Good Morning and welcome to Week Three.
I admit, some of the starting pitchers I spot in April, I don’t ever drop again and there will be a few in this week’s Pick Your Spots that are repeats from the last two weeks. Stick with what is working, right? There are a few here on the verge of being widely owned, so get them while you can. April spot starts often lead to bigger things.
Speaking of getting him while you can, April showers bring much bigger things to my back yard as well, and they are not always welcome. My annual battle with a groundhog is in full swing now as I’m afraid to plant anything yet, knowing he’ll eat it to the ground. In the meantime he is sitting around sipping brews while he waits for me to put the squash and cucumbers in the ground. Maybe I’ll finally catch him this year, and give him a ride to an Open Space far enough away so he can’t find his way back. I will miss the little guy though, but at least I won’t have to pick up his empties anymore.
This week, I’m thinking about Brett Anderson the A’s Lefty. After his start against the Orioles, which I recommended last week here, he is likely starting to get added in most leagues, (up to 39% in Fantrax.) See if he is still on your waiver wire. I have him on one 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 the last two weeks. This week, he’ll have been in my Pick Your Spots article for all three editions this season. He is sitting at 3-0 with a 2.50 ERA and 1.39 WHIP in 18 innings (amazing how averaging six IP per game now makes a guy pretty durable). His K/BB is nothing to write home about, thus the WHIP, but he keeps it on the ground as well as anyone. And he is only 31 with low miles.
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 again as far as Quality Starts (QS) & Wins (W). But my top four did extremely well last week, Samardzija, Holland, Anderson and Margevicius went 26.2 innings with 19 hits, 26 K’s, four walks and only four earned runs between them. Hopefully, if you picked up Ervin Santana, you did what I said and just stashed him. He got killed. The other four including the Abyss, went 2-2 for QS. Only one pitcher gave up more than three earned runs.
This third week it gets more fun to pick spots as we have more data for this year to look at even though I’ll still rely on last season’s wOBA for one more week. We have both last year’s data and a very small and skewed sample of the first two week’s data to go by for forecasting results right now. And the wire is getting better as teams drop veteran pitchers to add upstart rookies. That is perfect for us spot starters. Hopefully, you left a spot or two open on your roster for some spotters.
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 20% 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. All ownership figures are from Fantrax. All wOBA matchups data is courtesy of Fangraphs.
This week’s Trivia Question: What major league starter was once rumored to promise his manager he’d dump his girfriend to eliminate all distractions from being a better pitcher?
Brett Anderson, LHSP, OAK (39% from 6% owned two weeks ago) Vs TOR SUN: Off to a good 3-0 start in 2019, Anderson’s ownership jumped from 6% to 39% over the past two weeks. The oft-injured Anderson pitches pretty well when he is on the mound and is usually healthy 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. He is sitting at 3-0 with a 2.50 ERA and 1.39 WHIP in 18 innings. His K/BB is nothing to write home about, thus the WHIP, but he keeps it on the ground as well as anyone (1.35 lifetime GB/FB rate). After a start today (Sunday at Texas) he gets the Toronto Blue Jays in Oakland next Sunday. The Jays have hit to a .300 wOBA against Lefties on the road so far in 2019, and .302 wOBA with a .238 Avg against lefties on the road in 2018.
Samardzija, Jeff, RHSP, SFG (48% owned) @ WAS WED: 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 three starts. He went far deeper into his last game then his first two, going a full seven innings giving up only 3 hits and no runs with seven K’s. The Nats were good at home vs righties hitting to a .334 wOBA in 2018, but this season, less one big left-handed bat, they are only hitting to a .320 wOBA and .242 average against righties at home. Answer to this week’s Trivia Question: Remember the story from 2014 that the Shark dumped his girlfriend to eliminate all distractions so he could become a better pitcher? I don’t believe it for a minute. Maybe he gave up football though.
Derek Holland, LHSP, SFG (47% Owned in Fantrax) @ PIT SAT: No, Holland is not a furture stud keeper. No, he is not going to maintain his 3.38 ERA nor his 11.8% K/9 rate all season. But right now there are not many better spot starters than Holland. He had a sneaky good season in 2018 and as long as he has matchups like these 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. In his last start he gave up one run in seven full IP with nine Ks and two walks. He does have another start today (Sunday) at home against Colorado, also a start I recommended last week. Grab him for today and keep him for next week. 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 Rockies were pitiful on the road against lefties last season, hitting to a .281 wOBA vs LHSP on the road which was dead last in the MLB. They are already off to a much worse start in 2019 hitting to a .203 wOBA against lefties on the road with a putrid .108 BA in well over 100 PA’s. Pittsburgh who he faces at their park next Saturday is hitting to a .281 wOBA and .167 Batting Average against left handers at home after hitting to a .318 wOBA against lefties in 2018.
