Hello and welcome to Pick Your Spots Week 22. So, yeah, you must have a shot at this thing. I never really liked head-to-head leagues, but I’m in a couple of them, now, that I like. It is cool to have a playoffs and championship to crown a winner, as long as the league set up and scoring is fair and you make sure the championship is not decided in the last week of the MLB regular season. (Themes for another article, another time). I hope you are in your league’s playoffs. I have one starting and one I’m in day six of the first round already. So today (Sunday) is a big day for me. Like I said last week, you are likely only reading this if you are in it too, 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 seven spots to sixth place which feels a lot better than 13th. Gut it out to the end is my theory. I never know how to play for next season.
Like I said two weeks ago, 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% to 60% owned mark. 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. While the time for experimenting and taking chances is over, there are also a good number of rookie pitchers with top prospect pedigree who have made successful debuts lately. I’ll risk starting one of them, and there are about three or four of them in this article. 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.
This week, the Abyss is a lonely place. But then again, who wants to take risks now? We went deep into the Abyss last week and that group managed a 2-1 record for me (as far as QS and W’s). However, pitching is so thin now that two of those Abyss pitchers went from 20% ownership to well over 40% in one week. And one of those did not even pitch a good game. Overall, I had a pretty crappy week by my own standards at 4-4 with a few games left to go today. Next week needs to be better, for all of us.
All ownership figures are from Fantrax. All wOBA matchups data is courtesy of Fangraphs.
Aaron Civale, RHSP, CLE (61% owned in Fantrax) @ DET WED: Civale (1-3) allowed two earned runs four hits and no walks while striking out three across 5.2 innings to take the loss Thursday against the Mets. The only thing stopping him from a Quality Start was a lengthy rain delay. He’s made a strong impression in his first five career starts, nearly all of them Quality Starts, working 29.2 innings and allowing just six earned runs while racking up 25 strikeouts. He has not given up more than two runs in a game yet and all but that last one went six innings. He’ll look to keep things going in his next outing, currently scheduled for Wednesday at Detroit. The Tigers are hitting to a .304 wOBA, .250 BA and .160 ISO against righties at home since July 1st. This is a Fantasy Must-Start. I own him in a dynasty type league where we keep 20. Should he be on the short list? I think he might be.
***Two-Start Pitcher***Dustin May, RHSP, LAD (57% owned) @ SD MON & @ AZ SAT: May will start during Los Angeles’ upcoming road trip after making a relief appearance Sunday in Atlanta in which he allowed four runs over two innings. I’d say you have to be a pretty talented player to make it into the Dodgers usually deep rotation in the middle of a pennant race. May owns a 4.26 ERA and 1.21 WHIP with 15 strikeouts over 19 innings so far this season for the Dodgers. Next week he gets two nice match ups to show what he has. He gets the Padres in San Diego on Monday where the Padres are hitting to a .311 wOBA and .241 BA at home vs righties. Then he gets the Diamondbacks in Arizona Saturday. The Snakes are hitting to a similar .315 wOBA, .238 BA and weak .109 ISO vs righties at home. Both since July 1st. If you believe in Dustin May these are both Fantasy Must-Starts. Plus it helps to be tall.
Dylan Bundy, RHSP, BAL (56% owned) @ KC SUN: Last week, I recommended Bundy against the Royals in Baltimore and I also said this: “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.” He tamed the Royals pretty well, going seven five hit innings with only one earned run allowed and a 7/2 K/BB in a no-decision. Other than the Yankees beating him up pretty good two weeks ago, Bundy has been pitching better lately. He still only has one win since the All-Star break, but has contributed 129 strikeouts in 127 innings overall this season. Bundy will make the start today, Sunday, against the Rays, but then gets the Royals again, this time in KC where they are hitting to a horrible .296 wOBA vs righties, along with a .206 BA since July 1st and anemic .110 ISO. Again, I’m not recommending him for the Tampa start, today. The Rays are killing righties with a .369 wOBA, .281 BA, and powerful .212 ISO against righties on the road. But the Royals match up next week is a Fantasy Must-Start.
John Means, LHSP, BAL (55% owned) @ KC FRI or SAT: Not only do the Royals have trouble with righties at home, but they are hitting lefties poorly as well. As of today they have a .300 wOBA, .231 BA and .154 ISO against lefties at home since July 1st, barely better than against righties. So, yeah, I’m picking on KC this week. Last week, Means (9-9) allowed one run on five hits with zero walks and seven strikeouts across seven innings while earning a victory against the Rays on Saturday. Means is back with a .500 record and has a 3.61 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 95 strikeouts in 117.1 innings this season. His ownership has now dipped enough so that he may be sitting on your wire right now for next week’s Fantasy Must-Start Matchup.
