2014 Fantasy Baseball: Week 6 Two-Start Pitchers and Streamers
The fifth week of the Major League baseball season didn’t have as many games played as usual and stud two-start pitchers were sparse while examining the starting pitcher landscape for the week. That will not be a problem as we enter Week 6. The must-start two-start options this week are quite plentiful and there are some fine middle-tier options and streamers for fantasy owners to choose from as well. Plus, the best pitcher in baseball is making his long-awaited return to the mound. Perhaps you’ve heard of a fellow named Clayton Kershaw. The Los Angeles Dodgers and fantasy owners alike have been counting down the days until Kershaw would return and on Tuesday, he will make his second start of the season against the Washington Nationals in the nation’s capital. This guy can single-handedly turn your season around. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.
Without further ado, here are this week’s rankings for two-start pitchers and much more.
- Max Scherzer – Mon vs. HOU, Sat vs. MIN
- Clayton Kershaw – Tue at WSH, Sun vs. SF
- Zack Greinke – Mon at WSH, Sat vs. SF
- Scott Kazmir – Mon vs. SEA, Sun vs. WSH
- Yordano Ventura – Mon at SD, Sat at SEA
- Jordan Zimmermann – Mon vs. LAD, Sun at OAK
- Nathan Eovaldi – Mon vs. NYM, Sat at SD
- Jeff Samardzija – Mon vs. CWS, Sat at ATL
- Tim Hudson – Tue at PIT, Sun at LAD
- Homer Bailey – Tue at BOS, Sun vs. COL
- Jered Weaver – Mon vs. NYY, Sun at TOR
- Shelby Miller – Mon at ATL, Sun at PIT
- Matt Garza – Mon vs. ARI, Sun vs. NYY
- Jon Niese – Mon at MIA, Sun vs. PHI
Scherzer undoubtedly has the easiest set of matchups out of any pitcher listed above, he’s as must-start as it gets this week. Scherzer is 2-0 at home with a 1.29 ERA and 0.86 WHIP in three starts at home this year. Eovaldi has quietly dominated to the tune of a 2.58 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and 35 strikeouts in 38.1 innings pitched. How is this guy only 42% owned in Y! leagues? He should be universally owned at this point, make the add folks. Ventura also has a pair of friendly matchups this week and should be started with supreme confidence. The rookie flamethrower appears to be the real deal. Hudson has been a revelation for the San Francisco Giants this season and his 4-1 record to go along with 2.17 ERA, 0.74 WHIP, and insane 31:2 K/BB ratio over 45.2 IP means he should be in all lineups until further notice. The veteran is coaxing ground balls at a 57.9% clip. Ho hum. Zimmermann is on a run of four straight quality starts, but his matchups against the Dodgers and Athletics this week may present some challenges. With that being said, he is too talented to sit considering he has two starts this week. His current strikeout percentage (24.8%) would be a career-high.
Although Bailey still has a ghastly 5.50 ERA, he had his best start of the season in his last start (8 IP, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K). His velocity is fine and so is his 33:9 K/BB ratio. He does need to cut down on the seven homers he has allowed through 34.1 IP. Opponents are hitting .329 off Bailey and batters BABIP is an astounding .385. Look for his numbers to drop soon. The Red Sox and Rockies certainly aren’t the easiest of matchups for Homer though. Miller is certainly living dangerously at the moment as evidenced by his 26:21 K/BB ratio and his 1.46 WHIP. He has historically done poorly against the Pittsburgh Pirates and his seven home runs allowed makes you nervous when facing the Atlanta Braves homer happy lineup. Still, he is a talented pitcher who should figure it out sooner rather than later under the Cardinals tutelage. Niese has been a stabilizing presence in the New York Mets rotation and owners shouldn’t hesitate to start him for the upcoming week. Niese has only allowed one earned run in each of his last three starts and has rattled off five quality starts in a row.