Margevicius, Nick, LHSP, SD, (47% from 4% owned in Fantrax): TUE Vs COL Come get some while you still can. One more good start and he will be owned more than my article’s scope and likely off your wire. He’s a ground ball lefty in a pitchers park. He does not give up walks or HR, and Ks enough to be relevant. 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 Ks against only 25 walks in 183 IP. That is an incredible 26% strike out rate against only 3% walks. It is a big jump from A-Ball to the MLB, but he’d not be the first to do it. His first three starts so far have been works of art, giving up only three earned runs in 16.1 innings with a stupid 12/1 K/BB. The league is hitting about .150 against him so far as he has given up only 9 hits in those 16.1 IP. His 1.64 ERA and 0.625 WHIP cannot sustain of course, but this is looking like a quality 4th or 5th starter in most fantasy formats. This week he gets the Rockies in SD. The Mountain Men have hit to a .203 wOBA against lefties on the road in 2019 with a putrid .108 BA in well over 100 PA’s.
Tanner Roark, RHSP, CIN (44% owned) @ SD THU: Roark allowed one run on six hits and one walk across 5.1 innings during Saturday’s 5-2 win over the Cardinals in Mexico. He struck out five and walked one. He has pitched progressively better in each of his three 2019 starts but still has not made it through six innings. He seemed to like pitching in Mexico, so maybe the climate in SD will help him as well. The Padres are hitting ti a horrendous .277 wOBA vs righties at home after compiling a .292 wOBA against righties in all of 2018. Guys, there is not much we can do about it, but, yeah chicks dig the high hard ones.
Honorable Mentions. These pitchers are pitching well and have great matchups but didn’t make the cut. I’d start any of them next week.
CC Sabathia, LHSP, NYY Vs KC Friday (35%) 2019: .288 wOBA & .212 BA, 2018 .296 wOBA vs Lefties on the road.
Tyson Ross, RHSP, DET Vs CHW THU (29%) 2019 .250 wOBA & .189 BA, 2018 .299 wOBA vs righties on the road.
Ivan Nova, RHSP, CHW @ DET THU (28%) 2019 302 wOBA & .239 BA, 2018 .297 wOBA vs righties at home.
FROM THE ABYSS – Starting Pitchers owned in less than (Roughly) 20% of leagues:
Jeremy Hellickson, RHSP, WAS (18% owned) @ SF WED: If you have been spotting players as long as I have then you know Jeremy Hellickson pretty well, I don’t have to introduce him. If you are not familiar, he is a great spot starter that you will never really roster. He is on the fringe of rosterable with the right match ups. He’ll give you K’s and help your ERA. In the wrong match up he will blow up your team. Last week he blanked the hard hitting Phils for six shutout innings giving up only three hits and striking out six. The four walks show how he walks a tightrope. This week he gets the Giants at home in San Fran. The Giants are hitting to a pitiful .282 wOBA and .210 average against righties at home after hitting to a .287 wOBA vs righties in all of 2018. Spot with confidence this week.
***TWO START PITCHER***Martin Perez, LHSP, MIN (10% owned) Vs TOR MON & @ BAL SAT: The good news; Perez velocity is up 2 mph this season, and his K/9 is 13.0. The bad news: All of that was done in a few miserable relief outings. He is still the same Perez he’s been the last few years, but I’ve had some good luck spotting him during that time as well. More good news; the Jays are hitting to a .300 wOBA against lefties on the road so far this season. The Orioles are hitting lefties well this season at home albeit it is less than 100 plate appearances. In 2018, BAL hit to a .310 wOBA against lefties.
***TWO START PITCHER***Santana, Ervin, RHSP, MIN (16% owned in Fantrax)Vs KC MON & @ DET SAT: Ervin’s 2019 debut after missing most of last season was pretty forgettable, if not worse. I didn’t expect him to be sharp the first time out as I said last week, but he has two easy matchups coming this week. If he is going to have a decent season, he better pitch well in these two. I’m giving him a bit of a leash based on his experience, and I’ll admit there are not many of us who would. I still think he will be better overall than your average spotter. As for his matchups this coming week, he gets KC in MIN on MON, and then is at DET on SAT. That sounds like a pretty cold April week, bbbrrrr. KC is hitting to a woeful .267 wOBA on the road vs righties with a .232 average after hitting to a wOBA of .292 in all of 2018 against righties. DET has a .302 wOBA and .2.39 BA against righties at home this season after hitting to a wOBA of .297 for all of 2018. I’ll still start him against these two teams in Head to Head leagues, but i’m fearless.
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 fourth 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 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.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday April 14th, 2019 from 8pm-9:30pm EST for episode #151 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 Kevin Bzdek. Kevin is a writer, editor, and league mate at majorleaguefantasysports.com.