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“65 Mustangs” Pick Your Spots: Week 5 Fantasy Baseball & DFS Spot Starting Guide. A Month in the Books Already, Do You Know Where Your Next Start is Coming From?

I don’t know if I’m Bat Crap Crazy or just dedicated to the craft. I’m sitting in my office writing this on Saturday afternoon as it is due at 9 PM. It is about 90 degrees here in CT, with a strong cool breeze and a nice sunny blue sky with the big cumulus clouds that we thought looked like Mickey Mouse when we were kids. I could be outside finishing that garden I’ve been complaining about, or vacuuming the pool and testing the water that will be green by next weekend if I don’t get to it. Or, I could be in a hammock in the shade knocking down a Lawson’s Liquids Sip of Sunshine until I doze off instead of dozing off at my computer with a 16 Oz Red Bull instead. Yeah right. I don’t need much of an excuse to procrastinate on yard work when it is hot out.

Yeah right. I don’t need much of an excuse to procrastinate on yard work when it is hot out. One thing I can’t procrastinate on is picking up a couple of spot starters for next week before they are gone. My article publishes at 8 AM and by 9 AM my league mates who don’t do their own research will have scooped them all up. Especially our fearless leader Corey Roberts, the owner of MLFS. He always tells me that he was planning on taking those same guys anyway, but it is interesting that they are always guys I write about, and all those transactions appear to be at [8:15] AM on Sunday. Hmmmmm. I better pick them up tonight, sorry Corey. I always say writing this is worth it even if I only help one person. But an arch rival in two money leagues, not so much.

Due to the ebb & flow of the schedule and pitching rotations, some weeks have all aces as two-start pitchers while others have all back of the rotation pitchers getting two. Some weeks, however, are black holes for two-start lesser owned SP, and this is one of those weeks. Unlike the last couple of articles last week’s article, this week will feature very few lesser owned two start pitchers. Then again two start pitchers are only valuable if they can give you two good starts, and the downside, two bad starts, can be pretty dismal. There are plenty of good looking single starts so you may have to work a little harder this week. That is ok, you need a new excuse for not doing the yard work.

What to expect in 2017: (If you read this part in last week’s article skip down to week 5.)

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 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 will make my decisions based on matchups, 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, Roto, and to some extent H2H leagues and points leagues. Just because a pitcher 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.

WEEK FIVE –  May 1 through MAY 7, 2017: The pitching is finally normalizing as we have four weeks of data to draw from. Most rotations are up to five starters now and some have as many as five or six starts in the books. This was a thin week to pick from as April is the #1 month for waiver wire pickups as owners tweak their post-draft rosters and cover spring injuries for the long summer. Because of that, many of the spot starters we had available to us, and got good results from during month one, are now more than 60% owned and in some cases universally owned. So, you will see several repeat pitchers from last week who are still (I’m not sure why) in that less than 50% owned club. This will be replenished by the first wave of call-ups and players who were not drafted due to injury and are ready to come back. Check your wire just in case for this week’s returning rehabbers: Jake Odorizzi (TB)  Chris Tillman (BAL) and Sonny Gray (OAK). They may have been forgotten about but will go fast. Anyway, I think I picked some great options for this coming week and even had to leave some good ones off the list.

Trivia Question: What pitcher who is only 26% owned in Fantrax Leagues has the 5th best Ground Ball/ Fly Ball ratio in the majors, but has given up seven home runs already in 2017. He’s also got two pretty good matchups this week so he just might be in this article. Hopefully, he gets it down this week.

Spotters from the <50% owned crowd:

***TWO START PITCHER***Wei-Yin Chen, LHP, MIA (5% owned ESPN, 60% owned Fantrax) Vs TB MON 5/1 & @ NYM SAT 5/6: The Mets seldom walk and are fifth in the NL in K’s, and dead last in Batting Average at .216 (Thanks, Curtis). They are also 4th in the NL in HR, but having a lot of trouble scoring (barely three HR/G) and are now without Yoenis Cespedes for the foreseeable future.  It gets worse as they are only hitting .223 vs lefties. Chen has a career 1.38 ERA at Citifield where the Mets have hit only .208 against him. Tampa Bay’s offense has been inconsistent and have hit .209 in their last week scoring only 17 runs in five games. They are first in the AL in strikeouts but also 2nd in walks and 3rd in HR. Chen is prone to the HR, but I don’t think the Rays can hurt him too much the way they are hitting. They are also hitting .214 with a .686 OPS away from the Trop scoring 3.5 RPG.

Jaime Garcia, LHSP,  ATL (5.2% owned ESPN, 39% Fantrax) Vs NYM THU 5/4: Why is Garcia still only 39% owned in Fantrax? He appears fully healthy again after posting a 3.20 ERA in Spring Training and is a big part of a rejuvenated Braves team in the NL East.  After a couple of mediocre starts to begin the season he has now tossed three quality starts in a row, only giving up a total of six earned runs and one HR in those three games, each going six innings.  In 2016 his HR rate spiked and his normally extreme GB/FB rate cratered but is coming around as his command sharpens. He is still giving up too many walks though which is driving up his pitch count.  He may get some help in that department as the Mets seldom walk and are fifth in the NL in K’s not to mention dead last in Batting Average at .216. They are also 4th in the NL in HR, but having a lot of trouble scoring (barely three HR/G) and are now without Yoenis Cespedes for the foreseeable future.  It gets worse as they are only hitting .223 vs lefties. In his career, Garcia has a .306 ERA vs the Mets and Garcia’s ERA is 35 points better at home.