12-Team and Deeper League Starts
- Chris Archer – Tue vs. BAL, Sun vs. CLE
- Chris Tillman – Tue at TB, Sun vs. HOU
- Aaron Harang – Mon vs. STL, Sun vs. CHC
- Martin Perez – Mon at COL, Sat vs. BOS
- Jose Quintana – Mon at CHC, Sat vs. ARI
- Henderson Alvarez – Tue vs. NYM, Sun at SD
Archer has gotten shelled his last two starts but the youngster should be given some leash. His BABIP (.330) and LOB% (62.2) are some major outliers at the moment. He has only given up one homer and many of his rates are very similar to his rates from last season. Additionally, Archer is inducing more ground balls and surrendering fewer fly balls than last year and his FIP is 2.84. To put it simply, I’m not worried about Archer’s sluggish start too much. Harang got rocked for 9 runs against the Marlins last time out and he might not have much more success against the Cardinals. One thing working in Harang’s favor is the Cardinals have had trouble scoring all season and the Cubs are the same way. Don’t expect any more near no-hitters but he can still deliver some serviceable starts. Just don’t be surprised if his magical start comes to a screeching halt very soon. Quintana has raised his strikeout rate while slightly lowering his walk rate, two things that both bode well for success as pitcher. Being able to manage a 4.00 ERA while his BABIP (.333) is so high is impressive in itself. He struck out 10 in his last start against the Tigers without giving up a long ball. Giving up round trippers has been a problem for him, but if he can improve on keeping balls in the yard, he will be a quality mixed-league option all year long.
Deep Mixed League Starters
- Mark Buehrle – Tue at PHI, Sun vs. LAA
- Zach McAllister – Mon vs. MIN, Sat at TB
- Juan Nicasio – Tue vs. TEX, Sun at CIN
- Roenis Elias – Tue at OAK, Sun vs. KC
Buerhle has been a pleasant surprise for anyone who plucked him off the waiver wire this year as he has raced out to a 5-1 record and 2.25 ERA. What’s most surprising is he has only given up one home run so far, which tends to be his biggest bugaboo. He has surrendered 20 or more homers in 13 of his 14 MLB seasons as a pitcher. While he will regress in this area, all owners can do is enjoy the ride while it lasts. He is giving up line drives at a career-worst rate of 28.9%, while also forcing ground balls at a career-low rate of 40.6% so the ride may not last long. McAllister has increased his strikeout percentage from 17.4% in 2013 to 20% in 2014. Many of his rates compared to last season are incredibly similar so his current performance is about what owners can expect out of him all year. Elias has pitched well all year for the Seattle Mariners and in his last start Elias made it through seven innings pitched for the first time all year. Elias has walked multiple batters in five of six starts but he also has 31 punch outs in 35 IP. One thing he does need to improve on is his walk percentage (11.1%).
- Kyle Kendrick – Mon vs. TOR, Sat at NYM
- Jeremy Guthrie – Tue at SD, Sun at SEA
- David Phelps – Mon at LAA, Sun at MIL
- Robbie Ray – Tue vs. HOU, Sun vs. MIN
- Jordan Lyles – Mon vs. TEX, Sat at CIN
We all known that Kendrick is not a pitcher you want to be relying upon in mixed leagues, but in NL-only leagues he can be used. A 3.52 ERA and 1.40 WHIP certainly aren’t terrible and he has only given up more than three earned runs in a start once out of his five starts. Guthrie is an AL-only option this week as he has two nice matchups against the weak offenses of the Padres and Mariners. Phelps is the hardest person to trust on this list due to the fact that he will be facing the juggernaut offense of the Angels and the team with the best record in MLB, the Brewers. Ray will be filling in for Anibal Sanchez and seems to have picked the right week to make his MLB debut. He should make for a fine AL-only option considering his opponents, specifically in his first start against the Astros. At Triple-A Toledo, Ray had a 1.59 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. Lyles has a lousy 19:9 K/BB ratio in 36.2 IP but he’s also 3-0 with a 2.70 ERA.
