While the big news of the day came out of Queens, with Matt Harvey being diagnosed with a partial UCL tear in his right elbow, an injury that could very well require Tommy John surgery, which would keep Harvey out of action through the end of the 2014 season, let’s take a fantasy angled look at some of the other happenings around the league from Monday’s game action.
-After belting five home runs on Monday night (Jason Castro, Matt Dominguez, Brett Wallace, Chris Carter twice), the Astros rank 3rd in the Majors in homers in the month of August. The ultra-streaky Dominguez is batting a measly .236 for the season and his overall walk rate is horribly low, but he does have five homers in his last ten games to go along with a .342 average. He could make for a decent short-term add in deeper mixed leagues. From a counting stats perspective, he’s on pace to finish the season with 24 homers and 80 RBIs. That’s pretty good from a guy who went undrafted in the vast majority of mixed leagues. Castro (.280 AVG, 18 HR, 52 RBI) has turned out to be a major draft day steal, and with a .968 OPS since the All-Star break, he’s only gotten better. Congrats to those of you who drafted him as your second catcher in an AL-only league (yes, that is very possible). As for Carter, he looks like a 26-year-old version of Adam Dunn sans the OBP skills. If you like that type of player, go ahead and draft him again next year, but I’m passing.
-Both Juan Nicasio (6 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 K vs. SF) and Brandon McCarthy (7 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K vs. SD) delivered strong performances last night. For McCarthy, it was his first victory since May 24th, a start that oddly enough came at home against these same Padres. He’s back on the PoD radar for his next two starts (vs. SF, @SF) depending of course on your risk tolerance. As for Nicasio, he’s actually pitched much better at home this year (4-1, 3.56 ERA) than on the road (4-5, 5.43 ERA). Considering that his home is Coors Field, this is rather strange. I like him for Pitch or Ditch purposes though, and so far my decision to pick him up for the two-start week in my NL-only league is looking good…so far.
Pettitte @ Happ – Not much upside with Pettitte here in hitter-friendly park versus quality lineup.
Milone @ Verlander – Terrible matchup for Milone, and he’s struggled on the road this year (5.00 ERA).
W. Chen @ Doubront – Doubront has been solid for awhile now.
Wilson @ R. Hernandez – Wilson is 4-0 with a 3.13 ERA in seven starts since the All-Star break.
Clemens (not that one) @ Quintana - Great matchup for Quintana, who has allowed 3 ER or less in nine of his last ten starts.
Shields @ Correia
Holland @ Iwakuma – Iwakuma seems to be back on track.
Eovaldi @ Ohlendorf – Eovaldi a toss-up but that horrific outing a couple starts ago has scared me off.
Lohse @ Locke – Avoid Locke until further notice.
Salazar @ A. Wood – Salazar a risky play though versus top-notch offense.
Kendrick @ Niese
Latos @ Kelly – Kelly has been in a nice groove but there’s limited K upside and this matchup scares me.
Petit @ Bettis
Kennedy @ Holmberg – Kennedy showing signs of improvement but I still need to see more consistency.
T. Wood @ Kershaw
Milone @ Tillman
Hendriks @ Kazmir – Kazmir hit and miss, but overall a good percentage play
Darvish @ Santiago – I like Santiago for the K potential even in tough matchups
Zimmermann @ W. Davis – if Zimmermann can’t handle the Royals, THEN we’ll ditch
TBD (TOR) @ Peacock – Peacock has good K potential and Toronto is banged up
Sabathia @ Price
Vargas @ E. Ramirez
Lester @ Ryu
Scherzer @ Harvey
Delgado @ Martin – Delgado is tempting vs. banged-up Phillies
W. Peralta @ Arroyo – I’d love to use Peralta here but Reds shelled him last time
Manship @ Fernandez
Teheran @ Miller
Samardzija @ Stults – one more shot on Stults at home vs. a weak opponent
Liriano @ Lincecum
Pelfrey @ McAllister – McAllister worth a look in deep and/or unmixed leagues
Parker @ M. Gonzalez
Nova @ Cobb
Garza @ Danks – Danks a riskier pick but he’s pitched better than his ERA shows
Haren @ Big Erv – Haren looks reborn of late (again)
Buehrle @ Keuchel
Weaver @ Harang
Estrada @ Cingrani – Estrada sharp since coming off the DL but too HR-prone for this matchup
Porcello @ Gee
De La Rosa @ Turner – Turner is fading, should be shut down soon
Corbin @ Cloyd
Minor @ Lynn
Burnett @ Vogelsong
Rusin @ Cashner
Peavy @ Capuano
Hellickson @ Guthrie
Hughes @ Dickey
Griffin @ An. Sanchez
Oberholtzer @ Rienzo
Blackley @ Saunders
Leake @ Lyons
Lee @ Wheeler
Zito @ Nicasio
Ross @ McCarthy – tough call on both… red-hot Ross in tough matchup vs. struggling McCarthy in favorable matchup… play it safe on both
Arrieta @ Greinke
You know the drill by now. Another Friday, another installment of my two-start pitcher notes. Today’s special guest was Lawr Michaels of Mastersball, so be sure to listen to that segment when the podcast comes out later today. Trust me, it’s a great listen. Oh, and the rest of the podcast is pretty good too.
