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Two-Start Pitcher Streamers for Week 10

We were spoiled in Week 9 with a packed Memorial Day slate of games last Monday. That is not the case this week as we only have eight teams playing on Monday (NYY/DET doubleheader). That significantly reduces the amount of two-start pitchers we have for Week 10.

However, that doesn’t mean we have zero options to choose from when streaming. There are still favorable matchups and under-owned pitchers out there and we’ve done the digging for you.

Last week, we uncovered gems like Caleb Smith, Jeremy Hellickson, and Marco Gonzales. They combined for three earned runs and 11 strikeouts in 18.2 innings for their first starts of Week 9. This piece was written before their second starts of the week. Hopefully, I didn’t just jinx them before their last start of Week 9.

 

Week 10 Streamers Under 50% Owned

Joe Musgrove, PIT (50% owned)

Probable opponents: vs. LAD, @ CHC

Please, allow some leniency with this selection. I’m breaking the rules and choosing someone who is exactly 50 percent owned, as I type this piece. As I mentioned in the open, it’s slim pickens for two-start streamers this week. Musgrove has performed well in his only two outings of 2018. He has a combined 0.64 ERA (one earned run allowed) with 12 strikeouts in 14 innings of work. In his last start, Musgrove went seven innings and struck out five batters, while allowing one earned run, against the Cubs. He’ll face them in his second start of Week 10. As for the Dodgers, they are 17th in team wOBA (.319) against right-handed pitchers this season.

Fernando Romero, MIN (49% owned)

Probable opponents: vs. CWS, vs. LAA

It was a forgettable outing for Romero’s last start: 1.2 IP, 8 ER, and 1 K (@ KC). It was Romero’s only appearance this season where he allowed more than three earned runs and didn’t pitch at least five complete innings. Thankfully, he won’t face the Royals in Week 10. He will meet the White Sox in his first start of the week. Chicago is 28th in runs scored this year (209 runs in 53 games) and 11th in team strikeouts (495). As for opponent No. 2, the Angels, Romero already squared off against them on May 13th: 5 IP, 1 ER, and 6 K.

Danny Duffy, KC (45% owned)

Probable opponents: @ LAA, @ OAK

Don’t be fooled by Duffy’s 5.71 ERA. He’s compiled two bounce-back efforts recently. In Duffy’s last two combined starts, he’s allowed a total of two earned runs and struck out nine batters in 13.2 innings of work. Thus far, he’s allowed one earned run, or less, in five of his 12 outings. In the other seven starts, he allowed at least four earned runs. He’s the ultimate boom-or-bust streaming option. Thankfully, the Angels and Athletics are 27th (.297) and 24th (.302), respectively, in team wOBA against left-handed pitchers. Also, Oakland is sixth in team strikeouts this season (512).

 

Under 25% Owned

Zach Eflin, PHI (11% owned)

Probable opponents: @ CHC, vs. MIL

It has been back-to-back rough outings for Eflin. He’s allowed five earned runs in two straight starts (@ LAD, vs. TOR). On the bright side, he struck out 12 batters during those 8.2 innings of action. While neither the Cubs or Brewers will be an easy task in Week 10, at least Milwaukee is ninth in team strikeouts this season (499). Eflin should only be used in situations where you need to bolster your strikeout production. If you’re worried about the ERA hit your team could take, you should probably look toward other options in Week 10.

Clayton Richard, SD (9% owned)

Probable opponents: vs. ATL, @ MIA

Richard may have a 4.74 ERA, but he’s allowed only two earned runs in three of his last four starts. His latest outing was against a team Richard will face in Week 10, the Marlins. He pitched seven innings and struck out five fish, while allowing two earned runs on four hits. As for his first opponent this week, the Braves, Richard will have the pleasure of pitching at home in that contest. This season, Richard is 1-3 at Petco Park, but has a 3.86 ERA (6.26 ERA on the road).

Nathan Eovaldi, TB (8% owned)

Probable opponents: @ WSH, vs. SEA

Welcome back, Mr. Eovaldi! In his return to action, Eovaldi pitched six no-hit innings against the Athletics, while striking out four and only walking one. Even returning from Tommy John surgery, Eovaldi peaked at 100.2 mph on the radar gun and even 97 mph in the fifth inning. That’s very promising considering what we’ve seen from other pitchers performing after a similar surgery (Alex Reyes). He’ll travel to D.C. to face the Nationals and then host the Mariners this week.

 

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Week 10 Waiver Wire: H2H Category Streamers

I like to consider myself a pioneer of the streaming approach. I won a league about seven years ago completely ignoring saves and just stacking up the starts each week. While streaming is undoubtedly more directly associated with pitching, there's plenty of value in streaming for offense as well.

Maybe you have a stacked roster and you can't drop anyone. But for those of us with a couple of guys on the roster fringes, it's never too early to look into targeting a specific player or two to gain an edge in a particular category. This season, I will be making weekly recommendations for extreme short term category specialists every week in three offensive areas: speed, power, and average; and three pitching areas: strikeouts, wins, and ratios (ERA/WHIP).

Below are my Week 10 category streamers for fantasy baseball. All position eligibility and ownership percentages are based on Yahoo! fantasy leagues.

 

Head-to-Head Category Streamers to Consider

Speed

Michael A. Tayor (OF, WAS) - 23% Owned

Adam Eaton is getting closer to returning, but he's not quite back yet. Michael A. Taylor still has a daily starting job for the Nationals. He stole two bases in a game this past Wednesday and has been better at the plate over the past two weeks or so, hitting over .250. With Taylor getting on base at an increased rate, he becomes a more appealing streaming option for steals.

Adam Engel (OF, CWS) - 1% Owned

This one is a really deep streamer. In 2015, Adam Engel stole 65 bases in a full minor league season, so we have proof of his immense speed. In his first 150 plate appearances this season, Engel stole eight bases. While that's not on pace for 60 steals, it's still more than 30, which is very usable in fantasy. Engel has stolen three in the past two weeks while hitting a respectable .267. His overall average will do you no favors, but when he gets on base, he can run.

 

Power

Mark Reynolds (1B, WAS) - 23% Owned

This is the second consecutive week for Mark Reynolds on this list and he has already rewarded owners with a home run this past week. With Ryan Zimmerman still out, Reynolds still has a mostly every day spot in this lineup. His power is well documented over his career so ride him while he's still hot and active.

Adam Duvall (OF, CIN) - 37% Owned

Adam Duvall hadn't homered in the past two weeks until he hit a grand slam on Wednesday as I was writing this, but he will spend the entirety of next week's slate in Cincinnati, giving him ample opportunity to get hot. The batting average will kill you, but if you're purely looking for long balls, Duvall should hit a couple next week.

 

Average

Gorkys Hernandez (OF, SF) - 23% Owned

Who doesn't like saying "Gorkys?" Wouldn't it be even better if he were on your team? Gorkys Hernandez is hitting over .300 to start the season and although he's a career .250 hitter, Hernandez's soft contact rate is down while his hard hit rate is up. We have reason to believe this increase in average is legitimate. Ride the heat wave.

Albert Almora (OF, CHC) - 8% Owned

Albert Almora is a career .299 hitter that is off to a .319 start to the season. He doesn't contribute much in other categories, making him the quintessential "empty batting average," but hey, that's what this section is all about. Almora is seeing increased playing time as of late so if you want hits and nothing else, he's your man.

 

Strikeouts

Dan Straily (SP, MIA) - 10% Owned

A guy with a career 7.74 K/9 isn't the ideal streamer for strikeouts. Fortunately for Dan Straily, his start next week should come against the Padres, who are second in the league in striking out and generally not very good at scoring runs. Straily is a strong option against the Padres.

Tyler Mahle (SP, CIN) - 11% Owned

When you're streaming for strikeouts only, you can roll with pitchers on bad teams. Tyler Mahle qualifies. His start next week will likely be against the Rockies who rank in the top third of the league in striking out offensively. Mahle's 8.59 K/9 should be higher after his outing against the Rockies.

Wins

Domingo German (SP, NYY) - 8% Owned

The Yankees are second in the league in runs scored. The Mets are 23rd in the league in runs scored. Domingo German projects to face the Mets at Citi Field next week. It is hardly a road game. The Yankees will be favored in all three of their games against the Mets. German is good enough to get the win.

Tyler Anderson (SP, COL) - 8% Owned

While the Reds aren't nearly as bad as their record would indicate, they're still not a good team, ranking in the bottom half in runs scored. The Rockies, on the other hand, are atop the NL West. Tyler Anderson's start next week is in Cincinnati. The Rockies will be favored and it should be a win.

 

ERA/WHIP

Nick Tropeano (SP, LAA) - 6% Owned

Nick Tropeano is off to a good, not great start to his season with an ERA slightly under 4.00 and a solid WHIP of 1.24. Next week, he projects to face the Twins, a team that ranks second to last in runs scored. Tropeano won't even have to be on his best game to shut the Twins down.

Seth Lugo (SP, NYM) - 4% Owned

Interleague play should benefit the Mets here as Seth Lugo has a home start against the offensively challenged Orioles next week. The Orioles are bottom five in runs scored and Lugo has been very solid in relief appearances this season to the tune of a sub 2.50 ERA and a WHIP hovering around 1.00. Lugo is replacing Noah Syndergaard in the Mets rotation, which gives you the opportunity to spot start him next week.

 

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Week 10 Points League Waiver Wire Targets and Drops

Welcome back for another week of advice for points league waiver wire moves. This segment will include waiver wire adds, drops, and streaming pitchers for the upcoming week. This article will be geared specifically toward points leagues. Every points league is different, so keep that in mind. Walks and extra base hits are more valuable, whereas AVG and ERA are not important, so consider that as well.

Some players will be suggested as streamers (while they are hot), or as rest-of-season adds (ride them all year).

As always, feel free to follow and message me on Twitter @BlakeSullivanFF for any fantasy advice or for further reasoning with this segment. Without further ado, let's take a look at some players that you should either add or drop.

 

Points League Players to Add 

Jon Jay (OF, KC) - 14% owned

Jon Jay has a hit in 27 of his last 29 games. Any points league players love getting a consistent player like Jay because he can be put in the lineup and will score. Jay has a .455 BABIP. He's slashing .500/.591/1.091. His stolen bases are down to only three this year. Jay is most valuable in deep leagues, but offers a great option for teams dealing with injuries or inconsistent play.

Brandon Nimmo (OF, NYM) - 39% owned

Brandon Nimmo has been red hot. He has a .429 wOBA. His .431/.574/1.004 slash line for the season is quite impressive. His five stolen bases and six home runs offer the opportunity for high scoring nights. He's only 25 years old, so he has a ton of value in dynasty formats as he nears his prime seasons. His OPS has risen almost 200 points in each of his seasons so far.

Gorkys Hernandez (OF, SFG) - 19% owned

Gorkys Hernandez's numbers don't necessarily make you run to get him, but he would be a great streaming option while he's hot. he has a slash line of .336/.492/.828. He has a .300 AVG. His.354 wOBA is more telling of how his slightly above average season. Throughout March and April his average was only .256. In May he has a much improved .325 AVG. This may be a sign of what the rest of his season will be like. At only 19% owned he makes a good streaming candidate if not a rest of season candidate.

 

Points League Pitchers to Stream

Joe Musgrove (SP/RP, PIT) - Tuesday 6/5/18 vs. LAD - 29% owned

Joe Musgrove has only two starts this season, but he has been spectacular. He has gone seven innings in both starts. He gets the extra bonus of having a two start week. He has only given up one run while striking out 12 batters. Musgrove has given up a lot of base hits, but he has a LOB% of 93.8. This means that he has been able to get out of jams when he does get runners on base. Musgrove is only 25 years old and has a lot of potential. He should be streamed in all leagues but should be held onto for quite awhile in dynasty formats.

Nathan Eovaldi (SP, TB) - Tuesday 6/5/18 vs. WSH - 9% owned

Nathan Eovaldi is another pitcher with a two start week. He's also a pitcher that has performed well but started the season late. Eovaldi is coming back from Tommy John surgery. He was still able to top 100 mph on his fastball. He was eased back into action but threw six no-hit innings in his first game back. He only struck out four batters but also only walked one batter. His control was good for someone making their first start. Be careful with him because of how Tampa is using their rotation. They have used many relievers to make starts this season which could cut into his time. That being said, it may help keep him sharp and producing for the whole season. He's well worth the addition for at least this week.

Caleb Smith (SP, MIA) - Friday 6/8/18 vs. SD - 35% owned

Caleb Smith has an 11.02 K/9. Although he only gets one start this week, he should have a chance to perform well against the San Diego Padres. If he were playing on a team better than the Marlins, he would have a better record than 4-5. He has had his ups and downs this year struggling with walks at times. When his command has been good he is actually one of the better pitchers in the league for points. Smith isn't the answer to all your problems, but his ERA is .58 better than the league average. Smith is a great add for teams looking for a hot arm to stream or if they need more pitching depth in general.

 

Points League Players to Drop

Byron Buxton (OF, MIN) - 43% owned

Byron Buxton has not lived up to his expectations so far. He has dealt with injuries to begin the season, but just now was sent to the 10 day DL. It's time to quit waiting on him to get healthy. He's still owned in 43% of leagues despite a .156 AVG. The only thing going for him at the moment is his five stolen bases. That's a low total for him, but he has no home runs and only four RBI. Even in dynasty formats it's getting hard to stick with Buxton. Even if he comes back fine from all his injuries it may take awhile to balance out the cost of waiting.

Jonathan Lucroy (C, OAK) - 30% owned

Jonathan Lucroy is losing value because of his playing time. He has recently lost some of his starts. Lucroy has 12 RBI, but no power to speak of. His wOBA is an unimpressive .293. Lucroy is 32 years old and is winding down his career. He still offers some value and is useful in two-catcher leagues. There are more and more young catchers with great offense such as Gary Sanchez and Wilson Contreras coming into the league. There are also veteran players hitting better than Lucroy such as Yadier Molina and Buster Posey. Catchers are one of the lowest scoring positions, and the most valuable thing is to have an everyday catcher to rely on.

Trey Mancini (1B/OF, BAL) - 63% owned

It seems like a little bit of a stretch to drop Trey Mancini. Before I go into the numbers, I want to clarify only to drop him in redraft leagues. At 26 years old and three seasons into his career, he still has things to figure out and has a good upside. There are a lot of outfielders and first basemen that are emerging this year as consistent and available producers. His OPS is down from .826 last season to .681 this season. One of the most telling statistics is that his offensive WAR is down from 2.8 last year to 0.3 this season. Obviously he had a great season last year, but so far his seven home runs are the only thing that are keeping his value where it is. He's only had six hits in his last 45 at bats. You should use your common sense on this move. If you have injuries or there aren't any options available then don't do it, but he's drop able in most leagues.

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Are You For Real? Surprising SP Starts (Week 9)

Welcome to our surprising starts series. Every week we’ll be going over a few surprising starting pitcher performances around the majors to determine whether these starts were smoke and mirrors or something more.

This week we saw two Oakland right-hander's shut down the scuffling Diamondbacks. We also saw one of the key pieces to the Rays pitching experiment turn in his best performance yet.

Daniel Mengden has had a dominant month, which was capped by a CGSO of the Diamondbacks on Saturday. Frankie Montas pitched well against those same Diamondbacks the next day in his first MLB start of 2018. Ryan Yarbrough continued to pitch well after following Sergio Romo and turned in eight strikeouts against the Orioles.

 

Real Deal or Mirage?

Daniel Mengden, Oakland Athletics

2018 stats prior to this start: 57.1 IP, 3.30 ERA, 3.45 FIP, 6.3 K/BB ratio

05/26 vs. ARI: 9 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K

Daniel Mengden’s season long stats are sparkling. He has a 2.85 ERA and an elite 7.17 K/BB ratio, which is the fourth best in the majors. Despite these stats, there are a few factors that make him a surprising starter. One, nobody believed in him. He was only 10% owned in Yahoo leagues prior to this start. Two, he has fooled us (well, fooled this writer at least) in the past. During his rookie year Mengden went four straight starts allowing three runs or fewer only to get blasted for the rest of the season and ultimately wound up with a 6.50 ERA. In 2017 he only made a few forgettable spot starts before posting a 1.54 ERA in September in 35 innings. Those September stats were questionable as Mengden was riding a .221 BABIP and 5% HR/FB ratio to much of his success. Third, his 5.83 K/9 is the sixth lowest among qualified starters, and the names below him aren’t pretty. His ownership has shot up 43% since this start, but can we finally trust Daniel Mengden?

Something to look at when a pitcher is doing unexpectedly well or pitching better than he ever has before is pitch mix. Looking at Mengden’s pitch mix the only thing he is doing differently is incorporating a sinker into his repertoire. The sinker has served him well as batters are hitting just .192 against it. It has been much better than his four-seamer, which batters are hitting .291 against this season and .279 against it all time. The sinker’s success has come from a .163 BABIP, which seems unsustainably low considering it only has a 43% groundball rate against and a 25% line drive rate against. According to Baseball Prospectus the average MLB sinker has a 53.8% groundball rate, so his sinker is getting a below average amount of groundballs yet has an astonishingly low BABIP against. This questionable sinker performance is only the tip of a larger issue with Mengden’s performance going back to last season, which is an incredibly low BABIP and no underlying metrics supporting an ability to manage balls in play the way we've seen pitchers like Kyle Hendricks do in seasons past.

Mengden has a .246 BABIP against and a .228 batting average against this season, but according to Statcast he has a .286 xBA , giving him the second largest gap between BA and xBA among qualified starters after Sean Manaea. He also has the third highest gap between SLG and xSLG (.374 SLG, .507 xSLG) and second highest gap between wOBA and xWOBA (.261 wOBA, .344 xwOBA). Mengden had similar discrepancies between surface stats and expected stats in 2017. His 16.6% soft contact rate and 89.2 MPH average exit velocity against are both worse than league average and don't suggest that he is doing anything special with contact management. Between last season and this season Mengden has been quite fortunate, and since this is only a 109 inning sample size it is far too early to consider whether Mengden can consistently outperform these metrics.

There are some things to like with Mengden, chiefly his stunning 2.3% walk rate. Mengden has the lowest walk rate among qualified pitchers. Eat your heart out, Miles Mikolas. This will pretty much ensure a low WHIP for Mengden, which can be a hard category to make up ground in as we get deeper into the season. He has also done a good job of suppressing home runs with a 0.81 HR/9 this season. His HR/FB rate is only 7.9%, a slight drop from the 11% in years past and Mengden may be due for regression, though his home ballpark has a home run factor of just .497 this season, lowest in the majors.

Verdict:

The peripherals suggest that Mengden has been among the most fortunate pitchers in baseball this season, and his 4.18 SIERA could be a sign of things to come. Mengden should help with WHIP and ERA to an extent, but his 5.83 K/9 is so low that it is actively detrimental. Strikeouts are more than an indicator of pitcher skill, they are one of the five pitching categories and extremely low strikeout pitchers like Mengden require owning high strikeout pitchers to even out Mengden’s inadequacy. He pairs well with someone like Caleb Smith as two back of the rotation arms. They balance out each other’s flaws. Mengden is especially good at home where he has a 2.54 ERA. He is usable as a streamer or a back-end rotation piece, but expect regression.

 
Ryan Yarbrough, Tampa Bay Rays

2018 stats prior to this start: 43.2 IP, 3.30 ERA, 3.73 FIP, 3.6 K/BB ratio

05/25 vs. BAL: 7 IP,7 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K

This wasn’t technically a start because the Rays used Sergio Romo as an opener, but Yarbrough gave us the volume of a start and should be viewed as a starter from a fantasy perspective. Yarbrough has had a great May, delivering a 2.54 ERA, 3.11 FIP, and 6.8 K/BB ratio in 28.1 innings during the month. Some of those appearances were starts and some were in relief, but he went at least five innings in all of them. Yarbrough mostly uses three pitches, an 89.5 MPH four-seamer fastball, 87.4 MPH cutter, and 81.5 MPH changeup. He mixes in a slider occasionally, but he mostly uses a two-fastball combo with the changeup.

In this start he threw more changeups than four-seamers for the first time this season and got five of his 11 swinging strikes with the changeup. The changeup has been his most effective swing-and-miss pitch, but that’s not saying much as it only has a 13% swinging strike rate. Overall Yarbrough has an uninspiring 6.8% swinging strike rate this season, which is the eighth lowest among pitchers with at least 40 innings logged this season. Jake Arrieta is the only mixed-league relevant pitcher with a swinging strike rate lower than Yarbrough. The strikeout totals we’ve seen from Yarbrough are suspect, and he only had a strikeout rate greater than 21% at High-A ball and above once, though that was 2017 at Triple-A. Even if the strikeout totals drop there are other reasons to be encouraged by Yarbrough.

He makes up for his swing-and-miss deficiency by regularly inducing weak and favorable contact. He has an 85.7 MPH average exit velocity against, the 14th lowest among pitchers with at least 100 batted ball events. Yarbrough also has a 19% infield flyball rate, and this is something he has excelled at in the minors. He only had and infield flyball rate below 19% once at any level of the minors. His cutter, while not a pitch that will rack up whiffs, has a 46% infield flyball rate and 51% groundball rate. Batters are hitting just .146 against the pitch with zero extra-base hits. It cuts away from lefties and in on righties, making the cutter tough to handle regardless of handedness. Because Yarbrough limits quality contact the gaps between his actual stats and expected stats aren’t as pronounced compared to Daniel Mengden. Yarbrough has a .213 BA against and a .233 xBA, and a .275 wOBA against compared to a .300 xWOBA. Regression may be coming for Yarbrough, but he should be able to limit the damage even if the strikeout totals drop.

Verdict:

Because of his unique role, Yarbrough’s value depends heavily on league settings. In leagues with weekly or yearly start limits he is a must-own. In leagues that use quality starts instead of wins his value is diminished. His strikeout rate does not seem sustainable, but Yarbrough does not give up hard contact often nor does he surrender extra base hits often. Expect his ERA to rise, probably to somewhere around his 3.80 SIERA. Yarbrough is still in streamer territory in mixed leagues, but he has the potential to move beyond that. There is more to like with Yarbrough's performance compared to Mengden's.

 
Frankie Montas, Oakland Athletics

2018 stats prior to this start (Triple-A): 41 IP, 4.39 ERA, 4.83 FIP, 2.54 K/BB ratio

05/27 vs. ARI: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K

Montas had some prospect pedigree once upon a time, but after three trades and slow development through the minors the 25-year-old has seen his star fade over the past few seasons. He was atrocious in 32 innings of relief last season for Oakland, posting a 7.03 ERA, 7.13 FIP, and 1.8 K/BB ratio. Sunday’s start marked the first encouraging sign for him at the major league level. He got it done primarily with his sinker, which he threw 57% of the time on Sunday. He also threw a four-seamer and slider about equally in this start, as well as two changeups.

Despite pitching off his sinker Montas only had a 30.8% groundball rate, which is significantly below average. A one game sample size is too small to draw conclusions on batted ball distribution, but this continues a trend for Montas. He routinely has groundball rates between 40-50% in the minors, but only has a 35.7% groundball rate across three seasons in the majors. He has only pitched 53 major league innings, but it’s concerning to see that one of his biggest strengths as a prospect has failed to translate to the big leagues up until this point. He has also posted above average infield flyball rates in the minors, usually above 15%, but has a career 6.5% infield flyball rate in the majors. He has been a disappointment in the majors because he doesn’t have strikeout stuff and has failed to excel with contact management the way he did in the minors. Again, one start and 53 innings total isn’t enough of a sample size to draw definitive answers from, but this is a bad trend.

Montas also only got eight swinging strikes in this game, meaning his whiff total was barely higher than his strikeout total. The Diamondbacks have a .266 wOBA against right-handed pitching, the lowest in the majors. They also strike out 26.2% of the time against righties, the third highest in the majors. Montas’ performance says more about the Diamondbacks’ lineup than it does about his talent level. He has been so unencouraging during his other big league stints that we need to see him do it more and we need to see him do it against better opponents.

Verdict:

Montas faced a bad opponent at the right time to put up a solid spot start. This will probably earn him a spot in the Oakland rotation for at least a few more turns, but he doesn’t deserve a spot in yours. We need to see him do it at least once more, if not twice, before considering him in mixed leagues. Montas is at least worth a flier in AL-Only or deep mixed leagues based on pedigree, but he’s hard to trust even in a good matchup at Kansas City next time out.

 

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Week 9 Start/Sit Matchups - Starting Pitchers

You know what it is--it's my updated starts/sits column for Week 9! Your friendly neighborhood @Roto_Dubs is back again this year with his weekly starting pitcher matchups. This is our fifth year now writing this weekly column, helping fantasy baseball managers pick the best pitchers weekly.

