. Sources are Fan Graphs, Baseball Reference, Fantrax, ESPN and more.

Pitchers from the under 50% ownership group – I’ll list three or so pitchers, less than 50% owned who i think are primed for a good start the following week, or better yet two good starts. I’ll explain the reasons which will be based on match-ups, splits, recent trends and my own gut, which is not a measurable stat but gets me by pretty well.

Not for the faint of heart, pitchers from the abyss- 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 Ace to avoid – This is great for both DFS and Roto and to some extent H to H leagues and Points based leagues. Just because he is on your roster does not mean you are required to put him out there in a bad match-up. I’ll bet the guy who won your league last season knew when to sit down his Ace. If you are a DFS fan I don’t have to tell you what happens when the Ace you spent 20% of your budget on gets bombed in the 2nd inning.

Match-up of the Week: If i see a match up that is too good to pass up, I’ll present the starter and explain why he should be in your lineup.

Report Card: I’ll also briefly recap the prior week’s results, and write about any news of starting pitchers reported to be called up from the minors or a re-hab assignment soon so you can get them before the rest of your league .

WEEK ONE –  April 2 through April 9, 2017: Week one & two are two of the most volatile weeks for starting pitching of the year, along with the last two weeks of the season. That being the case, I’ll lean toward players with a history and lean toward control/command pitchers over high heat till a few weeks in. The picks will get more exciting as the season wears on, especially with the always-in-demand two start starters. There are a lot of off days early on making two start pitchers less plentiful than the rest of the season so there is only one in this article.

 

Spotters from the <50% owned crowd:

Bartolo Colon, RHSP, NYM (51.0% owned) @ NYM WEDS 4/5/2017: I wish I could be at this game. The man who led the Mets in Starts, Innings and Wins the past three seasons coming back to Citifield against the Mets. Colon knows how to dial it up for a big game, and this is a big game.  He may not get you a ton of K’s but this time of year I’d rather protect my ratios anyway. Colon is a bit of a fly ball pitcher who uses guile now instead of brute power. That puts him well ahead of most hitters right now. Since Colon turned 40 he’s led the NL in walks per nine innings (BB/9) and has pitched 190+ innings each of the last four seasons. As you might guess he pitches pretty well at Citi Field with a 3.13 ERA, 1.137 WHIP & 7.7 K/9 there during 2016, and 3.47/1.165 during his long career. The Mets, on the other hand hit .243 vs right handers, .239 at home in 2016 and .238 in the first half of the season. In the NL the Mets finished 12th in BA, 14th in SB, mid pack in walks but did finish 2nd in HR, so Bart will have to keep the ball in the park.  I trust him early on.

Mike Foltynewicz, RHSP, ATL (18.9% owned) @ PIT, SAT 4/8/2017: While he is not an extreme ground baller he had his best ground ball/fly ball rate (GB/FB) of his career in 2016 at the age of 24.  He still gave up too many HR as his command is still developing. He dialed his fast ball up to 95 MPH in 2016, and not coincidentally had his best K/9 and BB/9 in his career fueling my own projections for him.  He had a pretty good Spring, and I have high hopes for Folty taking the next step in 2017. We can spot him in the meantime before teams stop dropping him. This is also a good match up for Folty as Pittsburgh hit to an OPS 40 points lower vs right handers than left with far less power in 2016.

Robert Gsellman, RHSP, NYM (24.3% owned VS MIA, 4/9/2017: Gsellman has something to prove to the Mets: that he can hold his own with the Big 5 Mets SP and wants to prove he should be one of them. He had a good Spring at 23 years old, and is not going to want to give up his spot when Matz is ready to come back off the DL. The Marlins had a 2016 OPS of only .699 at Citi Field and are a fly ball hitting team, but Gsellman should be able to keep it on the ground. In 2016 he had a 1.22 GB/FB rate, making him a fairly extreme ground baller which is great vs Miami. He also gave up only 0.2 HR per nine innings in 2016 which is not likely sustainable, although he never had a HR/9 above 1.0 in 6 minor league seasons. This time of year I want pitchers with command and control as opposed to high heat, and that is what Gsellman is. With his hair he belongs even more than Matt Harvey does. Maybe for other reasons too.

 

Not for the faint of heart. Pitchers from the abyss: 

