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“65 Mustangs” Pick Your Spots: Week 3 Fantasy Baseball & DFS Spot Starting Guide. Come Get Your Two Start Spotters.

Happy Easter & Passover. Happy Spring also, the weather has been great the last few days and even the entire puddle on my pool cover evaporated. I should take it off now pool coverbefore it rains again. Picture a short man leaning over a four-foot pool wall trying to lift a wet cover up over the side. Not pretty. At least we have a bevy of two-start pitchers to choose from for spot starting this week.

Due to the ebb & flow of the schedule and pitching rotations, some weeks have all aces as two-start pitchers while others have all back of the rotation pitchers getting two. Writing last week’s article was tough. There was only a handful of lesser-owned starters with two starts, not to mention only one week of data to draw from. This week most of the two-start pitchers are owned in less than 50% of leagues. Speaking of pools, that is the pool I draw from for my spot start picks.

What to expect in 2017: (If you read this part last week skip down to week 3.)

Criterion Used: Platoon splits, LH/RH, Day/Night, Month, Half, stadium splits, team against splits, metrics like GB/FB rate, K & BB rates, Babip, Trends, etc. Sources are Fan Graphs, Baseball Reference, Fantrax, ESPN and more.

Pitchers from the under 50% ownership group – I’ll list three or four pitchers, less than 50% owned who I believe are primed for a good start the following week, or better yet two good starts. I will make my decisions based on matchups, splits, recent trends and my own gut, which is not a measurable stat but gets me by pretty well.

Not for the faint of heart, pitchers from the abyss- I’ll list two or so pitchers that are less than 20% owned and look like a good choice based on the above criterion.

DFS Ace to avoid – This is great for both DFS, Roto, and to some extent H2H leagues and points leagues. Just because a pitcher is on your roster does not mean you are required to put him out there in a bad match-up. I’ll bet the guy who won your league last season knew when to sit down his ace. If you are a DFS fan, I don’t have to tell you what happens when the ace you spent 20% of your budget on gets bombed in the 2nd inning.

Match-up of the Week: If I see a match up that is too good to pass up, I’ll present the starter and explain why he should be in your lineup.

Report Card: I’ll also briefly recap the prior week’s results, and write about any news of starting pitchers reported to be called up from the minors or a rehab assignment soon so you can get them before the rest of your league.

WEEK THREE –  April 17 through April 23, 2017: Weeks one & two are very volatile for starting pitching. At least we have two weeks of data to draw from as most pitchers have two or three starts in by now. That being said, it is also about the time most teams finally require a 5th SP so the market will have many pitchers who have not started yet in 2017. Be careful with the veterans that are hanging on as 5th starters. It is tempting when you see a familiar name on the wire, but ask yourself:

“When was the last time Andrew Cashner was fantasy relevant?”

Right. So why would you expect him to be now? Of course in the right match-up, he may give you a quality start (QS). The same can be said for Tommy Milone, Adam Conley, Mike Leake, Nate Karns, and, er, um Jered Weaver. That is why we are here, so let’s go.

Trivia Question: Which five-man starting rotation has favorable match-ups for all six of its games next week? Hint: There is no ace on this team.

Spotters from the <50% owned crowd:

***Two Start Pitcher***Brandon McCarthy, RHSP, LAD (16.6% owned ESPN, 57% Fantrax) vs AZ MON 4/17 & @ AZ, SUN 4/23: McCarthy’s ownership in Fantrax surged from 30% to 50% after his start last week. In the hour I’ve been writing this article it went up another 7 points. This 33-year-old righty will be universally owned by the end of next week, so this is your last chance to snag him. I already own him in three leagues. In his first two starts of the 2017 season, he nailed two quality starts and two wins with two runs in 12 IP, eight H, and four BB vs eight K’s. He’s getting a fairly good hitting team twice next week in the D’Backs but, as an extreme ground-baller who does not walk many batters, he should be able to hold it down. Currently, the D’Backs are 3rd in the NL in BA @ .271 and 1st in runs @ 56. However, they are near the bottom in HR and BB’s and are second in the league with 100 K’s. I think McCarthy’s production is unsustainable based on the above and a .348 BABIP. The D’Backs are hitting far better vs righties but only hitting .133 away from AZ, and hitting .183 for the past week. So, at least use McCarthy for Monday’s home game and then decide if you want to risk him in the desert where they are hitting  .313. If it helps, the Sunday game is a day game and McCarthy’s ERA in the sun is a run lower than at night. That makes sense considering his wife Amanda is a bikini model. I couldn’t help myself.