Jesse Hahn, RHSP, OAK (1.9% owned ESPN, 37.0% Fantrax) Vs DET SAT 5/6: Hahn is pitching to the same levels as he did in his first two seasons before he hit bottom last season in nine starts. In three of four seasons, he’s sported a low 3’s ERA and sits at an unsustainable 2.08 right now. He is 27 now and should be ready to establish who he is now at the MLB level. He is especially tough on right-handed batters and Detroit only has two lefties in their order with the big bats all right-handed, plus they are currently without Miggy & JD Martinez and guys like Kinsler and V-Mart have not started hitting yet. The free-swinging Tigers are 3rd in the AL in K’s and take very few walks. They are only hitting .196 in the past week and .212 over the past two. They are only hitting .239 vs righties, .237 away, and averaging less than three runs per game. In his career, Hahn has an ERA of 1.64 vs Detroit and they are hitting .179 against him. Hahn also has a 2.96 ERA at home and has a very low .3 HR/9. I’d go grab him now. Well, please finish reading first.

Matt Andriese, RHSP, TBR (3.1% owned ESPN, 39% owned Fantrax) Vs MIA THU 5/4: Miami is surprisingly 13th in the NL in runs, 11th in HR, last in walks, but low in K’s have hit .221 during the past week.  They are worse against righties, hitting .207, and have a .237 average away from Miami. This sounds like another perfect storm for Mr. Andriese who pitches better at home than on the road. Get them while they are down, in the wrong house, and facing the wrong sided pitcher. Last week I said there is likely some regression on the horizon as his 3.31 ERA was not supported by his 4.51 FIP, and it is now at 3.86 though he did hurl his 3rd QS of 2017 against Toronto last week. He is one IP away from having 4/5 QS this season.  He is 27 now and we could see his best season if he stays in the rotation.

Matt Cain, RHSP, SFG (2.1% owned ESPN, 26% owned Fantrax) @ CIN FRI 5/5: The Reds’ offense is middle of the pack but they lead the league in walks so Cain cannot afford to be wild. They are hitting .271 vs RHP on the season, however, vs right handers they get fewer walks and their OPS is 40 points lower than vs lefties.  They are 14th in the NL in R, fifth in K’s and .207 away from home. They are also hitting a dismal .213 in their last seven games. Meanwhile Mr. Cain has compiled a 2-0 record with a gaudy but unsustainable 2.30 ERA and a 22/9 K/BB while no one was looking, though the walks are still high, opponents are hitting less than .200 vs Cain in his last four starts during which he has given up only three runs total. Cain’s lifetime ERA vs the Reds is 3.44.

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

***TWO START PITCHER*** Trevor Cahill, RHSP, SDP (16.5 % owned in ESPN, 26% owned Fantrax) Vs COL TUE 5/2 & @ LAD SUN 5/7:  Trevor Cahill kept up his strong strikeout rate to start the season by fanning nine batters on Wednesday, though he also allowed four walks, nine hits, and five runs over 5 2/3 innings. Cahill has struck out an impressive 30 batters in 24 innings, but his ERA is now 4.50. His 3.08 FIP points to that 4.50 possibly being inflated.  He also has an impressive 1.65 GB/FB rate which should keep his HR’s in check. Three of his four starts have been on the road, with his most successful by far coming at home in Petco (seven innings of one-run ball). Like most Padres pitchers, he is likely a home-only streamer in mixed leagues. May has always been Cahill’s best month with a lifetime May ERA of 2.95. Colorado is 2nd in the NL in HR, though most have come at home, and they do not walk a lot. They also have less HR and BB vs Right handed pitchers than left. The Rockies have hit .199 vs Cahill in his career where his ERA against them is only 2.31. The Dodgers have not fared well with Cahill either, hitting only .183 against his ERA of 2.30. He’ll have to be sharp though as the Dodgers hit better at home than on the road and lead the NL in walks, but are hitting .227 over the past week. Wow, she is cute. The dog I meant, not Jessica Cahill. Although………..

