Seth Trachtman

The Week Ahead

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The Week Ahead: Justin Time

Saturday, August 12, 2017

It looks like we have an ace on our hands again.



Since the All-Star break, there haven’t been many pitchers who have pitched better than Justin Verlander. Over six starts, he’s 3-1 with a 2.01 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, and 44/12 K/BB in 40.1 innings. That follows a first half in which Verlander posted a pedestrian 4.73 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, and K/BB ratio lower than 2.00.


Verlander’s control improvement recently has made a huge difference, but there were signs even during the first half that he was ready to bounce back. His success during his career has often correlated with the radar gun, and Verlander’s average fastball velocity this season (95.7 mph) is the best he’s shown since 2010. Since that time, Verlander has won an AL Cy Young, MVP, and finished second in the Cy Young voting twice.


Of course, the control still needs to hold down the stretch. Overall, Verlander has a mediocre 3.9 BB/9 after to his control struggles in the first half, and he’s also had trouble keeping the ball in the park for the second consecutive season. As a result, Verlander’s ERA metrics aren’t great, with a 4.07 FIP and 4.58 SIERA. Those bleak signs are at least worth considering, but Verlander’s ERA is likely to continue its decline as long as he’s throwing strikes consistently.


Looking ahead, Verlander has a tough two-start week at Texas and vs. the Dodgers. Despite the matchup challenges, particularly against the best team in baseball late in the week, Verlander has reclaimed his status in fantasy leagues as an automatic start every time he takes the mound.


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-Trevor Bauer has been mentioned in this spot before, with peripherals that showed he was due to rebound. If you’ve been patient, it’s certainly paid off. Bauer has allowed just one run in each of his last three starts, spanning 22 innings. Over that time, he had 22/3 K/BB. For the season, the hard-throwing right-hander’s FIP is nearly a full run lower than his 4.79 ERA, and he has an elite 9.9 K/9. Like Verlander, Bauer has been an enigma, but there’s reason to believe he can keep up his great recent performance. His two starts next week come at Boston and Kansas City.


-Dinelson Lamet has been one of San Diego’s most promising young players this season despite a 5.00 ERA. A regularly elite strikeout pitcher in the minors, Lamet’s 11.2 K/9 ranks seventh best in MLB among starters with at least 60 innings pitched. He’s been erratic, as you’d expect from a rookie, with a 3.7 BB/9 and 1.4 HR/9, but Lamet has come around recently. His ERA has decreased by 1.40 over his last four starts, allowing two runs or less in each outing. The strikeouts and recent success make him worthy of a look in mixed leagues, and he has two home starts ahead next week vs. Philadelphia and Washington.


-It certainly looks like the Giants have found themselves a fifth starter this season in Ty Blach. Despite a 4.5 K/9, lowest in MLB among qualified starters, Blach’s ERA is down to 4.15 due to his near-perfect control. Among the impressive numbers are a 1.9 BB/9, 0.7 HR/9, and 3.82 FIP. The lack of strikeouts has prevented Blach from holding much fantasy value, but he has been a viable spot starter, especially recently with six quality starts over his last seven outings.


-Next week is another one of those exciting weeks when the Rockies have a full slate of games at Coors Field. The Rockies hitters have a league-leading .864 OPS at home compared to .693 on the road, which ranks second worst.


-With mention of the Rockies, it’s appropriate to also mention the return Chad Bettis on Monday. Bettis is returning from testicular cancer and is a great story to pull for as we head toward the stretch run.


