Welcome to Week 18 (Monday 8/7 to Sunday 8/13). What a Relief!
There are a ton of good options on the wire this week for spot starts, and many of them were pitching in relief a minute ago. If you can’t find any spotters this week you are in a really, really deep league. I have a few things to be relieved and thankful for this week myself. The maple tree in my front yard split in half during yesterday’s early morning T-Storm in CT and crashed to the ground. Nothing but a couple of Begonias under the tree, a bent bird feeder, and my embattled mailbox were damaged. The tree fell away from the house and the tips of the branches just brushed the two cars in the driveway as well as the power wires right above where it fell. My arms hurt from an afternoon of chainsawing, but otherwise, we’re ok. The groundhog officially moved out and even gave me back the key to the in-law apartment he’d been staying in. The pool warmed back up and I was in it yesterday for sure, and we have grown far more vegetables than we can eat, making my neighbors happy in the process. There is a lot to talk about so let’s get to it.
I took special satisfaction from my Chad Kuhl pick last week. He made me look like a genius tossing seven shut out innings. It took special meaning when my opponent in a money league has been crying all week ever since. Yup, I not only wrote about Kuhl I picked him up for an important match where I am clinging to a playoff spot by a thread. A thread of yellow material it would seem. First, he cried when JA Happ tossed a gem, but the next day Chad Kuhl almost sent him into traffic. Sorry Mark, Thanks for an enjoyable matchup so far, whoever wins.
A couple of important injury notes:
Some bad news: David Price of Boston is not back yet, but may be soon after dealing with forearm stiffness, for the 2nd time this season. I packaged him with another player for Miggy in one league where I trust the bat more than the arm. We probably won’t see Aaron Sanchez this coming week as he is still dealing with blisters. Robbie Ray is in concussion protocol with no exact timetable, Michael Fulmer hit the DL with Ulnar Neuritis, Lance McCullers (back) has no return timetable, Johnny Cueto has another blister to go along with his flexor strain, and Zack Wheeler’s weakened humerus bone is, um, not so humorous. King Felix went back on the DL with a bout of tendinitis. As it gets closer to the end of the season watch out-of-contention teams, like most of the above to start shutting guys down. If you own them, start looking for plan B for your own stretch run. On the other hand, Washington is having injury and paternity issues with Max Scherzer, Steven Strasburg & Gio Gonzalez putting their whole rotation into flux this week. I’d stay clear of them in DFS.
Some returning arms are Adam Wainwright (back) could be back as soon as Today, Jake Odorizzi could be back Wednesday, Robert Gsellman gets a rehab start today, and Chad Bettis has one more rehab start putting him in line for a potential 8/13 start after rehabbing from cancer no less.
Innings limit season is upon us and may affect the following starters immediately: Jordan Montgomery, Dylan Bundy & Tyler Chatwood among others. Some staffs have gluts after call-ups, returnees and ineffective starters which could cost starts or even rotation spots for Nick Martinez, Doug Fister, CC Sabathia, Chris Tillman, Blake Snell (demoted) and Matt Cain.
WEEK EIGHTEEN: 8/7 to 8/13: Like the past few weeks,
some all pitching schedules are subject to change, but as I said there is plenty to like this week.
If you play DFS, don’t forget to look at my picks at the bottom of the article.
Spotters from the <50% owned crowd: (Jhoulys Chacin has finally graduated, now owned by over 70% of Fantrax Leagues.)
***TWO START PITCHER***Chad Kuhl, RHSP, PIT (4.6 owned ESPN, 34% Owned in Fantrax) vs DET, TUE 8/8 & @ TOR, SUN 8/13: Over the past few seasons you would not likely have seen a mediocre starting pitcher listed as having favorable matchups with the Tigers and Blue Jays. Things change. The Tigers are 29th in the MLB in wOBA (.292) against right handed starters on the road, better only than the Royals. They are short JD Martinez after his trade to Arizona and then traded Alex Avila who is enjoying a career year. They are also getting sub-par seasons from Miggy, Kinzler, V-Mart, Castellanos, and others, but they are still dangerous hitters along with Justin Upton. Kuhl will have to keep it on the ground. Toronto, also having more offensive problems than the past few years is 22nd in the MLB at .320 wOBA vs RHSP at home. As for Kuhl, he has been pitching pretty well lately, and is my poster boy for week 18 spot starts. In his last start, he shut out the Reds for seven innings getting a win on four hits, two walks, and six K’s. In eight of his past ten starts, he has given up less than four runs, and more than four only three times this season, the last one in May. He may be able to get out of the dog house at home now.
***TWO START PITCHER***Brent Suter, LHSP, MIL (20% owned ESPN, 53% Owned in Fantrax) @ MIN, MON 8/7 & vs CIN, SAT 8/12: Suter had a nice jump in ownership during Week 17 and is up to 53% now which is still far too low. In five July starts, he was 2-1 with four of those being quality starts, a 1.50 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, & 25/5 K-BB in 30 IP. Last week I said “in next few weeks, both Garza and Anderson should be back from injury. If Suter ain’t broke don’t fix him. I can’t see them putting him in AAA or the pen.” Anderson is the odd man out for now. Next week he’ll take the mound Monday in Minnesota and then at home against the Reds on Saturday. The Twins have a wOBA of .335 vs lefties at home (7th), but have hit only .192 the past week abnd .216 the past two weeks. The Reds, coming in at .297 wOBA vs Lefties away from home (21st) should be a little easier.
