Welcome to Week 19 (Monday 8/14 to Sunday 8/20). Sometimes I’m guilty of hanging on a bit too long when it comes to spotters that have done well for me. I try to remember my own advice, “Don’t Fall in Love”, but sometimes I can’t help myself. Two of my Week 18 spotters, Brent Suter and JC Ramirez who have graced many of my articles lately, each turned in not one but two clunkers. In the four games combined, they served up 17 runs in 21 innings. No, they will not be in this week’s “Pick Your Spots”. Another, Trevor Cahill left the first of his two starts with a sore shoulder. Tests were negative but he went on the 10-day list with no timetable. Parker Bridwell and Chad Kuhl pitched fine, saving my week, though Bridwell has another start today @ SEA and Sims’ start is today @ STL.
This time of year every start counts and there is no room for error as playoff spots are resting on some of these types of decisions. I’m not going to write up Chad Kuhl, RHSP, PIT this week but know that I am using him for his SAT start vs STL, and in fact have not dropped him yet anywhere. Maybe that makes him due to pull a Suter on me, though he is 2-0 in his past two starts, giving up a walk and no homers. The 6/1 K/BB from his last start is encouraging, as is the lack of HR. The Cards are 11th in the MLB in wOBA vs RHSP (.318) away from STL.
A couple of important injury notes:
Some bad news: Aside from the previously mentioned Trevor Cahill, The Yanks pitching health woes continued, as CC Sabathia (strained patellar tendon) & Masahiro Tanaka (shoulder fatigue) went on the DL this past week, though neither is thought to be serious. Jake deGrom left his last start with triceps soreness but it is not thought to be serious. That being said, this is the Mets. James Paxton is the bigger deal (strained pectoral) and may miss three weeks or more. King Felix may miss longer than first thought when he went back on the DL with a bout of tendinitis.
Some returning arms:
Last week I said, “Innings limit season is upon us and may affect the following starters immediately: Jordan Montgomery & Dylan Bundy, among others.” Already, both pitchers have been scheduled for starts next week, in Monty’s case because of an injury to CC. Look for them to get pulled soon after though as the clubs will want to get back on schedule. Some staffs have gluts after call-ups, returnees and ineffective starters which could cost starts or even rotation spots for Nick Martinez, Doug Fister, Chris Tillman, Blake Snell (demoted, then called back up already) and Matt Cain.
WEEK NINETEEN: 8/14 to 8/20: Trivia Question: Which Miami Marlins SP actually met his wife through Hunter Pence’s Twitter account?
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***AJ Griffin, RHSP, TEX (4.6 owned ESPN, 36% Owned in Fantrax) vs DET, TUE 8/15 & vs CHW, SUN 8/20: Griffin will have his first two home starts since May 14th after a stretch of away starts and DL stints. Sometimes it is hard to believe he is only 29 between his injury history and how long it seems he has been around. He appears plenty healthy now though. Over his past 50 innings, he’s pitching to a 42/16 K/BB leading to a 1.200 WHIP, although his ERA is 5.40 during that stretch due to his opponents launching 15 HR off him during that time.
Now that he has his rhythm back he is in line for two irresistible starts next week. The Tigers are dead last in the MLB with a wOBA against RHSP away of .288, and now are without JD Martinez, with Miggy and most of the remaining cast struggling lately as well. Then he is home vs the ChiSox who are 23rd in the MLB in wOBA away vs RHSP of .304.
***TWO START PITCHER***Adam Conley, LHSP, MIA (20.5% owned in ESPN, 46% owned Fantrax) vs SFG, MON 8/14 & @ NYM, SUN 8/20: Conley gave me a nice start two weeks ago and I like him for these two this
coming week. It is true the 27-year-old lefty has given up eight ER in his last 10 IP (2 starts), but prior to that, he reeled off three consecutive QS going 2-0 with 20 hits and four runs in 20.2 IP. Two of the four runs were solo HR and his 18/4 K/BB was better than his average output. The two bad games were against the offenses of Washington and Atlanta, while the three QS were against the easier matchups of Cincinnati, Philadelphia, and Texas. That makes me feel good as he meets the Giants who are dead last in wOBA vs LHSP @ .251 and the Mets who are 18th at .320 wOBA at home vs LHSP. The Mets will be without Jay Bruce who was traded last week.