Below are the projected starting pitching matchups for Week 9, which will be updated as rotations are inevitably tweaked.

If you've got any questions about which pitchers can capitalize on a juicy matchup and which ones might be worth putting on the pine against a fierce offense, this is the weekly piece for you. For every week of the fantasy baseball season, we look to analyze all of the projected starting pitcher matchups and put together our optimal lineups. Here at RotoBaller, we believe that it’s key to analyze every SP matchup, each and every week, to help determine which SPs to start/sit and to hopefully find some hidden gems to bolster your teams. Let's set those optimal lineups!

 

SP Matchups & Start/Sit Recommendations

This weekly piece considers the pitcher’s opponents, their career stats against the opponent, some ballpark factors and historical splits. With all of this information, we then provide our start/sit recommendations for each starting pitcher matchup for the approaching week of fantasy baseball.

PROBABLE PITCHERS (5/28/18) - MONDAY
GAME VISITING STARTER START/SIT HOME STARTER START/SIT
CHC@PIT Mike Montgomery RP | CHC SIT Chad Kuhl SP | PIT START
CHW@CLE Dylan Covey SP | CHW SIT Adam Plutko SP | CLE START
CIN@ARI Homer Bailey SP | CIN SIT Matt Koch RP | ARI START
HOU@NYY Justin Verlander SP | HOU START Domingo German RP | NYY SIT
LAA@DET Tyler Skaggs SP | LAA START Matthew Boyd SP | DET START
MIA@SD Caleb Smith RP | MIA START Eric Lauer SP | SD START
MIN@KC Lance Lynn SP | MIN SIT Jake Junis SP | KC START
NYM@ATL Jacob deGrom SP | NYM START Max Fried RP | ATL SIT
PHI@LAD Vince Velasquez SP | PHI START Brock Stewart RP | LAD SIT
SF@COL Andrew Suarez SP | SF SIT Chad Bettis SP | COL START
STL@MIL Luke Weaver SP | STL START Brent Suter SP | MIL SIT
TB@OAK Chris Archer SP | TB START Trevor Cahill SP | OAK START
TEX@SEA Doug Fister SP | TEX SIT Marco Gonzales SP | SEA START
TOR@BOS Aaron Sanchez SP | TOR SIT David Price SP | BOS START
WAS@BAL Gio Gonzalez SP | WAS START Alex Cobb SP | BAL SIT
PROBABLE PITCHERS (5/29/18) - TUESDAY
GAME VISITING STARTER START/SIT HOME STARTER START/SIT
CHC@PIT Jon Lester SP | CHC START Nick Kingham SP | PIT START
CHW@CLE Lucas Giolito SP | CHW SIT Mike Clevinger SP | CLE START
CIN@ARI Luis Castillo SP | CIN START Zack Godley SP | ARI SIT
HOU@NYY Charlie Morton SP | HOU START CC Sabathia SP | NYY SIT
LAA@DET Nick Tropeano SP | LAA START Michael Fulmer SP | DET START
MIA@SD Dan Straily SP | MIA START Tyson Ross SP | SD START
MIN@KC Kyle Gibson SP | MIN SIT Danny Duffy SP | KC START
NYM@ATL Steven Matz SP | NYM SIT Anibal Sanchez SP | ATL SIT
PHI@LAD Jake Arrieta SP | PHI START Kenta Maeda SP | LAD START
SF@COL Jeff Samardzija SP | SF SIT Kyle Freeland SP | COL START
STL@MIL Michael Wacha SP | STL START Zach Davies SP | MIL SIT
TB@OAK Blake Snell SP | TB START Daniel Gossett SP | OAK SIT
TEX@SEA Austin Bibens-Dirkx RP | TEX SIT Felix Hernandez SP | SEA SIT
TOR@BOS Marco Estrada SP | TOR SIT Rick Porcello SP | BOS SIT
WAS@BAL Jeremy Hellickson SP | WAS START Dylan Bundy SP | BAL START
PROBABLE PITCHERS (5/30/18) - WEDNESDAY
GAME VISITING STARTER START/SIT HOME STARTER START/SIT
CHC@PIT Kyle Hendricks SP | CHC START Joe Musgrove RP | PIT START
CHW@CLE Reynaldo Lopez SP | CHW START Corey Kluber SP | CLE START
CIN@ARI Sal Romano SP | CIN SIT Patrick Corbin SP | ARI START
HOU@NYY Dallas Keuchel SP | HOU SIT Luis Severino SP | NYY START
LAA@DET TBA TBD Mike Fiers SP | DET SIT
MIA@SD Jose Urena SP | MIA SIT Clayton Richard SP | SD SIT
MIN@KC Fernando Romero SP | MIN START Brad Keller SP | KC SIT
NYM@ATL Noah Syndergaard SP | NYM START Julio Teheran SP | ATL START
PHI@LAD Zach Eflin SP | PHI SIT Ross Stripling RP | LAD START
SF@COL Derek Holland SP | SF SIT Jon Gray SP | COL START
STL@MIL Alex Reyes SP | STL START Junior Guerra SP | MIL START
TB@OAK Nathan Eovaldi SP | TB SIT Sean Manaea SP | OAK START
TEX@SEA Matt Moore SP | TEX SIT James Paxton SP | SEA START
TOR@BOS Sam Gaviglio SP | TOR SIT Eduardo Rodriguez SP | BOS START
WAS@BAL Max Scherzer SP | WAS START David Hess P | BAL SIT
PROBABLE PITCHERS (5/31/18) - THURSDAY
GAME VISITING STARTER START/SIT HOME STARTER START/SIT
BOS@HOU Drew Pomeranz SP | BOS SIT Lance McCullers SP | HOU START
CHC@NYM Jose Quintana SP | CHC START Jason Vargas SP | NYM SIT
CLE@MIN Carlos Carrasco SP | CLE START Jake Odorizzi SP | MIN SIT
LAA@DET Andrew Heaney SP | LAA START Francisco Liriano RP | DET SIT
MIA@SD Wei-Yin Chen SP | MIA SIT Jordan Lyles RP | SD SIT
NYY@BAL Sonny Gray SP | NYY SIT Andrew Cashner SP | BAL SIT
PHI@LAD Aaron Nola SP | PHI START Clayton Kershaw SP | LAD START
PIT@STL Trevor Williams SP | PIT SIT Jack Flaherty SP | STL START
TB@OAK TBA TBD Daniel Mengden SP | OAK START
TEX@SEA Mike Minor RP | TEX SIT Wade LeBlanc RP | SEA SIT
WAS@ATL Tanner Roark SP | WAS START Sean Newcomb SP | ATL START
PROBABLE PITCHERS (6/1/18) - FRIDAY
GAME VISITING STARTER START/SIT HOME STARTER START/SIT
BOS@HOU Chris Sale SP | BOS START Gerrit Cole SP | HOU START
CHC@NYM Tyler Chatwood SP | CHC SIT Zack Wheeler SP | NYM START
CIN@SD Tyler Mahle SP | CIN SIT TBA TBD
CLE@MIN Trevor Bauer SP | CLE START Jose Berrios SP | MIN START
LAD@COL Alex Wood SP | LAD START Tyler Anderson SP | COL SIT
MIA@ARI Elieser Hernandez RP | MIA SIT Clay Buchholz SP | ARI START
MIL@CHW Chase Anderson SP | MIL START Hector Santiago SP | CHW SIT
NYY@BAL Masahiro Tanaka SP | NYY START Kevin Gausman SP | BAL SIT
OAK@KC Frankie Montas RP | OAK START Ian Kennedy SP | KC SIT
PHI@SF Nick Pivetta SP | PHI START Chris Stratton SP | SF SIT
PIT@STL Jameson Taillon SP | PIT START Miles Mikolas SP | STL START
TB@SEA TBA TBD Mike Leake SP | SEA START
TEX@LAA Bartolo Colon SP | TEX SIT Garrett Richards SP | LAA START
TOR@DET Jaime Garcia SP | TOR SIT Blaine Hardy RP | DET SIT
WAS@ATL Stephen Strasburg SP | WAS START Mike Foltynewicz SP | ATL START
PROBABLE PITCHERS (6/2/18) - SATURDAY
GAME VISITING STARTER START/SIT HOME STARTER START/SIT
BOS@HOU David Price SP | BOS START Justin Verlander SP | HOU START
CHC@NYM Mike Montgomery RP | CHC SIT Jacob deGrom SP | NYM START
CIN@SD Matt Harvey SP | CIN SIT Eric Lauer SP | SD START
CLE@MIN Adam Plutko SP | CLE START Lance Lynn SP | MIN SIT
LAD@COL Walker Buehler RP | LAD START German Marquez SP | COL SIT
MIA@ARI Caleb Smith RP | MIA START Zack Greinke SP | ARI START
MIL@CHW Jhoulys Chacin SP | MIL START James Shields SP | CHW SIT
NYY@BAL Domingo German RP | NYY SIT Alex Cobb SP | BAL SIT
OAK@KC Trevor Cahill SP | OAK START Jason Hammel SP | KC SIT
PHI@SF Vince Velasquez SP | PHI START Ty Blach SP | SF SIT
PIT@STL Chad Kuhl SP | PIT START Luke Weaver SP | STL START
TB@SEA Chris Archer SP | TB START Marco Gonzales SP | SEA START
TEX@LAA Cole Hamels SP | TEX START Tyler Skaggs SP | LAA START
TOR@DET J.A. Happ SP | TOR START Matthew Boyd SP | DET START
WAS@ATL Gio Gonzalez SP | WAS START Brandon McCarthy SP | ATL SIT
PROBABLE PITCHERS (6/3/18) - SUNDAY
GAME VISITING STARTER START/SIT HOME STARTER START/SIT
BOS@HOU Rick Porcello SP | BOS SIT Charlie Morton SP | HOU START
CHC@NYM Jon Lester SP | CHC START Steven Matz SP | NYM SIT
CIN@SD Homer Bailey SP | CIN SIT Tyson Ross SP | SD START
CLE@MIN Mike Clevinger SP | CLE START Kyle Gibson SP | MIN SIT
LAD@COL Kenta Maeda SP | LAD START Chad Bettis SP | COL SIT
MIA@ARI Dan Straily SP | MIA START Matt Koch RP | ARI START
MIL@CHW Brent Suter SP | MIL SIT Dylan Covey SP | CHW START
NYY@BAL CC Sabathia SP | NYY SIT Dylan Bundy SP | BAL START
OAK@KC Daniel Gossett SP | OAK SIT Jake Junis SP | KC START
PHI@SF Jake Arrieta SP | PHI START Andrew Suarez SP | SF SIT
PIT@STL Nick Kingham SP | PIT START Michael Wacha SP | STL START
TB@SEA Blake Snell SP | TB START Felix Hernandez SP | SEA SIT
TEX@LAA Doug Fister SP | TEX SIT Nick Tropeano SP | LAA START
TOR@DET Aaron Sanchez SP | TOR START Michael Fulmer SP | DET START
WAS@ATL Jeremy Hellickson SP | WAS START Anibal Sanchez SP | ATL SIT

 

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Two-Start Pitcher Streamers for Week 9

Thanks to Memorial Day weekend, we have 16 games on Monday (NYM/ATL doubleheader). That’s important because it significantly increases the amount of two-start streamers available to our player pool.

Last week, we provided gems like Nick Pivetta (7 IP, 0 ER, and 7 K in first start) and German Marquez (7 IP, 1 ER, and 5 K in first outing). However, two of our six streamers only pitched in one game last week. Which brings me to my next point…

As a reminder, rain can ruin our two-start streamer plans. If you’re torn between two options in the streamer department, lean towards the one playing on Monday (if the other is starting on Tuesday), that way you increase your odds of a pitcher playing in two games that week. Also, as usual, all ownership numbers are provided by Yahoo fantasy baseball leagues.

 

Week 9 Streamers Under 50% Owned

Tyson Ross, SD (49% owned)

Probable opponents: vs. MIA, vs. CIN

I was a little surprised to see the low ownership for Ross this far into the regular season. He hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs in four of the last five starts. Ross has also recorded at least six strikeouts in six of the last seven appearances. As for his first opponent of the week, the Marlins are 30th in the league with 172 runs scored. Ross will have the benefit of pitching at home for both starts this week. He’s 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 24 innings of action at Petco Park this season.

Jeremy Hellickson, WSH (45% owned)

Probable opponents: @ BAL, @ ATL

For the second time in three weeks I’m posting about Hellickson. He was only three percent owned in my Week 6 post and jumped to 42 percent in the Week 8 piece. Weather prevented a two-start schedule last week, but that just means he’s on the table for Week 9. Hellickson hasn’t allowed more than one earned run in his last four appearances and has struck out at least five batters in three consecutive games. He’s on the road for both outings this week. Hellickson is 1-0 with a 2.49 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 21.2 innings of work on the road.

Caleb Smith, MIA (28% owned)

Probable opponents: @ SD, @ ARI

It’s a mixed bag when Smith takes the mound. We’ve seen two-hit shutouts and five-run implosions. However, one strength for this streamer comes from his ability to produce punch outs. From his 10 outings in 2018, Smith was able to strike out at least seven batters in six starts. The Padres and Diamondbacks are both in the top four for team strikeouts this season. Both teams are also in the bottom six of the runs scored standings.

 

Under 25% Owned

Luiz Gohara, ATL (15% owned)

Probable opponents: vs. NYM, vs. WSH

It’s not official that Gohara will make to starts in Week 9, but I’m saying there’s a chance. Atlanta hosts the Mets for a doubleheader on Monday and Gohara is getting the nod for one of those matchups. As for Sunday, the starting pitcher hasn’t been announced, but Gohara could be an option In his first start of 2018, he pitched four innings and struck out six Phillies. However, he also walked four batters and allowed two earned runs.

Matt Koch, ARI (10% owned)

Probable opponents: vs. CIN, vs. MIA

Sometimes, the matchups are the main factors when streaming a starting pitcher from week to week. Koch has the same schedule as the previously mentioned Ross. The Marlins are 28th in team wOBA (.289) against right-handed pitchers this season. Miami is also 30th in runs scored (172 runs in 50 games). As for Koch, he’s allowed two earned runs, or less, in five of his seven starts this year. He also produced a season-high five strikeouts in his last outing.

Marco Gonzales, SEA (10% owned)

Probable opponents: vs. TEX, vs. TB

Looking at his last two starts, Gonzales hasn’t allowed an earned run and he’s struck out a total of eight batters in 12.2 innings of work. The Rangers lead the league with 518 strikeouts this season and Gonzales will face them in his first outing of the week. He’s tallied at least six strikeouts in four of the last seven starts. His last outing was also the deepest Gonzales has gone into a game. He pitched seven strong innings and threw a season-high 102 pitches.

 

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Hitter Streamers (Week 9) - Head-to-Head Leagues

Welcome back to my hitting streamers column for Week 9, taking a look at hitters to add or stream off the waiver wire for this week's scheduled games.

To keep things simple, I pick from players who are 50% owned or less and who play at least seven games in the week.  If someone jumps off the page at me as a less than seven game player, I may make an exception, but otherwise the advantage in number of games dictates my choices.

Streaming can be a valuable tool, by allowing you to feast on favorable pitching matchups and simply have your hitters play more games than your opponents' hitters. If you have the roster space, streaming a hitter can be useful not only to fill a vacant lineup spot, but also to fill in for someone who has five games that week or faces tough matchups. In 5x5 leagues, four of the five hitting categories are counting stats, making the value of extra games significant. Streaming also can allow you to target a specific category of need. Because of Memorial Day, more teams than normal have seven or more games this week, with two teams having eight games (Mets and Braves). While this means there are more streaming options from which to choose, it also means it is less likely that you have a player with few games. That being said, let's dive into the streamers.

 

Bats to Stream and Start in Week 9

Matt Kemp (OF, LAD) - 47% owned

When the Dodgers re-acquired Kemp this offseason, it was widely viewed as a salary cap maneuver. Many thought Kemp would not make the team. However, he has been rejuvenated, performing better in nearly all aspects. For our purposes, he has been knocking the cover off the ball, with a slash line of .327/.361/.510 and a wRC+ of 142. While skeptics may point to his high BABIP, believers would counter by noting that he has a career-high hard-hit rate and line-drive rate. Facing decent pitching matchups and with three games in Coors Field, he is a good bet for all around production (except for stolen bases). Stream him with confidence.

Franchy Cordero (OF, SDP) - 15% owned

Franchy has excellent pitching matchups this week. He faces five righties and generally poor pitching. That is a dream scenario for the Statcast darling who has seven homers and five steals in just 37 games. His strikeout rate means that he very well may hurt you in batting average, but he should provide excellent production in the other categories. With the scarcity of stolen bases these days, a player who can steal bases while still producing in other categories is incredibly valuable. Thus, Cordero represents the second best streaming option this week.

Yonder Alonso (1B, CLE) - 25% owned

Yonder, the powerful lefty, gets to face seven righties this week in favorable matchups. If now is not the week to start him, I don't know when you would. Even though Alonso's batting average struggles have continued into May despite a batted-ball profile that suggested his average would bounce back to his norm, I still believe. Moreover, he is batting .246 with a homer every 19 at bats versus righties this year. Alonso is a good bet this week to provide a homer or more along with decent run production and possibly serviceable average. If you don't need stolen bases, he is a great bet.

Michael Conforto (OF, NYM) - 48% owned

Conforto's bat is showing some signs of life of late, going 11/37 in his last 10 games with two homers and six RBIs. Given his immense potential, any sign of him heating up is worthy of adding him immediately. Further, he has eight games this week against decent pitching matchups. Even though his early season struggles certainly are cause for concern as to whether he is still battling injury, the potential gain is worth the risk. When he's right, he can be an elite power source and run producer with a decent batting average. Take a chance this week, and consider holding onto him rather than employing him as a mere streamer.

Jay Bruce (1B/OF, NYM) - 49% owned

Jay Bruce has been a disappointment to start the year. And it is not just bad luck. He is hitting the ball hard just 27.6% of the time, which is a career low. Unsurprisingly, then, his home run per fly ball rate is likewise at a career low. But, Bruce has averaged 32 homers over the past three years to go with an average of 96 RBIs. Despite no clear signs that he is turning things around, the fact that he has eight games this week against decent pitching matchups, combined with his track record of production, makes him worth the gamble if the other options are unavailable. And if he breaks out this week, consider holding onto him. If he turns the corner to his career norms, he is more than just a streamer in many leagues.

Brandon Nimmo (OF, NYM) - 11% owned

Nimmo has found himself at the plate this year, with an incredible 180 wRC+ and a .450 OBP coupled with a .541 SLG. In just 85 at bats, he has three homers and three steals. This week, the Mets play eight games against decent pitching matchups. While his strikeout rate means he likely will not continue to be an asset in the batting average department, he could be a good source of runs with the chance for a homer and a steal. A lot of his value is tied to OBP leagues, but that does not mean he is not a good value this week. Unless you are targeting one specific category that the other streamers provide, he is worth a look .

Aaron Hicks (OF, NYY) - 49% owned

Hicks has provided great production the past two years, albeit somewhat under the radar. In those 122 games, he has batted .262/20/74/71/15. That is decent production for an entire season, and he has done it in much less time.  This week he faces a few tough pitchers and a few pitchers who should provide an opportunity for an offensive outburst. Thus, he could have some bad games and still turn in a decent week. If you want to gamble on speed and power despite the matchups, take a chance on him.

 

Others to Consider

Delino DeShields, Jr. (OF, TEX) - 44% owned - In 347 career games, he has 71 stolen bases. If you need stolen bases, he is your best bet. He can also score some runs, but he is not likely to provide much else.

Dustin Pedroia (2B, BOS) - 25% owned - I am always hesitant to recommend someone coming off of an extensive injury, but that is why Pedroia is so low on the streaming list. His fantasy value is simply too high not to list at all.

 

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Week 9 Points League Waiver Wire Targets and Drops

Welcome back for another week of advice for points league waiver wire moves. This segment will include waiver wire adds, drops, and streaming pitchers for the upcoming week. This article will be geared specifically toward points leagues. Every points league is different, so keep that in mind. Walks and extra base hits are more valuable, whereas AVG and ERA are not important, so consider that as well.

Some players will be suggested as streamers (while they are hot), or as rest-of-season adds (ride them all year).

As always, feel free to follow and message me on Twitter @BlakeSullivanFF for any fantasy advice or for further reasoning with this segment. Without further ado, let's take a look at some players that you should either add or drop.

 

Points League Players to Add 

Mitch Moreland (1B, BOS) - 20% owned

Mitch Moreland is going to be the beneficiary of Hanley Ramirez getting designated for assignment. Moreland has been playing well, but was losing some playing time to Ramirez mainly due to the size of contract Ramirez had. His line of .390/.612/1.001 is a career best, even at age 32. His 10 doubles and seven home runs offer a good value considering he hasn't played full time to this point, but he can add even more value getting RBI in the heart of a very dangerous order. He already has 22 RBI, but that can go up quickly if he's hitting between Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez. His 14 BB are not overly impressive, but in his case they are lower due to pitchers having to be aggressive against him.

Jurickson Profar (SS/OF, TEX) - 24% owned

Jurickson Profar was viewed as a bust after a rough first couple years in the league, but he is still only 25 years old. He's getting into breakout/prime age for a hitter, and it is beginning to show with improved numbers. His 14 doubles are a career high as are his 26 RBI. Profar isn't a lights-out power hitter as far as home runs go, but he gets a lot of points off doubles and even triples. Over his last seven days he has three doubles, one home run, eight RBI and two stolen bases. His value isn't great as an outfielder, but it's pretty good for a shortstop.

Dustin Pedroia (2B, BOS) - 16% owned

Dustin Pedroia could make for a sneaky addition to your team. He isn't the top tier second baseman that he used to be, but he still offers a ton of upside for doubles and RBI. Many people have forgotten he even exists as he recovers from his knee surgery this off-season. He'll most likely share time with Eduardo Nunez when he first comes back, but eventually he should take the primary role. Pedroia has a career .300 AVG. He may be hitting toward the bottom of the order, but that might actually work in his favor. Pitchers have to be aggressive against the bottom of the Red Sox order to be able to be careful against Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez. He's had exactly 6000 at-bats in his career, so he should hit better with pitches that are in the zone consistently.

 

Points League Pitchers to Stream

Seranthony Dominguez (SP/RP, PHI) - 19% owned

I usually wouldn't include relief pitchers in this section, but this is a great opportunity for owners in points leagues that need someone to put up solid points every week. We all have weeks with pitchers who have negative point weeks, and others that score a bunch. Dominguez offers a lot of points if your league factors holds, which many do. He has only given up one hit in nine innings pitched. That's a pretty great start to a career. He has five holds and a save in eight appearances. Dominguez isn't a stranger to the strikeout either. He's averaging one per inning of work in his small sample size. Even if you don't get points for holds you should pick him up in deeper leagues for strikeouts and his possibility of being the closer in the future.

Vince Velasquez (SP, PHI) - Monday 5/28/18 vs. LAD - 23% owned

Vince Velasquez will face a Los Angeles Dodgers team that is improving, but he also gets to face the team with the third most strikeouts, the San Francisco Giants. The two-start week for one of the more underappreciated starting pitchers in the league offers a steady source of points or this next week. He isn't the long term answer for your team due to a 4.18 ERA that often limits how deep he can go into games. However, he does have 64 strikeouts and will add quite a few to that total this week.

Dan Straily (SP, MIA) - Tuesday 5/29/18 vs. SD - 6% owned

Dan Straily is mainly a streaming option for this week because of his recent play, and his high ceiling. Straily will have a two-start week. His first matchup will be against the San Diego Padres in the pitcher-friendly park. His second start will be in Arizona. Both those teams are in the bottom six of runs scored this season. Straily has had success lately as well. His last three starts totaled 18 innings pitched in which he gave up only three runs and struck out 16 batters. Both opponents he'll face next week are in the top four in number of strikeouts which should help him score a ton of points.

 

Points League Players to Drop

Manuel Margot (OF, SD) - 22% owned

Manuel Margot is one of many players in a jammed outfield. Travis Jankowski and Franchy Corddero have played well, but they weren't even expected to be prominent players this year. Hunter Renfroe and Wil Myers will both be coming off the disabled list shortly, complicating things even more. Margot is getting most of his value from stealing bases and pinch hitting when he doesn't start. It may not be necessary to drop him today, but in the very near future he may not see much action. His .199 AVG and lack of power is holding him back from competing to be the everyday starter.

