Just when you think you have it… You don’t. When things go wrong the natural, and often correct, response is to double down and work harder. While there is nothing wrong with hard work, research and due diligence when it comes to fantasy baseball, trying to figure out pitching this season has proven to be virtually impossible. You can fine tune your process and look for an edge but, and I know it sounds like a broken record, don’t overreact. Just roll with the tide and be aware that we are in a new age of baseball.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t value to be found, so let’s take a look at those who are taking the mound twice:
- Stephen Strasburg – Washington Nationals – vs. Chicago White Sox; at San Diego
- Aaron Nola – Philadelphia Phillies – at San Diego; vs. Cincinnati
- Blake Snell – Tampa Bay Rays – at Detroit; at Boston
- Walker Buehler – LA Dodgers – at Arizona; at San Francisco
- Masahiro Tanaka – NY Yankees – at Toronto; at Cleveland
- Noah Syndergaard – NY Mets – vs. San Francisco; vs. Colorado
- Madison Bumgarner – San Francisco Giants – at NY Mets; vs. LA Dodgers
- Mike Minor – Texas Rangers – vs. Baltimore; vs. Oakland
- Shane Bieber – Cleveland Indians – vs. Minnesota; vs. NY Yankees
- Kyle Hendricks – Chicago Cubs – vs. Colorado; vs. St. Louis
- Luis Castillo – Cincinnati Reds – at St. Louis; at Philadelphia
- Frankie Montas – Oakland A’s – at LA Angels; at Texas
- Chris Paddack – San Diego Padres – vs. Philadelphia; vs. Washington
- Robbie Ray – Arizona Diamondbacks – vs. LA Dodgers; at Toronto
- Max Fried – Atlanta Braves – at Pittsburgh; at Miami
- Wade Miley – Houston Astros – at Seattle; vs. Baltimore
- Jon Lester – Chicago Cubs – vs. LA Angels; vs. St. Louis
- Martin Perez – Minnesota Twins – at Cleveland; at Detroit
- Griffin Canning – LA Angels – vs. Oakland; vs. Seattle
- Yusei Kikuchi – Seattle Mariners – vs. Houston; at LA Angels
- Eric Lauer – San Diego Padres – vs. Philadelphia; vs. Washington
- Pablo Lopez – Miami Marlins – at Milwaukee; vs. Atlanta
- Eduardo Rodriguez – Boston Red Sox – at Kansas City; vs. Tampa Bay
- Chase Anderson – Milwaukee Brewers – vs. Miami; vs. Pittsburgh
- Daniel Mengden – Oakland A’s – at LA Angels; at Texas
- Dylan Bundy – Baltimore Orioles – at Texas; at Houston
- Corbin Martin – Houston Astros – at Seattle; vs. Baltimore
- Trevor Cahill – LA Angels – at Chciago Cubs; vs. Seattle
- Wade LeBlanc – Seattle Mariners – vs. Houston; at LA Angels
- Reynaldo Lopez – Chicago White Sox – at Washington; at Kansas City
- Clayton Richard – Toronto Blue Jays – vs. NY Yankees; vs. Arizona
- Steven Brault – Pittsburgh Pirates – vs. Atlanta; at Milwaukee
- Drew Smyly – Texas Rangers – vs. Baltimore; vs. Oakland
- Jeff Hoffman – Colorado Rockies – at Chicago Cubs; at NY Mets
- Genesis Cabrera – St. Louis Cardinals – vs. Cincinnati; at Chicago Cubs
- Ryan Weber – Boston Red Sox – at Kansas City; vs. Tampa Bay
- Ryan Carpenter – Detroit Tigers – vs. Tampa Bay; vs. Minnesota
- Glenn Sparkman – Kansas City Royals – vs. Boston; vs. Chicago White Sox
- One pitcher who is showing that his early season struggles appear to be behind him, and that he is who we thought, is Aaron Nola. The right-hander was drafted like an ace, but in the first month of the season he looked like anything but. Nola’s ERA peaked on April 15th (7.46), and for the most part it has gone down in each subsequent start. After picking up his sixth victory of the season in his last start Nola’s ERA now sits at 4.17, but you shouldn’t let that scare you off. Last season his ERA was 2.37, but his 3.01 FIP showed that perhaps he wasn’t quite as good as originally thought (his .251 BABIP was a contributing factor in that). With an xFIP of 3.75 in ’19 there is still some room for Nola to improve, but maybe we should revise our earlier statement as he isn’t exactly 100% of the pitcher we saw last year. The skill level and potential is there, but Nola needs to improve his 3.90 walks per nine innings as well as his 1.39 home runs allowed per nine innings.
