Sometimes we are blessed with weeks like next week, where the stars align and most of the spotters we targeted this week, who have done pretty well in the past for us, also have great match-ups this coming week. I think of spot starting as making lemonade from lemons. We are trying to find the best match-ups from the Week 13 scrap heap to help us next week. They are not rostered for a reason, whether it be for good reason or just plain fantasy fear, but they are not rostered players. When that is all you have to choose from, what do you do? You make lemonade.
Well, if that lemonade tastes extra good this week, or Super-Good as my daughter would say, what do you do? Ride the wave man! Just like the Groundhog that lives in my neighbor’s yard. He found that I had a bunch of freshly planted Squash and Cucumbers. That little @#^%@$! came back EVERY day until he had eaten all of the fresh squash and cucumber sprouts. He was riding the wave. I let him finish, so now perhaps he’ll stay next door and finish eating my neighbor’s garden so I can re-plant my lost sprouts without worrying about him coming back. My neighbor was last seen arming up with traps and weapons, and digging in for a long battle. I wish him well for both our sake, just like I wish all of us well in our spot starting endeavors for Week 13. There are some new ones in here, but there are also a lot of surfers still riding that cresting wave. Jump on a board and see what is out there. I think there are more good match-ups than usual on the wire, so have fun picking the right ones this week. I even listed a few extras at the end who didn’t make the cut. They don’t have write ups but I’d start any of them.
Some news for next week that all of us should keep in mind when planning our starts next week. Some pitchers came back from injury and disappointed us. Aaron Sanchez should be put back on your bench for a while as he jammed his finger getting dressed or chasing a ground hog or something not baseball related. Mike Soroka, the heralded Atlanta rookie has a sore shoulder and should be avoided now. Two starters are making long awaited come-backs next week and are good players to own and watch even if you are like me and don’t want to start a guy in his first week back from injury. If you wait until they do pitch a good game you’ll be too late to pick them up. I’m talking about Marcus Stroman, coming back from a shoulder issue and Shelby Miller coming back from TJ surgery. Both, but especially Miller, have two great match-ups on paper next week, but I’m not recommending those starts for the aforementioned reasons. I’m not telling you not to either, but surf at your own risk.
We did have a good week so far in Week 12 (I have three more starts today from that article to go) going 7-1 as far as quality starts vs clunkers. That run included 5 W’s, 7 QS, and 44 K’s in 49 IP. Let’s get back on the board and ride that wave till all the squash is gone. Let’s pick some spotters for next week.
WEEK 13 TRIVIA QUESTION: What AL WEST pitcher was a 32 year-old rookie in 2017, pitched in 24 games and is now lined up for a primo match-up against the Padres next week? Answer below.
And don’t miss the extra four must-start pitchers I included at the end of the article. They didn’t make the cut this week but I couldn’t leave them out.
***TWO-START PITCHER***Felix Hernandez, RHSP, SEA (35.8% owned in ESPN) @ BAL MON & VS KCR SAT: King Felix has fallen on hard times, right? Maybe he is done, right? Well, maybe he is just going through the transition from young power pitcher to seasoned wily veteran pitcher, much like CC Sabathia has done the past few years. I realize Felix is not that old, but he has a lot of miles on that right arm and father time may have caught up with him. Earlier in the year I predicted he would land in my articles at some point, once he crossed the threshold into low ownership, and yes, I’ve dropped him myself in a league or two where I drafted him. However, Felix has been pitching well of late and has two Must-Start fantasy starts next week. Think about it. Would you rather trust a former ace who is 35% owned for a couple of good looking starts, or an unproven rookie ready for a correction? Give me the King and I’ll give him the ball. In his last four starts, he gave up no more than one walk in any of them, and in three he only gave up one run, including starts against the Red Sox and Yankees. His velocity is down a few ticks from his hey-day, but we are not looking to get re-married here. He has two primo starts, so “Ride the wave”. First he gets the O’s in Baltimore Monday where they have a .303 wOBA and .231 BA against righties, along with a very high K-Rate. Then he gets the Royals at home in Seattle. The Royals are playing to a .294 wOBA and .251 BA against righties on the road. I think we will get more than an infield grass bobblehead out of Felix next week. His wife, Queen Felix, said, “We Better!”
