Good Morning and welcome to Week Two.
I admit, some of the starting pitchers I spot in April, I don’t ever drop again, and there may be a few in this week’s Pick Your Spots. They become a part of my fantasy team for that season. I believe that fantasy teams are organic anyway, in that you cannot rest on the laurels of your keepers and your draft. The world does not always cooperate with that, so the smart fantasy owner continuously, but purposefully, changes his roster as needed throughout the season. But April. April spot starts often lead to much bigger things.
Such is the case with Matt Shoemaker in 2019. After his start against the Tigers, which I recommended last week here, he is likely getting added more than about any other pitcher. See if he is still on your waiver wire. Shoemaker’s ownership is up to 72% in Fantrax. I have him on two of my teams. Unless he blows up a few games in a row, I doubt I’ll drop him any time soon, even though I picked him up to spot last week. Read below to see a few more with growing ownership percentages. It can also be a slippery slope, as pitchers who have burned you in the past could easily revert to form or get injured right when he is looking like he put something together. (Looking at you Matt Moore).
So, what is left? Well, in my leagues, the weekly limits are such that an owner has to grab a couple of spot starts each week if he wants to compete for a league title. Last week was pretty good as my choices went 6-3 as far as Quality Starts/Wins.
Before we jump onto the waiver wire and grab some pitchers with a pulse to plug in our lineups, let’s consider a few things first, shall we? First, if you are in a ROTO League, STOP. I don’t care what the settings are in your league, don’t spot start for the first couple weeks of the season. I bench all but my two best starting pitchers until mid-April once the dust clears, the rust gets shaken off and pitcher’s mechanics are ironed out. Running all your starters out and spotting a couple more is a good way to dig yourself into an ERA and WHIP hell that you will never climb out of. I like emerging from April with the best ERA and WHIP in the league. Those are the hardest numbers to move once the season is a month or two in.
In Head to Head leagues, however, where you get a fresh start every Monday, spot and stream away. You don’t want to be the guy who loses all the pitching counting stats because you were afraid to max out your starts for the week. You are the guy who needs a spot starting plan every week. This second week may be one of the toughest spot starting weeks of the year. We have both last year’s data and a very small and skewed sample of first week data to go by for forecasting results right now. And the wire is still bare, mainly occupied by pitchers who just weren’t drafted. Hopefully, you left a spot or two open on your roster for some spotters. A quick look a the wire and you see all the starters that were not drafted. They are outside the top 60-80 that your league drafted. Some are border line rosterable, some are lesser known or new quality arms, or established MLB SP coming back from injury, and some are just the bottom of the barrel with a pulse who still get the ball every five days. Any of them is a worthwhile spotter/streamer if he has the right matchup.
Every Sunday I’ll highlight a few of the MLB starting pitchers, owned in less than half of leagues, who might help you in the coming week. I’ll also look deep into the abyss and toss out some SP who have great matchups even though they are owned in less than 10% of fantasy leagues. These are the pitchers your league mates didn’t think about, or even know about, or just plain avoided. With the right matchup any of them is worth a start. Let’s work on making our odds a lot better.
Samardzija, Jeff, RHSP, SFG (49% owned in Fantrax Leagues) Vs COL THU: 2018 was a season to forget for the Shark, who is now 34. It seems he has been around a long time, and he has, starting his 12th season in the MLB. In 2018 he battled injuries and had the most ineffective stretch of his inconsistent career. He’s off to a decent start this season sporting a 2.79 ERA after two starts. He didn’t go deep into either game so I’m not banking on a W. Even a QS might be a reach unless he is ready to go six innings. The Rockies were pitiful on the road against righties last season, hitting to a .281 wOBA vs RHSP on the road which was dead last in the MLB. They are already off to a much worse start in 2019 hitting to a .242 wOBA and .207 Batting Average against right handers.
