Wow, it was warm today in the Northeast. Last week it felt like Winter and this weekend it already feels like Summer. It was not a brutal Winter this year, but it lingered far too long into Spring for my liking and is still wreaking havoc on baseball games being played in the Upper Midwest causing multiple rain-outs and snow outs across the schedule. They’ve already postponed the Twins and White Sox for today (Sunday) for the 3rd day in a row. The Yanks were rain/snowed out in Detroit and are going to try playing two games today with more rain in the forecast. Luckily, we are all in the same boat.
Taking advantage of the awesome weather, I got a lot done Saturday. I supervised a neighbor’s son while he raked my front yard for cash. I supervised my next-door neighbor while he added just the right amount of air to each of the tires on his Audi Roadster, so he could optimize his cornering and mpg goals (He is a rocket scientist. No, he really is, so he needed a lot of supervision). Then I supervised while my other next-door neighbor successfully installed a welder in his garage. So, yeah, I got a lot done today. But, I also found time to pick a handful of spot starters for next week to see if I could help you win your week in fantasy.
I loaded up on ***Two-Start Pitchers*** this week as I know we are all falling short on starters and starts lately but keep this in mind. All it takes is one rain-out or snow-out and Sunday’s SP is bumped to Monday or skipped altogether. I’m sure if you try to squeeze in a couple two-start starters every week this has happened to you a couple times already this season. As always, the two start pitchers may be in this article because of a cream puff start, while the other start may be a tougher assignment. If you are in a daily league there is nothing saying you must pick him up for both starts. Finally, just like in the Stock Market, when things are volatile, look for the safe harbors. Move your money to safety. In spot starting that simply means seek out and stick with the veterans, they are far more stable and predictable. This list has some kids in it, but there are a lot of recognizable names as long as you are over 20 years old. Good luck in Week Three!
***Two Start Pitcher***Ian Kennedy, RHSP, KC (40.2% Owned in ESPN) @ TOR MON & @ DET SUN: Ian Kennedy is this week’s version of “Why is this guy still on the wire?” Kennedy so far in 2018 after three starts is 1-1 with a 1.00 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 16 K’s in 18 IP. He’s only given up 2 ER albeit against the Indians, White Sox and the somewhat more robust LA Angels. It is true that Kennedy has always been a fringe fantasy starter, somewhere between ownable and streamable, often alternating between gems and duds but seldom getting blown out. In 2017 he gave up 5 runs or more 7 times, only once more than 6, but also gave up 2 runs or less 13 times. Knowing when to start him and having the flexibility to start him when the match-ups are right are the keys to using Kennedy. Next week he gets two teams struggling to score runs in the AL, not to mention struggling with climate change in the Upper Midwest. First, he gets the Blue Jays in Toronto. The Jays are hitting .219 vs Righties and averaging just over 3 runs per game so far in 2018. In 2017 they were 11th in the AL with a .230 BA vs righties. The Tigers have hit .176 over the past week averaging only 2 runs per game and are only hitting .220 vs righties. In 2017 the Tigers were 14th in the AL vs righties hitting only .216 but scoring about 4 runs per game. The way Kennedy has been pitching this season, this may be the perfect storm, pardon the pun.
***Two Start Pitcher***Brandon McCarthy, RHSP, ATL (6.9% in ESPN) Vs PHI TUES & Vs NYM SUN: McCarthy has always teased us with his talented right arm, but always seems to get hurt just as he is showing us what he can do. Right now, he is rolling, and seems to have some offense helping him out as well. So far after 3 starts in 2018, he is 2-0 with a 3.21 ERA and 1.29 WHIP with 12 K and 6 BB in 16.1 IP. He did that at Washington, at Colorado and Vs Philadelphia, none of which were easy starts. Only one of his match-ups next week looks particularly easy, but McCarthy has been pitching well so far and may be the best pitcher on the Braves when 2018 is in the books. I expect his ownership to rise exponentially if he nails these two games. First, he gets the Phils again, this time at home in Atlanta. The Phils are dead last in the NL hitting .221 so far, and have hit .196 in the past week. They are hitting .210 Vs righties, and .188 away in 2018 averaging only about 3 runs per game. The Mets have been winning all season, but that may be more related to their pitching than their not as prolific offense. The Mets are 5th in the NL in runs scored but have only a .244 BA so far in 2018. More important in this case is that the Mets are hitting .217 away and only .223 over their past two weeks. Ride the wave.
***Two Start Pitcher***Nick Pivetta, RHSP, PHI (23.9% Owned in ESPN) @ ATL TUE & Vs PIT SUN: Ok, so I’m finally sold on this kid, and I like one of his upcoming match-ups next week. Pivetta is exceeding expectations this season, partially explaining why most drafts ended with him still on the waiver wire in 2018. So far in 2018 he is 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA and .960 WHIP, with 19 K’s in 16.2 IP against only 2 walks. He’s increased his innings each start going from 4 to 5.2 to 7 IP over his first three starts in 2018. For the young season the Braves are 2nd in the NL in runs scored and BA at .261. However, they have only hit .213 over the past week and averaging less than 3 runs per game. We knew that Markakis and the kids would come back to earth at some point. The Pirates game may not be a good start for Pivetta if you are able to change lineups daily. The Pirates are 1st in the NL in both BA and runs scored and have not come back to earth yet either. See how he does in the Atlanta game but then you are on your own.
