Welcome to Week 15 (JULY 10 through JULY 16, 2017).
Ahhhh, the All-Star Break. A three-day break from setting the line-ups, scouring the wire, talking trade, sweating out the games being played and watching the players on your teams, as well as your favorite MLB team. Three days to finally knock some items off the “Honey Do” list, maybe even crack open a cold one and lay on that hammock you bought three years ago and only used once. Uggghhhmmm, maybe we’ll watch the All-Star Game & HR Derby.
SNAP OUT OF IT!!! Get your butt in gear. The Honey Do List will still be there in October, so will the hammock, but there is still a lot of fantasy work to do, especially with all the free time you’ll have for three days. The best owners will be scouring the wire, not for players to fill in or put them on top in their current match-up, but instead looking for hidden gems that might help in the second half. If you don’t find them first, you’ll see them in the transaction lists over the next few days and kick yourself so hard that you’ll fall right out of that hammock. Remember, All-Star Game stats don’t count in your league standings, and you just blew what was shaping up to be a nice afternoon.
WEEK FIFTEEN: JULY 10 through JULY 16: The All-star break is a bit of a pitching challenge. NOTE: Some leagues include week 15 with the prior week (Week 14, like ESPN) & others include it with the following week (Week 15, like Fantrax). My next article will likely be week 15 again. While I’m not listing two start pitchers, it is possible to have a three-start pitcher in one of these extended scoring periods. I can’t speculate that one in the context of this article. Besides, I have a hammock waiting for me that only my Groundhog has used so far. To see who I picked last week and learn more about my groundhog obsession, click the link.
I chose to look at these (July 14, 15, 16) three days as one week since I don’t know how your league works. The challenge is finding spot starters for three days when most MLB teams have their whole rotation at their disposal. Assignments listed now are subject to change as well depending on how the All-Star pitchers are used or what pitchers on the DL come back. Many 4th and 5th starters have already been sent to the minors until they are needed. For those reasons, this week’s “Pick Your Spots” will lean heavily toward more widely owned SP. I’m surprised how many there are.
Spotters from the <50% owned crowd:
Zack Davies, RHSP, MIL (10% owned ESPN, 64% Owned in Fantrax) vs PHI: Before you say Davies is not consistent, not a dominant strikeout pitcher, not able to go more than six innings (all of which are true) remember that he has TEN (10) wins. Check your roster quick, do you have any 10 game winners yet? Last I knew Wins were still a category in most Fantasy Leagues. A lot of leagues don’t have Davies as an owned commodity, but not my leagues. I own Zack Davies on every one of my teams. I thought today would be a good day to promote him. His ugly 4.90 ERA is skewed by a few bad April starts, but since April 15 he has only given up more than four runs once, and his ERA since April is 4.31. In his past seven starts, he has five wins but only three quality starts in that stretch as he often goes only five innings. His K/BB over that stretch is 23/7 which is far better than his season-long 63/30 mark. The 28-58 Phils are 27th in MLB in wOBA away vs right handed pitchers. Away from Philly, they are slashing .236/.295/.371, and overall batting .228 over the past two weeks.
Matt Moore, LHSP, SFG (59% owned Fantrax) @ SD, SUN 7/16: Mr. Moore was in one of my early season articles. I couldn’t understand why he was not more widely owned. Then I traded him in a Dynasty Contracts league for Corey Dickerson and never looked back. Moore has been alternating between Ace & disaster this season, so far more disaster than Ace, unfortunately, but has put up some good starts against weak offenses and has the ability to dominate. Next Sunday he gets to pitch at PETCO where the Padres are 27th in the MLB in wOBA at home vs left handed pitchers, and after the break the Padres come and see him, making him a decent two-week rental, especially if your league scores the next two weeks as one. A glimpse of his inconsistency is showcased in his last two starts. He tossed a quality start vs Pittsburg giving up just one run but walking 6 batters, then followed with a Miami spanking where he gave up 12 hits and 5 ER in 3.1 innings without issuing a walk at all. Close your eyes so you can’t see the 6.04/1.688 ERA & WHIP, or the 3-9 record and click add. Can you believe he is only 28? Some lefties don’t even reach their potential until they are in their 30’s. Judging from the pic I’d say he has trouble focusing. Yeah, that is his right arm steering the boat.