James Shields, RHSP, CHW (18.3% owned ESPN, 48% Fantrax) VS CLE, SAT 4/22: Is Big Game James back? Hold on, I’m not going that far yet, but he has reeled off two pretty shieldsgood starts so far. Look, he is smiling for the first time in years. After two identical starts, each 5.1 IP with 2 H, 1 ER, 1 HR he is now 1-0 with a .111 BA against, 1.69 ERA, and a 1.031 WHIP. He got a win vs DET with five K’s, but walked four batters, then cut that to one walk and 6 K’s vs the Indians in a no-decision. He has a game today in Minnesota at [4:10] so adjust your projections after that game. He gets the same Indians this week who have not hit their stride yet hitting .246 with only 41 runs in ten games, and .229 away from the Lake. The Tribe also has the 3rd most walks in the AL so James will have to keep it in the zone. My one concern with Shields sustaining this run is that he is pitching to a .087 Babip and a .25 GB/FB ratio. If they start connecting the balls could land in the Lake.


***TWO START PITCHER***Jaime Garcia, LHSP, ATL (4.5% owned ESPN, 44% Fantrax) VS SD, MON 4/17 & @ PHI, SAT 4/22: Garcia appears fully healthy again, after posting a 3.20 ERA in Spring Training and has a chance to be a big part of a rejuvenated Braves team in the NL East. He is a lefty so he will always get his chances and next week he gets the Padres at home and then goes to PHI. His first 2017 start resulted in a loss as he gave up four ER in six IP on six hits and two walks. One troubling stat was a ZERO in the strikeout column.  He also gave up a HR. In 2016 his HR rate spiked and his normally extreme GB/FB rate cratered. To me, that sounds like a command issue that he will correct with more reps.  He did reverse the strikeout problem in his 2nd start as he nailed four K’s, but the end result was similar. April has always been his best month, and next week he gets a couple good match-ups in the Padres and Phillies. The Padres are hitting .183 so far vs lefties with a .260 OBP, and hitting only .214 away from SD. They are also 14th in the NL in runs scored. In his career, Garcia has a 2.52 ERA vs the Padres. His ERA in Philly is 3.38 and the Phils are mid pack in the NL in most hitting categories.

***TWO START PITCHER***Shelby Miller, RHSP, AZ (7.8 % owned in ESPN, 56% owned Fantrax) @SD TUE 4/18 & VS LAD SUN 4/23: Who can resist Miller in SD next Tuesday? The Padres are hitting .223 at home so far with a .305 OBP. Miller is a fly ball pitcher but Petco historically is pitcher friendly. On Sunday ([4:10] PM) he pitches at home vs LA and his lifetime ER in day games is 3.03, nearly a full run lower than under the lights. The Dodgers are hitting .222 away from home and mid-pack in most offensive categories. Miller finally looks healthy after an injury-marred debut season in the desert. His numbers are not great yet,  5.06 ERA and 1.594 WHIP, but he did beat Cleveland in his first game. He’s also K’ed 12 in 10.2 innings with five walks. It is time Arizona got their money’s worth.

Trivia Question Answer: THE ENTIRE MIAMI MARLINS STARTING PITCHING STAFF: Miami spends M-W in SEA, and then FRI-SUN in SD. The other matchups I analyzed today are my first choices for next week, but if none of them are available I would be okay starting any of the Marlins pitchers next week. I’ve already picked up LHSP Adam Conley (6.8% owned ESPN) for his match-up on Friday in SD. Tom Koehler (2% owned) is a 2 start pitcher @ SEA & @ SD, and so far has a 3.27 ERA and 1.27 WHIP. The others are off to rougher starts but have great match ups nest week. Bruce Chen Tue @ SEA, Eddie Volquez Wed @ SEA and Dan Straily, Sat @ SD. All three are owned in less than 20% of leagues.

Not for the faint of heart. Pitchers from the abyss: 

***TWO START PITCHER***ANDREW TRIGGS, RHSP, OAK (11.2% owned ESPN, 52.8% owned Fantrax and climbing) VS TEX MON 4/17 & VS SEA, SAT 4/22: Where did this guy come from? I admit I was not that familiar with him until this season. The 6’4 right-hander struck out 10 batters per nine and walked only two per nine in the minors where he was mainly a reliever. In 2016 as a 27-year-old rookie he split his 13 games between starting and relieving and his K/9 only dropped to 8.8. The A’s have fully converted him to starting and he’s started off 2017 like a house on fire, already 2-0 after not giving up a single earned run to Kansas City or the Angels. In 11.2 IP, he’s given up eight H and only four BB, but only four K’s. I realize it is way too early to crown him Rookie of the Year but ride the wave till it crests. Next week he gets Texas at home and then goes to Seattle. The Rangers are without Beltre and not clicking yet, hitting .225 and 3rd in the AL in strikeouts though they are tied for the league lead in runs scored. Seattle is coming in with a .178 batting average on the road, and hitting .225 vs righties. They have not hit their stride yet hitting .220 and near the bottom in HR with only nine so far. As for strikeouts they are in mid-season form with 94, 5th in the league.

