“65 Mustangs” Pick Your Spots: Week 7 Fantasy Baseball & DFS Spot Starting Guide. Injuries Pouring Down Faster Than All the Rain.

Welcome to Week 7 where “April Showers Bring May Showers!” Has anyone else been kicked around lately by rainouts? If you are in the northeast you sure were, and many other parts of the country. Rainouts wreak havoc on pitching plans and if you don’t keep up with them and make the necessary changes you will have a bad week. I’ll talk quickly about that and the other current bugaboo the injury bug, which has hit every team in fantasy and the MLB one way or another, especially with pitchers and the apparently cursed NY Mets.

NOTE > Many leagues have limits on the number of starts a team can use in a scoring period, the number of transactions (add/drops) for the period, and the number of SP that can be on the healthy active roster at any given time. Some leagues charge transaction fees. I reference “wasting transactions”, or “burning a start” in the dialog below. In each case, the rain-induced rotation movement may count toward your transaction and roster limits and may cost some extra money.

The simplest rain-induced movement is when every pitcher in the MLB rotation gets moved back a day. You can leave him in the lineup and he’ll just go tomorrow. When we are spotting, however, we are looking at matchups. If the spotter you picked up for Wednesday at home vs the Astros gets bumped back to Thursday or Friday at the Red Sox, it may not be a good match-up any longer. You better do the homework again before leaving him in the lineup even if it means wasting a transaction.  If he gets skipped altogether as fifth starters often do, you may have wasted another transaction. Lastly, if the rainout is late in the week, and everyone gets pushed back a day, that Sunday starter you were counting on to nail a category or two may not even pitch until the following week, possibly wasting another transaction for what was likely a two start pick up.

The worst case scenario is having a starting pitcher on your roster that goes three or so innings before the game is delayed or canceled due to rain. That happened twice last week, and not only wastes a transaction but burns a useless start as well as the counting stats. Plus the pitcher will not come back until his next scheduled start five days later. All one can do is be sure to check in often to see how your particular teams are affected by weather and make whatever adjustments you can within the limits of the league.

The other heartburn inducing epidemic lately is the injury bug. Pitchers seem to be dropping so fast that most leagues don’t have enough DL spots to accommodate them all. I have four SP on the DL in one league that has five DL spots, and in another league, I have six SP on the DL with only two DL spots to accommodate them (ESPN Standard). Roster limits force tough decisions which are a good thing for competitive league balance and owner skills, but this season is past capacity already. I think it is a combination of pitchers being more injury prone, but also the abundant use of the new in 2017 10 day DL rule that has MLB teams easing their own roster limitations at the expense of our fantasy limitations. In light of the 10 day DL rule, I recommend any owners who have 2 to 4 DL spots to petition the League Manager to increase the number of DL spots to whatever is appropriate for that format. Most good LM’s won’t change rules or settings once the season starts, and rightly so, but at least it will be in place for 2018. As someone great once said, “We have plenty of problem identifiers. What we need are problem solvers”. I have no idea who said that aside from most of my bosses, but don’t feel victimized by the new rule. Fix it.

WEEK SEVEN –  May 15 through MAY 21, 2017:   Last week I said, “Every fantasy player knows that the moment you think your team, or in this case starting rotation, is set for the long haul it is time to worry. Actually, it is or was time to prepare.” The first big wave of injuries recently kicked us right where it hurts: Noah Syndergaard, Madison Bumgarner, Corey Kluber, Cole Hamels, Aaron Sanchez, Ian Kennedy, James Paxton, Sean Manaea, King Felix & Jeurys Familia. More are bound to fall so start watching the wire, keep an eye out for call-ups, and keep track of returning rehabbers like David Price, Rich Hill, Aaron Sanchez, Sean Manaea, and Brandon McCarthy.

What to expect in 2017: (If you read this part in last week’s article, skip down to week 6.)

Criteria Used: Platoon splits, LH/RH, Day/Night, Month, Half, stadium splits, team batting against splits, metrics like GB/FB rate, K & BB rates, Babip, wOBA, FIP, 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.