Kyle Freeland, LHSP, COL (41% owned in ESPN) @ SFG WEDS: Freeland pitched another pretty nice, and fantasy friendly game this past week against the Mets in Colorado, nailing a W and a QS for his owners…….and his ownership in ESPN dropped 2 points to 41%. Instead of questioning that fact, now I am just reveling in it, and riding the Freeman wave as long is it is rolling like this. As long as he is 50% owned or less I’ll be spotting him and writing about him, even at Coors Field where he seems unaffected by the altitude. He even walked four batters in that start and emerged unscathed by that. I’ve talked about Freeland a lot the past few weeks, both in these articles and on the radio. Nine of his last ten starts have been quality starts, and the 10th one would have been as well had he gotten two more outs. He has walked one or fewer batters in six of his past ten starts, and that will keep you fairly safe even in the thin air of Colorado. The Giants do have a .325 wOBA against lefties at home with a .270 BA, but I have more faith in Freeland than I do in that Giant offense. If he is on my roster I’m starting him. If he is not on my roster I doubt he is in my leagues anymore. If he is on your wire, he should not be.
Joe Musgrove, RHSP, PIT (36.8% owned in ESPN) @ SD FRI: When I see a decent right handed pitcher facing the Padres in San Diego I start to drool. The Padres are one of the worst teams in baseball against righties at home with a .294 wOBA and .229 average against. After he came off the DL in late May, Musgrove tossed four pretty good games, three of them qualifying as Quality Starts, but his last two games have been clunkers, going only four innings in each and giving up a total of 11 runs to the Reds and Diamondbacks in the two losses. But I’ll look for a rebound in this start as the weather and the Padres anemic offense in San Diego can be the perfect salve for whatever ails one.
***TWO-START PITCHER***Lance Lynn, RHSP, MIN (30.2% owned in ESPN) @ CHW TUE & @ CHC SUN: I’ve been predicting that Lynn’s ownership would start to rise quickly once his pitching starting looking Lynn-like. He is up to 30% owned in ESPN and even higher in some leagues. I picked him up a few weeks ago and have not considered dropping him yet. I didn’t recommend him last week because he was facing the Red Sox, but I rolled him out in all my leagues and he went five scoreless for a W. Had he gone one more inning it would have been his sixth Quality Start in a row. A stretch where he has a 4-1 record, 1.74 ERA and 1.15 WHIP giving up only seven runs in 36 and 1/3 innings pitched. He has also chipped in 32 K’s against 17 BB’s in that stretch. His command/control is still a bit shaky as he walked 5 batters in two of those games, including the Sox game, but in the game prior to that he struck out nine against only one walk. He’ll be staying in Chicago next week to face both the Cubs and White Sox and I like both starts for him. The Cubs are hitting to a wOBA of .314 with a .244 average and .725 OPS against righties at home and only a .155 ISO. That is not a walk in the park but Lynn is on his game. The Sox are a step down from there with a line vs righties at home of .310 wOBA, .250 average and .720 OPS with a .161 ISO. The Sox also have a 25% K rate against righties which might let Lynn give you another nice pile of K’s. Other than a high ERA from a brutal April and the high walks rate, this is the same Lance Lynn who has 72 Wins over his prior five MLB seasons.
Chris Stratton, RHSP, SFG (26% Owned in ESPN) Vs COL THU: This will be Stratton’s third week in a row here in Pick Your Spots, and all three starts I’ve recommended have been QS. Week 12. Week 11. If he wins this week, the unassuming Stratton will be on pace for 20 wins. No, I don’t think he’ll win 20, nor will he compete for a Cy Young award, and he definitely will not win the strikeout cat for you in your league. I’m still very unlikely to roster him either. But the theme this week is to Ride the Wave, and Stratton is riding the crest of this one in fine fashion. In his last 10 starts he is 6-3 with a 40/20 K/BB in 54.2 IP, a 4.31 ERA and 5 QS. Not a bad haul from an undrafted pitcher. Next week he gets the Rockies in San Fran. The Rockies are one of the worst teams in baseball against righties on the road with a .286 wOBA and .220 BA against. Just walk Arenado 4 times and we’ll be happy. Ride the Wave!
