Happy Father’s Day!! Set your lineups, grab a few spot starters for Week 12, skip the yard work, and crack open an IPA or two. You deserve it, right? Your kids will pick up all the slack, right? Ok, maybe I went too far there. Enjoy our day though.
I mentioned a few weeks ago that it is getting harder to find good spot start match ups on the wire as the season goes on. Those that have performed extremely well are not being dropped or are replacing injured or demoted starters on owner’s teams. What is left are the oldest and the newest. The wire now is players no one would roster, players no one trusts enough to roster yet, and players that have already been rostered but were dropped when their luck ran out.
We have seen more retreads than usual pass through the MLB starting ranks this season, and many with good success. Some are coming back from injury, others from mediocrity, and some like Tim Lincecum, SP LAA (36% owned) from somewhere in outer space. As you’ll see below, most of my spot starting picks for this week are familiar names. Experience counts sometimes. At least that is what we say as we age ourselves, right?
There have also seemingly been more pitchers than usual making their MLB debuts as starting pitchers this early in the season, and some of those pitchers are featured below as well. It is the classic risk/reward scenario as the kids may have more upside but the vets may be more steady, if unspectacular. There is nothing more spectacular than a rookie pitcher getting lit up, except for one throwing a well pitched gem. I’m sure there are a lot more of them in the pipeline as well. We have not seen, or seen much of Lucas Giolito, or Tyler Glasnow yet, and several other touted rookies to be.
Last week I said I thought it was the Calm Before the Closer Storm, as nothing catastrophic had happened to any top closers yet. Sure enough, it was a busy week, making some players suddenly become save relevant.
Jake McGee, RP, COL was the first to go down, suffering a sprained knee. Carlos Estevez, RP, COL was the surprise choice to close while McGee is out. In AA in 2015, Estevez saved 24 games with 82 K’s in 67 innings pitched. It appears to have been a good choice as he cleanly saved his first three chances giving up no hits, walks or runs in doing so. Jason Motte, RP, COL, who has closing experience is listed as #2.
Jonathan Papelbon, RP, WAS was the next to go down, suffering an intercostal muscle strain. The Nats are hopeful the 15 days will do it, but those strains, like obliques can often linger. Shawn Kelly, RP, WAS was named interim closer in his stead and converted his first two save opportunities flawlessly. I guess the Nats don’t miss Drew Storen all that much.
Hunter Strickland, RP, SF, one of my pre-season investments, may in fact get some save opportunities now as Santiago Casilla, RP, SF went on paternity leave (Happy Fathers’s Day Santiago). Strickland managed to collect a Win so far in his absence, and we’ll take it. Drew Storen, RP, TOR, my other pre-season investment, however, was bypassed in Toronto when they needed coverage on a night Roberto Osuna, RP, TOR was unavailable, giving the save op to newly acquired Jason Grilli, RP, TOR instead. I’m not sure either is important unless something happens to Osuna. They still need to be rostered because of just that.
Will Harris, RP, HOU sure enough was named as the Astros closer this week. All Harris has done so far is save five games in a row, making those who invested a lot in Ken Giles, RP, HOU or Luke Gregerson, RP, HOU even more bitter.
Brandon Kintzler, RP, MIN was named co-closer with Fernando Abad, RP, MIN now that Kevin Jepson, RP, MIN was demoted. Kintzler converted the one save opportunity he had and Abad blew his, giving up runs in three consecutive appearances. While there may not be a lot of saves in the Twin Cities, my bet is Kintzler gets the next several chances.
Finally, in the mysterious place called the A’s bullpen, Ryan Madsen, RP, OAK is still listed as the primary closer but he has not netted a save since May 30th, though he has a blown save, a loss and a win in June. Sean Doolittle, RP, OAK last save ironically was May 29th. Go figure. Tony Cingrani, RP CIN is now up to 8 saves making me finally glad I invested in him. Fernando Rodney, RP, SD still has not given up an earned run all season, 24 appearances. I’ll lay odds now that when he does it will not just be one run. It will be epic. Spectacular even. Maybe it will be Sand Diego’s 4th of July Fireworks.