WEEK SEVEN: If the pitcher is a repeat from last week, and there are a few, you will see two Fantrax ownership percentages. The first is his current ownership and the second is what it was last week. A few good starts can take a guy from waiver wire spotter to rostered rotation member, especially with younger pitchers, which is why one has to think before dropping every spotter, and keep scouring for new spotters.

 

Trivia Question: Which two teams, one NL and one AL have lost four of the original five SP penciled in to be the teams 2017 rotation? Answer below.

 

Spotters from the <50% owned crowd:

Matt Andriese, RHSP, TBR (3.1% owned ESPN, 70% 54% owned Fantrax, 16 point increase) vs. NYY SAT 5/20: Matt has his 2nd start from last week today in Fenway which is why I said last week: “The Red Sox will likely be a little tougher matchup and if you don’t need the 2nd start for the week feel free to pass.” This is his fourth, and likely last, consecutive week on my short list as he is now at 70% ownership and I’ve run out of reasons to talk about him or drop him back to the pool at this point. Last week he rewarded any of us who spotted him against the Royals at home going 5.1 IP with 7 K’s and only two runs on 5 hits and 2 walks. He did not get the decision and only missed another QS by 2 batters. The Yanks are not a great match up either as they hit 20 points higher vs righties but have half as many HR on the road where they are also hitting 20 points lower. The offense has come back to earth a bit the past week. He is 27 now and I still say we could see his best season if he stays in the rotation. Red Sox, then Yanks. I guess we’ll know by then.

***TWO START PITCHER***Jimmy Nelson, RHP, MIL (33% owned in Fantrax) @SD TUE 05/16 & @CHC SUN 5/21: This is the first time in this series I’ve added Nelson to the list, but this matchup is tough to ignore. Nelson gets the Padres in SD which of course is a no-brainer. The Padres are hitting.229 vs righties, and only .208 at home. They have hit .219 the past two weeks. They are 13th in the NL in runs and OPS (the dreaded .666). The Cubbies may be tougher but have certainly not hit their stride yet. If you want to use him in SD and skip the Cubs I won’t argue, but the Cubs are hitting only .233 vs righties and .236 at Wrigley. They are 12th in the NL, just ahead of the Padres in both BA and OPS, and worse yet have hit .187 the past week scoring less than 4 runs per game in that stretch.

JC Ramirez, RHSP, LAA (7.2% owned in ESPN, 55% 44% FANTRAX) Vs CHW TUE 5/16: Two weeks ago I said: “If you are in a deep league and need to really search for a starter, how about a reliever who is only 8% owned in Fantrax.” After 3 or 4 starts his ownership rate has jumped to 55% from 8%, and if he handles the Sox this week you’ll have trouble finding him at all after that. If your league has roster limits by primary position, a reliever primary who is tossing QS is quite valuable. Last week I recommended him against the Tigers and they were a little tough on him scoring 5 earned runs on 8 hits (2 HR) though he only walked 1 to 4 K’s. He is starting to go deeper into games as he gets stretched out, as he went 7 full innings against the Tigers last week. This week, his third on my short list, he gets to face the White Sox at home. The Sox are only hitting .229 on the road and only .222 vs righties plus .229 over the past week. They are 13th in the AL in R, HR and OPS and dead last in walks.

***TWO START PITCHER***Luis Perdomo, RHSP, SDP (2.1% owned ESPN, 37% 27% owned Fantrax) vs. MIL MON 5/15 & Vs AZ SUN 5/21: Perdomo has a 4.13 ERA but a 2.96 FIP, which suggests the ERA may have some room to come down. He doesn’t get a ton of strikeouts but his 2.50 BB/9 and low HR rate keep him out of trouble. The HR rate is partially fueled by a whopping 69.17 GB% thanks to his heavy sinker that comes in with good velocity. Last week he pitched his 3rd QS in a row giving up 3 runs in 6 innings to the Rangers. Walks killed him in that game but he gave up no HR, in fact he has given up only 1 in 5 starts in 2017. He gets a couple of quality matchups this week. First is at home vs MIL, then at home vs Arizona. Neither team is a slouch on offense, with MIL 2nd in the NL in R & OPS while Arizona is 3rd in the NL in runs. On his side is that MIL is hitting 20 points lower on the road and 20 points lower vs righties than lefties. Arizona is .205 on the road vs .298 at home and are hitting .240 over the past two weeks. San Diego is one of the best pitching parks in the MLB.