Orlando Arcia (SS, MIL) - 17% owned

Orlando Arcia is safe to drop as he got demoted to the minor leagues to work on his game. He may figure it out and be back in no time, but he isn't the caliber of player that you can wait on. There are plenty of better options than Arcia at this point. He has a .194 AVG and only 13 RBI. Seven walks and two stolen bases don't add much value either.

Carlos Gonzalez (OF, COL) - 17% owned

Carlos Gonzalez has not lived up to his expectations. He has a poor .216 AVG with four home runs and 16 RBI. Gonzalez has been losing playing time to Gerardo Parra and David Dahl. Charlie Blackmon is the mainstay in the Colorado Rockies outfield. He doesn't get enough everyday work to keep a high value. He should be monitored in case something happens to promote him as the third starting outfielder. He could still be useful in very deep leagues, but should be dropped in most leagues.

 

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Week 9 Waiver Wire: H2H Category Streamers

I like to consider myself a pioneer of the streaming approach. I won a league about seven years ago completely ignoring saves and just stacking up the starts each week. While streaming is undoubtedly more directly associated with pitching, there's plenty of value in streaming for offense as well.

Maybe you have a stacked roster and you can't drop anyone. But for those of us with a couple of guys on the roster fringes, it's never too early to look into targeting a specific player or two to gain an edge in a particular category. This season, I will be making weekly recommendations for extreme short term category specialists every week in three offensive areas: speed, power, and average; and three pitching areas: strikeouts, wins, and ratios (ERA/WHIP).

Below are my Week 9 category streamers for fantasy baseball. All position eligibility and ownership percentages are based on Yahoo! fantasy leagues.

 

Head-to-Head Category Streamers to Consider

Speed

Jarrod Dyson (OF, ARI) - 3% Owned

This isn't an add/drop column, but you can drop Steven Souza everywhere. I get the fascination with a guy who has 30 home run upside, but his batting average is untenable and he rarely actually plays baseball. It's the latter issue that has given rise to Jarrod Dyson's reemergence into the fantasy world. Dyson stole 28 bases last year in just 390 plate appearances and 30 bases the year before in 337 plate appearances. He's really, really fast and now he's an every day outfielder again. You know what to do.

Mallex Smith (OF, TB) - 28% Owned

Alright, this might be the last week for Mallex Smith. I said he would be a mainstay on this list until he either faceplants or sees an uptick in ownership percentage. The latter is not going to happen, but the former might be. The batting average has dropped considerably over the past month. He still has elite speed, but he's typically hitting at the bottom of the order. When he gets on first with no one in front of him, he should take off. That's still worth the shot if you need steals.

 

Power

Mark Reynolds (1B, WAS) - 21% Owned

The Nationals brought in Mark Reynolds because of the medley of injuries they've dealt with. And Reynolds has done what he's always done - hit the ball far. He has four homers in his first 24 plate appearances. He's a long way removed from the guy who once hit 44 home runs in a season, but he's still got pop. As long as he's hot, ride the wave. Just know it will come crashing down at some point.

Jesus Aguilar (1B, MIL) - 49% Owned

This one is kind of on the border of stream and also pick up because he might be really good. Jesus Aguilar actually had a 30 home run season in AAA in 2016. He spent a lot of time in the minors, but is still only 27 years old and appears to be putting it all together. Aguilar has seven dingers on the season with five of them coming recently over a week's span. If he's still available, go get him and then probably keep him.

 

Average

Yuli Gurriel (1B, HOU) - 23% Owned

Yuli Gurriel apparently does not hit for power...at all. But he is a career .290 hitter and is hovering right around .280 this season. While facing the Yankees and Red Sox strong rotations is less than ideal, Gurriel should be just fine getting on base at a reasonable clip. His low strikeout rate will continue to bolster his ability to reach base.

Wilmer Difo (2B/3B/SS, WAS) - 7% Owned

While Wilmer Difo is only hitting .262 this season, he opens next week with a three game set against the Orioles. The Orioles' pitching staff ranks dead last in the league in batting average against. Difo is a decent enough hitter to take advantage of Baltimore pitchers' propensity for giving up base hits.

 

Strikeouts

Vince Velasquez (SP, PHI) - 28% Owned

Vince Velasquez projects to get two starts next week. I am interested in his second start - the one in San Francisco. Velasquez currently has a K/9 over 11.00 and the Giants strikeout the fourth most in the league. That's a combination ripe for tons of swings and misses.

Caleb Smith (SP, MIA) - 25% Owned

Caleb Smith also has a K/9 over 11.00. Next week, he projects to face the Diamondbacks, a team that ranks directly next to the Giants in team strikeouts. Strikeout pitchers against teams that love to strikeout is a recipe for success in the strikeout department. I've said strikeouts way too much. Go stream Smith.

 

Wins

Trevor Cahill (SP, OAK) - 24% Owned

The AL West is stacked. The Athletics are somehow over .500 and in fourth place. They will want to take full advantage of their series next week against the Royals, who are somehow 18 games under .500 and not in last place. Cahill has to be considered likely to secure a win in that contest.

Kyle Gibson (SP, MIN) - 22% Owned

The theme here is the same. The Royals are really bad and that is who Kyle Gibson projects to face early next week. The Twins are slightly under .500, which is still way better than the Royals. Gibson is by no means a superstar, but he's solid enough and should be able to take advantage of a weak opposing offense.

 

ERA/WHIP

Tyson Ross (SP, SD) - 46% Owned

Tyson Ross has a mid 3s ERA and gets a home start at the spacious PETCO Park against the Marlins on Monday. What more could you ask for? Sure, it would be nice if his ownership percentage were a little lower, but most of you will be able to utilize his services in this very favorable matchup.

Jordan Lyles (SP, SD) - 28% owned

I see you're sensing a theme here. I am not yet sure if Jordan Lyles will face the Marlins or the Reds next week, but either one is a fantastic spot. Lyles is experiencing a late breakout this season as his ERA currently sits lower than any full season he has in any professional level of baseball. Lyles has been around a while and now he is both pitching well and in a favorable situation with a weak opponent.

 

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Week 8 Points League Waiver Wire Targets and Drops

Welcome back for another week of advice for points league waiver wire moves. This segment will include waiver wire adds, drops, and streaming pitchers for the upcoming week. This article will be geared specifically toward points leagues. Every points league is different, so keep that in mind. Walks and extra base hits are more valuable, whereas AVG and ERA are not important, so consider that as well.

Some players will be suggested as streamers (while they are hot), or as rest-of-season adds (ride them all year).

As always, feel free to follow and message me on Twitter @BlakeSullivanFF for any fantasy advice or for further reasoning with this segment. Without further ado, let's take a look at some players that you should either add or drop.

 

Points League Players to Add 

Brandon Crawford (SS, SFG) - 35% owned

Brandon Crawford is on an eight-game hitting streak. Over the last 14 days, Crawford has a .435 AVG and a slash line of .471/.630/1.101. He should still be available to most. Only having nine walks hurts his value some in points leagues, but he is getting on base multiple times every game. He makes for a streaming candidate while he's hot in all leagues.

Jesus Aguilar (1B, MIL) - 17% owned

Jesus Aguilar has homered in three straight games. Aguilar will get regular time while Eric Thames is on the DL. If he stays hot he could take some of the starts at first base from Thames. He makes a great streaming candidate, but could turn into a player with a more prominent role. He has a slash line of .395/.608/.1.003. He should be able to be streamed as long as he has a role. He has 20 R, 20 RBI, 11 BB and seven HR in just 102 at-bats.

Austin Meadows (OF, PIT) - 16% owned

It might be a little bit early to say that Austin Meadows is going to be a good addition to your team, but he's off to a hot start even if it's only a small sample size. He already has five hits in just three games. Meadows is great in point leagues because he has power and speed, but isn't dependent on homers and steals alone. Through just the three games he already has a home run and a stolen base. Austin Meadows is in a spot to be the starting center fielder for a few more days until Starling Marte comes back from the DL. He's a good addition in dynasty leagues, but he might be better used as a streaming player in redraft leagues.

 

Points League Pitchers to Stream

Tyson Ross (SP, SD) - Wednesday 5/23/18 vs. WSH - 39% owned

Tyson Ross doesn't have the ideal matchup this week, but he has a two - start week next week. It can be hard to add these guys right before the week starts, so this would be a chance to get three solid starts from a waiver wire pitcher. Ross has 55 K so far this season which provides a lot of value. He has thrown exactly six innings in seven of his nine starts, so he's a safe play that you know what to expect from.

Jordan Lyles (SP, SD) - Sunday 5/27/18 vs. LAD - 20% owned

Jordan Lyles will only be making his fourth start of the year as he started the season in the bullpen. He may be a more risky start than Tyson Ross this week, but he draws a more favorable matchup against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Lyles threw 7.1 IP against the Colorado Rockies and only gave up one hit with 10 strikeouts. He has a high upside but is a riskier play. My advice is to pick up Ross, then see how your fantasy score is. If you are trailing by a lot I would start Lyles and hope for something impressive. If you have a lead or a close score stick with someone solid that has more of a record this season.

Jack Flaherty (SP, STL) - Saturday 5/26/18 vs. PIT - 33% owned

Jack Flaherty finally got his first win after his fourth start this year. He has pitched pretty well, and he had 13 strikeouts in his win against the Philadelphia Phillies. Flaherty is only a streaming option until The rotation is set for good. Alex Reyes is only a week away from a return to the majors where he'll most likely begin in the bullpen. Carlos Martinez and Adam Wainwright are also both injured, so there will have to be some moves made to accommodate for all the arms. As a Cardinals fan, I expect Wainwright to take a bullpen role and then Reyes or Flaherty will take the fifth spot.

 

Points League Players to Drop

Byron Buxton (OF, MIN) - 59% owned

Byron Buxton has been riddled with injuries this year, and many people in redraft already dropped him. He's still owned in a lot of leagues though. He has played in 20 games and only has a .164 AVG. The majority of Buxton's points come from stealing bases. Having a fractured toe earlier in the year makes that a little scary. Their isn't an upside for HRs or RBI, so it is time to drop him if you haven't yet.

Joe Mauer (1B/DH, MIN) - 15% owned

Joe Mauer isn't having a terrible season, but there are a few factors leading to the decision to drop him. The most obvious reason is that he's on the 10-day DL. Although Mauer has a high BB total with 28, he only has one home run and 11 RBI. Another factor contributing to his loss of value is that there are plenty of other first basemen that are putting up more points than Mauer. Dynasty owners are losing value even faster because Mauer is 35 years old. His great career probably wont last much longer, and he's quickly starting to lose value.

Kurt Suzuki (C, ATL) - 40% owned

Kurt Suzuki has put up good enough numbers to be a starter, and has actually been one of the better hitting catchers, but he has to share time with Tyler Flowers. Until his role is to play every day, he should be dropped. It's hard to win fantasy championships with players that aren't in the lineup. If you are in a team that utilizes two catcher spots, he should be kept but in all other leagues he doesn't have enough value. Suzuki has nine BB and six HR.

 

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Are You For Real? Surprising SP Starts (Week 8)

Welcome to our surprising starts series. Every week we’ll be going over a few surprising starting pitcher performances around the majors to determine whether these starts were smoke and mirrors or something more.

This week we saw Jack Flaherty strike out the world with his slider on Sunday. We also saw two Tigers' lefties continue to outperform their peripherals.

Flaherty leads the trio, and he has been on the radar since a nine strikeout performance on April 3rd. Matthew Boyd has been doing some interesting things with his slider, but has some questionable underlying numbers. Francisco Liriano epitomizes questionable underlying numbers.

 

Real Deal or Mirage?

Matthew Boyd, Detroit Tigers

2018 Stats prior to this start: 42 IP, 3.21 ERA, 3.62 FIP, 2.7 K/BB ratio

05/17 @ SEA: 6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 9 K

Based on his season long stats Boyd might not seem to qualify as a surprising starter, but despite solid surface numbers nobody is buying him. He is only 20% owned in Yahoo leagues as of writing this. There have been several starts from Boyd this season that could have warranted a write up, but for his profile put him in the Jarlin Garcia/Matt Koch class of pitchers. Yeah, they have had decent results, but we are just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Things fell apart for both Garcia and Koch, but Boyd won’t stop pitching well.

There is legitimate reason for skepticism. He is riding a .261 BABIP and 4.2% HR/FB ratio through his first eight starts despite being a predominantly flyball pitcher. He isn’t compensating for this by inducing an exorbitant number of pop-ups either. Boyd has a career low 9.2% infield-flyball rate. His average flyball distance of 194 feet puts him 16th out of 129 pitchers with at least 100 batted ball events. While that stat isn’t necessarily damning, it’s not good to be towards the top of the leaderboard. The only pitcher in the top 20 average flyball distance with a better HR/9 than Boyd is Justin Verlander. They only other pitchers with a HR/9 lower than one are Verlander, Max Scherzer, and Gerrit Cole. The rest of list features the likes of Josh Tomlin, Carson Fulmer, and Matt Harvey among similarly homer-prone pitchers. Which group do you think Boyd leans toward? There is no chance he maintains this home run rate, and with a 4.62 xFIP his production would take a nosedive had he been surrendering league average home run rates this season.

It’s not all gloom and doom for Boyd’s outlook though. There are some positive steps forward. He has a career high 11% swinging strike rate, making him above league average for the first time in his career. While his 7.69 K/9 doesn’t look like much of a jump over his 7.36 career mark his 21.1% raw strikeout rate is a 2.2% increase compared to his career rate. Boyd has also started using his slider significantly more in 2018, throwing it 34.6% of the time compared to just 10.3% last season. He’s also taken something off the pitch, as it’s averaging just 80.5 MPH this year when it was averaging just over 86 last season. It has also gained just over an inch of horizontal movement and just under and inch of vertical movement. These changes took the slider from being a decent pitch for Boyd to his best. Batters have a lower average (.173), ISO (.053), and BABIP (.283) against the pitch compared to his career and it has an 18.11% whiff rate. Let’s compare one from his last start (bottom) to one from 2017 (top)

2017

2018

Not only is the velocity lower, but it has movement inside towards right-handed hitters. This can help diminish some of his issues with right handed hitters. Righties have a .342 wOBA against Boyd all time but just a .290 wOBA against him this season. He is using the slider a lot more in general, but especially against righties. He threw it 12% of the time against righties last season, but is throwing it 33% of the time this season, including 45% of the time with two strikes. Boyd can get righties out now with this pitch.

Verdict:

There are certainly things in this profile to shy away from. The 4.2% HR/FB ratio will certainly climb. Boyd’s 0.56 HR/FB is wholly unsustainable based on the way he has pitched. He has taken big strides with his slider and it looks like an out pitch for Boyd. There is risk with Boyd, but he’s better than the pitcher he was over the past couple seasons. Streaming consideration depends on ballpark and weekly situation. Avoid using him in home run friendly ballparks and don’t use him if you are trying to protect ratios. He’s about a 50/50 mix of luck and legit.

 

 Francisco Liriano, Detroit Tigers

2018 Stats prior to this start: 44.2 IP, 4.03 ERA, 4.84 FIP, 1.4 K/BB ratio

05/20 @ SEA: 8 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 5 K

Another Detroit lefty that gives us a lot of room for doubt, Liriano has skirted through the season with a 3.42 ERA despite a plethora of red flags in his profile. For starters he has a career low 17.6% strikeout rate. The league is on pace for historic strikeout numbers and Liriano can’t even put up a passable strikeout rate. He also has an atrocious 12.4% walk rate. Of course we expect walks from Francisco Liriano, but at least at other points in his career he was getting strikeouts to compensate for this deficiency. Based on Liriano’s career track record a walk rate above 4.0 BB/9 has been a breaking point for him. With 2014 as the only exception, in seasons where Lirianio’s walk rate is greater than 4.0 BB/9 he has never had an ERA lower than 4.69 or a FIP lower than 4.34. He has a .214 BABIP, which is fifth lowest among qualified starters. He also has a 9.3% swinging strike rate, which continues a downward trend and marks a career low.

It would be nice to say that Liriano has changed his pitch mix, or has debuted a new pitch, or inducing more pop-ups or grounders, but none of that is true. He does have a slightly above average 20.7% soft contact rate, but that’s just too tenuous to trust. There just isn’t much to dig into with Liriano, he’s the same pitcher he has been over the last two seasons. The only difference is his luck. He is currently neck-and-neck with Bartolo Colon in a contest to see which veteran can outpitch his peripherals longer.

Verdict:

Only in the most desperate situations should you consider using Francisco Liriano, even as a streamer.

 

Jack Flaherty, St. Louis Cardinals

2018 Stats prior to this start: 15.2 IP, 2.87 ERA, 3.33 FIP, 2.3 K/BB ratio

05/20 vs. PHI: 7.2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 13 K

Flaherty had a similarly dominant start earlier this season at Milwaukee and was promptly reward with a trip back to the minors. The issue with Flaherty hasn’t necessarily been ability, but questionable role on the major league team. The Cardinals had trouble finding a spot for him in their rotation, but with Carlos Martinez on the 10-day disabled list and Adam Wainwright transferred to the 60-day disabled list Flaherty should have a spot in the rotation locked down for the time being.

There was a lot to like in this start from Flaherty, and perhaps the most encouraging stat was his whopping 24 swinging strikes. 12 of those came by way of his slider, while the other half were pretty evenly split across his other pitches. The slider has been the real gem for Flaherty this season. Batters have hit .097 with a .194 SLG against the pitch. His slider also has a 27.88% whiff rate and 44.6% chase rate. That number is higher than notable slider-heavy pitchers such as Tyson Ross, Patrick Corbin, and Chris Archer. Here is a look at a few of the sliders from yesterday.

The pitch moves sharply away from right-handed batters, making it especially tough to hit for them. Flaherty attacks righties with it early and often, throwing both a first-pitch and two-strike slider 43% of the time to right-handers.

Flaherty has the stuff to rack up big strikeouts, so what happened in his three-strikeout effort against the Twins? What about his two-strikeout game against the Pirates? His strikeout total seems to depend on the amount of lefties in the opposing lineup. The Twins threw six lefties or switch-hitters at him in their matchup, while the Pirates started five. The Phillies only had three in the game from this past Sunday, while the Brewers had four. His strikeout percentage against righties is 34.1% but only 26.7% against lefties. 26.7% is still very good, it’s just about Zack Greinke’s overall strikeout percentage, but it’s a noticable dip compared to his number against righties. Flaherty has actually been better against lefties from a results perspective. Left-handed batters have a .200 AVG and .234 wOBA against him. Don’t be scared of Flaherty if the opposing lineup boasts a large amount of lefties, but temper strikeout expections. This is just nitpicking quite honestly. There is little reason to doubt Flaherty’s ability, and if he continues to pitch like this it will be hard for the Cardinals to justify removing him from the rotation when everyone is healthy for them.

Verdict:

Flaherty passes the numbers test and the eye test. He should be owned in most leagues based on both his performance and upside, yet he is only owned in 46% of Yahoo leagues (as of 05/21). With a large crop of interesting rookie pitchers to sift through, Flaherty stands above even the likes of Freddy Peralta, Fernando Romero, and Nick Kingham.

 

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Week 8 Start/Sit Matchups - Starting Pitchers

You know what it is--it's my updated starts/sits column for Week 8! Your friendly neighborhood @Roto_Dubs is back again this year with his weekly starting pitcher matchups. This is our fifth year now writing this weekly column, helping fantasy baseball managers pick the best pitchers weekly.

Below are the projected starting pitching matchups for Week 8, which will be updated as rotations are inevitably tweaked.

If you've got any questions about which pitchers can capitalize on a juicy matchup and which ones might be worth putting on the pine against a fierce offense, this is the weekly piece for you. For every week of the fantasy baseball season, we look to analyze all of the projected starting pitcher matchups and put together our optimal lineups. Here at RotoBaller, we believe that it’s key to analyze every SP matchup, each and every week, to help determine which SPs to start/sit and to hopefully find some hidden gems to bolster your teams. Let's set those optimal lineups!

 

SP Matchups & Start/Sit Recommendations

This weekly piece considers the pitcher’s opponents, their career stats against the opponent, some ballpark factors and historical splits. With all of this information, we then provide our start/sit recommendations for each starting pitcher matchup for the approaching week of fantasy baseball.