***TWO START PITCHER***Ty Blach, LHSP, SFG (21% owned in ESPN, 46% owned Fantrax) @ MIA, MON 8/14 & ?????????????? SAT or SUN: Blach is one of the most added players in this category the past couple of days, sitting at 46% in Fantrax, up about 5% from last week. Not only does he have a great match-up @ MIA on Monday, but he has pitched three QS in a row, giving up 2 runs in each in 22 IP. In those three starts he has only given up one HR, but his 10/4 K/BB leaves much to be desired from a fantasy standpoint. Overall, if you owned him all season since he began starting games, you’d have a pitcher with an 8-7 record, 13 Quality Starts out of 18 starts, a 4.15 ERA, 1.289 WHIP and a low 63/27 K/BB in 128 IP. He won’t win you an ERA or Strikeout Title, but with some offense, he can pile up wins and QS. Miami is 25th in the MLB in wOBA at home vs LHSP at .293. At the time of this writing, there was not a 2nd start scheduled for late next week for Blach but I will update if I find out more.
Paul Blackburn, RHSP, OAK (38% owned in Fantrax) vs KCR WED 8/16: Blackburn has been on a seesaw the past few starts alternating 4 and 5 run outings with shutout ball several times. He is due for a good one this week if that pattern continues. More importantly, he gets the Royals at home in Oakland. Their only impact addition was Melky Cabrera. Overall, in eight starts since his call up, Blackburn is 3-1 in 50.2 IP, 3.02 ERA and 1.184 WHIP giving up only four HR. He is an extreme ground ball pitcher playing in a big park. His only wart is a miserable 20/13 K/BB in those 50.2 IP. So, if he keeps it down and avoids any long ones from the Moose, their only real HR threat without Perez active, he should be ok in this one. The Royals are 26th in wOBA away vs RHSP with a .298 wOBA.
Not for the faint of heart. Pitchers from the abyss:
***TWO START PITCHER***Jake Junis, RHSP, KC (7.7% owned ESPN & 12% owned Fantrax) @ OAK, MON 8/14 & vs CLE SUN 8/20: Junis will now likely replace Trevor Cahill in the Royals rotation for the foreseeable future. In his last start, he beat the Mariners going 8 innings pitched with four hits, one earned run, no HR, no BB and 7 K’s. Overall he is 4-2, 4.70 ERA & 1.386 WHIP in his brief MLB career. But he does have a decent 37/16 K/BB in 44 IP. The bulk of the problem has been HR’s, however of his nine HR, all but one have come in just three games. He is a rookie learning on the job and has been improving every week. Oakland is 18th in the MLB in wOBA at home vs RHSP (.326) and Cleveland has the 13th best wOBA away vs RHSP, .313, which is even worse than the Oakland mark.
Vance Worley, RHSP, MIA (6.5% owned in ESPN, 8% owned Fantrax) @ NYM, SAT 8/19: This is the first time all season I’m writing about Vance Worley, who I used this past week on my own teams. He has not disappointed as he has given up only one run over his last two starts covering 13 IP. In those two starts, he is 2-0 though he only has five K’s to three walks. He has never been a high K pitcher but seems to have the low sinkers working. He lowered his ERA two full runs during those two games. Next week he gets the New York Mets at Citi Field where they are 12th in wOBA against righties in the MLB (.317). Vance and his wife look happy there that he is back in the Bigs. The caption under this pic was this week’s trivia question answer: “Vance Worley Met His Fiancée Through Hunter Pence’s Twitter, All Thanks to John Mayberry’s Mermaid Fetish” I don’t know, I don’t want to know.
DFS PLAYERS: You may want to re-think starting him:
Justin Verlander, RHSP, DET @ TEX: Texas hits RHSP at home to the tune of a .353 wOBA, 4th in the MLB. Leave him on the bench with Kate Upton.
Rich Hill, LHSP, LAD @ DET: The Tigers hit a .362 wOBA, 2nd best in the MLB at home vs LHSP. No thanks.
Jake deGrom, RHSP, NYM @ NYY, TUE, 8/14 & vs MIA, SUN 8/20: The Yanks hit Righties at home at a .353 wOBA, good for 5th in the MLB, and the Miami Jeters hit a .325 wOBA against righties on the road. good for 8th in the MLB. Plus he has triceps soreness and is a Met. Need any more reasons to trade him today?
DFS CONTRARIAN MOVE: Scary Contrary, Don’t let your kids try this at home:
Jeff Samardzija, RHSP, SFG vs PHI, THU 8/17: Are you a gambler? Then don’t push your luck unless you can handle the stress. The Phils are 29th in the MLB in wOBA on the road (.297) vs Righties and the Shark can pile up the K’s. Wow your league mates.
DFS PLAYERS: Match-ups of the week:
Dallas Keuchel, LHSP, HOU vs OAK: Oakland is dead last in the MLB in wOBA vs lefties on the road at .256.
Chris Sale, LHSP, BOS vs NYY: The Yanks are 27th in MLB wOBA vs lefties away at .285
Luis Severino, RHSP, NYY @ NYM: The Mets are 24th in the MLB vs righties at home at .317.
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 nineteen, 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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