Good Morning. Welcome to Week 17. No matter where you live it is likely hot out this weekend. Where I am in CT we are setting records with 100 degree days yesterday and today. It is a good excuse to skip yard work and pick some spot starters for next week. Last week, I said “This is the time of the year when setting lineups and hitting/pitching minimums becomes a chore if you are a non-contender, but you owe it to your league mates to keep a competitive team on the field so as not to upset the balance of scoring in the league. If you are a contender, well then you still need to get it right every week, so read on.” Last week was tough. I mentioned that a lot of the rotations were in flux and that there were a lot of TBA’s on the schedule. Sure enough, three of my spotters from last week’s article either got bumped, rescheduled, injured or were instead used as an opener or “primary” pitcher, only going two or three innings. Such is life in the second half as teams are starting to jockey for playoff berths and/or the trade deadline.
I wish I had the time and space to lament about the “opener”/”primary” pitcher designations, but I don’t. What you as a fantasy owner have to think about is what you are going to do. If one of your rostered pitchers ends up being used as an opener, you just burned a start. Right? The most you’ll get is a couple of decent innings, but no chance for a W or QS or a lot of K’s. If you decide to “start” the primary pitcher, you have a chance for a W, but still only a few innings and their associated stats. I’m staying away until I learn how to manage that. I don’t think it is going away anytime soon.
Last week, I mentioned, “being the week after the All-Star Break, some rotations are still in flux. There are far more TBA’s than usual in the schedule for next week.” Alas, it may be worse this week. A lot of those guys inserted as TBA’s from last week did not pitch well or got injured, including a few of mine, leaving their MLB teams still scrambling for starting pitchers. Some good starters have been placed on the 10 day as well, not necessarily because of a real injury, but because the contending teams are taking no chances with their aces and resting them for things like hang nails and bad haircuts.
So, we are going DEEP into the Abyss again this week. The five pitchers I picked last week from the Abyss went 3-2 with one non start due to injury. That is better than the rest of my picks did as we took it on the chin last week going 4-4 overall with three non starts, and several games still on tap for today
All ownership figures are from Fantrax. All wOBA matchups data is courtesy of Fangraphs.
***Two Start Pitcher***Daniel Ponce de Leon, RHSP, STL (58% owned up from 28% owned last week) @ PIT MON & @ Vs HOU SUN: This kid had a 30-point bump in ownership since last week. In fact, he was still under 50% owned when I started writing this article. What are you waiting for? I’ll wait here while you go see if he is on your wire. Come back soon though and finish reading. It’s ok, we’ll wait. Sure enough, as I was afraid last week, Daniel was bumped from one of his two starts last week. The good news is that makes him a two-start pitcher this week. The bad news is that he only went three innings in his one start last week and his second start this coming week, Sunday, is against the Astros. The 27-year-old has been impressive in his eight major league outings (including five starts) this season with a 2.80 ERA, 1.019 WHIP and [41:13] K:BB across 35 innings. This is going to take a little leap of faith here as the Pirates are hitting to a .342 wOBA vs righties at home this season, with a .287 BA. The Stros are hitting righties on the road to the tune of .323 wOBA, .255 BA and .172 ISO vs righties on the road. I’m going to call him a Must Own but not necessarily a Fantasy Must Start. If you are too late to pick him up you can always get his t-shirt or his hoodie from the Cardinals web site.
***Two Start Pitcher***Chase Anderson, RHSP, MIL (50% owned in Fantrax) Vs CIN MON & VS CHC SUN: Anderson (5-2 with a 3.96 ERA) tossed 5.2 shutout innings and allowed only one hit with three walks and three strikeouts for the victory against the Braves on Wednesday. This victory ends a streak of three straight no-decisions for Anderson. Despite few wins, he’s pitched well lately, posting a 2.45 ERA in his last five starts. Overall, Anderson has five wins with a 3.96 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 75 strikeouts in 77.1 innings. Next, he is set to face the Reds at home Monday. The Reds are hitting to a woeful .291 wOBA, .227 BA and .171 ISO vs righties on the road in 2019. The Cubs are hitting better than the Reds, but are only hitting to a wOBA of .315 with a .238 average over the last 2 months.