Jonathon Niese (vs. PHI, @WAS)
In three starts since coming off the DL earlier this month, Niese has gone 2-0 with a 2.84 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 23-to-5 K/BB ratio over 19 innings. Pretty good. The Phillies have been an erratic offensive team all season and while the Nationals’ lineup has shown a great deal of improvement lately, they’re still struggling vs. lefties. The bottom line though is that Niese is on a roll, and his solid track record suggests that he’s closer to the pitcher we’re seeing in August than the one who was mediocre at best in May and June. Maybe he was just playing hurt. It could be as simple as that. Pitch.
Sonny Gray (@DET, vs. TB)
As impressive as Gray has been over his first five big league appearances (three starts), I tend to shy away from taking too many risks this late in the season. And to me, this is a risk. The Tigers’ lineup is arguably the scariest lineup in baseball, even without the suspended Jhonny Peralta, and the Rays are no slouch either. If you’re chasing counting stats (though good luck chasing wins against these two clubs) and play in a deep mixed league, maybe you take a chance on Gray. But I’m very leery of these matchups from an ERA/WHIP perspective. Ditch.
Phil Hughes (@TOR, vs. BAL)
Hughes is about as close to DTM as a pitcher can get without actually being DTM. The guy is just so maddeningly inconsistent that I honestly don’t trust him against anyone, let alone two teams that rank in the top-5 in the AL in runs scored and rank first and second in the Majors in homers. Don’t be swayed by the strikeout upside. This is a rather easy one. Ditch.
Brandon McCarthy (vs. SD, vs. SF)
Cory made a good point on the show today that if these matchups were both on the road, McCarthy might be worth consideration in deeper leagues. But the reality is that they’re not. The other reality is that McCarthy is coming off a horrific outing @CIN which was preceded by a shaky performance @PIT. In mixed leagues, McCarthy is a ditch.
Felix Doubront (vs. BAL, vs. CHW)
Although Doubront often tests my patience, he’s pitched pretty well since the All-Star break and has done a fine job in the free pass department, lowering his walk rate from 3.91 in the first half to 3.29. Add in the fact that he’s always a good bet for a decent number of strikeouts, and I’d feel fairly comfortable pitching Doubront next week. The vs. BAL start is a little scary but you’ve got to like the vs. CHW start. All in all, this is a risk worth taking. Pitch.
Tyson Ross (@ARI, @ LAD)
Take a look at Ross’ season numbers and you might fall over in shock. I mean, a 2.85 ERA and 1.17 WHIP to go along with 76 strikeouts in 85 1/3 innings? Are you kidding me? I’m not buying this, but if you’re desperate for strikeouts in a deep mixed league, maybe you want to take a shot. But I’m sitting on the sidelines for this one.
A.J. Griffin (@DET, vs. TB)
Very quietly, Griffin is putting together a quality season. But a number of things concern me about next week. First, he faces the Tigers on the road. The Tigers at home would be tough enough, but being that Griffin’s road ERA is more than a half-run higher than his home mark, that start could get very ugly very fast. Then there’s the fact that his ERA since the All-Star break is more than a half-run higher than his first half mark. And for good measure, the Rays are a pretty formidable offense in their own right. I don’t like this one bit. Ditch.
Danny Salazar (@ATL, @DET)
Salazar is a real toss-up. These matchups are as challenging as they come yet the young righty has already shown that he can pitch well against some of the league’s better lineups (Tigers, Blue Jays). Ultimately, this comes down to category needs. If you need strikeouts, Salazar is your guy. But if you’re in a tight ERA and WHIP race, you’re probably better off looking elsewhere.
Happ @ Pettitte – Pettitte very hittable at home this year, but Jays are decimated
Albers @ Verlander – not trusting Albers’ hot start vs. Tigers
Quintana @ Shields
Cahill @ Latos
Kershaw @ Alvarez – Alvarez solid so far but Dodgers are too tough
Strasburg @ T. Wood – Wood regressing slightly but Nats struggle vs. lefties
Bettis @ Kendrick
Maholm @ Kelly
Locke @ Cain - Locke allowing .325 AVG since All-Star
With less than six weeks to go in the 2013 fantasy season, as Yogi Berra liked to say, “It’s getting late early.” At this stage, every pitch or ditch decision you make is all the more important, so hopefully this updated chart will be a helpful resource. Click on the link below to download the PDF.
Here are the changes we’ve made since our last version from nearly a month ago:
Greinke grad to ace
A. Sanchez grad to ace
W. Chen PoD to grad
Cole PoD to grad
Cashner PoD to grad
B. Chen indifferent to PoD
M. Perez indifferent to PoD
Locke grad to PoD
M. Gonzalez grad to PoD
Dempster grad to PoD
Agree? Disagree? As always, feel free to post your comments and questions here.
