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.
Madison Bumgarner | San Francisco Giants
Opponents: Matt Garza (MIL), Julio Teheran (ATL)
Explaining why starting Bumgarner is a good idea seems alomst pointless. The southpaw is a stud—plain and simple, and he gets both Milwaukee and Atlanta this week—two teams who rank in the bottom half of the league in runs scored this season. The 25-year-old has 52 K’s so far this season, and the Brewers are averaging just over eight strikeouts per game, so a double-digit strikeout performance is highly likely. The Braves are a better team when it comes to team batting average (13th, .253), but have struggled against lefties this season—hitting .231 with only 17 extra-base hits. He remains an elite fantasy option, and that will continue again this week.
David Price | Detroit Tigers
I love everything about David Price this week. The lefty gets the A’s—who have not been very good this month—hitting just .247 as a team. They aren’t a strikeout team (6.7 K/GP), but have been whiffing on more balls in the month of May (7.2 K/GP). I expect Price to be able to handle the A’s with ease.
His second start comes against the Angels, and it won’t be pretty for Mike Scioscia’s team. The Angels are hitting .235 in May (24th) and average 3.6 runs per game. Outside of Mike Trout & Albert Pujols, the Angels offence is sluggish, and I don’t see them being able to get many hits of Price, let alone score runs. Start the 29-year-old and watch him dominate.
Bartolo Colon | New York Mets
Colon hasn’t been very good in his last two starts—giving up 15 runs on 18 hits while striking out just six—but don’t let that stop you from using him this week. The 17-year veteran gets the Phillies and Marlins this week—two teams that have struggled in the month of May. The Phillies have actually had some success this month—hitting .258 as a team (11th)—yet are still unable to score runs (3.7 R/GP). The Marlins for their part have been a complete disaster. They’re averaging just 3.2 R/GP and hitting .253 as a team. They’ve gone 7-15 with a 4.12 ERA so far in May, and despite the Mets hitting just .230 this month, Colon will get all the run support he needs to pick up a win. I expect him to have a really good week, and fantasy owners shouldn’t hesitate to start him.
Carlos Martinez | St. Louis Cardinals
The 23-year-old has come back down to earth since his hot start at the beginning of the season, but he was very good his last outing and I expect him to be an above average pitcher this week. The Diamondbacks have been red hot in this month—hitting .276 as a team and averaging 4.9 R/GM. The rookie will have his hands full with Arizona, but the D-Backs also strikeout a lot, and Martinez has struck out 7+ hitters in four of his eight starts.
The Dodgers have slowed down this month, but they’ve hit 24 HR in May (7th) and are hitting a decent .248. The Dodgers have the best ERA in May (2.89), so the Cardinals will need to find a way to score some runs to help their young pitcher out, and Anderson for his part has been solid this season—posting a 3.61 ERA, with a 1.37 WHIP and 31 strikeouts. It’s not the best matchup out there, but Martinez deserves to start, and I’m confident he will pitch well despite his two rough starts earlier this month.
J.A. Happ | Seattle Mariners
Opponents: Alex Colome (TB), Danny Salazar (CLE)
Don’t look now, but Happ is having himself a very good start to the season with Seattle. The lefty is 3-1 so far this season, with a 3.61 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. His last start was cut short because of rain, and he did give up four runs on four hits, but prior to that, he was exceptional in all his starts (minus the one against Houston where he gave up six runs). The former Blue Jay will face Tampa Bay in his first start—who are hitting .244 as a team this year and .250 in the month on May—and the very dangerous Indians in his second start—who are batting .266 with 102 runs this month. Neither start is going to be easy for Happ, but he’s pitched well this season and see no reason to avoid the southpaw this week. If he’s still available on the waiver wire, snatch him up and plug him in!
Joe Kelly | Boston Red Sox
I’m aware that I’m recommending Joe Kelly as a fantasy option and that he has an ugly 5.13 ERA, but if there’s ever going to be a week to trust Kelly, it’s this week. The righty will get to face two below-average hitting teams in Minnesota and Texas. Both teams have been playing very good baseball in May—as they both rank in the top tem in team batting average—and the Red Sox are hitting just .229 (28th) this month—but Nolasco is notoriously bad at throwing baseballs (yes he’s 4-1 this season, but he has a 6.00 ERA!!!) and Klein is a rookie relief pitcher just promoted to the starting rotation. Like I said, the numbers don’t look great, but Kelly is a sneaky play that you should take the risk on this week. You’ll (hopefully) thank me later.
Julio Teheran | Atlanta Braves
Opponents: Clayton Kershaw (LAD), Madison Bumgarner (SF)
Teheran owners are going to have a very long week. The Braves starter get not one but TWO Cy Young winners this week, and that alone is enough for me to bench him. The Giants are hitting .301 this month, and the Dodgers have been hitting homeruns left, right and center since the beginning of the year. Teheran has pitched well this season—posting a 4-1 record, with a 3.91 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP—but the Braves are no powerhouse hitting team, and I’m just not comfortable staring him. Sit him this week and be glad you did.
Ricky Nolasco | Minnesota Twins
Opponents: Joe Kelly (BOS), Drew Hutchison (TOR)
Ricky Nolasco is not very good at throwing baseballs. Nolasco is so bad this season that he hasn’t recorded a QS, has given up at least three runs in all but one start, and has a struck out just 22 hitter (15 coming in his last two starts). His ERA is absolutely terrible and his WHIP is an inflated 1.83, but he’s 4-1 this season? Yeah I don’t care. I’m not starting him, ever, and fantasy owners shouldn’t even have him on their roster right now. Forget about Nolasco and move on to some better options.
Jesse Hahn | Oakland Atletics
Opponents: Shane Greene (DET), Nathan Evoaldi (NYY)
I use to own Hahn in a yearly league, but he’s really been terrible this year and I expect that to continue again this week. The 25-year-old has one win this season—it came against the Royals where he went 5.1 innings, giving up three hits and striking out none (yes, none). His strikeouts have gone up since, and so has his ERA—from 2.12 after that KC outing, to 4.43 after his most recent loss to Houston. Hahn facing the Tigers is enough for me to bench him, let alone facing the Yankees—who are only hitting .244 on the season—but have hit 52 HR’s in 43 games. Bench him for now and see if his game gets better, but if you want to part ways with him for someone else, it wouldn’t be a terrible idea.