***TWO START PITCHER***Tyler Anderson, LHSP, COL (10.8% owned) @ MIL TUE 4/4/2017 & Vs LAD SUN 4/9/2017: I had great luck with TA last season both on the road and even in Colorado. As for the thin air, all I can say is “Don’t try this at home”, however he went 5-2 with a 3.00 ERA at home in 2016. But this week he gets the Milwaukee Brewers in Milwaukee. The Crew does not have a fearsome lineup other than Ryan Braun at this point and Anderson does not put a lot of runners on base or give up many HR (0.9 HR/9). In 19 2016 starts, Tyler averaged 6.0 innings which you need for a quality start. He also managed a 3.54 ERA and a 3.5 WAR for you WAR buffs which is rare in Colorado. His 3.59 FIP shows the ERA was real, whether it is sustainable we will see soon enough. His Strikeouts to walks rate, K/BB of nearly 4.0 is nice, and mostly fueled by a 2.2 BB/9 when he walked only 28 batters in 119 innings pitched.  TA is 27 this season, and again, I want the command & control pitchers early in the season. The Brewers hit only .243 vs lefties in 2016, and April was their worst month, hitting .223 leading to a 1st half BA 20 points less than the 2nd half. They also hit 17 HR in April but twice in each of the other months of 2016. If you want to sit him at home vs the Dodgers on Sunday I don’t blame you. If he pitches poorly your league mates will laugh at you and you’ll be in a ratio hole after week one. If he pitches well though, you look like the league genius.  To stoke the fire, the Dodgers hit .214 vs lefties with a .623 OPS in 2016 which was 50 and 150 points lower than righties. Also, the Dodgers hit .246 away and only .237 in Colorado in 2016. I’m not a hypocrite so I’m starting him on Sunday.

Brandon Finnegan, LHSP, CIN (10.2% owned) VS PHI WEDS 4/5/2017: Like Folty, this is a pitcher I believe is due to break out. Talk about learning on the job, Finnegan has less than 90 minor league innings pitched and first came to the majors with the Royals in 2014 when he was 21 years old. He gets the light hitting Phils, though it is at home where balls tend to leave the yard more frequently. A team like the Phils who are rebuilding will be easier to tame early in the year than later when the kids start to gel on the offense.  It is hard to compare the former first round draft choice’s stats over the past three years as 2016 was his first full year as a regular starting pitcher.  2016 was a tale of two seasons for Finnegan as he was mediocre until August. For the last two months though he posted a 2.47 ERA and increased his K/9 by two strikeouts giving hope for another step in 2017.  Hopefully that carries over, but in his favor this week is a Phillies team who hit .204 in Cincinnati in 2016.

 

Patrick Corbin, LHSP, AZ (3.5% owned) VS SFG TUE 4/4/2017: Remember Patrick Corbin? How can he be only 3% owned in ESPN? Corbin is 27 years old and now 2 full years removed from TJ surgery which he had in 2014. Before that he put together an ALL STAR season in 2013 going 14-8 with a 3.41 ERA & 1.166 WHIP. In 2016 his K rates and HR rates came back but not his walk rate as command is usually the last thing to come back after TJ. At age 27 and 3rd season since TJ,  I see him putting it together in 2017 and going beyond where he left off in 2013. He should not have too much trouble holding the Giants at bay (no pun) as long as he keeps it on the ground in the homer friendly desert. the Giants hit 30 points lower vs lefties in 2016 and 70 points lower in OPS.

 

You may want to rethink starting him:

Jake Arrieta, RHSP, CHC @ STL TUE April 4, 2017 8:15PM ET. Arrieta is a great pitcher playing in the NL, and usually April is a good month for him. However the STL Cards own him in their own house. He has a lifetime 4.22 ERA and 1.500 WHIP in STL compared to his home numbers in Wrigley where he is 25-12 with a 2.20 ERA & .943 WHIP. He also has much better results pitching in the day time than at night. In 2016 his ERA was 2.62 in the sun and 3.59 under the lights. Lifetime his ERA in the sun has been 3.17 vs a 3.85 ERA after dark. I wanted to say those numbers are like Day and Night, but I changed my mind.

 

 

Match-up of the week:

Madison Bumgarner, RHSP, SFG @ SD FRI April, 7, 2017. Do I need to explain this one. No, but I will anyway. Mad-Bum can hit too.  But San Diego is not a great park to hit in, though it may not be needed anyway.

Thanks for reading and good luck in week one, 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 fantasybaseball Sub Reddit where I’ll talk pitching all day Sunday.

joseph.iannone021@gmail.com          @JoeIannone2 Twitter

 

 

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Major League Fantasy Football 2017 League Openings

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Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live on Sunday March 26th, 2017 from 7-9pm EST for episode #80 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. This week we will discuss players in the draft going for nice bargains.

Our guest this week is Steve Hamilton. Steve is a writer, and editor with majorleaguefantasysports.com focusing on baseball. His articles publish every Saturday.

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”

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Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live on Sunday April 2nd, 2017 from 7-9pm EST for episode #81 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. OPENING DAY SPECIAL! We will discuss some of the days events as well as relevant fantasy baseball updates.

Our guests this week are Ron Shandler, and Bilal Chaudry. Ron is FSTA Hall of Famer, and one of the pioneers of fantasy baseball. You can find his work at ronshandler.com. Bilal is a veteran owner in Major League Fantasy Baseball leagues and frequent radio guest.

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”

I'm an accountant and an amateur writer of fiction and sports commentary, mostly baseball. I've been a student of the game of baseball since the Dinosaurs roamed the earth, or at least since a few years before the world knew what a designated hitter was. Otherwise, I like "antique" cars of the 60's and 70's and have been a fantasy baseball fanatic since my first draft many years ago. I live in CT with my wife Megan of 25 years, our daughter Caitlin and their (their) cats. I'm also the better looking of the two guys in the the photo.

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