2014 Fantasy BaseballAndrew Miller

2014 Fantasy Baseball: Week 9 Two-start Pitchers and Streamers

This week features loaded schedules for most teams with 20 teams playing seven games. There are approximately 50 two-start pitchers, and a lot of them are available in a majority of leagues where you can pick them up and stream them. I’ve touched on a lot of those guys below, and several of them have two great matchups to take advantage of. If you have any questions about pitchers I listed but didn’t elaborate on, ask me on Twitter @44AMiller.

Must-starts

  1. Yu Darvish – Tue at MIN, Sun at WSH
  2. Max Scherzer – Mon at OAK, Sat at SEA
  3. Michael Wacha – Mon vs. NYY, Sat vs. SF
  4. Johnny Cueto – Mon at LAD, Sat at ARI
  5. Sonny Gray – Tue vs. DET, Sun vs. LAA
  6. Jeff Samardzija – Mon at SF, Sun at MIL
  7. Zack Greinke – Tue vs. CIN, Sun vs. PIT
  8. Cole Hamels – Tue vs. COL, Sun vs. NYM
  9. Tyson Ross – Mon at ARI, Sun at CWS
  10. Jered Weaver – Tue at SEA, Sun at OAK
  11. Tim Hudson – Tue vs. CHC, Sun at STL
  12. Kyle Lohse – Mon vs. BAL, Sun vs. CHC
  13. Yordano Ventura – Mon vs. HOU, Sat at TOR
  14. Lance Lynn – Tue vs. NYY, Sun vs. SF
  15. Jon Lester – Tue at ATL, Sun vs. TB
  16. Hyun-jin Ryu – Mon vs. CIN, Sat vs. PIT

Ross has posted four straight starts of seven innings and one run, averaging over seven strikeouts a game. Ross’s FIP and xFIP both sit in the low-to-mid 3’s, and while Chicago presents a tough matchup Ross’s 60 percent ground ball rate is almost the best in the Majors. He’s only owned in 70 percent of ESPN leagues. Hudson‘s ERA ranks seventh, his FIP 22nd and his ground ball rate second among all starters. He has one neutral and one good matchup this week. Lohse’s 2014 includes career-best strikeout and K-BB rates. He hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in any start this season while going at least six innings in all but one start. Matt Cain was slated to be a two-start pitcher, but due to a hamstring injury he was scratched from his Monday start.

Start in 12-teamers

  1. Phil Hughes – Tue vs. TEX, Sun at NYY
  2. Brandon McCarthy – Mon vs. SD, Sat vs. CIN
  3. Ervin Santana – Mon vs. BOS, Sat at MIA
  4. Drew Hutchison – Mon vs. TB, Sat vs. KC
  5. Jon Niese – Tue vs. PIT, Sun at PHI
  6. Jose Quintana – Mon vs. CLE, Sun vs. SD
  7. Drew Smyly – Tue at OAK, Sun at SEA
  8. Nathan Eovaldi – Mon at WSH, Sun vs. ATL
  9. Tanner Roark – Mon vs. MIA, Sun vs. TEX
  10. Alfredo Simon – Tue at LAD, Sun at ARI
  11. Chris Tillman – Mon at MIL, Sat at HOU*

The only thing keeping Hughes (29 percent owned) from must-start status is…Phil Hughes. Hughes has his best walk and strikeout rates of his career this season, and he hasn’t walked a hitter since April 20. His new home park has helped him cut his home-run rate nearly in half. The Rangers wOBA against righties ranks 24th, and while the Yankees are better than that the Bombers have been running out some awful lineups lately. Start him as you please. McCarthy (1 percent owned) has four great starts in his last five, with 33 strikeouts and just four walks in those five starts. His 4.67 ERA is ugly, but his FIP is 3.8 and his xFIP is 2.88. McCarthy’s been victimized by a 19.6 home-run rate, which is exactly double his career average. His fastball velocity is up almost three miles an hour above his career rate, and his ground ball rate is way up, too. You have to like his matchup against Cincinnati without Joey Votto, and the Padres rank last in wOBA against righties.

