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“65 Mustangs”: Pick Your Spots! Weekly Spot Starting Guide & Closer Updates – Week 2

What a crazy first week of the season we had this year! Some starting pitchers got destroyed by outbursts from Trevor Story, SS, COL; Jean Segura, 2B/SS, AZ; Robbie Cano, 2B, SEA; and Starlin Castro, 2B, NYY, among others. That is why I mentioned last week that it is hard to start pitchers the first week of the season, as even the elite can get torched. This week will be easier, as each SP has at least one start under his belt and we have a full slate of games with plenty of two-start pitchers available.

This is not a hitting article, but how can I not even mention the high profile injuries we’ve already had in the hitter ranks? Kyle Schwarber, C/LF, CHC, the 2016 draft darling, going as high as the 3rd or 4th round sprained his ankle and tore his ACL/LCL, putting him down for the season. In my catcher rankings article this Spring, I outlined myschwarber injury.jpg reasoning for tempering expectations and draft position a bit, but I never expected it to go down this way. It had to have ruined some teams that were already thin if they took him that early. Another big blow was the broken elbow suffered by A.J. Pollock, OF, AZ, who was placed on the 60 day DL with no timetable. Adam Jones, CF, BAL, has missed a couple games with “rib cage discomfort.” If that is code for oblique strain, he’ll miss a lot more time. These events make Jorge Soler, OF, CHC and Joey Rickard, OF, BAL must adds. And guys like Nick Ahmed, SS; Jean Segura, 2B/SS; and Chris Owings 2B/SS can all be in the AZ lineup at once. Another must add is Tyler White, 1B, HOU, who is hitting close to .700 with a pair of HR.

As I did last week, I picked out a group of starting pitchers, each owned in less than 50% of Fantrax and ESPN leagues that I recommend for spot starts next week. If you missed my article last week introducing this column, you can find it here, where I outline the criterion I use to rate spot starters, including park factors, splits, trends, opportunity, opponent, et cetera. I’ll also mention some pitchers to not start any given week and some players to watch. The second half of the article will document the recent events in the Closer Carousel, which will never stop turning. First a quick report card on last week and then on to this week.

Hits: Bartolo Colon, Matt Latos, Chris Young, A.J. Griffin

Misses: Jon Niese, Jake Peavy, but not by much. No one got blown out.

Week one line: 33IP, 2 Wins, 3 QS, 30/7 H/BB, 13 ER, 2 HR, 24 Ks, 3.55 ERA, 1.126 WHIP.  I’ll take it, especially for the volatile 1st week of the season.

Week Two Spot Starts:

Drew Pomeranz, SD (39% owned) – @PHI Thursday 4/14: He gets the Phillies on the road this week. The Phils are hitting .212 on the young season with a .262 OPS. They’ve scored 12 runs on 5 HR. In 2015 he split between starting and relieving, putting up a 3.66 ERA (with a 3.62 Fip holding it up), and 1.186 WHIP. He’s got a .8 HR/9 rate, 8.6 K/9 but walks too many at 3.2 BB/9, which will hold him back if he can’t shave a walkpomeranz

off of that. The Lefty has always had talent and at 27 years old may finally be ready to claim his place in the Padres rotation, much as Carolyn Esserman has found her place on his left arm. I think they stole him from the A’s and there was some early speculation he’d be in the pen, maybe even a closer option. That could still happen, but I like him in the rotation, and especially this week in Philadelphia where he has a 2.25 lifetime ERA.


Matt Latos, CHW (38% owned) – @MIN Wednesday 4/13: An easy repeat recommend from last week, but I’m the eternal optimist and Min (0-4) is not lighting it up,latos hitting .209 with a .288 OBP, 3 HR and only 9 runs so far in 2016. If Latos tosses another quality start, that 38% ownership will be over 50% and I won’t get to write about him next week. This week he did more than toss a QS with a Win in 6 shutout innings, giving up 1 hit and 1 walk with 2 strikeouts. I see no reason to keep him on the bench for this matchup.

Tom Koehler, MIA (24% owned) – Vs. Atlanta Fri 4/15:  He pitches well in Miami (3.63 ERA koehlervs 4.54 away), pitches well against the Braves (3.36 lifetime ERA), keeps the ball on the ground and pitches to contact. I like his chances at home vs. the Braves, who so far are hitting a pitiful .181 with a .288 OBP, 2 HR and only 8 runs. Koehler is 29, but I think he has reached his upside. Food for thought if you like to spot Koehler – his lifetime BA against is .237 in the first half, .273 in the second half and his lifetime April ERA is 3.17.

