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“65 Mustangs”: Pick Your Spots. Week 14 Spot Starting & Relief Pitcher Guide – Poster Boys


We are about at the half way point of the season from a games played standpoint. By now most of the 750 or so players on 25 man rosters have established who they are this season. With the track records and trends settling in, the pool of trusted spot starters has formed. This is a big deal, as now the only thing that matters is the match-up and how that pitcher is performing of late. We know who they are for the most part. I have a few Poster Boys for the 2016 Spot Starting “Elite” tier. (C’mon, just go with me for a minute, I’m going somewhere with this.)

I’m ignoring all the now universally owned starters that I had the luxury of streaming early on when they were barely owned. They were not spot starters so much as unknown/untrusted quality MLB pitchers who are now performing well at the MLB level. No, I’m talking about Mr. Spot Starter. You will never own him outside of 20 team leagues or AL/NL only leagues. But a start or two at a time, if matched up well, and these guys can pitch like aces and are ready to help out your week.

First up this season was Jeff Locke,locke SP PIT.  I recommended him for the week that he pitched the complete game shutout, and a few other better than Quality Starts after that, but I also recommended leaving him on the wire when he was on the road against Colorado. Perhaps the fact that he is left-handed makes him too easy to predict when combined with his home/road splits. That brings us to Poster Boy number 2, Bud “I just got traded to the Dodgers” Norris, SP, LAD. At the risk of sounding cliché,bud-norris-girlfriend-rachel-burns-c-o-rachel-burns-1024x1024 Norris is a “Back of the Rotation, Innings Eating Right Hander”. But he is on a roll lately and my surfboard is riding the top of that wave. Since being re-inserted in the rotation he has given up 7 ER in 6 starts, including 13 shutout innings over his last two starts, the most recent one Friday, for the LA Dodgers who he was traded to the other day. I’m not sure if the Dodgers read my article and pursued him or if the Braves read it and shopped him, but I take full credit for that trade. Clayton Kershaw may have trouble reclaiming his spot once he is healthy. (Hey this is Fantasy Baseball after all, no?) While their girls may be more poster material than the pitchers themselves, they’ve also proven that girls dig the spot starters.

Los Angeles Dodgers v Arizona Diamondbacks

Speaking of Clayton Kershaw, SP, LAD going on the DL, it was a very busy week in the MLB. The Dodgers are rumored to be looking for more pitching, specifically talking to the Rays about Erasmo Ramirez, RP, TB & Matt Moore, SP, TB. The Nats signed Matt Latos, SP, WAS to  a minor league deal. Other notable pitcher injuries last week: Zack Greinke, SP, AZ strained his oblique, Noah Syndergaard, SP, NYM & Steven Matz, SP, NYM are both reportedly dealing with bone spurs in their elbows, but pitching through them, Andrew Heaney, SP, LAA had TJ Surgery after stem cell procedures failed, and Phil Hughes, SP, MIN had surgery to remove a rib to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome. On a positive note, Steven Strasburg(back), SP, WAS tossed a BP session and may start Sunday (today). Gerrit Cole, SP, PIT started a re-hab assignment and several other SP are nearing a return such as Lance McCullers, SP, HOU, Rich Hill, SP, OAK, Yu Darvish, SP, TEX, Felix Hernandez, SP, SEA. Julio Urias, SP, LAD seems to be in the Dodgers rotation for the near future and Lucas Giolito, SP, WAS may not be far behind him. Seattle has moved Nate Karns, P, SEA to the bullpen.

bumgarner batting

Finally, Thursday was a fun and busy day in the MLB. Madison Bumgarner,SP, SF DH’ed for himself in Oakland, Carlos Carrasco, SP, CLE fanned 14 Blue Jays bringing Cleveland its 13th straight win, and Michael Pineda, SP, NYY fanned 12. Hitters Yoenis Cespedes, OF, NYM & Brandon Moss, 1B STL each hit record-setting HR (longest HR in stadium history), the Tigers scored 8 runs in the 9th inning, their most in the 9th since 2001, Martin Prado, 3B, MIA made an error that ended Miami’s MLB record 28th consecutive game without an error by the infield, Cuban immigrant Yulieski Gurriel, 3b worked out for the Astros, and finally, Omar Infante, 2b, ATL was signed by the Braves only a few months after manning 2b for the World Champ Royals. Yes, almost all  of that happened Thursday.

