Fantasy baseball season is back! Fantasy pools 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.
Matt Harvey—New York Mets
After missing an entire season because of Tommy John Surgery, Harvey was back on the hill last week and back to striking out hitters. The 26-year-old gets a very good matchup with the Phillies, who have scored ten runs in four games and are striking out close to eight times per game, and with Miami, who is striking out just over eight times per game. He’s the best start of the week and should dominate in both his starts.
Jacob DeGrom—New York Mets
It’s another elite matchup for a Mets pitcher next week. DeGrom went six innings in his first start of the season allowing two runs and striking out six for his first win of the season. He will get Harang, who was very good in his first start as a Phillie, and will see Latos in his second start who had a debut to forget. After the Harvey matchups, this is definitely the next best of the week.
Adam Wainwright—St.Louis Cardinals
Wainwright was lights out in his first start of the season and will be looking to build on that strong start. The Cards ace will get an underperforming Brewers team and an overachieving Reds team next week. First up is Matt Garza, who allowed eight hits and four earned runs in five innings of work in his first start. The Brewers as a team are averaging two runs a game, so it shouldn’t be a problem for the 33-year-old to pick up his second win of the season. As for the Marlins, well Mat Latos is on the hill, and even though I don’t expect him to have as bad an outing as he did last time out, I don’t expect him to be much better. Start Wainwright with confidence again next week.
Matt Shoemaker—Los Angeles Angels
Shoemaker rounds out the elite list of pitchers for next week. The Michigan native will get the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros —two teams that are in the top five in strikeouts so far this season. The 28-year-old had a solid start against Seattle in his first game of the season and should be started with confidence next week.
Other Must Start Pitchers: Anibal Sanchez
Stephan Strasburg—Washington Nationals
Strasburg leads off the group of pitchers who are not an elite play this week, but he is not someone you should bench either. The first round pick in 2009 gets a tough matchup on the road against the Red Sox, who have scored 22 runs in four games so far this season. He will face off against Justin Masterson who had a very good start to his season against the Phillies. In his second start, the San Diego native will get Buchanan and the Phillies offense that, as I stated earlier, is not very good. If Strasburg can pick up one win next week, consider it a success, but that’s as far as it will probably go.
Gerrit Cole—Pittsburgh Pirates
Cole falls into the same category as Strasburg — good pitcher who has one above average matchup and one below average matchup. The Tigers have one of the most dangerous lineups in baseball with Cabrera, Martinez and Cespedes in the middle of the lineup and Sanchez getting the start on the mound. Good news though, Garza is on the hill for his second matchup at home against the Brewers. Again, if Cole can come out of next week with one win, consider it a job well done. Let’s just hope the Tigers don’t rough him up too hard on Monday.
Michael Pineda—New York Yankees
Pineda had a successful start to his 2015 season pitching six innings of two run ball in a no decision. The Dominican Republic native gets a favorable matchup against a Baltimore team with a below average pitcher and a Rays team hitting only .220 after four games. The problem for Pineda is the Yankees are currently hitting .191 as a team so far this season, so run support might be hard to come by for the 26-year-old. He does have some upside, and picking up two wins next week isn’t out of the question, but I would limit my expectations for the righty
Mike Leake—Cincinnati Reds
Opponents: John Lester (CHC), Adam Wainwright (STL)
Leake was not very good in his first start allowing three runs on five hits and issuing six walks against the Pirates. He gets both Lester and Wainwright next week on the road, and I personally don’t want anything to do with that. Even with his two starts this week, he’s not worth rolling out against two of the leagues best pitchers. Sit him this week and be happy you did.
Matt Garza—Milwaukee Brewers
Garza is another pitcher I will have no problem avoiding this week. The Brewers have not been good to start the season and the 31-year-old wasn’t very good in his first start. Going up against two very good pitchers, benching him would be the way to go.
David Buchanan—Philadelphia Phillies
If you’re starting Buchanan next week, clearly pitching isn’t that important to you. Having to face Harvey AND Strasburg in the same week is too much for me. Leave him on the waiver wire where he belongs.