Good morning. Welcome to Week 18. Sometimes it is just hard to get excited about picking spotters for the next week. There is no one out there I am overly excited about and, while there are some good matchups out there, especially in the Abyss, none of them are getting my blood flowing. However, I play to win, and spot starting is about winning. Like Deep sea fishing, it does not have to be exciting and sexy, but some of the least interesting weeks can be a boon for you if you pick the right starts for your team next week, or pick the right spot to drop your line. Press on.
I’m not a fisherman myself, but I do have a pretty big vegetable garden this year, and between the weather and my fertile soil it is bursting at the seams right now. I have Tomotoes (Cherry, Roma, Beefsteak and some other sandwich tomatoes) Peppers (sweet and hot), squash, cukes, string beans and any and every herb that grows in CT, even some that don’t. I won’t be able to eat it all so let me know what you would like once I start harvesting. Ok, so mine is not quite that big, but it is not a fish story either.
Last week, I was high on two Indians rookie right handers, Zach Plesac and Adam Plutko. Both came through for me (and hopefully for you) with a combined 12.1 IP 13 Hits, three earned runs (none by Plesac), five K’s and four BB’s. Plesac also came away with a W and is now pitching to a 3.10 ERA and [44:22] K:BB through 61 innings. I’m pretty sold on Plesac now, but I had to leave both of these guys out of this week’s spotters because both are pitching at home against the Astros next week. The Stros have been hot and are hitting to a .290 woba, .257 BA and whopping .197 ISO against righties on the road this season. I have invested in Plesac in my Dynasty contracts league.
There are still some TBA’s on the schedule, but not nearly as many as the past two weeks. This will make it easier for us. I may have a surprise too this week. I might recommend a “Primary Pitcher” for the first time since the age of “openers” began. It will be an experiment into the deepest Abyss in the ocean, so I’m not responsible if your ship sinks because you decided to join the experiment. There will be a waiver to sign on your way out if you decide to follow that advice. Sorry, just kidding about the waiver, but I have to do something to mix it up this week.
We are also going DEEP into the Abyss again this week. The three pitchers I picked from the Abyss last week went 1-2. Luckily my rank and file spotters logged a 5-2 week, leaving me at 6-4 for the week. There are several more games today from last weeks list as well. Be careful this week. If you spell these long names wrong in your waiver search you may not find them.
This week’s Trivia Question: What AL spot starter did I pick this week who has the same last name as I do but for one letter. Look, I’m reaching here but what can you do. It is almost August and I’m running out of material. Ha.
All ownership figures are from Fantrax. All wOBA matchups data is courtesy of Fangraphs.
Chase Anderson, RHSP, MIL (56% owned in Fantrax) @ OAK THU – OR – @ CHC FRI: If you look up Fantasy Spot Starter on Google, there is a picture of Chase Anderson there. No, he’ll never win 20 games or toss 200 K’s or even 200 innings for that matter. However, being owned in roughly 50% of leagues, he’s likely there when you need him. The Brewers are happy to have him right now with three starters on the shelf at the moment. He also has his good streaks in him. Since the end of June, Anderson has yielded two or fewer runs in seven straight starts. Overall, he is 5-2 with a 3.89 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 85 strikeouts in 88 innings this season. Anderson will either face the A’s in Oakland on Thursday, or the Cubs the next day depending on how they deploy their staff with an off day Monday and a yet to be announced SP for Tuesday. The A’s are hitting to a .312 wOBA, .232 BA and .184 ISO vs righties at home in 2019. The Cubbies are stroking to a wOBA of .330 with a .258 average at home vs righties over the last 2 months. Of course, I hope he gets the A’s, but I’m willing to take the risk that he has to pitch to the Cubs.
Homer Bailey, RHSP, OAK (39% owned) VS STL SAT: Oh yeah, that is how it is this week. Homer Bailey is not a sexy name. In fact, no one named homer even has a shot at being sexy. But we are not looking to marry the guy, we just need one good start from him. Homer has a choice matchup against the Cards in Oakland next week on Saturday. Yeah, in case you missed it the A’s acquired Bailey recently from the Royals in the blockbuster Kevin Merrell trade. Huh? Who? No, me neither. But again we need one start. Did you realize that Homer Bailey is 9-7 on the season. When he wins No. 10 next week (shameless plug for my own prediction), it will be the first time he cracked double digit wins since the name Homer was popular. Well, actually since 2013, but you get what I’m saying, right. He left the Royals leading that team in wins and now is tied with three other guys for the A’s team lead in wins. No, he is not that good, but here is the rub. Since June 1st, the Cardinals are hitting to a MLB 21st ranked wOBA of .306 and .242 BA on the road vs righties. He also has pitched a quality start or win in seven of his last nine starts. Granted the other two were blowouts, but giving up nine runs to the Stros is not a mortal sin. But the A’s did already create a Homer Bailey T-Shirt as seen above. Sales are brisk so far.
