2014 Fantasy BaseballAndrew Miller

2014 Fantasy Baseball: Week 7 Two-Start Pitchers and Streamers

Welcome to Week Eight, folks. There are plenty of quality two-start pitchers for this week who are available on a lot of waiver wires, so dig through here and see whom you like and want to pick up to help your team this week. Alex Cobb had a great rehab start Saturday and should return to the Rays on Thursday, so feel free to start him then.

Must-starts

  1. Masahiro Tanaka – Tue at CHC, Sun at CWS
  2. Adam Wainwright – Tue vs. ARI, Sun at CIN
  3. Stephen Strasburg – Mon vs. CIN, Sat at PIT
  4. Madison Bumgarner – Tue at COL, Sun vs. MIN
  5. Justin Verlander – Tue at CLE, Sun vs. TEX
  6. Hisashi Iwakuma – Tue at TEX, Sun vs. HOU
  7. Julio Teheran – Tue vs. MIL, Sun vs. COL
  8. Corey Kluber – Mon vs. DET, Sat at BAL
  9. Ian Kennedy – Tue vs. MIN, Sun vs. CHC

Kennedy has career-best walk and strikeout rates this year, with his strikeout rate ranking 12th among starters. His FIP and xFIP are both well below 3, and with both starts at home he should be picked up in the leagues he’s available in. He’s only owned in 52 percent of ESPN leagues. Kennedy is throwing his curveball more often, near the same amount he did in 2010 and ’11 – his two best seasons. It’s his second most-used pitch, and all hitters have a .093 Isolated Power against it and lefties have struck out 10 times in 22 at-bats ending in a curve.

Start in 12-teamers

  1. Josh Beckett – Tue at NYM, Sun at PHI
  2. Garrett Richards – Mon vs. HOU, Sun vs. KC
  3. Wily Peralta – Mon at ATL, Sat at MIA
  4. Mike Minor – Mon vs. MIL, Sat vs. COL
  5. Doug Fister – Tue vs. CIN, Sun at PIT
  6. Drew Smyly – Mon at CLE, Sat vs. TEX
  7. Yovani Gallardo – Tue at ATL, Sun at MIA

Beckett is owned in just 47 percent of ESPN leagues, and with two plus matchups he should be picked up and started. His strikeout rate this year is near his career-best for a season. Richards has five straight quality starts to go with a 2.18 ERA in that time. His strikeout rate is over 25 percent, he’s getting tons of ground balls and his FIP and xFIP back up his 2.42 ERA. Peralta is 7-for-8 in quality starts this season. His 2.05 ERA ranks sixth in the Majors, and while he hasn’t seen an increase in strikeouts he has cut his walk rate in half and is inducing a ton of weak contact (51 percent grounders, 17 percent infield flies). The only thing knocking Minor is his matchup with Colorado, which ranks first against lefties using wOBA. Pretty much all his numbers are similar to his career numbers except his home run rate, which is at 18 percent compared to 10 percent for his career. Once that comes down we’ll be looking at the old Minor.

Fister has an even smaller 2014 body of work, but he has two neutral matchups this week, which makes him a solid play in all leagues. Smyly‘s been pretty good in a few starts, and the Cleveland matchup is the best you could ask for for a lefty starter. Texas ranks seventh in wOBA against lefties, but I think he’s worth starting there, too. Gallardo has regressed some since his hot start, but he’s faced several quality lineups and has still delivered three quality starts in five opportunities. The Braves rank 29th in wOBA against righties and the Marlins’ 24 percent strikeout rate against righties is also 29th.