PROBABLE PITCHERS (5/21/18) - MONDAY    
GAME VISITING STARTER START/SIT HOME STARTER START/SIT
ARI@MIL Zack Greinke SP | ARI START Chase Anderson SP | MIL START
ATL@PHI Mike Foltynewicz SP | ATL START Nick Pivetta SP | PHI START
BAL@CHW Andrew Cashner SP | BAL START Hector Santiago SP | CHW SIT
COL@LAD German Marquez SP | COL SIT Walker Buehler RP | LAD START
DET@MIN Blaine Hardy RP | DET SIT Jose Berrios SP | MIN START
KC@STL Ian Kennedy SP | KC SIT Miles Mikolas SP | STL START
MIA@NYM Elieser Hernandez RP | MIA SIT Jason Vargas SP | NYM SIT
NYY@TEX Masahiro Tanaka SP | NYY START Bartolo Colon SP | TEX SIT
SD@WAS Robbie Erlin SP | SD SIT Gio Gonzalez SP | WAS START
PROBABLE PITCHERS (5/22/18) - TUESDAY    
GAME VISITING STARTER START/SIT HOME STARTER START/SIT
ARI@MIL Matt Koch RP | ARI START Jhoulys Chacin SP | MIL SIT
ATL@PHI Brandon McCarthy SP | ATL START Vince Velasquez SP | PHI START
BAL@CHW Kevin Gausman SP | BAL START James Shields SP | CHW SIT
BOS@TB Chris Sale SP | BOS START Jake Faria SP | TB SIT
CLE@CHC Trevor Bauer SP | CLE START Tyler Chatwood SP | CHC START
COL@LAD Chad Bettis SP | COL START Kenta Maeda SP | LAD SIT
DET@MIN Matthew Boyd SP | DET START Lance Lynn SP | MIN SIT
KC@STL Jason Hammel SP | KC SIT Luke Weaver SP | STL START
LAA@TOR Garrett Richards SP | LAA START J.A. Happ SP | TOR START
MIA@NYM Caleb Smith RP | MIA START Zack Wheeler SP | NYM SIT
NYY@TEX Domingo German RP | NYY START Cole Hamels SP | TEX START
PIT@CIN Jameson Taillon SP | PIT START Matt Harvey SP | CIN SIT
SD@WAS Eric Lauer SP | SD SIT Jeremy Hellickson SP | WAS START
SEA@OAK Mike Leake SP | SEA SIT Trevor Cahill SP | OAK START
SF@HOU Andrew Suarez SP | SF SIT Gerrit Cole SP | HOU START
PROBABLE PITCHERS (5/23/18) - WEDNESDAY    
GAME VISITING STARTER START/SIT HOME STARTER START/SIT
ARI@MIL Zack Godley SP | ARI START Brent Suter SP | MIL SIT
ATL@PHI Luiz Gohara RP | ATL START Jake Arrieta SP | PHI START
BAL@CHW Alex Cobb SP | BAL START TBA TBD
BOS@TB David Price SP | BOS START Chris Archer SP | TB SIT
CLE@CHC Adam Plutko SP | CLE SIT Jon Lester SP | CHC START
COL@LAD Kyle Freeland SP | COL START TBA TBD
DET@MIN Michael Fulmer SP | DET START Kyle Gibson SP | MIN START
KC@STL Jake Junis SP | KC START Michael Wacha SP | STL START
LAA@TOR Tyler Skaggs SP | LAA START Aaron Sanchez SP | TOR SIT
MIA@NYM Dan Straily SP | MIA SIT Jacob deGrom SP | NYM START
NYY@TEX CC Sabathia SP | NYY START Doug Fister SP | TEX SIT
PIT@CIN Chad Kuhl SP | PIT SIT Homer Bailey SP | CIN SIT
SD@WAS Tyson Ross SP | SD START TBA TBD
SEA@OAK Marco Gonzales SP | SEA START TBA TBD
SF@HOU Jeff Samardzija SP | SF SIT Justin Verlander SP | HOU START
PROBABLE PITCHERS (5/24/18) - THURSDAY    
GAME VISITING STARTER START/SIT HOME STARTER START/SIT
BAL@CHW Dylan Bundy SP | BAL START Lucas Giolito SP | CHW START
BOS@TB Drew Pomeranz SP | BOS SIT Blake Snell SP | TB START
HOU@CLE Charlie Morton SP | HOU START Mike Clevinger SP | CLE START
KC@TEX Danny Duffy SP | KC SIT Matt Moore SP | TEX SIT
LAA@TOR Nick Tropeano SP | LAA START Marco Estrada SP | TOR SIT
NYM@MIL Steven Matz SP | NYM SIT TBA TBD
PIT@CIN Ivan Nova SP | PIT SIT Luis Castillo SP | CIN START
SEA@OAK Felix Hernandez SP | SEA START Sean Manaea SP | OAK START
PROBABLE PITCHERS (5/25/18) - FRIDAY    
GAME VISITING STARTER START/SIT HOME STARTER START/SIT
ARI@OAK Patrick Corbin SP | ARI START Daniel Mengden SP | OAK START
ATL@BOS Sean Newcomb SP | ATL START Rick Porcello SP | BOS START
BAL@TB David Hess P | BAL SIT Ryan Yarbrough SP | TB START
CHW@DET Reynaldo Lopez SP | CHW START Mike Fiers SP | DET SIT
CIN@COL Sal Romano SP | CIN SIT Jon Gray SP | COL START
HOU@CLE Dallas Keuchel SP | HOU START Corey Kluber SP | CLE START
KC@TEX Eric Skoglund SP | KC SIT Mike Minor RP | TEX SIT
LAA@NYY Andrew Heaney SP | LAA START Luis Severino SP | NYY START
MIN@SEA Fernando Romero SP | MIN START James Paxton SP | SEA START
NYM@MIL Noah Syndergaard SP | NYM START Junior Guerra SP | MIL START
SD@LAD Clayton Richard SP | SD SIT TBA TBD
SF@CHC Derek Holland SP | SF SIT Kyle Hendricks SP | CHC START
STL@PIT John Gant RP | STL SIT Joe Musgrove RP | PIT SIT
TOR@PHI Sam Gaviglio SP | TOR SIT Zach Eflin SP | PHI SIT
WAS@MIA Max Scherzer SP | WAS START Jose Urena SP | MIA SIT
PROBABLE PITCHERS (5/26/18) - SATURDAY    
GAME VISITING STARTER START/SIT HOME STARTER START/SIT
ARI@OAK Clay Buchholz SP | ARI SIT TBA TBD
ATL@BOS Julio Teheran SP | ATL START Eduardo Rodriguez SP | BOS START
BAL@TB Andrew Cashner SP | BAL START Anthony Banda SP | TB SIT
CHW@DET Hector Santiago SP | CHW SIT Francisco Liriano RP | DET START
CIN@COL Tyler Mahle SP | CIN SIT Tyler Anderson SP | COL START
HOU@CLE Lance McCullers SP | HOU START Carlos Carrasco SP | CLE START
KC@TEX Ian Kennedy SP | KC SIT Bartolo Colon SP | TEX START
LAA@NYY TBA TBD Sonny Gray SP | NYY START
MIN@SEA Jake Odorizzi SP | MIN START Wade LeBlanc RP | SEA SIT
NYM@MIL Jason Vargas SP | NYM SIT Chase Anderson SP | MIL START
SD@LAD Jordan Lyles RP | SD SIT Ross Stripling SP | LAD SIT
SF@CHC Chris Stratton SP | SF START Jose Quintana SP | CHC START
STL@PIT Jack Flaherty SP | STL START Trevor Williams SP | PIT START
TOR@PHI Joe Biagini RP | TOR SIT Aaron Nola SP | PHI START
WAS@MIA Tanner Roark SP | WAS START Wei-Yin Chen SP | MIA SIT
PROBABLE PITCHERS (5/27/18) - SUNDAY    
GAME VISITING STARTER START/SIT HOME STARTER START/SIT
ARI@OAK Zack Greinke SP | ARI START Trevor Cahill SP | OAK START
ATL@BOS Mike Foltynewicz SP | ATL START Chris Sale SP | BOS START
BAL@TB Kevin Gausman SP | BAL START Jake Faria SP | TB START
CHW@DET James Shields SP | CHW START Blaine Hardy RP | DET SIT
CIN@COL Matt Harvey SP | CIN SIT German Marquez SP | COL SIT
HOU@CLE Gerrit Cole SP | HOU START Trevor Bauer SP | CLE START
KC@TEX Jason Hammel SP | KC SIT Cole Hamels SP | TEX START
LAA@NYY Shohei Ohtani SP | LAA START Masahiro Tanaka SP | NYY START
MIN@SEA Jose Berrios SP | MIN START Mike Leake SP | SEA SIT
NYM@MIL Zack Wheeler SP | NYM SIT Jhoulys Chacin SP | MIL SIT
SD@LAD Robbie Erlin SP | SD SIT Alex Wood SP | LAD START
SF@CHC Ty Blach SP | SF SIT Yu Darvish SP | CHC START
STL@PIT Miles Mikolas SP | STL START Jameson Taillon SP | PIT START
TOR@PHI J.A. Happ SP | TOR START Nick Pivetta SP | PHI START
WAS@MIA Stephen Strasburg SP | WAS START Elieser Hernandez RP | MIA SIT

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Two-Start Pitcher Streamers for Week 8

For Week 8 of the two-start pitcher streamers, we have some familiar faces and some players trying to redeem themselves from poor performances. Per usual, I’ll break down the pros and cons for selecting each arm for this week.

From Week 7, we provided you with Andrew Heaney (15 K and 3 ER in two starts) and Mike Foltynewicz (14 K and 0 ER) as two-start gems. Pivetta only pitched in one game last week, but he was profitable: 7 IP, 1 ER, and 11 K (more on him later).

Which brings me to my next point. Rain can ruin our two-start streamer plans. If you’re torn between two options in the streamer department, I’d choose the one playing on a Monday (if the other is starting on Tuesday), just to increase the chances that my pitcher plays in two games for the week. Also, all ownership numbers are provided by Yahoo fantasy baseball leagues.

 

Week 8 Streamers Under 50% Owned

Jeremy Hellickson, WSH (42% owned)

Probable opponents: vs. SD, @ MIA

Hellickson is no stranger to the two-start streamer posts. In Week 6, we suggest Hellickson for his two appearances and he thrived (1-0, 1 ER, and 13 K in 11.2 innings of work). Hellickson returns to the two-start write-up with the Padres and Marlins on the horizon. San Diego (.294) and Miami (.281) are 26th and 29th, respectively, in team wOBA. The Padres are 26th in runs scored (168 runs in 45 games) and second in team strikeouts (443), while the Marlins are 30th in runs scored (148 runs in 43 games). Hellickson has also allowed only one earned run in the past three starts combined.

Jake Faria, TB (38% owned)

Probable opponents: vs. BOS, vs. BAL

You want the good news or the bad news first when it come to Faria? I’ll start with the negatives. Faria has already faced the Red Sox and Orioles this season. Those matchups did not end well. Faria has a 14.29 ERA in two outings against Boston and a 9.58 ERA in two starts against Baltimore. The good news? Faria is a much better pitcher at home this season He has a 1.74 ERA (20.2 IP) in four home starts as opposed to an 8.14 ERA (24.1 IP) in five road appearances. Faria faced the Red Sox at home on April 1st: 4 IP, 1 ER, and 2 K.

Nick Pivetta, PHI (36% owned)

Probable opponents: vs. ATL, vs. TOR

Pivetta was nearly perfect in his last outing: 7 IP, 1 ER, and 11 K (@ BAL). Two of his next starts are at home, where he’s 2-1 with a 2.48 ERA (five games) and 36 strikeouts in 29 innings. Atlanta is next on the docket. Pivetta has produced a 5.14 ERA and 11 strikeouts in 14 innings (three starts) against Atlanta this season. The good news is that Pivetta has allowed only one run in his last two games combined (12 innings). Also, Toronto is seventh in the league with 399 team strikeouts this year. Pivetta has punched out 18 batters in the past two games.

 

Under 25% Owned

Trevor Cahill, OAK (19% owned)

Probable opponents: vs. SEA, vs. ARI

Cahill returned to action on Wednesday and was promptly greeted by Boston. While the outing wasn’t stellar, Cahill still kept the damage to a minimum. He hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in any outing this year. Cahill has also compiled at least five strikeouts in four of his last five games. Among his two home starts this week, one of those matchups is against Arizona. The Diamondbacks are 30th in team wOBA (.275) against right-handed pitchers.

Matt Koch, ARI (15% owned)

Probable opponents: @ MIL, @ OAK

Koch was clobbered in his last outing. The Brewers tagged him for eight earned runs (four homers) in 4.1 innings of work. Unfortunately, Koch gets Milwaukee in his first start of Week 8. On the bright side, that was Koch’s worst outing of 2018 and he’s allowed no more than three earned runs in any previous appearance. Hopefully, that was just one bad start and he can rebound/redeem himself. Also, the Brewers and Athletics are both in the top 10 in terms of team strikeouts this season.

German Marquez, COL (5% owned)

Probable opponents: @ LAD, vs. CIN

Remember, adding pitchers who are below 25 percent owned comes with a high risk of ruining your fantasy team’s ERA and/or WHIP for the week. I only stream pitchers with that low of ownership when I need to add strikeouts and/or potentially get the win/QS for my weekly lineups. Saying that Marquez has struggled at Coors Field would be an understatement. He’s produced a 10.34 ERA at home in four starts (15.2 innings) and he’ll face the Reds in Colorado for his second start of the week. As for his first outing of Week 8, Marquez travels to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers. He is 2-2 with a 2.25 ERA (28 IP) on the road this season. Out of Marquez’s five road starts in 2018, he’s allowed no more than two earned runs in any outing and has struck out at least five batters in four of those appearances.

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Hitter Streamers (Week 8) - Head-to-Head Leagues

Welcome back to my hitting streamers column for Week 8, taking a look at hitters to add or stream off the waiver wire for this week's scheduled games.

To keep things simple, I pick from players who are 50% owned or less and who play at least seven games in the week.  If someone jumps off the page at me as a less than seven game player, I may make an exception, but otherwise the advantage in number of games dictates my choices. This week, due to the extremely shallow pool of streamers, I have included two others who only have six games but who play three of them at Coors.

Streaming can be a valuable tool, by allowing you to feast on favorable pitching matchups and simply have your hitters play more games than your opponents' hitters. If you have the roster space, streaming a hitter can be useful not only to fill a vacant lineup spot, but also to fill in for someone who has five games that week or faces tough matchups. In 5x5 leagues, four of the five hitting categories are counting stats, making the value of extra games significant. Streaming also can allow you to target a specific category of need. Even though this week's pool of streaming options is not as strong as usual, there is still value to be had. With that said, let’s dive right in.

 

Bats to Stream and Start in Week 8

Mark Trumbo (OF, BAL) - 30% owned

Trumbo was on the DL for most of the year, and thus it is hard to tell if he is more the 2016 version who swatted 47 homers with 108 RBIs or the 2017 version who batted .234 with 23 homers. However, Trumbo is a player who has seasons of 34, 32, and 29 homers in addition to his 47 homer campaign. This week he faces good pitching matchups, including three lefties against whom he has historically been better. If you are seeking a source of power and run production, he is your best bet this week.

Jonathan Villar (2B/OF, MIL) - 42% owned

Villar is another player who posted a career year in 2016 (.285/19/92/63/62) only to fail to live up to expectations in 2017 (.241/11/49/40/23). While he is unlikely to ever match his 62 steals from 2016, he is nonetheless a great source of stolen bases with seven in just 38 games this year. He also can provide double digit homers along with a somewhat stomachable average. While I wouldn’t look to him for run production, he is your best bet this week for stolen bases while not hurting you too badly in the remaining categories.

Michael Conforto (OF, NYM) - 45% owned

Conforto provided a pleasant surprise to fantasy owners early this year when he returned from injury much sooner than expected. However, he has followed that pleasant surprise with disappointment, starting the year with an extremely underwhelming line of .200/3/15/9/1. While there are not many positive signs in his batted ball profile to suggest that he is simply unlucky (other than a low BABIP which is reflective of other poor aspects of his profile rather than bad luck), he simply has too much talent to be left off this list. If Conforto is healthy, he will show the promise at some point that led to his 146 wRC+ last year with a line of .279/27/72/68/2 in just 109 games. He is a gamble due to possible lingering health issues, but the upside is hard to ignore.

Alex Gordon (OF, KC) - 7% owned

After an OPS of .608 in 2017, Gordon started the season with a .623 OPS in March and April.  Yikes!  However, after coming off the DL, he has rebounded nicely in May, going .308/3/10/7/1 in just 14 games. While his batted ball profile suggests this may be just good luck, in a week of shallow streaming options, he is worth the gamble. Before his collapse in 2017, there was a lot to like about Gordon as a fantasy player, and thus him showing signs of life is an indication that he may be returning to fantasy relevancy. With decent pitching matchups this week, he is worth a look.

Yolmer Sanchez (2B/3B, CHW) - 19% owned

Yolmer may be the most unexciting fantasy option who continues to appear on this list. In 2017, he posted a .267/12/63/59/8 line. In 39 games so far this year, he has a batting line of .286/2/16/20/3. He provides just enough all around production that he is a valuable asset in weeks where he has seven games against good pitching matchups. That is the case this week, and he is a good bet to provide balanced production without helping too much in any particular category.

Jesus Aguilar (1B, MIL) - 4% owned

With Eric Thames injured, Aguilar has seen more playing time. In just 106 plate appearances this year, he has a line of .308/3/15/14/0. While he has hit lefties better than righties, he has the ability to provide power against either, albeit at a low batting average. If the other options are off the board and you are seeking to gamble on power and run production, he is a good bet.

Chris Davis (1B, BAL) - 30% owned

Speaking of low batting averages….Davis has been nothing short of putrid in 2018, compiling a -1.0 fWAR in just 39 games. He has a wRC+ of 41. After hitting .215 last year and .221 in 2016, he is batting a robust .169 on the year. The power (four homers) and run production aren’t there either. So why is he on the list? Well, he’s been a streaky player. This week, he faces good pitching matchups and has seven games in a week with a shallow streaming pool. He has the chance to bring down your team with him, but if you’re a gambler, there’s some upside here.

 

Others to Consider

Shin Soo Choo (OF, TEX) - 39% owned - Choo is nearing his 36th birthday, but he still has decent power and is a good source of run production, with the ability to steal you a base here and there.

Jose Peraza (2B/SS, CIN) - 50% owned - Despite only playing six games this week, Peraza is a great source of speed (53 steals in 265 games) and has good matchups this week.

Adam Duvall (OF, CIN) - 41% owned - Despite his low average on the year, Duvall is still a great source of power and has three games in Coors Field this week.

 

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Week 8 Waiver Wire: H2H Category Streamers

I like to consider myself a pioneer of the streaming approach. I won a league about seven years ago completely ignoring saves and just stacking up the starts each week. While streaming is undoubtedly more directly associated with pitching, there's plenty of value in streaming for offense as well.

Maybe you have a stacked roster and you can't drop anyone. But for those of us with a couple of guys on the roster fringes, it's never too early to look into targeting a specific player or two to gain an edge in a particular category. This season, I will be making weekly recommendations for extreme short term category specialists every week in three offensive areas: speed, power, and average; and three pitching areas: strikeouts, wins, and ratios (ERA/WHIP).

Below are my Week 8 category streamers for fantasy baseball. All position eligibility and ownership percentages are based on Yahoo! fantasy leagues.

 

Head-to-Head Category Streamers to Consider

Speed

Travis Jankowski (OF, SD) - 9% Owned

While he's not amongst the league leaders in steals, Travis Jankowski does have a track record of speed on his resume. In just 383 plate appearances in 2016, he stole 30 bases. Between the prolonged injury to Wil Myers and Manuel Margot's struggles, Jankowski has been seeing regular playing time this season. He stole three bases over roughly a week span early-mid May.

Mallex Smith (OF, TB) - 28% Owned

Here we go again with Mallex Smith. He's cooled off a bit recently, but he's still hitting over .300 and he's still stealing bases. I don't know if he can keep up the batting average, but I am confident he can keep running - the getting on base part only helps. He will be a mainstay on this list until he either faceplants or sees an uptick in ownership percentage.

 

Power

Adam Duvall (OF, CIN) - 39% Owned

If you find yourself inclined to look at Adam Duvall's batting average, just don't. Seriously. This is a PG rated website and Duvall's batting average is not suitable for children. If you want some cheap pop from a guy with back to back 30 home run seasons the past two years, then you can note that Duvall has four home runs over the past two weeks and a history of hitting the ball very far. Additionally, of his six games next week, he will spend half of them at home in Cincinnati and the other half at Coors.

Logan Morrison (1B, MIN) - 17% Owned

While his 38 home run 2017 is undoubtedly the outlier and will be his career year, Logan Morrison is still capable of going on home run sprees. One could come next week as he should face a slew of right handed pitchers on the Royals and Indians. While the Indians' right handed pitchers are pretty talented, he's capable of launching a big fly or three. And the Royals' pitching is far from imposing.

 

Average

Howie Kendrick (2B/OF, WAS) - 19% Owned

I really should just leave Howie Kendrick in this list weekly. He doesn't do enough to be owned much more than he is, but he also consistently gets on base. Kendrick is still hitting over .300 and has been strong the past two weeks, hitting .341. He's just empty batting average, but if that's what you're looking for, he can provide that.

Daniel Descalso (1B/2B/3B/OF, ARI) - 12% Owned

Only a career .241 hitter, Daniel Descalso finds himself on the average help portion of this least due to his recent hot streak that has also come with an increase in walks. While walks don't help in average, they are indicative of a more patient approach at the plate and Descalso's .324 average over the past two weeks supports that. His BABIP his a little higher than his career average, but nothing beyond normal variance. I say ride the hot streak.

 

Strikeouts

Freddy Peralta (SP, SD) - 22% Owned

If he was scooped in your league after his 13 strikeout debut, I'm sorry. There were definitely a lot more positives than negatives in Freddy Peralta's first major league appearance. For our purposes, all we care about are the strikeouts. There were many. The Mets are actually slightly above average in terms of avoiding strikeouts, but Peralta has struck out over a batter an inning throughout his entire professional career. He may not go deep into the game, but if he can get you six innings, you're getting at least six strikeouts.

Trevor Cahill (SP, OAK) - 21% Owned

Trevor Cahill just returned from the DL this past Wednesday. His career strikeout rate is under 7.00, but he's been a new man this season, with a K/9 over 11. His second start next week is the one I'm interested in because it should come against the Diamondbacks, a team that is top five in strikeouts. Paul Goldschmidt is the newest Diamondback on the list of hitters striking out more than 30% of the time. He and the rest of the team should provide Cahill with plenty of swings and misses.

 

Wins

Zack Wheeler (SP, NYM) - 11% Owned

Guess what team Zack Wheeler pitches against on Monday? It's the Marlins! Wheeler shut down the Marlins en route to a 4-1 victory during his last outing against them. This time he has the comfort of home field advantage. Wheeler will beat the Marlins again.

Jeremy Hellickson (SP, WAS) - 41% Owned

Once a big time Rays prospect, Jeremy Hellickson's career has derailed over the past few seasons. He seems to be experiencing a renaissance in 2018, though. Hellickson has a 2.20 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP so far this season. On Monday, he pitches in PETCO Park against the Padres, a team he has already beaten once this season. The Nationals are a better team than the Padres - a lot better. Hellickson should win again.

 

ERA/WHIP

Jordan Lyles (SP, SD) - 10% Owned

Is Jordan Lyles this good? No. But, he is definitely an improved pitcher. He's been around a while, but is still only 27 years old. His .215 BABIP is definitely playing a big part in his breakout, but for the career 5.30 ERA pitcher, he's just not that guy anymore. His FIP indicates he's more of a mid 3s ERA guy, which is still a vast improvement and certainly fantasy viable. He should start against the Nationals next week. Not the greatest of matchups, but right now, Lyles is damn near unhittable.

Francisco Liriano (SP, DET) - 19% Owned

There's only one team that scores runs at a worse rate than the Chicago White Sox, who just happen to be Francisco Liriano's opponent next week. The White Sox can't score and Liriano has actually been decent this season, with an ERA hovering around 4.00. He is the perfect type of streamer - someone you can reasonably rely on in favorable matchups. The White Sox are one of them. Fire up Liriano for a solid outing.

 

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Week 7 Points Leagues - Strategy, Pickups And Cuts

Welcome back for another week of advice for points league waiver wire moves. This segment will include waiver wire adds, drops, and streaming pitchers for the upcoming week. This article will be geared specifically toward points leagues. Every points league is different, so keep that in mind. Walks and extra base hits are more valuable, whereas AVG and ERA are not important, so consider that as well.

Some players will be suggested as streamers (while they are hot), or as rest-of-season adds (ride them all year).

As always, feel free to follow and message me on Twitter @BlakeSullivanFF for any fantasy advice or for further reasoning with this segment. Without further ado, let's take a look at some players that you should either add or drop.

 

Points League Players to Add 

Delino DeShields (OF, TEX)

Delino DeShields isn't the waiver wire guy to hit you 30 home runs or get you a ton of RBI, but he is going to continue hitting toward the top of the Texas Rangers order. DeShields is valuable due to his respectable .279 AVG and his seven stolen bases. He most likely isn't available in dynasty formats, but his ownership percentage is only 54.8 % after a DL stint early in the season. He should be available in many redraft leagues.

Scooter Gennett (2B/3B/OF, CIN)

Scooter has been on fire this year and especially over the last week. He hit four home runs last week alone. This brought his season total up to six. While average doesn't mean anything in points leagues necessarily, his .329 AVG means that he is getting the ball in play often. He has 24 RBI despite being on an underachieving team. His eligibility at infield and outfield makes him more valuable as well. He is owned in 56.7% of leagues, but that number was only at about 30% a few days ago, so you better move quick.

Ryon Healy (3B/1B/DH, SEA)

Ryon Healy is another player who's getting claimed like crazy after a red hot week. His own percentage is at 48.6 % and rising even faster than Gennett. Healy is the guy you want to pick up if you want power numbers. After completing just the second week of May, Healy has posted very impressive numbers. He has a scorching .326 AVG, .674 SLG, and 1.044 OPS. With Robinson Cano hitting the DL, Healy will need to step up and will be hitting in the heart of a dangerous lineup. Add him in any formats you can.

 

Points League Pitchers to Stream

Kyle Freeland (SP, COL) - Friday 5/18/18 vs. SD

Kyle Freeland has done very well in his last four starts. He started his hot streak against the San Diego Padres who he'll face again on Friday in the pitcher-friendly Petco Park. In his last game facing the Padres, he lasted seven innings and gave up no runs while striking out eight batters. Look for more of the same as he continues his streak of solid play. He draws a good match up to be considered a streaming lay, but if he pitches well he should be kept for as long as he is performing.

Nick Kingham (SP,  PIT) - TBA (Possibly Saturday 5/19/18)

Nick Kingham has been bouncing around between the minors and majors, but there is a good chance he'll start on Saturday when the Pittsburgh Pirates need a fifth starter. He has 16 strikeouts in just two starts this year, so he has the ability to put up a ton of points. Kingham also has a superb 0.65 WHIP which means very few negative points in points leagues. He's a good stream, but if you can stash him on your bench he makes a good investment for later in the year when he may get more regular time in the majors.

Jeremy Hellickson (SP, WSH) - Sunday 5/20/18 vs. LAD

Jeremy Hellickson has had a solid year so far. He's not a long term option because he doesn't consistently put up a lot of points. He's a great streaming option though, because he hasn't gotten negative points at all this year, and he has been getting a good amount of strikeouts. Facing the Dodgers should help get him some strikeouts, but the big test will be seeing how deep he can go into the game. His 2.20 ERA should give you plenty of confidence to claim him this week.

 

Points League Players to Drop

Jackie Bradley Jr. (OF, BOS)

Jackie Bradley Jr. has a track record of being a streaky hitter. He's currently in a bad streak though. He's only three/35 over his last 15 games. He already has 34 strike outs this season, which is the main reason for his sub-par .171 AVG. Bradley has never had an abundance of power, but nine RBI this season is surprising, especially since he's on a team that scores plenty of runs. He's definitely a drop candidate, but keep him on your watchlist because when he heats up he can stay hot for an extended period of time.

Scott Kingery (2B/SS, PHI)

People had high hopes for Scott Kingery at the start of the year, but he has a terrible .218 AVG with no power or RBI totals to show for. The worst thing with Kingery is that he may begin to lose playing time as well. J.P. Crawford should be back from injury before too long, and that will likely cause Kingery to be a utility player on days when starters need rest.

Christian Villanueva (3B, SD)

After such a hot start to the season, Christian Villanueva is beginning to look like a fluke. He has gone ice cold with two hits in his last 46 at-bats and 36 straight AB without a base hit. With the depth of available players at the position, it's time to drop Villanueva if you haven't already done so.

