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Pitch or Ditch for Wednesday, August 6

MLB: New York Mets at San Diego Padres

ZACH’S PICKS

Despaigne @ Correia – Despaigne roughed up his last time out but deserves a shot here.

Tepesch @ Sale

Hellickson @ Gray

Teheran @ Young

Verlander @ Capuano – Verlander pitching well lately.

W. Chen @ Hutchison – Chen a decent option in deeper leagues but I’m not a fan of this matchup.

Haren @ Shoemaker – Bench Haren until further notice. Shoemaker a borderline call but I’ll play it safe in tough matchup.

Niese @ Fister

Peacock @ Buchanan

Koehler @ Locke – Koehler 3 ER or less in four straight starts. Locke scares me.

Salazar @ Latos

Kelly @ Miller – Shelby a bit risky though.

Vogelsong @ Gallardo

Arrieta @ Lyles

Ventura @ Collmenter – Collmenter a worthy NL-only play.

Pitch or Ditch for Tuesday, August 5

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Los Angeles Angels

ZACH’S PICKS

Cueto @ Tomlin
Price @ Kuroda – Kuroda has been a little better lately.
Norris @ Buehrle – Not trusting Buehrle here.
Lewis @ Danks
Hahn @ Hughes – Favorable matchup for both.
Smyly @ Hammel – Taking a break from Smyly in tough matchup, so expect a shutout!
A. Wood @ King Felix
Wheeler @ G. Gonzalez
Keuchel @ Kendrick
Hand @ Morton – Morton a little risky here, but he’s rarely terrible.
Lincecum @ Nelson – Lincecum’s last two starts concern me while Nelson has been solid over his last two.
R. De La Rosa @ Lynn – Rubby 3 ER or less in five of his last six outings.
T. Wood @ B. Anderson – Anderson has pitched pretty well this year but I’m scared to start him at Coors.
Duffy @ Miley – Miley has struggled at home but Royals offense is mediocre at best.
Santiago @ Kershaw – Santiago a sneaky play in deeper leagues though.

Zach’s Two-Start Pitcher Notes – Week of 8/4

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Oakland Athletics 

PITCHES

Kevin Gausman (@WAS, vs. STL)

Following a rocky outing on the road versus the A’s on July 20th, Gausman has now pieced together two straight quality starts, and he pitched well against a dangerous Angels lineup his last time out. He’s still walking a few too many for my liking (3.4 BB/9) and these might not seem like great matchups on paper. But note that the Cardinals have been arguably the most disappointing offense in the Majors this season, ranking next to last in the league in runs scored. The Nationals lineup is formidable, but Gausman has been a lot better on the road (2.86 ERA) than at home (4.24 ERA). In mixed leagues of 12 teams or more, he’s worth a shot.

Dillon Gee (vs. SF, @PHI)

Since returning from the DL, Gee has posted only one quality start in four tries, and he’s allowed a combined 11 earned runs over his last two outings. But his overall numbers are still strong, and he deserves the benefit of the doubt for the time being. Gee has been far from impressive against the Phillies this year, but the Philadelphia lineup is still mediocre at best. The Giants offense isn’t terrible, but it’s nowhere near elite.

Jason Hammel (vs. TB, vs. MIN)

To say that the A’s haven’t gotten what they had hoped from Hammel when they acquired him in early-July would be an understatement. In four starts with Oakland, he’s 0-4 with a 9.53 ERA and 2.12 WHIP. Not good. But I haven’t given up on him just yet. Next week, Hammel gets to face two sub-par offenses that both rank in the bottom third of the AL in runs scored since the All-Star break. And he will get to face them at home in a pitcher-friendly park. If he can’t get the job done here, feel free to cut bait in mixed leagues. But in deeper mixed formats and of course AL-only leagues, I’d trot him out there for this two-start week.

Charlie Morton (vs. MIA, vs. SD)

Usually a safe bet for a quality performance, Morton is in the midst of an uninspiring stretch that has seen him allow at least four runs in three of his last four starts. There is hope for next week, however, as both of Morton’s starts will come at home, where he boasts a 2.18 ERA and 1.14 WHIP for the season. The Padres are by far the lowest scoring team in the Majors this year and the Marlins offense, despite being surprisingly decent overall, ranks 13th in the NL in runs scored on the road.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DITCHES

Mark Buehrle (vs. BAL, vs. DET)

It was only a matter of time before Buehrle would become the victim of the dreaded stat correction. The month of July was not kind to the veteran southpaw, as he posted a 5.74 ERA and 1.84 WHIP in five starts. These are very scary matchups, and since Buehrle’s strikeout rate is low, pitching him basically amounts to chasing a win. No thanks. If you still own Buehrle in a mixed league, feel free to drop him. Hopefully, you cashed in your profits while you had the chance.

