2017 Fantasy BaseballFantasy Baseball

2017 Fantasy Baseball, Week 20 Preview

We’re closing in on the end of the regular season in Fantasy and Reality. Those in Head-to-Head leagues will likely only have one or two regular seasons week left to make the playoffs. Trade deadlines have now passed for most of us, so bumping up stats you need becomes a little more difficult.

The time for Hail Mary’s is now for some of you and consolidation is the key for others. But there are always going to be good options for pitching on waivers and we’ll continue to find the best Two Start Stars until your team’s dying breath.

So, without further ado, let’s dive into week 20.

Two Start Stars

As seems to be the trend in recent weeks, the first Two Start Star was someone viewed highly as a 2017 potential star. But a pre-season injury curtailed those hopes and saw him miss the first three months of the season. If you haven’t worked it out yet, it’s the Chicago White Sox’s Carlos Rodon.

Rodon draws the Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers at home in week 20 as the divisional rivalries increase during the closing weeks of the season. Neither of these games will likely have playoff implications, but that doesn’t mean they should be disregarded.

Rodon made his season debut on June 28th, pitching five shutout innings against the New York Yankees. Things were looking up for the talented leftie. He then stuttered through July, seeing his ERA balloon to 6.29 after his next four starts.

But his last four starts have been excellent; 29.2 innings for just seven runs while striking out 28. He’s given up a homer in each of those four starts and walked a total of six in that span. Giving free passes has been Rodon’s major concern and although four came in his last start, he didn’t walk a single batter in the previous two.

Things have been trending upwards for Rodon, although it’s difficult to see him picking up a win given how bad the White Sox offense and bullpen are. The Twins will offer more strikeouts and the Tigers fewer runs, but I expect Rodon’s ERA to drop below the 4.00 it currently sits at, while his strikeout rate should still be comfortably over 9 K/9 by week’s end.

While Rodon makes it on the list due to his talent more than the opponents he’s facing, it’s pretty much the opposite for our next pitcher; Dan Straily of the Miami Marlins.

Straily gets two prime starts, one the road against the Philadelphia Phillies before a home start against the San Diego Padres. His recent form has been poor, with his ERA rising from 3.31 to 3.80 since July 07th.

In those seven starts, he’s gone 0-4 with three no-decisions whilst failing to get through six innings all but once. Hardly a ringing endorsement. But his May and June sub 3.20 ERA still lingers in the memory and even through his struggles, Straily boasts a solid 1.18 WHIP on the year.

So, what of his opponents? Well the Phillies and Padres are the only MLB teams yet to score 500 runs this year. And August hasn’t been any better as they rank 29th and 25th respectively this month alone. They both rank in the bottom six for team batting average this month too.

Although neither have been striking out a ton this month, Straily’s 7.93 K/9 rate should help present a handful of K’s in each start and Straily could easily pick up a couple of wins while lower that ERA back down towards his early season mark.

Third up is the Colorado Rockies’ Jon Gray, who thankfully gets two road starts in week 20. First up is the Kansas City Royals followed by the Atlanta Braves. That’s what you would think, but Gray has a much better home ERA than on the road this year.

At home, Gray’s five starts sport a 3.00 ERA while on the road it’s 6.34 from seven starts. Since Gray’s return from the disabled list on June 30th, Gray has pitched well despite his ERA being 4.74. The inflated number is due to his 2 inning / 8 earned run fiasco against the New York Mets.

That start alone saw his ERA spike at 6.23, which has dropped on each of his subsequent six starts. His strikeout numbers continue to be good with an 8.62 K/9, albeit a bit down on his career number.

Gray’s last start came against the Braves, with six innings and two earned runs allowed whilst striking out six. That’s been pretty much where Gray is right now and I’d expect at least that sort out stat line against the Royals and Braves.

No team has been struck out fewer times in August than the Braves, while the Royals rank 10th in that regard. But while the Braves don’t strikeout much, they don’t score much and are only 24th in runs scored this month.

The Royals continue to be good, without putting up huge offensive numbers so providing Gray continues his recent success, week 20 should be another very good one for the Rockies’ star.

Worthy hitter pick-ups

Roster expansion is little over a week away and until then, it’s unlikely many difference makers will appear in the Majors. But there is one already in the Bigs who should be a significant contributor in week 20.

The Texas Rangers finally placed Carlos Gomez on the 10-day DL, retroactive to August 16th due to a minor shoulder issue. Since then, Delino DeShields Jr has seen regular playing time in the Rangers’ outfield and has hit .393 (11 for 28) with 6 runs and 2 RBIs.

But it’s the steals he will provide most use for, having got 3 in that span to take his season’s tally to 22 despite being a fourth outfielder most of the season. That ranks DeShields in the top 10 for stolen bases, having had by far the fewest plate appearances than anyone with more than his 22.

The Rangers have a four-game road trip to the Los Angeles Angels before heading to Oakland to face the Athletics three times. Gomez is eligible to return on Saturday so DeShields should get at least five starts and the way he’s been hitting, that could turn into 6 or 7 easily.

DeShields has also been batting lead-off, hence the good number of runs he’s scored recently. And whilst the Angels rank 2nd in the Majors for throwing out runners trying to steal, the Athletics have allowed more stolen bases than every team outside of Chicago.

DeShields has 4 steals from 5 attempts against the Angels and Athletics this year in 11 games (nine starts). It wouldn’t be unreasonable to hope for DeShields to double that number against these two teams this week.

Remember to follow The Fantasy Fix on Twitter and you can reach out to me with any questions you have on there too. Until next week, happy fantasying.

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