2017 Fantasy Baseball, Week 6 Preview
So we head now into week 6. And witty intros about how time is flying by are becoming more and more difficult to do. It’s a bit like finding a new and amusing joke about Star Wars on May 04th. So rather than prolong the painful inevitability of failing to find sufficient wit, we’ll just head straight into week 6.
As always, our Two Start Stars are here which will fire you to week 6 glory with the added bonus of getting two honourable mentions this week. My gut call is also here, although after being stood up last week, he’s a little reluctant to help in week 6. Maybe a few beers will change his mind.
From next week, we’ll also be including the game scores of all previous Two Start Stars to give you a sound indication of how things have gone for you if you’ve followed this article since the start of the season. And I see no good reason why you wouldn’t have.
So without further ado, let’s crack on shall we?
Two Start Stars
We’ll continue to monitor the previous Two Start Stars with a quick recap on previous week’s ranks.
Week 2 B+
Week 3 B+
Week 4 B
Honorable Mention – Sonny Gray C
So week 5 wasn’t exactly the best week (unless they all have stellar second starts). We’ve seen regression. And week 6 is not as full as available possibilities as previous weeks.
Normally, I’d look at the Kansas City Royals’ schedule and see who they face, knowing this will give me at least one name. Unfortunately, the Royals start the week on the road at Tampa Bay who then head to Boston, nullifying the first start for their two start pitchers.
Then later in the week, the Baltimore Orioles head to Kansas City. Unfortunately, the Orioles have a split 4-game interleague series against the Washington Nationals. So that’s one to avoid.
But the safety net is the San Diego Padres and they lead us to our first Two Start Star; AJ Griffin.
Griffin returned from the DL on Thursday and led the Texas Rangers to a much needed win over the Houston Astros with a 5 inning, 1 earned run start whilst striking out 7. With Cole Hamels out for at least 6 more weeks, someone needs to step up in the Rangers rotation. And so far, AJ Griffin looks the best bet to do so.
Before his short DL stint, Griffin had thrown two quality starts after a disappointing season debut. He’s so far struck out 23 batters over 20.1 innings, with a sub 1 WHIP and mid 3’s ERA.
Griffin has already faced the Athletics twice this year, that aforementioned poor season debut and a 6 inning shutout before heading to the DL.
The Padres and Athletics are two of the most pitcher friendly matchups around. The Padres rank 23rd in runs scored and 27th in strikeouts, whilst the Athletics rank 28th in runs and 24th in K’s.
So as far as two start weeks go, this is about as good as you’ll get. If like me, you’ve been riding the Cole Hamels express, Griffin should make up for your loss. The Rangers’ offense has been good, not great, so far and should be able to offer up enough runs to keep Griffin in with a shout of winning both games.
Given both team’s struggles to score runs and their propensity to strikeout, there is enough all round goodness to let AJ Griffin get you through any week 6 blues.
The next one is a bit more of a dart throw. But Nate Karns could be a decent shout to help you in week 6.
Karns is fresh off his best start of the season, shutting out the Chicago White Sox over 6 innings with 7 K’s and only one hit and a walk. His ERA lowered itself to below 5 on the season as a result.
Neither opponent is particularly good for Karns whose main problem this year has been keeping the ball in the yard. Karns currently has a 1.9 HR/9 rate but the Rays and Orioles only rank 11th and 13th (respectively) in home runs this year.
This year has seen Karns HR/FB rate sit at 24%, up nearly 10% on his career rate. Now we’ve seen this from Karns in the past, but 24% is still a lot. Especially considering his soft contact rate is up and hard contact rate is down on his career numbers.
The last time we saw similar rates from Karns was in 2014 as a Tampa Bay Ray, when he had a 2.25 HR/9 rate. So it seems as though teams are sitting on Karns to make a mistake, then taking him deep.
Karns is using his changeup more this year too, which helps with the soft contact rates so providing he gets ahead in the count, Karns should see continued success.
He’s had streaks of success in the past, followed by periods of disappointment so if Thursday’s start was the beginning of a hot streak, week 6 could see you reap the rewards. There’s certainly enough little tid-bits here to be optimistic about Karns in week 6.
If you’re not convinced by Karns, my first honourable mention goes to Matt Moore.
It’s been a case of feast or famine with Moore in 2017. So far, his two gems have been sandwiched by 3 poor starts and a complete blowout in his most recent game. But those two gems have both been at home and Moore’s second start of the week is at home to the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday (facing Scott Feldman).
Moore starts the week against the New York Mets on the road who will be sending Jacob DeGrom to the mound. This will also be Moore’s first appearance against a team outside the NL West. By weird scheduling, each of Moore’s starts has been back-to-back against the previous opponent.
Arizona Diamondbacks (April 5th and 10th), Colorado Rockies (April 15th and 22nd) and Los Angeles Dodgers (April 27th and May 02nd). Maybe the change of scenery and “a bit of strange” will help Moore get his season on track.
As I said, there’s a second honourable mention for week 6 and it contradicts what I said earlier. And that’s because it’s the Tampa Bay Rays’ Matt Andriese.
As mentioned, Andriese will be facing the Royals first (on Tuesday at home against as yet an unnamed starter) before he faces the Red Sox in Boston on Sunday, who are scheduled to have a certain Chris Sale pitching.
So it’s difficult to get too excited on Andriese. But he’s having a quietly excellent year so far. Four of his six starts have been of the quality variety and even the two poor starts weren’t complete disasters.
His ERA on the year is 3.09 with a 1.29 WHIP and 30 K’s over his 35 innings of work. All in all, a very nice set of stats. The key for starting Andriese in week 6 will be that start against the Royals.
Even if he gets hit a bit by the Red Sox (who are currently ranked 26th for runs scored), a good outing to start the week should be more than enough to give the Rays unsung star a very nice line by week’s end.
Last week’s Gut Call (James Shields) decided he’d rather stay on the DL than face the Kansas City Royals and help my gut turn his season around. But this week should see no such bad luck.
My Gut is going with Derek Holland. Yet to give up more than 2 earned runs in any of his six starts, Holland faces the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday at home and has every chance of continuing that trend.
He’s struck out between 4 and 7 batters in each of his starts too, complimenting his 2.02 ERA and 1.04 WHIP on the season.
The Twins have struggled against left handed pitching so far, compiling a .229/.317/.337 slash line against them compared to a .250/.344/.433 line facing righties.
So everything is pointing towards Holland continuing his march towards a first ever CY Young Award during week 6. Joking aside, Holland will being to regress in the near future but I think he can squeeze one more stellar performance out before he hits the skids.
Until next week, happy fantasying.