Iwakuma @ Griffin – Griffin has been shaky of late but it’s a favorable matchup
Hellickson @ W. Chen
Masterson @ Williams
Dickey @ Pettitte – both are hit-and-miss of late… let the categories guide you
Correia @ An. Sanchez
Bedard @ Holland
Rienzo @ Guthrie – Guthrie has some upside vs. weak-hitting ChiSox, but he’s risky
A. Wood @ Niese – playing it safe on Niese vs. top offense
Westbrook @ Gorzelanny
Doubront @ Gaudin – Gaudin bombed last time out and Red Sox can rake
Cole @ Kennedy – Kennedy too inconsistent to trust, home or away
Nicasio @ Lee
McCarthy @ Leake
Greinke @ Eovaldi
Ohlendorf @ Arrieta – keep an eye on both, though
Rogers @ Nova (Gm 1)
Buehrle @ Hughes (Gm 2)
Cobb @ M. Gonzalez – tough matchup for both, let your categories make the call
Pelfrey @ Porcello
Cosart @ Blackley
Danks @ Big Erv – sticking with Danks’ solid K-BB numbers vs. weaker offense
Salazar @ Wilson
Saunders @ Gray
De La Rosa @ Cloyd
Corbin @ Cingrani
Beachy @ Wheeler
Capuano @ Turner – Capuano worth a look in deeper and unmixed leagues
Haren @ Rusin – can Nationals hit lefties? Do you want to risk Rusin to find out?
Lynn @ Lohse – Lohse risky vs. tough Cardinals but has been solid
Burnett @ Ross
Peavy @ Vogelsong
***ZACH SAYS “I know Porcello has been hit or miss this year but in deeper mixed leagues I’d pitch him versus a mediocre at best Twins lineup. Agree on rest.”
Not a whole lot to choose from this week, as the vast majority of two-starters are either no-brainer pitches or obvious ditches. But here’s what we do have.
Miguel Gonzalez (vs. TB, vs. OAK)
Although his overall numbers are still solid, Gonzalez has been prone to the occasional ugly outing, and both of these matchups are a bit scary. Gonzalez has not pitched as well at home (4.18 ERA) as he has on the road (3.58 ERA) and the Orioles and A’s rank 3rd and 4th, respectively, in the AL in road scoring. But in 12-team mixed leagues, I’d be willing to risk it, as Miguel is always a good bet for a quality start. In shallower mixed formats, there are probably better options.
Dillon Gee (@MIN, vs. DET)
This is a tricky one. Gee’s home ERA is 2.21 yet his home start comes against the Tigers (tied for 1st in AL in runs). His road ERA is 5.23 yet his road start comes against the Twins (11th in AL in runs). We’re looking at a real toss-up, but in the end I’d lean towards ditching. Better to be safe than to be sorry, and the quality of the opponent carries more weight than the game’s venue.
Marco Estrada (vs. STL, @CIN)
Yeah, Estrada’s last couple of starts have been encouraging. But am I ready to trot him out there in an unfavorable week, even with the strikeout upside? Nope. The Cardinals and Reds both rank in the top-4 in the NL in runs scored and Estrada has gotten absolutely torched by the Cards this year (9.00 ERA, 2.00 WHIP in three starts). For now, he should only be used in favorable matchups.
Jacob Turner (vs. LAD, vs. COL)
Turner’s last two starts have been mediocre at best, as he followed up a rough outing against the Braves with a six-walk performance on Wednesday vs. the Royals. But I still have faith in this guy. Come on, a 2.89 ERA and 1.27 WHIP through 14 starts? How can you not have faith in him? Sure, I’ll pitch him next week, despite the tough matchup against the Dodgers. But I do see some red flags, suggesting that his ERA is due for a correction. First, there’s the below average .270 opponent BABIP. Then, there’s the uninspiring 6.18 K/9 rate and 1.67 K/BB ratio. Going forward, just be careful with Turner.
Danny Salazar (@LAA, vs. MIN)
Salazar was supposed to be a two-start pitcher this week, but scheduling changes have pushed him to next week. So to those of you who hurried over to the waiver wire to grab him for this week, I offer my condolences, as all you got was a 4 IP, 3 ER line in what was supposed to be a favorable matchup @MIN. That said, I’ll go back to the well once more with Salazar, as neither of these offenses are anything to write home about. In other words, I’m still on the bandwagon.
Randall Delgado (@CIN, @PHI)
Delgado is coming off a strong performance versus a talented Orioles club, but the reality is that he’s not much of a strikeout pitcher and these matchups aren’t all that promising. Would I pitch Delgado if we were only talking about the @PHI start? Maybe. But I just don’t feel comfortable committing to him for the entire week. High risk and minimal reward is how I see it.