Hello and welcome to Pick Your Spots Week 20. I hope you are still in contention, in fact I doubt you are reading this if you are not at this point. While it is getting tougher to find spot starters the last few weeks, I actually had my best week of picks last week when my picks went 11-3 (as far as quality starts or wins are concerned) Last week, I said: “The trade deadline has passed and there is no waiver period in August like there used to be, so there will be no more trading. However, the void left on those teams that moved established starters (i.e. Greinke) or even not so established starters (i.e. Gallen) have good size voids to fill. The teams that got those starters may have bumped guys we’ve had good luck streaming this season, so it is probably a zero net result, but the names in many cases are different, sending us back to the research phase of our sport.” This is still true, maybe even more so, and there are also still many TBA’s on the map. I’m not going to update as they are announced, but if you have a specific pitcher you want to ask about during the week, there are three ways to reach me: My email and twitter are listed below and I’ll start a Reddit post today on r/fantasybaseball where you can ask me anything all week.
Like I said last week, 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. Yesterday, I was outside picking veggies and came back in the house with a box of cherry tomatoes, which my daughter likes to roast, bell peppers and a handful of jalapenos, lots of yellow squash and cukes. Unfortunately, my string beans failed and I know why, it was my fault. I’ll fix it next season, but we can’t win them all. I can’t wait for the beefsteak tomatoes to turn bright red. Is there anything better than a tomato and mayo sandwich with some pepper on it, on some good bread? If you really want to get classy add some fresh mozzarella and fresh basil to put it over the top. I grow everything but the mozzarella. My area’s zoning laws don’t allow me to stash a cow in the backyard.
We went deep into the Abyss last week and that group managed a 3-0 record, with a start to go today. Gonsolin, Ross and Civale gave up one run between them. My more established spotters went 8-3 last week, giving me my best week yet this season at 11-3, albeit with a few more games on tap for today. I’m peaking at just the right time, like you hope your teams are doing. Ok, I’m going to gloat now. SEVEN (7) of my 13 picks did not even give up a run in their start, three went six innings, three went seven and one even went eight innings, thanks Ivan Nova. Six of those spot starts delivered the ever elusive W as well. I hope I helped at least one person win their week last week. NO, Not THAT Nova.
Three of my spotters from last week hit the 60% ownership mark in Fantrax, so I won’t be writing about them anymore. Zach Plesac (finally), Chase Anderson (attrition), And Vince Velasquez will not help me make my job easy anymore. Oh, we’ll still be okay. Someone has to lose every game, right? Pick the right pitcher against that team and you are golden. Just don’t expect to find many two start pitchers this week on the wire. There are some, but they have one good, and one bad start scheduled. Plan accordingly.
All ownership figures are from Fantrax. All wOBA matchups data is courtesy of Fangraphs.
Dinelson Lamet, RHSP, SD (57% owned in Fantrax) @ PHI SAT:Last week I said, “I’d start any of Dinelson Lamet, RHSP @ SEA, TUE & Vs COL, SUN, Eric Lauer, LHSP vs COL THU, or Cal Quantrill, RHSP vs COL FRI.” Lamet and Quantril pitched gems, going a combined 14 shutout innings with 17 Ks and four walks. Lamet still has the COL start today (Sunday) to go and that should be a good matchup. In the win against Seattle on Tuesday, Lamet hurled seven scoreless innings allowing two hits and four walks while striking out 12. Lamet was unhittable most of the night, as he allowed only four baserunners, all on walks, through six innings. Two hits in the seventh spoiled the no hitter. The dominant performance earned Lamet his first victory since 2017 and ended a string of three straight no-decisions. The Phils are hitting to a .300 wOBA, .250 BA and .143 ISO against righties at home since July 1st. When I started this article his ownership in Fantrax was 52%. Now it is 57%. Hurry up.
Adam Wainwright, RHSP, STL (50% owned) @ CIN THU: Remember him? I sure do. Waino is the latest veteran pitcher who has had to adjust from being a dominant ace to a mid-rotation finesse pitcher. He is now 8-8 in 22 starts in what seems to be his first healthy season in a few years. Against the Pirates on Saturday, he allowed one run on six hits with two walks and eight strikeouts across six innings while earning a victory. The 37-year-old owns a 4.35 ERA, 1.41 WHIP and 118 strikeouts in 120 innings this season. Wainwright will pitch again at the Reds on Thursday. The Reds are hitting to a .320 wOBA and .204 BA against righties at home since July 1st. Waino reminds us that even while considered an “old” pitcher, he is still only in his 30’s.
***Sort of Two Start Pitcher***Jason Vargas, LHSP, PHI (50% owned) vs CHC TUE & VS SD SUN: Yes, we are still playing with fire the last few weeks, and Vargas has not burned us yet so far, even getting traded to a contender for the stretch run. Actually, the Mets pretty much gave him away after the Stroman trade as they find themselves as contenders now as well. (Did I really say that?) Vargas 6-6, was charged with a loss against the Diamondbacks on Wednesday after surrendering four runs on four hits and three walks with one strikeout over five innings. While Vargas has appeared in this article several times over the past month or so, I did not recommend him for the Arizona start. The loss was his first since July 12 against the Marlins. Prior to that start, the 36-year-old had a solid debut with the Phillies and now owns a 4.09 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and [87:43] K/BB. He will look to bounce back during a Tuesday matchup against the Cubs in Philly. The Cubs are hitting to a 28th in the MLB wOBA of .285 with a .225 BA and .153 ISO against lefties on the road since June 1st. Then he gets to face the Padres in Philly, where the Padres are hitting to a .356 wOBA and .292 BA against lefties on the road. This next sentence just feels weird in a contrarian sort of way. The Padres game may be a game to avoid, but the Cubs game is a Fantasy Must Start. Vargas is also proof that looks don’t matter, nor does fastball speed. The contract may help though.
