Welcome to Week 15 (JULY 17 through JULY 23, 2017).
The All-Star Break is always too quick. Make a trade or two, look and see if there are upgrades or good spec picks on the wire, watch the HR Derby, and the AS Game, and then what? Last week I said maybe we will knock off the “Honey Do” list before I came to my senses and said, “Snap Out of It!” Get ready for Week 15 and the whole 2nd half instead. Use your free time to do maintenance on your teams.
Be sure to read down to the DFS section this week if you are playing. This is a unique week with standard starters facing tough matchups and some lesser known guys facing cake matchups.
A couple of important injury notes: First the good. Mad-Bum is back, as is Carlos Rodon, and Dallas Keuchel is nearing the end of his rehab assignment. The bad news: Johnny Cueto traded places on the DL with Mad-Bum but it didn’t sound like it would be a long stay and Michael Pineda will likely need TJ surgery (2nd go-round) and was put on the 60-Day DL today pending a 2nd opinion. Also, I’m sure you all know that Jose Quintana was traded from the Sox to the Cubs in a rare cross town major trade. Q’s stock should rise a bit going to a contender who scores a run or two.
I confess I did the “Honey Do” list, or at least most of it. Then I made the Groundhog and I a Marguerita or two (he’s asking for four there), watched a couple of games and got ready for Week 15, or in some cases the “rest” of Week 15.
WEEK FIFTEEN: JULY 17 through JULY 23: 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 last article was Week 15.5. I chose to look at the last three days of last week (July 14, 15, 16) as one week since I don’t know how your league works. That was last week’s article. This week I’ll pick from what I call week 15, assuming the next 7 days are either the end of Week 15 for you if you included the AS week, or Week 15 on its own if you didn’t. Trust me, these picks can help whichever set up your league uses. 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 were sent to the minors until they are needed again and may not yet have been scheduled. I’ve already changed a few assignment dates from my own notes earlier this week.
Spotters from the <50% owned crowd:
Jhoulys Chacin, RHSP, SD (59% owned Fantrax) @ SF, THU 7-20: San Diego @ San Francisco or Visa Versa, these are usually good matchups. In this one, Chacin, who has been pitching pretty well lately, gets the San Francisco Giants who are dead last in the Majors at home in wOBA vs RHSP. Dead Last! And all Chacin has done recently is pitch a quality start in six of his last seven starts. Over the past month, he has a 2.16 ERA and 1.16 WHIP with 20 K’s in 28 IP. Who would think at the half way point Chacin would have an 8-7 record in 102 IP with 88 K’s?
Blake Snell, LHSP, TB (56% owned Fantrax) @ OAK, TUE 7-18: Snell is a rookie with a world of talent and one major flaw. He can’t keep the ball over the plate so he issues a ton of walks. The average fantasy player will look at his 0-5 record 4.85 ERA and 1.635 WHIP and think this would be a crazy spot start. It may be, but you won’t find a player on the wire with more raw talent than Snell. In his most recent start, he went five innings, giving up only four hits but also four walks and struck out 5, without giving up a run. The A’s are 13th in the MLB in wOBA vs LHSP. At some point, this tall young lefty is going to figure it all out. When that day comes it will be like a musical chairs game. The one who owns him will keep him. In the meantime, this looks like an awesome matchup for the wild child, plus a good chance to interview him. That pic is him saying “awwww, shucks” when asked how good it felt to be picked for this week’s “Pick Your Spots”. Well, sort of.
***TWO-START PITCHER***Brent Suter, LHSP, MIL (10% owned ESPN, 31% Owned in Fantrax) @ PIT MON 7-16 & @ PHI SAT 7-21: This is one of those parties where I showed up late. Suter had a pretty good 1st half in the pen, but then they stretched him out to be a starter. Start he did, and in his last two games he has gone 12.1 IP, with 9 hits, 2 walks, no homers, 2 ER and 13 K’s. At age 27 he could finally be reaching his stride and he is my poster boy for spot starting this week. On Monday he gets the Pirates who are 24th in the MLB in wOBA at home vs LHSP in Pittsburgh, then he gets the Phillies on Saturday in Philly where they are 12th in the MLB in wOBA vs LHSP. In eight 2017 minor league starts, Suter compiled a 4.42 ERA but he also had career bests in K/9 at 9.3 and BB/9 at 2.0, both sparkling numbers there. His wife, who appears to be half his size, is glad he is in the majors finally and can’t wait to unpack after six years of moving around in the minors.