 Nate Karns, RHSP, KC (23.9% owned ESPN, 54% 31% Fantrax) @ MIN FRI 5/19: I picked up Karns last week in three of my leagues and may not drop him anytime soon. You can see his Fantrax ownership jumped from 31% to 54% in one week. Karns made me proud the last 2 weeks with six shutout innings vs the White Sox in KC. He gave up one hit, one walk and struck out seven in the winning effort. The following week he topped all that twice racking up 22 strikeouts in 11.01 innings. That is not a misprint. He also only gave up 3 walks and 2 HR on his way to 4 total ER and another QS. This gives him a 4.46 ERA and 1.215 WHIP for the season. His overall 4.46 ERA is inflated by a four-run one inning relief appearance in his first game of the season, and four of his eight HR allowed also came in that one game. His 61.4% ground-ball rate demonstrates his effectiveness when he keeps the ball down, but unfortunately if he drifts up in the zone at all he gets punished as evidenced by his 30% HR/FB rate. He’s facing the Twins who are hitting .225 and scoring less than 4 runs per game over the last week.

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

Joe Biagini, RHSP, TOR (5% owned ESPN, 35% owned Fantrax) @ ATL WED 5/17: Toronto took Biagini from the Giants in the Rule 5 draft two years ago hoping to get a good bullpen addition. That is what they got in 2016 when he pitched in 60 games to a 3.06 ERA. This season he was on his way to a repeat with 14 good relief appearances when injuries opened up a spot for him in the rotation. In his first two MLB starts he’s gone a total of nine IP giving up only six hits, no runs, and a 7-0 K/BB. He was a full-time SP in four minor league seasons but only blossomed in 2015 at the AA level going 10-7 with a 2.42 ERA, but the Giants had no room on the 40 man roster. He gets an Atlanta team that is 12th in the NL in runs scored. He and his wife are both natives of the San Francisco area meeting at UC Davis, so they had to leave home for the wilds of Toronto Canada. Looking at their faces, getting a spot in an MLB starting rotation is well worth it.

Jordan Montgomery, LHSP, NYY (5% owned ESPN, 34% owned Fantrax) @ KC THU 5/18: Monty was one mistake pitch away from his 4th Quality Start on the young season last week against the Astros. He was leaving it up all night, 11 fly balls to 5 grounders and one of them ex-teammate Brian McCann took out for a three-run HR. Overall he is 2-2, 4.19 ERA and 1.39 WHIP with a nice 33k/34.1 IP. Walks have hurt him so it was nice to see the one walk vs the Stros. Next week he gets the Royals allowing him to make his first 65 Mustangs spot start list. The Royals are dead last in the AL in R, BA, and OPS and hit .206 vs lefties. They are better at home than on the road but not significantly with a .232 BA in KC.

***TWO START PITCHER***Zack Godley, RHSP, AZ (5% owned ESPN, 24% owned Fantrax) Vs NYM MON 5/15 & @ SD SUN 5/21: Remember him? He may be back to stay this time. Godley struck out six and allowed just one earned run in seven innings against a tough Detroit lineup in his last start. He has 12 strikeouts in 12 innings, with a 2.25 ERA, and gets to face the Cespedes-less Mets in his first start. Godley then gets to travel to San Diego to face the Padres. The Mets are hitting .238 on the season with and without Yoenis. SD is hitting .208 at home and .229 vs righties as well as .229 for the past two weeks. They are 13th in runs and OPS (.666) and their .295 wOBA versus righties ranks 24th in the majors. San Diego is nice this time of year and Petco Park is a nice place to pitch. Speaking of nice, he proposed to his girlfriend this season and she said yes, in spite of the bright orange shirt.