Hutchison has two below average offenses against righties, and only owned in 8 percent of leagues he should be picked up all over the place. Hutch has done well on the things he can control, and his BABIP and left on base numbers are pretty close to league average so we shouldn’t be expecting any bad regression on his part. He throws four pitches – all pretty well – and is getting above-average whiff rates on two of them – his four-seamer and sinker – and just below average whiff rates on his slider and changeup, according to research done on league-average whiff rates at The Hardball Times. Eovaldi (39 percent owned) hasn’t pitched too well lately, but he gets two below-average offenses, including the whiff-happy Braves. Texas has the second-worst Isolated Power mark against righties, and now with Prince Fielder out there’s one less big bat in the lineup. Roark can be spot-started there. Tillman‘s last start was just one-inning as he allowed six runs and walked three. He might have his first start skipped, so just like with Cain keep an eye on this situation.

Deep-league starts

  1. Tyler Skaggs – Mon at SEA, Sat at OAK
  2. Wade Miley – Tue vs. SD, Sun vs. CIN
  3. Jacob deGrom – Mon vs. PIT, Sat at PHI
  4. Nick Tepesch – Mon at MIN, Sat at WSH

Skaggs (14 percent) – with 15 strikeouts and two walks in his last three starts – has one good and one neutral matchup this week, and while he’s still a bit too inconsistent to start in most shallow leagues he’s startable in most 14-teamers and deeper. Miley‘s (10 percent) opponents rank 27th and 30th, respectively, in wOBA against lefties. Like Skaggs, he’s inconsistent, but with some good matchups he’s a smart play this week. deGrom hasn’t been anything special in his first two starts – his FIP is 5.67 – and his BABIP and LOB numbers are very, very friendly to him. But he’s got two bottom-11 teams in Iso against righties and can be useful in really deep leagues.

AL-/NL-only starts

  1. Tommy Milone – Mon vs. DET, Sat vs. LAA
  2. Mark Buehrle – Tue vs. TB, Sun vs. KC
  3. Wei-Yin Chen – Tue at MIL, Sun at HOU
  4. Aaron Harang – Tue vs. BOS, Sun at MIA
  5. Collin McHugh – Tue at KC, Sun vs. BAL
  6. Clay Buchholz – Mon at ATL, Sat vs. TB
  7. Jhoulys Chacin – Mon at PHI, Sun at CLE
  8. Scott Feldman – Mon at KC, Sat vs. BAL
  9. Brandon Cumpton – Mon at NYM, Sat at LAD

Milone, solid but unspectacular this season, has two very tough matchups this week. But he has a career 3.07 ERA at home, and he’s pitched well/decently against Texas, the Angels and the Nationals, who all hit lefties well, this year already. The Rays and Royals rank in the bottom six in wOBA against lefties, and Buehrle continues to spit out quality starts. Both McHugh and Feldman have the Royals and Orioles this week. McHugh’s continued to strike guys out after his hot start, fanning seven in back-to-back games while Feldman hasn’t topped that number all  season. McHugh’s numbers have fallen off a bit since his hot start, while Feldman just doesn’t have the stuff that his teammate does. I’d lean McHugh but both are OK options this week in your large formats.

Pitchers to avoid

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

Most of the players I touched on above qualify here, so you can pick them up soon and get two starts out of them this week. Quintana and Miley both face two bottom-four offenses against lefties this week so they make very good plays.

  • John Danks – Friday vs. San Diego – The lefty Danks gets the 27th-ranked offense against lefties after shutting out the Yankees over eight innings in his last start.
  • Jarred Cosart – Wednesday at Kansas City – The Royals rank just 25th in wOBA against righties, and Cosart has been pretty effective outside of one disaster of a start against Oakland. Take out that appearance and he has a 3.27 ERA.
  • Jaime Garcia – Thursday vs. San Francisco – Garcia has looked great in his first two starts of the season, striking out 12 and walking none in 12.2 innings. He’s still getting a ton of ground balls, and his fastball velocity is at a career-high, albeit in a limited sample.
  • Ryan Vogelsong – Thursday at St. Louis – The Cardinals rank a respectable 13th against righties, but they are just 29th in Iso against them. In Vogelsong’s last six starts he has a 1.35 ERA, a WHIP under 1.00 and a 22 percent strikeout rate.
  • Jake Odorizzi – Saturday at Boston – As I’m writing this Odorizzi is pitching fairly well against the Sox in Tampa. While his ERA is just barely below 5 his FIP and xFIP are in the mid-3’s. Boston ranks 25th in wOBA against righties, and Odorizzi has a gnarly 26 percent strikeout rate. He might not go very deep in his starts, but he makes them count with plenty of K’s.
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