Hello and welcome to Pick Your Spots Week 23. This will be the last Pick Your Spots of 2019. Thanks to everyone who has read any of these articles this season. I need a few weekends off before the summer is completely gone so I can close and cover the pool, pick the last crop of veggies from my garden, and maybe cut the grass one more time. My tomatos are not turning red, are yours? Only my cherry tomatoes are. The beefsteaks and romas are still green, other than the ones that the groundhog got to. If you made it this far into the season and are still in the race you likely don’t need my help anyway. Myself, I’ve been eliminated in one H to H where I made the playoffs on the last day of the regular season, I’m in the semi-final in another and out of it in my Roto. But I just made two trades for next season (we keep 20) picking up Marcel Ozuna and Domingo German without having to give up players I was going to keep.
Like I said a few weeks ago, while it is getting really tough to find spot starters, 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 a few in this article. Unlike last week. All of my two start pitchers this week are more than likely only a one start pitchers in reality. But that happens. 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 Aaron Civale of the Indians the past few weeks and made him my feature spotter the last two weeks. I think he is the real deal and worth keeping in deep keeper leagues. His 1.96 ERA is likely going to regress a bit but his 2.51 FIP and .255 Babip against suggest he won’t regress too much. In the minors he never had a BB/9 over 2.0 although he also never cracked 9.0 in K/9. In four minor league seasons he had ERA’s under 3.28 and WHIPs under 1.057 in three of the four seasons. He’s doing this by keeping the ducks off the pond and the fly balls in the stadium. The biggest outlier and the one area where regression is inevitable are his HR rates. He has a 2.1 HR/FB rate this season vs an MLB average of 10.9. His .7 HR percentage is minuscule compared to a 3.7% MLB average. All in all I think we have a quality MLB arm here if not a big strikeout guy.
Like last week, this week, the Abyss is a lonely place. But then again, who wants to take risks now? We went deep into the Abyss and that group managed a 1-2 record for me (as far as QS and W’s). Overall, I had a great week by my own standards at 7-3 one of my best weeks of the season. Next week needs to be 100% accurate, for all of us.
All ownership figures are from Fantrax. All wOBA matchups data is courtesy of Fangraphs.
***Sort of Two Start Pitcher***Aaron Civale, RHSP, CLE (64% owned in Fantrax) Vs CHW MON & @ MIN SAT: He has only given up one HR and has not given up more than two runs in a game yet and all but one went six innings. He’ll look to keep things going next week, as he is currently scheduled for Monday Vs The White Sox and then Saturday at the Twins. The Chisox are hitting to a .289 wOBA, .251 BA and .116 ISO against righties on the road since July 1st. This is a Fantasy Must-Start. The Minnesota game may be a different story. The Twins are hitting to a .351 wOBA, .273 BA, and .217 ISO since July 1st. If you can afford to bench him for the Twins game, it might be a good safety net, but if you can’t, I would not get too worried, he might just hold his own. I own him in a dynasty type league where we keep 20. I just included Lance Lynn in a trade so I can keep another pitcher. Should he be on the short list? I think he might be.
***Sort of Two-Start Pitcher***Sandy Alcantara, RHSP, MIA (61% owned) @ PIT TUE & VS KC SUN: Alcantara gave up four runs to the Reds last week, but that was after rattling off four quality starts in a row against the offenses of the Mets, Braves (twice) and Rockies in Colorado no less. Do I trust him now? No. He still walks far too many batters for my liking though in his last two starts he struck out 15 batters while walking only three. I’m going to call it a hot streak, not a sudden change in his skill set. He gets one tough matchup next week and one Fantasy Must-Start. The Pirates offense is in the middle of the pack against righties at home with a .338 wOBA, .284 BA and .169 ISO since July 1st. Those are still pretty good numbers though so I would feel more comfortable benching him for that start. The Royals, however, are hitting to a 27th in the MLB .281 wOBA, .216 BA and .169 ISO against righties on the road since July 1st. I’m not sure why he is 61% owned while some better pitchers on this list are owned far less.
Dylan Bundy, RHSP, BAL (57% owned) Vs TEX THU: Can you believe this is the 3rd week in a row that I recommended Bundy and his 57% ownership for a spot start. No, I still would not roster him. Bundy’s Sunday start from last week against the Rays went pretty well. He picked up his 2nd W since the All Star break going five innings and giving up only two runs. Then he had my recommended start at KC on Saturday (yesterday), throwing a Quality Start with seven strikeouts in a no-decision. He now has contributed 138 strikeouts in 138 innings overall this season, which is a nice 9.0 K/9. He is not efficient, throws a lot of pitchers, puts ducks on the pond and then wiggles out with a grounder or a K. Sometimes, however, that bites him in the ass and he gets creamed in a short outing. I like him next week when he gets the Rangers in Baltimore where they are hitting to a horrible 29th in the MLB .263 wOBA vs righties, along with a .195 BA since July 1st and anemic .155 ISO. This is a Fantasy Must-Start. Since this is the last article of the season, Bundy’s Girlfriend Caitlin asked if she could come too.