DFS PLAYERS: You may want to rethink starting him:

Matt Harvey, RHSP, NYM @ AZ WED 5/17: Harvey burned me in DFS Friday night. I know, shame on me, but it looked like he had a cake matchup facing the Braun-less Brewers in Milwaukee. He gave me a 5/5/5, as in IP, ER, BB. I finished 11 points outside the money, and the difference was the 12 point spread between Harvey and Ervin Santana who was the same price pre-game. The D’Backs are far more formidable and Arizona is a better hitters ballpark than Milwaukee where they are hitting .298, plus they are hitting.271 vs righties. More importantly, Harvey is just not right. And I am a slow learner. Last week I said to leave Arrieta on the bench against the Rockies and he delivered 3.2 IP, 9 hits, 5 earned runs, and 3/3 walks to strikeouts in a loss in the mountains. My advice was better than my own game. Now we know that part of our research should be done in the tabloids and entertainment websites. It is reported (outside of baseball) that Harvey was out all night last weekend when he got suspended for three games because he was distraught over his girlfriend, Supermodel and Victoria Secret Angel Adriana Lima, being spotted with her ex, Julian Edelman of the Patriots at a party recently. C’mon Harvey, concentrate on pitching, not your “life in the fast lane” before your star fades to black. Besides, Edelman has a lot more rings than you. We know chicks dig the long ball Matt, but that means hitting or catching them, not giving them up. HaHa. And I thought I got a bargain drafting him around the 12th round in my leagues.

DFS PLAYERS: Match-ups of the week: I have two for you this week:

Zack Greinke, RHSP AZ vs. NYM TUE 5/16 & Possible @ SD SUN 05/21: It does not take deep analysis to understand how limp the Mets lineup is without

Yoenis Cespedes and they are hitting .238 on the season either way. I spoke enough about that offense already so I’ll save the stats. Last week I had Chris Archer in this spot and he added to his already significant K/BB ratio by striking out 11 and walking none against the Royals in KC. I said they seldom strikeout but haven’t faced Archer yet this season. He gave up no runs on 5 hits in 8 dominant innings.

Jason Vargas, LHSP KC vs. NYY WEDS 5/17:  If you want to go contrarian next week, here is an interesting gamble. I’ll admit it is more about how dominating Vargas has been this season and how poorly the Yanks have hit over the last several games than it is about Vargas’ history against them.  Vargas is pitching filthy right now sporting a 1.01 ERA and .918 WHIP. He is 5-1  with a 39/8 K/BB in 44.7 IP. He even has amassed a 2.3 WAR already this season if you like WAR. Is he the latest TJ surgery survivor to come back stronger than ever. Including his 3 starts last season, Vargas has the best K and Walk rates of his career. Split wise over his career May has always been his best month and his home ERA is a full run and a quarter lower than his away since he’s been in KC. Yeah, Sell High before June 1!  The Yanks have hit .250 the past week scoring 4 runs per game, not bad but far below April’s numbers, and they hit 20 points lower away and against lefties. We may have a guy at his peak performance pitching against a team possibly coming back to earth. Last week I listed Jose Quintana here against the Padres. He was pushed back a day due to rain so we’ll see how he did later today.

Trivia Question Answer: In the AL, Seattle originally penciled in a rotation of Felix, Paxton, Iwakuma, Gallardo and Smyly. Gallardo is the only one pitching now. I can’t even name the rest of their rotation right now. In the NL, the Dodgers originally penciled a rotation of Kershaw, Maeda, Hill, Kazmir and McCarthy. Kershaw is the only one still standing of that bunch. Amazingly their record is 22-15 even with the patchwork rotation, though it helps to have guys like Ryu, Wood, and Urias to step in. Hopefully, your rotations look better than these.

Thanks for reading and good luck in week seven, 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.

joseph.iannone021@gmail.com          @JoeIannone2 Twitter

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Major League Fantasy Football 2017 League Openings

(Click the RED link below to listen)

Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live on Sunday May 7th, 2017 from 7-9pm EST for episode #86 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 guest this week is Bryan Luhrs. Bryan is a writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com, and the owner of Real Deal Dynasty Sports.

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”

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(Click the RED link to listen)

Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join guest host Andrea Lamont, and Kyle Amore live on Monday May 15th, 2017 from 7-9pm EST for episode #87 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 guest this week is Lenny Melnick. Lenny is fantasy baseball pioneer, current FSWA Hall of Famer, and the host of his daily podcasts on lennymelnickfantasysports.com Mon-Fri at 9am EST. He also co-hosts a show every Sunday morning from 7-10am EST with Craig Mish on the fantasy sports station on Sirius.

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”



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