What Does a Good ERA Look Like Now? Welcome to Week 12 (6/19 to 6/25, 2017). There are three things I have just about given up on in my life. One is catching that hungry, fat, groundhog living under my shed, another is worrying about my ERA in fantasy, and lastly is trying to manage 8 DL’ed SP on my fantasy rosters. I’m in three Head to Head leagues, and in all three I just keep throwing SP out there looking for the counting stats. If my ERA is over 7.00 by Wednesday it makes it so much easier to spot start if all I’m looking for are K’s, W’s and QS. I’ve won the ERA cat in my H to H leagues with ridiculous scores like “Stangs ERA: 6.52, opponents ERA 6.89” In one of my Roto Leagues I made the mistake of starting Tanaka on opening day, and have been in dead last in ERA since. We are nearing the mid-point of the season. If you play Roto, you know how hard it is to move the ratios after the half way point. Maybe I could move out of last place in ERA and get a point or two back, or maybe I should just max out my starts and see what I can gather in the counting stats by just throwing the whole kitchen sink out there, effectively punting ERA.
Everything in that last paragraph is tinged by exaggeration and sarcasm. Or, maybe it isn’t. Did I draft crappy pitchers this season or are you all going through the same things? As for the DL dilemma, I’m starting to toss the borderline SP back to make room for the “can’t drop”. Luckily for James Shields, he’ll be pitching today, so he was able to change places with Matt “Put Me Out of My Misery Already” Harvey on my roster.
New injuries and some returning wounded:
The dominoes kept falling, as I mentioned last week, as Matt Harvey and CC Sabathia could be out several weeks now, and Kyle Hendricks had a setback that will keep him out longer than anticipated, as did Andrew Triggs. We did get some of the injured troops back recently. Steven Matz, Taijan Walker, the long lost Tyson Ross, and Seth Lugo all pitched in the past week as will James Shields(today). This coming week we may see (dates are tentative) Hisashi Iwakuma, Sat, Kenta Maeda back from the Bullpen, John Gray possibly next weekend, Tyler Anderson even sooner, Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers, and King Felix all could start next weekend. Bartolo Colon should be back and the Braves may employ a 6 man rotation until they can sort things out (ie. is Colon all done?), and Doug Fister is pitching well in the minors and has a 6/21 opt-out clause which may hasten his return. Cole Hamels just pitched his first rehab start and Trevor Cahill will next week. But there is still no timetable for Danny Duffy, Nate Karns, Noah Syndergaard, Madison Bumgarner, and now Matt Harvey for the foreseeable future.
What to expect in 2017: (If you read this part in last week’s article, skip down to week 12.)
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’ll list two or so pitchers that are less than 20% owned and look like a good choice based on the above criterion.
DFS Suggestions – I’ll pick out a few aces to avoid in DFS and a couple who should be in your lineup, especially if I see a great contrarian start.
WEEK TWELVE – JUNE 19 through JUNE 25, 2017:
Spotters from the <50% owned crowd:
***TWO START PITCHER***Brad Peacock, RHSP, HOU (27% owned ESPN, 60% owned Fantrax) @ OAK MON 6/19 & @ SEA SAT 6/24: If you are in the 70% of ESPN leagues or 40% of Fantrax leagues where this 29-year-old right-hander is available, go grab him now. I’ll wait for you to come back. Peacock has always been a strikeout machine and now may get a chance to stick in a rotation. So far in 2017, he is 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA & 1.205 WHIP. This week he pitched against Texas on 3 days rest and went 4.2 IP, giving up two runs on one hit and chipped in a 10-4 K/BB. First, he gets the A’s who’s .319 wOBA vs RH is 19th in baseball, in the Oakland pitchers park where the A’s have a 24.6% strikeout rate vs right handers. Then he gets San Diego and their .326 wOBA vs righties.
***TWO START PITCHER***Francisco Liriano, LHSP, TOR (.1% owned ESPN, 57% owned Fantrax) @ TEX, MON 6/19 & @ KC, SAT 6/24: No one will ever admit to owning Liriano in a mixed league. Ask anyone in a crowded sports bar and you will only get blank stares and laughter. Every year though he finds his way to fantasy relevance at some point, and that point may be now in 2017. Believe it or not, Texas is 28th in MLB with a .285 wOBA vs LHP and they lead MLB with a 27% K rate vs lefties as well. Kansa City is a bit better vs lefties with a .300 wOBA but still own the worst offense in the AL.