***TWO START PITCHER***Trevor Cahill, RHSP, KC (20.5% owned in ESPN, 66% owned Fantrax) vs STL, TUE 8-8 & @ CWS, SUN 8/13: Trevor Cahill has been knocked around a bit in his last few starts, but he is a quality MLB starter with a track record of generating strikeouts and decent ratios but for losing teams. Cahill still gets a lot of K’s, and has a strong 25.3% K-rate on the season. He also sports a good 55.4% groundball rate. Cahill’s 3.39 FIP shows he’s actually been pitching better than his current ERA would suggest. He may miss the easier NL lineups now that he is in KC, but is worth a look this week. His first start is in KC, a good pitching park, against a mediocre Cardinals lineup that ranks 14th in wOBA versus righties at .321. Cahill then gets to face one of the worst lineups in the league, the White Sox, whose .304 wOBA against right-handers ranks them second-to-last in all of baseball. Both lineups he is facing are missing key components after the Sox traded Frazier & Melky while Avisail Garcia is on the shelf. All you need to know about STL is that their cleanup hitter most nights is Jed Gyorko.
***TWO START PITCHER***JC Ramirez, RHSP, LAA (21% owned in ESPN, 53% owned Fantrax) vs BAL, MON 8/7 & @ SEA, SAT 8/12: Ramirez has been awesome for the past month. He’s put together a 1.93 ERA in 32 2/3 innings pitched in July/August.
He faces the Orioles in LA for his first start, and the Orioles struggle away from their hitter-friendly park, sporting just a .309 team wOBA on the road this season. Ramirez also faces the Mariners in Week 18, who are about league-average with their .321 wOBA versus righties. I wish I saw these matchups earlier as he is now owned in all my leagues. He is RP Primary in most leagues, adding even more value, and flexibility in leagues with roster limits.
Not for the faint of heart. Pitchers from the abyss:
Lucas Sims, RHSP, ATL (7.7% owned ESPN & 31% owned Fantrax) @ STL, SUN, 8/13: Sims was a 1st round pick in 2012 right out of High School at the age of 18. He had no trouble racking up over a K per IP in the minors, doing it all but one of six seasons, but he had control problems until 2017, walking between four and six BB/9. In 2017 he finally got that down under 3.0 walks per 9.0 IP earning the Big League promotion at age 24. In his first MLB start, he gave up no walks but took a loss in a quality start giving up three runs in 6.1 IP, with six hits and three K’s. This week he faces the Cardinals in STL where they hit righties at a .329 wOBA, good for 12th in the MLB. As I said before, the next nine wOBA are not far below that. His fiancee likes the digs in the Bigs much better than in the minors so the pressure is on. The dog looks happy too.
Parker Bridwell, RHSP, LAA (6.5% owned in ESPN, 39% owned Fantrax) @ SEA, THU 8/10: During most of his minor league career, he walked far too many, averaging about 5 BB/9 until AA ball in 2015. Since then he has trimmed that to an MLB ready 2.2 BB/9. His K rates are still trying to catch up with his lofty minor league K rates, and will likely come back as his command improves.
Bridwell had gone 5-1 with a 2.83 ERA and 1.185 WHIP as a starter for the Angels until a bit of a blip in his most recent start against Philly giving up four ER on six hits and three walks against only four K’s. Five of his last seven starts have ended in a QS for Parker. The one wart on his 2017 resume so far has been a propensity to give up HR’s, something he seldom did in the minors, and he gave up another in this last start. Again, I believe as his command improves, so will his ratios. On Thursday he gets to face the Mariners in Seattle. The Mariners have a wOBA at home vs righties of .330, which is 12th, but not much more than the 8 or 9 teams behind them. In that pic, he looks strangely like Stephen Strasburg. Hopefully, he pitches more like the healthy version.
DFS PLAYERS: You may want to re-think starting him:
Chris Sale, LHSP, BOS @ NYY, SUN, 8/13: The Yanks are 8th in wOBA at home vs LHP at .334. No thanks.
Yu Darvish, RHSP, TX @ ARI, THU, 8/10: The Snakes are 1st in the MLB at a .363 wOBA home vs RHSP. Stay away.
DFS CONTRARIAN MOVE: Scary Contrary, Don’t let your kids try this at home:
- A.J. Happ, LHSP, TOR vs NYY, TUE 8/8: Are you a gambler? Then Don’t push your luck unless you can handle the stress. The Yanks are 25th in the MLB in wOBA on the road vs Lefties and Happ is a soft tosser. Wow your league mates.
DFS PLAYERS: Match-ups of the week:
Corey Kluber, RHSP, CLE vs COL, TUE, 8/7: The Rockies are 27th in the MLB in wOBA on the road vs righties at a woeful .296.
James Paxton, LHSP vs LAA THU 8/10: The Angels are 23rd in the MLB in wOBA vs LHP away at only .296.
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 Eighteen, 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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