2014 Fantasy BaseballAndrew Miller

2014 Fantasy Baseball: Week 4 Two-Start Pitchers and Streamers

Week 4 brings us a loaded slate of two-start pitchers, as well as the return of Cole Hamels. Hamels was originally slated for two starts, but now he will make his 2014 debut Wednesday against the Dodgers. Hamels pitched 17 innings, striking out 12 and walking just one in his rehab starts. He’s a must-start this week. Mike Minor is also scheduled to return this week, according to Dave O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Minor is scheduled to make his 2014 debut Saturday against Cincinnati.

Now, onto this week’s two-start pitchers.

Must-starts

  1. Jose Fernandez – Tue at ATL, Sun at NYM
  2. Yu Darvish – Mon at OAK, Sun at SEA
  3. Felix Hernandez – Mon vs. HOU, Sun vs. TEX
  4. Chris Sale – Tue at DET, Sun vs. TB
  5. Adam Wainwright – Tue at NYM, Sun vs. PIT
  6. Cliff Lee – Mon at LAD, Sat at ARI
  7. Masahiro Tanaka – Tue at BOS, Sun vs. LAA
  8. Andrew Cashner – Mon at MIL, Sat at WSH
  9. Johnny Cueto – Tue at PIT, Sun at ATL
  10. Justin Verlander – Tue vs. CWS, Sun at MIN
  11. Anibal Sanchez – Mon vs. CWS, Sat at MIN
  12. Francisco Liriano – Mon vs. CIN, Sat at STL
  13. James Shields – Tue at CLE, Sun at BAL
  14. Julio Teheran – Mon vs. MIA, Sun vs. CIN
  15. Hyun-jin Ryu – Tue vs. PHI, Sun vs. COL
  16. Jon Lester – Tue vs. NYY, Sun at TOR

Start in 12-teamers and deeper

  1. Ian Kennedy – Tue at MIL, Sun at WSH
  2. Dan Straily – Mon vs. TEX, Sat at HOU
  3. Clay Buchholz – Mon vs. BAL, Sat at TOR
  4. Travis Wood – Tue vs. ARI, Sun at MIL
  5. Danny Salazar – Tue vs. KC, Sun at SF
  6. A.J. Burnett – Tue at LAD, Sun at ARI

Kennedy¬†is throwing his fastball and changeup harder than ever before, and his 4.13 ERA is highly misleading. His K and BB rates are career-bests so far. Milwaukee and Washington are just middle of the pack against righties this season. Straily¬†has seen a drop in velocity across the board this season, so that could explain his four homers allowed in just 16 innings. But he’s improved his walk and strikeout rates and his matchups are pretty good this week so he’s still a good start for the time being. Salazar has also thrown softer early on in the season, averaging 94.5 on his fastball after averaging at least 96.25 in each month last year. Every one of his pitches is getting hit hard, but his two opponents rank 20th and 23rd, respectively, in wOBA against righties this season so he’s a low-end start in 12-teamers.

If you have Buchholz you’re running him out there. He’s giving up a lot of home runs, but that’s due to an unsustainable HR/FB rate. He’s still getting a good amount of ground balls while his strikeouts and walks have either remained steady of improved. Wood has upped his cutter usage from 33 percent last year to 46 percent this year. He uses it a lot against both types of batters, and it’s his best ground ball pitch and second best pitch for whiffs. Hitters are hitting .310 on plate appearances that end in one, but they have just a .024 ISO on it.

Start in deep mixed leagues

  1. Wily Peralta – Mon vs. SD, Sun vs. CHC
  2. Tanner Roark – Mon vs. LAA, Sat vs. SD
  3. Garrett Richards – Mon at WSH, Sun at NYY
  4. Jason Hammel – Mon vs. ARI, Sat at MIL
  5. Wei-Yin Chen – Mon at BOS, Sat vs. KC
  6. R.A. Dickey – Tue vs. BAL, Sun vs. BOS

Peralta gets the 27th and 29th-ranked offenses by wOBA against righties this week. Add that to his 61 percent ground ball rate and the expected positive regression of his crazy high home run rate should make him a very good start this week. If you’re in a daily league I’d sit Roark against the Angels (ninth best wOBA vs. righties) but start him against the Padres. The Yankees could present a tough matchup for Richards, but even pitching in Yankee Stadium he should be helped by his 52 percent ground ball rate. Oh, and he’s throwing a career-best 95.9 to 96.7 mph on his fastball.