***TWO START PITCHER***Jason Hammel, RHSP, KC (6.1% owned ESPN, 45% owned Fantrax) vs BOS, MON 6/19 & vs TOR, SUN 6/25: Those are not lightweight offenses by any means but both will be playing in the pitcher friendly Kaufman Stadium. We know Hammel is not a stud but he has been one of the more durable starters in baseball averaging 30 starts per season for the last three years. He’s actually having one of his worst seasons statistically since he became a full-time SP in 2009, posting a 5.05 ERA & 1.45 WHIP. Since the calendar turned to June he has been pitching far better than he did in April and May with a 2-0 record and 2.24 ERA, .896 WHIP in 3 quality starts. Four of his last five starts have been QS in which he has 18/2 K/BB in 19.2 IP. He’s only on this list at all because of his poor start to the season, though one of his recent starts against the Astros at home was his best, tossing 7 innings of 4 hit, 1 run ball with 4 K’s and no walks. He followed that with a Win at SF giving up his 1st walk in three games and another one run quality start.
***TWO START PITCHER***Jordan Zimmerman, RHSP, AZ (6.1% owned ESPN, 48% owned Fantrax) @ SEA, MON 6/19 & @ SD, SAT 6/24: While no one was looking, Zimmermann posted three consecutive quality starts and four of his last five. The past two (HOU & BOS) coming against much better offenses than those he’ll face this week. In those past three QS, he has gone 1-1 in 20 IP with a 14/5 K/BB and given up only one HR, which is not bad for this pitch-to-contact pitcher. Speaking of contact, he is not just in the Tiger’s dog house, his wife Mandy said he better keep this up if he wants to come back in out of the cold at the house too.
Not for the faint of heart. Pitchers from the abyss:
Tim Adleman, RHSP, CIN (10.7% owned in ESPN, 32% owned Fantrax) @ TB WED 6/21 12:10 PM: Adleman debuted on my list last week and he pitched well enough I decided to bring him back vs the Rays next week. He has really turned his season around tossing four straight quality starts and lowering his ERA from 6.19 to 4.22, with a 1.234 WHIP in the process. His ERA over the past month is 3.30, and he is up to 6 QS on the season now. There may be a correction on the horizon as his Babip is only .250, his FIP is 5.15, and he has a high (4.5%) HR rate with only a 2.25 K/BB. Adleman pitches better vs lefties while most of the Rays power hitters are lefty other than Evan Longoria. The Rays are only hitting .237/.695 in day games vs .263/.810 at night and this game starts at [12:10] PM.
James Shields, RHSP, CHW (owned ESPN, 46% owned in Fantrax) vs OAK, SAT 6/24: Big Game
James’ first start after his rehab assignment is today, Sunday, giving us a chance to see how well he is pitching after his injury. Prior to his injury, he was one of the most added pitchers in baseball after giving up only three runs in three starts early in the season. I have stashed him on DL’s in two leagues and am anxious to put him back in. I’ll wait until next week when he gets the weak hitting A’s at home next weekend.
***TWO START PITCHER***Mike Montgomery, LHSP, CHC (4.9% owned ESPN & 45% owned Fantrax) vs SD & @ PIT: Montgomery, has mostly pitched in relief for the Cubs, but he built his pitch count up to 88 in his June 14 start, so he should be good to let loose this week. He has a 2.47 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and 21.3 percent strikeout rate in the past full year. His last two starts resulted in 9 K’s in 9 IP and a 2.56 ERA. First, he gets the Padres who are last in MLB vs Left Handers with a .280 wOBA and are 6th highest in K-Rate at 24.5% vs Lefties. Pittsburgh has a .301 wOBA vs lefties which is 21st in the MLB.
Luis Cessa, RHSP, NYY(.8% owned ESPN, 9% Owned in Fantrax) vs TEX SAT 6/24: As a Yankee fan, I had to list this pitcher. He may not stick in the rotation if CC comes back very soon. He gets the Rangers at home next Saturday, and that is not an easy match up by any means, although the Rangers are slashing .222/.290/.688 away from TEX. EDIT: Cessa was moved up to start today, Sunday, losing two-start status for next week.
DFS PLAYERS: You may want to re-think starting him: I was one for two last week rightly calling to sit the Shark, however, my other sit, Jacob deGrom went on to pitch a gem.
Yu Darvish, RHSP, TEX @ NYY
Zack Greinke, RHSP, AZ @ COL TUE 6/20:
DFS PLAYERS: Match-ups of the week: I had three for you last week and was 0 for 3. I had a review written but can’t find it now. Moving on……….
Chris Sale, LHSP, BOS @ KC TUE 6/20:
Robbie Ray, AZ vs PHI SAT 6/17:
My crusade for 2017/2018: Pitchers and other players seem to be getting injured so fast that most leagues don’t have enough DL spots to accommodate them all. Roster limits force tough decisions which are a good thing for competitive league balance and showcasing owner skills, but this season’s overcrowded Disabled-Lists have proven to test traditional capacity at times. I think it is a combination of pitchers being more injury prone, but also the abundant use of the new in 2016 7 day concussion DL, and the new in 2017 10 day DL rule that has MLB teams easing their own roster limitations at the expense of our fantasy limitations and resources. In light of the 7 day & 10 day DL rules, 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. Don’t feel victimized by the new rule. Adjust to it.
Thanks for reading and good luck in week twelve, 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.
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