Good Morning. Welcome to Week 10. Last week, we went even deeper into the Abyss to find lesser owned pitchers to spot start. I found even more this week. In fact, I found so many good matchups this week that I had to eliminate some from the article. There is only so much time and only so much room. That being said, I think writing this week’s article was the most fun I’ve had all year, as far as writing about our sport is concerned.
Pete the Groundhog hasn’t been around for a few days. He has a new home across town now in some open space groundhog paradise. I can safely re-plant my cukes and squash. The next project is the pool. I’ll save that for next week.
Last week, I kinda took it on the chin. A couple of my picks got blown out and that is the first time that has happened all season. Not including the Sat/Sun games, I went 5-4 as far as quality starts/wins goes. So, that is nine for nine weeks with a better than 50% success rate on my picks, in spite of those two blowouts. This week, there are plenty of good starts in the top end of the 50% and under group, and I still found plenty of lesser owned players in the Abyss, so hopefully you’ll have luck finding one of them if the others are already gone.
I added a couple of Two-Start rookies this week in the Astros’ Corbin Martin, and Minnesota’s Devin Smeltzer. I realize most of you know who Corbin is, but I tend to shy away from rookie hype when it comes to pitchers. Well, this week he is still under 50% owned (barely) and has two Fantasy Must-Starts. Smeltzer doesn’t have Corbin’s pedigree or fastball but he has two equally good match ups. Last week, I mentioned Andrew Heaney was due back from his injury. He pitched pretty well in his first game back. I’m glad I held on.
I also added a new section this week. I named it “Sort of” two start pitchers. These are pitchers who have one Must-Start at the beginning of the week, followed by a hands-off start near the end of the week. If you set up allows it, grab him for the first start and then drop him.
All ownership figures are from Fantrax. All wOBA match-ups data is courtesy of Fangraphs.
CC Sabathia, LHSP, NYY (50% owned) @ CLE SAT: I know, he has been here before, but he is one of my favorite players so I snuck him in here. Half of the leagues still have him on their wire, and the Indians are hitting to a .285 wOBA and .220 BA with a measly .107 ISO against lefties at home. You won’t get more than five innings, but they will be good innings.
***Two Start Pitcher***Corbin Martin, RHSP, HOU (46% owned) @ SEA MON & Vs BAL SAT: No, I never jumped on the Corbin bandwagon, at least not this Corbin. But next week he has two fantasy must-starts. His second big league start did not go as well as his first, but in his defense it was against the Red Sox. He gave up two earned runs on five hits and four walks over four-plus innings. He had no Ks either and threw only 38 of 74 pitches for strikes. He has two primo matchups to right the ship next week. The Mariners are hitting to a wOBA of .290 and a .215 BA against Righties at home, while the Orioles are equally as bad. The O’s are hitting to a wOBA of .299, though they do have a .245 BA and .145 ISO against Righties on the road. And, over half of the leagues still have him on their wire.
Chase Anderson, RHSP, MIL (41% owned) vs MIA WED: Finally built up to a normal pitch count and innings, Anderson picked up a win in his last start against the Pirates, giving up two runs in five plus innings. Perhaps more important is that in his last two starts covering nine innings he only gave up one free pass, ending up with a 9/1 K/BB. This week he gets a fantasy must-start against the Miami Marlins. The Marlins are hitting to a wOBA of .277, with a .233 BA and horribly low .105 ISO against Righties on the road.
Anibel Sanchez, RHSP, WAS (35% owned) Vs CHI WED: Sanchez is back in the starting rotation after spending just 12 days on the IR with a left hamstring injury. In his first start back, the veteran right-hander picked up where he left off and pitched six innings of one hit ball, he also gave up one walk and seven strikeouts against the Braves in Atlanta. He’s got a much easier matchup this week against the White Sox who are hitting to a .301 wOBA, .244 BA, and .153 ISO. Sanchez should continue his late career revival in that game.
***Two Start Pitcher***Devin Smeltzer, LHSP, MIN (31% owned IN FANTRAX) @ CLE TUE & @ DET SUN: Smeltzer was not a highly-touted starting pitcher prospect coming into the year due to a lack of great stuff, including a fastball that sits at just 89 MPH. But he is a pitch to contact ground baller who has to locate to be effective. Smeltzer is filling in for Michael Pineda who will miss several starts, and his first start was strong. He shut out the Brewers over six innings, allowing just three base runners with seven strikeouts. This week he gets double the fun with starts against two of the worst hitting offenses against lefties in baseball. The Indians are hitting to a .285 wOBA, .220 BA, and a nearly league low .107 ISO against lefties at home. The Tigers are hitting to a .266 wOBA and a .198 BA against lefties at home. Yeah, jump on. He is still available in 70% of leagues.
