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“65 Mustangs” Pick Your Spots – Week 21 – Playoff Edition: Stick with the Vets

Hello and welcome to Pick Your Spots Week 21. I hope you are still in contention, or better yet, in your league’s playoffs. You are likely only reading this if you are, so congratulations to all of you and good luck in the playoffs. I have long been out of it in my ROTO league, though I have moved up six spots to seventh place which feels a lot better than 13th. In my two Head to Head leagues though, a good day today and I am in both, though a bad day could knock me out of them as well. Don’t touch the money, so I am not popping the cork yet.

Like I said last week, while it is getting really tough to find spot starters the last few weeks, especially two-start spotters, there are more than enough established veteran starters near the 50% owned mark. The few two-start spotters I list this week all have the “Sort of Two-Start Starter” label I came up with a few weeks ago. They each have one Fantasy Must-Start and one game I would bench them for if I could. As for the vets, if you are risk averse, those are the guys you want to play at crunch time. Hopefully, some of these guys are still on the forgotten scrap heap in your league, even if they are no longer roster material. There are more of them than usual and you will know their names all to well. There is not much in the Abyss this week for the same reason. The time for experimenting and taking chances is over. It is an important time of year, so if you have a question on any other matchup I didn’t write about, I’m starting a Reddit post today on r/fantasybaseball where you can ask me anything all week.

I’ve been talking about my big vegetable garden this year and that between the weather and my fertile soil it is bursting at the seams right now. I have a ton of tomatoes out there but they are not turning red other than the cherry tomatoes. I need a week of sunshine to get those guys red before it is too late. I’ve heard other people in the Northeast say the same thing recently. Last week I said. “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.” Or just bite into it like an apple and let the juice run down your arm. mmmm. Now I am getting anxious. There is also a varmint of some sort (groundhog or rabbit) that is going to each tomato plant, finding the lowest hanging tomato, taking one big bite out of it and then walking away. If you are going to ruin my tomatoes, at least eat the damn thing.

We went deep into the Abyss last week and that group managed a 3-1 record for the second week in a row. Don’t expect that many this week. Overall I had a pretty good week at 6-3 with a few games left to go today.

Two veterans that didn’t make the cut but are worth a look this week are CC SAbathia, LHSP, NYY (37% owned in Fantrax) at the Dodgers Saturday and Martin Perez, LHSP, MIN (57% owned) VS DET SAT. Both sound bad at first but the Dodgers don’t hit lefties well at home and the Tigers can’t hit anyone, anywhere. CC is just coming off injury and Perez is back to earth after a great start to 2019, so there is some risk, but I like these two matchups.

All ownership figures are from Fantrax. All wOBA matchups data is courtesy of Fangraphs.

Vince Velasquez, RHSP, PHI (61% owned in Fantrax) @ MIA FRI: Owned in 61% of Fantrax Leagues he may just not be available. However his matchup is so good Friday that I had to include him here on the off chance your leaguemates are snoozing on him. He got a win Friday against the Padres, giving up three runs on five hits and two walks with five Ks in 5.1 innings. The 27-year-old  is now 3-2 over his last five starts while holding opponents to three or fewer runs in each of those outings, giving up only 20 hits in 28 innings pitched. Home runs and walks have hurt him in the past, but during this five-game run he’s given up only three HR and his K/BB is 26/10, while lowering his ERA from 4.87 to 4.30 in the process. Velasquez is reliable in that he’ll seldom give you six innings, but he will keep his team in the game often picking up a win. He has not given up more than four runs since May 6th against the Cardinals. This week he has a Fantasy Must Start against Miami. The Fish are hitting to a .300 wOBA, .256 BA and a paltry .129 ISO against righties at home since July 1st.

***Sort of Two Start Pitcher***Dylan Bundy, RHSP, BAL (56% owned) vs KC TUE & VS TB SUN: Another unexciting hard to own pitcher who has two premium matchups next week is Bundy. The Yankees beat him up pretty good last week, but they do that to everyone. Other than that game, Bundy has been pitching better lately, reducing his ERA from 5.28 to 5.05 before the Yankee game, but still only has one win since the All-Star break. He does have 122 strikeouts in 120 innings overall this season. Bundy will make his next start Tuesday at home against the Royals who are hitting to a horrible .284 wOBA on the road vs righties along with a .220 BA since July 1st. I’m not recommending him for the Tampa start. The Rays are killing righties at a .369 wOBA, .281 BA, and powerful .212 ISO against righties on the road. Thank me for the KC match, which is a Fantasy Must-Start, but if the TB game knocks you out of the playoffs, I warned you.