Closer Merry-Go-Round:  Ready for Summer Fun?

Fernando Rodney, RP, MIA was traded to the Marlins as the Padres sold high. Last week I predicted a meltdown for Rodney but this is not how I thought he’d lose his gig.rodney trade Hmmmm, or did A. J.Ramos, RP, MIA lose his gig? Ramos is one of the best closers in the NL for the past full season going back to last June. Rodney has been perfect himself and just gave up his first earned run of the season last week. There is no answer yet but I traded for AJ recently. Are we going to have Drew Storen round two and destroy another closer? Either Ryan Buchter, RP, SD or Brandon Maurer, RP, SD will close for the Padres. All four pitchers need to be owned until further notice. Five if you include Storen, Ha. Before you laugh about San Diego closers, Rodney was on pace for 35 saves and Petco is a breeding ground for close games.

Alex Colome, RP, TB has been quite the surprise this season and the dual RP/SP eligibility has been a boon in some fantasy league setups. However, Colome found his way to the DL with biceps tendonitis. Xavier Cedeno, RP, TB seems to be the first choice to fill his shoes, but Brad Boxberger, RP, TB the Rays 2015, ahhhem, closer, is due to start a re-hab assignment as well.

Sean Doolittle, RP, OAK hit the DL with a strained right shoulder. Not a good sign for him this far into the season but it solidifies Ryan Madson, RP, OAK as the closer, except that the A’s are listening to offers on him. It may be time to pick up Fernando Rodriguez, Ryan Dull & John Axford, RP, OAK.

Just as you thought your fantasy bullpen was finally complete, trade season comes and causes major havoc. Other closers rumoured to be on the block or at least being discussed are Jeanmar Gomez, RP, PHI, Arodys Vizcaino, RP, ATL, Huston Street, RP LAA and finally Aroldis Chapman, RP, NY, the lead head on the three-headed Yankee Bullpen Monster could be on the block as he is not signed past this season. That is if the chapmancar.jpegYankees became sellers, which would be a first. Hector Neris, RP, PHI, Jim Johnson, RP, ATL, Joe Smith, RP, LAA, and the other two heads of the monster need to be owned now. Chapman just gassed up the Lambo in case he has to move on short notice.

Sergio Romo, RP, SF has started a re-hab assignment for SF, but won’t factor into closing duties unless three pitchers ahead of him fail.

Trivia Questions: Answers below.

  1. What 22-year-old rookie righty has already been separately traded for Matt Kemp and Jimmy Rollins in his brief pro career?
  2. What team does Rockies Ace Jorge De La Rosa have his most career wins against @ 11?

It’s time to add players for next week. There are only a few two start recommendations but many of the other two start pitchers have one primo match up with one avoid match up. Those will not have my usual **two starts** designation in front of them.

SPOT STARTS –   POSTER BOYS:                                                                                                                                                