Hammel gets two average teams against righties, so he’s an OK start. He won’t blow you away, but a quality start (He’s 3-for-3 so far) is doable both times. Chen‘s strikeout rate isn’t great, but his walk and home run rates are. His BABIP is .410, and both his FIP (2.78) and xFIP (3.53) suggest he has better days ahead. Boston ranks 14th in wOBA against lefties, but Kansas City is 29th. I own Dickey in two leagues and there’s no way I’d start him in anything other than a 16-team daily league right now.

Start in AL-/NL-Only leagues

  1. Mike Leake – Mon at PIT, Sat at ATL
  2. Edinson Volquez – Tue at CIN, Sun at STL
  3. Zach McAllister – Mon vs. KC, Sat at SF
  4. Dallas Keuchel – Mon at SEA, Sat vs. OAK
  5. Taylor Jordan – Tue vs. LAA, Sun vs. SD
  6. Dillon Gee – Tue vs. STL, Sun vs. MIA
  7. Tyler Lyons – Mon at NYM, Sat vs. PIT
  8. Tommy Milone – Tue vs. TEX, Sun at HOU
  9. Scott Feldman – Tue at SEA, Sun vs. OAK

Leake‘s 68 percent ground ball rate is the second best in the majors this year. Neither Atlanta nor Pittsburgh ranks in the top 20 in wOBA against righties. Volquez has a couple tough matchups, but he’s curbed his walks and has a 48 percent ground ball rate. His FIP and xFIP suggest he’s pitching well, just not a 1.71 ERA-well. McAllister gets two bottom-10 teams in wOBA against righties this week to go with his rising K rate and steady BB rate. Keuchel has increased his velocity across the board, and that’s led to a rising K rate and falling BB rate to go with a crazy 61 percent ground ball rate. The A’s and Mariners rank 19th and 20th, respectively, in wOBA against lefties.

Starting Jordan against San Diego but not the Angels is the best plan for him this week. Gee has probably the toughest week of any startable two-starter. St. Louis ranks 10th in wOBA against righties, and Miami ranks first. But he’s usually able to go deep into games so you can have a shot at a win or two with him. Lyons won’t offer you much except for a chance for two wins.

Don’t start ’em

Top streaming options available in at least 50 percent of ESPN leagues

Corey Kluber – Thu vs. KC – Kluber’s .390 BABIP is the seventh highest mark for qualified pitchers this season and is almost 50 points higher than his career mark. His strikeout rate has dropped a bit, probably thanks to a drop in velocity. But he did gain velocity as the season progressed last year, and his walk rate and home run rates are in line or better than last year. He’s only had one truly bad start, and his FIP of 3.33 is nearly identical to last year’s 3.30. The Royals are below average in wOBA against righties, and they rank dead last in homers against righties, with four.

Jason Vargas – Wed at CLE – Vargas has delivered at least seven innings in each of his four starts this season, never allowing more than a hit per inning and only walking more than one batter a start one time. The Indians rank in the bottom third in wOBA against lefties this season.

Martin Perez – Wed at OAK – Perez has hurled back-to-back gems, culminating with a shutout of the White Sox Friday where he recorded eight strikeouts and only one walk. He’s pitched into the seventh inning in three of his four starts, and the A’s rank 19th in wOBA against lefties.

Nathan Eovaldi – Wed vs. ATL – Eovaldi has recorded three of four quality starts with his lone miss being a 6.1-inning, four-earned run outing where he had a 5:0 K:BB. Eovaldi has a 23:3 K:BB on the season, a very respectable 22 percent strikeout rate and a 2.9 percent walk rate, which ranks 11th in baseball. The Braves have the 11th worst strikeout rate against righties and the fifth worst walk rate against them.

Tyson Ross – Wed at MIL – Ross rebounded from a rough start to the season to post two straight gems: 15 innings, one earned run, two walks, 16 strikeouts. He’s upped his changeup and slider usage in those two games a bit – his changeup is getting the second most whiffs per swing this year while his slider induces the ninth most whiffs.

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