Nick Tropeano, LAA (18% owned) – @ OAK Monday 4/11:  Tropeano has been on several prospect listings overtropeano.jpg the years and is only 25.  He did get 7 starts in 2015 and posted an ERA of 3.82. His 9.1 K/9 & 2.4 BB/9 are sparkling ratios, especially considering how high his walk rates were in the minors (Over 3.0 every season, but with a K/9 over 9.0). He also endured a Babip of .349, which is scary for a flyball pitcher such as Nick, however, Oakland is not a launching pad by any means. The A’s are chugging along so far in 2016 with a .220 BA and .271 OBP. That is not very money ballish. He’ll have to pitch well to stick, as Jered Weaver is due back soon. I think he sticks in the rotation.

AJ Griffin, TEX (12% owned) – @SEA Wednesday 4/13: Another repeater who only moved up to 12% ownership after his last start, a 6 inning QS & Win giving up 3 ER on 2 walks and a strikeout. The 28-year-old is not going to miss a lot of bats and is a fly ball pitcher, but that should a j griffinnot hurt him in Seattle. Seattle is only batting .246, but they do have 10 Homers, most coming courtesy of Robbie Cano, who is hitting .254 vs Oakland with six HR over his long career. I’m riding the wave one more start anyway.

Jhoulys Chacin, ATL (0% owned) – Vs. WAS Sunday 4/16:  Here is your chance to be the first guy in your league to even think about Jhoulys Chacin. When your league mates see the add transaction they may gasp at you grabbing a guy they had forgotten about. Chacin, 28, came up late last season and pitched great for _JhoulysChacin_GettyImages-512499460four starts, where he went 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA, striking out 21 in 26 innings. I used him in two leagues. The 7.1 K/9 was nice, but not the 3.4/9 walk rate or the 4 HR given up. Call it rust from more than a year off, he should be even better this time around. He’s healthy now and ready to build on last season. For his career he is 3-2 with a 3.72 ERA at Washington, a team hitting .214 with only a couple Bryce Harper HR, and one from Daniel Murphy.

Almost made the cut:

Bartolo Colon, NYM @CLE Sat (Always has pitched well there); Kendall Graveman, OAK Vs LAA Tues; Robbie Ray, AZ @LAD Thurs

Do Not Start: 

Matt Cain, SFG (31% owned) – @Col Thursday 4/14 I love what he did this week and used him on a couple of teams. But, no matter how good he looked, he’ll be in Colorado.

Ross Stripling, LAD (24% owned already) – Vs AZ Thurs 4/14:  Call me superstitious, but I stripling.jpgdon’t like the start after the no-no or near no-no in this case, especially with how few innings he’s pitched. He looks good, though, and had sparkling K and BB rates in the minors. He’ll be on the other part of this list at some point, but not this week.

Kevin Gausman, BAL (78% owned) – Some reports list him as a 2-start pitcher next week, but he is not ready to play yet. If he’s on your wire, pick him up if you can stash him, as he’ll be on the mound soon. But there is no guarantee he takes the hill at all next week, let alone twice. Then the annual Gausman watch can resume.

Match Up of the Week: There are three big time marquis match ups this week:

April 12 – Jose Fernandez, MIA Vs Noah Syndergaard, NYM in New York.

April 15 – Madison Bumgarner, SF Vs Clayton Kershaw, LAD in Los Angeles.

April 16 – Felix Hernandez, SEA Vs Masahiro Tanaka, NYY in Seattle.

Closer Carousel:  The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Confirming last week’s reporting:

Roberto Osuna is still the closer in Toronto with two saves and three scoreless outings. Drew Storen did not help his case by giving up 2 runs last night in a third of an inning. I’m not dropping Storen in any leagues, but I’ve also let out the breath I was holding.

Luke Gregerson is still the closer in Houston and has logged one save. Ken Giles did not
gregerson2.jpghelp his case by giving up runs in his last two games. I’m not dropping Giles in any leagues, but I’ve also let out the breath I was holding.

Alex Colome is still the presumptive closer in Tampa, though he still has not been named as such. All we need is a save chance to come up. Yeah, no more breath holding today.

Andrew Miller kept his word and is pitching for the Yankees through the broken bone in his wrist (non throwing). He has one save so far. He should close for another month until Chapman is back. Someday Delin Betances will get a save. Exhale.

Closer by Matchup:  The new trend.

Jason Grilli blew a save April 4th after “reclaiming” the Braves closer role. Then it was announced Arodys Vizcaino & Grilli would share the 8th & 9th based on match-ups. Neither has had an appearance in the past five days since. No more breath holding, please.

Sean Doolittle is still called the closer in Oakland. He has no saves, and the other day gave up two hits and one earned run in 2/3 of an inning. Then he got a win the next dooday, after coming into a tie game. Ryan Madson, on the other hand, has two saves in three scoreless appearances. The post game explanation has been “match-ups.” Is there a trend forming, or is this an easy way for managers to stall naming a closer?