 

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Are You For Real? Surprising SP Starts (Week 7)

Welcome to our surprising starts series. Every week we’ll be going over a few surprising starting pitcher performances around the majors to determine whether these starts were smoke and mirrors or something more.

This week saw two 21-year-old rookies go into Coors Field and blank the Rockies. An uninspiring afterthought veteran also did something very inspiring in a two-start week.

Freddy Peralta fanned 13 Rockies with his heater, while Jaime Barria struck out seven with a four pitch mix. Clayton Richard racked up 18 strikeouts in 16 innings between two starts.

 

Real Deal or Mirage?

Freddy Peralta, Milwaukee Brewers

2018 Stats (Triple-A): 34.2 IP, 3.63 ERA, 3.09 FIP, 2.71 K/BB ratio

05/13 @ COL: 5.1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 13 K

Freddy Peralta is the talk of baseball right now after fanning 13 Rockies at Coors Field in his major league debut. This was the highest strikeout total in a major league debut since Stephen Strasburg struck out 14 in 2010. Prior to this start Peralta had middling prospect status. MLB Pipeline had him as the third best Brewers pitching prospect and ninth overall in the organization. His minor league numbers are eye-catching mainly because of the gaudy strikeout totals. Other than a brief 22 inning stint in High-A Peralta’s strikeout rate was higher than 30% at every level in the Brewers’ system. He also excelled at limiting home runs, allowing just 0.61 HR/9 while in the Brewers’ system. His big issue at the minors was always walks. His walk rate has been over 11% during the last three seasons and despite such prolific strikeout numbers his K/BB ratio was usually under three. Other than the walk ratio his minor league numbers have been consistently good, and we’ve seen pitchers with good minor league stats but little prospect hype succeed in the majors this season.

Now let’s break down his arsenal. He's got a four-seam fastball. And that’s about it for Peralta, who threw 89 fastballs out of 98 pitches, a 91% usage rate. Bartolo Colon has the highest fastball usage rate among qualified starters at 84%, but the two don’t compare well since Colon is a sinkerballer and control specialist while Peralta is a wild four-seamer. Peralta also threw eight curveballs and supposedly one 91 MPH changeup. The changeup isn’t identified in Brooks Baseball’s pitch-by-pitch table nor was it recorded in Baseball Savant’s Pitch f/x data, so it may have been a bad or wild fastball that was miscategorized. The fastball clocks in at 93 MPH but can max out around 96. It also has above average horizontal movement and tails outside against right handed hitters. Since he relied on his fastball so much we should have a peek at it.

It has cutting action away which should make him especially good against righties. Peralta showed off his fastball grip to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy, and he uses both a traditional fastball grip and a cut-fastball grip. He got a whopping 18 whiffs with his fastball alone and 19 total. Typically we don’t think of a fastball as a swing-and-miss pitch, which should make us a little suspicious of his strikeout rate. The pitcher that immediately comes to mind as a comparison is J.A. Happ. Happ throws his four-seamer 72% of the time and has a 15.6% whiff rate with the pitch. He also has a career high 29.2% strikeout rate this season pitching primarily off his fastball. Happ gets it done by keeping his fastball up in zone and consistently climbing the ladder against hitters. If we look at Peralta's fastball heatmaps we can see if he did something similar. On the left is pitch frequency, on the right is whiff rate.

  

Peralta’s fastball has good movement and should be especially effective against righties, but he also notched five whiffs on pitches right down the middle. That cannot be sustained at the major league level. Because of the quality of this start and his minor league dominance Peralta pretty much has to be picked up, but this is essentially a one-pitch pitcher that mostly got by on deception against the Rockies. He is reminiscent of Joey Lucchesi, who had some exceptional starts using just two pitches early this season, but once the league had seen him a few times his performance dipped. Like Lucchesi, Peralta may also struggle with opposite handed hitters and struggle third time through the order. It’s the nature of this pitching style. Scouting reports mention a slider and changeup so perhaps he’ll incorporate those pitches more in future outings to strengthen his repertoire.

Verdict:

Peralta should be added based on this performance, but he did all of this with just a fastball. Minor league track record suggest that strikeouts are real but Peralta has massive struggles with control. It will be interesting to see how he’ll be able to maintain such a high strikeout rate without a reliable secondary pitch.

 
Jaime Barria, Los Angeles Angels

2018 Stats prior to this start: 13 IP, 3.46 ERA, 4.84 FIP, 1.0 K/BB ratio

05/09 @ COL: 5.1 IP 5 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K

Just another young pitcher going into Coors and shutting down the Rockies. Perhaps we need to reconsider the viability of pitchers in Coors Field against a bad Colorado lineup. Regardless, this marks an impressive start for the 21-year-old, who hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs in an outing this season. Like Freddy Peralta, Barria had some prospect status in the Angels’ organization prior to the season. He was ranked as their second best pitching prospect and sixth best prospect overall going in to 2018, but wasn’t on fantasy radars.

Barria often had a low ERA in the minors but bad peripherals. He rarely had a strikeout rate above 20% and his groundball rate was usually under 30%, which would put him in the bottom five among qualified starters in groundball rate. So if he doesn’t get strikeouts, and doesn’t induce grounders, what does he do? Pop-ups. Barria was able to maintain infield flyball rates over 20% consistently in the minor leagues and at times had it over 35% during extended stretches of time. Those results make Marco Estrada green with envy. He also limited walks to great success, never having a walk rate above 6% prior to this season. His K/BB ratio was better in the minors compared to Freddy Peralta because of this. Low-dominance flyball pitchers aren’t usually popular in fantasy, but Barria is still worth a look.

What stands out in this start is the 17 swinging strikes that Barria got against the Rockies lineup, and ten of those whiffs came from his slider. Barria’s swinging strike rate has gone up in every start and he is getting a considerable amount of whiffs on his two breaking pitches, the slider and the changeup. He mixes those pitches alongside a 92.5 MPH four-seamer and the occasional two-seamer. The four-seamer has been the source of many pop-ups for him as batters have popped up his fastball 44% of the time this season.

The pitcher that comes to mind for most when it comes to inducing pop-ups is Marco Estrada. Estrada is a pitcher that used to consistently outperform his peripherals because of his ability to get pop-ups. The problem with this comparison is that Barria doesn’t follow the same pattern skills-wise. Estrada’s average launch angle against has been 20.8 degrees since 2015, when Statcast began measuring it. Barria’s average launch angle against has been 14.5 degrees, which is right in the sweet spot for extra-base hits. Estrada’s high spin rate on his fastball has also been attributed to his success, but Barria has only 2205 RPM on his fastball, which is right around league average. Like Freddy Peralta with his strikeout rate, Barria has displayed the ability to induce pop-ups throughout the minors. Even if it’s hard to identify how he does it at this time, he’s only pitched 18.1 innings in the majors so we’re looking into the minutiae of an already small sample size.

The Angels have steadfastly employed a six-man rotation despite injuries to several of their depth guys, so it will be rare for Barria to get two-start weeks. He also hasn’t cracked 90 pitches in any start yet. There might be something here for Barria, but he isn’t going to get the volume to make a big impact. He’s definitely a streamer consideration, but in 10 and 12 team leagues he’s probably someone that can be cycled on and off rosters.

Verdict:

Barria’s pitching style will lead to bad peripherals, as evidenced by his 4.90 SIERA compared to a 2.45 ERA. He can be streamed in the right matchups, and his 10.9% swinging strike rate suggests room for strikeout growth. A low groundball rate will make him volatile, especially in hitter-friendly parks. With a short leash and the Angels’ six-man rotation the volume won’t be there to make him worth rostering all season.

 
Clayton Richard, San Diego Padres

2018 Stats prior to these starts: 47.2 IP, 6.21 ERA, 5.19 FIP, 1.6 K/BB ratio

05/08 vs. WSH: 8 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 8 K
05/13 vs. STL: 8 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 10 K

If your immediate reaction to seeing the name Clayton Richard is to recoil in disgust few would blame you, but there are actually some encouraging signs here. There isn’t as much background to dig into with Richard because we all know who he is, right? Clayton Richard is the boring old sinkerballer that we love to stack hitters against. That approach, the Clayton Richard we used to know, is gone. He’s started to go away from his sinker and increased his slider usage. After four consecutive poundings in April he started throwing his slider a shade under 30% of the time, and his swinging strike rate has been above 10% ever since. He’s also gained an inch of drop on his slider and has a 21.33% whiff rate, far and away above his career 14.48% whiff rate prior to this season. Between these two starts he collected 16 swinging strikes with his slider and 28 total. Here’s how the slider looked on Sunday.

Compare it to one from 2016.

Pitch location matters here, but there was more horizontal and vertical movement on the pitch from 2018. Clayton Richard might just have him a strikeout pitch.

Before getting too excited, it’s important to remember we’re talking about Clayton Richard here. Maintaining a WHIP under 1.40 would be a small miracle for him. He has a .333 BABIP against. That sounds like a point in his favor, and he’s probably been a unlucky to a certain degree, but this would mark his third straight season with a BABIP over .330. Sinkerball pitchers naturally give up contact which can lead to an inflated BABIP. When 44% of contact allowed is hard contact, like with Richard, hits are going to be a plenty. As he throws his sinker less his BABIP and hits allowed should drop, but he’s going to allow baserunners. Richard has been unlucky in other areas too. He has a 66% strand rate and 17% HR/FB ratio, and those probably should correct towards league averages.

No one is rushing out to their waiver wire and gleefully dropping a good portion of their FAAB on Clayton Richard, nor should they. Most people are going to write him off instantly based on the name and past performance. As of writing this he is 5% owned in Yahoo leagues and that number isn’t about to spike upwards drastically. Nobody believes in Clayton Richard as anything more than a punching bag, but there is reason to get interested in him. He should be owned in every NL-Only or deep league, and is worth streaming in shallower leagues. Don’t discount his ability to go deep in games either. Richard has gone eight innings in his last two starts and threw 197.1 innings last season, eighth most in the NL. Volume has value.

Verdict:

Richard has a career high 21.7% strikeout rate and 10.1% swinging strike rate due to increased slider usage. The sinkerballer still gets a solid 55.1% groundball rate to go along with these strikeouts. His 3.97 FIP is also his best as a starter since 2010. He will allow too many baserunners to make him viable against good offenses, but he’s gone from hands off to a passable streamer.

 

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Week 7 Start/Sit Matchups - Starting Pitchers

You know what it is--it's my updated starts/sits column for Week 7! Your friendly neighborhood @Roto_Dubs is back again this year with his weekly starting pitcher matchups. This is our fifth year now writing this weekly column, helping fantasy baseball managers pick the best pitchers weekly.

Below are the projected starting pitching matchups for Week 7, which will be updated as rotations are inevitably tweaked.

If you've got any questions about which pitchers can capitalize on a juicy matchup and which ones might be worth putting on the pine against a fierce offense, this is the weekly piece for you. For every week of the fantasy baseball season, we look to analyze all of the projected starting pitcher matchups and put together our optimal lineups. Here at RotoBaller, we believe that it’s key to analyze every SP matchup, each and every week, to help determine which SPs to start/sit and to hopefully find some hidden gems to bolster your teams. Let's set those optimal lineups!

 

SP Matchups & Start/Sit Recommendations

This weekly piece considers the pitcher’s opponents, their career stats against the opponent, some ballpark factors and historical splits. With all of this information, we then provide our start/sit recommendations for each starting pitcher matchup for the approaching week of fantasy baseball.

PROBABLE PITCHERS (5/14/18) - MONDAY  
GAME VISITING STARTER START/SIT HOME STARTER START/SIT
ATL@CHC Julio Teheran SP | ATL START Jose Quintana SP | CHC START
CIN@SF Sal Romano SP | CIN START Chris Stratton SP | SF START
CLE@DET Carlos Carrasco SP | CLE START Mike Fiers SP | DET SIT
COL@SD Tyler Anderson SP | COL START Joey Lucchesi SP | SD START
HOU@LAA Lance McCullers SP | HOU START Andrew Heaney SP | LAA SIT
MIL@ARI Junior Guerra SP | MIL SIT Patrick Corbin SP | ARI START
OAK@BOS Sean Manaea SP | OAK START Rick Porcello SP | BOS START
SEA@MIN Wade LeBlanc RP | SEA SIT Jake Odorizzi SP | MIN START
TB@KC Ryan Yarbrough SP | TB START Eric Skoglund SP | KC SIT
PROBABLE PITCHERS (5/15/18) - TUESDAY  
GAME VISITING STARTER START/SIT HOME STARTER START/SIT
CHC@ATL Yu Darvish SP | CHC SIT Mike Foltynewicz SP | ATL START
CHW@PIT Reynaldo Lopez SP | CHW START Trevor Williams SP | PIT START
CIN@SF Tyler Mahle SP | CIN START Ty Blach SP | SF SIT
CLE@DET Josh Tomlin SP | CLE SIT Francisco Liriano RP | DET SIT
COL@SD German Marquez SP | COL START Jordan Lyles RP | SD SIT
HOU@LAA Gerrit Cole SP | HOU START Jaime Barria SP | LAA SIT
LAD@MIA Alex Wood SP | LAD START Wei-Yin Chen SP | MIA SIT
MIL@ARI Jhoulys Chacin SP | MIL SIT Zack Greinke SP | ARI START
NYY@WAS Masahiro Tanaka SP | NYY START Gio Gonzalez SP | WAS START
OAK@BOS Daniel Mengden SP | OAK SIT Eduardo Rodriguez SP | BOS START
PHI@BAL Nick Pivetta SP | PHI START Andrew Cashner SP | BAL SIT
STL@MIN Jack Flaherty SP | STL SIT Jose Berrios SP | MIN SIT
TB@KC TBA TBD Ian Kennedy SP | KC START
TEX@SEA Mike Minor RP | TEX SIT Mike Leake SP | SEA SIT
TOR@NYM Jaime Garcia SP | TOR SIT Noah Syndergaard SP | NYM START
PROBABLE PITCHERS (5/16/18) - WEDNESDAY  
GAME VISITING STARTER START/SIT HOME STARTER START/SIT
CHC@ATL Tyler Chatwood SP | CHC START Brandon McCarthy SP | ATL SIT
CHW@PIT Carson Fulmer SP | CHW SIT Jameson Taillon SP | PIT START
CIN@SF Matt Harvey SP | CIN START Andrew Suarez SP | SF START
CLE@DET Trevor Bauer SP | CLE START TBA TBD
HOU@LAA Justin Verlander SP | HOU START Garrett Richards SP | LAA START
LAD@MIA Walker Buehler RP | LAD START Caleb Smith RP | MIA START
MIL@ARI Brandon Woodruff SP | MIL SIT Matt Koch RP | ARI START
NYY@WAS CC Sabathia SP | NYY SIT Max Scherzer SP | WAS START
OAK@BOS Kendall Graveman SP | OAK SIT Chris Sale SP | BOS START
PHI@BAL Vince Velasquez SP | PHI START TBA TBD
STL@MIN Miles Mikolas SP | STL START Lance Lynn SP | MIN SIT
TB@KC Jake Faria SP | TB START Jason Hammel SP | KC SIT
TEX@SEA Bartolo Colon SP | TEX SIT TBA TBD
TOR@NYM J.A. Happ SP | TOR START Zack Wheeler SP | NYM START
PROBABLE PITCHERS (5/17/18) - THURSDAY  
GAME VISITING STARTER START/SIT HOME STARTER START/SIT
BAL@BOS Kevin Gausman SP | BAL SIT David Price SP | BOS SIT
CHC@ATL Jon Lester SP | CHC START Mike Soroka SP | ATL START
COL@SF Chad Bettis SP | COL START Jeff Samardzija SP | SF SIT
DET@SEA Matthew Boyd SP | DET START Felix Hernandez SP | SEA START
LAD@MIA Kenta Maeda SP | LAD START Dan Straily SP | MIA SIT
OAK@TOR Andrew Triggs SP | OAK SIT Aaron Sanchez SP | TOR START
PHI@STL Jake Arrieta SP | PHI START Luke Weaver SP | STL SIT
SD@PIT Eric Lauer SP | SD SIT Chad Kuhl SP | PIT START
TB@LAA Chris Archer SP | TB START Tyler Skaggs SP | LAA START
TEX@CHW Cole Hamels SP | TEX START James Shields SP | CHW SIT
PROBABLE PITCHERS (5/18/18) - FRIDAY  
GAME VISITING STARTER START/SIT HOME STARTER START/SIT
ARI@NYM Troy Scribner RP | ARI SIT Steven Matz SP | NYM START
BAL@BOS Alex Cobb SP | BAL SIT Drew Pomeranz SP | BOS START
CHC@CIN Kyle Hendricks SP | CHC START Homer Bailey SP | CIN SIT
CLE@HOU Mike Clevinger SP | CLE START Charlie Morton SP | HOU START
COL@SF Kyle Freeland SP | COL START Derek Holland SP | SF SIT
DET@SEA Michael Fulmer SP | DET START Marco Gonzales SP | SEA START
LAD@WAS Ross Stripling RP | LAD SIT Tanner Roark SP | WAS START
MIA@ATL Jarlin Garcia RP | MIA START Sean Newcomb SP | ATL START
MIL@MIN Brent Suter SP | MIL SIT Kyle Gibson SP | MIN START
NYY@KC Sonny Gray SP | NYY START Jake Junis SP | KC SIT
OAK@TOR Brett Anderson SP | OAK SIT Marco Estrada SP | TOR SIT
PHI@STL Zach Eflin SP | PHI SIT Michael Wacha SP | STL START
SD@PIT Tyson Ross SP | SD START Ivan Nova SP | PIT START
TB@LAA Matt Andriese SP | TB SIT Nick Tropeano SP | LAA START
TEX@CHW Doug Fister SP | TEX SIT Lucas Giolito SP | CHW SIT
PROBABLE PITCHERS (5/19/18) - SATURDAY  
GAME VISITING STARTER START/SIT HOME STARTER START/SIT
ARI@NYM Zack Godley SP | ARI START Jason Vargas SP | NYM SIT
BAL@BOS Dylan Bundy SP | BAL SIT Rick Porcello SP | BOS START
CHC@CIN
CHC@CIN
Jose Quintana SP | CHC
TBA
START
TBD
Luis Castillo SP | CIN
Sal Romano SP | CIN
START
SIT
CLE@HOU Corey Kluber SP | CLE START Dallas Keuchel SP | HOU START
COL@SF Jon Gray SP | COL START Chris Stratton SP | SF SIT
DET@SEA Blaine Hardy RP | DET SIT James Paxton SP | SEA START
LAD@WAS Rich Hill SP | LAD SIT Stephen Strasburg SP | WAS START
MIA@ATL Jose Urena SP | MIA SIT Julio Teheran SP | ATL START
MIL@MIN Freddy Peralta SP | MIL START Fernando Romero SP | MIN START
NYY@KC Domingo German RP | NYY START Danny Duffy SP | KC SIT
OAK@TOR Sean Manaea SP | OAK START Joe Biagini RP | TOR SIT
PHI@STL Aaron Nola SP | PHI START TBA TBD
SD@PIT Clayton Richard SP | SD SIT TBA TBD
TB@LAA Blake Snell SP | TB START Andrew Heaney SP | LAA START
TEX@CHW Matt Moore SP | TEX SIT TBA TBD
PROBABLE PITCHERS (5/20/18) - SUNDAY  
GAME VISITING STARTER START/SIT HOME STARTER START/SIT
ARI@NYM Patrick Corbin SP | ARI START Jacob deGrom SP | NYM START
BAL@BOS Andrew Cashner SP | BAL SIT Eduardo Rodriguez SP | BOS START
CHC@CIN Yu Darvish SP | CHC START Tyler Mahle SP | CIN SIT
CLE@HOU Carlos Carrasco SP | CLE START Lance McCullers SP | HOU START
COL@SF Tyler Anderson SP | COL START Ty Blach SP | SF SIT
DET@SEA Mike Fiers SP | DET SIT Wade LeBlanc RP | SEA SIT
LAD@WAS Alex Wood SP | LAD START Jeremy Hellickson SP | WAS START
MIA@ATL Wei-Yin Chen SP | MIA SIT Mike Foltynewicz SP | ATL START
MIL@MIN Junior Guerra SP | MIL SIT Jake Odorizzi SP | MIN START
NYY@KC Luis Severino SP | NYY START Eric Skoglund SP | KC SIT
OAK@TOR Daniel Mengden SP | OAK START Jaime Garcia SP | TOR SIT
PHI@STL Nick Pivetta START Jack Flaherty SP | STL START
SD@PIT Joey Lucchesi SP | SD START Trevor Williams SP | PIT START
TB@LAA Ryan Yarbrough SP | TB SIT Shohei Ohtani SP | LAA START
TEX@CHW Mike Minor RP | TEX SIT Reynaldo Lopez SP | CHW START

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Two-Start Pitcher Streamers for Week 7

We are now in Week 7 of the fantasy baseball regular season and the streaming options are getting better every week. Even in a small player pool to work with in Week 6, we found gems like Fernando Romero and Jeremy Hellickson. Let’s hope to find more this week.

There are nine games on Monday, which helps our odds to find more two-start streamers. However, it seems as though the fantasy baseball players are getting smarter. I was surprised to see Joey Lucchesi is now 68 percent owned in leagues. He was undrafted by most fantasy leagues to start the season.

While the intelligence of fantasy baseball owners leads to increased ownership of quality pitchers, I welcome the challenge to continue to find streamers under 50 percent, and 25 percent, owned. All ownership numbers are provided by Yahoo fantasy baseball leagues.

 

Week 7 Streamers Under 50% Owned

Mike Foltynewicz, ATL (49% owned)

Probable opponents: vs. CHC, vs. MIA

If you remove the one bad outing from Foltynewicz (6 ER on May 4th), he would have stellar stats. He’s only allowed more than two earned runs in that one horrendous appearance. Due to that stinker against the Giants, Foltynewicz’s home ERA is 4.22 (2.18 ERA on the road). Don’t let that deter you from his two home starts in Week 7. While the Cubs matchup could be difficult, he should crush in his start against Miami. The Marlins are 30th in team wOBA (.272) against right-handed pitchers and are also 30th in runs scored this season (124 runs in 37 games). Folty also face Miami in his last start: 5 IP, 0 ER, and 4 K.

Eduardo Rodriguez, BOS (35% owned)

Probable opponents: vs. OAK, vs. BAL

After allowing back-to-back starts with five earned runs apiece, Rodriguez shutdown the powerhouse Yankees offense in his last outing: 5 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, and 8 K. He’s now struck out at least eight batters in two consecutive starts. Both Baltimore and Oakland are in the top ten in team strikeouts this season. The Orioles are also 28th in runs scored this season (138 runs in 37 games). Rodriguez already faced Baltimore on April 13th: 6 IP, 1 ER, and 8 K.

Nick Pivetta, PHI (26% owned)

Probable opponents: @ BAL, @ STL

Speaking of dominant recent performances, Pivetta was nearly perfect in his last outing: 5 IP, 0 ER, and 7 K (vs. SF). Pivetta has punched out at least six batters in three of the last four games. I already mentioned Baltimore’s struggles in the runs scored and strikeout department. They also have the fifth-worst team wOBA (.301) against right-handed pitchers. The Cardinals are tenth-worst in that area, as well (.315 wOBA).

 

Under 25% Owned

Chris Stratton, SF (17% owned)

Probable opponents: vs. CIN, vs. COL

Stratton had a solid start to his 2018 campaign and now the water is starting to reach its level. He’s allowed at least five runs in two of the past three games and has walked 10 batters during those three outings. Also, Stratton is pitching at home for both appearances in Week 7. San Francisco is tied for the third best Park Factor over the past three seasons. Even though it looks like Stratton has failed to take advantage of his home ballpark (6.92 ERA in three home starts this year), he only has one game where he allowed more than two earned runs in a home game (six earned runs on April 28th).

Tyler Anderson, COL (12% owned)

Probable opponents: @ SD, @ SF

While it’s sad for DFS and fantasy baseball players who enjoy offense, there will not be a game at Coors Field until May 25th. On the bright side, we should see the ERA numbers for every Rockies pitcher improve during that road trip. Anderson will get two turns in the rotation in Week 7 and he gets two pitcher-friendly ballparks in the process. On April 5th, this season, Anderson arrived in San Diego and shutdown the Padres: 6 IP, 0 ER, and 4 K. He then faced them in Colorado: 6 IP, 2 ER, and 8 K. Also, both the Padres and Giants are in the top three in team strikeouts this season.

