Fantasy baseball starting pitcher rankings for week 21

The match ups and data you see below were pulled Friday morning. Please be aware the match ups are subject to change. If you have any questions about the rankings hit me up Twitter @MattCommins

Pitching Notes

On paper James Paxton appears to be a really good streaming option. He has a sub-2.21 ERA with a 22.1 percent strikeout rate, he gets to pitch at home and faces the Rangers, who have the third lowest wOBA against left handed pitchers. A few days ago I wrote a “scouting report” that essentially said he’s going to be pitching in the Mariners’ bullpen in 2016 because I don’t think he’s going to throw strikes consistently to stay in the bullpen. In his last two starts his command has been extremely loose, but he has managed to get away with it in terms of it negatively effecting his ERA. I have Paxton ranked as a stream option in a 12-team mixed league, but I wouldn’t stream him in a 10-team because I wouldn’t be surprised if his command is missing again.

Since July Alex Cobb has a 1.93 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 25.5 percent strikeout rate and 6.1 percent walk rate (in eight starts). At the beginning of the season I was extremely high on Cobb and Corey Kluber because of the high ground ball and strikeout rates. Pitching in Baltimore’s ballpark isn’t ideal, but he has career 3.45 ERA in that ballpark, which makes him a must start in all formats.

Since joining the A’s Jeff Samardzija has been extremely prone, allowing eight home runs in nine starts. I’ve watched his starts and I don’t know why he’s homer prone; he keeps the ball down and his pitches are more effective when thrown down in the zone. His skill set suggests he’s been unlucky, but when fringe Major Leaguers (like Eric Campbell) are taking him deep I have to start to question what is he doing wrong because a pitcher of his caliber should be eating batters like Campbell for breakfast.

Colin McHugh has a 22.1 percent strikeout rate on pitches inside the strike zone, which is the fifth highest among starting pitchers with at least four starts this year. The only pitchers with higher strike out rates are Clayton Kershaw, Jose Fernandez, Chris Sale and Max Scherzer. McHugh is legitimate and is someone who is not going to go away next year.

Dillon Gee has been absolutely brutal since July began as he’s posted a 5.06 ERA and 1.25 WHIP (in eight starts). From what I’ve seen his biggest problem has been the long ball (14.5 percent HR/FB rate) and batters are hitting .300 with runners in scoring position (with a .375 BABIP). For the month of July batters are only hitting .236 with a .254 BABIP, which suggests he’s been pitching well, but has been unlucky with runners in scoring position.

Since June 17 Matt Shoemaker has been lights out posting a 3.25 ERA, 1.07 WHIP with a 24.5 percent strikeout rate and four percent walk rate (12 appearances and ten starts). What he’s doing is totally legit too. He has a plus fastball (on the scouting scale) to go along with slider that can miss right handed bats and a changeup that can miss left handed bats. A month ago a start against the A’s would have only made him a deep mixed league, but with the A’s recent scuffles and the Marlins being a bad team I have no hesitation starting Shoemaker.

A few days ago news came out that Zack Greinke has been pitching with a tender elbow for close to a month and was skipping bullpen sessions to manage the pain. During the past month he has pitched great, posting a 2.18 ERA and 1.00 WHIP with a 30.3 percent strikeout rate. Obviously this news doesn’t bode well for his long term value, but if you have him you’re starting him because it appears the sore elbow isn’t effecting his ability to pitch.

 

Posted in Fantasy Baseball | Leave a comment

Fantasy baseball starting pitcher rankings for week 20

The match ups and data you see below were pulled Friday morning. Please be aware the match ups are subject to change. If you have any questions about the rankings hit me up Twitter @MattCommins

Pitching Notes

Kyle Kendricks has been put up some really good numbers since making his Major League debut in early July, but I’m not buying yet. Let me clarify. He’s not going to continue to have a sub-2.00 ERA, but can he have an ERA in the 3.30-3.50 range the rest of the year? Yes, he can because he doesn’t walk batters and has pretty good command of the strike zone. However, his upside is limited from a fantasy perspective because he doesn’t miss enough bats (16 percent) to startable in shallower formats.

On the surface Drew Smyly’s start at the Blue Jays looks like he’s a must sit, but not necessarily. Before I looked up the statistics I thought the Jays would smash lefties because their lineup is so right handed heavy. However, the Jays are only 21st in the majors in wOBA and 20th in OPS. My ranking suggests he’s not a must start in a shallow leagues because he has been inconsistent all year and can be prone to more random blowup starts.

Stephen Strasburg is a really good pitcher, but I’m getting to the point where I’m starting to question his internal fortitude. It seems as though when hitters reach base he loses focus and becomes even more hittable. For example, in his career, when runners are not on-base hitters have a .591 OPS, but when runners are on-base batters have a .696 OPS. To put those numbers into perspective starting pitchers (with at least five starts this year) have a .696 OPS when the bases are empty and a .709 OPS when runners are on-base. The discrepancy is much lower in the aggregate compared to a 100 point difference for Strasburg. He has the upside to be a top five starting pitcher, but I don’t think it’s going to happen until he performs better when batters are on-base.

Since joining the Yankees Brandon McCarthy has a 2.21 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP with a 23.2 percent strikeout rate and a 3.9 percent walk rate. If he pitched in front of an above average defense he would be a must start in all formats, but that’s not the case especially when Derek Jeter is playing. In the last 30 days the Astros are eleventh in the majors in wOBA against righties and the lineup could get a boost if George Springer comes off the DL.

After the first two months of the season I ranked Ian Kennedy as a top 20-30 starting pitcher because he was missing a ton of bats and wasn’t walking batters. However, since June his walk rate is 9.9 percent and it looks as though it’s not going to substantially improve in the near future. He’s still missing a lot of bats, which will allow him to have really good starts in bursts, but he’s no longer an automatic start (even when he’s pitching at home).

After watching most of R.A. Dickey’s starts I’ve come to the conclusion that if you own him you have to leave him in your starting lineup regardless of how well/poor he has performed previously. I’ve tried “scouting” him, but I haven’t been able to gleam anything from what he’s doing. It seems as though the quality of the knuckleball changes from inning to inning and start to start. He gets to pitch in a National League park, but Miller Park is one of the worst parks for his fly ball heavy skill set.

Kevin Gausman has been underwhelming in his last five starts. He’s stopped missing bats (15.7 percent strikeout rate) and has been walking a lot of batters (9.4 percent walk rate). With any young pitcher there is going to be inconsistency, but I’m still a believer in his ultimate skill set moving forward. I’m expecting a bounce back start against a mediocre-below average offense in the Cubs.

Posted in Fantasy Baseball | Leave a comment