Seth Trachtman

The Week Ahead

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Week Ahead: Stellar Keller

Friday, September 14, 2018

There’s no escaping the fact that 2018 has been a disaster for the Royals. The team is well on their way to losing 100 games this season just three years after winning the World Series. However, not everything has gone bad for the organization this year.


Enter Brad Keller. The Rule 5 pick has been a rare bright spot for the team. After posting a 4.68 ERA in 26 starts at Double-A in the Diamondbacks organization last year, he’s been a key cog in the Kansas City pitching staff with a 3.04 ERA in 127.1 innings between starting and relief.


Over Keller’s 18 starts, he has a 3.26 ERA and 74/39 K/BB in 105 innings, allowing only six home runs in the role. He’s been particularly strong since the start of August, with a 2.45 ERA in eight starts.


The right-hander’s sub-2.00 K/BB ratio is hardly what we look for in fantasy pitchers, yet he still has a 3.64 FIP thanks in large part to his ability to keep the ball in the park. An extreme groundball pitcher, Keller has a 54 percent groundball rate with the help of his 94 mph sinker.


He’s certainly closing out the year the right way and could very well be the Royals Opening Day starter next season if the strong performance continues into spring training, 2019. With a 6.1 K/9, Keller hasn’t exactly been an elite fantasy pitcher, but the recent production has been worthwhile in nearly all leagues despite a poor supporting cast.


With three starts remaining this season, including two in the coming week at Pittsburgh and Detroit, Keller has a great shot to finish out the year on the right foot.


-Speaking of groundball pitchers, Framber Valdez has been a groundball machine since his promotion to the majors. The Astros starter has an amazing 69 percent groundball rate so far, helping him produce a sub-3.00 ERA through his first five appearances. He looks like a potential weapon during the playoffs, and certainly has a chance to be useful for fantasy owners down the stretch.


-Clayton Kershaw is still considered the ace of the Dodgers staff, but Hyun-Jin Ryu has been the team’s best pitcher lately. The lefty has a 2.42 ERA in 12 starts this season, and it’s supported by his outstanding 10.4 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9. Although extremely injury prone during his career, Ryu’s peripherals certainly make him an interesting pitcher heading into 2019.


-From the perspective of ERA, Brewers starter Wade Miley has been as impressive as Ryu with 2.23 ERA in 13 starts. Unlike Ryu, Miley’s control of the strike zone hasn’t been great with a 5.9 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9. The difference has been Miley’s cutter and resulting groundball rate, a career-high 53 percent this season. The ERA certainly looks unsustainable over the long term, but Miley does look like a new pitcher this year.



Going Twice…


Note: Probable pitchers as of Friday, September 14, and are subject to change. 


American League


Strong Plays


Blake Snell @TEX, @TOR

Corey Kluber: CHW, BOS


Decent Plays


J.A. Happ: BOS, BAL

Brad Keller: @PIT, @DET

Tyler Glasnow: @TEX, @TOR

Jordan Zimmermann: MIN, KC

Framber Valdez: SEA, LAA

Wade LeBlanc: @HOU, @TEX

Ryan Borucki: @BAL, TB


At Your Own Risk


Nathan Eovaldi: @NYY, @CLE

Daniel Norris: MIN, KC

Dylan Covey: @CLE, CHC

Adrian Sampson: TB, SEA



National League


Strong Plays


Clayton Kershaw: COL, SD

Patrick Corbin: CHC, COL

Aaron Nola: NYM, @ATL

Hyun-Jin Ryu: COL, SD

Zack Wheeler: @PHI, @WAS

Miles Mikolas: @ATL, SF

Mike Foltynewicz: STL, PHI

Anibal Sanchez: STL, PHI


Decent Plays


Jon Gray: @LAD, @ARI

Kyle Hendricks: @ARI, @CHW

Joe Musgrove: KC, MIL

Wade Miley: CIN, @PIT

Andrew Suarez: @SD, @STL

Erick Fedde: @MIA, NYM

Anthony DeSclafani: @MIL, @MIA

Nick Pivetta: NYM, @ATL


At Your Own Risk


Tyler Mahle: @MIL, @MIA

Jason Vargas: @PHI, @WAS

Trevor Richards: WAS, CIN



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, September 17: Ryan Borucki @ BAL

If you’re able to make mid-week moves, starting Borucki at the beginning of the week and then benching him for his second start is a good strategy. The lefty visits the Orioles, who are 27th in OPS vs. lefties, before facing an underrated Tampa Bay lineup.


Tuesday, September 18: Jake Odorizzi @ DET

It’s been another disappointing year for Odorizzi, but he gets a nice matchup this week against the Tigers. Detroit ranks 28th in OPS vs. right-handers (.670).


Friday, September 21: Francisco Liriano vs. KC

Liriano hasn’t exactly had a great second half, but he’s coming off two strong starts and has fared well this year against a Royals lineup that’s dead last in OPS vs. lefties.



National League


Monday, September 17: Bryan Mitchell vs. SF

Many of us considered Mitchell an NL-only sleeper coming into the year based on his plus velocity and minor league track record. It sure has taken a while, partially due to injury, but Mitchell is producing since being called up in September, allowing just one run in consecutive outings. He gets another great matchup vs. the Giants, who have the fourth worst OPS vs. right-handers.


Tuesday, September 18: Joe Ross @ MIA

Ross pitched well on Thursday vs. the Cubs in his first official start since Tommy John surgery, and his next matchup is far more favorable. He faces a Miami lineup that has the second worst OPS vs. right-handers.


Wednesday, September 19: Chris Stratton @ SD

Stratton has been more than adequate since returning to the Giants rotation. Over his last four starts, he has a 2.84 ERA and has walked a total of three batters. The Padres rank dead last in OPS vs. right-handers.



Total Games


American League






National League






The Infirmary


Here’s some injuries to prominent players from 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.


Clay Buchholz: Status uncertain (elbow)

Trevor Cahill: Day-to-day (back)

Johan Camargo: Day-to-day (groin)

Alex Cobb: Status uncertain (blister)

Hunter Dozier: Day-to-day (back)

Matt Duffy: Day-to-day (back)

Maikel Franco: Day-to-day (shoulder)

Niko Goodrum: Out indefinitely (quad)

Felix Hernandez: Day-to-day (hamstring)

Michael Kopech: Out for the year (elbow)

Yadier Molina: Could return this week (hamstring)

Yoan Moncada: Day-to-day (hip)

James Paxton: Day-to-day (illness)

Brad Peacock: Day-to-day (illness)

Gregory Polanco: Out for the season (shoulder)

Jean Segura: Day-to-day (illness)

Dan Straily: Out indefinitely (oblique)

Pedro Strop: Out indefinitely (hamstring)

Noah Syndergaard: Day-to-day (ribs)

Luis Urias: Out indefinitely (hamstring)

You can find Seth Trachtman on Twitter @sethroto.
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