by Ray Kuhn
As we move through April the upcoming week is a little odd. Thanks to Patriot’s Day games begin at 11 AM on the east coast, with the Red Sox taking part in the annual tradition. We also have a winter that just will not quit causing postponements across the Midwest. Pending any other cancellations (and there’s a good chance there will be a few), let’s take a look at the pitchers slated to take the mound twice this week:
- Jacob deGrom – New York Mets – vs. Washington; at Atlanta
- Aaron Nola – Philadelphia Phillies – at Atlanta; vs. Pittsburgh
- Patrick Corbin – Arizona Diamondbacks – vs. San Francisco; vs. San Diego
- Masahiro Tanaka – New York Yankees – vs. Miami; vs. Toronto
- David Price – Boston Red Sox – at LA Angels; at Oakland
- Dallas Keuchel – Houston Astros – at Seattle; at Chicago White Sox
- James Paxton – Seattle Mariners – vs. Houston; at Texas
- Aaron Sanchez – Toronto Blue Jays – vs. Kansas City; at NY Yankees
- Michael Fulmer – Detroit Tigers – vs. Baltimore; vs. Kansas City
- Jon Lester – Chicago Cubs – vs. St. Louis; at Colorado
- Blake Snell – Tampa Bay Rays – vs. Texas; vs. Minnesota
- Lance McCullers – Houston Astros – at Seattle; at Chicago White Sox
- Jake Odorizzi – Minnesota Twins – vs. Cleveland; at Tampa Bay
- Mike Foltynewicz – Atlanta Braves – vs. Philadelphia; vs. New York Mets
- Luis Castillo – Cincinnati Reds – at Milwaukee; at St. Louis
- Tyler Skaggs – Los Angeles Angels – vs. Boston; vs. San Francisco
- Ian Kennedy – Kansas City Royals – at Toronto; at Detroit
- Danny Duffy – Kansas City Royals – at Toronto; at Detroit
- Nick Pivetta – Philadelphia Phillies – at Atlanta; at Pittsburgh
- Chris Stratton – San Francisco Giants – at Arizona; at LA Angels
- Marco Estrada – Toronto Blue Jays – vs. Kansas City; at New York Yankees
- Kevin Gausman – Baltimore Orioles – at Detroit; vs. Cleveland
- Zack Wheeler – New York Mets – vs. Washington; at Atlanta
- Junior Guerra – Milwaukee Brewers – vs. Cincinnati; vs. Miami
- Hyun-Jin Ryu – Los Angeles Dodgers – at San Diego; vs. Washington
- Brent Suter – Milwaukee Brewers – vs. Cincinnati; vs. Miami
- Andrew Cashner – Baltimore Orioles – at Boston; vs. Cleveland
- Trevor Williams – Pittsburgh Pirates – vs. Colorado; at Philadelphia
- Brandon McCarthy – Atlanta Braves – vs. Philadelphia; vs. New York Mets
- Steven Brault – Pittsburgh Pirates – vs. Colorado; at Philadelphia
- Adam Wainwright – St. Louis Cardinals – at Chicago Cubs; vs. Cincinnati
- German Marquez – Colorado Rockies – at Pittsburgh; vs. Chicago Cubs
- Luis Perdomo – San Diego Padres – vs. LA Dodgers; at Arizona
- Martin Perez – Texas Rangers – at Tampa Bay; vs. Seattle
- Jordan Zimmermann – Detroit Tigers – vs. Baltimore; vs. Kansas City
- A.J. Cole – Washington Nationals – at New York Mets; at LA Dodgers
- Carson Fulmer – Chicago White Sox – at Oakland; vs. Houston
- Caleb Smith – Miami Marlins – at New York Yankees; at Milwaukee
- After two straight quality starts to begin the season, Masahiro Tanaka had his share of struggles against Boston in last start. The right-hander was ultimately bailed out by the Yankees’ offense to pick up the victory, but he allowed six runs on seven hits and two walks in five innings. That left his ERA at 5.19 on the season, but that looks worse than it actually is. The two walks were his first of the season, and in his other two starts the right-hander has allowed just four runs in 12.1 innings. The weather wasn’t exactly ideal in Boston as Tanaka struck out just three batters after fanning 15 in his first two starts. This week he gets the gift of facing the Marlins who really are just masquerading as a major league baseball team followed by a Blue Jays team without Josh Donaldson.
