“65 Mustangs” Week 8 Spot Starting & Relief Pitcher Guide. The Return to Relevance.
Can you believe it is going to be week 8 already? Pretty soon we can’t say it is early anymore. I was pretty happy with my picks for this week and cashed in on a few of them myself, like Dan Straily, Doug Fister, Ivan Nova, Matt Wisler and Jeff Locke over my 5 leagues. I do apologize for Ubaldo Jimenez, however, but I got hurt by that pick as well. Soon we’ll have some reinforcements to add to the pool from the disabled list as well as some other pitchers returning to relevance.
On the injury re-hab front, we have some pitchers coming back soon. It is likely your last chance to grab them off your wire on the cheap. Huston Street, LAA is embarking on a re-hab assignment, and should be back in a couple of weeks. I say bring him back right away, don’t waste a single pitch in re-hab. With his injury history I’d rather have him in the Bigs getting a save or two for his owners before getting hurt again. Others nearing a return are LAD’s Hun Jin Ryu & LAA’s C. J. Wilson. Homer Bailey, CIN is finally throwing again after a setback last month shut him down, but there is not yet a timetable for a re-hab stint. Barring another setback he may be back around the All Star Break, same with the NY Mets “other ” future HOF’er, Zack Wheeler. Garrett Richards, LAA has opted for the Tanaka method of treatment for his elbow problems and will try re-hab instead of surgery. I don’t know when he’ll pitch again, but that seems to be a trend now for partial tears. Finally, Timmy Lincecum, LAA signed a contract to pitch for the Angels. If you didn’t know they need more pitching, read the last few sentences. None of us know if he’ll ever be relevant again, but it is worth watching, no?
Of all of those, I’ll stash Wheeler and maybe Ryu at this point, though I’m guilty of stashing Bailey in a contracts league where he has two years to go. Talk about a bad investment.
Speaking of relevance, one thing I love about baseball is that a player can be written off for dead as far as fantasy goes, and then re-appear and become relevant again Sometimes they are embarking on a career re-birth, like Bartolo Colon, NYM did a few years back, or they tease us for a few starts before fading back into grey. Two of my personal favorites are on a bit of a roll in their last three starts. I hope they have turned a corner and have finally learned to pitch effectively with diminished stuff. They are both at the point where they won’t last much longer on the wire.
CC Sabathia, NYY (5.5% to 28% owned) has now tossed three QS in a row, dropping his ERA two whole runs in the process. He is reducing his walks & HR allowed while increasing his K rate at the same time. In the 2nd of those starts, against the power laden Orioles line up he went a season high 7 IP with 6 H, 6 K’s and no runs allowed. He also did not walk a batter nor give up a gopher ball. He followed that with a 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R QS where he struck out 8 to 1 walk and again gave up no homers vs the A’s. I can’t in good conscience recommend him for his start vs TOR, THU. The Blue Jays are not clicking yet but have a .305 Babip vs lefties this season, and CC is pitching to contact.
Matt Cain, SF (3.9% to 28% owned) is the other sleeping Giant I was talking about. I like bulldog pitchers and never doubt that they might have something left in the tank. Cain is quite a bit younger than CC at 31 which gives hope he has turned a corner that will last. He also has 3 QS in his last 3 starts and looks even more dominant than CC, throwing 21 IP with a 1.71 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in those three games against the offenses of Toronto, Arizona and Chicago Cubs, with 17 K’s to 4 Walks. I took a chance and started him vs the Cubbies in two leagues yesterday when he recorded his 1st win of the season. His next start is next Friday @ COL which keeps him off my list this week as well.
Trivia Question: What has Fernando Rodney, SD not done yet this season? Read below.
Let’s look and see what we can find for next week, but first a 2-start caution. Unless you are in a weekly league, don’t be afraid to drop your 2-start spot pitcher after the first start, or only pick him up for the 2nd. These are spotters for a reason, only pitch them in both games if both match ups are good as well. You may not want him on your bench for the games in between either.
SPOT STARTS – First, the repeaters. Hey, if it is not broke, don’t fix it right?