Going Twice…


American League


Strong Plays


Justin Verlander: @TEX, LAD

Trevor Bauer: @BOS, @KC

Danny Salazar: @MIN, @KC


Decent Plays


Sonny Gray: NYM, @BOS

Masahiro Tanaka: NYM, @BOS

Brad Peacock: @ARI, OAK

Kevin Gausman: @SEA, LAA

Collin McHugh: @ARI, OAK

Jake Odorizzi: @TOR, SEA


At Your Own Risk


A.J. Griffin: DET, CHW

Tyson Ross: DET, CHW

Jharel Cotton: KC, @HOU

Doug Fister: CLE, NYY

Miguel Gonzalez: @LAD, @TEX

Yovani Gallardo: BAL, @TB

Hector Santiago: CLE, ARI

Nick Tepesch: TB, @CHC



National League


Strong Plays


Madison Bumgarner: @MIA, PHI

Jacob deGrom: @NYY, MIA

Zack Greinke: HOU, @MIN

Gio Gonzalez: LAA, @SD


Decent Plays


Kyle Hendricks: CIN, TOR

Jose Quintana: CIN, TOR

Jerad Eickhoff: @SD, @SF

Luis Castillo: @CHC, @ATL

Dinelson Lamet: PHI, WAS

Ty Blach: @MIA, PHI

Ivan Nova: @MIL, STL

Mike Leake: @BOS, @PIT

Adam Conley: SF, @NYM


At Your Own Risk


Asher Wojciechowski: @CHC, @ATL

Chad Bettis: ATL, MIL

Antonio Senzatela: ATL, MIL

Sean Newcomb: @COL, CIN

Julio Teheran: @COL, CIN

Travis Wood: PHI, WAS

Rafael Montero: @NYY, MIA


Total Games


American League


5: LAA




National League







Streamer City


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


American League


Wednesday, August 16: Ubaldo Jimenez @ SEA

It’s difficult to ever recommend Jimenez, who has a 6.31 ERA this season. However, he has found his control recently and has allowed a total of four earned runs in 18.2 innings over his last three starts. If you need to roll the dice, you could do worse with a start at Safeco Field.


Wednesday, August 16: Paul Blackburn vs. KC

Kansas City has dug themselves out of the gutter after an awful start to the year, but they’ve struggled against right-handed pitching, ranking 22nd in OPS. Blackburn is showing himself to be the right-handed version of Ty Blach, with a 2.60 ERA despite a 3.4 K/9.


Wednesday, August 16: Marco Gonzales vs. BAL

Hitting lefties has been a bit of a weakness for the O’s this season, ranking 19th in OPS. Gonzales struggled in his first start with Seattle, but he’s found his fair share of success in the minors.


National League


Tuesday, August 15: Brandon Woodruff vs. PIT

Pittsburgh has the second worst OPS vs. right-handers, while the talented Woodruff has pitched extremely well in the first two starts of his career.


Wednesday, August 16: Jose Urena vs. SF

Despite a sub-2.00 K/BB ratio, Urena has a 3.70 ERA and has also made two consecutive quality starts. San Fran’s league-worst .682 OPS vs. right-handers gives Urena a shot at another quality outing.


Saturday: August 19: Asher Wojciechowski @ ATL

If nothing else, Wojciechowski’s peripherals make him interesting with 46/9 K/BB in 44.2 innings this season. Facing an Atlanta lineup ranked 24th in OPS vs. right-handers, Wojciechowski is an intriguing option.

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.


Aaron Altherr: Placed on DL (hamstring)

Brandon Belt: Placed on DL (concussion)

Michael Brantley: Placed on DL (ankle)

Trevor Cahill: Placed on DL (shoulder)

Johan Camargo: Placed on DL (knee)

Alex Cobb: Placed on DL (toe)

Willson Contreras: Out at least two weeks (hamstring)

Matt Davidson: Placed on DL (wrist)

Jacob deGrom: Left Thursday’s start (arm)

Yunel Escobar: Placed on DL (oblique)

Clint Frazier: Placed on DL (oblique)

Evan Gattis: Placed on DL (concussion)

Felix Hernandez: Out 3-4 weeks (shoulder)

Matt Holliday: Placed on DL (back)

Jason Kipnis: Left Thursday’s game (hamstring)

Adalberto Mejia: Placed on DL (arm)

Chris O’Grady: Placed on DL (oblique)

James Paxton: Left Thursday’s start (pectoral)

Salvador Perez: Placed on DL (intercostal)

David Phelps: Placed on DL (elbow)

Yasiel Puig: Day-to-day (knee)

Mark Reynolds: Day-to-day (hand)

CC Sabathia: Questionable for next start (knee)

Troy Tulowitzki: Out for the season (ankle)

Koji Uehara: Placed on DL (neck)

Cesar Valdez: Placed on the DL (shoulder)

Vince Velasquez: Left Thursday’s start (finger)

You can find Seth Trachtman on Twitter @sethroto.
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