- Speaking of starting pitchers struggling with weather conditions and therefore the feel of their pitches, Lance McCullers had one terrible inning against Minnesota in his last start( though overall l he allowed eight runs on seven hits and six walks as there was traffic on the bases all afternoon). That leads to a concern that has yet to dissipate for McCullers; facing batters for a third time. It also helps to explain part of the reason why Houston lifted the right-hander after five innings in his first two starts of the season. Despite his struggles in last start McCullers did strikeout six batters, and he still has fantasy value so you shouldn’t give up on him just yet. With the Astros he is in one of the best positions to be successful and he is a good buy-low candidate if someone in your league is spooked. Just keep in mind, it likely won’t be a straight line to that point.
- The good news is that Aaron Sanchez has made it through spring training and his first three starts of the season healthy. He even has limited the damage as a 3.66 ERA through 19.2 innings. Now we get to the bad news, the right-hander has a 1.42 WHIP which has been partly driven by 11 walks. His last start was his best as he picked up his second victory of the season with eight innings of one run ball on three hits and five walks against the Orioles. He takes a 4.52 FIP and 5.20 xFIP into the week as he gets to feast against a middling Royals lineup and then deal with what has been an up and own Yankees’ offense. Sanchez is keeping the ball on the ground, 54.5% ground ball rate, but to truly be successful he will need limit the walks and increase the strikeouts; just 5.95 per nine innings.
- A certain two-way player is getting all of the buzz in Los Angeles, but there are other players worthy of our attention. Health is always going to be a concern for Tyler Skaggs until we see him make it through a full season in the rotation, but so far so good. He has gotten off to a solid start to the season, but he will need to work on being more efficient. Over his last two starts he has managed just 4.2 and five innings respectively, but he eclipsed 100 pitches both times. That is just not a recipe for success. The good thing is that Skaggs has limited the damage and has allowed three runs all season on 13 hits and six walks. We do need to keep an eye on the four walks the southpaw had in his last start, but he has also struck out a combined 17 batters. Even Skaggs’ xFIP of 3.61 suggests that he will continue to have success, but it would be nice to see him pitch deeper into games.
- Last season was terrible for Ian Kennedy, a 5.38 ERA, and that didn’t exactly give him much in the way of respect entering the 2018 season. To start the year the right-hander has looked like a different pitcher, and through three starts he has a 1.00 ERA. Kennedy has allowed two runs all season, while pitching six innings in each start and limiting opponents to 15 hits and four walks. The right-hander has also struck out 16 batters, and while he has some fantasy value I would still tread with a little bit of caution. Kennedy has a 2.66 FIP and a 3.49 xFIP, and he certainly has benefited from a 96.6% strand rate. In the past he has had his share of success, also his share of struggles, and he is, at the very least, a streaming option. Kennedy also will benefit from facing the Blue Jays and Tigers this week.
- The lower end options all come with question marks, and the one I feel the best about is Zack Wheeler. The right-hander has the pedigree and buzz surrounding him as a former top-prospect, but his time in the rotation is likely drawing to a close. As a theme that will continue all season, we have to be careful not to overrate a pitcher’s performance against the Marlins. After struggling in the spring while trying to incorporate some changes and improvements to his motion, Wheeler had a successful start to the season in Triple-A. After allowing a solo home run to the second batter of the game against Miami in his ’18 debut, Wheeler rebounded and allowed just one hit and walk for the remainder of the night as he went seven innings for the victory. To this point it is the deepest a Mets’ starter has pitched into a game, and if he has success again this week it will be interesting to see what happens when Jason Vargas returns. Either way Wheeler still has value this week; although he does have to face the Nationals and Braves.
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