2017 Fantasy Baseball, Week 23 Preview
Most of you in head-to-head leagues will be in the postseason, hopefully in your playoffs. Some of you will be chasing categories and some consolidating stats in roto leagues. Whatever your situation, I wish you good luck.
Luck is something which plays a huge part in Fantasy, whether you like it or not, admit it or not. Sports teams will always have moments of fortune, whether good or bad and that relays on to your fantasy teams.
Never was this more prevalent than in my main free league last weekend. I’m not going to bore everyone with my team stuff, but this proves the luck point!
I was 8th, top four goes into the playoffs. Standard stuff. I basically needed to win my last week’s matchup by 9-1-0 minimum and hope the team’s in 5th, 6th and 7th all struggle. Going into Sunday, I was 9-0-1 up and all the teams above were tying or losing. As things stood, I was 4th.
On the Saturday, I missed Jeff Samardjiza’s start after he was called up at short notice to replace the unwell Chris Stratton. On my bench, he tossed 7 innings, struck out 9, gave up one earned run with 2 hits and 2 walks. Sterling stuff. On my bench.
That forced me to stream someone on Sunday to make up the K’s I was now lacking. Out of a grim pool of available starters, I plumped for Mike Fiers promptly gave up 7 earned runs over 4 innings with just a solitary strikeout.
My opponent had Lucas Giolito and Luis Severino going on Sunday. Both threw great games and helped tip my opponents ERA, WHIP and wins back so the score was 7-2-1. Enough to knock me back into 5th and out of the playoffs. All because Samardjiza started at short notice without me realising in time.
Except my opponent had Giolito and Severino on his bench. Why? Well he had some issues and as a result, his lineup didn’t update. I ended up winning 9-0-1 and made the playoffs.
Needless to say, the team who ended up in 5th wasn’t best pleased. But it goes to show how big luck can play in Fantasy. Even with all the best planning in the world, so much can happen which will impact your end results.
In the last week, Chris Archer had a plumb start against the poor Chicago White Sox. He gave up two homers and another hit before leaving due to arm issues without recording an out. You can’t legislate for that.
Jimmy Nelson was pitching well against the Cubs, laced a hit off the wall in 5th, slide into 1st base on a pick-off attempt and injured his shoulder so much he’s now out for the season. Again, you just can’t plan for that.
I own Archer and Nelson in the aforementioned league so in the space of a week, my luck has gone 540o. But that’s what makes this game so fun. I’ve suffered heartache from bad luck in the past and succeeded from good fortune too. I enjoy the good times and don’t dwell on the bad times.
If you miss out on glory in the next week or two because of a bad break, that’s life. If you benefit from the rub of the green, enjoy it. We’ll try to help push you over the edge and into glory without the need of luck again with the week 23 preview.
So, without further ado, let’s dive into week 23.
Two Start Stars
First of five for you this week is the Minnesota Twins’ Kyle Gibson. Week 23 sees Gibson have two home games against the San Diego Padres then the Toronto Blue Jays.
Gibson has been excellent over his last four starts, all of them being quality starts. Combine them and he’s pitched 26.2 innings, giving up just 5 earned runs (1.69 ERA over the 4 starts). He’s also managed to strikeout 20 hitters despite drawing a blank there in his last start.
The last time he gave up more than 3 earned runs was July 16th (9 starts ago) and the last time he walked more than two hitters was July 22nd (8 starts ago). He does give up his fair share of hits as during the run of eight starts with 3 or fewer earned runs allowed, he has allowed 5 or more hits.
But for a pitcher owned in fewer than 25% of leagues on Yahoo and ESPN, you can’t ask for much more. The Twins are also putting enough runs on the board to help Gibson tally some wins.
If you believe in this sort of thing too, Gibson has a career ERA of 4.34 in September and October starts, a full 1.2 runs fewer than his August numbers (just in case his August 3.90 ERA seemed a fluke he gets better during Autumn).
Gibson draws a great first start of the week with the Padres heading to town. As a team, the Padres have averaged 4.5 runs a game in September with a team batting average of .253 so not terrible. But they have struck out 95 times in those games, more than any other MLB team.
Nothing there should scare you off starting Gibson. What of the Blue Jays? Well, their slim chances of making the postseason have ended after a 4-5 start to the month. In that run, they’ve scored less than all but 4 MLB teams (two of who have played one fewer game).