- Matt Wisler, ATL (19% to 59% owned) Vs Mil, THU: What are you people doing? I thought I was late to this party. Pick up Matt Wisler already. He is one of the most added players right now, but for good reason. The 23-year-old is now 2-3 (with little run support), and has a 2.93 ERA & .990 WHIP with 39 K’s and 13 BB’s in 55.1 IP, and a Save. You won’t find him on the wire much longer. He got the Phils last week and now gets the Brewers at home, so jump on while he is facing the lower half teams. For those of you who like WAR as a stat, Wisler is tied for 8th in the NL at 1.8 with some guy named Steven Strasburg, who is having a pretty good season himself.
- Dan Straily, SP, CIN (9.4% to 33% owned) vs LAD, WED: I recommended Straily last week for a spot on Friday vs SEA and he did not disappoint. Straily went 6 IP giving up 4 Hits, 1 Run, and 5 K’s to 3 BB. The 3 walks and another 2 hit batsmen are concerning, but the benches did not clear and he limited the damage. Like I said last week, this is not an ace here, but if you want a QS from a dependable 27-year-old spot starter, Straily fits the bill. His Friday start was his 4th Quality Start out of his 5 2016 starts, and in the one that was not a Quality Start, (not 6 IP), he gave up no runs. He’s never faced the Dodgers, but he has a 2.90 ERA in 5 starts at home this season. The Dodgers are hitting .246 with a .316 OBP vs Righties this season. I’m rolling him back out. Two Start Bliss: There are a lot of them this week:
- Doug Fister, SP, HOU (13% to 54% owned) Vs BAL, TUE & @ LAA, SUN: I said last week I’d be keeping Fister for his two start week coming up, and I have not changed my mind. On Wednesday he got a Win by beating the White Sox 5-3, tossing 6.1 innings with 3 ER on 9 H, and 5 K’s to one walk. He spent a lot of the last two seasons battling injuries, but has learned how to pitch, becoming a very good ground ball pitcher, who usually won’t get you a lot of K’s. A good number of his peripherals are pointing in different directions than where I think Fister is going.
- Nick Tropeano, LAA (5.2% to 41.0% owned) @ TEX, MON & @ HOU, SUN: I’m surprised this guy is still hanging around on the wire in at least 60% of all leagues. Durability was the initial worry, but he just pitched a career high 7 innings in his match-up vs the Dodgers at Home. In that start he went 7 IP with 1 ER, 2BB and 4 K’s. He has started 8 games in 2016, each over 5 innings, and only one game with more than 3 runs allowed. He has been agonizingly consistent so far in 2016, but that might be just what the Doc ordered for these all important match-ups.
- Tom Koehler, MIA (2.3% to 27% owned) Vs TB, TUE & @ ATL, SUN: Koehler has seemingly been a spot starter for his whole career. But match-ups like the two he has next week make him a must add in most formats. He will be at home against Tampa Tuesday where his 3.65 ERA is a whole run lower than on the road. He’s only faced Tampa twice in his career but they have one of the worst offenses in baseball. I like him even more in Atlanta on Sunday. Koehler has a 2.97 ERA in 7 starts in Atlanta where his Ground Ball style helps him. Koehler does not launch many homers, but walks have been his bugaboo. Tampa and Atlanta are near the bottom of their leagues in walks as well creating this perfect storm. Speaking of good match-ups, how can you not like a guy who proposes to his wife at home plate.
- R.A. Dickey, TOR, (24.7% to 47% owned) @ NYY, TUE & Vs BOS, SUN: I’m not a believer in R.A. by any stretch, but he gets the New York Yankees in NY on TUE where he has a 2.92 ERA over 8 starts. Overall he is 7-4 with a 2.60 ERA in 20 starts against them in his career. But listen to me carefully: Drop him after that start. On Sunday he plays the Red Sox, who have not nearly been as kind to Dickey as the Yanks have been. NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART:
- Michael Fulmer, DET (6.2% to 46% owned) @ OAK, THU: I think Fulmer is starting to settle into Detroit’s rotation, and this week he gets the A’s at home where they are hitting .224 (.228 vs RH) with only 21 HR in 777 AB’s. In Fulmer’s last start he got a Win vs TB going 7 IP with 4 H, 1 BB, 1 R and 11 strikouts. Granted it was against the Rays, but the A’s are in the same class, and those are the games you are supposed to win, no? Fulmer has to watch the walks and HR, plus he won’t K 11 per game although he did have a K/9 of around 9.0 in the minors along with some very low HR and Walk rates.