Phil Hughes (vs. SD, @OAK)

Talk about turning back into a pumpkin. The last time Hughes posted consecutive quality starts was a month and a half ago. Yeah, the strikeouts are nice, and his walk rate (0.85 BB/9) is actually excellent. But his hit rate (10.3 H/9) leaves a lot to be desired, and he’s too prone to the disaster outing. If we were just talking about the vs. SD start, I’d pitch him. But @OAK is a definite ditch, which makes the two-start week a ditch.

Pitch or Ditch for Saturday-Monday, August 2-4

MLB: Washington Nationals at Miami Marlins

ZACH’S PICKS

SATURDAY

Greene @ Webster

Vargas @ Lester – Nice matchup for Lester in his A’s debut.

Paxton @ M. Gonzalez – Gonzalez is hot and M’s rank second to last in AL in runs scored. Need to see a bit more from Paxton.

Mikolas @ House

Matzek @ Porcello

Pino @ Carroll

Dickey @ Oberholtzer – Favorable matchup for inconsistent Dickey.

Wilson @ Archer – Wilson was struggling mightily prior to DL trip but I’ll chance it.

Burnett @ Zimmermann – A.J. a bit risky though.

Peavy @ deGrom – Now back in NL, I’m expecting better results from Peavy.

Bailey @ Eovaldi – Eovaldi turning back into a pumpkin.

Nelson @ Masterson – I’ll give Nelson a shot. Taking a wait and see approach with Masterson.

Worley @ C. Anderson – Still wary of Worley.

Big Erv @ Kennedy

Wada @ Ryu

SUNDAY

Darvish @ Bauer

J. De La Rosa @ An. Sanchez

Iwakuma @ Tillman – Tillman 3 ER or less in each of his last ten starts.

Weaver @ Odorizzi

Gibson @ Quintana

Stroman @ Feldman – Stroman’s last three starts: 0.43 ERA, 0.71 WHIP.

Shields @ Kazmir

Phelps @ Buchholz – Not trusting either.

Bumgarner @ Colon

Leake @ Alvarez – Leake coming off dominant outing vs. ARI.

Hamels @ Strasburg – Must watch TV!

Lohse @ Lynn

Jackson @ Beckett – Beckett still needs to shake off the rust.

Harang @ T. Ross – Tasty matchup for Harang.

Liriano @ Cahill – Liriano still scares me but can’t argue with the recent results.

MONDAY

Scherzer @ McCarthy – Not a fan of this matchup for McCarthy.

Simon @ Kluber

Martinez @ Noesi

Cobb @ Samardzija

Hudson @ Gee – Call me crazy but I’m sticking with Gee.

Gausman @ Roark – Cautiously optimistic about Gausman in not so great matchup.

Richards @ Greinke

 

Trade Deadline Musings

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Texas Rangers

Zach here,

I honestly don’t remember a more active trade deadline day, in terms of both quantity of deals and the quality of the players involved. Here are my fantasy-angled thoughts on the fantasy-noteworthy trades of this July 31st.

Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes traded to A’s for Yoenis Cespedes

As if Lester’s 2014 season hasn’t been impressive enough, this is about as favorable of a situation as his fantasy owners could have hoped for. He moves from a hitter-friendly park to a pitcher-friendly park and from a Red Sox team that ranks 25th in the Majors in runs scored to an Athletics club that is the highest scoring team in the Majors. If Oakland doesn’t at least make the World Series this year, I don’t know when they ever will. As for Cespedes, his fantasy outlook at worst stays the same (inferior lineup in Boston) but probably improves with his move to a cozier park for power hitters. Gomes remains strictly an AL-only option.

David Price traded to Tigers, Drew Smyly and Nick Franklin traded to Rays, Austin Jackson traded to Mariners

Wow. That A’s-Tigers ALCS will be fun to watch! Check out the Tigers rotation now. Price was already a fantasy ace prior to this move. Now, he’s a legit top-5 SP. Like Lester, he will benefit from increased run support and a more favorable home ballpark. I’m still a fan of Smyly but this isn’t great news for him. Maybe he’s now closer to Pitch or Ditch than grad. I don’t see Jackson’s value changing much here. Franklin’s future remains promising but he’s likely to stay in the Minors for the time being.