  • Bud Norris, SP, LAD (30.8% owned) Vs BAL, WEDS:  As I’ve done for weeks now, I reward my star of the prior week with top billing the following week. Norris has a bud norris LADtough match up Wednesday vs his old team mates, the O’s at home, but remember, home is now Dodger Stadium. Norris has a lifetime ERA in Dodgertown of 2.57 in seven starts covering 35 innings and 33 strikeouts. No, Norris is not the next Zack Greinke come to save the Dodgers, but with Kershaw on the shelf he should have some job security if he keeps pitching this way. Pitching in the NL this season should help as well. I wrote a lot about him above but these are the numbers from Norris last five starts: 3-0 35 IP, 35 K’s 5 walks, 1.542 ERA &.714 WHIP. All Greinke could come up with last year was a 1.66 ERA and .844 WHIP. (You know I am just playing here, right? But the numbers are real)
  • ***Two Starts***Wade Miley, SP, SEA (43.1% owned) @ HOU, MON & @ KC, SAT: Miley has been amiley seattle spot starting poster boy for years. I can’t own him but a few times a year he has a worthy match up to exploit.  Houston is hitting .231 vs heavily bearded (and clean shaven) lefties this season and .240 at home. They are also 1st in the AL with 750 K’s or 150 more than the league average. I’m not saying Miley is going to strike out 10 in a CG shutout, but if you need a QS, a few K’s, and Miley is on your wire, there it is. The start in KC is a bit tougher to predict. The Royals offense is in disarray without Lorenzo Cain nor Mike Moustakas who are injured and Alex Gordon still trying to find his legs after returning from the DL. KC is 2nd in the AL in BA at .276, but 14th in runs scored and dead last with only 70 HR, 35 so far at Kaufman where they are hitting .292. That .292 is fueled by a very high Babip, .336. The best hitters on the team currently are lefty hitters, Gordon, Hosmer and the switch hitting Kendry Morales, but they can load up a very right handed lineup if they choose, with only Morales and Sal Perez showing any power. Lifetime Miley is 4-1 with a 2.91 ERA vs KC over five starts, never having given up a run in two starts at Kaufman. In fact the last time Miley faced KC on April 30th in Seattle Miley pitched a complete game shutout. He is currently pitching to career high HR and walk rates, so he’ll need to keep it on the Kaufman Carpet and limit the walks to have success.
  •  Jorge De La Rosa, SP, COL (27% owned) @SF, WED:
    delarosa  Last week I mentioned that “De La Rosa’s “stuff” still seems intact, but he is struggling with command, control and efficiency, accruing an average of 100 pitchers per 6-inning game. The 50 runs his league mates scored in the past 4 games, all De La Rosa wins, has not hurt”. Well, he had the opposite happen against the Dodgers. He pitched efficiently giving up 2 runs in 7 IP using 92 pitches to do it, albeit with 4 walks. However the Rockies still lost the game 5-0. This week he goes to San Francisco to face the Giants who have been hitting better of late (.311 over the past 2 weeks) but De La Rosa is 11-6 vs the Giants in 28 lifetime starts with a 3.85 ERA (one of his best ERA’s and his most Wins vs any opponent in his career). That is a good sample size if you are counting at home, keep rolling him out there for now.  
  • Dan Mengden,  SP, OAK (49.3% owned) @ HOU, SAT:  I’m getting rookie crazy in my old age. No, not really, but maybe this week. I like Mengden’s makeup and, as you know his mustache. He pitched his best game yet Monday in San Francisco going 7.2 innings giving up 2 runs on 4 hits 3 walks, no  HR & five K’s. It was his firstmengdenstache.jpeg MLB Win, and 3rd QS in a row. One more out in his 1st game and he’d have four to start his career. (He has another start today, Sunday, vs PIT) This is what I said last week and still rings true: “What I took from these games is his 29 strikeouts vs 8 walks. 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 and .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 and command standpoint. He is already owned in all my leagues, but is still out there in 60% or more of leagues.”   He’s 49.3% owned. One more good start or two and you’ll never see him on the wire again.                                                                                                                                                          
