2015 Fantasy Baseball: Week 6 Two-Start Pitchers
Fantasy leagues are underway and owners are gearing up for a long summer of ups and downs. A fantasy owner’s best friend is the waiver wire—where finding value can make the difference between a great week and a very disappointing week. Most pitchers see the mound once a week, but if you want to maximize the number of starts per week, it’s important to look for pitchers pitching twice and exploit favorable matchups if they exist. With that, let’s take a look at some pitchers you should be starting this week and some you should just leave on your bench.
Note: Stephen Strasburg is questionable to start Tuesday. He completed a successful bullpen session Saturday, so fantasy owners will want to monitor his status Monday and make a decision once more information is available.
Max Scherzer | Washington Nationals
Last week was a disaster for my must-start pitcher of the week (thanks Kluber!), but that won’t happen this week. I love everything about Scherzer this week, and I expect him to dominate both the Diamondbacks and the Padres. His first start of the week will come against the Diamondbacks—who are hitting .267 as a team (6th). Arizona is ranked 23rd in the league in strikeouts, and Scherzer is averaging 8.1 K/GP and is coming off back-to-back games of ten strikeouts. Good luck Arizona.
His second start will come Sunday against the Padres—a team hitting .245 after 31 games. San Diego likes to strikeout—averaging 7.6 K/GP, but they can score runs—averaging 4.7 R/GP. Scherzer has a 2.11 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP so far this season, and with Petco not being very friendly to hitters, the 30-year-old should be able to work his way around the Padres lineup and come out with a win. Roll him out there with confidence and enjoy the week.
Gerrit Cole | Pittsburgh Pirates
It’s that time again to pick on the Phillies and their inability to score runs on a regular basis. Philly has only managed to score 87 runs this season (2.8 R/GP), and despite the Pittsburgh offense not being very good, I expect their bats to show up against a very average Jerome Williams. Cole has not given up more than three runs in a game, and the Phillies as a team are hitting a dismal .227 so far this season (28th in the league). The question now becomes this: will his team provide him with enough run support to pick up the win.
His second start comes against Lester and the Cubs—who have not been very good of late. The Cubs love to strikeout, more than any team in the league. Joe Maddon’s team has struck out 288 times so far this season (9.9 K/GP), and the last time Cole was in town, the 24-year-old went six strong innings, giving up one unearned run on three hits while striking out eight. The Pirates cruised to an 8-1 win that game, and I expect much of the same again Sunday when Cole takes the mound. All signs point to a great week for Cole.
Jacob DeGrom | New York Mets
Opponents: John Lester (CHC), Matt Garza (MIL)
DeGrom was very good in his last start, and I expect him to continue to dominate hitters this week against two below-average hitting teams.
We already talked about the Cubs, so I’ll skip right to the Brewers, who have played better these last few games but still remain a below-average team in many offensive categories. The Brewers are third in the league in strikeouts (255), and are hitting .229 as a team (27th). The Mets are not a great hitting team either, but Matt Garza has a 4.58 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP, so the Mets will find a way to score some runs for their star pitcher. DeGrom is an elite option this week, and I expect him to be dominant in both his starts.
Chris Archer | Tampa Bay Rays
The 26-year-old has struggled a bit his last two outings—giving up a combined nine runs on ten hits with eight walks. His first matchup is against the Yankess, who come into today ranked 18th in team batting average (.246). Eovaldi has been pretty decent to start the season and the Rays are not a great hitting team (.237, 21st), but Archer does have the stuff to get batters out. If he can locate his pitchers like he did earlier in the year, he should be able to pick up his fourth win of the season.
His second start will come Sunday against the Twins in Minnesota. Paul Molitor’s team has been pretty good to start the year and have been hitting the ball well of late. They come into Sunday hitting .266 as a team (8th overall), and have scored the third most runs up till now (149, 4.8/GP). The Clayton, NC native will have his hands full with a very good lineup, and the Rays will have a chance to get their pitcher some run support with Kyle Gibson taking the hill. It’s going to be a tough week for the righty, but I’m confidant Archer will pitch well and pick up at least one win this week.
Carlos Carrasco | Cleveland Indians
Carrasco has managed to pick up four wins this season, but his 4.71 ERA and 1.29 WHIP are still a concern for fantasy owners. The Venezuela native will get the red hot Cardinals in his first matchup, and that could be a disaster. St. Louis is third in the league in team batting average (.274), third in hits (268), and eighth in runs (139). Carrasco’s counter partner will be Lance Lynn who has two modes: really good or really bad. If the righty can keep the game close, than he has a chance of picking up his fifth win of the season, but I’m not completely sold on that outcome just yet.
His second start however is much more favorable as the Indians head to Texas to take on the Rangers. Texas has the worst team batting average of any team in baseball (.223) and they strikeout just over eight times a game (6th in the league). There’s a lot of risk going with the righty this week, but the matchup here is too nice to pass up, so I’ll be starting him regardless of what his record and ERA say.
Danny Duffy | Kanas City Royals
Duffy is my “sleeper” of the week if you want to call it that. The 26-year-old will get the Rangers in his first start, and as I just mentioned, they aren’t good. The Royals have a team batting average of .295 (tops in the league) and should be able to hit Colby Lewis often and hard.
His second game comes at home against C.C. Sabathia and the Yankees. Sabathia is 0-5 this season, with a 5.45 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP. The future Hall of Famer hasn’t been able to find his game, and this matchup has the makings of a very shout outing for Sabathia, making it easy for the righty to pick up a W. Duffy doesn’t strike out a ton of hitters (3.8K/GP), so the Yankees will be able to make a lot of contact with Duffy’s pitches; keeping the ball down in the zone and away will be the key in this game. If you need to stream a pitcher this week, Duffy is definitely your best option.
Jon Lester | Chicago Cubs
Opponents: Jacob deGrom (NYM), Gerrit Cole (PIT)
This one might come back to bite me in the end, but everything about Lester this week is bad news. The lefty has been average to start the season—sporting a 4.04 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP—not to mention he gets both DeGrom and Cole at Wrigly. The Cubs have committed 25 errors so far this season, and like I said earlier, they are just striking out way too much. Both the Mets and Pirates aren’t great hitting teams, but I don’t see Chicago being able to provide Lester with enough run support to help him win games this week. It’s not going to be easy to bench him, but if you have other options, now would be the time to explore them.
Marco Estrada | Toronto Blue Jays
Estrada joined the rotation this week in place of Daniel Norris, who was sent back down to Triple-A Buffalo to work on his craft. Estrada’s first start did not go very well—lasting only 4.2 innings, giving up five runs (four earned) on eight hits while striking out three. Both Baltimore and Houston are in the top five in homeruns this season, and Estrada gave up a whopping 29 homeruns last year in 150 innings. All this combined makes for a very risky play, and fantasy owners can surely find better options on the waiver wire instead of Estrada. Bench him until he figures out his long ball problem.
C.C Sabathia | New York Yankees
Sabathia has gone from bad, to worse, to basically droppable in most formats. The 34-year-old has yet to figure out how to get hitters out without his fastball velocity, and at this point, it doesn’t look like he ever will. The southpaw has given up at least seven hits in all of his starts and has only gone more than six innings twice this season. It’s hard to trust the 2007 Cy Young winner at this point, and I’m even willing to part ways with him for better options on the waiver wire. For fantasy owners who drafted Sabathia, bench him and hope he can find his game before the end of the season.