This point in the season, at least for me, is when I begin to truly look at the standings. Not necessarily where I am in the overall standings, although in true dynasty leagues that is the case, but what each category looks like. Before you make any trades this has to be your starting point. Of course taking a look at your Injured List, everyone seems to have multiple players there, must also be done to at least evaluate what players you have returning.
The other thing we have to do, and often forget about, is innings limits. When it comes to managing your pitching staff, and that includes targeting two start pitchers, it is helpful to know where you are in relationship to both the innings minimum and maximum. With that being said, let’s jump right into how our options rank for this week:
- Justin Verlander – Houston Astros – vs. Chicago White Sox; vs. Boston
- Carlos Carrasco – Cleveland Indians – vs. Oakland; vs. Tampa Bay
- Patrick Corbin – Washington Nationals – at NY Mets; vs. Miami
- Clayton Kershaw – LA Dodgers – at Tampa Bay; at Pittsburgh
- Trevor Bauer – Cleveland Indians – vs. Oakland; vs. Tampa Bay
- Chris Paddack – San Diego Padres – vs. Arizona; at Toronto
- Luke Weaver – Arizona Diamondbacks – at San Diego; at San Francisco
- German Marquez – Colorado Rockies – at Pittsburgh; vs. Baltimore
- Domingo German – NY Yankees – at Baltimore; at Kansas City
- Caleb Smith – Miami Marlins – at Detroit; at Washington
- Zack Wheeler – NY Mets – vs. Washington; vs. Detroit
- Jake Odorizzi – Minnesota Twins – at LA Angels; vs. Chicago White Sox
- Jose Quintana – Chicago Cubs – vs. Philadelphia; vs. Cincinnati
- Mike Soroka – Atlanta Braves – at San Francisco; at St. Louis
- J.A. Happ – NY Yankees – at Baltimore; at Kansas City
- Julio Teheran – Atlanta Braves – at San Francisco; at St. Louis
- Eduardo Rodriguez – Boston Red Sox – at Toronto; at Houston
- Zach Eflin – Philadelphia Phillies – at Chicago Cubs; at Milwaukee
- Jake Arrieta – Philadelphia Phillies – at Chicago Cubs; at Milwaukee
- Chris Archer – Pittsburgh Pirates – vs. Colorado; vs. LA Dodgers
- Yu Darvish – Chicago Cubs – vs. Philadelphia; vs. Cincinnati
- Spencer Turnbull – Detroit Tigers – vs. Miami; at NY Mets
- Marcus Stroman – Toronto Blue Jays – vs. Boston; vs. San Diego
- Wade Miley – Houston Astros – vs. Chicago White Sox; vs. Boston
- Mike Leake – Seattle Mariners – at Texas; at Oakland
- Felix Pena – LA Angels – vs. Minnesota; vs. Texas
- Jeff Samardzjia – San Francisco Giants – vs. Atlanta; vs. Arizona
- Brett Anderson – Oakland A’s – vs. Minnesota; vs. Seattle
- Andrew Cashner – Baltimore Orioles – vs. NY Yankees; at Colorado
- Dylan Covey – Chicago White Sox – at Houston; at Minnesota
- Homer Bailey – Kansas City Royals – at. St. Louis; vs. NY Yankees
- Shelby Miller – Texas Rangers – vs. Seattle; at LA Angels
- Edwin Jackson – Toronto Blue Jays – vs. Boston; vs. San Diego
- David Hess – Baltimore Orioles – vs. NY Yankees; at Colorado
- While people may not look at Carlos Carrasco as a true ace, I would beg to differ. The Cleveland right-hander has consistently been a productive option, and over his last three starts his ERA is just 1.83. Carrasco hasn’t walked a batter in that stretch while striking out 21 in 19.2 innings. It is a good sign as he had struggled earlier this season, which explains his current ERA of 4.18. His WHIP is 1.16, so base runners haven’t been the issue, and with just seven walks damage against Carrasco is earned. The .335 BABIP helps to explain his 3.02 xFIP, and it gives fantasy owners a look at what he is capable of. Home runs have been an issue, uncharacteristically so at 1.52, but he does make up for it with 11.79 strikeouts per nine innings. That makes him a very strong borderline SP1 option, as in four of his starts he didn’t allow an earned run.
- It has been hard to ignore the dominance we are seeing from Domingo German, but what do we make of it? Well his worst start this season saw him allow four runs in six innings and his ERA is 2.50. German has appeared in nine games, eight starts, and the right-hander is 8-1 with a WHIP of 0.95. Through 50.1 innings he has allowed just 33 hits while walking 15 and striking out 52. Based on his success we shouldn’t be surprised by his .225 BABIP, but with a 3.87 xFIP the risk is minimal. As far as match-ups go, in Baltimore and Kansas City, it’s hard to get better than that.
- Another young pitcher with recent success is Mike Soroka. In his last three starts the right-hander’s ERA is just 0.45. Over that stretch he has struck out 13 batters while walking eight in 20 innings, but on the season he does have 34 strikeouts in 36.2 innings. His 14 walks would be a cause for concern, but with 23 hits allowed Soroka’s WHIP sits at 1.01. What really is crazy is the fact that is ERA is even better than that, at 0.98. In six starts Soroka has still yet to allow more than one run in an outing, and while that can’t continue it is a pretty good start to the season and will give the prospect a little bit of rope. As Soroka’s BABIP rises, currently .230, his ERA is bound to increase. At this point he is just about match-up proof, but at some point it’s possible that changes. Facing the Giants on the road is a good start to the week, and that should sustain him as he closes the week in St. Louis.
- If you want to talk about frustrating, Yu Darvish certainly comes to mind. The problem for the right-hander is quite apparent, his control. Walks have not been kind to Darvishn, 33 in 42 innings, and with that being said his 1.62 WHIP should not be surprising. In fact it could actually be worse, but he has allowed less than a hit per inning (35). Darvish has also shown the inability to get out of trouble, and his 5.14 is a reflection of that. At least he has 55 strikeouts, so all is not lost. The true problem isn’t exactly all the runs he is allowing, but the fact that due to all the walks he isn’t averaging five innings per start. After getting through four innings against a not very good Miami team as he walked six batters, it was a good sign to see him make it through five innings of work against the Reds without walking a batter. I still have some level of skpeticism, but he’s too talented to just write-off.
- Is it really worth going down the Mike Leake route? At this point, whether we are talking about him specifically or other starting pitchers with low ownership levels (the right-hander is at 33% in CBS leagues), the point and the questions are the same. The fact that we are still in May means the answer is going to be different than it would be in September. Is it really worth the risk? Yes, Leake does have a 2.29 ERA in his last three starts, but for the season his ERA is 4.00 with a WHIP of 1.35. That is truly the pitcher Leake is, and while the match-ups could be worse (Texas and Oakland), I’m not sure it’s worth the risk as there really isn’t much upside. With more than two thirds of the season left, I’m staying away from the low end of the starting pitching pool.