Jason Vargas, LHSP, NYM (33% owned in Fantrax) @ PIT SAT: Yup, second time in a row for Mr. Vargas to make one of my articles. That is scary as we may be pushing the envelope a little here. Last week I said: “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. Now it is eight of his last 11, plus he has a start today. That leaves him at 5-5 with a palatable 3.96 ERA. The Pirates are home on Saturday where they have a 29th in the MLB wOBA of .281 and a .246 BA and .128 ISO vs lefties at home in 2019. I’m going to roll the dice just one more time with that. Eeeew, that sounded like a line from a Journey song, but this is a Fantasy Must-Start.
Asher Wojciechowski RHSP, BAL (29% owned in Fantrax) Vs TOR TUE: Wojo earned the win Friday after holding the Angels to two runs on three hits and a walk while striking out six over seven innings. It was another solid outing for Wojciechowski, who allowed his only runs to score on a two-run homer in the fifth inning. Otherwise, he held the Angels in check while his offense provided ample run support. Wojciechowski was coming off the best start of his career that included a career-high 7.1 scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts against the Red Sox. The 30-year-old now owns a solid 3.60 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 37:8 K:BB over six appearances. He’ll take the mound next for a Thursday start against Toronto. Toronto is hitting to a low, 24th best MLB wOBA of .300 with a .236 BA and .158 ISO. His wife is getting ready to show the Jays which is the better country.
***Two Start Pitcher***Jaime Barria, RHSP, LAA (25% owned) Vs DET, SUN & @ CLE SUN: Barria (4-3) picked up a win Wednesday after standing his ground and holding the Dodgers to one run on three hits and two walks while striking out three over five innings. Although the 23-year-old has struggled this season with a shaky 6.63 ERA and 1.55 WHIP, mainly due to a horrendous start against the Mariners in early July where he gave up 10 runs in 3.2 IP. Sandwiched around that are five starts of five innings and less than two runs. Wednesday’s solid outing should give him another look in the rotation. Barria is next scheduled for a favorable matchup against the Tigers on Monday. The Tigers are hitting to a 28th in the MLB .284 wOBA and .225 BA with an anemic .141 ISO on the road vs righties. You may want to exercise caution with the Cleveland start. The Indians are hitting to a mid-pack .317 woba, with a .243 BA and anemic .121 ISO at home vs righties for the season, but since June 1st they have hit to a wOBA of .337 with a .259 BA and .239 ISO. Tigers is a Fantasy Must-Start, the Indians start is clearly not a must start.
Daniel Norris, LHSP (19% owned) @ LAA WED: Norris allowed two runs on five hits and a walk over 6.1 innings in Friday’s 3-2 loss to the Mariners. He struck out eight and took a no-decision. Norris was strong in this outing, but a two-run home run by Tom Murphy in the seventh inning gave him the hook. Norris has been inconsistent this season as he’s allowed three runs or fewer in six of his last 10 starts, but also surrendered five or more in the other four starts over that span. THAT is why he is a spot starter and not rostered. The 26-year-old has a 4.89 ERA and 1.42 WHIP over 106.2 innings this season. He’s expected to next take the mound versus the Angels on Wednesday, and the Halo’s are hitting to a mid-pack .327 wOBA and .247 BA against lefties at home. Maybe I just wanted to see the inside of the Micro-Bus one more time this season.
FROM THE ABYSS – Starting Pitchers owned in roughly less than 10% 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.
Jose Suarez, LHSP, LAA (13% owned) Vs DET, WED: Suarez pitched 4.1 innings and gave up only two runs on four hits and one walk while striking out six, but, as usual, did not factor into the decision against the Orioles on Thursday. Suarez held Baltimore scoreless over the first three frames before allowing a single run in the fourth inning. He departed with one out in the fifth after allowing back-to-back singles and was charged with his second run when the lead runner eventually came around to score. The rookie has now allowed three runs or less in seven of his eight starts but has completed five innings only three times in those appearances. His next scheduled start is a home matchup against the Tigers on Tuesday. The Tigers are hitting to a 28th in the MLB .284 wOBA and .225 BA with an anemic .141 ISO on the road vs righties. If he can squeeze out an extra inning or two this is a Fantasy Must-Start. In the minors he proved once again that only real men can wear pink.