Dinelson Lamet, RFSD, RHSP, (10% owned ESPN, 53% Owned in Fantrax) vs SFG, SAT 7/15: Mr. Lamet has been making a name for himself as a strikeout machine, sporting a 12.07 K/9 and a nice 55/15 K/BB in eight starts, going 3-3. However, because of three blowouts, including his most recent start at CLE, his 5.93 ERA does not look so good compared to his 1.244 WHIP. Home Runs have mostly been the culprit along with some ill-timed walks. He is tough to hit though, and like many rookies, if he keeps the walks down and the ball from leaving PETCO Park he should deliver his fourth Quality Start. Speaking of PETCO, he’ll be welcoming the SF Giants who sport the 23rd ranked wOBA in the MLB against righties, away. The offensively challenged Giants are hitting .191 over the past week scoring three runs per game in that stretch. Overall they are slashing to a .669 OPS vs right handers. In his last three starts prior to the Cleveland start, he rattled off three QS, 1 W, 11 H, 5 ER, 2 HR and a sparkling 25/2 KBB in 19 innings. For those laying in a hammock without a calculator, that works out to a 2.37 ERA, .684 WHIP.
Jaimie Garcia, LHSP, ATL (48% owned Fantrax) vs AZ, FRI 7/14: Welcome back Jaimie. He was a mainstay on my spotter lists for weeks until he cracked my ownership threshold and I had to wish him well. No, he will never be your ace, but like Davies above he delivers usable starts most of the time. You may also think I am crazy pitting him against the Arizona Diamondbacks next Friday in Atlanta, but did you know that the D’Backs have the 29th worst wOBA vs left handed pitchers when they are away from the desert. Jaimie made this article easy by falling to 48% ownership in Fantrax Leagues. He was pitching so well in May that I traded him for Eduardo Nunez in one league while he was still healthy. Sell high? I thought so.
Ty Blach, LHSP, SFG (15.5% owned in ESPN, 34% owned Fantrax) @ SD, FRI 7/14: One of my favorite spot opportunities is when the Giants are playing at PETCO. The Padres are 27th in the MLB against left-handed pitchers at home. Blach will never be your ace, he barely tosses half a strikeout per inning, and his WHIP is 1.337 mainly because of walks. But he has been around for half a year now. He is an MLB pitcher with a 6-5 record and not so great 4.60 ERA in nearly 100 innings. However, three of his past four starts have been quality starts where he is 2-0 giving up only 2 HR and 6 walks to the Tigers and Rockies twice, once in the mountains. This match up is too good to pass up.
Not for the faint of heart. Pitchers from the abyss:
Andrew Cashner, RHSP, TEX (1.2% owned ESPN & 27% owned Fantrax) @ KC, SAT 7/15: I realize it has been two years since you even looked at Cashner on the FA listing, let alone considered him for a spot start. Like some of the pitchers above, he is either really good or very, very bad, but he has actually been pitching pretty well of late. In his last start, he blanked the Red Sox for 7 innings and actually has eight quality starts so far on the season. His ERA is a crisp 3.54 but his WHIP is 1.451. He walks a few too many batters but does not give up many HR (.66/9). He gets one of my favorite target offenses, the KC Royals in their own ballpark where they own the 27th wOBA against RHP in the MLB. Show your league you did your homework. If it doesn’t work out you can show them the article you got the advice from.
DFS PLAYERS: You may want to re-think starting him:
Aaron Sanchez, RHSP, TOR @ DET SUN, 7/16: Let him get the rust off first. Plus DET is 4th in MLB in wOBA vs righties at home.
R.A. Dickey, RHSP, ATL vs AZ SUN, 7/16: Ok you probably were not going to anyway, but to all those Dickie fans out there, Arizona has the highest wOBA in the MLB vs righties at home.
Michael Pineda & Luis Severino, RHSP, NYY & BOS SAT/SUN, JULY 15/16: No, and No. The Sox are 13th in MLB in wOBA vs righties at home and this is going to be a crucial series for both teams. Keep the first time All Star and lifetime head case on the bench and watch some fireworks.
DFS PLAYERS: Match-ups of the week:
Chris Sale, LHSP, CHW vs NYY, SAT, 7-15: Some fear the Yanks bats. The Yanks are sporting the 22nd ranked wOBA vs lefties away.
Cole Hamels, LHSP, TEX vs @ KC, SUN 7/16: Hamels vs Hammel. Wasn’t Meryl Streep in that movie? KC is 28th in MLB vs righties at home.
Zack Greinke, RHSP, AZ @ ATL, SUN, 7/16: Atlanta is 24th in MLB for wOBA vs righties at home.
Carlos Martinez, RHSP, STL @ PIT, SUN, 7/16: He has hit a rough patch which may scare a lot of gamers away. He should turn it around at PIT who is ranked 26th in baseball in wOBA vs righties at home.
Dinelson Lamet, RHSP, SD vs SF, SAT, 7/15: Go contrarian, see above for details.
What to expect in 2017: (If you read this part in last week’s article, skip the next few paragraphs.
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.
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 Fourteen, 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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