Drew Smyly, LHSP, PHI (41% owned) Vs CHC THU: Yep, it is this bad out there this week. Smyly got a no-decision in Friday’s win over the Giants, allowing six runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out four in 5.2 innings. Three home runs did him in. Smyly had shut the Giants out over seven innings earlier in the season but didn’t have his best stuff working in last week’s game. Smyly will carry a 3.80 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and [76:41] K:BB into a Thursday game against the rival Cubs. As mentioned above, the Cubs are hitting to a 28th in the MLB wOBA of .285 with a .225 BA and .153 ISO against lefties on the road since June 1st. If Vargas is a Fantasy Must Start this week, so is Smyly. So are his girls.
Daniel Norris, LHSP, DET (30% owned) @ TB FRI: Before the White Sox reached him for four runs in 5.2 innings last week, Norris was 1-0 with a 16/4 K/BB and only three runs allowed over his past three starts. He has been inconsistent this season as he’s allowed three runs or fewer in seven of his last 11 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 4.76 ERA and 1.41 WHIP over 117 innings this season. He next has a start against the Royals today (Sunday), but then gets to face the Rays in Tampa next Friday. I’m still calling the Royals start a Fantasy Must-Start. As for the Ray’s game, they are hitting to a 27th in the MLB .293 wOBA and .234 BA with an anemic .117 ISO against lefties at home since June 1st. I have to call that a Fantasy Must-Start as well, and may be the last one we squeeze out of him as he is nearing his innings limit for the season.
FROM THE ABYSS – Starting Pitchers owned in roughly less than 20% of leagues:
Sean Reid-Foley, RHSP, TOR (24% owned) vs TEX, WED: Reid-Foley allowed one run on five hits with two walks and five strikeouts in five innings while earning a victory against the Yankees on Friday. The Jays pitched the Yanks pretty well during that series for the most part. Foley has a 2.36 ERA in 2019 and in his last three starts of five innings he has given up a combined three earned runs. He’s given up two earned runs in his last 17 innings. This week he has a much easier match-up against the Rangers in Toronto. The Rangers are next to last in the MLB hitting to a .272 wOBA, .214 BA and .136 ISO. This is a Fantasy Must-Start.
***Sort of Two Start Pitcher***Dillon Peters, LHSP (14% owned) Vs PIT TUE & Vs CHW SUN: Peters (2-1) allowed three runs on five hits and one walk across six innings while taking the loss Thursday against the potent offense of the Boston Red Sox. He struck out eight in that game while walking only one. Peters’ 2nd straight strong outing lowered his ERA to 3.45 with 27 K’s against only eight walks heading into next week’s home matchups against the Pirates and the Chi-Sox. The Pirates are dead last in the MLB hitting to a .278 wOBA, .230 BA and .165 ISO since June 1st. This is a Fantasy Must-Start. Then he gets the White Sox in LA. The Chi-Sox are hitting to a middle of the pack .328 wOBA and .283 BA against lefties on the road. I would use caution starting him against the Chi-Sox, but the Pittsburgh matchup is far too good to pass up.
Steven Brault, LHSP, PIT (13% owned IN FANTRAX) VS CHC SAT: Brault allowed two runs on three hits with one walk and six strikeouts in 5.1 innings during a no-decision against the Brewers on Tuesday. Brault was overall pretty sharp in his first outing back from his shoulder injury. That’s very encouraging because before landing on the IL, Brault was showing signs of significant improvement. In his last 10 starts, Brault is 3-0 with a 2.54 ERA, which has dropped his overall ERA to 4.09. He will start again Sunday (today) at the Cardinals, and then gets the Chicago Cubs at home on Saturday. The mighty Cubs are hitting to a woeful .263 wOBA, .197 BA and .134 ISO against lefties on the road since June 1st.
***Starter or Opener***Jacob Waguespack, LHSP, TOR (12% owned) Vs SEA FRI: Waguespack allowed three runs on three hits with two walks and two strikeouts in 3.2 innings as the “Follower” during a no-decision against the Yankees on Saturday. That despite the fact that he had tossed four straight starts of three or less runs with two of them being QS W’s. He has a 2.30 ERA during that stretch as well. Overall, he’s 3-1 with a 4.31 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 30 strikeouts in 39.2 innings this season. He is listed as the starter against Seattle FRI but check in before game time and make sure he is not an “Opener” if that will mess up your starts for the week. He is worth putting out there either way as Seattle us dead last in the MLB with a .227 wOBA and .161 BA against lefties on the road since June 1st. This is a Fantasy Must-Start.
That’s it for this week. I hope you are still a contender. 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 twenty first 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.