***TWO START PITCHER*** Nate Karns, RHSP, TOR (23.9% owned ESPN, 26% Fantrax) Vs CHW TUE 5/2 & Vs CLE SUN 5/07: NKarns went six innings against the White Sox in a losing effort in his last start with five strikeouts and no walks. He had four shutout innings but got hurt by extra base hits in the 1st and 6th on pitches up in the zone, so he does still need to sharpen his command. His 61.4% ground-ball rate shows that when he keeps the ball down he’s extremely effective but unfortunately if he drifts up in the zone at all he gets punished as evidenced by his 30% HR/FB rate. Four of his five games have come on the road and his three bad games are included in those. He gets a break with two home games next week. Karns is now sitting at a 6.26 ERA in 2017 despite having the 5th best ground-ball rate amongst starters. First, he gets the White Sox who are last in the AL in walks leading to a very low OBP. They are hitting .222 with a .659 OPS away from Chicago. He’ll likely have to work harder vs Cleveland as they are 4th in walks in the AL. They have not gotten the big bats going yet and are hitting .222 in their last seven games.  Karns ERA against the Indians is 3.43 for his career. His wife said she is wearing this helmet until he stops launching home runs. Yikes! Trivia Question Answer: That’s right, Karns has the 5th lowest GB/FB rate in the majors.

JC Ramirez, RHSP, LAA (7.2% owned in ESPN, 8% FANTRAX) Vs HOU SAT 5/6: If you are in a deep league and need to really search for a starter, how about a reliever who is only 8% owned in Fantrax. Ramirez held the A’s to two hits over seven scoreless innings in the Angels’ 2-1, 11-inning win Tuesday. Ramirez had two mediocre prior starts after moving into the rotation but if he can continue to pitch like this, he’ll definitely stick around. I just picked him up in one league for his start today. If your league has roster limits by primary position, a reliever primary who is tossing QS is a valuable spot start. The Home/Away, R/L splits are NOT in Ramirez favor and the Stros are 2nd in the league in batting average and OBP. Ramirez has spent most of his career as a reliever but does have a 2.45 ERA at Anaheim Stadium where batters have hit .203 with an OPS of .566 against him.

You may want to rethink starting him (them): I have three for you this week.

Zack Greinke, RHSP, AZ @ WAS THU 5/4: There are not many teams as hot as the Washington Nationals are recently, and they are hitting on all cylinders. In a

deer in the headlights?

standard league, look to see if you really need the start before trotting him out there. If you don’t need the counting stats a clunker would do more harm than good. In DFS though, go fish in another pond unless you want to go contrarian or set an extra lineup. He does have good numbers vs the Nats and a great ERA in that ballpark albeit for only three games.

John Lester, LHSP, CHC Vs NYY SUN 5/7: Lifetime ERA near 4.00 vs Yanks with a 1.420 WHIP and a .266 batting avg against and .734 OPS. Sure, most of those guys are gone now but do you want to use him against his old arch nemesis? I’d like to be at that game though.

Dylan Bundy, RHSP, BAL @ BOS MON 5/1: Lifetime 4.76 ERA (4.02 at Fenway) and Sawx have hit .319 (.300 at Fenway) against him. Nuff said. 

Match-ups of the week: I have two for you this week.

***TWO START PITCHER***Clayton Kershaw, LHSP LAD Vs SF MON 5/1 @ SD SUN 5/7: This is another must bid high week in DFS on Monday & Sunday.Spend the money those days. Check out these splits. In 36 career games vs the Giants Kershaw has a 1.61 ERA and .805 WHIP .183 ERA. The Giants have hit .183 with a .220 OBP and .474 OPS. Right, an OPS that sounds more like a slugging percentage. This is his best line against any other National League team in his career. (The Mets are close though) Want more? It gets better on the Bay. At SanFran, in 18 games against him, the Giants have hit .170 with a .457 OPS, and his ERA there is 1.36. His 10 wins at Giants Stadium are the most at any ballpark other than the 74 at Dodgers Stadium. His 18 overall wins vs the Giants are 2nd only to his wins vs Colorado. But, then he has the Padres in SD on Sunday, and that might be an even better matchup for you than the SF game. Better research some bargain offense because Kershaw will cost you but you must have him in your lineup.

***TWO START PITCHER***Jose Quintana, LHSP CHW @ KC  MON 5/1 & @ BAL SAT 5/6: If you want to go contrarian, your opponents will likely pass on Q due to his 1-4 record and 5.22 ERA. The facts are that his command has been improving since his first start, which was a bad one. In that start, he went 5.1 IP with 6 R on only 5 H but 3 BB  &  3 HR did him in. Then he had a stretch of good start /bad start. After 4 starts his record was 0-4 and his ERA was over 6.00. His last start was 6 IP with only one R, 2 BB and a season-high 10 K’s. Welcome back command Q.

Thanks for reading and good luck in week five, 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 Sunday.          @JoeIannone2 Twitter


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 April 23rd, 2017 from 7-9pm EST for episode #84 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. We will be previewing the coming week’s key matchups and discussing key fantasy information.

Our guests this week are Andy Macuga and Ron Shandler. Andy is the head football and baseball coach for Borrego Springs H.S. in southern California. Ron is a FSTA Hall of Famer and a fantasy baseball pioneer.

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”


(Click the RED link below to listen)

Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join guest host Andrea Lamont, and Kyle Amore live on Sunday April 30th, 2017 from 7-9pm EST for episode #85 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. We will be previewing the coming week’s key matchups and discussing key fantasy information.

Our guest this week is Joe Iannone. Joe is a writer with, a 5 year veteran in MLFB leagues, and a really handsome guy. His articles publish every Sunday. He helps “Pick Your Spots” for the coming week.

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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