2015 Fantasy BaseballFantasy Baseball

2015 Fantasy Baseball: Week 7 Two-Start Pitchers

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.

Elite

Sonny Gray | Oakland Athletics

Opponents: Roberto Hernandez (HOU), Nathan Karns (TB)

Give me all the Gray possible this week! The Athletics aren’t a very good team, but Gray for his part has been outstanding. The 25-year-old get Houstons on Tuesday and Tampa Bay on Sunday, who are ranked second and third, respectively, in strikeouts per game. That means we may see double-digit strikeouts in both game. He may not win both games, but he will dominate both games, so start him with confidence and hope the A’s can provide their star pitcher with some run support.

Johnny Cueto | Cincinnati Reds

Opponents: Yordano Ventura (KC), Trevor Bauer (CLE)

Cueto at this point is a must-start every week. The righty will get the Royals on Tuesday—a team that despite slowing down in recent weeks continues to lead the league in team batting—and the Indians on Sunday in Cleveland, who are currently 17th in team batting average at .253. The Reds, like the Athletics, are a below average hitting team, so Cueto will need to pitch a gem to put himself in position to pick up a win. It not the best situation for the 29-year-old, but I like his chances nonetheless. Roll with him and enjoy the ride.

Michael Wacha | St. Louis Cardinals

Opponents: Jonathan Niese (NYM), Edinson Volquez (KC)

Wacha has been terrific to start the season, and he’s going to have the chance to get even better. The Cardinals are the best team in the Majors at 24-12, and Wacha has done his part, sporting a nice 5-0 record with a 2.06 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP. The former Texas A&M pitcher will get the below-average hitting Mets on Tuesday and the Royals on Sunday. As I mentioned earlier, the Royals aren’t the same power hitting team they were at the beginning of the season, and with Edinson Volquez on the hill, the sixth best hitting team in the league could rough him up for a few runs. I expect Wacha to pick up two easy wins by next Sunday and continue to be a dominant force in the N.L Central.

Other Must Start Pitchers: Anibal Sanchez, James Shields

Mediocre

Matt Harvey | New York Mets

Opponents: John Lackey (STL), Gerrit Cole (PIT)

Fantasy owners should never bench Harvey, ever. The 26-year-old has been outstanding to start the season, and I expect him to be just as good this week. Unfortunately for the righty, he gets the best team in baseball in the St. Louis Cardinals, and he has to face Gerrit Cole and the Pirates in his second start. If the Mets were a better team, I wouldn’t worry too much, but they’re hitting .233 as a team and scoring 3.6 R/GM. If Harvey can continue to pitch as he’s done so far this season and hope his team can put up some runs, he should pick up two wins this week, but I’m not holding my breath on that. Regardless of his team, Harvey should be started despite his tough matchup.

Corey Kluber | Cleveland Indians

Opponents: Chris Sale (CWS), Anthony DeSclafani (CIN)

Many fantasy owners were starting to question if Kluber was going to be a bust this season (myself included), but then he reminded the world of just how good he can be when he’s on his game. So which Kluber will we see this week? The 29-year-old will get the White Sox on Monday—who are 29th in the league in runs scored this season (121)—and the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday—who got blown out by the Ryan Vogelsong and the Giants yesterday night. Chris Sale has been shaky at times this season, and if the Indians can get to him early and provide their pitcher with some run support, then Kluber won’t need to be as dominant as he was last outing (but it would be nice if he could strike out 18 again). I’m hesitant about him, but I’ll give him another week to prove me right/wrong.

John Lackey | St. Louis Cardinals

Opponents: Matt Harvey (NYM), Danny Duffy (KC)

When you’re a pitcher for the best team in the majors, the odds of you winning games are very good. Lackey has been decent to start the year—posting a 2-2 record, a 3.22 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP. Lackey will have to face Harvey in his first matchup of the week, and with the Mets not being a very good hitting team, he will need his offense to crack “the Dark Knight” and get him some run support. As for the Royals, well you know by now they haven’t been so good in the last few weeks, and Danny Duffy was absolutely terrible his last time out—lasting only 3.2 innings, giving up six runs on five hits while walking a season-high six. The veteran right-hander is an above-average play in mixed leagues this week.

Other Pitchers to Consider: Drew Hutchinson, C.J Wilson, Dan Haren, Kyle Lobstein, Trevor Bauer, Jason Hammel, Wade Miley

Bench

Cole Hamels | Philadelphia Phillies

Opponents: Jordan Lyles (COL), Max Scherzer (WSH)

Hamels is a great pitcher, and it breaks my heart to have to bench him, but this week could very well be a disaster for him. The southpaw has been as good this season—sporting a 3.53 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP—but the veteran is in Colorado on Monday and in Washington on Saturday. The Phillies can barely score runs—ranked last in runs (107), 26th in team batting average (.232), and last in OPS (.622). Even if Hamels pitches a beauty of a game, his team will not be able to muster any kind of offense for him, let alone make contact against a strikeout machine like Scherzer. The hope is maybe Hamels will get traded during the season to a contender, so fantasy owners will need to sit tight and just hope for the best.

Chris Sale | Chicago White Sox

Opponents: Corey Kluber (CLE), Trevor May (MIN)

Despite having a 3-1 record this season, Sale has a 5.09 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP. His strikeouts per game are down from 8/GS in 2014 to 6.1/GS after six starts. He looks nothing like the starter who went 12-4 last season, and for fantasy owners who paid a premium to draft him, he’s been a disappointment to this point. The White Sox are averaging only 3.7 R/GP, and with Sale’s inflated ERA, it may be time to sit him until he finds his game.

Aaron Sanchez | Toronto Blue Jays

Opponents: C. J Wilson (LAA), James Paxton (SEA)

At this point, it doesn’t matter whom Sanchez’s faces on a week-to-week basis. The hard-throwing righty has a 4.26 ERA, a 1.61 WHIP and a 29:25 K:BB ratio. A pitcher who is giving away that many free passes is bound to get into trouble, and the risk right now is too high to be using Sanchez on a weekly basis. There’s no question that the kid has skill, but he’s not a lock to stay in the rotation, and he may need a stint in Triple-A Buffalo to work on his control. Sit Sanchez and look for other options on the waiver wire.

Other Pitchers to Avoid: Rubby De La Rosa, Mike Fiers, Aaron Harang, Chris Tillman, Taijuan Walker, Jose Quintana, Jimmy Nelson, Chad Bettis

Stats and references provided by MLB.com and ESPN.com

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