Vince Velazquez, RHSP, PHI (8.8% Owned in ESPN) @ ATL WED: Remember Vince Velazquez? He was the first of the current Phils stable of starters to emerge in the major leagues, striking out 152 batters in 131 IP in 2016. Then, he suffered a bad sophomore season marred by injuries and lack of command where his walks were up, and his K’s were down, and that never leads to a good outcome. He’s pitching much better in the early going of 2018 and that is a good thing for the Phils and for us as fantasy owners who have not forgotten him. So far in 2018 he is 1-1 with 17 k’s in 15 IP. His first start was a clunker vs the Braves when they were cresting to start the season, but he only gave up one run each to the Marlins and Tampa Rays in his two subsequent starts. His newfound command should do well against the Braves offense which has started to quiet down from its blazing start. See the Braves offensive stats above in the Nick Pivetta paragraph. You can be sure that Velasquez ownership is only going up if he does well in a 3rd start in a row. Owners memories start to get better eventually.
***Two Start Pitcher***Hyun-Jin Ryu, LHSP, LAD (7.6% Owned in ESPN) @ SD MON & Vs WAS SUN: Remember Captain Kanga-Ryu? I am old enough to remember that show, and the pitcher I just named after it. Do you think Ryu will remain under 10% owned much longer? I don’t either. He pitched poorly in his first start against the D’backs in AZ, giving up 5 walks, but came back nicely vs the A’s going 6 shutout innings with 1 hit, 1 walk and 8 K’s for a W. This week he gets one must start and a much more challenging match later in the week. You must start him against the Padres in SD on Monday. I don’t think I need to explain that, but the Padres are 14th in the NL with a .223 BA and 10th with 51 runs scored in 14 games or only 3.6 runs per game. They have hit .212 in the past week and have scored only 15 runs in 160 plate appearances vs lefties so far this season. The start against the Nats on Sunday is a potential benching. I’ll see how he does Monday and then see what the Nats offense is looking like by Sunday to decide. They just lost Anthony Rendon for a few days and are not invincible. In 2018 so far, they are hitting .227, good for 13th in the NL and are in the middle of the pack in runs scored. Over the past week they are hitting just .216 and averaging less than 3 runs per game. Against lefties, they have scored only 7 runs so far with a .182 BA. The more I think about it, if the same trends continue into next week, I’ll throw Ryu out there for the Nats game too.
From the Abyss: Digging Deep for players owned in less than 10% of ESPN Leagues:
Tyson Ross, RHSP, SD (3.3% Owned in ESPN) @vs LAD WED: Remember Tyson Ross? The Padres got one of the steals of the off-season bringing back Ross a year after trading him to the Rangers who since let him go. After battling injuries, Ross seems back to his old self, going 2-1 so far in 2018 with a 3.50 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. He’s got 14 K’s in 18 IP against only 4 walks. And what better place to rejuvenate your life than sunny San Diego where it never gets cold and the batted balls seldom leave the park. He gets the Dodgers at home on Wednesday, and they are currently 13th in the NL in runs scored averaging less than 3 runs scored per game vs righties. They are also hitting only .221 away averaging about 3 runs per game. If he is back and you own him you got as good a deal as the Padres, but I would not fault you for spotting and dropping him either as he will likely still be on the wire the next time around the rotation.
***Two Start Pitcher***Brent Suter, LHSP, MIL (3.1% Owned in ESPN) Vs CIN MON & Vs MIA SAT: Suter was a frequent flyer in my “Pick Your Spots” articles in 2017 as he was a predictable spot starter when the match-ups were right. In his last start vs the Cards in STL he went 5.1 innings giving up four hits and a walk with 2 K’s but only 1 run scored. This week he gets two primo match-ups in battling the Reds at home on Monday and then gets the Marlins at home on Saturday. The Reds are tied for last in the NL in runs scored and 11th in batting with a .229 average. Against lefties they are hitting .217, .231 away from Cincy and averaging 3 runs per game in both cases. They have hit .198 over the past week. The Marlins freshly depleted offense is 13th in the NL batting .232 and averaging less than 4 runs per game. They are also hitting .170 away from Miami and have only mustered 15 runs in 144 plate appearances vs lefty pitchers so far this season. Grab him for two starts and don’t be afraid to throw him back after the 2nd one. He’ll still be on the wire as well.
Something to watch: We all like a good drama, no?
Jason Vargas vs Zack Wheeler, NY Mets: If the Mets big four stay intact another week or two, never a given, there will only be room for one of these two pitchers in the Mets rotation. The other will be a not so useful bullpen arm. A lot of it will boil down to how well Wheeler can keep up his current success, and the Mets are surely happy to have this problem. It makes it hard for us to know which of them will be the man though. My bet is that both end the season with at least 20 to 25 starts. The question is how and when.
Thanks for reading this week and if you need any help supervising large yard and garage projects this Spring let me know and I’ll be glad to help. In the meantime, I’ll be on Reddit Sunday, most of the day talking spot starters and all things fantasy baseball. If you want to reach me directly contact me at:
@JoeIannone2 on Twitter – OR-
Email me at email@example.com
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live on Thursday April 12th, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #114 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 the latest information in the world of fantasy baseball.
Our guest this week is Joe Iannone. Joe is a writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com. He focuses on spot starting pitchers for the coming week. His articles publish every Sunday morning at 7 am EST. One of our most popular writers so be sure to check him out.