by Ray Kuhn
Now we are cooking… There is a week and a half of action in the books, and with all of the home openers out of the way we are back to the normal rhythm of the regular season schedule. The good news is that this week we have aces on the board. If you are already fretting about your place in the standings, some of these options could help you turn the tide. With that being said, let’s take a look at our options for this week and try to determine who is worth using and who can be ignored:
- Max Scherzer – Washington Nationals – vs. Atlanta; vs. Colorado
- Chris Sale – Boston Red Sox – vs. NY Yankees; vs. Baltimore
- Corey Kluber – Cleveland Indians – vs. Detroit; vs. Toronto
- Luis Severino – New York Yankees – at Boston; at Detroit
- Noah Syndergaard – New York Mets – at Miami; vs. Milwaukee
- Justin Verlander – Houston Astros – at Minnesota; vs. Texas
- Stephen Strasburg – Washington Nationals – vs. Atlanta; vs. Colorado
- Carlos Martinez – St. Louis Cardinals – vs. Milwaukee; at Cincinnati
- Chris Archer – Tampa Bay Rays – at Chicago White Sox; vs. Philadelphia
- Zack Godley – Arizona Diamondbacks – at San Francisco; at LA Dodgers
- Jon Gray – Colorado Rockies – vs. San Diego; at Washington
- Dylan Bundy – Baltimore Orioles – vs. Toronto; at Boston
- Johnny Cueto – San Francisco Giants – vs. Arizona; at San Diego
- Garrett Richards – LA Angels – at Texas; at Kansas City
- Jake Odorizzi – Minnesota Twins – vs. Houston; vs. Chicago White Sox
- Julio Teheran – Atlanta Braves – at Washington; at Chicago Cubs
- J.A. Happ – Toronto Blue Jays – at Baltimore; at Cleveland
- Jake Junis – Kansas City Royals – vs. Seattle; vs. LA Angels
- Felix Hernandez – Seattle Mariners – at Kansas City; vs. Oakland
- Tyler Skaggs – LA Angels – at Texas; at Kansas City
- Kyle Gibson – Minnesota Twins – vs. Houston; vs. Chicago White Sox
- Homer Bailey – Cincinnati Reds – at Philadelphia; vs. St. Louis
- Ivan Nova – Pittsburgh Pirates – at Chicago Cubs; at Miami
- Miles Mikolas – St. Louis Cardinals – vs. Milwaukee; at Cincinnati
- Jhoulys Chacin – Milwaukee Brewers – at St. Louis; at NY Mets
- Ben Lively – Philadelphia Phillies – vs. Cincinnati; at Tampa Bay
- Josh Tomlin – Cleveland Indians – vs. Detroit; vs. Toronto
- Tyler Anderson – Colorado Rockies – vs. San Diego; at Washington
- Joey Lucchesi – San Diego Padres – at Colorado; vs. San Francisco
- Matthew Boyd – Detroit Tigers – at Cleveland; vs. NY Yankees
- Francisco Liriano – Detroit Tigers – at Cleveland; vs. NY Yankees
- Clayton Richard – San Diego Padres – at Colorado; vs. San Francisco
- Carson Fulmer – Chicago White Sox – vs. Tampa Bay; at Minnesota
- Doug Fister – Texas Rangers – vs. LA Rangers; at Houston
- Jose Urena – Miami Marlins – vs. NY Mets; vs. Pittsburgh
- Derek Holland – San Francisco Giants – vs. Arizona; at San Diego
- Miguel Gonzalez – Chicago White Sox – vs. Tampa Bay; at Minnesota
- Cody Reed – Cincinnati Reds – at Philadelphia; vs. St. Louis
- Eric Skoglund – Kansas City Royals – vs. Seattle; vs. LA Angels
- Last year was a disappointment for Johnny Cueto, and it left fantasy owners questioning what we can expect from him. In 2017 he posted a 4.52 ERA and 1.45 WHIP, and there were no clear signs to explain why he struggled. After his first two starts this season things appear to be looking up. In his first start of the season Cueto allowed just one run in seven innings while striking out four Dodgers. His next start didn’t go as smoothly, eight hits in six innings, but he was able to limit the damage to just one run. It is slightly troubling that he only struck out one batter, but this is a far cry from where we last saw Cueto in 2017. He did have an issue with his ankle while attempting to field a come backer, but he did stay in the game and appears to be healthy. This week he faces the Diamondbacks at home and then the Padres on the road, so things are looking good. We just need a few more strikeouts, but it is a positive sign that he has been limiting the walks (2 BB in 13 IP).
