Seth Trachtman

The Week Ahead

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The Week Ahead: Speed Walker

Friday, September 8, 2017


A change of scenery can make all the difference for some players. That seems to be the case for first-year Diamondbacks starter Taijuan Walker in 2017.

 

The former Mariners top prospect has been one of the most frustrating young pitchers in the game over the last two years, posting a 4.41 ERA over 54 starts. He struggled through a foot injury last season and had trouble keeping the ball in the park before getting shipped to Arizona for a package that included Jean Segura and Mitch Haniger.

 

The trade is working for both sides to this point. On Arizona’s end, they’ve found a legitimate No. 3 starter behind Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray now that Walker has figured out how to keep the ball down. After posting a 1.3 HR/9 in 2015 and 1.8 HR/9 last season, Walker’s HR/9 is a respectable 1.0 this season. He’s also posted a K/9 of at least 8.0 for the fourth straight year.

 

Moving to a hitter’s park like Chase Field was a major concern for Walker, and he hasn’t done anything to quiet those concerns this year. He’s allowed nine home runs in 61.1 innings at home, resulting in a 4.11 ERA. However, Walker has been lights out on the road, with a 2.71 ERA and only six home runs allowed in 76.1 innings. He’s also had the benefit of more road starts this year, with 14 away from home compared to only 10 at Chase Field.

 

With Walker’s control struggles this year (3.2 BB/9), the ERA metrics do show an overachiever (3.99 FIP, 4.40 SIERA), but fantasy owners who took the plunge have been more than satisfied with Walker’s performance through five months. He’s gotten close to automatic start territory, especially on the road.

 

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-Reynaldo Lopez has looked very good in two September starts since returning from a minor back injury. The top prospect has consecutive quality starts, allowing four earned runs in 12 innings. He had a string of seven consecutive starts with two or fewer runs allowed before his promotion to the majors and has continued to bring elite velocity (94.6 mph fastball) since his call-up. If Lopez can continue to show the improved control that he has over his last two starts, he will be a solid option down the stretch.

 

-After missing about five months with arm issues, Garrett Richards made a successful return to the majors earlier this week. There were already naysayers in the offseason when Richards opted to return from a torn elbow ligament with rehab instead of surgery, but the radar gun has brought some good news. He’s shown some of the best velocity of his career, averaging 96 mph on his fastball. Now the issue is more a case of building up his pitch count, as Richards departed after only 52 pitches in his last start. Certainly, he’s a pitcher that should be owned in all leagues as he hopefully builds up his pitch count by the end of the month.

 

-Arguably Milwaukee’s best pitching prospect coming into the year, Brandon Woodruff has been terrific in four major league starts. The right-hander is coming off his best start, a seven inning performance vs. the high-powered Washington offense in which he allowed only four baserunners in seven innings and fanned eight. Woodruff’s prospect stock went through the roof last year after posting a 2.68 ERA and 9.9 K/9 between High-A and Double-A. While his ERA increased to 4.30 at Triple-A this season, that was at hitter-haven Colorado Springs. As Woodruff continues to establish his control, he can be more than just a streaming option in September.

 

-Cincinnati has been more than patient with former top pitching prospect Robert Stephenson over the last two years. He’s finally showing some return. Since the start of August, he’s made five starts and hasn’t allowed more than two runs in any of them. There’s been so much intrigue surrounding Stephenson because of his dominant repertoire, but his shaky control has sparked some to say that he will end up in the bullpen long-term. During these five successful starts, Stephenson has a 32/17 K/BB in 28.1 innings. Obviously, the control continues to be shaky, but Stephenson’s ability to miss bats has overcome it. During his current streak, he’s at least interesting in favorable matchups like the Cardinals and Pirates this week.

