Seth Trachtman

The Week Ahead

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The Week Ahead: Zack Attack

Friday, June 30, 2017


Entering 2017, the Diamondbacks over/under wins total was set at just 78.5 by Vegas. Even that total was more than nine wins above their 69 win debacle of 2016. Now just 80 games into the season, the Diamondbacks already have 50 wins, third most in MLB. How have they done it?

 

There’s a long list of explanations, but the emergence of fifth starter Zack Godley following Shelby Miller’s elbow injury is a big reason.

 

Godley is just 3-2 through 10 starts for Arizona this season, but his ERA stands at 2.67 and the team is 7-3 in his starts. Simply, Godley has consistently given the Diamondbacks a chance to win, as he’s yet to allow more than three runs in a start and has a miniscule 0.97 WHIP, sixth best among pitchers who have thrown at least 60 innings.

 

The improvement is drastic for a pitcher who had a 6.39 ERA as a swingman last season. So what’s changed?

 

The skeptics will point to Godley’s .236 BABIP, compared to .313 last season, and say that he’s due to regress. While that’s not a false statement, there are far more reasons to be encouraged.

 

Godley has shown increased velocity this season, with a nearly one mph increase on his sinker and curveball. That helps explain why Godley’s K/BB ratio has improved from 2.40 last season to 2.95 this year. Also a strong groundball pitcher before 2017, Godley has greatly increased his groundball rate, currently sitting at 59 percent (sixth highest among pitchers with at least 60 innings). That shows how he’s allowed only four home runs in 64 innings.

 

While a sub-3.00 ERA and sub-1.00 WHIP the rest of the way could be asking too much, Godley’s overall improvement isn’t a mirage. With a plus-108 run differential, neither are the Diamondbacks, for that matter.

 

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-Cincinnati has a pitiful 6.29 ERA from their rotation, but the future still looks bright with arms like Luis Castillo. Acquired in the offseason from Miami for Dan Straily, Castillo has a 3.38 ERA through two starts and has averaged 98 mph on his fastball. Only Noah Syndergaard has shown better velocity among major league starters this season. Castillo is more than just a hard thrower, though. He had a terrific 1.5 BB/9 at Double-A Pensacola prior to his promotion and a 1.7 BB/9 between High-A and Double-A last season. The Marlins are certainly happy with Straily’s results so far, but they will probably live to regret trading Castillo. He’s a worthwhile addition in fantasy leagues, though Castillo will be tested next week with visits to Colorado and Arizona.

 

-Is Masahiro Tanaka back? His poor performance has been one of the great mysteries of the first half, but Tanaka has now made two very good starts in a row, lowering his ERA to 5.56. Tanaka’s BB/9 of 2.5, while good, is still much worse than the standard he set in his first three MLB seasons, and Tanaka’s 21 home runs allowed in only 90.2 innings is a cringe-worthy stat. Still, his velocity has increased this season, and the overall 3.60 K/BB ratio is decent. There remains reason to be optimistic as he closes out his nightmarish first half with two home starts.

 

-The first half has been 2015 all over again for Rick Porcello, who had a 4.92 ERA before winning the AL Cy Young last year. The exact 2015 version has returned, with Porcello continuing to show superb command (4.71 K/BB) and even carrying the best K/9 of his career (8.5) but producing an ERA above 5.00. The issues are the same as 2015, it seems. Porcello hasn’t been able to keep the ball in the park, and his .367 BABIP is brutal. Boston’s park adjusted defensive efficiency has been the worst in baseball, by far, and it was the second worst in 2015. It’s difficult not to see the upside with Porcello’s command, but he remains awfully risky in the short term.

 

-Few pitchers have disappointed more in the first half than Daniel Norris. The Tigers lefty showed signs that a breakout year could be coming after last year, posting a 3.38 ERA and more than one strikeout per inning with a sharp increase in velocity over 69.1 innings. The velocity and strikeouts have held, for the most part, but Norris has an ugly 3.9 BB/9 and 1.62 WHIP. His ERA has increased by more than a half run after two bad starts. Like Porcello, Norris’ .355 BABIP shows some bad luck, but Norris needs to show better control before he’s worth betting on again.

 

-Just a reminder that the Rockies close out the first half with a full week of games at Coors Field. Even better, four of those games come against baseball’s worst pitching (Cincinnati).