- Madison Bumgarner is getting results so far this season, but he is not the ace he once was. It is very possible, and likely even, that the left-hander is moved prior to the trading deadline, and with that being the case San Francisco is being careful with him. Through 12 starts he is averaging just over six innings per outing (74 in total), and while he isn’t dominating he certainly could help a team. Bumgarner has a 4.01 ERA, but also a very manageable 1.19 WHIP thanks to his 14 walks in 74 innings. Eight out of his outings have been quality starts and he is striking out a batter per inning, so for the most part he was been a dependable option. You can easily use Bumgarner without thinking, and especially in a week in which he is taking the mound twice.
- After struggling against the Nationals in his last start, are we beginning to see a slow down from Max Fried? The rookie allowed four runs over 5.2 innings, but with nine hits and five walks things could have been worse. Through 13 games, 11 starts, he has a 3.19 ERA with a 1.21 WHIP with 56 strikeouts in 62 innings. For the most part we haven’t gotten too high or too low on him this season. With a .299 BABIP and 54% ground ball rate, for the most part what we are seeing from Fried is what we can expect all season. Facing the Pirates and Marlins will offer a minimal amount of risk, and I wouldn’t be all that concerned about him following his loss to the Nationals.
- It might be a little ugly, but Wade Miley is going to get the job done. While you aren’t going to get dominating performance, the left-hander will do a very good job of keeping you in the game, and with an offense and bullpen as strong as Houston’s that really is all you need. The fact that his match-ups this week, at Seattle and at home against Baltimore, should offer minimal resistance also works in his favor. With an average of a little less than six innings per start, Miley isn’t going to pitch deep into games, but with a 5-3 record he does have a decision in two thirds of his 12 starts. Despite the fact that he does have 19 strikeouts in 18 innings over his last three starts, that isn’t going to be a common trend as he has 54 strikeouts in 69.1 innings. After striking out 5.58 batters and walking 3.01 batters per nine innings last season, those marks have jumped to 7.01 and 2.08, respectfully. Miley does have a 4.39 FIP, as he has clearly benefited from a .260 BABIP, but the left-hander has also reaped the rewards of Houston’s defense.
- Daniel Mengden does have a 3.31 ERA in his last three starts, but it’s not that favorable. We have seen this before, but his 11 walks against just 13 strikeouts brings some level of concern. For starters, eventually those walks (6.1 BB/9) are going to catch up to him (despite a 3.05 ERA and 3.34 FIP, Mengden’s xFIP checks in at a whopping 5.65). There could be worse match-ups, on the road against the Angels and Rangers, but despite the ERA I’m going to keep my distance as the walks could easily create some problems.
- Early in the season I had some interest in Drew Smyly, as the left-hander was making his return from Tommy John surgery. Most had forgotten about him and there were some questions about him even prior to injury. Then he took the mound and that all changed. In his last three starts the southpaw has been taking some steps in the right direction, and he might be worth a closer look. After all, was it fair to Smyly to expect him to return and settle into a groove right away? The problem is that in those three starts, while Smyly has a 3.86 he has pitched a total of 14 innings. After two decent starts, a combined five runs in 10 innings of work, he took a step back allowing seven runs on eight hit in five innings of work to bring his ERA back up to 6.98. A 6.66 FIP doesn’t make things look anymore attractive. Unless you are in a very deep league where every inning matters, facing Baltimore isn’t enough to give me some confidence to feel good about using him. While he is striking out a batter per inning, the left-hander is also walking 6.28 so keep your distance.