- One pitcher who isn’t having an issue with strikeouts so far this season is Dylan Bundy. Through two starts, 13 innings, he has struck out 15 batters (against just three walks) and has been dominant. The former first round draft pick and top prospect has failed to live up to expectations so far in his career, but this might be the year it happens. Last season Bundy made it through a full season, 169.2 innings and 28 starts, and the results were mixed. In the second half we did see some improvement from the right-hander; a 4.09 ERA (4.24 for the season), 3.51 FIP and .221 batting average against. The pedigree is there, he has struck out 8.06 batters per nine innings, and the big thing is remaining healthy. After facing the Blue Jays at home to start the week Bundy does have a difficult test in Boston, but he was able to navigate the Astros without incident last week which helps ease the concerns slightly.
- Early season stats can sometimes be rougher than they look, and that’s the case for Garrett Richards and his 5.06 ERA. After missing most of last season due to injury the Angels are easing him back into action. Part of the issue has been pitch count, and he’s not yet at the point where he can be fully counted on. In his first start Richards allowed four runs on seven hits and three walks in five innings against Oakland. He followed that up by limiting the Indians to two runs on one hit and four walks in his most recent start. The most positive sign is that after striking out four batters in his debut, Richards sent nine Cleveland hitters back to the bench without making contact. This week both of Richards’ starts are favorable, at Texas and at Kansas City, so I would look for him to build upon his success.
- The sample size is small, but it looks like we might have gotten some false hope out of Felix Hernandez in his first start of the season. After the right-hander shutout the Indians in 5.1 innings on just two hits and two walks, while striking out four, he did not fare nearly as well against the Giants. After struggling to start the season, facing Hernandez appeared to be just what San Francisco needed to get on track. The right-hander wasn’t surprising anyone as he generated just seven swings and misses on 87 pitches. Overall the Giants tallied eight runs on six hits and five walks over four innings while striking out just one batter. The match-ups are on the favorable side this week, at Kansas City and at home against Oakland, I’m going to be exercising caution.
- Last season Joey Lucchesi rose up through the ranks of San Diego’s minor league system. In 78.2 innings the southpaw put up a 2.52 ERA in Double-A and then followed that up with a 1.79 ERA in 60.1 innings at Triple-A. Dinelson Lamet’s injury cemented a spot in San Diego’s rotation for Lucchesi, and there is some fantasy value to be had. As with all young pitchers it won’t be a stable and steady ride, but overall there should be more good than bad. Currently he is owned in 14% of CBS leagues and that is just too low. In his MLB debut he lasted 4.2 innings and allowed three runs on seven hits against Milwaukee while striking out just one batter. We saw an improvement in his next start as he shut the Rockies out over five innings. Lucchesi limited Colorado to one hit, he did walk three, but he also struck out seven batters. This week he faces the Rockies again, the issue is that it’s coming in Coors Field. Don’t go all in for this week, unless you feel like taking a risk, but there is some value here long term.
- If you are looking to stream a deep option this week Ben Lively is the direction in which I’m going. Owned in 10% of CBS leagues, Lively is coming off a solid outing against the Mets in his season debut. We know the Phillies are handling their bullpen in a strange manner, but Lively is still worth a look. He held New York to two runs in 5.2 innings on six hits and two walks while striking out five as he looks to improve on his 4.26 ERA from last season (88.2 innings). That came on the heels of a 3.15 ERA in 97 innings at Triple-A, and at this point he is a 26-year old fringe prospect. In facing the Reds (at home) and Tampa Bay (on the road), Lively has two solid match-ups if you are looking to chase wins.
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