Andrew Heaney, LAA (6% owned)

Probable opponents: vs. HOU, vs. TB

Don’t let the 4.78 ERA fool you. Heaney has only allowed more than three earned runs in one start this season (7 ER vs. SF). Also, Heaney has a knack for striking out his opponents. He’s tallied at least five whiffs in four out of five appearances in 2018. Now, those are the positives. On the down side, both Houston and Tampa Bay are in the top ten of team wOBA against left-handed pitchers. Don’t count on Heaney to help with your ERA totals this week. Only add Heaney to your roster if you want the boost to your strikeout totals and the potential win/QS.

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Hitter Streamers (Week 7) - Head-to-Head Leagues

Welcome back to my hitting streamers column for Week 7, taking a look at hitters to add or stream off the waiver wire for this week's scheduled games.

To keep things simple, I pick from players who are 50% owned or less and who play at least seven games in the week.  If someone jumps off the page at me as a less than seven game player, I may make an exception, but otherwise the advantage in number of games dictates my choices.

Streaming can be a valuable tool, by allowing you to feast on favorable pitching matchups and simply have your hitters play more games than your opponents' hitters. If you have the roster space, streaming a hitter can be useful not only to fill a vacant lineup spot, but also to fill in for someone who has five games that week or faces tough matchups. In 5x5 leagues, four of the five hitting categories are counting stats, making the value of extra games significant. This week, the Cubs have eight games. The Red Sox and Seattle have seven, but they face good pitching matchups. The Rays occupy a number of positions on the below list simply due to player availability. With that said, let’s dive right in.

 

Bats to Stream and Start in Week 7

Mitch Moreland (1B, BOS) - 30% owned

Moreland has four games against the Orioles this week, and if that's not reason enough to start him, there's more. The righty-masher has a home run every 20.2 at bats against righties in his career with a .258 average. This year, he has batted .339 against them with a homer every 11.8 at bats. He should face six righty starters this week. However, he has also managed to hold his own against lefties this year, posting a .325/6/15/19/1 line overall on the year. In the middle of a Boston lineup that is second in the majors in runs per game, Moreland should provide power and run production this week, with the possibility of a decent average. Facing good pitching matchups, he is this week's top streamer.

Ryon Healy (1B/3B, SEA) - 38% owned

Healy is one of those players who can be undervalued in 5x5 leagues due to some limitations that have no effect on these leagues. For instance, his low walk rates will not affect you, nor will his defensive limitations at his previous position (3B). Despite spending time on the DL this year, Healy is now healthy and has posted a line of .260/6/13/16/0 in just 19 games. Even though he is unlikely to produce at that pace all year, he should maintain that batting average with good power and run production. In his young career, he is a .280 hitter with a homer every 20.9 at bats. Facing favorable matchups this week, he is a great streaming option who is likely to provide you with a home run and run production. Insert him in your lineup with confidence.

Addison Russell (SS, CHI) - 41% owned

After being the subject of Manny Machado trade rumors this offseason, Russell is off to a slow start. In 33 games, he has a .266/1/8/18/1 line. However, despite just turning 24 in January, he has a career 162-game average of .241/17/73/74/4. This week, he plays eight games and faces good pitching matchups. His bat has heated up of late, with a 1.042 OPS in the last 14 days. Even though he is a relatively unexciting fantasy option overall, he is this week's best middle infield streaming option. Do not expect much in terms of speed or batting average, but he could produce a homer and some decent run production.

Dustin Fowler (OF, OAK) - 7% owned

Dustin Fowler has had an interesting start to his career. In the first inning of his debut, he suffered a gruesome injury. Then, he was traded for Sonny Gray. Now, he has made his way back to the bigs, again showing the promise that had Oakland trade for him. For fantasy purposes, Fowler is first and foremost a basestealer. In 451 minor league games, he stole 82 bases. However, he has also shown some power. In 70 minor league games in 2017, he swatted 13 homers. In 30 such games this year, he added three more. While he is unlikely to provide a great average, he is a good source of speed who could also provide a homer here and there. He is the best overall streaming option this week if you are seeking speed without giving up too much in the other categories.

Carlos Gomez (OF, TB) - 4% owned

Carlos Gomez has appeared on this list numerous times over the past couple years due to his power/speed combination. While he is no longer going to hit 20 homers and steal 40 bases in a season as he did in 2013, Gomez still possesses the tools. In 118 games last year, he had 13 homers and 18 steals. In 115 games the prior year, he posted 12 and 17. To start 2018, he has a line of .195/5/18/8/3. As this line shows, he is a good option for power and speed and can produce some runs, but he is likely to hurt you in the batting average department. If you are looking for a high-risk, high-reward option, he is your guy.

Ben Zobrist (2B/OF, CHC) - 11% owned

Zobrist has slowed down (literally and figuratively) in recent years as his years of double-digit stolen bases are now behind him. However, he still produces a serviceable average with average run production and double-digit power. Whereas Gomez is a risky buy, Zobrist is a steady contributor. This week he has eight games against good pitching matchups. As his line of .293/1/11/9/0 in just 23 games this year suggests, he is a decent bet to keep you afloat in the batting average department while helping you in run production. Do not expect much else.

Matt Duffy (3B, TB) - 3% owned

From a fantasy perspective, Duffy is likely to be what Zobrist was: a player with a decent batting average who can just eclipse the double-digit threshhold in both homers and steals. For instance, in 2015, he posted a line of .295/12/77/77/12. That is far from exciting, but it is production across the board. Despite his .297/1/6/9/2 line to start the year, I would continue to predict average production from him. With decent pitching matchups this week, he has a chance to provide streaming value. While that is hardly a ringing endorsement, the streaming pool becomes shallow quickly this week.

 

Others to Consider

Mallex Smith (OF, TB) - 28% owned - Smith has 40 stolen bases in 183 career games, including eight this year. If you need speed, he is worth an add.

C.J. Cron (1B, TB) - 30% owned - Cron has never shown the full extent of power that people expected, but he is off to a great start this year, with a line of .264/7/17/20/0. He is not a bad backup power source.

Jeimer Candelario (3B, DET) - 35% owned - Candelario is a good young hitter (.286/5/21/16/0), but he faces tough pitching matchups this week.

 

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Week 7 Waiver Wire: H2H Category Streamers

I like to consider myself a pioneer of the streaming approach. I won a league about seven years ago completely ignoring saves and just stacking up the starts each week. While streaming is undoubtedly more directly associated with pitching, there's plenty of value in streaming for offense as well.

Maybe you have a stacked roster and you can't drop anyone. But for those of us with a couple of guys on the roster fringes, it's never too early to look into targeting a specific player or two to gain an edge in a particular category. This season, I will be making weekly recommendations for extreme short term category specialists every week in three offensive areas: speed, power, and average; and three pitching areas: strikeouts, wins, and ratios (ERA/WHIP).

Below are my Week 7 category streamers for fantasy baseball. All position eligibility and ownership percentages are based on Yahoo! fantasy leagues.

 

Head-to-Head Category Streamers to Consider

Speed

Jonathan Villar (2B, OF, MIL) - 47% Owned

The crop of speedsters out there is not great, so, unfortunately, we're forced to go with a guy that many of you won't be able to acquire. But if you can, Jonathan Villar is a guy with a 60 stolen base season on his resume. He struggled mightily in 2017, but looks to be experiencing a bit of a resurgence in 2018. He has stolen six bases in his first 103 plate appearances this season.

Mallex Smith (OF, TB) - 28% Owned

I certainly want to give you different names each week, but it would be a dereliction of duty on my part if I left Mallex Smith off the list. His ownership percentage doesn't seem to be rising despite the fact that it's now the middle of May and he is still hitting well over .300 while tied for the seventh most stolen bases in the league. He's already swiped another two in the past week.

 

Power

C.J. Cron (1B, TB) 32% Owned

If you extrapolate C.J. Cron's numbers over the rest of the season, he projects to hit about 30 home runs. Next week, the Rays tangle with the Royals and Angels, neither of whom possess particularly strong pitching staffs. MegaCron has mega power and his hard hit rate is the highest of his career, near 40%.

Ryon Healy (1B, 3B, SEA) - 33% Owned

A popular breakout candidate in 2017, Ryon Healy did not put it together and was mostly a bust. He spent part of 2018 on the DL, but he's healthy now and the 26 year old has five home runs in just 67 plate appearances. That extrapolates to over 40 home runs over a full season. Neither the Orioles nor the Cardinals are great at recording outs.

 

Average

Yolmer Sanchez (2B, 3B, CWS) - 14% Owned

The young infielder is a career .248 hitter who has been really hot recently. There's reason to believe Yolmer Sanchez can continue his hot streak that has seen him hit over .320 the past 14 days. Sanchez's soft contact rate is down 6% from his career average while his hard contact rate is up 8%. His early week starts against the Pirates may not be the best, but the four game series against the Rangers is very enticing.

Alex Gordon (OF, KC) - 6% Owned

Remember Alex Gordon? He's back now and he's off to a scorching start in his return from injury. He hasn't hit over .300 in a season since 2011, but he's got mostly favorable matchups next week against the Rays and Yankees (just don't start him against Luis Severino) and is hitting .321 over his first 83 plate appearances.

 

Strikeouts

Nick Kingham (SP, PIT) - 27% Owned

This one is sneaky. Nick Kingham is currently in the minor leagues. However, the Pirates will need a fifth starter next week and Kingham was reportedly only sent down because of scheduled days off. He has no scheduled start next week, but he should be called up to pitch either against the White Sox or Padres. The White Sox are middle of the road in offensive strikeouts while the Padres love to swing and miss (second in the league). Kingham's K/9 is 11.68 over his two major league starts.

Kyle Freeland (SP, COL) - 12% Owned

Kyle Freeland's next start will be in San Francisco. The Giants strike out the fifth most times in baseball. Freeland's K/9 is a respectable 8.34. He should make plenty of bats miss.

 

Wins

Ty Blach (SP, SF) - 11% Owned

The Giants are a .500 team. They're average. The Reds are far, far below average. They may have just taken two out of three from the Mets, but the Reds are a bad team. Ty Blach's next start will come against the Reds and he will enjoy the luxury of pitching at home. The Giants will be favored in this game. Hopefully they can get a lead before Blach exits.

German Marquez (SP, COL) - 7% Owned

The Rockies are in second place in the NL West. They've done so by starting the season 15-8 on the road. German Marquez's next start will be at PETCO Park against the Padres...the last place Padres. Marquez fired three scoreless innings in his last start against the Padres, but had to exit early. As long as Marquez doesn't suffer any mishaps, he is likely to win this game.

 

ERA/WHIP

Ian Kennedy (SP, KC) - 33% Owned

Last week, he was in the strikeouts section. This week, he finds himself in the ratios section. Ian Kennedy had a sub 3.00 ERA as of the time of this writing. His next start will come against Tampa Bay, a team in the bottom third of the league in runs scored. Kennedy's BABIP also is due for a bit of a regression. The Rays will not give Kennedy much trouble.

Jeremy Jeffress (RP, MIL) - 25% Owned

The general consensus on middle relievers in leagues that don't care about holds is that they don't have value. As Josh Hader has proven, that's not always the case. While there are very few middle relievers with true value, especially since they can't really help with quality starts or wins, Hader's teammate, Jeremy Jeffress, can certainly do a starter's worth of work for your ratios. Jeffress has a 0.45 ERA and a 0.70 WHIP through his first 20 innings. From May 1 - May 8, he pitched six innings of scoreless baseball while allowing only two baserunners. If you can get even four innings from him in a week, he will be worth it.

 

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Week 6 Points Leagues - Strategy, Pickups and Cuts

Welcome back for another week of advice for points league waiver wire moves. This segment will include waiver wire adds, drops, and streaming pitchers for the upcoming week. This article will be geared toward points leagues. Every points league is different, so keep that in mind. Walks and extra base hits are more valuable in points leagues. AVG and ERA are not important in points leagues, so consider that as well.

For the purpose of this article, all of the ownership percentages will be based on ESPN points leagues. Percentages should be fairly consistent between league sites. Some players will be suggested as streamers (while they are hot), or as rest-of-season adds (ride them all year).

As always, feel free to follow and message me on Twitter for any fantasy advice or for further reasoning with this segment. Without further ado, let's take a look at some players that you should either add or drop.

 

Points League Players to Add 

Yolmer Sanchez (2B/3B, CWS)

Yolmer Sanchez looks like a great add for the rest of the season. His .306 AVG ensures that he can get on base almost every game. He doesn't hit many home runs, but he has a high contact rate with plus speed. Sanchez has been hitting in the top three slots of the lineup card, so he has a high run upside with some protection around him in the order. Sanchez has eligibility at two positions and is a switch hitter, so he'll have consistent playing time which is sometimes hard to find from waiver wire players.

Daniel Descalso (2B/3B/OF, ARI)

Daniel Descalso hasn't done anything spectacular this season, but he does have 18 RBI with four home runs. Descalso only has a .259 AVG but he owns a .400 AVG. over his last 14 games. His eligibility at three positions is a great value. He should be in the Arizona Diamondbacks lineup everyday, and will be great for your lineups as well.

Alex Gordon (OF, KC)

Alex Gordon has been on a hot streak since coming off of the disabled list two weeks ago. Over his last 14 games he has a monster .383 AVG with 18 H and eight RBI. All three of his home runs have come over the course of his last seven games, so he may not be available for long. He only has a 4.7% own in leagues, but he's producing at a high rate. The Kansas City Royals have been scoring runs at a high clip which helps his run totals.

 

Points League Pitchers to Stream

Sean Newcomb (SP, ATL) - Sunday 5/13/18 vs. MIA

Sean Newcomb draws a nice match up against an under-performing Miami Marlins squad. He has 48 strikeouts to go along with a 2.88 ERA. He's a great streaming option, but he has a good potential to be a rest of season type pick up. The Braves give lots of run support, so his 3-1 record looks like it could keep getting higher in the win column. Miami has the worst team batting average in all of baseball with .224.

Drew Pomeranz (SP, BOS) - Sunday 5/13/18 vs. TOR

While he hasn't had an exceptional start to the year, Drew Pomeranz gets a good match up against the Toronto Blue Jays where he looks to keep his improvement streak going. Boston will provide him run support, and leagues where quality starts get points you should do well. He isn't a long term option but he should do well on Sunday

Chad Kuhl (SP, PIT) - Saturday 5/12/18 vs. SF

Chad Kuhl only surrendered one hit in seven innings pitched due to great command. He has the ability to rack up strikeouts, and the San Francisco Giants should do plenty of that. He makes a good streaming candidate that is feeling himself, but that could possibly turn into a longer role on your team. He could help you out a lot in the long run if your pitching staff is depleted due to injury.

 

Points League Players to Drop

Matt Carpenter (1B/3B, STL)

While Matt Carpenter is having a strange season, his value doesn't look like it will increase anytime soon. Kolten Wong will not be giving up any starts at second base due to his defense and current surge in plate production. Jose Martinez has stepped up at first base. His defense ensures Carpenter wont get regular time there. Martinez is hitting very well too. That only leaves third base as an option for Carpenter, but Jedd Gyorko has been doing extremely well in his limited appearances at the plate. Until further notice, Carpenter is a good drop candidate. He only has 13 RBI this year, which is his main stat. He has never been a huge power hitter, but he only has three home runs as well. The only thing Carpenter has going for him that is more valuable is his plate discipline. He drew 109 BB in 2017, so if you get points he does have some value there, and in an extremely deep format you might consider keeping him. Carpenter is still owned in 65% of leagues, but it's most likely teams with injuries, deeper formats, and loyal Cardinals fans like myself.

Evan Gattis (C/DH, HOU)

Evan Gattis only has a .191 AVG. but that's nothing unusual for him. His home run total is usually where all of his value comes for points leagues, but he only has one this season. Until Gattis can prove that he can produce don't expect consistent playing time from him. As he is only eligible to play as a catcher or utility, there are many better options available. Gattis has a surprisingly high own percentage of 50.3%.

Michael Conforto (OF, NYM)

Michael Conforto has been ice cold as of late. He has a .111 AVG. over his last seven games. The worst thing is that he only has one RBI and one BB. Conforto recently got moved to seventh in the order. This makes his RBI value even worse. Try to trade him first, but if there aren't any suitors you may consider dropping him in shallower formats. Conforto is owned in 62.5% of leagues.

 

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Are You For Real? Surprising SP Starts (Week 6)

Welcome to our surprising starts series. Every week we’ll be going over a few surprising starting pitcher performances around the majors to determine whether these starts were smoke and mirrors or something more.

With all the exciting young pitching prospects being called up and doing well and some veterans surprising us it was hard to narrow down which pitchers to write about. All three pitchers we're looking at this week have two things in common. They are all under 30% owned in Yahoo leagues, and they all feature a nasty changeup.

Domingo German pitched six no-hit innings in his first big leauge start against the Indians on Sunday, while Trevor Cahill struck out 12 Orioles Saturday night. Alex Cobb wasn't quite as dominant as either of them, but he showed signs of life on Sunday.

 

Real Deal or Mirage?

Domingo German, New York Yankees

2018 Stats (out of the bullpen): 14.1 IP, 3.77 ERA. 3.92 FIP, 2.6 K/BB

05/06 vs. CLE: 6 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 2 BB. 9 K

Domingo German had been effective for the Yankees as a long reliever before making his first big league start on Sunday, and he had quite the gem working before being pulled. German has a four-pitch repertoire, a 95 MPH four-seamer and 95 MPH sinker, an 87 MPH changeup, and an 82 MPH curveball. German got sixteen swinging strikes on Sunday, and thirteen of them came on either the curveball or changeup. Despite the ability to dial up some heat with his fastball, it’s German’s off-speed stuff that’s especially interesting. Here’s a look at a curveball from Sunday.

His curve doesn’t have the big looping action we normally see with a lot of curveballs. It looks more like a slider-curveball hybrid than a traditional curveball. This one to Jason Kipnis was probably his best of the game, but he was able to fool hitters with it outside of the zone consistently during this start. Hitters have chased his curveball 35.5% of the time and whiffed 16.8% of the time at it. The curveball is a good breaking ball, but German’s changeup looked even better in this start. Here is one of them from Sunday.

And another.

That’s bonkers. I’d might even go as far as bananas. What chance do right-handers have against it? It looks like a cookie right over the plate and then cuts sharply inside. It’s no surprise that hitters have chased German’s changeup 48.6% of the time and whiffed at it 26.2% of the time.

Both the stuff and the stats look legitimate with German. Even his minor league numbers are impressive. German never posted an ERA higher than 3.12 or a FIP higher than 3.59 after his first season in rookie ball. He spent an unusually long amount of time in low levels of the minors and 2015 Tommy John surgery killed his budding prospect status, but German dominated every level of the minor leagues. While he won’t be quite this good every time he pitches, what German did on Sunday looked real. The biggest worry with him should be walks. He’s had a 12.4% walk rate during his short major league career, and when he pitches poorly it will likely be due to control issues. Jordan Montgomery is expected to miss 6-8 weeks so German has the opportunity to prove himself. He’s the young up-and-comer to target on waivers this week.

Verdict:

German combines 95 MPH heat with two plus breaking balls to rack up strike outs. Control may be an issue for him, and is probably his biggest flaw right now. He’s definitely someone worth adding and starting next time out against the Athletics.

Trevor Cahill, Oakland Athletics

2017 Stats: 84 IP, 4.93 ERA, 5.28 FIP, 1.93 K/BB

05/05 vs. BAL: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 12 K

Trevor Cahill has been solid since returning to the A’s on April 17th, but on Saturday he came out and fanned twelve Orioles in a pitcher’s duel against Kevin Gausman. Cahill now has ace-like numbers on the season, with a 2.52 SIERA and 5.17 K/BB through his first four starts. Cahill’s transformation from long reliever to strikeout starter began in 2016 with the Cubs. Cahill posted a then-career best 23.2% strikeout rate and 2.74 ERA out of the Cubs bullpen. The success continued as a starter the next season with the Padres. Before a midseason trade to the Royals Cahill had a 3.40 FIP and 10.6 K/9 with San Diego. Cahill got injured after only three starts with Kansas City and was moved to the bullpen upon return. He struggled down the stretch and spoiled his overall stat line. Starting in 2016 Cahill ditched the low dominance sinkerball approach he used in the early 2010s and began relying more on his changeup and curveball.

The changeup was the pitch for Cahill on Saturday. He got 15 whiffs with his changeup alone while racking up 21 total. 15 swinging strikes in total would be a good start for anyone, and Cahill racked up that many with one pitch. Cahill’s changeup is filthy and more than makes up for his lack of a quality fastball. His late-twenties renaissance didn’t just involve Cahill changing his pitch mix and throwing the changeup more though. It got better. Here’s a look at the pitch from Saturday.

Grab some pine Manny Machado! Cahill’s changeup gained four miles per hour of velocity and two inches of vertical drop. It’s gone from being a fine secondary option to the jewel of Cahill’s arsenal. Even before this start the changeup had a 23% whiff rate, and now it’s 28.7%. Cahill has made similar improvements to his curveball, though to a lesser degree. His curveball has gained about 1.5 inches of drop this season and has a 20.69% whiff rate. Cahill only threw six curveballs in his start on Saturday, but that’s probably because his changeup was working so well. Between the changeup and curveball Cahill has two good strikeout pitches. Even though he’s throwing his sinker less than ever at just 35.8% of the time Cahill hasn’t sacrificed any of his groundball prowess. He has a 59.6% groundball rate this season, higher than his 55.1% career average. No one should expect 12 strikeouts and shutout ball every time, but what Cahill is doing looks legitimate. With all the exciting rookies and prospects doing well Cahill may have slipped under the radar, but he deserves as much attention as any of them.

Verdict:

Cahill has built upon the improvements he made in 2016 and 2017 and his changeup is looking better than ever. He should be able to pile up strikeouts and get groundballs when the ball is in play. Among a sea of young pitchers doing well Cahill is worth adding in redraft over many of them.

Alex Cobb, Baltimore Orioles

2018 Stats before Sunday: 17.2 IP, 9.68 ERA, 6.44 FIP, 1.2 K/BB ratio

05/06 @ OAK: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER (2 R total), 1 BB, 5 K

Before Sunday Alex Cobb had been perhaps the worst starting pitcher in the majors, and it looked like the Orioles bought a $57 million-dollar lemon. Whether the Orioles made the right choice with Cobb is irrelevant to us. What is important is whether Cobb can return to being a viable fantasy starter. Cobb signed with the Orioles on March 21st, giving him very little time to get in game shape. That’s bad for everyone, but especially bad for a pitcher like Cobb that relies so heavily on a breaking pitch. Like his teammate Kevin Gausman, Cobb will live and die by the split-changeup, nicknamed “The Thing” after its unusual grip. Before he had Tommy John Surgery Cobb’s splitter had an 18.66% whiff rate (this number was even more impressive in the early-mid 2010s before the spike in strikeouts). After returning it dropped to a measly 12.24% and it lost five inches of drop. The Thing had turned into Michael Chiklis.

To get an idea of where Cobb’s splitter was here’s what it looked like pre-Tommy John in 2013.

Pretty good right? That’s what made Cobb such an effective pitcher for a three-year period between 2012-2014. Here’s what it looked like three weeks ago in a seven-run shelling at the hands of the Detroit Tigers.

Oops. Instead of “The Thing” that could’ve been called “The Meatball”, and Jeimer Candelario drove it for an opposite field blast. That pitch was not only mislocated, it didn’t have much downward action. If that’s where Cobb’s splitter was at it’s no surprise he’s been hit so hard. Here’s what it looked like Sunday.

Although the drop is straighter compared to his 2013 splitter, that was closer to peak Cobb than the one against Candelario. If he pitches like that all the time he could recapture past success. Cobb also had seven swinging strikes with the splitter this game. He had four whiffs total in his first four starts with his splitter. Another positive sign from this game was Cobb’s velocity increase. He averaged 93 MPH on his two-seamer and 87.7 MPH on his splitter. This is higher than it had been in previous starts and is around pre-surgery levels.

Part of the problem with Cobb is that he’s transitioned towards throwing his two-seamer more often since his return. As much as the splitter is the key to success for Cobb, the shift to a sinkerballer might hurt him. This is probably to combat injury, which is good for Cobb as a real life player, but bad for his fantasy value. Prior to surgery batters hit .297 with a .141 ISO against Cobb’s sinker. This season they’ve hit .313 against the pitch, though last season batters hit .249 against the pitch. with a .104 ISO. Cobb is probably experiencing some bad BABIP luck this season on the sinker. He had a .262 BABIP against with it last season, but a .341 BABIP against this season. Those will probably meet in the middle over time around .300. Cobb’s groundball rate recovered and he has a 59.5% groundball rate with his sinker this season.