Trivia Question: #1 – What 30 year old, 10 year veteran, coming back from the DL had the lowest ERA & HR/9 of his career in 2015? Answer below.
Trivia Question: #2 – What pitcher is the all time leader in Wins for the Colorado Rockies?
It’s time to add players for next week. And even though I said it is getting tougher to find obvious spot starts, I managed to dig up more than usual? Sometimes you have to turn over every stone. Let’s go:
SPOT STARTS –
- Zack Davies, SP, MIL (64% owned, up over 20% since last week.) Vs WAS, FRI: Like I said I would do, I rolled him out Friday in LA, and he did not disappoint. He pitched 7 innings, only giving up 1 run on 7 hits & 1 walk using a tidy 91 pitches to get through the 7th. Davies has been on a roll for a few weeks, and now sports a 3.62 ERA & 1.148 WHIP. He has a K/BB of 7.2 to 2.6 which is above league average for an MLB pitcher in 2016. His FIP is not too far off at 4.19. His Babip dropped from a healthy .275 to .264 after that one start and his batting average against dropped from only .250 to .235. He had been averaging one HR given up per game through May 31 but has only given up 2 HR in 4 June starts. That will be important next week when he faces Washington as the Nats lead the NL in Home Runs. I’m going to trust him to nail another week for me. He’s up to 64% owned in Fantrax, a one week increase of 20 percentage points, meaning this is his last time in one of my spot starting articles. The bright side is he is available in 35% of leagues. Take a look and see if he’s still there. I can’t write about Danny Duffy or CC Sabathia anymore either as they are up to 75% owned. That is a nice by-product of spot starting, sometimes, you just never drop them. Just like in the MLB though, a team with a 5 man rotation will need 8-12 SP over the course of 162 games. Some of them stick.
- **Two Starts**Tyler Wilson, SP, BAL (21.0% owned) – Vs SD, TUE & Vs TB, SUN: Wilson started 2016 in the pen until the O’s needed a 5th SP in late April. In early May he made his way into the rotation and my articles, rattling off 4 QS out of 5 May starts, including taming the offenses of the Bosox, Yanks & Astros. He hit the inevitable speed bump we all knew was coming, and was universally dropped and forgotten about, at least by me anyway, after giving up 5 runs in each of his first two June starts to the Yanks & Blue Jays. That is right about the time most young pitchers start to realize what it takes to pitch in the big leagues, so the next time around the league may show us what they are made of. On June 16th Wilson shut out the Bosox in Fenway for 8 innings on 3 hits, a walk and 6 K’s. The Red Sox were the hottest team in the AL at the time. I wrote a lot about Wilson here in Week 6, and here in Week 7, but this is about the matchups. SD & TB are two of the worst scoring offenses in their respective leagues. The Rays don’t score a lot, but they hit a good number of Home Runs, 4th in AL, and draw a lot of Walks. Wilson, however, has a HR/9 of .9 and a 6.9% HR/FB rate which is nearly 2% lower than the league average 8.5%. Similarly his walk rate is 5.7% vs 7.8 % league average. SD does not do anything particularly well. The downside: He’s not going to get you a lot of strikeouts and you’ll want to drop him (likely) before he lines up against some of the big offensive teams. But, not this week. THE OLD:
- Timmy Lincecum, SP, LAA (36.0% owned) – Vs OAK, THU: Ok.We all knew this was coming. We all laughed, but we also remember what he was for about 4 or 5 years in SF, winning two consecutive NL CY Young Awards and three consecutive NL Strikeout titles. That all came to an end, and in spite of the fact that since then he single-handedly ruined the pitching ratios of 4 years worth of Fantasy Baseball Teams, we all still have hope. I was a bit too practical and recommended against starting him last week for his first MLB start since June 27th, 2015. Those of you who took a chance were rewarded, however, when he went 6 innings giving up 1 run on 4 hits and 2 BB’s, earning a W in Oak, vs the A’s. I thought that start merited being him being added for his next start Vs those same A’s on THU. He’s likely gone already, picked up by that fearless gladiator that every league has. However, this Fantrax Widget shows that 64% of Fantrax Leaues still show Timmy on the wire. Sorry I’m late to the party, but pick him up. (Caveat: Don’t Fall in Love! You know what I mean.) But, he and his girlfriend are both glad to be back in baseball and in Southern California so Tim can stop wearing silly hats. I’m not really sure why they are wearing such dark sunglasses though. Hmmm.
