by Ray Kuhn
July is “the decision month” month for fantasy owners, as you will make your decision on if you will be a buyer or a seller and make a move. There are some intriguing options this week, including the returning Alex Wood:
Wood is back from the minor leagues and if fantasy owners have not yet taken note, they certainly should. After starting the season off having success in the rotation and then being moved to the bullpen due to Atlanta’s surplus of starting pitchers, he is now back in the rotation after getting stretched out in the minors. In his most recent start on Wednesday the Braves were still cautious with their young starter and kept him on a pitch count. However, Wood was very efficient and was able to make it through seven innings with just 79 pitches for the win, striking out four batters and allowing just four base runners (three hits, one walk). At this point I think Wood and his 3.07 ERA are set in the rotation and you have to like his 67/16 ratio of strikeouts to walks in 67.1 innings. He is facing two struggling offenses, the Mets and Diamondbacks, both at home, and that makes him a top option.
Let’s take a look at all of the two start options this week to help you either make your climb to your fantasy title or hold your position atop the standings:
|Pitcher||Opponent #1||Opponent #2|
|David Price||at NY Yankees||at Detroit|
|Jordan Zimmermann||vs. Colorado||vs. Chicago Cubs|
|Anibal Sanchez||vs. Oakland||vs. Tampa Bay|
|Scott Kazmir||at Detroit||vs. Toronto|
|Jered Weaver||at Chicago White Sox||vs. Houston|
|Chris Archer||at NY Yankees||at Detroit|
|Mat Latos||at San Diego||vs. Milwaukee|
|Alex Wood||vs. NY Mets||vs. Arizona|
|Garrett Richards||at Chicago White Sox||vs. Houston|
|Rick Porcello||vs. Oakland||vs. Tampa Bay|
|Corey Kluber||at LA Dodgers||vs. Kansas City|
|Josh Beckett||vs. Cleveland||at Colorado|
|Jake Arrieta||at Boston||at Washington|
|Henderson Alvarez||vs. Philadelphia||at St. Louis|
|Dan Haren||vs. Cleveland||at Colorado|
|AJ Burnett||at Miami||at Pittsburgh|
|Zack Wheeler||at Atlanta||vs. Texas|
|Hiroki Kuroda||vs. Tampa Bay||at Minnesota|
|Danny Duffy||at Minnesota||at Cleveland|
|Tim Lincecum||vs. St. Louis||at San Diego|
|Colin McHugh||vs. Seattle||at LA Angels|
|Jesse Hahn||vs. Cincinnati||vs. San Francisco|
|Jarred Cosart||vs. Seattle||at LA Angels|
|Drew Hutchinson||vs. Milwaukee||at Oakland|
|Jake Peavy||vs. Chicago Cubs||vs. Baltimore|
|Justin Masterson||at LA Dodgers||vs. Kansas City|
|Ubaldo Jimenez||vs. Texas||at Boston|
|David Phelps||vs. Tampa Bay||at Minnesota|
|Wade Miley||at Pittsburgh||at Atlanta|
|Brad Mills||at Detroit||vs. Toronto|
|Ricky Nolasco||vs. Kansas City||vs. NY Yankees|
|Hector Noesi||vs. LA Angels||vs. Seattle|
|Yohan Pino||vs. Kansas City||vs. NY Yankees|
|Nick Martinez||at Baltimore||at NY Mets|
|Joe Saunders||at Baltimore||at NY Mets|
|Christian Freiderich||at Washington||vs. LA Dodgers|
|Yohan Flande||at Washington||vs. LA Dodgers|
- Normally Jake Arrieta is a name we would discuss as someone readily available on your free agent wire and a “use at your own risk” option based on matchups if you are looking to stream pitchers. No longer is that the case as he is actually owned in 83% of CBS leagues. To those of you in leagues where he is not owned, I ask what you are waiting for? In 10 starts the right-hander has a 2.05 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP while 64 K and 15 BB in 57 innings. In the past Arrieta has intrigued fantasy owners with his potential and then frustrated them with his struggles and inconsistency. This season the opposite is true, as he has pitched seven innings in each of his last three starts allowing just 10 hits and two walks to go with 29 strikeouts. I wouldn’t expect this level of success to continue, but you also can’t write it off as a fluke and it cannot be ignored. Arrieta won’t continue to have a 4.9 HR/FB rate, but his fly ball rate has also decreased from 34.3% last season to 27.9% this year. Seeing his ground ball rate go from 40.4% to 51% is a pleasant development and helps to explain his success.
- Zack Wheeler is incredibly talented. He also pitches in New York under the guise of large expectations and has had to follow the almost unprecedented success of Matt Harvey. At times it is easy to forget that he is just 24 years old, but you must remember there will be some growing pains. He followed up perhaps his best start ever with one of his worst last week. Against the Marlins the right-hander had a complete game shutout where he struck out eight and allowed just three hits and one walk. Instead of building on that he allowed six runs in just two innings against Oakland as he saw his ERA rise to 4.45 and his WHIP to 1.38. However, despite that and the inconsistency we have seen this year from Wheeler, he is just too good to ignore, or leave on your bench when he is making two starts. So far this season he has struck out 91 batters in 89 innings and that is valuable in its own right. The fact that we also have seen his ground ball rate grow by about 10% this season is reason enough not to give up on him.
- What should you do with Tim Lincecum? This is a question fantasy owners have been asking themselves quite often over the last few seasons, and after his no-hitter it must be asked again. At this point we can say with a solid degree of comfort that the pitcher who won two Cy Young awards does not exist anymore, and this is the new normal for him. Lincecum has a 4.42 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP even after stymying San Diego’s subpar lineup, and in his five starts prior to the no hitter he wasn’t able to get into the seventh inning. Don’t let the no hitter fool you, and you should continue to tread carefully with him moving forward. This week he starts twice, once at home against the Cardinals and then in San Diego. There is some risk associated with his start against St. Louis, but the fact that it is at home and is balanced out by another start against the Padres is enough for me to start him this week. Also, Lincecum’s 83 strikeouts in 91 innings doesn’t hurt either.
- For starters, the fact that Colin McHugh has already made 12 starts this season is surprise enough. With that being said, it is an even bigger surprise that he is sporting an ERA of just 2.86 to go along with his 1.05 WHIP. After starting the season in Triple-A, the right-hander has been more than even the steadying force the Astros were hoping for, and it truly is time to look at him as a legitimate starting pitcher even if he is still owned in just 62% of all CBS leagues. He is averaging six innings a start and has 81 strikeouts in 72.3 innings. At some point I would expect to see his ERA climb somewhat based on his BABIP of .247, although his strand rate of 72.6% has worked against him.
- Brad Mills might be the biggest bargain Billy Beane has ever found as the southpaw was acquired for just $1. With that being said, it makes sense that Mills would only be owned in 5% of CBS leagues, though that is something that can be expected to change. After putting up a 7.76 ERA thus far in his major league career prior to 2014, Mills was having success in Triple-A with a 1.56 ERA. Mills struggled in his debut for Oakland lasting only four innings while allowing two runs with eight base runners and four strikeouts. In his next start in New York against the Mets, Mills had better luck as he picked up the win with a quality start. After keeping the Mets scoreless through six innings, he gave up a three run home run in the seventh inning and for the game he scattered nine hits while striking out four and not allowing a walk. This week he starts in Detroit and at home against Toronto, which does make me a little hesitant to use him.