The Blue Jays are batting .227 as a team in September, combining for 82 K’s (7th most) and 29 walks (14th fewest) so nothing in Gibson’s two starts this week should prevent him from helping your team.
He’s worth rostering the rest of the season too with the Twins surging to a wildcard spot and another start scheduled for the Tigers before the end of the season. Gibson could be an ideal replacement if you lost Nelson.
Gibson is a bit of a lock for me this week, the closest other pitcher I’d consider a lock is the Chicago White Sox’s Reynaldo Lopez who gets two road starts against the Kansas City Royals and the Detroit Tigers.
Lopez made his Major League debut for the White Sox against the Royals and yielded 2 earned runs over 6 innings. His last two starts have gone for 1 and 3 earned runs, both were also six innings. It’s only his 6 run / 4.1 innings start in his second Major League game which proves bothersome.
It’s the smallest of small samples, but that one bad start 3 was his only road start so far. Not something to raise a red flag about but this following week will tell us if it could be worth keeping an eye on.
But the two road starts he have couldn’t be much kinder. In September, the Tigers and Royals rank 30th and 28th for walks, with the Royals averaging 5 runs a game and the Tigers 4.
Lopez has a respectable 1.34 WHIP so far with 21 K’s. The ratios are all likely to be pretty much the same after his 5th and 6th Major League starts. It’s difficult to see him get positive decisions whilst the White Sox are so bad offensively but neither opposition should put you off starting Lopez in week 23.
Next in line is the Milwaukee Brewers’ Brandon Woodruff, a possible direct replacement for Jimmy Nelson. Woodruff gets a home start against the Pittsburgh Pirates before a trip to the Miami Marlins.
Woodruff has compiled a 1.52 ERA and 1.10 WHIP over his four starts in the Majors. One of the Brewers top 5 prospects, he’s made moderate success in the minors this year with a 4.30 ERA at Triple-A and 70 K’s in his 75 innings.
Woodruff is mainly a fastball pitcher with a good slider and decent changeup. But his willingness to throw the secondary pitches is going to keep him a viable starter at least. It might take a bit longer for teams to adapt to him but that might be too late to matter this year.
His opponents in week 23 should help his stock climb even more. The Pirates and Marlins have both scored just 33 runs in September, tied for fifth worst in baseball. The Marlins also have the 6th highest strikeouts against them this month.
Take out Giancarlo Stanton and there’s no fear in either of these two games for Woodruff so be confident starting him in week 23.
Fourth up is the Cincinnati Reds’ former top prospect Robert Stephenson who gets a road start against the St. Louis Cardinals before returning home to face the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Stephenson’s stock has fallen in the last couple of years, especially after a poor minor league season in 2016 was rounded off by eight starts for the Reds which end with a 6.08 ERA.
He started 2017 in the minor and looked good (a 3.79 ERA over 7 starts and one relief appearance). He was called up by the Reds and worked mainly out of the bullpen but has had a very nice August and September in the rotation.
He’s pitched 30.1 innings since the calendars ticked on to August, giving up just 7 earned runs. The last three starts pretty much encapsulate what Stephenson is about and what to expect.
17.2 innings. 25 strikeouts. 12 walks. 16 hits.
He’s been pitching himself into trouble but has the stuff to get out of it. That could go one of two ways this week. Either he gets in trouble and can’t dig himself out of the hole or he keeps the bases relatively clear.
If you need K’s but can take the risk of damaging your ERA and WHIP, Stephenson could be your best bet for week 23.
Last on the list this week is an even bigger dart throw; the Miami Marlins’ Dillon Peters. Peters will face the Philadelphia Phillies away before a home start against the Milwaukee Brewers.
At the start of the year, I was very much intrigued and enamoured by Antonio Senzatela. He’d had outstanding numbers in the minors despite on pitching 13 innings in double-A and missing Triple-A altogether.
Peters is very similar. The Marlins skipped him over Triple-A after the posted a 1.57 ERA (63 innings) across three levels in the minors this year. He’s already dominated the Phillies in his only MLB debut before a decent start against the Washington Nationals.
He’s not been much of a strikeout pitcher and like Senzatela, sooner or later teams will start to adapt and things will catch up to him. But the Phillies are unlikely to be capable to doing it so if he can follow that up with any sort of success against the Brewers, Peters may just have a very nice finish to the season.
So that’s it for 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.