Zach Plesac, RHSP, CLE (47% owned) @ KC FRI: Plesac was recalled from the minors, as planned, in time to face the Tigers on Tuesday. He only went three innings but gave up no hits nor runs, walking one and K’ing another. It brought his ERA down to 3.56 with a 1.10 WHIP and [34:18] K:BB across 48 innings this season. The Royals are hitting to a wOBA of only .288 with a .247 BA and .135 ISO against righties at home since June 1st. I’m surprised he is still less than 50% owned, as the Indians rotation is pretty decimated so he should stick the rest of the season. As he gets stretched out, those three inning outings should become six inning outings and I expect his K rate will increase as well based on his minor league numbers. I’d love to call this a Fantasy Must Start, though there is a little warning about the number of innings he’ll deliver.
Adam Plutko, RHSP CLE (20% owned): @ KC THU: Plutko’s last start against KC came last night vs. the Royals in Cleveland. He went seven full innings, giving up one run on two hits, but still took the loss when the Indians could not score for him. With all the Indians starting pitcher injuries this is likely his job to lose. Plutko gets the Royals again, this time in KC. The Royals are hitting to a wOBA of only .290 with a .263 BA and putrid .121 ISO. This is a Fantasy Must Start.
***Two Start Pitcher***Jason Vargas, LHSP, NYM (33% owned in Fantrax) Vs SD TUE & Vs PIT SUN: Yup. Second time this season for Mr. Vargas to make one of my articles. When you are done laughing, get up off the floor, and check this out. Vargas has a QS in seven of his last ten starts. He just has to keep the walks down and the ball in the park as he is not a huge strikeout pitcher The Padres are the Padres and on the road. The Pirates are hitting to a horrendous .282 wOBA, .247 BA and .142 ISO. I’m going to roll with that.
FROM THE ABYSS – Starting Pitchers owned in roughly less than 20% of leagues: Starters are starting to go on the DL this week for reasons mentioned above in my intro, giving us more to pick from in the Abyss. The other thing saving us are the recent additions from the minors who are starting to make their mark, and there are some good matchups in that group to be had this week.
Dario Agrazal, RHSP, PIT (10% owned IN FANTRAX) @ NYM FRI: Agrazal will start today against Philadelphia, then gets the Mets next week in NY on Friday. Agrazal has managed strong results this season, posting a 2.45 ERA and 1.32 WHIP across 22 innings. However, his 7:8 K:BB is a red flag, though his past three starts have all been quality starts, two of them resulting in W’s for the righty. The Mets are hitting to a .315 wOBA against righties at home, with a .226 BA. This is based more on what Agrazal has done so far as opposed to the matchup itself. But we are deep in the Abyss here.
Dylan Covey, RHSP, CHW ( 5% owned) Vs MIA TUE & Vs MIN SUN: Covey could start Tuesday against the Marlins. The White Sox went with Ross Detwiler in what was Covey’s spot Thursday against the Royals, but Detwiler allowed five runs while recording just seven outs. Covey followed in relief, allowing one run in 2.2 innings of work. The White Sox haven’t entirely settled who will get the start next week, but are reportedly leaning Covey’s way per Fantrax. This is more about the matchups than the pitcher as I am not a Covey fan. But when you are in the Abyss, do what the Abyssinians do. Grab the best you can get. Miami is hitting to a .290 wOBA and .243 BA with only a .124 ISO against Righties on the road since June 1st, while the Twins are hitting to a .326 wOBA and .249 BA against righties on the road since the beginning of June. I wouldn’t blame you if you used caution against the Twins.
Alec Mills, CHC (3% owned) @ SF MON & @ MIL SAT: With the Cubs continuing injuries, including that of Adbert Alzolay, Mills will retain his spot in the starting rotation for at least one more start. In the right-hander’s first major league start of 2019 against the Reds, Tuesday, he allowed three runs off five hits and one walk while recording six strikeouts in six innings. The Cubs considered going with a four-man rotation given their pattern of off days in the near future, but ultimately decided they had enough confidence in Mills to give him at least one more start, according to Tony Andracki of NBC Sports Chicago. The Giants are hitting to a wOBA of .293 with a .240 BA and .144 ISO against righties at home since June 1st. The Brewers are hitting to a .335 wOBA with a .261 BA against righties at home. So, like with Covey above, you may want to be careful with the second start. If he gets the second start, it will mean he pitched well against the Giants. One of the best parts of getting your first write up in “Pick Your Spots” is that you get to bring your girl. Life in the Abyss is not so bad.
That’s it for this week. Picking Your Spots has gotten a lot harder now. 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 eighteenth week. Even better still, may all your injured players continue to 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.