John Means, LHSP, BAL (53% owned) @ TB WEDS: He keeps pitching well and his ownership percentage keeps going down. I don’t understand it but I’m sure as hell going to take advantage of it. Means (10-9) picked up a win and quality start Friday, giving up two runs on five hits in seven innings while striking out four in a 14-2 rout of the Royals. The lefty will take a 3.55 ERA and 99/32 K/BB through 124.1 innings into his next start, which is currently undetermined according to Fantrax. ESPN has him pitching @ TB on WEDS. This is a Fantasy Must-Start. The Rays are hitting to a .299 wOBA, .233 BA and weak .116 ISO at home vs lefties since July 1st.
Mike Montgomery, LHSP, KC (34% owned) Vs DET TUE: Another pitcher whose ownership is dropping while he is pitching well, Montgomery (3-7) took the loss Tuesday as the Royals fell 2-1 to the A’s. It was not his fault as he gave up two runs (one earned) on five hits and three walks in 6.1 innings while striking out six. Montgomery has a 3.98 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and [36:11] K:BB through eight starts and 40.2 innings since joining the Kansas City rotation, and he’ll hope for more run support in his next outing at home against the Tigers this Tuesday. The Tigers are hitting to a wOBA of .299 with a .263 BA and .136 ISO against lefties on the road since July 1st. This is a Fantasy Must-Start. Monte has himself a pretty good bullpen it would appear.
Honorable Mentions: Just didn’t have any more room, but these are all quality spots for next week:
Zack Plesac, RHSP, CLE (64% owned in Fantrax) Vs CWS THU: The Chisox are hitting to a .289 wOBA, .251 BA and .116 ISO against righties on the road since July 1st.
Brett Anderson, LHSP, OAK (53% owned) Vs LAA THU: Another frequent flyer. The Halos are hitting to a .318 wOBA, and .238 BA against lefties on the road since July 1st. Plus his wife and son wanted to be in this last issue.
Homer Bailey, RHSP, OAK (48% owned) Vs DET FRI: I just like saying his name, but the Tigers are hitting to a .290 wOBA and .235 BA against righties on the road since July 1st.
Adrian Houser, RHSP, MIL (46% owned) Vs HOU MON & VS CHC Sunday: No. You’d have to be pretty bold or crazy to do this. I just had to put him in this article as he is 2-0, giving up only one run in each of his last four starts covering 24 innings.
FROM THE ABYSS – Starting Pitchers owned in roughly less than 20% of leagues: We are not going too deep here, it is the playoffs after all. Be careful, it is dangerous down here.
***Sort of Two Start Pitcher***Daniel Norris, LHSP, DET (22% owned) @ KC TUE & @ OAK SUN: What would the Pick Your Spots Finale be without Daniel Norris coming out of the Abyss? One of my most frequent flyers, Norris, while still a mediocre MLB starting pitcher, is golden against those teams that have trouble with lefties. This one comes with a little bit of warnings however. Norris has had his workload limited, so he has only gone three innings in each of his past four starts. In his past three he has only given up one earned run in nine innings with nine K’s, but of course there is no way to get a QS or a W with those constraints. Maybe that will change against the Royals next Tuesday. The Royals are hitting to a 28th in the MLB .291 wOBA with a .231 BA and .128 ISO since July 1st. That would normally be a Fantasy Must-Start, but if he only goes three innings, that is moot. Either way I’m recommending against the A’s start. The A’s are hitting to a .377 wOBA with a .279 BA and .286 ISO against lefties at home since July 1st. Stay Away! Sorry Derek, you look tougher shaving with a hatchet than you do on the mound.
Tim Melville, RHSP COL (16% owned in Fantrax) @ SD SAT: Making his Pick Your Spots debut after only three big league starts. Melville (1-1) took the loss Saturday when the Rockies fell 11-4 to the Pirates, giving up four earned runs on six hits, with one strikeout and two walks over two innings. His first two starts in the Colorado rotation were excellent starts as he gave up only one earned run in twelve innings pitched with ten strikeouts, picking up his first MLB W in the process. He still has a 3.21 ERA, but his 1.43 WHIP and 11:7 K:BB through 14 innings suggests he’s been more lucky than good. Melville will next take the mound Friday in San Diego where the Padres are hitting to a 27th in the MLB .298 wOBA, .223 BA and .180 ISO since July 1st. This is a Fantasy Must-Start if you are not risk averse.
Aaron Brooks, RHSP, BAL (9% owned in Fantrax) Vs Tex, SAT: Who would believe that in early September I’d have three Orioles in “Pick Your Spots”. Part of it is that none of the O’s starters are owned more than the 57% that Dylan Bundy is owned. This week they all have good matchups. Brooks threw six shutout innings, allowing only two hits with one walk and six strikeouts to earn a victory against the Nationals on Tuesday. He has only allowed one run in his last 11 innings, and won both of those starts. He’s got a game today against the Royals, and if it is not too late go ahead and pick him up for that start. The Royals are hitting to a .301 wOBA against righties at home but with a horrible .119 ISO. Then gets the Rangers in Baltimore next Saturday. The Rangers are hitting to an absolutely horrendous .263 wOBA, 195 BA and .155 ISO against righties on the road since July 1st.
That’s it for this season. I hope you do well in your playoffs. Hopefully, this week’s edition will be helpful. See you next Spring, when we’ll start talking spots in 2020. Thanks to everyone who read these articles this season. 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.