Adam Wainwright, RHSP, STL (54% owned) Vs MIL WED: If you’re looking for a stable pitcher who will not blow up your ratios. Here he is. 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 9-8 in 23 starts in what seems to be his first healthy season in a few years. He picked up a win against the Reds, though he did not make it out of the sixth for the QS. The 37-year-old owns a 4.33 ERA, and 124 strikeouts in 126 innings this season. Wainwright will pitch against at the Brewers on Wednesday. The Crew are hitting to a poor .301 wOBA and .232 BA against righties on the road 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***Ivan Nova, RHSP, CHW (45% owned) @ MIN MON & Vs TEX SAT: To be clear, I’m not recommending Nova for the Twins game as the Twins are scorching righties at home with a .353 wOBA, .282 BA and .210 ISO. That being said, he did pick up his 9th victory Tuesday against the Astros, allowing only one unearned run on four hits over nine innings while striking out three in a 4-1 victory. He’ll never get you a ton of Ks, but tends to keep the ball in the yard. The right-hander does have two complete games and five Quality Starts in his last five starts, and he’s produced a remarkable 0.49 ERA and 0.70 WHIP over that stretch — as well as a 4-0 record. So, while he is capable of holding down the playoff bound ‘Stros, I can’t in good conscious recommend him for it either. However, the Rangers are hitting to a miserable .270 wOBA, .200 BA and .163 ISO against Righties since July 1st. Maybe keep him on your bench for the Minnesota game, but the Rangers game is a Fantasy Must-Start. No, not that kind of Nova……

***Sort of Two Start Pitcher***Kolby Allard, LHSP, TEX (35% owned) Vs LAA MON & @ CHW SUN: Another starter with one great matchup and one do-not-start matchup. If you have to have another starter and have to reach, this is not a bad place to land. Allard (1-0) allowed three runs on four hits with three walks and five strikeouts across 5.2 innings to earn his first MLB victory against the Blue Jays on Wednesday. He pitched well in his first start last week, but he settled for the no-decision partially because he didn’t last five innings. Allard is 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA, 1.30 WHIP and 12 strikeouts in 10 innings across two starts this season. He may not be rosterable yet other than in dynasties though he is already up to 35% ownership based on his prospect status. He will face the Angels next at home Monday where they have a .311 wOBA, and 222 BA against Lefties on the road. But then he gets the White Sox in Chicago. The Chisox are hitting to a .331 wOBA and .284 Batting Average against lefties at home since July 1st. I’m starting him vs the Halos, but not the Sox.

FROM THE ABYSS – Starting Pitchers owned in roughly less than 20% of leagues: 

Mike Montgomery, LHSP, KC (22% owned in Fantrax) @ BAL WED: Montgomery (3-5) picked up a win in Friday’s 4-1 victory over the Mets, giving up an unearned run on five hits and two walks over six innings while striking out three for a quality start. The southpaw has been dominant in his last three starts going 16 innings with only two earned runs and a 22/3 K/BB. He dropped his ERA in that stretch from 7.94 to 3.68 and he’ll look for his third straight win Wednesday in Baltimore. The O’s are hitting to a miserable .299 wOBA, .253 BA and .165 ISO against lefties at home since July 1st. This is a Fantasy Must-Start. I’m looking for him on my wire now, you should be too. His wife is happier now that they are not in the Windy City anymore. Now they have to just watch for tornados.

Adrain Houser, RHSP, MIL (20% owned) @ STL, WED: Houser allowed one run on two hits with two walks and four strikeouts in seven innings against the Nationals on Friday, but came away with no decision. He’s given up only one run in three of his four starts this season and over his last four starts is 1-1, giving up seven runs with a 25/5 K/BB in 23 innings. Houser is still 3-1 with a 2.89 ERA in his last seven appearances. Overall, he is 5-5 with a 3.76 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 79 strikeouts in 76.2 innings this season. Houser is scheduled to pitch again at the Cardinals on Wednesday. The Cards are hitting to a wOBA of .315 with a .260 BA and .171 ISO since July 1st against righties at home. One word of caution is that the Cards are red hot of late, so that might make these numbers not hold up. I hope you don’t have to go down this far into the Abyss anyway.

Steven Brault, LHSP, PIT (14% owned IN FANTRAX) VS WAS THU: When you are this deep in the Abyss, sometimes it pays to take a good risk now and then, even if we are in our league’s post season. The fact he is playing the Nats makes it a risky play either way. However, The Nats are hitting to a surprisingly low .310 wOBA and .271 BA against lefties on the road since July 1st. Even worse is their .132 ISO in that stretch as well. Before landing on the IL, Brault was showing signs of significant improvement. In his last 10 starts, Brault is 3-1 with a 2.54 ERA, which has dropped his overall ERA to 4.06.

That’s it for this week. I hope you are still a contender or in the playoffs. Hopefully, this week’s edition will be helpful. See you next week, when we’ll pick some more spots for the season’s twenty second 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.

joseph.iannone021@gmail.com                    @Joeiannone

Marty Perez, LHSP, MIN (47% owned) Vs DET SAT:

CC Sabathia, LHSP, NYY (47% owned) @ LAD SAT: 

I'm an accountant and an amateur writer of fiction and sports commentary, mostly baseball. I've been a student of the game of baseball since the Dinosaurs roamed the earth, or at least since a few years before the world knew what a designated hitter was. Otherwise, I like "antique" cars of the 60's and 70's and have been a fantasy baseball fanatic since my first draft many years ago. I live in CT with my wife Megan of 25 years, our daughter Caitlin and their (their) cats. I'm also the better looking of the two guys in the the photo.

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