Brent Suter, LHSP, MIL (24.7% owned in ESPN) @ KCR WED: This is also Suter’s third week in a row here. Ever since I said Suter is a five inning starter who seldom gets blown away he has pitched a pair of seven inning Quality Start W’s. And, as I keep saying, wins are still a category in most leagues. You have to get them somewhere. Suter is 6-1 over his last 7 starts. Zack Davies won 17 games with this same Brew-Crew last year, and there is no proof he is a better a pitcher than Suter. He is also picking up about a strikeout per inning and walking very few. Next week he has a date with the Royals in Kansas City where they have a wOBA at home vs lefties of .296.
***Two Start Pitcher***Mike Montgomery, LHSP, CHC (19.6% owned in ESPN) @ LAD MON & Vs MIN SAT: Since profiling him the week he made his first start of 2018, I have not been able to sit this kid, either on my own teams or from these articles. We are talking about four one-run, six IP games in a row, and five great starts in a row altogether. Unfortunately he is only is 2-1 in that stretch even though he has a 1.14 ERA with a 0.76 WHIP and a 19/7 K/BB. He’s given up only four runs in that stretch and all five would be QS had he gone 1/3 more of an inning in one of them. Granted, two of those starts came against the weak hitting Pirates and the other against the suddenly anemic Mets, but isn’t that what a spot starter is for? Pick your spots to use him, then take it to the bank. Mainly, you want a spotter who will not walk a lot of batters and keep the ball in the park for five or six innings. Next week he gets the Dodgers at home in LA. The Dodgers are hitting to a wOBA of .314 with a .224 average against lefties at home in 2018, only 18th in the MLB. Then he goes home to Chicago to face the Twins. The Twins are playing to a wOBA of .294 with a .237 BA against lefties on the road.
From the Abyss: Pitchers below 10 percent owned in ESPN Leagues who can help you in week 13:
***Two Start Pitcher***Tyler Mahle, RHSP CIN (8.8% owned in ESPN) @ ATL MON & Vs MIL SAT: Mahle has a been a frequent flyer for me all season here, and has become one of my favorite spotters. What did he do last week? He gave us another Quality Start and Win, going six IP while striking out eight batters against the Tigers. He did give up four walks but only two runs and five hits. The Tigers were one of many easy match-ups he has faced of late, but so what? That is why we want him for his two this week as well. Mahle is profiling as a true match-ups pitcher, and I can see him staying on the wire most of 2018 due to his lack of innings, K’s and consistency. I like the W’s though, and will never hesitate to use him in good match ups if he is out there. He is clearly one of my 2018 go-to spotters so far. Next week he gets the Braves in Atlanta where they are playing to a wOBA of .308 with a .247 BA against righties at home. Then he gets the Brewers at home in Cinci. The Brewers are hitting a wOBA of .317 with a BA of .256 against righties on the road. Both match-ups are against teams with middling ISO’s of .165 against righties. Yeah, I’m getting more aggressive with Mahle, but he has not burned me yet, never giving up more than four runs in any start since his 2nd start of the season. If you are in a deep league he is worth a pickup next week, and lately every week. And he can even bunt.
Anthony Desclafini, RHSP CIN (6.4% owned in ESPN) Vs MIL THU: I’m ready for Disco, are you? In his last start he made it into the 6th inning for the first time in 2018, giving up two runs to a tough Cubbie’s lineup at home in Cinci. He still has some work to do on command as he gave up a couple of HR and did not get a lot of swings and misses, but it appears he is ready for prime time. He gets the Brewers at home in Cinci next week, and while the Brewers are no slouches with the bat, they are mid-pack with a .317 wOBA, .256 AVG and .734 wOBA against righties on the road. They do have a low .165 ISO in similar matches. At 6.4% owned you could do a lot worse, and he is likely out there waiting for you.