Pitchers to Avoid
- Mike Bolsinger – Mon at MIL, Sun at CWS
- Eric Stults – Mon vs. KC, Sat vs. MIA
- Sam Deduno – Tue at CLE, Sun at DET
- Edwin Jackson – Tue vs. CWS, Sun at ATL
- J.A. Happ – Mon at PHI, Sat vs. LAA
- Robbie Erlin – Tue vs. KC, Sun vs. MIA
- Robbie Ross – Tue at COL, Sun vs. BOS
- Chris Young – Mon at OAK, Sat vs. KC
- Kyle Gibson – Mon at CLE, Sat at DET
- Jarred Cosart – Mon at DET, Sat at BAL
- Brett Oberholtzer – Tue at DET, Sun at BAL
- Hector Noesi – Tue at CHC, Sun vs. ARI
Top Streaming Options
The pitchers that will be listed after this are all available in at least 50 percent of Y! leagues. The numbers to the side indicate the players current ownership percentage.
Travis Wood (50%) – Wednesday at White Sox – It’s a travesty that Wood is only owned in 50 percent of leagues. Having a 3.35 ERA and 37:7 K/BB ratio should be drawing some eyeballs. He has increased his strikeout percentage from 17.5% in 2013 to 22.7% in 2014. On the flip side, his walk percentage has decreased from 8.0% to 4.3% in the last two seasons. Additionally, his ground ball rate is up almost seven percent from last season and his fly ball rate is down 5.4 percent. This is especially useful since he pitches half his games at Wrigley Field, which tends to be a home run haven in the summer. Make the add while you can!
Collin McHugh (39%) – Friday at Baltimore – McHugh has been outstanding in his two starts for the Astros this year as he has only given up one earned run over 15.1 IP. What’s especially encouraging is that he has 19 strikeouts in his two starts. He has yet to give up a home run and that’s a good sign heading into his matchup with the Orioles at Camden Yards, a homer friendly venue. Obviously you have to start him considering how good he’s been. Just be realistic with expectations.
Ubaldo Jimenez (38%) – Thursday at Tampa Bay – Jimenez has some ugly overall numbers for the season, but the last time out against the Twins he had his best start of the season (7.1 IP, 0 ER, 1 BB, 10 K). The Rays have been struggling on offense this season and this makes for a good opportunity to use him as a spot starter.
Dillon Gee (37%) – Saturday vs. Philadelphia – Over his last three starts, Gee has lowered his ERA from 5.03 to 2.88. During that time, he has only given up two earned runs over 21 IP. Opponents are only hitting .200 against him so far this year too. He has a good matchup against the Phillies, an offense that isn’t exactly a powerhouse.
Mike Leake (32%) – Wednesday at Boston – Leake has lowered his walk rate and it’s helped him to improve his WHIP to its current 1.04 mark. Although the Red Sox aren’t performing up to World Series champions standards so far, the assignment is still tough since the Red Sox field a star-studded lineup. With that being said, Leake still has the talent to perform well here.
Drew Smyly (30%) – Thursday vs. Houston – Smyly has performed quite well in his two starts for the Tigers this year (13 IP, 2 ER, 13 K) and he’ll look to continue that trend against the punchless Astros offense. Opponents have only hit .211 against him this year.
Drew Hutchison (18%) – Tuesday at Philadelphia – It’s truly mind-boggling that Hutchison is available in 82% of Y! leagues. What is there not to like about the 23-year-old hurler? Hutch has a 3.82 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, and a solid 38:10 K/BB ratio. He has faced all AL teams up to this point, so he might find the sledding a little easier against a DH-less NL team. Fantasy owners can at least expect a solid amount of strikeouts, his season low is four while he has reached nine strikeouts twice. His 10.36 K/9 rate is ninth best in MLB.
Tom Koehler (9%) – Thursday at San Diego – Koehler has already defeated the Padres earlier this year and he’ll look for a repeat performance in San Diego. His 24:16 K/BB ratio is certainly uninspiring but he’s given up two earned runs or less in five of his six starts. Opponents are only hitting .195 against him and it shows in his line drive rate (17%). Start him with confidence.
Thanks to FanGraphs and Yahoo for the statistical information. Be sure to comment below if you have any questions or remarks about anything discussed in the article. You can follow me on Twitter @MattMoczy and I’m more than willing to answer any questions you may have.