- Yovanni Gallardo, SP, BAL (35% owned) – Vs TB, SAT: Just like with Timmy, I recommended against trusting Gallardo in his first start back from the DL. He was facing Toronto no less, and rusty, and that is after pitching terribly before he got hurt. So, he went out and pitched five innings for a W giving up two runs on five hits. He struck out five but also walked four during the game. Walks have always been his bane, (3.3 BB/9 IP career) but he keeps the HR down, (.5 HR/ 9 IP in 2015). See Tyler Wilson’s analysis above to see why Gallardo needs to keep the walks and the fly balls down next weekend, and I think he will. (Caveat: Don’t Fall in Love!) By the way, did anyone notice that in 2015, while pitching for the Texas Rangers, Yovanni Gallardo had the best ERA and HR/9 of his career. (13-11, 3.42 ERA, .70 HR/9)
- Jake Peavy, SP, SF (26% owned) – Vs PHI, FRI: Peavy has been a Jekyl & Hyde performer all season, but he did seem to turn a corner in late may when he ran off 3 of 4 starts that were QS. The one start in between and his first start of June were pretty horrible, though they were against the Cubs & Cards, the two most potent NL offenses. Then, in his most recent start he shut out the Dodgers for six innings at home giving up four hits and one walk while snagging his 3rd Win. Now he gets the Phils at home on Friday. I’m just doing the math here.
- **Two Starts**Clay Buccholz, SP, BOS (32.0% owned) – Vs CHW, TUE & @ TEX, SUN: I never thought Clay Buchholz would be in one of my Spot Starting articles. He’s always been either too owned or too terrible to warrant any consideration, but we all know he has the stuff to be a very good MLB pitcher. The Sox sent him to the Pen for a while, and it seemed to do him some good. He gave up 12 HR and 24 Walks in April & May but only six Walks and no HR in June. This week he gets a two start week right away, facing the CHISOX at home TUE, and @ TEX, SUN. This is a lightning in a bottle pick. He’ll either win you the week or sink your ship. I think he’ll be fine Vs CHW, but I’d wait till later to decide on the Texas game. One look at his wife proves that fast ball velocity doesn’t really matter. THE NEW:
- Cody Reed, SP, CIN (44.0% owned) – Vs SD, FRI: Since I seldom start pitchers making their MLB debuts, especially in money leagues, it is likely too late for me to get the 44% owned Reed. That means, though, that he is available in 56% of all leagues right now, and he is not just up for a cup of coffee. He is the Reds’ top pitching prospect and the big prize from last season’s Johnny Cueto trade with the Royals. Baseball America had ranked Reed as the 34th top prospect of 2016, and he is seemingly the most recent of just as many top prospects debuting this season. He made his major league debut last Saturday in Houston facing an Astros club that ranked 20th in the majors in OPS against left-handed pitching with a .716 mark, and was 21st in baseball in team wOBA, striking out nine in seven innings with six hits and three walks. He did give up four runs on a pair of two run HR, one on his last pitch in the 7th that cost him the win. The young left-hander breezed through Triple-A this season, posting a 3.20 ERA with 63 strikeouts against 17 walks in 64.2 innings. Reed will be facing the light hitting SD Padres in CIN next FRI and is worth a pick up if he is still out there.