Derek Rodriguez. RHSP SFG (4.2% owned in ESPN) Vs ARI SAT: Rodriguez is making his first appearance in “Pick Your Spots”, and it is well deserved. D-Rod has four starts under his belt in 2018. Two were one run QS, one was a W in five innings, and the fourth was a clunker against the hard hitting Nats. He gets the Diamondbacks on the road in San Fran, where the Snakes have one of the lowest wOBA in baseball against righties on the road at .295 with a .217 BA. They are hitting better of late, so there is nowhere to go but up now that Goldy is starting to hit. But I’ll roll the dice one more time with them. It appears his idol may have been Timmy Lincecum.
Austin Bibens-Dirkx, RHSP TEX (.2% owned in ESPN) Vs SD TUE: WHO? He must be the trivia question answer! You guys asked for some deep league pick-ups well here you go. No one but his family owns him in their leagues at this point, but he is a feel-good story for sure, making the majors for the first time as a 32 year old rookie in 2017, pitching in 24 games for the Rangers last season. This season he is filling in for the ravaged Rangers rotation and doing well enough to stick around for another few starts. He posted a W and a QS against the weak hitting Royals last week, giving up one run on five hits and one walk in 6.2 IP. He did not get a K, but you’d take the W, right? Next week he gets the Padres in Texas. The Padres are dead last in the MLB in wOBA vs righties on the road at .282, with a .240 BA. If you are in a deep league and need another start, here he is waiting for you on the wire. Just spell his name right in the search field so you find him. Your only competition for him might be his wife who has waited a long time to be included in a “Pick Your Spots” article.
SOME OTHERS WORTH MENTIONING: They didn’t make the cut, but I’d start any of these guys too:
Danny Duffy, LHSP, KCR (22.3% owned in ESPN) @ MIL WED: Milwaukee has a .300 wOBA and .236 BA against lefties at home in 2018.
***Two Start Pitcher***Freddy Peralta, RHSP, MIL (19.7% owned in ESPN) @ Vs KCR TUE & @ CIN SUN: The Royals are hitting to a wOBA of .292 with a .233 average @ home vs RHSP in 2018 and it has been trending even worse lately. The Reds are playing to a wOBA of .314 with a .244 BA and .719 OPS at home vs righties. Here is the line from his 3 starts this season: 6/19 @Pit 6.0 IP, 2H, 0ER, 0BB 7K, W; 5/19 @Min 4.0 IP 3H, 4ER, 6BB, 5K; 5/13 @Col 5.2IP, 1H, 0ER, 2BB, 13K, W. I love a guy who is not afraid to pitch in Colorado, and adds in 13 K’s to boot.
***Two Start Pitcher***Seth Lugo, RHSP, NYM (13.9% owned in ESPN) Vs PIT MON & @ MIA SUN: Pittsburgh is hitting to a wOBA of .302 with a .238 BA against righties on the road in 2018. Miami is one of the worst teams in 2018 facing righties at home, with a .293 wOBA and .246 BA.
Ivan Nova, RHSP, PIT (12.8% owned in ESPN) @ NYM WED: The Mets are 29th in baseball with a .291 wOBA and .223 BA against righties at home in 2018
Thanks for reading. Good luck this week Picking Your Spots. Until next week, I’ll be on the Reddit r/fantasybaseball Sub all day Sunday talking spot starts and all things fantasy.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday June 24th, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #126 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 discss the latest information in the world of fantasy baseball.
Major League Fantasy Football Radio Show: Join host Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live June 21st, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #83 of Major League Fantasy Football Radio. Call in number is 323-870-4395 press 1 to speak with the host. We will hit free agents, rookies, and fantasy football as a whole for each team for 2018. This week we will discuss everything AFC North!
Kyle is a writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com going on his 5 th year. He focuses primarily on baseball, but is a fantasy football fan and analyst as well.