The pre-surgery Cobb probably isn’t coming back. Not only has his stuff diminished, but he’s pitching differently. He’s a sinkerballer that, when the pitch is right, can fool hitters with his split-changeup. That can be effective, but it limits his upside. That approach is actually not too far off from Cahill's approach. Play the sinker and offspeed pitches off each other for grounders and strikeouts. But when Cobb’s splitter isn’t working the blow ups can be colossal. The bad might not be worth the good, but there are glimmers of hope.

Verdict:

No, Alex Cobb isn’t back, at least not to pre-surgery levels. The splitter still hasn’t fully recovered but it’s getting closer. It appears that he’s going to play off his two-seamer more going forward, which is bad for his strikeout potential and overall performance. He’s more of a player to stash than a player to start right away.

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Week 6 Start/Sit Matchups - Starting Pitchers

You know what it is--it's my updated starts/sits column for Week 6! Your friendly neighborhood @Roto_Dubs is back again this year with his weekly starting pitcher matchups. This is our fifth year now writing this weekly column, helping fantasy baseball managers pick the best pitchers weekly.

Below are the projected starting pitching matchups for Week 6, which will be updated as rotations are inevitably tweaked.

If you've got any questions about which pitchers can capitalize on a juicy matchup and which ones might be worth putting on the pine against a fierce offense, this is the weekly piece for you. For every week of the fantasy baseball season, we look to analyze all of the projected starting pitcher matchups and put together our optimal lineups. Here at RotoBaller, we believe that it’s key to analyze every SP matchup, each and every week, to help determine which SPs to start/sit and to hopefully find some hidden gems to bolster your teams. Let's set those optimal lineups!

 

SP Matchups & Start/Sit Recommendations

This weekly piece considers the pitcher’s opponents, their career stats against the opponent, some ballpark factors and historical splits. With all of this information, we then provide our start/sit recommendations for each starting pitcher matchup for the approaching week of fantasy baseball.

PROBABLE PITCHERS (5/7/18)    
GAME VISITING STARTER START/SIT HOME STARTER START/SIT
DET@TEX Michael Fulmer SP | DET START Matt Moore SP | TEX SIT
HOU@OAK Dallas Keuchel SP | HOU START Brett Anderson SP | OAK SIT
MIA@CHC Jarlin Garcia RP | MIA START Kyle Hendricks SP | CHC START
MIN@STL Fernando Romero SP | MIN START John Gant RP | STL SIT
NYM@CIN P.J. Conlon RP | NYM SIT Homer Bailey SP | CIN SIT
SF@PHI Jeff Samardzija SP | SF START Zach Eflin SP | PHI START
WAS@SD Stephen Strasburg SP | WAS START Tyson Ross SP | SD START
PROBABLE PITCHERS (5/8/18)    
GAME VISITING STARTER START/SIT HOME STARTER START/SIT
ARI@LAD Zack Godley SP | ARI START Rich Hill SP | LAD SIT
ATL@TB Sean Newcomb SP | ATL START Blake Snell SP | TB START
BOS@NYY Drew Pomeranz SP | BOS SIT Luis Severino SP | NYY START
CLE@MIL Corey Kluber SP | CLE START Wade Miley SP | MIL SIT
DET@TEX Mike Fiers SP | DET SIT Mike Minor RP | TEX START
HOU@OAK Lance McCullers SP | HOU START Sean Manaea SP | OAK START
KC@BAL Danny Duffy SP | KC SIT Dylan Bundy SP | BAL START
LAA@COL Andrew Heaney SP | LAA SIT Jon Gray SP | COL START
MIA@CHC Jose Urena SP | MIA SIT Yu Darvish SP | CHC START
MIN@STL Jake Odorizzi SP | MIN SIT Carlos Martinez SP | STL START
NYM@CIN Jason Vargas SP | NYM SIT Luis Castillo SP | CIN SIT
PIT@CHW Ivan Nova SP | PIT START Lucas Giolito SP | CHW START
SEA@TOR James Paxton SP | SEA START Marcus Stroman SP | TOR SIT
SF@PHI Derek Holland SP | SF SIT Aaron Nola SP | PHI START
WAS@SD Jeremy Hellickson SP | WAS START Clayton Richard SP | SD SIT
PROBABLE PITCHERS (5/9/18)    
GAME VISITING STARTER START/SIT HOME STARTER START/SIT
ARI@LAD Patrick Corbin SP | ARI START Alex Wood SP | LAD START
ATL@TB Julio Teheran SP | ATL START TBA TBD
BOS@NYY David Price SP | BOS SIT Masahiro Tanaka SP | NYY START
CLE@MIL Carlos Carrasco SP | CLE START Junior Guerra SP | MIL START
DET@TEX Francisco Liriano RP | DET START Bartolo Colon SP | TEX SIT
HOU@OAK Gerrit Cole SP | HOU START Daniel Mengden SP | OAK SIT
KC@BAL Eric Skoglund SP | KC SIT Andrew Cashner SP | BAL SIT
LAA@COL Jaime Barria SP | LAA SIT Tyler Anderson SP | COL START
MIA@CHC Wei-Yin Chen SP | MIA SIT Jose Quintana SP | CHC START
NYM@CIN Zack Wheeler SP | NYM SIT Sal Romano SP | CIN SIT
PIT@CHW Trevor Williams SP | PIT START Reynaldo Lopez SP | CHW SIT
SEA@TOR Wade LeBlanc RP | SEA SIT Jaime Garcia SP | TOR SIT
SF@PHI Chris Stratton SP | SF START Nick Pivetta SP | PHI START
WAS@SD Gio Gonzalez SP | WAS START Joey Lucchesi SP | SD START
PROBABLE PITCHERS (5/10/18)    
GAME VISITING STARTER START/SIT HOME STARTER START/SIT
ATL@MIA Mike Foltynewicz SP | ATL START Caleb Smith RP | MIA START
BOS@NYY Rick Porcello SP | BOS START CC Sabathia SP | NYY SIT
CIN@LAD Tyler Mahle SP | CIN START Walker Buehler SP | LAD START
KC@BAL Ian Kennedy SP | KC START Kevin Gausman SP | BAL START
MIL@COL Jhoulys Chacin SP | MIL SIT German Marquez SP | COL SIT
MIN@LAA Jose Berrios SP | MIN START Garrett Richards SP | LAA START
SEA@TOR Mike Leake SP | SEA SIT J.A. Happ SP | TOR START
SF@PHI Ty Blach SP | SF START Vince Velasquez SP | PHI START
STL@SD Miles Mikolas SP | STL START Bryan Mitchell RP | SD SIT
WAS@ARI Tanner Roark SP | WAS START TBA TBD
PROBABLE PITCHERS (5/11/18)    
GAME VISITING STARTER START/SIT HOME STARTER START/SIT
ATL@MIA Brandon McCarthy SP | ATL START Dan Straily SP | MIA SIT
BOS@TOR Eduardo Rodriguez SP | BOS START Aaron Sanchez SP | TOR SIT
CHW@CHC Carson Fulmer SP | CHW SIT Tyler Chatwood SP | CHC START
CIN@LAD Brandon Finnegan SP | CIN SIT Kenta Maeda RP | LAD START
KC@CLE Jason Hammel SP | KC SIT Josh Tomlin SP | CLE SIT
MIL@COL Chase Anderson SP | MIL SIT Chad Bettis SP | COL SIT
MIN@LAA Lance Lynn SP | MIN SIT Tyler Skaggs SP | LAA START
NYM@PHI Steven Matz SP | NYM SIT Jake Arrieta SP | PHI START
OAK@NYY Trevor Cahill SP | OAK START Sonny Gray SP | NYY START
SEA@DET Marco Gonzales SP | SEA START Jordan Zimmermann SP | DET SIT
SF@PIT Andrew Suarez SP | SF START Nick Kingham SP | PIT START
STL@SD Luke Weaver SP | STL START Eric Lauer SP | SD START
TB@BAL Jake Faria SP | TB START Chris Tillman SP | BAL SIT
TEX@HOU Cole Hamels SP | TEX START Charlie Morton SP | HOU START
WAS@ARI Max Scherzer SP | WAS START Zack Greinke SP | ARI START
PROBABLE PITCHERS (5/12/18)    
GAME VISITING STARTER START/SIT HOME STARTER START/SIT
ATL@MIA Mike Soroka SP | ATL START Jarlin Garcia RP | MIA START
BOS@TOR Chris Sale SP | BOS START Marco Estrada SP | TOR SIT
CHW@CHC James Shields SP | CHW SIT Jon Lester SP | CHC START
CIN@LAD Homer Bailey SP | CIN SIT Ross Stripling SP | LAD SIT
KC@CLE Jake Junis SP | KC START Trevor Bauer SP | CLE START
MIL@COL TBA TBD Kyle Freeland SP | COL START
MIN@LAA Kyle Gibson SP | MIN START TBA TBD
NYM@PHI Noah Syndergaard SP | NYM START Zach Eflin SP | PHI START
OAK@NYY Andrew Triggs SP | OAK SIT Domingo German RP | NYY START
SEA@DET Felix Hernandez SP | SEA START Matthew Boyd SP | DET START
SF@PIT Jeff Samardzija SP | SF START Jameson Taillon SP | PIT START
STL@SD Michael Wacha SP | STL START Tyson Ross SP | SD START
TB@BAL Chris Archer SP | TB START Alex Cobb SP | BAL SIT
TEX@HOU Doug Fister SP | TEX SIT Justin Verlander SP | HOU START
WAS@ARI Stephen Strasburg SP | WAS START Matt Koch RP | ARI START
PROBABLE PITCHERS (5/13/18)    
GAME VISITING STARTER START/SIT HOME STARTER START/SIT
ATL@MIA Sean Newcomb SP | ATL START Jose Urena SP | MIA SIT
BOS@TOR Drew Pomeranz SP | BOS SIT Marcus Stroman SP | TOR SIT
CHW@CHC Lucas Giolito SP | CHW SIT Kyle Hendricks SP | CHC START
CIN@LAD Luis Castillo SP | CIN SIT Rich Hill SP | LAD START
KC@CLE Danny Duffy SP | KC SIT Mike Clevinger SP | CLE START
MIL@COL Wade Miley SP | MIL SIT Jon Gray SP | COL START
MIN@LAA Fernando Romero SP | MIN SIT Shohei Ohtani SP | LAA START
NYM@PHI P.J. Conlon RP | NYM SIT Aaron Nola SP | PHI START
OAK@NYY Brett Anderson SP | OAK SIT Luis Severino SP | NYY START
SEA@DET James Paxton SP | SEA START Michael Fulmer SP | DET START
SF@PIT Derek Holland SP | SF SIT Chad Kuhl SP | PIT START
STL@SD Carlos Martinez SP | STL START Clayton Richard SP | SD SIT
TB@BAL Blake Snell SP | TB START Andrew Cashner SP | BAL SIT
TEX@HOU Matt Moore SP | TEX SIT Dallas Keuchel SP | HOU START
WAS@ARI Jeremy Hellickson SP | WAS START Zack Godley SP | ARI START

 

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Hitter Streamers (Week 6) - Head-to-Head Leagues

Welcome back to my hitting streamers column for Week 6, taking a look at hitters to add or stream off the waiver wire for this week's scheduled games.

To keep things simple, I pick from players who are 50% owned or less and who play at least seven games in the week.  If someone jumps off the page at me as a less than seven game player, I may make an exception, but otherwise the advantage in number of games dictates my choices.

Streaming can be a valuable tool, by allowing you to feast on favorable pitching matchups and simply have your hitters play more games than your opponents' hitters. If you have the roster space, streaming a hitter can be useful not only to fill a vacant lineup spot, but also to fill in for someone who has five games that week or faces tough matchups. In 5x5 leagues, four of the five hitting categories are counting stats, making the value of extra games significant. Streaming also can allow you to target a specific category of need. Even though this week's pool of streaming options is not as strong as usual, there is still value to be had. With that said, let’s dive right in.

 

Bats to Stream and Start in Week 6

Michael A. Taylor (OF, WAS) - 45% owned

Taylor still has strikeout issues (30.4% on the year), and he has been cold lately. Nevertheless, he is who we thought he was: a guy who will post a low batting average but give you stolen bases and homers. He is tied for fourth in the majors this year with 10 stolen bases. He has combined that speed with three homers, 18 runs, and nine RBIs. While his run production is likely to be average and his batting average likely to be low, he is a good option if you need stolen bases with the possibility of home runs.

Maikel Franco (3B, PHI) - 50% owned

Franco has a low strikeout rate and has hit homers, but he has yet to post a BABIP over .300 for a season. If he could live by the slogan "hit it where they ain't", his once bright fantasy star could shine again. There are not strong signs that is about to happen, but that does not mean he cannot provide you value this week. On the season, Franco has a line of .272/5/13/24/0 in just 24 games. That line, combined with decent pitching matchups this week, makes him a decent streaming option if available.

Lewis Brinson (OF, MIA) - 10% owned

Brinson is strikeout-prone. This year, he has struck out in 34.5% of his plate appearances, is hitting .175, and has just one steal. Why, then, is he near the top of this week's streamers? Brinson is a 23-year-old perennial top prospect who has now spent 51 games in MLB. It appears that he may be starting to adjust as his K-rate has decreased recently. If he is able to put the ball in play, good things will happen. He has power and speed (although that has not yet translated to stolen bases at the MLB level), and he has serviceable pitching matchups this week. Brinson could surprise with production in any category, and this week I feel he is a good gamble.

Franchy Cordero (OF, SDP) - 17% owned

Continuing the trend of strikeout-prone hitters with speed and power is Franchy Cordero. In his 30 games with the Padres last year, Cordero was the fastest player on the team and hit the ball harder than any other Padres position player. In 50 career games, he has a line of .240/9/26/22/4. That is a 162-game average of .240/29/84/71/13. He is a promising young player (23 years old) who would be even higher on the list if he faced better matchups. If you can stomach his poor batting average, he is a recommended buy and hold candidate.

Scott Kingery (2B/3B/SS/OF, PHI) - 45% owned

With JP Crawford sidelined, Kingery should have regular playing time at shortstop this week. After stealing 30 bases in the minors in 2016, Kingery added power to his repertoire in 2017 (with 26 homers and 29 steals). Even though he is off to a slow start at the plate (.208/2/12/13/3), his stolen base ability should make him a valuable fantasy asset. Pair that with his power, and he gives you enough value to offset what is likely not to be a great batting average. Facing decent pitching matchups, this is a good week to stream Kingery, who may be eligible at multiple positions.

Manuel Margot (OF, SDP) - 40% owned

In 157 MLB games, the former prospect has a line of .250/15/65/49/22. Even though his average is sitting at a putrid .176 this year, that is due to an unlucky BABIP of .209. While he is unlikely to provide all around production, he is a good source of stolen bases who will not hurt you too badly in the other categories. I realize that is far from a ringing endorsement, but with the scarcity of stolen bases in MLB of late, such a skillset has value in your fantasy lineup in 5x5 leagues.

Matt Adams (1B/OF, WAS) - 25% owned

Adams has capitalized on his 77 plate appearances this year, with a line of .297/7/14/17/0 and a ridiculous 1.088 OPS. Even though that is obviously unsustainable, Adams has always been a righty-masher. In his career, he has batted .288 against them with a homer every 20.8 at bats. This week, the Nationals face five righties. Adams should have a chance to continue his righty-mashing ways, and is a decent bet for a home run this week with a good batting average.

 

Others to Consider

Starlin Castro (2B, MIA) - 44% owned - Castro does not have a homer yet this year and is not a base-stealer, but going forward I would expect a good batting average with average pop. If that is what you're seeking this week, he is worth streaming.

Aaron Altherr (OF, PHI) - 15% owned - Part of a crowded Phillies' outfield, Altherr has a career line of .241/31/116/128/19 in 234 games. He is a decent source of power who could steal you a base.

Chris Davis (1B, BAL) - 34% owned - After a very poor season in 2017, Davis has started 2018 even worse. However, he has looked better at the plate lately and is a high-risk proposition who could reward you with power and run production.

Miguel Rojas (SS/3B, MIA) - 5% owned - Rojas has four homers and two steals already this season. While that is unlikely to continue, he is likely to be available in your league if the other options are all off the table.

 

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Two-Start Pitcher Streamers for Week 6

With only a seven-game slate on Monday, the number of streaming starting pitchers is reduced severely. While the player pool is shallow, we are still able to compile three starting pitchers from each level of ownership (under 50 percent and under 25 percent). All ownership percentages are courtesy of Yahoo fantasy baseball.

The weather is only getting warmer, which means baseballs will be flying out of parks. This is just a friendly reminder that most of these pitchers are available, or streamed, for a reason. If you know you’ll be in a battle for ERA or WHIP in your head-to-head league, you may want to reduce the number of streamers you acquire.

However, if your goal is to increase your strikeout total, while rolling the dice on a potential win/QB, then feel free to add these names below. With some of these pitchers, while they will pitch twice in Week 6, you may want to only use them for one start. It’s all in your strategy. Choose wisely.

 

Week 6 Streamers Under 50% Owned

Tyson Ross, SD (39% owned)

Probable opponents: vs. WSH, vs. STL

When you’ve pitched in Colorado and Arizona already in 2018, you’d expect a high ERA and a decent volume of home runs allowed for that certain pitcher. However, that is not the case for Ross. In fact, during his six starts this season, he’s only allowed two home runs, and they were both in his outing at Minute Maid Park. So, that’s five games where Ross refused to allow a home run (@ SF, @ COL, @ ARI, vs. SF, vs. COL). He’ll get two home starts this week. As far as strikeouts are concerned, Ross has racked up at least seven punch outs in four of the past five games.

Sean Newcomb, ATL (38% owned)

Probable opponents: @ TB, @ MIA

Newcomb has had his ups and downs this season. In two outings, he’s allowed at least four earned runs. Newcomb also has four starts where he’s allowed no more than two earned runs. Also, he does exactly what you’d expect from a streamer: he strikes out batters. In every performance this season, he’s struck out at least five batters. He’s tallied at least seven strikeouts in four of the last five games. However, both Tampa Bay and Miami are in the top eight in team wOBA against left-handed pitchers. On a good note, the Marlins aren’t crushing the ball. Miami’s team ISO against southpaws is .142, which is 25th in the league.

Fernando Romero, MIN (34% owned)

Probable opponents: @ STL, @ LAA

In his MLB debut on May 2nd, Romero was impressive against the Blue Jays. In 5.2 innings, he struck out five and only allowed four hits while shutting out Toronto. Last year, in Double-A, Romero produced a 3.53 ERA and struck out 120 batters in 125 innings (8.6 K/9). For Romero, his bread and butter was his fastball. He threw 97 pitches in his debut with 49 of them reaching 95 mph, or more.

 

Under 25% Owned

Jose Urena, MIA (7% owned)

Probable opponents: @ CHC, vs. ATL

Pay no attention to the winless pitcher behind the curtain. He’s 0-5 and the Marlins have lost every game he’s pitched, but Urena isn’t a terrible option for your fantasy team as a streamer. Urena recorded back-to-back starts with only one earned run and at least five strikeouts in each appearance. Unfortunately, I don’t expect Miami to get the win in either of his starts this week, too. The Cubs and Braves are both in the top eight in team wOBA against righties. Urena is strickly to be used for padding your strikeout total. Warning, your ERA could be harmed in the process.

Andrew Heaney, LAA (6% owned)

Probable opponents: @ COL, vs. MIN

As this is posted, the official starts haven’t been established for the Angels, but I’ll go out on a limb and assume Heaney pitches twice in Week 6. On April 20th, Heaney had a rough outing against the Giants (4.1 IP, 7 ER). However, in the two starts since, He’s allowed a total of two earned runs and struck out 11 batters. His first matchup in Week 6 isn’t ideal. The Rockies are ninth in the league in wOBA against left-handed pitchers (.329). However, the Twins, his second opponent, are 25th with a .301 wOBA.

Jeremy Hellickson, WSH (3% owned)

Probable opponents: @ SD, @ ARI

I almost went with only two starting pitchers in the “under 25%” portion, but this is for those in deeper leagues. Hellickson isn’t stellar in the strikeout category, he’s only maxed out at five strikeouts once this season. On the bright side, Hellickson hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in any start in 2018. His first matchup, San Diego, is 27th in team wOBA against right-handed pitchers (.297) and first in team strikeouts this season.

 

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Week 6 Waiver Wire - H2H Category Streamers

I like to consider myself a pioneer of the streaming approach. I won a league about seven years ago completely ignoring saves and just stacking up the starts each week. While streaming is undoubtedly more directly associated with pitching, there's plenty of value in streaming for offense as well.

Maybe you have a stacked roster and you can't drop anyone. But for those of us with a couple of guys on the roster fringes, it's never too early to look into targeting a specific player or two to gain an edge in a particular category. This season, I will be making weekly recommendations for extreme short term category specialists every week in three offensive areas: speed, power, and average; and three pitching areas: strikeouts, wins, and ratios (ERA/WHIP).

Below are my Week 6 category streamers for fantasy baseball. All position eligibility and ownership percentages are based on Yahoo! fantasy leagues.

 

Head-to-Head Category Streamers to Consider

Speed

Delino DeShields (OF, TEX) - 43% Owned

This guy was a popular later round pick in drafts, but found himself on the DL early in the season and has been since largely forgotten. Well, he's back now and he's running as per usual. Delino DeShields has stolen four bases in the past two weeks, which should only serve to remind everyone of his enormous upside in the stolen bases department. His ownership percentage is only going to increase. Get him and then probably hang onto him.

Mallex Smith (OF, TB) - 28% Owned

Truth be told, Mallex Smith probably should have been on this list every week this season. I had him here in the early weeks, but wanted to add some new names. He's back because his ownership percentage isn't as high as it should be. Mallex has six stolen bases on the season with four of them coming in the past two weeks. It was only a matter of time before he started picking things up on the base paths. He's also hitting over .300, which doesn't hurt either.

 

Power

Franchy Cordero (OF, SD) - 16% Owned

With six home runs in his first 76 plate appearances, the upstart rookie is making an immediate splash in his first major league action. Franchy Cordero was initially called up due to injuries in the Padres' outfield, but even with Manuel Margot back, Cordero remains an every day player. His 34.2% strikeout rate is horrendous, but when he makes contact, the ball tends to go pretty far.

Pedro Alvarez (Util, BAL) - 1% Owned

This one is digging really deep and truly is just a flier. Pedro Alvarez is not an every day player, but his power is well documented. If Alvarez received a full season's worth of plate appearances, I have the utmost confidence he would exceed 30 home runs. That won't happen because he struggles to hit the ball where defenders aren't so he will never see enough at bats, but you can plug him in when he's playing in a favorable matchup and home for a big fly or two (he has two multi home run games the past week).

 

Average

Jeimer Candelario (3B, DET) - 36% Owned

With a name like Jeimer Candelario, how can you not be intrigued? He's only 24 years old, but has hit for a solid average throughout his minor league career. In his first extended action last season, he hit .283. This season, he's off to a strong start at around .290 and he's been especially hot the past two weeks, hitting over .350.

Howie Kendrick (2B, OF, WAS) - 13% Owned

Howie Kendrick is a career .290 hitter that spent the month of April hitting just about .290. He's boring. He's not fun. But he will sustain your batting average.

 

Strikeouts

Andrew Heaney (SP, LAA) - 8% Owned

It's always risky to stream a pitcher against the Rockies at Coors, but hey, this is only strikeout advice. If you want ratios, look to the other section! Heaney may not pitch that well, but the Rockies strike out the fourth most times in the league as a team and Heaney strikes out more than a batter an inning. It's the perfect combination.

Ian Kennedy (SP, KC) - 22% Owned

The Orioles are top six in strikeouts per game. That's who Ian Kennedy gets to face next week. Kennedy strikes out just under a batter an inning and the Orioles should do their part to make sure he eclipses that number.

 

Wins

Zack Wheeler (SP, NYM) - 18% Owned

This week, Zack Wheeler did not pitch great, but he got the win over the Padres. Unfortunately, he was in the ERA/WHIP section in last week's column. I won't make that same mistake twice as he is once again a great streamer for a cheap win when the Mets travel to Cincinnati to take on a bad Reds team.

Mike Minor (SP, TEX) - 10% Owned

Once a strong up and comer, Mike Minor has battled injury for the majority of the last few years. He's finally healthy and while he's not the pitcher he once was, he is on a good team with a good offense that faces a bad team with a bad offense next week. The Rangers have a home contest against the Tigers, making Minor a prime candidate for a win stream.