Meltdowns = Doom:

Shawn Tolleson gave up 5 runs on 5 hits and a HR without getting a batter out, starting the “Dead Man Throwing” countdown in Arlington. Sam Dyson would be the presumed next in line, and maybe even Keone Kela, but another name has surfaced. The hard throwing Jake Diekman pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, with two K’s last night in the ninth inning of a non save situation. I’m going to say you should already own Dyson and Kela, and may see if you have room for Diekman. But I would not blow mad FAAB on him, nor drop Shawn Tolleson, or even Drew Storen for that matter to get him. Not yet anyway. Don’t hold your breath for a solution here.  All should be rostered and someone will get lucky.

Steve Cishek blew his 1st save opportunity as a Mariner when a fast ball was planted 10 rows deep, blowing the save. Joaquin Benoit has two scoreless appearances so far. No rumors of demise yet, but keep an eye on this one. Cishek has lost the role before.

Finally, the Phillies. See you all next week…….Sorry, this actually is important. The Phils announced that Jeanmar Gomez would have gotten the save opportunity Thursday night, had one come up. It didn’t happen. David Hernandez (three runs on one hit and two walks without retiring a batter) and Dailer Hinojosa (four hits, 2 runs in 1/3 inning) each got one shot and blew it. We don’t know what is in their plans, though, as the manager only mentioned Gomez for Thursday. The fantasy community has taken that to mean he is the new closer. Don’t blow your FAAB on him either, and don’t hold your breath until the next save opportunity.

See you next week and convince your leaguemates to downgrade the Save as a scoring category. This Merry-G0-Round is not going away, and may start spinning faster.emilyroyalscarousel

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Our guests this week are Hernan Batista and Nick DeSisto. Both Hernan and Nick are veteran owners in Major League Fantasy Baseball Leagues. Hernan and Nick will also be frequent guests on our shows this year.

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Major League Fantasy Baseball Show: Join Corey D Roberts on Sunday April 10th, 2016 from 7-9pm EST for this week’s episode of the Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show. We are a live call in radio show so we encourage callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. This week we will discuss the coming week’s games Mon-Thu, do some recap of the previous 3 days, and general fantasy news.

Our guests this week are Mark Rush and Phil Weiss. Mark is the Professor of politics and law at Washington & Lee University, an author, writer, and a frequent guest on National Public Radio as well as the Arabian News Network. Mark was part of the writing staff at Ron Shandler’s old site Since Ron shut that project down Mark has joined our writing staff here at, and also does some editing.

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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.



  1. Joe Iannone

    April 10, 2016 at 9:52 am

    Quick last minute updates:
    1. Jered Weaver will start today for LAA against the Texas Rangers. I’ll admit I was tempted at first, but then I remembered how badly he has torched my ratios the last couple of years. I’ll keep watching though. He does have pedigree.
    2. Robbie Erlin will start for SD on Tuesday vs Philly now that Tyson Ross is out with a sore shoulder. Erlin pitched over three innings in relief the other day so he is stretched out. I like his opponent, the Phils, in Petco. I would have listed him in my top 5 or 6 in the article but learned of it too late.

  2. Joe Iannone

    April 10, 2016 at 10:15 am

    On the reliever side:
    1. Santiago Casilla blew a save giving up a one run lead vs the Dodgers in a game SF lost last night. Don’t start the countdown yet but at some point this season he is going to hand the ball to Strickland and make me look smart.
    2. Jeanmar Gomez did get the save last night. Meet the new Phils closer..for now.
    3. Shawn Tolleson got a clean save last night. In fact the 7,8,9 went Kela, Dyson. Tolley with no hits or runs and a few K’s. Turn off the dirge for now.
    4. The Cards destroyed the Braves last night 12-2, but Jason Grilli could not even get out of the 9th in a mop up so the crowd could go home, giving up 3 walks and 2 runs, with no hits. It is debatable if any of the pitches were strikes. Arodys Vizcaino had to bail him out in an otherwise meaningless appearance. Meet the Braves new closer, again.

    • Ben W

      April 10, 2016 at 6:18 pm

      Why do you have to speak of the Braves pen? I wish we could send the whole thing down, and bring up some minor league relievers. At least today showed we can score runs.
      Gonna be a long season in Atlanta…..

  3. Joe Iannone

    April 10, 2016 at 6:29 pm

    Just to torture you Ben.

    • Ben W

      April 10, 2016 at 7:42 pm

      Oh, trust me, I am looking forward to our future though after we acquired Swanson, Blair, Newcomb, Touki, Ruiz, etc. This season we should be a lock for a top 5 Draft pick.
      Oh and Joe, thanks, I love ya too…NOT.

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