Deep-league starts

  1. Francisco Liriano – Tue vs. BAL, Sun vs. WSH
  2. Dallas Keuchel – Mon at LAA, Sat at SEA
  3. Brandon McCarthy – Tue at STL, Sun at NYM
  4. Jason Hammel – Tue vs. NYY, Sun at SD
  5. Jason Vargas – Mon vs. CWS, Sun at LAA
  6. Drew Pomeranz – Tue at TB, Sun at TOR
  7. Trevor Bauer – Tue vs. DET, Sun at BAL
  8. A.J. Burnett – Tue at MIA, Sun vs. LAD

Liriano has one really good matchup (Baltimore) and one really bad matchup (Washington). So in daily leagues I’d advise starting him and then sitting him. In weekly leagues I’d bench him if you can, as he has just three quality starts in nine tries. Keuchel‘s 3.06 ERA is backed up by a 3.02 FIP and 2.80 xFIP. He’s striking out more guys thanks to an increase in swinging strikes and a drop in contact rate, and he’s also limiting his walks. He also has one good (Mariners) and one bad (Angels) matchup, so if you can sit then start him I’d do that. But I would start him in weekly leagues. McCarthy‘s 5.01 ERA isn’t pretty, but his FIP and xFIP are 3.85 and 2.73, respectively. He’s seeing a career-high in ground balls and a career-low in fly balls, and his HR/FB is 21, which is more than double his career rate. His matchups are pretty good, too, as the Cardinals and Mets rank in the bottom five in Isolated Power against righties. Hammel has only one bad start this year, thanks to a rising strikeout rate and decreasing walk rate. He’s throwing his slider more often, and of his three most-used pitches it’s his best at getting whiffs. So there’s some substance to his good start, and in 16-teamers and deeper you can start him both times this week and in shallower leagues definitely against San Diego.

If you need some starts you could do worse than Vargas. Both his opponents rank in the top 10 in Isolated Power against lefties, but Vargas has been pretty consistent even in his two bad starts. His career-best K:BB is a good sign for him. Pomeranz has two neutral matchups after consecutive starts of five shutout innings with 13 strikeouts and two walks. He’s pitching well, but as he’s just being stretched out now he lacks the upside of going deeper in games to pile up the K’s. You can start him in 16-teamers or deeper. Bauer has one poor and one neutral matchup this week so I wouldn’t recommend starting him but you can pick him up and hope he can pick up where he left off in the Minors this year (24% K, 7% BB, 3.85 FIP). Burnett has been very meh this year, with bad peripherals that don’t support his 3.13 ERA. I’d look elsewhere for starts.

AL-/NL-Only starts

  1. Felix Doubront – Tue vs. TOR, Sun at TB
  2. Anthony DeSclafani – Tue vs. PHI, Sun vs. MIL
  3. Jake Odorizzi – Tue vs. OAK, Sun vs. BOS
  4. Rafael Montero – Tue vs. LAD, Sun vs. ARI
  5. Colby Lewis – Tue vs. SEA, Sun at DET
  6. Miguel Gonzalez – Tue at PIT, Sun vs. CLE
  7. Scott Feldman – Tue at LAA, Sun at SEA

Doubront has two neutral matchups, but the Blue Jays have the third-best Iso against lefties so I’d only stream him against Tampa Bay. The Phillies rank 25th in Iso and 26th in wOBA against righties, so DeSclafani has one really good matchup this week.

Pitchers to avoid

  1. Andre Rienzo – Tue at KC, Sun vs. NYY
  2. Scott Carroll – Mon at KC, Sat vs. NYY
  3. J.A. Happ – Tue at BOS, Sun vs. OAK
  4. Franklin Morales – Tue vs. SF, Sun at ATL

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

  • Josh Beckett – Tue at NYM, Sun at PHI
  • Ian Kennedy – Tue vs. MIN, Sun vs. CHC
  • Drew Pomeranz – Tue at TB
  • Dallas Keuchel – Sat at SEA
  • Phil Hughes – Wednesday at San Diego – Hughes has five straight quality starts that include 23 strikeouts and one walk. The Padres have the worst wOBA against righties and rank just 23rd in home wOBA.
  • Tyson Ross – Wednesday vs. Minnesota – Ross has given up just three earned runs in his last four home starts to go with 29 strikeouts and five walks.
  • Jaime Garcia – Saturday at Cincinnati – Garcia’s making his season debut Sunday, and the oft-injured, under-appreciated Cardinal has a career 3.38 FIP and 55 percent ground ball rate.
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