***Two Start Pitcher***Derek Holland, LHSP, SFG (40% Owned in Fantrax) Vs SD TUE & Vs COL SUN: Holland is off to an ok start this season after a sneaky good season in 2018, and as long as he has matchups like these two I’m keep him active. He fought off several young challengers to his 5th SP spot, even after the Giants obtained Drew Pomeranz, but was named the 5th starter at the end of spring training. His first start was not great as he went four innings giving up three runs, though he did strike out five batters. The 2nd start was better giving up 2 runs in 5 innings and striking out seven. Last season, he went 7-9 in 30 starts (11 quality starts), but put together a 3.57 ERA backed up by a 3.87 FIP. He also struck out 169 batters in 171.1 innings pitched in 2018. The Padres hit to a .290 wOBA and .231 batting average against Lefties on the road in 2018, and have not even faced a lefty yet in 2019. The Rockies were pitiful on the road against righties last season, hitting to a .281 wOBA vs RHSP on the road which was dead last in the MLB. They are already off to a much worse start in 2019 hitting to a .242 wOBA and .207 Batting Average against right handers. You can’t find a two start pitcher with two better match ups next week.
Margevicius, Nick, LHSP, SD, (26% from 4% owned in Fantrax): WED @ SFG Fast tracking through the Padres rebuilding process, Nick may be ready to take the next step. Because they drafted him out of college, he only has two seasons of minor league ball under his belt. In those two seasons, he is 14-9 in 34 starts with 208 K’s against only 25 walks in 183 IP. That is an incredible 26% strike out rate against only 3% walks. It is a big jump form A-Ball to the MLB, but he’d not be the first to do it. His first two starts so far have been works of art, giving up only two runs in ten innings with seven K’s and only one walk against the Cards and Giants. The league is hitting about .150 against him so far. This week he gets the Giants again. The Giants hit to a .287 wOBA against lefties at home in 2018. Your league mates won’t much longer be saying, “Who?” His ownership increased from 4% to 26% in Fantrax after his most recent start. Another good one and he’ll likely be over my 50% threshold. Get some while you still can.
***Two Start Pitcher***Brett Anderson, LHSP, OAK (24% from 6% owned in Fantrax) @ BAL TUE & @ TEX SUN: Off to a good 2-0 start in 2019, Anderson’s ownership jumped from 6% last week to 24% over night. The oft-injured Anderson pitches pretty well when he is on the mound, and that is usually early in the season. This is the best time to run him out there. Now 31, it seems he has been around forever and he does have 10 major league seasons under his belt. In his first two games, against the Red Sox and Angels, Anderson went 11.1 IP giving up 11 hits and 7K’s vs 6 walks but only giving up three runs. I bet you thought I was crazy recommending him against the Red Sox last week, but this week he has two easier match ups. First he gets Baltimore in Camden Yards, Baltimore hit to a .338 wOBA against lefties at home in 2018 but have depleted their offense since last season. Then he gets the Texas Rangers in Texas on Sunday. The Rangers hit to a .310 wOBA against Lefties at home in 2018.
Tyson Ross, RHSP, DET (23% owned in Fantrax) @ MIN SUN: Last week I chose Ross for his Sunday (today) spot in Kansas City, but even against the Yankees, a game I did not recommend, he pitched pretty well. He gave up two runs in five innings against a tough lineup. For today’s start he gets the Royals, who in 2018 hit to a wOBA of only .292 against righties on the road. Minnesota hit to a .329 wOBA and .257 avg at home vs righties in 2018, and this season are off to a much worse start, .298 wOBA and .238 Avg. I’m banking on the fact that Ross is a quality arm, and the quality of this match up, to give us a quality start.
Spencer Turnbull, RHSP, DET (21% from 14% owned in Fantrax) Vs CLE THU: Sometimes you pick up a young starting pitcher in April to capitalize on a good match up and he ends up in your rotation for the summer. Turnbull could be one such pitcher in 2019, though he is not so young anymore. He’ll be 27 at the end of the 2019 season, but had a great season at AAA in 2018. He went 5-8, but that was not because of his 10.0 K/9 or career low 3.5 walks/9. Named to a spot in the Tigers rotation this season, he’ll finally get a chance to show what he can do. He followed up his rough first start with a masterful performance last week, one I recommended right here, inducing 15 swinging strikes against the Royals Monday. That, along with keeping the ball in the park, helped him limit the Royals’ damage from nine base runners. Turnbull is 0-1 with a 4.09 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 15 strikeouts in 11.0 innings over two starts this season. Next he gets the Indians at home in Detroit on Thursday. The Indians hit to a .323 wOBA against righties on the road in 2018, but are off to a dreadful league worst .162 wOBA and .094 BA against, albeit in a small sample size. His ownership is up to 21% and i’m sure he’ll become harder to find if he continues this run of success.