 

Going Twice…

 

American League

 

Strong Plays

 

Yu Darvish: BOS, LAA

 

Decent Plays

 

David Price: @TEX, @TB

Marcus Stroman: @NYY, HOU

J.A. Happ: @NYY, HOU

Masahiro Tanaka: TOR, MIL

Felix Hernandez: KC, OAK

Trevor Bauer: SD, DET

Carlos Rodon: @OAK, @COL

Adalberto Mejia: LAA, BAL

Ian Kennedy: @SEA, @LAD

Alex Meyer: @MIN, @TEX

 

At Your Own Risk

 

Rick Porcello: @TEX, @TB

Daniel Gossett: CHW, @SEA

David Paulino: @ATL, @TOR

Blake Snell: @CHC, BOS

Ubaldo Jimenez: @MIL, @MIN

Wade Miley: @MIL, @MIN

Jesse Hahn: CHW, @SEA

Daniel Norris: SF, @CLE

Kyle Gibson: LAA, BAL

 

National League

 

Strong Plays

 

Stephen Strasburg: NYM, ATL

Steven Matz: @WAS, @STL

Zack Godley: @LAD, CIN

Aaron Nola: PIT, SD

Jimmy Nelson: BAL, @NYY

Jameson Taillon: @PHI, @CHC

 

Decent Plays

 

Ivan Nova: @PHI, @CHC

Lance Lynn: MIA, NYM

Hyun-Jin Ryu: ARI, KC

Joe Ross: NYM, ATL

Luis Castillo: @COL, @ARI

Sean Newcomb: HOU, @WAS

Jose Urena: @STL, @SF

John Lackey: TB, PIT

Jerad Eickhoff: PIT, SD

 

At Your Own Risk

 

Adam Wainwright: MIA, NYM

Kyle Freeland: CIN, CHW

Jeff Hoffman: CIN, CHW

Luis Perdomo: @CLE, @PHI

Jeff Locke: @STL, @SF

Matt Cain: @DET, MIA

Homer Bailey: @COL, @ARI

 

Streamer City

 

The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:

 

American League

 

Monday, July 3: Adalberto Mejia vs. LAA

Mejia has two consecutive scoreless outings, and faces an Angels lineup without Mike Trout. The Angels have the third worst OPS in the AL vs. right-handers.

 

Tuesday, July 4: David Paulino @ ATL

While he’s struggled so far, I’m still optimistic about Paulino over the long term. Even in the short term, his 10.6 K/9 and 4.86 K/BB ratio provide reason to give him a look. He must keep the ball in the park, and the Braves rank just 27th in home runs this season.

 

Thursday, July 6: Anibal Sanchez vs. SF

Sanchez has been effective in two starts since returning to the majors. He finishes out the first half with an extremely favorable matchup against the Giants, who have a league-worst .672 OPS against right-handed pitching.

 

National League

 

Thursday, July 6: Chad Kuhl @ PHI

It’s difficult to recommend a starter with a 5.58 ERA, but Kuhl does have a K/BB ratio of better than 2.00 and faces a bad Phillies lineup that he shutout over five innings in late May.

 

Friday, July 7: Brandon McCarthy vs. KC

Currently on the DL with a knee injury, McCarthy is tentatively scheduled to return late next week. If it happens, he’d face a Royals lineup that still has a .701 OPS vs. right-handers despite a June hot streak.

 

Sunday, July 9: Joe Ross vs. ATL

Ross has struggled for much of the first half, but he’s started to come around recently with two strong starts. His 4.09 xFIP and 4.13 SIERA suggests that better days are head, and Atlanta’s production against right-handers ranks in the bottom half of MLB.

 

Total Games

 

American League

 

6: CHW, CLE, DET, HOU, KC, LAA, NYY, TB, TEX

7: BAL, BOS, MIN, OAK, SEA, TOR

 

National League

 

6: ARI, ATL, CHC, LAD, NYM, SD, SF

7: CIN, COL, MIA, MIL, PHI, PIT, STL, WAS

 

The Infirmary

 

Here’s some injuries to prominent players over the last week, and other players to watch for in the coming week. You can get a full listing of injured players at Rotoworld's Injury Page.

 

Matt Adams: Day-to-day (foot)

Nick Ahmed: Out indefinitely (hand)

Yonder Alonso: Day-to-day (knee)

Chase Anderson: Placed on DL (oblique)

Tyler Anderson: Out till late July (knee)

Tyler Austin: Placed on DL (hamstring)

Kris Bryant: Day-to-day (ankle)

Welington Castillo: Day-to-day (knee)

Starlin Castro: Placed on DL (hamstring)

Michael Conforto: Day-to-day (hand)

Lucas Duda: Day-to-day (flu)

Brandon Finnegan: Placed on DL (shoulder)

Tyler Flowers: Day-to-day (arm)

Dexter Fowler: Placed on DL (heel)

Dustin Fowler: Out for the season (knee)

Avisail Garcia: Day-to-day (knee)

Carlos Gonzalez: Placed on DL (shoulder)

Robert Gsellman: Placed on DL (hamstring)

Aaron Hicks: Placed on DL (oblique)

Matt Holliday: Placed on DL (illness)

Howie Kendrick: Could be placed on DL (hamstring)

DJ LeMahieu: Day-to-day (groin)

Mark Melancon: Placed on DL (elbow)

Ricky Nolasco: Left last start (leg)

Dustin Pedroia: Day-to-day (knee)

Chad Pinder: Placed on DL (hamstring)

Colby Rasmus: Placed on DL (hip)

Hyun-Jin Ryu: Could miss next start (foot)

Trea Turner: Out indefinitely (wrist)



You can find Seth Trachtman on Twitter @sethroto.
Email :Seth Trachtman



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