by Ray Kuhn
Just like that we are into June. This is the time of year where it’s truly the moment to begin to shape the rest of your season. Are you going to be a buyer or seller? Are you trading from strength or weakness? What will your strategy be over the next four months of the season? Will two start pitchers be part of your strategy, attempting to maximize strikeouts and wins while risking ratios? As you try to answer those questions, let’s take a look at how our options rank:
- Corey Kluber – Cleveland Indians – vs. Milwaukee; at Detroit
- Luis Severino – New York Yankees – at Detroit; at NY Mets
- James Paxton – Seattle Mariners – at Houston; at Tampa Bay
- Dallas Keuchel – Houston Astros – vs. Seattle; at Texas
- Kyle Hendricks – Chicago Cubs – vs. Philadelphia; vs. Pittsburgh
- Sean Newcomb – Atlanta Braves – at San Diego; at LA Dodgers
- Eduardo Rodriguez – Boston Red Sox – vs. Detroit; vs. Chicago White Sox
- Julio Teheran – Atlanta Braves – at San Diego; at LA Dodgers
- Sean Manaea – Oakland A’s – at Texas; vs. Kansas City
- Fernando Romero – Minnesota Twins – vs. Chicago White Sox; vs. LA Angels
- Zack Godley – Arizona Diamondbacks – at San Francisco; at Colorado
- Dylan Bundy – Baltimore Orioles – at NY Mets; at Toronto
- Ross Stripling – LA Dodgers – at Pittsburgh; vs. Atlanta
- Joe Musgrove – Pittsburgh Pirates – vs. LA Dodgers; at Chicago Cubs
- Jake Odorizzi – Minnesota Twins – vs. Chicago White Sox; vs. LA Angels
- Danny Duffy – Kansas City Royals – at LA Angels; at Oakland
- Nathan Eovaldi – Tampa Bay Rays – at Washington; vs. Seattle
- Junior Guerra- Milwaukee Brewers – at Cleveland; at Philadelphia
- Kyle Freeland – Colorado Rockies – at Cincinnati; vs. Arizona
- Marco Estrada – Toronto Blue Jays – vs. NY Yankees; vs. Baltimore
- Clayton Richard – San Diego Padres – vs. Atlanta; at Miami
- Reynaldo Lopez – Chicago White Sox – at Minnesota; at Boston
- Mike Fiers – Detroit Tigers – vs. NY Yankees; vs. Cleveland
- Derek Holland – San Francisco Giants – vs. Arizona; at Washington
- Jose Urena – Miami Marlins – at St. Louis; vs. San Diego
- Zach Eflin – Philadelphia Phillies – at Chicago Cubs; vs. Milwaukee
- Brad Keller – Kansas City Royals – at LA Angels; at Oakland
- Matt Moore – Texas Rangers – vs. Oakland; vs. Houston
- Lucas Giolito – Chicago White Sox – at Minnesota; at Boston
- Ryan Carpenter – Detroit Tigers – at Boston; vs. Cleveland
- Sal Romano – Cincinnati Reds – vs. Colorado; vs. St. Louis
- In this age of true outcomes (home runs, strikeouts or walks) Kyle Hendricks is an outlier. The right-hander pitches to contact and he has proven to be successful doing so. Yes, he has just 52 strikeouts in 67.2 innings of work this season (6.92 per nine innings) but he makes it work, you just need to make up the strikeout difference elsewhere. Of course having Hendricks in a week in which he is taking the mound twice helps. One of the best things we can say is that he limits walks, just 14 this season, and that is a large factor in his WHIP of just 1.06. He has benefited from a .242 BABIP, but his career mark is .271 so I wouldn’t be too hung up on expecting a regression. The fact that the he also has a 48.3% ground ball rate helps, and hitters don’t get a lot of hard contact off Hendricks (32.7%). Plus he has been consistent so far this season, and the four runs he allowed in his second start are his highest all year.