Derek Norris, LHSP, DET (24% owned) Vs TB THU:
I may have to change the name of my article to Pick Your Norris starts, as I think he is my most frequent flyer this season. Pre-season I did predict this would be the year he put it together, and so far he has. Norris took the loss Saturday against the Braves by allowing five earned runs over 5.1 innings. He struck out four and walked two. Norris kept Atlanta off the board for the first three frames, but then allowed two runs in each of the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. The 26-year-old lefty will carry a not sop pretty 4.58 ERA, 1.39 WHIP and 42/15 K/BB into Thursday’s start versus the Rays. He is pitching well, but you still have to know which match ups to ride him into battle. The Rays are hitting to a .295 wOBA, .239 BA and only a .122 ISO against lefties on the road. This is one of those starts.
FROM THE ABYSS – Starting Pitchers owned in less than 20% of leagues: With the slew of injuries to established starters, many undrafted free agents are rostered now. That opened up the Abyss for some new players to look at, and there are plenty of good two start match-ups to be had this week.
Eric Fedde, RHSP, WAS,(18% owned) @ SD FRI: Fedde (1-0) surrendered four hits and three walks while striking out four over five scoreless innings Sunday in a win against the hapless Miami Marlins offense. Fedde was impressive through the first five innings, hurling 51 of 83 pitches for strikes. The right-hander owns a 2.18 ERA and 1.11 WHIP with a 12:8 K:BB over 20.2 innings this season and appears likely to remain in the rotation for at least one more turn. The best news is that he gets another putrid offense in the Padres. SD is hitting to a .279 wOBA and .221 BA against lefties on the road with an ISO of only .159.
Cole Irvin LHSP, PHI (16% owned) Vs CIN FRI: Looking for a potentially cheap Win? The Phils may use Jose Alvarez as an opener vs CIN, then bring in Irvin once the Reds lefties come up. The opener cannot get a W unless he goes five innings, which is not what an opener does. Irvin has started three games so far this season, winning two of them. There is a good chance he gets the W here as well whether he starts or not. Who is Cole Irvin? He is a 2019 rookie, and in 25 AAA starts in 2018 he went 14-4 with a 2.57 ERA and 1.054 WHIP in 25 starts over 161 IP, or an average of over six innings per start, averaging only two walks per nine and less than one HR per nine. CIN is hitting to a horrendous .279 wOBA and .228 BA against Lefties on the road with an equally putrid .120 ISO. Need a W? Irvin got to spend Mother’s day this season getting his first MLB win with Mom in the stands.
Jason Vargas, LHSP, NYM (11% owned) Vs SF WEDS: No, this is not a miss print. That is right, I’m recommending Jason Vargas as a spotter next week. He sneaks in about once a year. Have you noticed how well he has been pitching? No, I don’t believe it lasts either, but wait till you see this matchup. He had been out since May 5 with a hamstring strain. Prior to that injury, Vargas logged a 3.00 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 17 strikeouts over 18 innings in four starts. His performance has improved, but he is also averaging fewer than five innings per start over that stretch, so he may not go deep enough to qualify for the win Saturday. SF is hitting to a .256 wOBA and .203 BA vs lefties on the road. They also have one of the lowest ISO in the league at .108.
Ariel Jurado, RHSP, TEX (11% owned) Vs BAL THU:
Jurado pitched 6.1 innings and received a no-decision versus the Angels on Sunday, allowing two runs on six hits and two walks while striking out three. He’s not a big strikeout pitcher but we are deep in the Abyss here. He was in line for a win but was pulled after giving up a one-out single in the seventh, then watched the bullpen blow the game open. After throwing only 76 pitches in his first start, Jurado tossed 94 on Sunday, a good indication that he is ready to take on a full-time starting role. He is projected to next face the Orioles on Thursday. Baltimore is hitting to a .299 wOBA, .245 BA, and .145 ISO on the road vs right handers.
***Sort of Two-Start Pitchers***
Drew Smyly, LHSP, TEX (20% owned IN FANTRAX) Vs BAL TUE & Vs OAK SUN: The Orioles are hitting to a .284 wOBA and .235 BA against lefties on the road. The A’s however are hitting to a .350 wOBA, .277 BA, and .219 ISO against lefties on the road. Roll him out Tuesday, but cut him lose or bench him for Sunday. Smyly’s wife is a veterinarian, cute dog too.
Ryan Carpenter, LHSP, DET (3 % owned IN FANTRAX) Vs TB TUE & @ MIN SUNDAY: The Rays are hitting to a .295 wOBA, .239 BA and .122 ISO vs lefties on the road. However, the Twins are extremely hot right now, and hitting to a .380 wOBA, .308 BA and .239 ISO against lefties at home. Roll him out Tuesday if you are desperate for a starter, but cut him lose or bench him for Sunday.
That’s it for this week. Picking Your Spots has gotten a little more fun now. Most of the decent pitchers who had slipped under the radar are owned now and owners will try to gobble up all the new call ups trying to get an edge. Add to that the plethora of injured starting pitchers and there you have it. But, as always, there are plenty of good spotters on the wire, including some new ones. We just have to find them. Hopefully this week’s edition will be helpful. See you next week, when we’ll pick some more spots for the season’s Eleventh week. Even better still, may your injured players return healthy. 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.