- Junior Guerra, MIL (4.5% to 27% owned) @ ATL WED: Guerra was signed by the Braves when he was a teenager, then after 2 ineffective minor league seasons he left the US to play in the Mexican Leagues. He was a high strikout, high walk pitcher in Mexico for six seasons before the White Sox picked him up in 2015. In AAA he struck out 154 batters in 140 IP, had a 3.02 ERA and much lower walk and HR rates than he showed in Mexico . The 31 year old rookie is 3-0 in May for the Brewers, and in his brief career. He has a 3.96 ERA and 1.04 WHIP with 24 K’s in four MLB starts in 2016. But the most dominant performance was Thursday vs the Cubs when Guerra went 7 IP with 5 H, 3 BB, 3 ER, and 11 strikeouts. He gets the Atlanta Braves next, who have about half the offense the Cubs have.
Almost made the cut: Ivan Nova, NYY (1.8 to 20% owned) Vs TOR, WED; Rubby De La Rosa, AZ (15% to 53.9% owned) @ PIT, TUE-THU (He is battling “blister and groin stuff” according to his manager so was pushed back); Derek Holland, TEX (11% to 57% owned) Vs LAA, MON & Vs PIT, SUN; Dillon Gee, KC (2.1% to 12% owned) @ MIN, WED.
Matchups of the Week: Good matchups, plus a joke or three.
- Matt Harvey, NYM @ Stephen Strasburg, WAS: A Boras rematch. Harvey and Strasburg are two aces heading in opposite directions, no?
- Michael Pineda, NY vs Matt Moore, TB: So much more expected of both of them.
- Masahiro Tanaka, NYY @ Chris Archer, TB FRI: Who gets the least run support, again?
- Jaime Garcia, STL vs Zack Greinke, AZ THIS SUN Evening: And then…
- Jaime Garcia, STL vs Max Scherzer, WAS FRI: Jaime Garcia is not a lucky feller!
- Trevor Bauer, CLE vs Kevin Gausman, BAL: Young studs finally pitching like young studs.
- Steven Fullmer, DET vs Sean Manaea, OAK FRI: The future is here.
It was a quiet week on the closer front; in fact it has been a relatively quiet start to the 2016 season as far as closers go anyway.
- Fernando Rodney, SD: He has 10 Saves, but that is not the best part. He still has not given up a run in 2016. Yes, it is closer to June than April. He’s not even making it exciting, giving up less base runners than usual. He even saved both ends of a doubleheader on May 11th making this fairy tale rival Grimms. Like I said in my pre-season rankings, “Someone has to close in SD.” Someone is.
- Tony Cingrani, CIN is doing his best to lose the closer gig, blowing a save for every one he gets just about. I’m holding out hope, as he has the skill set. Brett Oberholzer is the CLEW but unless Cingrani implodes I don’t see another change there.
- Fernando Salas, LAA picked up a 2nd save the other night when Joe Smith was unavailable again. Huston Street will be back soon, so keep chasing your tail if you must.
- Joaquin Benoit, SEA came off the DL this week. Steve Cishek is ok for now, but he’s blown 3 of his last 5 saves. With Tony Zych injured Benoit would appear next in line. Some believe that Nick Vincent is climbing the depth chart as well, and is starting to grab holds now making him relevant. Don’t forget about Joel Peralta who has closing experience, albeit about as much as Benoit.
- Brad Brach, BAL is quickly rising in the CLEW* ranks. He only has 4 holds and a save so far but that is as much a function of his team’s scoring and how he was used earlier in the season. He does have 13 IRS + H** though. He now has an ERA of 1.16 with a .857 WHIP and 24 K’s in 23.1 IP.
- As for CLEWS*, last week I said, “You know I always advocate stocking up on them, but sometimes there comes a point when they are doing more harm than good.” This week I gave up on, and dropped Drew Storen & Trevor May. I’m trying to stick with Hunter Strickland, though. He has the skills, but is not getting any counting stats at all.
*”CLEW” = Closer En Waiting
** IRS + H = Inherited Runners stranded plus Holds
See you next week. Thanks for reading.
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