- Sean Manaea has to be happy that the month of May is over. It’s been a tale of two months, as after posting a 1.03 ERA in April his ERA jumped to 7.18 in May. Some of that was “luck” related, or positive regression as after posting a .148 BABIP in April, it regressed to the mean and his BABIP in May was .300. The few base runners he did allow to reach also failed to cross the plate in April as he had a 98.2% strand rate, which dropped to 59.6% in May. Aside from one start in which he allowed six runs in 3.2 innings, Manaea hasn’t really gotten blown up but has failed to eclipse six innings of work in each of his last six starts and he is allowing an average of just over four earned runs per start. In his last start against Tampa Bay three of the four runs were attributed to one bad pitch. Despite the lack of strikeouts, 56 in 75 innings, there are some things to like with his 14 walks allowed being one of them. After walking 3.12 batters per nine innings last season, he has cut that to 1.68 in 2018. With a 3.60 ERA and 0.97 WHIP the overall picture is quite pleasing, and with a 4.21 FIP, this is the pitcher we can expect to see moving forward. Despite the recent struggles, Manaea does have a favorable week ahead as he faces the Rangers and Royals.
- At this point you have to be frustrated with Danny Duffy. He has been a disappointment and damage has been done to your ERA. Doubling down may sound a little crazy, perhaps desperate, but starting Duffy this week isn’t all that outlandish. Two starts doesn’t make a season, but in that stretch he has seen his ERA drop from 6.88 to 5.71. In each of those starts the left-hander has allowed just one run, first in 7.2 innings and then in 6.0 innings. He limited the opponent to four hits in each start, but the only concerning thing is the walks. After walking just two batters, he did walk four batters in his last start and control has been an issue all season as he is walking 4.31 batters per nine innings while only generating a 33% ground ball rate. Duffy’s xFIP of 5.19 does offer some optimism, but this is more than just bad luck, he simply needs to pitch better. While the Angels are a difficult opponent, facing Oakland in his second start of the week should provide Duffy a chance to continue righting the ship.
- It was bound to happen. Fernando Romero wasn’t going to be promoted to the big leagues and throw a gem each time out. After allowing a combined five runs in his first five starts, 28.2 innings, he got shelled by the Royals in his most recent start. The right-hander lasted 1.2 innings and allowed eight runs as he watched his ERA climb from 1.88 to 4.15. While that made for an unpleasant look at your standings, I also wouldn’t hold it against him. In his first three starts Romero walked three batters each, but in his last three starts he has walked a combined five batters including just one against Kansas City while he was getting blown up. With 30 strikeouts in 30.1 innings he has shown that he can be a dominating pitcher, and I look for him to bounce back this week against the White Sox, and possibly the Angels.
- Dylan Bundy isn’t a bad pitcher. There is plenty of talent, but the results have been inconsistent at best. Essentially we have enough to keep you on the hook despite his 4.46 ERA and 1.30 WHIP. In his last start against Washington Bundy allowed 11 hits, but he was able to limit the damage to just three runs in six innings while not walking a batter. On the season he is 3-7, so he certainly has been involved in the decisions, but too often he has come out on the losing side as Baltimore’s offense also deserves some of the blame. With 83 strikeouts in 68.2 innings there is consistent value and he is also limiting the walks (20). The issue is the fact that he is just allowing too many hits, with 69 on the season. Bundy’s opponents this week, the Mets and the Blue Jays, should give him a chance at two wins.
- It may sound a little crazy, shocking even, but Dallas Keuchel is currently pitching like the Astros’ fifth starter. Don’t let the success of his rotation mates, or his seven losses, ruin the fact that he is still a pretty good starting pitcher. Overall the southpaw has a 3.65 ERA and 1.23 WHIP, and from a fantasy perspective it’s hard to argue with those results (just not as your ace). The one thing that he does need to improve is ground ball rate, as that is down to 54.8% from 66.8% last season.
Missed our Top 100 prospect rankings? Make sure to check it out by clicking here.