John Lackey traded to Cardinals for Allen Craig and Joe Kelly

Pitching in the Senior Circuit for the first time in his career, Lackey makes for a nice pickup in NL-only leagues for next week. Following a shaky stretch that began in late-June and continued into the early part of this month, he’s been very sharp over his last three starts (20 IP, 14 H, 5 ER). When it comes to Craig, what’s happened? This is a guy who was coming off back-to-back seasons of at least a .307 AVG and 92 RBI and didn’t last past the 10th round in most 12-team mixed league drafts this spring. And unlike in years past, he’s stayed healthy this season. A change of scenery could be just what he needs. If he’s on the waiver wire in your 12-team mixed league, taking a flier on him could pay off. Kelly was having a disappointing season with the Cardinals. Chances are he’ll continue to have a disappointing season as a member of the Red Sox. Outside of deep AL-only leagues, I wouldn’t bother.

Tommy Milone traded to Twins for Sam Fuld

Milone has become a popular Pitch or Ditch option over the past few years for starts at home, and although his fantasy appeal takes a hit due to the downgraded supporting lineup, Target Field is another pitcher-friendly park. In deeper mixed leagues, Milone still carries some value as a Pitch or Ditch guy. Fuld is a better real-life player than fantasy player and doesn’t figure to get a whole lot of playing time in Oakland’s outfield. But his stolen base production keeps him at least somewhat relevant in deeper AL-only leagues.

Asdrubal Cabrera traded to Nationals

Heading into the season, I liked Cabrera as an underrated fantasy shortstop who was primed to bounce back from a disappointing 2013 and approach 20 homers while swiping 15 bags and scoring 80-plus runs. As it turns out, 80-plus runs is the only one of those milestones that is in reach. In fact, Asdrubal’s final stat line this season will probably look a lot like last year’s line, with the exception of the increased runs total. By now, it’s obvious that his 25 HR/17 SB showing in 2011 was more of a fluke than last year’s performance. Cabrera is expected to take over as Washington’s starting second baseman. The playing time situation could get interesting if/when Ryan Zimmerman returns, but it’s entirely possible that the Nats simply decide to shut him down. And no, I don’t see Danny Espinosa as a legitimate threat to Asdrubal’s playing time. Cabrera’s fantasy stock remains roughly the same, as a low-end starting SS and quality MI in deeper mixed leagues. He’s an attractive waiver wire add in NL-only leagues though, as it’s especially hard to find middle infielders with his type of power potential in a non-mixed format.

Stephen Drew traded to Yankees

Not much to say about this one. Drew will slot in as the Yankees’ everyday second baseman now that Brian Roberts has been designated for assignment, and although he’s shown some improvement at the plate of late, his season numbers are still awful. Drew is barely worth a roster spot in any mixed league.

Martin Prado traded to Yankees

I like this move a lot for the Yankees. Prado’s offensive production this year has not been up to par with what he’s done in the past, but his track record suggests that he could easily improve, particularly in the batting average department. He can also play a multitude of different positions, which adds to his fantasy appeal for AL-only leaguers. For now, he’s not guaranteed everyday at-bats, but he will play enough to be a worthy pickup in a non-mixed.

Pitch or Ditch for Friday, August 1

MLB: Washington Nationals at Baltimore Orioles

ZACH’S PICKS

Elias @ W. Chen – I like what I’ve seen from Chen of late.
Williams @ Salazar
Morales @ Verlander
Capuano @ Ranaudo
Shoemaker @ Hellickson
Darnell @ Sale
Happ @ McHugh
Guthrie @ Gray
R. Hernandez @ Fister
Vogelsong @ Niese – Vogelsong has a 5.44 ERA on the road.
Latos @ Cosart
Peralta @ Wainwright – Peralta’s 3.56 season ERA skewed by one 9 ER outing.
Volquez @ Nuno
Hendricks @ Haren
Minor @ Stults

Pitch or Ditch for Thursday, July 31

MLB: Miami Marlins at San Francisco Giants

CORY’S PICKS

Danks @ Smyly – Smyly had 11 K’s last time out. Is it OK to use him now?
Skaggs @ Norris
Young @ McAllister
Correia @ Ventura
Hutchison @ Cosart – Good arms but bad matchups.
P. Hernandez @ Arrieta
Miller @ Despaigne
Lee @ G. Gonzalez
Cueto
@ Koehler – Koehler is tough at home and the Reds are not great offensively.
Locke @ Collmenter – Blue-plate special; both have some appeal if categories allow.
Teheran @ Kershaw – Stay up late, kids.