- Dan Mengden, SP, OAK (25% owned) Vs MIL, WED: Still another top prospect fresh off his MLB debut, Mengden gets the below average offense of the Brewers at home next Wednesday. In two starts so far, Mengden has pitched 12 innings, giving up 10 hits, five walks (four of them in his debut), three earned runs and 12 strikouts for a 2.25 ERA and 1.25 WHIP. That is after showing great control in 45 AAA innings this season with a 39/10 K/BB ratio leading to a 1.39 ERA & .84 WHIP. His minor league K/BB after 37 starts is 8.5/2.7 so it seems he is mature beyond his 23 years from a control & command standpoint. He is already owned in all my leagues, but maybe you will have more luck as he is still out there in 75% of leagues. I don’t quite get the moustache but it is real.
- Christian Friedrich, SP, SD (38% owned) – @ CIN, THU: In his first six starts of 2016, Friedrich gave up two runs or less in five of them and in the 6th only gave up three. That ended last week when he gave up six runs in six innings to the Nationals. Two of the hits were HR, only the 2nd and 3rd he’d given up in 2016. This week he should have an easier time @ CIN on Thursday facing a Reds offense that is hitting .240 at home and only .236 vs Righties. NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART: MORE OLD STANDBY SPOT STARTERS
- **Two Starts**Bud Norris, SP, ATL (16.0% owned) Vs PIT, THU & Vs NYM, SUN: Norris is the least likely guy to make one of my lists, but here he is. I already picked him up in two leagues for next week when a “perfect storm” lines him up with two great match-ups and two sneaky chances to get a couple of W’s past your league mates. Since they put him back in the rotation two weeks ago, Bud has only given up five runs in 17 innings (3 starts, 1 W) with 15 K’s, 10 hits & six walks. He has a 2.91 ERA over the last 30 days and June has historically been his best month by far with a lifetime 3.33 ERA. The Marlins don’t strike out much and lead the NL in BA(though only .247 the last 2 weeks), but are 11th in runs, 14th in HR, & 12th in walks. They hit .259 at home, or nearly 30 points lower than away, with a .316 OBP. As a pitch to contact pitcher Norris needs to keep it on the ground. The Mets are 3rd to last in Runs in the NL, though they are 2nd with 90 HR, and mid pack in walks. Again, HR are not a problem of Norris if he keeps it on the ground, but he can’t walk too many either as that is his biggest Achilles heel. Norris pitches to contact and the Mets are only hitting .238 with a .303 OBP over the past month and hitting .235 vs righties for the season. The stars and moon don’t line up for Norris often, but he’s useable when they do.
- **Two Starts**Jorge De La Rosa, SP, COL (21% owned) – @MIA, MON & Vs AZ, SAT: In two starts since being inserted back in the rotation, Jorge has not given up a run in nine IP, with 3 hits, 2 walks & 9 K’s against the offenses of the NY Yanks & Pittsburgh Pirates. He has a great match-up in Miami on Monday, but I might not take a chance on his SAT start Vs AZ in the Mountains. With 81 Wins, De La Rosa is now the Rockies all-time leader in Wins.
- **Two Starts**Hector Santiago, SP, LAA (53% owned) – @ HOU, TUE & Vs OAK, SUN: A quality MLB SP who is not having a great season, but does offer a potential two start payoff this coming week. Santiago has alternated between getting tattooed and pitching shutout ball deep into games, unfortunately more of the former. His last start he got a Win vs MIN pitching 6 innings with 2 hits, 2 walks, 5 K’s and only giving up one run. If you play in a deep league and need a two start pitcher for next week Santiago may be available. He’s got a start TUE vs a strikeout prone Astros team that is 21st in baseball in team wOBA and ninth in K-rate (23.7 percent) over the past 30 days, followed by a soft match-up in LA Vs the A’s who don’t hit much better than he Twins.
DO NOT START!
Derrek Holland, SP, TX (56% owned) @ OAK, WED:
Robbie Ray, SP, AZ (43% owned) @TOR, WED:
Archie Bradley, SP, AZ, (59% owned)@ COL, FRI
Ivan Nova, SP, NYY, (32% owned) @ COL, TUE:
**Two Starts**Miguel Gonzalez, SP, CHW, (17.0% owned) @ BOS, TUE & Vs TOR, SAT:
*”CLEW” = Closer En Waiting
** IRS + H = Inherited Runners stranded plus Holds
See you next week. Thanks for reading.
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