Dario Agrazal, RHSP, PIT (10% owned IN FANTRAX) @ CIN, WEDS: Agrazal (2-1) allowed five runs on four hits with no walks and one strikeout across 5.1 innings while taking a loss against the Mets on Friday. The control pitcher gave up an uncharacteristic three homers to the Mets which did him in. In his four previous starts, Agrazal went 2-0 with all four being six inning QS. The great control he’s displayed has been a normal occurrence along with the lack of strikeouts. He owns a 3.24 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 13 strikeouts in 33.1 innings this season. Agrazal will pitch next at the Reds on Wednesday. The Red’s are hitting to a wOBA of .306 since June 1st, with a .248 BA against righties at home, but better than that is their near league worst .20 BB/K ratio. Their 5.8% walk ratio is also near the bottom of the league making this a Fantasy Must-Start for the righty.
***Two Start Pitcher***Thomas Pannone, LHSP, TOR (6% owned) @ KC MON & @ BAL SAT: The Jays have announced that Pannone will be recalled from Triple-A Buffalo to start Monday against the Royals. Pannone has made 25 appearances, including three starts for the Blue Jays this season, compiling a 6.39 ERA, 1.51 WHIP and [43:22] K:BB in 43.2 innings. With Toronto shopping Marcus Stroman, it’s possible Pannone could stick in the rotation beyond Monday’s spot start if he holds his own. To be honest, this is more about the matchups than the quality of the pitcher. Answer to this week’s trivia question: I also wanted to write about him because other than one letter, he and I share the same last name. I’m clearly the better looking of the two of us though. The Royals are hitting to a wOBA of .304 with a .243 BA and .147 ISO against lefties at home. Baltimore is hitting to a wOBA of .314 with a .266 BA and .158 ISO, also against lefties at home. I’d say those were Fantasy Must-Starts, but we are at the very bottom of the Abyss right now. But if there is not much left on your bare wire, this guy should still be there and is worth a gamble.
Jacob Waguespack, RHSP (4% owned) @ KC WED: Wait, you are at the bottom of the Abyss and missed out on Pannone? Damn, you have a deep league, but what about his teammate? The Jays have quite a few injuries and the healthy ones are on the block. Waguespack allowed three runs on six hits with three walks and two strikeouts across five innings while taking a loss against the Rays on Friday. It’s a small sample, but the 25 year old owns a 5.63 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, .306 batting average against and 22 strikeouts in 24 innings this season. He will pitch next at the Royals on Wednesday. The Royals are hitting to a wOBA of .304 with a .243 BA and .147 ISO against lefties at home. We’ve all fished in deeper waters than this before. They barely fit his name on the jersey.
Tom Eshelman, RHSP/PP/RP, BAL (2% owned in Fantrax) @ SD TUE: That’s it, I did it. I recommended a Primary Pitcher. There is always a chance he starts that day instead but the O’s had him come in after Jimmy Yacabonis last week. Honestly, Eshelman has a better chance at a W that day than anyone else on the O’s staff. He served as the primary pitcher and did not factor into the decision Thursday against the Angels, completing 4.1 innings and allowing one run on four hits and a walk while striking out two. Eshelman was brought in behind opener Jimmy Yacabonis against the Angels and fared well, retiring eight of the final nine batters he faced. He departed after 64 pitches following a one-out single off the bat of David Fletcher, who later came around to score the only run charged to Eshelman in the game. It remains to be seen whether the rookie will again follow an opener or return to a traditional starting role in his next appearance, which is scheduled to come in San Diego on Tuesday. The Padres are hitting to a 26th best MLB wOBA of .293 with a .231 BA and .153 ISO vs righties at home in 2019. Don’t ask about the Jersey. It is as clear to me as what his role will be on Tuesday.
That’s it for this week. Picking Your Spots was tougher this week than usual. 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 nineteenth 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.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Show Episode #167, 6/23/2019 Host Brian Roach, Jr., Co-Host Cole Freel, Guest Kevin Bzdek
Major League Fantasy Baseball Show Episode #169, 8/4/2019 Host Cole Freel, Guest Joe Iannone
@brandonziman You are more than welcome Brandon. You were a fantastic writer and a joy to work with. As we move through a very big transition for us hopefully we can continue to work with one anither.