Patrick Corbin, LHSP, AZ ( 7.5% owned in ESPN, 26% FANTRAX) @ SD, THU 4/20: Why don’t more people own Mr. Corbin? Before the injury bug hit him, does anyone remember 2014 when he went 14-8 with a 3.44 ERA & 1.166 WHIP? He struck out 178 batters in 208 innings in what was his second season. So far this season he had a somewhat rusty first start vs SF and then shut out the Indians for six innings of four-hit ball. After two games he is 1-1, 11 hits in 10 innings with only four walks and 4 K’s, 1.80 ERA but a 1.50 WHIP because of the game one walks. I think the K’s will come back with the command. Now 27, I drafted him in one league and have been racing my league mates in two others to get him. It gets better though. When he beat the Indians, who I already picked on in this article, it was his leg of a three-game Arizona sweep, but next week he gets the Padres in San Diego on Thursday. What else do you have going on Thursday? As mentioned earlier, The Padres are hitting .183 so far vs lefties with a .260 OBP.

Chad Kuhl, RHSP, PIT (4.2% owned ESPN, 15% owned Fantrax) @ STL TUE 4/18: Kuhl established himself as a member of the rotation last season even before Tyler Glasnow did, and so far this season he looks like he’ll keep his longer than Glasnow. In his first start, a win over Atlanta, he gave up only five hits and two runs with five K’s and no HR. He also walked six but somehow got away with it. In his 2nd start though, in Boston no less, he had nearly the same line in 6.1 IP with one more strikeout. The best part is he took his walks down from six to zero. I’m going to blame rust for the first start. Next week he gets the struggling Cards in STL who are hitting .119 in their last 14 games. The Cards are last in the NL at .210 BA and 14th in runs with 39 in 11 games.  Last season Kuhl pitched to a 2.56 ERA away from Pittsburgh.  STL, CLE & of course SD have been my whipping boys for this article.

Jason Vargas, LHSP, KC (28.9% owned ESPN, 52.0% Fantrax, both jumping 20 points since his last start) Vs SF WED 4/19: I’m likely never going to actually roster Vargas in other than a 20 team league, but as a crafty lefty he can be a great spot start. After two seasons lost to TJ surgery though, Vargas looks like a new man. He is now 2-0 with 10 H and only two BB in 13.2 IP. His ERA/WHIP are a stupid .66/.878. That is not a misprint there are no digits in front of the decimal. But the more amazing thing to me is zero HR and 14 K’s. Yes, more K’s than IP. Those starts were against Houston and Oakland and he gets another relatively easy match with the Giants coming to KC. The Giants are without Buster Posey and not hitting on all cylinders anyway, hitting .237 and only .225 vs lefties.


You may want to rethink starting him:

Johnny Cueto, RHSP, SFG @ COL, FRI 4/21: Repeat after me: “Don’t start anyone in the Mountains!”. Especially if cash is riding on it. But wait. Are you looking for a contrarian DFS

play? Johnny Cueto has pitched six times in Colorado, and has only given up three home runs and pitched to a mile high 2.43 ERA there. Want more? In 13 total games vs the Rockies he has only given up five HR and pitched to a 2.25 ERA. Ask Cueto about pitching in Colorado and he just yawns.

Match-up of the week:

Noah Syndergaard, RHSP, NYM Vs PHI WED 4/20: I want to be at this game. Not only is Thor off to an amazing start with a .950 ERA and not given up a single walk or HR after three games, but he eats the Phillies for lunch. His lifetime ERA vs the Phills is 1.37 and they have hit .183 off of him in six games.

Thanks for reading and good luck in week three, especially with your pitching. If you have a question about these or any other SP match-ups next week don’t hesitate to leave a message in the comments, write me, or check out my “Pick Your Spots” thread every Sunday on the /r/fantasybaseball Sub-Reddit where I’ll talk starting pitching all day Sunday. I know it’s Easter but heck, there are no football games on.          @JoeIannone2 Twitter


(Click the RED link below to listen)

Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live on Sunday April 9th, 2017 from 7-9pm EST for episode #82 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. We will be previewing the coming week’s key matchups and discussing key fantasy information.

Our guests this week are Craig Mish, and Professor Mark Rush. Mark is the Chief Editor for MLFS, a writer, and occasional guest on our shows. Craig Mish is the host of a fantasy baseball show on Sirius Satelitte Radio along with Jim Bowden from 9-11am EST Monday through Friday. Craig is also the host for a show on Sirius every Sunday morning with FSWA Hall of Famer Lenny Melnick from 7-10am EST.

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”


(Click the RED link below to listen)

Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live on Sunday April 16th, 2017 from 7-9pm EST for episode #83 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. We will be previewing the coming week’s key matchups and discussing key fantasy information.

Our guests this week are Lenny Melnick and Kyle Klinker. Kyle is an MLFB champion and a veteran of MLFS leagues. Lenny is an FSWA Hall of Famer, the co-host of the Sunday morning fantasy sports show from 7-10am EST with Craig Mish on Sirius, and the owner of Check his shows out on his site every morning through out the week at 9am EST.

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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