 

ERA/WHIP

Domingo German (RP, NYY) - 2% Owned

The Yankees' 25 year old is scheduled to slide into the rotation to replace the injured Jordan Montgomery. Domingo German throws hard and makes bat miss. He's listed at RP, but he's a starting pitcher now. His start next week should come at home against Oakland, which is not the most favorable of matchups, but I believe in the kid's raw talent.

Bartolo Colon (SP, TEX) - 12% Owned

When Bartolo Colon made his major league debut, I wasn't even in high school. I never thought I'd still be talking about him in the year 2018. But here we are. Despite not being a big strikeout guy, Colon has excelled through the majority of his career. He is off to a strong start this season with a sub 3.00 ERA through his first six appearances. Colon's start next week will come against Detroit, a team that ranks in the bottom half of the league in runs scored. Fire up Mr. Old and Not Quite Busted for that one.

 

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Week 5 Points Leagues - Strategy, Pickups and Cuts

We're back at it again this week with some points league advice. We will delve into some players who have been consistent over the first month of the season, as well as what guys to cut loose whether it be due to a downturn in production or an injury. In last week's suggestions of pitchers to stream Felix Hernandez, Jordan Montgomery and Mike Minor combined to pitch 17 innings to the tune of nine earned runs on 20 hits, while striking out 16 batters. The pitchers went 2-0 in these outings however, and although they're not viewed as viable options for the long run this season, they were definitely serviceable in Week 4.

Week 5 closes out the month of April, and includes a weekend series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres in Mexico, in a Cinco de Mayo celebration. This week we will again take a look at some players that could make an immediate impact on your team either by addition or addition by subtraction of a negatively impacted player.

This article is tailored to points leagues more than traditional 5x5 leagues. While every points league is different, generally they all prioritize OPS for hitters and "quality" for pitchers, compared to the emphasis on BA and W in 5x5 leagues. Let's take a look at who you should add, who you should drop and which pitchers to stream for the fourth week the year.

 

Points League Players to Add 

Brandon Belt - 1B, SF

Belt has reached base in 12 consecutive games for the Giants, and has raised his batting average to a season high .317 and an eye-opening on-base percentage that sits at .424. He has been arguably the most productive hitter for the Giants on the season, and he is especially valuable in points-based leagues as it is quite difficult to strike out the left-handed stud. He has struck out just 19 times, while walking 13 times this season.

Michael Brantley - OF, CLE

The beginning of Brantley's season was delayed to April 6, and then he struggled to a .154 batting average through his first four games. Then, everything changed for the oft-injured outfielder. Since April 11, he has had at least one base hit in 12 of 13 games, including eight multi-hit games. Although he only has one walk through 69 at-bats, he has a knack of putting the ball in play, as he has struck out just five times all season.

Francisco Cervelli - C, PIT

In the offseason Cervelli changed his batting stance to allow himself to get more lift on the ball, and it has worked thus far as his fly-ball rate has soared and he is playing some of his most consistent offensive baseball of his career. He has four home runs and 20 RBI in 77 at-bats with a .304/.396/.571 slash line. The catcher has only scored nine runs, but in a weak Pirates lineup it is understandable. Even with the limitations in runs scored, he has been one of the top catchers in fantasy baseball so far and is a must-add while on this hot streak.

 

Points League Players to Drop

Joe Panik - SF, 2B

The Giants' second baseman started off the season as one of the only hitters on the team who could put the ball in play, but has cooled off since April 15 as he has gone 7-for-42 from the plate. To make matters worse, he has hit the disabled list with a thumb injury and is considering surgery to correct the issue. Although he's only owned in larger leagues, it's a roster spot that you can open up while he is on the shelf.

Chris Owings - ARI, SS, 2B, OF

Since April 7, Owings has scored four runs and totaled 2 RBI, while sitting out of four games and coming off of the bench for a pinch-hit appearance four times. His flexibility with being a triple-position player is nice, but you can find much more productive players at each of the positions he's eligible to play and actually receive production from that roster spot.

Lance Lynn - MIN, SP

The beginning of the Lance Lynn era in Minneapolis has been nothing short of embarrassing so far, as the former St. Louis Cardinal is 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA in four starts for the Twins. He is coming off of a start against the New York Yankees in which he was shelled for six runs on seven hits in just 3 2/3 innings. On the season he has allowed 16 earned runs, 20 hits and 18 walks in 18 2/3 innings, while striking out 22. There has been cloudiness around his long-term viability in the rotation, but for now Lynn is slated to avoid the move to the bullpen and will make his next start for the Twins. He should not make that start for your team however.

 

Points League Pitchers to Stream

Tyson Ross - SD, SP: 5/1 @ SF

Ross has had quality starts in three of his four starts against National League West clubs and had one of his best performances of the season against the same Giants he will face on Tuesday. On April 13, Ross went six strong innings against San Francisco allowing just a lone unearned run on seven hits, while punching out five batters via the strikeout. Start him up for a potential high point total on Tuesday night.

Jake Odorizzi - MIN, SP: 5/3 @ CWS

Odorizzi has been susceptible to allowing the long-ball in 2018 as he has allowed seven dingers in 32 innings of worked, but in the last two games where he allowed one home run or less he has held his opponents to just two runs on 10 hits in 12 innings. If he is able to keep the ball in the yard, which I am confident he can do against the White Sox, then he should have a great outing on Thursday.

Mike Leake - SEA, SP: 5/4 v. LAA

The former Arizona State Sun Devil will be looking to right his wrongs and get back on the right track with a Friday night start against the red-hot Angels. Leake has yet to face the Angels this year, but has high strikeout upside in this matchup, especially if Shohei Ohtani is unable to join the lineup. If you have an open roster spot, Leake is among the better stream options on Friday night.

 

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Are You For Real? Surprising SP Starts (Week 5)

Welcome to our surprising starts series. Every week we’ll be going over a few surprising starting pitcher performances around the majors to determine whether these starts were smoke and mirrors or something more.

This week we've got a trio of youngsters to look at, two in the NL Central and one in the AL. Each of these players carried rookie status and moderate prospect pedigree heading into 2018 and impressed during their starts this week.

Nick Kingham looked unbelievable in a spot start against the Cardinals on Sunday, taking a perfect game into the seventh inning. Tyler Mahle made two excellent starts against the Braves and Twins, leading the Reds to two rare victories. Eric Skoglund had what was by far the best start of his big league career against the White Sox.

 

Real Deal or Mirage?

Nick Kingham, Pittsburgh Pirates

2018 Stats (at Triple-A Indianapolis, age 26): 22.2 IP, 1.59 ERA, 2.12 FIP, 3.86 K/BB

04/29 vs. STL: 7 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 K

Kingham was called up to make a spot start on Sunday and blew everyone away, most of all the Cardinals hitters, as he took a perfect game into the seventh. He isn’t a household name by any means, but Kingham was dominating Triple-A before his callup. 26 is old for the level, so we should take his Triple-A stats with a grain of salt. Kingham has been in the minors so long because he had Tommy John Surgery in 2015 while at Triple-A which set him back a few years. He would have most likely been in the majors at some point between 2015-2017 if not for the injury. He also had success at Triple-A prior to 2018. In 2015 before tearing his UCL Kingham had a 3.22 FIP and 4.57 K/BB at age 23 in Indianapolis. He also had a 3.59 FIP and 3.21 K/BB in 2017 pitching in Triple-A at age 25. While the results of his big league debut are surprising, Kingham has something of a minor league track record.

In his major league debut Kingham mostly played with a four-seamer, sinker, and slider. He also threw a curveball and changeup a few times, but he fed the Cardinals a heavy diet of fastballs and sliders in this start. This mix got him nine strikeouts on 16 whiffs, including 12 with his slider. The slider fueled much of Kingham’s success, so here’s a look at it from Sunday.

The most impressive stat is the 76.5% chase rate on his slider. Hitters swung at a slider outside of the zone more than three quarters of the time. For context Dylan Bundy has a 46.4% chase rate on his slider, Patrick Corbin’s is 49.4%, and Gerrit Cole’s is 38%. Obviously Kingham won’t sustain such a high chase rate over the course of multiple starts, but this is an incredibly impressive number. Kingham also threw a first pitch slider 53% of the time to right-handed hitters. No one throws first pitch sliders that much, the highest pitchers were around 40%. Kingham may have gotten by on a little deception since he’s brand new to the majors and was pitching unconventially, but there is a lot to like about what we saw Sunday.

Verdict:

A slider/fastball approach led Kingham to 16 whiffs and makes his dominant performance look legitimate. This flirt with perfection wasn’t a Jarlin Garcia-esque no-no bid. He won’t be this good every time out, but he has the stuff to get strikeouts. With a two-seamer in his arsenal and an above average groundball rate he should keep the ball in the yard as well. The best comparison would probably be Joey Lucchesi. Their pitching styles aren’t similar, but they are no names using deception and breaking ball heavy approaches to fool hitters. There’s a chance hitters figure Kingham out and stop chasing sliders, and they will stop chasing them to this degree, but there’s also a chance for a legitimate breakout here. Kingham is at least worth an add in every league. This was supposedly a spot start, but the Pirates can’t justify keeping Steven Brault in the rotation over Kingham after this performance. Both the Pirates and fantasy owners should ride out Kingham and see what they have.

Eric Skoglund, Kansas City Royals

Career Stats Prior to 04/28: 32.2 IP, 9.09 ERA, 5.22 FIP, 1.4 K/BB

04/28 vs. CWS: 7 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K

Big league careers don’t start much worse than they have for Eric Skoglund. His ERA was a shade above nine and the peripheral statistics don’t like him either. But, to his credit, he dominated the lowly White Sox on Saturday night. The White Sox have a .313 wOBA against left-handed pitchers, which is middle of the pack, but with a 27.4% strikeout rate they whiff more than any other team against southpaws. Skoglund may have taken advantage of a good matchup, but there were some encouraging signs from him in this start.

Skoglund got it done Saturday using mixing two fastballs, a four-seamer and sinker, along with his curveball. His velocity was up on every pitch and he sat at 93.8 MPH on his four-seamer. Normally Skoglund sits around 92 MPH. There was also increased break on every pitch. The four-seamer, sinker, and curveball all gained at least one inch of vertical and horizontal movement. From a data-based perspective, Skoglund’s stuff was measurably better in this start relative to the rest of his career. He also changed up his pitch selection in a significant way. He threw his curveball 34% of the time (20.3% for his career) and threw his sinker 41% of the time (15.5% for his career). Increasing his usage on these pitches and going away from his four-seam fastball should serve Skoglund well, as batters hit .421 with a .351 ISO against the four-seamer all time.

Nine strike outs are a little suspicious. Skoglund got eight swinging strikes on 88 pitches, and six of them were with his curveball. That gives him a 9% swinging strike rate, which is better than his career average, but still below league average. Expecting Skoglund to maintain a strikeout rate above or near what it was during this start is unrealistic. If Skoglund leans on his sinker and curveball more in future starts then we may see an increase in groundball rate. He had a 46.2% groundball rate during this start, and if he gets less strikeouts his pitching style should lend itself to more groundballs. Out of all the ERA predictors SIERA is the most favorable at 4.13. While that’s not great, SIERA takes groundballs as good outcomes into consideration which makes it more applicable to a pitcher that throws sinkers and curves as much as Skoglund did in this start. There really isn’t much upside in Skoglund because strikeouts will be sparse, but he should improve from a total train wreck to an unspectacular starting pitcher.

Verdict:

Don’t rush to your waiver wire and blow a bunch of FAAB on Eric Skoglund, but keep the name in mind because this wasn’t a total fluke. With how bad he’s been Skoglund can’t be trusted yet. He could ruin your entire week with one bad start. He’s more of a player to watch than a player to add right now, but if these good performances continue we’ll at least have an idea of how he’s getting it done.

 

Tyler Mahle, Cincinnati Reds

2018 Stats prior to 04/24: 21 IP, 5.14 ERA, 5.52 FIP, 2.9 K/BB

04/24 vs. ATL: 6 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 11 K
04/29 @ MIN: 6.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K

Tyler Mahle came up big in a two-start week, delivering a total of 18 strikeouts between his two starts along with good ratios. He has shown flashes of brilliance before, including a 2.70 ERA in four starts last season and a one-hit shutout against the Cubs in his first start. He does it with a pitch mix headlined by his four-seam fastball, and he mixes in a slider and changeup alongside it.

It’s hard to make sense of Tyler Mahle. Coming up he was a moderate strikeout pitcher and more of a control specialist that limited home runs. In his first four big league starts last season he couldn’t strike anyone out and survived by getting groundballs and not allowing a home run. In his first five starts this season he’s racking up strikeouts but can’t keep the ball in the yard and has gotten blasted on several occasions because of it. When he does get strikeouts they come by way of his four-seamer, a pitch with a 10.89% whiff rate this season but notched him 14 swinging strikes in his start against the Braves and eight against the Twins. Mahle also has an 11% swinging strike rate overall, which is slightly above league average (10.6%), but his 27.3% strikeout rate is significantly above league average (22.8%).

What Tyler Mahle has done this season sort of inverts our expectations for him. The 1.89 HR/9 and 21.9% HR/FB ratios will likely drop, but so will his 10.26 K/9. Mahle feels a little Vince Velasquez-y right now. He’s leaning on fastball with middling secondary stuff to support him. Here’s a table comparing key performance metrics between the two.

Stat Mahle Velasquez
K% 27.3% 25.6%
Whiff% 11% 10.2%
SIERA 3.52 3.65
K/BB 3.45 3.78

They’ve been oddly similar, it’s just that Velasquez has a .353 BABIP and 59.5% strand rate. Mahle can been good against bad teams or teams that strike out a lot, but he’s not someone that can be trusted in every matchup right now.

Verdict:

Tyler Mahle’s results are a near opposite of how he profiled as a prospect. His ability to get swings-and-misses relies heavily on quality of opponent, as he doesn’t have a plus offspeed pitch or breaking ball. He’s more of a streamer than a must start at this time.

 

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Week 5 Start/Sit Matchups - Starting Pitchers

You know what it is--it's my updated starts/sits column for Week 5! Your friendly neighborhood @Roto_Dubs is back again this year with his weekly starting pitcher matchups. This is our fifth year now writing this weekly column, helping fantasy baseball managers pick the best pitchers weekly.

Below are the projected starting pitching matchups for Week 5, which will be updated as rotations are inevitably tweaked.

If you've got any questions about which pitchers can capitalize on a juicy matchup and which ones might be worth putting on the pine against a fierce offense, this is the weekly piece for you. For every week of the fantasy baseball season, we look to analyze all of the projected starting pitcher matchups and put together our optimal lineups. Here at RotoBaller, we believe that it’s key to analyze every SP matchup, each and every week, to help determine which SPs to start/sit and to hopefully find some hidden gems to bolster your teams. Let's set those optimal lineups!

 

SP Matchups & Start/Sit Recommendations

This weekly piece considers the pitcher’s opponents, their career stats against the opponent, some ballpark factors and historical splits. With all of this information, we then provide our start/sit recommendations for each starting pitcher matchup for the approaching week of fantasy baseball.

PROBABLE PITCHERS (4/30/18) - MONDAY    
GAME VISITING STARTER START/SIT HOME STARTER START/SIT
COL@CHC Kyle Freeland SP | COL SIT Jon Lester SP | CHC START
KC@BOS Jason Hammel SP | KC SIT Eduardo Rodriguez SP | BOS START
LAD@ARI Ross Stripling RP | LAD SIT Zack Greinke SP | ARI START
MIL@CIN Jhoulys Chacin SP | MIL START Brandon Finnegan SP | CIN SIT
NYY@HOU Sonny Gray SP | NYY SIT Charlie Morton SP | HOU START
PHI@MIA Jake Arrieta SP | PHI START Dan Straily SP | MIA SIT
PIT@WAS Jameson Taillon SP | PIT START Tanner Roark SP | WAS START
SD@SF Eric Lauer SP | SD SIT Jeff Samardzija SP | SF SIT
TB@DET Jake Faria SP | TB START Jordan Zimmermann SP | DET SIT
TEX@CLE Cole Hamels SP | TEX START Trevor Bauer SP | CLE START
TOR@MIN Aaron Sanchez SP | TOR START Lance Lynn SP | MIN SIT
PROBABLE PITCHERS (5/1/18) - TUESDAY    
GAME VISITING STARTER START/SIT HOME STARTER START/SIT
ATL@NYM Sean Newcomb SP | ATL START Noah Syndergaard SP | NYM START
BAL@LAA Alex Cobb SP | BAL SIT Nick Tropeano SP | LAA SIT
CHW@STL James Shields SP | CHW SIT Michael Wacha SP | STL START
COL@CHC Jon Gray SP | COL START Kyle Hendricks SP | CHC START
KC@BOS Jake Junis SP | KC SIT Chris Sale SP | BOS START
LAD@ARI Clayton Kershaw SP | LAD START Matt Koch RP | ARI START
MIL@CIN Chase Anderson SP | MIL START Homer Bailey SP | CIN SIT
NYY@HOU Jordan Montgomery SP | NYY START Justin Verlander SP | HOU START
OAK@SEA Andrew Triggs SP | OAK START Felix Hernandez SP | SEA START
PHI@MIA Zach Eflin SP | PHI SIT Jarlin Garcia RP | MIA START
PIT@WAS Chad Kuhl SP | PIT START Max Scherzer SP | WAS START
SD@SF Tyson Ross SP | SD START Andrew Suarez SP | SF SIT
TB@DET Chris Archer SP | TB SIT Matthew Boyd SP | DET START
TEX@CLE Doug Fister SP | TEX SIT Mike Clevinger SP | CLE START
TOR@MIN Marco Estrada SP | TOR SIT Kyle Gibson SP | MIN SIT
PROBABLE PITCHERS (5/2/18) - WEDNESDAY    
GAME VISITING STARTER START/SIT HOME STARTER START/SIT
ATL@NYM Julio Teheran SP | ATL START Jacob deGrom SP | NYM START
BAL@LAA Dylan Bundy SP | BAL START Andrew Heaney SP | LAA START
CHW@STL Lucas Giolito SP | CHW SIT Carlos Martinez SP | STL START
COL@CHC Tyler Anderson SP | COL SIT Yu Darvish SP | CHC START
KC@BOS Danny Duffy SP | KC SIT Drew Pomeranz SP | BOS START
LAD@ARI Hyun-Jin Ryu SP | LAD START Zack Godley SP | ARI START
MIL@CIN Brent Suter SP | MIL START Luis Castillo SP | CIN SIT
NYY@HOU Luis Severino SP | NYY START Dallas Keuchel SP | HOU START
OAK@SEA TBA TBD James Paxton SP | SEA START
PHI@MIA Aaron Nola SP | PHI START Jose Urena SP | MIA SIT
PIT@WAS Ivan Nova SP | PIT START Stephen Strasburg SP | WAS START
SD@SF Clayton Richard SP | SD SIT Derek Holland SP | SF SIT
TB@DET Blake Snell SP | TB START Michael Fulmer SP | DET START
TEX@CLE TBA TBD Corey Kluber SP | CLE START
TOR@MIN Marcus Stroman SP | TOR SIT Phil Hughes SP | MIN SIT
PROBABLE PITCHERS (5/3/18) - THURSDAY    
GAME VISITING STARTER START/SIT HOME STARTER START/SIT
ATL@NYM Mike Foltynewicz SP | ATL START TBA TBD
BAL@LAA Chris Tillman SP | BAL SIT TBA TBD
BOS@TEX David Price SP | BOS START Bartolo Colon SP | TEX SIT
DET@KC Mike Fiers SP | DET SIT Eric Skoglund SP | KC SIT
LAD@ARI Alex Wood SP | LAD START Patrick Corbin SP | ARI START
MIN@CHW Jake Odorizzi SP | MIN START Reynaldo Lopez SP | CHW START
NYY@HOU Masahiro Tanaka SP | NYY START Lance McCullers SP | HOU START
OAK@SEA Sean Manaea SP | OAK START Erasmo Ramirez SP | SEA SIT
PIT@WAS Trevor Williams SP | PIT START Jeremy Hellickson SP | WAS START
TOR@CLE Jaime Garcia SP | TOR SIT Carlos Carrasco SP | CLE START
PROBABLE PITCHERS (5/4/18) - FRIDAY    
GAME VISITING STARTER START/SIT HOME STARTER START/SIT
BAL@OAK Andrew Cashner SP | BAL SIT Daniel Mengden SP | OAK SIT
BOS@TEX Rick Porcello SP | BOS START Martin Perez SP | TEX SIT
CHC@STL Jose Quintana SP | CHC START Miles Mikolas SP | STL START
CLE@NYY Trevor Bauer SP | CLE START CC Sabathia SP | NYY START
COL@NYM German Marquez SP | COL START Jason Vargas SP | NYM SIT
DET@KC Francisco Liriano RP | DET START Ian Kennedy SP | KC START
HOU@ARI Gerrit Cole SP | HOU START TBA TBD
LAA@SEA Garrett Richards SP | LAA START Mike Leake SP | SEA SIT
LAD@SD Kenta Maeda SP | LAD START Joey Lucchesi SP | SD START
MIA@CIN Wei-Yin Chen SP | MIA SIT Sal Romano SP | CIN SIT
MIN@CHW Jose Berrios SP | MIN START Carson Fulmer SP | CHW SIT
PHI@WAS Nick Pivetta SP | PHI START Gio Gonzalez SP | WAS START
PIT@MIL Steven Brault RP | PIT SIT Junior Guerra SP | MIL START
SF@ATL Chris Stratton SP | SF START Brandon McCarthy SP | ATL START
TOR@TB J.A. Happ SP | TOR START Yonny Chirinos P | TB SIT
PROBABLE PITCHERS (5/5/18) - SATURDAY    
GAME VISITING STARTER START/SIT HOME STARTER START/SIT
BAL@OAK Kevin Gausman SP | BAL START Trevor Cahill SP | OAK START
BOS@TEX Eduardo Rodriguez SP | BOS START Cole Hamels SP | TEX START
CHC@STL Tyler Chatwood SP | CHC START TBA TBD
CLE@NYY Mike Clevinger SP | CLE START Sonny Gray SP | NYY SIT
COL@NYM Chad Bettis SP | COL START Steven Matz SP | NYM SIT
DET@KC Jordan Zimmermann SP | DET SIT Jason Hammel SP | KC START
HOU@ARI Charlie Morton SP | HOU START Zack Greinke SP | ARI START
LAA@SEA Tyler Skaggs SP | LAA START Marco Gonzales SP | SEA START
LAD@SD TBA TBD Bryan Mitchell RP | SD SIT
MIA@CIN Caleb Smith RP | MIA START Tyler Mahle SP | CIN START
MIN@CHW Lance Lynn SP | MIN SIT Hector Santiago SP | CHW SIT
PHI@WAS Vince Velasquez SP | PHI SIT Tanner Roark SP | WAS START
PIT@MIL Jameson Taillon SP | PIT START Zach Davies SP | MIL START
SF@ATL Johnny Cueto SP | SF START TBA TBD
TOR@TB Aaron Sanchez SP | TOR START TBA TBD
PROBABLE PITCHERS (5/6/18) - SUNDAY    
GAME VISITING STARTER START/SIT HOME STARTER START/SIT
BAL@OAK Alex Cobb SP | BAL SIT Andrew Triggs SP | OAK START
BOS@TEX Drew Pomeranz SP | BOS START Doug Fister SP | TEX SIT
CHC@STL Jon Lester SP | CHC START Luke Weaver SP | STL SIT
CLE@NYY Corey Kluber SP | CLE START Jordan Montgomery SP | NYY START
COL@NYM Kyle Freeland SP | COL SIT Steven Matz SP | NYM SIT
DET@KC Matthew Boyd SP | DET START Jake Junis SP | KC START
HOU@ARI Justin Verlander SP | HOU START Matt Koch RP | ARI SIT
LAA@SEA Nick Tropeano SP | LAA SIT Felix Hernandez SP | SEA START
LAD@SD Clayton Kershaw SP | LAD START Eric Lauer SP | SD SIT
MIA@CIN Dan Straily SP | MIA SIT Brandon Finnegan SP | CIN SIT
MIN@CHW Kyle Gibson SP | MIN SIT James Shields SP | CHW SIT
PHI@WAS Jake Arrieta SP | PHI START Max Scherzer SP | WAS START
PIT@MIL Chad Kuhl SP | PIT START Jhoulys Chacin SP | MIL SIT
SF@ATL Ty Blach SP | SF SIT Sean Newcomb SP | ATL START
TOR@TB Marcus Stroman SP | TOR SIT Jake Faria SP | TB START

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