Pitch or Ditch for Wednesday, July 30

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Texas Rangers

CORY’S PICKS

Gallardo @ Price
Hammel @ Keuchel – risk/reward here depends on your standings. Both are regressing hard right now.
Richards @ Gausman
King Felix
@ Kluber – King plus Kluber = K’s!
Noesi @ Scherzer
Buehrle @ Workman
Kuroda @ Lewis
Hughes @ Duffy
Kendrick @ Wheeler
Miley @ Simon
Roark
@ Hand – Hand is a sneaky good gamble in deeper leagues.
Morton @ Lincecum
B. Anderson
@ T. Wood – Wood also a good blue-plate option vs. depleted Rockies.
A. Wood @ Greinke
Kelly
@ Hahn – keep in mind, Hahn has about 60 innings left.

Pitch or Ditch for Tuesday, July 29

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Miami Marlins

CORY’S PICKS

Weaver @ Tillman
Iwakuma @ Bauer
Quintana
@ An. Sanchez
Stroman
@ R. De La Rosa – rematch!
Garza @ Cobb
McCarthy
@ Martinez – McCarthy is on a roll and the Rangers, er, are not
Gibson @ Shields
Samardzija
@ Feldman
Cahill @ Leake – I’m keeping an eye on both though
Hamels @ Gee – FYI, Hamels’ 4.38 career ERA vs. the Mets is his worst vs any NL club
Strasburg
@ Alvarez
J. De La Rosa @ Jackson
Harang @ Beckett
Lynn @ T. Ross
Liriano @ Hudson

***ZACH SAYS “I’d absolutely pitch Alvarez, who is coming off a strong outing against the Braves. The Nats are a tough lineup, but as long as you’re not expecting too many strikeouts, you’ll be happy with what you get from him going forward. Agree on rest.”

Zach’s Two-Start Pitcher Notes – Week of 7/28

MLB: San Diego Padres at Cleveland Indians-Game Two

PITCHES

Trevor Bauer (vs. SEA, vs. TEX)

It took awhile, but Bauer is finally starting to live up to those great expectations. Yeah, the WHIP could use improvement, but he’s allowed three runs or less in each of his last six starts, and you gotta love the strikeouts. The Mariners rank next to last in the AL in both runs scored and batting average, the Rangers are no better than a mid-pack offense and Bauer’s ERA at home this year is 2.82. That’s good enough for me.

Aaron Harang (@LAD, @SD)

I’ve been doubting Harang all year, and I’m still not completely convinced that he will remain a viable option in 12-team mixed leagues through the end of the season. But for now, you can’t argue with the results, particularly the recent results, which have included six straight quality starts. The @LAD matchup might seem tough on paper, but the Dodgers offense has been mediocre at best in the month of July, ranking in the bottom half of the NL in runs and batting average and dead last in the Senior Circuit in homers. As for the @SD matchup, the Padres have scored the fewest runs in the Majors this year, and it’s not even close.

Chris Tillman (vs. LAA, vs. SEA)

After suffering through a brutal month of May (5.68 ERA, 1.53 WHIP), Tillman has rebounded nicely, posting a 3.10 ERA and 1.30 WHIP since the beginning of June. The vs. LAA matchup is a little scary, but the good news is that Tillman has been a far better pitcher at home (2.89 ERA) than on the road (4.68 ERA) this year. As for the vs. SEA matchup, there’s nothing scary about that one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DITCHES

Nathan Eovaldi (vs. WAS, vs. CIN)

Heading into the season, I really liked Eovaldi as an undervalued pitcher, and things could not have gone much better in April (2.58 ERA, 1.02 WHIP). It’s been downhill since, however, and he’s allowed a combined 13 runs over his last two starts. I still haven’t given up on him, and I still think he deserves a roster spot in deeper mixed leagues, but you’re better off benching him for now. By the way, the Nationals lead the NL in runs scored in the month of July.

Francisco Liriano (@SF, @ARI)

Liriano has done a great job over his last two starts (12 IP, 1 ER, 12 K), and I might soon start to be a believer. But not yet. The strikeouts are nice, but the 4.79 BB/9 is disturbing, and with Liriano, there’s always the risk of a disaster outing. The days of the Giants being an offense to pick on are over, and the Diamondbacks rank in the top-5 of the NL in runs scored, home runs and batting average at home. I need to see more from Liriano before I can feel comfortable pitching him, even in a two-start week.

David Phelps (@TEX, @BOS)

Having allowed two earned runs or less in each of his last five starts , Phelps has emerged onto the mixed league radar. And he probably deserves an immediate pickup in deeper mixed formats. But next week is not a good time to use him. Although the Rangers and Red Sox haven’t exactly been lighting up the scoreboard this season, Rangers Ballpark and Fenway Park are two tough places to pitch, and Phelps’ ERA on the road is more than two runs higher than his ERA at home. Don’t forget about him in the coming weeks, but for next week, I’m playing it safe and ditching.

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