FROM THE ABYSS – Starting Pitchers owned in less than (Roughly) 10% of leagues:
Santana, Ervin, RHSP, MIN (13% owned in Fantrax)Vs TB TUE: Ervin is back this Tuesday. Someone in your league might already have him, but in the other 87% of leagues he is on your wire. If he is available, what are you waiting for? He is better overall than your average spotter. Even if you don’t start him in this game because you are worried about rust, if you don’t pick him up now, and he has a good game on Tuesday, he’ll be gone before the 3rd inning is over. As for his matchup this coming week, he gets Tampa on Tuesday. Tampa has a .370 wOBA and .286 BA against righties on the road this season. But wait, that was only for one game. Last season they hit to a .321 wOBA and .259 BA against. That is not bad, but also not great matchup territory; then again I didn’t tell you to start him this week. But unless you are in a very shallow league, you want him on your team right? For free. I’ll still start him against the Rays, but i’m fearless. Besides, his wife is getting tired of him laying around the house. Time to get back to work Ervin.
Brooks, Aaron. RHSP, OAK (10% owned in Fantrax Leagues) @ BAL THU: In his first starts since 2015, Brooks has given us a bit of a mixed bag, but both against tough opponents. First, he pitched 6 shutout innings against the Red Sox with 6 K’s and one walk and then gave up five earned runs with 2 K’s and a walk in 5 IP against the Astros in Minute Maid. Not a bad first week after four years. The O’s hit to a .311 wOBA against and a .245 BA against righties at home in 2018. This season so far they are at a pitiful .200 and .111 without Manny. Brooks has a great matchup this coming week. I’d roll him right out there.
Bettis, Chad, RHSP, COL (4% owned in Fantrax) @ SFG FRI: Yes, we are digging deep now. The Rockies fifth starter, what could be more scary than that? In his first start of 2019, Bettis cruised through three scoreless innings before giving up a two-run shot during the fourth inning. He later coughed up a three-run homer and failed to finish the sixth inning. He’ll likely face a tough Dodgers lineup Sunday (today) but we are not starting him for that game. He gets the light-hitting Giants on Friday in San Francisco. In 2018, the Giants hit to a .297 wOBA with a .243 BA against righties at home. In 2019, so far, the Giants are hitting to a .233 wOBA against righties at home with a pitiful .214 BA. I’m not telling you to drop your favorite bench player for him, as this may not last, but, if you need a good start this week, here it is. This dude beat cancer to continue his career and family. I’m looking forward to watching him pitch this coming week.
That’s it for this week. Picking Your Spots will become more fun after April when we have a current body of work to use as data. Until then, I hope this was helpful anyway as 2019 gets under way. See you next week, when we’ll pick some more spots for the season’s third week. As always, I’ll be on Reddit today talking spot starts. If you ask about a starter, please save me some time and let me know who he is pitching against and where. If you want to speak to me directly, my Twitter and Email are below. Thanks for reading.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Cole Freel, and Kyle Amore live on Thursday April 4th, 2019 from 7:30-9pm EST for episode #149 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. You can listen live on blogtalk, majorleaguefantasysports.com, or download the podcast on I-Tunes or any Android podcast app. Cole and Kyle will discuss the latest happenings in the world of MLB and fantasy. They will take a look back on the previous few days and a preview of the coming weekend. Including spot starts, bullpens, offense, and minor league players.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday April 7th, 2019 from 8pm-9:30pm EST for episode #150 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. You can listen live on blogtalk, majorleaguefantasysports.com, or download the podcast on I-Tunes or any Android podcast app. We will discuss spot starters for the coming week, plus a weekend update, and look ahead to next week.
Our guest this week is Bryan Luhrs. Bryan has been a writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com for 6 years, and is the owner of Real Deal Dynasty Sports.