 

Going Twice…

 

American League

 

Strong Plays

 

Corey Kluber: DET, KC

Carlos Carrasco: DET, KC

Justin Verlander: @LAA, SEA

Sonny Gray: @TB, BAL

 

Decent Plays

 

Reynaldo Lopez: @KC, @DET

Eduardo Rodriguez: OAK, @TB

Jake Odorizzi: NYY, BOS

Sean Manaea: @BOS, @PHI

Cole Hamels: SEA, @LAA

Dylan Bundy: @TOR, @NYY

Garrett Richards: HOU, TEX

Jaime Garcia: @TB, BAL

Jason Hammel: CHW, @CLE

Miguel Gonzalez: SEA, @LAA

Marco Estrada: BAL, @MIN

 

At Your Own Risk

 

Matt Boyd: @CLE, CHW

Ariel Miranda: @TEX, @HOU

Kyle Gibson: SD, TOR

Sam Gaviglio: CHW, @CLE

Joe Biagini: BAL, @MIN

Andrew Moore: @TEX, @HOU

Ubaldo Jimenez: @TOR, @NYY

Artie Lewicki: @CLE, CHW

 

 

National League

 

Strong Plays

 

Zack Greinke: COL, @SF

Gio Gonzalez: ATL, LAD

Jacob deGrom: @CHC, @ATL

Taijuan Walker: COL, @SF

 

Decent Plays

 

Gerrit Cole: @MIL, @CIN

Hyun-Jin Ryu: @SF, @WAS

Jose Quintana: NYM, STL

Brandon Woodruff: PIT, @MIA

Jon Gray: @ARI, SD

 

At Your Own Risk

 

Kyle Freeland: @ARI, SD

Dillon Peters: @PHI, MIL

Adam Wainwright: CIN, @CHC

Robert Stephenson: @STL, PIT

Luiz Gohara: @WAS, NYM

Chris Stratton: LAD, ARI

Nick Pivetta: MIA, OAK

 

Total Games

 

American League

 

6: BOS, HOU, LAA, MIN, OAK, TB

7: BAL, CHW, CLE, DET, KC, NYY, SEA, TEX, TOR

 

National League

 

5: SD

6: ATL, CHC, CIN, LAD, MIA, MIL, NYM, PHI, PIT, SF, STL

7: ARI, COL, WAS

 

 

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, September 13: Doug Fister vs. OAK

Frankly, Fister has pitched like an ace over his last four starts, allowing only five runs in 30 innings. He has a great shot to keep that streak going against a mediocre Oakland lineup.

 

Wednesday, September 13: Lucas Giolito @ KC

After a slow start to the year in the minors, Giolito’s control has really come around recently. He’s walked only four batters over his three major league starts (20 innings) and faces a mediocre KC lineup.

 

Friday, September 15: Josh Tomlin vs. KC

As streaky as they come, Tomlin looked strong in his return from the DL this week. His biggest issue has always been keeping the ball in the park, a category in which the Royals offense ranks 10th in the AL.

 

National League

 

Wednesday, September 13: German Marquez @ ARI

A solid road spot start, Marquez has a 3.86 ERA away from Coors Field this season. Despite the tough opponent, Marquez is very usable away from home in almost any matchup.

 

Wednesday, September 13: Tanner Roark vs. ATL

It’s been a disappointing year for Roark, but he’s pitching well at the right time. Roark has allowed three runs or fewer in seven consecutive starts, bringing his ERA down by nearly half a run.

 

Friday, September 15: Chad Kuhl @ CIN

Kuhl has quietly been great since the break, with a 3.36 ERA and nearly one strikeout per inning in 10 starts. Going to Cincinnati isn’t the easiest task, but Kuhl has become an every start pitcher.

 

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.

 

Jake Arrieta: Could miss two starts (hamstring)

Jay Bruce: Day-to-day (neck)

Asdrubal Cabrera: Day-to-day (hamstring)

Matt Carpenter: Day-to-day (shoulder)

Jarrod Dyson: Day-to-day (groin)

Wilmer Flores: Out for the season (nose)

Paul Goldschmidt: Day-to-day (elbow)

Billy Hamilton: Placed on DL (thumb)

Josh Harrison: Out indefinitely (hand)

Aaron Hicks: Placed on DL (oblique)

Mike Moustakas: Day-to-day (knee)

Buster Posey: Day-to-day (finger)

Jose Ramirez: Day-to-day (wrist)

Carlos Rodon: Scratched from start (shoulder)

Amed Rosario: Day-to-day (finger)

Jayson Werth: Day-to-day (shoulder)

Kolten Wong: Day-to-day (back)



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



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