***Two Start Pitcher***Mike Montgomery, LHSP, KC (42% owned up from 22% owned last week in Fantrax) Vs OAK TUE & Vs BAL SUN: Montgomery (3-6) allowed five earned runs on eight hits and three walks while striking out three across five innings to take the loss Wednesday against the Orioles, and still his ownership in Fantrax Leagues jumped 20%. That is how thin the wire is right now. Montgomery was burned by the long ball as he allowed three homers, accounting for four of his five earned runs. He had been on a strong run entering Wednesday’s start, allowing only seven earned runs across 27.1 innings with 26 K’s in his last five starts. Next week he gets two choice match ups to right his ship. His first start is Tuesday against the Athletics in KC. The A’s are hitting to a 28th in the MLB wOBA of .291 with a .227 BA against lefties on the road. Then he gets the equally anemic Orioles on Sunday in KC where the O’s are hitting to a .309 wOBA and .255 BA with only a .148 ISO against lefties on the road since July 1st. I tend not to recommend a pitcher after a bad start, but what are spotters for? Also there is not a lot out there as I have said a few times already. These are both Fantasy Must-Starts.
Adrain Houser, RHSP, MIL (46% owned, up from 20% owned last week) Vs STL, TUE: If Houser is still on your wire, go pick him up first and then ask why he is still there. He improved his record to 6-5 after holding the Cardinals to one earned run on six hits and two walks while striking out six in 5.1 innings Wednesday, picking up an elusive W in the process. Houser seems to be hitting on all cylinders since re-entering the rotation in late July. He’s now allowed exactly one earned run in three straight starts and has a 2.54 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 31/7 K/BB in 28.1 innings over his last five starts. With the injuries to the Brewers rotation, Houser should have some decent security in the Milwaukee rotation. Last week I said “One word of caution is that the Cards are red hot of late, so that might make these numbers not hold up.” Well, he did just fine and now gets those same Cards, this time at home in Milwaukee. The Cards are hitting to a .297 wOBA and .238 BA against righties on the road since July 1, 2019. The same caveat as last week still has to apply, however, but i would still call it a Fantasy Must-Start.
FROM THE ABYSS – Starting Pitchers owned in roughly less than 30% of leagues: Yeah, I bent my own rules. We are not going too deep here, it is the playoffs after all.
Logan Webb, RHSP, SF (35% owned in Fantrax) Vs SD SAT: Webb has been confirmed as Today’s (Sunday’s) starter against the A’s. He was an option out of the bullpen Thursday against the Cubs but was not used, so he will make his scheduled start Sunday. He was effective in his big-league debut last week, giving up one earned run while striking out seven in five innings to pick up the win against the Diamondbacks. He’ll have to keep pitching well to remain in the rotation when Shaun Anderson and Johnny Cueto come back soon. He has a good starting point with the Padres coming to town Saturday. The Padres are hitting to a miserable wOBA of .278 with a .226 BA and .146 ISO against righties on the road since July 1st. YEP, Fantasy Must-Start.
***Two Start Pitcher***Adam Plutko, RHSP, CLE (33% owned) @ DET TUE & @ TB SUN: I already picked up Plutko in my money league for next week’s two start week. You should too. We can wait here till you get back. If he is out there, you may not find a better two-start play in the pool. He gave up two runs on four hits and one walk while striking out five through six innings in a no-decision against the Mets on Wednesday. Plutko has pitched six innings in his last three starts and has quality starts in the last two outings. The 27-year-old has a 4.54 ERA and a [47:12] K:BB through 13 starts this season. Plutko will make his next start Tuesday against the Tigers at Comerica Park. Detroit is hitting to a .304 wOBA, .250 BA and .160 ISO against righties at home since July 1st. The Rays are hitting to a wOBA of .301 with a .231 BA and .155 ISO against righties at home since July 1st. Adam cleans up pretty well when he is not playing, and his wife says both of these are Fantasy Must-Starts.
Felix Hernandez, RHSP, SEA (18% owned IN FANTRAX) @ TEX FRI: Remember him? The fact he is in my article and is available in over 80% of Fantrax leagues coming off his first start after coming off the IL is a testament to how far the King has fallen. In his first start back from the IL, Hernandez pitched 5.2 innings, allowing two runs on three hits and three walks while striking out four in a no decision against the Jays. He was victimized by two HR, likely a testament to his rusty command, though he did throw 54 of his 88 pitches for strikes. The Rangers are hitting to a .310 wOBA, .255 BA and .145 ISO vs righties at home since July 1. I would not even look at his body of work before the injury. Then you may not want to look either once this game is underway. Nah, I’m still a fan of the King. I’d love to see him finish the season with a flurry, and yeah, this is a Fantasy Must-Start.
That’s it for this week. I hope you do well in your 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 third week, and that will be the final Pick Your Spots for 2019. 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.