Matt Garza, RHSP, MIL (10% owned ESPN, 30% Owned in Fantrax) @ PHI, FRI 7/21: Garza is a bit risky considering what he has been through and what he has put his owners through the past three years. However, he is still a major league pitcher and has three quality starts in his past four starts, during which he gave up three earned runs in 17.1 innings on 18 hits, but only one HR and three walks while striking out 11. He won’t win you the ERA or K title, but in this match up he just might dominate. The Phils are 25th in the MLB vs RHSP at home.
Anibal Sanchez, RHSP, DET (15.5% owned in ESPN, 33% owned Fantrax) @ MIN FRI 7/21: Sanchez was terrible in the first two and a half months of the season. He bought himself a ticket to the bullpen and then was called upon again by the Tigers. He has four starts now since being reinstated in the rotation and has delivered three of four Quality Starts with a total of only three runs or less in three of the games. The success all had to do with cutting down the walks and HR, the magic formula. In those four starts we are talking one HR, four walks, and 22 K’s in 23 innings. Those starts were against SF, SD, CLE, & SEA, so it was not the creme of the MLB offenses but sure makes me think he is a good spot here. The Twins are 21st in the MLB in wOBA vs RHSP at home.
Not for the faint of heart. Pitchers from the abyss:
***TWO-START PITCHER***Luis Cessa, RHSP, NYY, (1.2% owned ESPN & 11% owned Fantrax) @ MIN, TUE 7/18 & @ SEA SUN 7-23: OK, maybe I’m on a limb here, but at least the Woodchuck hasn’t found this one yet. Cessa may eventually profile as a relief pitcher, but right now, like most teams, the Yanks are desperate for some healthy effective pitching. While the 25-year-old has not yet made it out of the 5th in three Yankee starts this season, he has been effective both starting and relieving. Over the past month, his MLB ERA is 2.76. Over his past five games covering 16.1 innings, he’s given up five earned runs, with only one coming on an HR, and he delivered 12 K’s to only 5 BB’s. Right before the break, he made a two inning relief stint against a Brewer lineup that kept scoring until Cessa shut the door, giving up just three hits with no walks, HR, or runs scored. He’s only striking out about 6.5 per 9 innings, but his 2.9% HR Rate and 6.9% walk rate are both stellar. The Twins are 21st in the MLB in wOBA vs RHSP at home, and Cessa has a batting average against of .171 vs righties. The Twins can stack the lineup with left handed hitters, but their two most prolific power bats, Dozier and Sano both hit right handed. There is no guarantee he gets the 2nd start in Seattle on Sunday, but barring changes he is lined up for that. The Mariners are 6th in the MLB in wOBA vs RHSP at home, and Cessa, in what is a very small sample size, pitches far better at home. However, other than Seager and Cano, the entire M’s batting order is RH, and they are hitting .233 so far in July with a .660 OPS. I won’t fault you though if you skip starting him in Seattle so you may need to re-think that 2nd start or see how the first one goes.
DFS PLAYERS: You may want to re-think starting him:
Clayton Kershaw, LHSP, LAD @ CHW, TUE, 7/18: The Chisox are the best hitting team in baseball against lefties at home with a .386 wOBA. Go figure. Don’t worry Clayton. She’ll still be there for you even if you get bombed, like she always has been, since High School, 40 some years ago…..ok, more like 15.
Max Scherzer, RHSP, WAS @ AZ, FRI, 7/21: Arizona is the best hitting team in baseball against righties at home with a .377 wOBA.
Steven Strasburg, RHSP, WAS @ AZ, SUN, 7/23: Arizona is the best hitting team in baseball against righties at home with a .377 wOBA.
DFS PLAYERS: Match-ups of the week:
David Price, LHSP, BOS @ LAA, SAT, 7-22: The Angels are the second worst hitting team in the MLB vs Lefties at home.
Carlos Carrasco, RHSP, CLE @ SFG, WED, 7/19: The Giants are the worst hitting team in MLB vs righties at home.
Steven Matz, LHSP, NYM @ vs OAK, FRI, 7/21: The A’s are the worst team in the MLB vs Lefties at home.
Contrarian Moves for next week:
Brent Suter, LHSP, MIL @ PIT MON 7-16 The Pirates are one of the worst teams in the MLB at home vs Lefties.
The Padres SP Staff, @ SFG, THU through SUN, 7/20 through 7/23: The SFG are the worst hitting team in the MLB at home vs Righties. Jhoulys Chacin, Trevor Cahill, Luis Perdomo, and Dilson Lamet are all right handed SP.
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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