  • Zack Eflin, SP, PHI (16.4 % owned) – Vs ATL, TUE & @ COL, SUN:  I didn’t put up the two start ** flag for Eflin because you are not starting him in Colorado on 11EflinSunday, at least I hope you wouldn’t. If you set your lineups weekly, skip him all together. But on Tuesday he gets to face the hapless Braves at home. Atlanta is last in the NL in Runs & HR and near last in all other offensive categories. I don’t normally trust rookies, but I have four in this article. Eflin pitched well in three of his four starts so far, though he does not have a W yet. If you skip his first game when he gave up 9 runs in Toronto, he has given up 5 runs in 18 innings with one walk in three quality starts vs San Francisco & Arizona twice. This is not a big strikeout pitcher but in his very successful minor league career he gave up very few walks and HR. Eflin, 22, was twice traded already in his brief career. He went to the Dodgers in the ill-fated San Diego renaissance for Matt Kemp three years ago and then last off-season in the equally ill-fated Jimmy Rollins trade. If he is traded again, consider dropping whoever he is traded for as he may be cursed.
  • **Two Starts**Tyler Anderson, SP, COL (34.6% owned) @ SF, MON & Vs PHI, SAT: What’s not to like about Tyler Anderson 26, a tall lanky lefty (6’4″ 210 lbs) andtyler-anderson-mlb-2jpegmy 3rd of four rookies on this list. He looks like he was doing his paper route just a few days ago. Had he gotten one more out in two of his starts he’d have four quality starts to launch his career. Speaking of launch, three of those four starts were in Colorado where he tamed the offenses of San Diego, Arizona & Toronto, giving up only one HR in the process. He will be hard to use regularly, but this guy might be what Colorado needs in a pitcher. He’s doing all the right things, but they are not likely sustainable such as his 2.29 GB/FB rate or his 1.9 walks per nine and 9.1 K per nine (24 to 5 k/BB), all three of which are better than his impressive minor league numbers, though not by too much. The Giants are not a bad hitting team with equal L/R and H/A splits but I think Anderson is a must start until the wave crests. His 2nd start is in Colorado but against the offense of the lowly Phils who are hitting .233 vs lefties. So far the thin mile high air has not harmed him in any way. They may have kept Anderson in the humidor during the off season.                                                                                                                                                                              NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART:                      
  • **Two Starts** Andrew Cashner, SP, SD (38.5% owned) Vs LAD, FRI & Vs NYM, SAT: Yes, this is scary. Just off the DL, one reason I put him here is that name value alone will boost his ownership after these starts unless he gets torched like he was before he got hurt (4.75 ERA). BothAndrew Cashner starts are in Petco where Cashner has a lifetime ERA of 2.83 in 300 innings pitched. He’s facing a Dodgers team who is hitting .241 vs righties, and .244 on the road and against the Mets who are not hitting the broad side of a barn lately.(Dead last in the NL in BA and 13th in Runs scored) Looks as though he may have learned some new tricks while he was out as well.
  • Tim Lincecum, SP, LAA (36.9% owned) @ TB, MON @ @ BAL SAT: Yes, this is a bit scary as well, and I’m not recommending him against the Orioles on Saturday, though he should have a good game against the Rays in Tampa where they are hitting .230 at home. If you don’t trust Timmy yet I wouldn’t blame you, just know that if he does start pitching well his ownership will spike faster than Chapman’s Lamborghini. If the Rays torch him both you and the Angels may have to cut him just as fast.



Jeff Locke, SP, PIT (6% to 34% owned) @ STL, WED: The Cards hit HR’s at home. Locke is HR prone. Even though the Cards are only hitting .241 vs lefties this season this is one of the games that is not a Locke!

**Two Starts**Jonathon Niese, SP, PIT (49% owned) @ STL, MON & vs CHC, SAT: One of my favorite whipping boys. See the Locke explanation for the Cards. I don’t need to explain the reasoning for the Cubs do I?

**Two Starts**Cody Reed, SP, CIN (45% owned) @ CHC, MON & @ MIA, SUN: Is anyone else surprised this guy is 45% owned? He’s getting kicked around and now gets to face the Cubs at Wrigley. The Ivy is already scared.

Hector Santiago, SP, LAA (50.3 % owned) @ TB THU: It is tempting to grab a guy of Santiago’s ilk against Tampa. However, TB is hitting .284 vs lefties. Go figure.

*”CLEW” = Closer En Waiting

** IRS + H = Inherited Runners stranded plus Holds

See you next week. Thanks for reading.


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You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”


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.

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