Fantasy baseball starting pitcher rankings for week 16

These fantasy baseball starting pitcher rankings were pulled Thursday morning. Please be aware the matchups are subject to change. The data is up to date as of Wednesday night.

Must-start pitchers

Jeff Samardzija grabbed all the headlines after being traded, but when the trade occurred I said Jason Hammel would be the better pitcher the rest of the year and thus, have more fantasy value. Hammel has the better strikeout rate and most importantly, the lower walk rate. Unlike Samardzija, Hammel gets substantially more outs via the fly ball, which isn’t a big deal because he’ll pitch his home games in Oakland. The A’s will not need a fifth starter until July 26th (at Texas) so it could be Jesse Chavez, Tommy Milone or Drew Pomeranz (he came off the DL and was sent to Triple-A) who take that spot. … For his career, Dillon Gee has a 3.15 ERA and 1.21 WHIP (in 49 games, 47 starts) compared to a 4.44 ERA and 1.36 WHIP on the road. This year in three road starts this year he has a 1.93 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. Odds are the road statistics are going to regress, but I don’t see that happening in San Diego. If I was in a daily league I wouldn’t start him in Milwaukee though. The Brewers have the 7th highest OPS against righties in the majors for the year. If you play in weekly formats I would start Gee because his outing in San Diego will be good enough to offset the expected poor start in Milwaukee. … I was a big believer in Alex Cobb heading into the season and obviously he has underperformed so far. In mid-April he hit the DL with an oblique strain and missed nearly six weeks of the season. Cobb is someone I would target because his peripherals are the same as last year and the quality of his stuff is still the same, which indicates he’s been unlucky. His BABIP is slightly higher than last year, but the biggest difference is the strand rate; last year it was 81.4 percent and this year it’s 71 percent. He has a career 74.5 percent strand rate so he should see a positive regression in the second half. Also, I detailed why the Rays offense should back in the second half, which means the Rays pitchers should have a lot of winning opportunities.

Stream options in 10-team & must-starts in 12-team

Zack Wheeler has a 2.67 and 1.19 WHIP in his last five starts, but I’m not buying it. He faced the Marlins twice, Rangers, Braves and the A’s, who lit him up for six earned runs in two innings. Like Gee, I love the start in San Diego. However, in weekly formats I’m not as optimistic because he could easily blow up in Milwaukee because of his propensity to walk a lot of batters and the Brewers smash right handed pitching. … Barring injury Rubby De La Rosa is going to remain in the Red Sox rotation the rest of the year. Obviously he’s not going to continue to have a sub-3.00 ERA, but he has the ingredients to be a consistent must start in 12-team mixed leagues because he misses bats, doesn’t walk batters and generates a lot of ground balls. In weekly leagues the Toronto start seems worrisome, but this is not the same Blue Jays offense from a month ago. Edwin Encarcion, Adam Lind and Brett Lawrie are all on the DL and they’re playing fringe major leaguers as replacements.

Stream options in 12-team & must-starts in 15-team

The Braves’ first 17 games in the second half of the season are going to be a streamers paradise as they will face the Phillies, Marlins, Dodgers and the Padres for seven of those games. I would pick Aaron Harang and Ervin Santana if either are available. After a brutal month (May 16-June12) Santana has performed better in his last five starts: 3.82 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. I still expect his ERA to drop half a run by the time the season ends and he couldn’t have found a better schedule than to begin the second half of the year. … Alfredo Simon has pitched great in the first half of the year, but he’s going to regress. Among starters with at least ten starts he has the second highest strand rate (85.1 percent). Since he only strikes out 16 percent of batters eventually more of those runners on base are going to score. However, he has a career 76 percent strand rate and in the past two seasons, as a reliever, its 78.4 percent so I don’t think he regresses to his 4.34 FIP. For the rest of the year he’ll have a 3.65-3.75 ERA. … After Tim Lincecum’s second no-hitter I wrote, “if Lincecum can limit the walks, induce more weak contact and not throw the fastball up in the zone he could be fantasy relevant in every format.” In his last four starts he’s done that; the walk rate decreased one percentage point; the ground ball rate has increased six percentage points and he’s throwing his fastball less in the upper part of the zone. In those last four starts he has a 0.30 ERA and a 0.63 WHIP, which is unsustainable, but I think it’s possible (although not very likely) what he’s doing is permanent.

Stream options in 15-team

R.A. Dickey very quietly has been very good the past six weeks. In his last eight starts he has a 3.14 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. Obviously the ERA is low considering how high the WHIP, but the overall question is can he sustain a performance similar to this moving forward? During that stretch his walk rate was 8.1 percent, which is far higher than his previous three seasons. His career ERA at home is nearly a full run higher (4.47 at home compared to 3.65) and his starts are at home, albeit against poor offenses. The Rangers and Red Sox are in the bottom third in OPS in the last month. … I’m very curious to see how Tyler Skaggs’ season progresses the rest of the year. He has a 4.50 ERA and 3.55 FIP which indicates he’s been unlucky. When you see him pitch he’s basically a two-pitch pitcher: fastball and curveball. In order to survive throwing two pitches the command has to be even better. On top of that, for the curveball to be effective the fastball command has to be really good; if it isn’t the curveball will not be effective. When he doesn’t have command he gets lit up like he did in his last start at Texas. In daily formats I would stream him in 12-team mixed leagues against the Mariners. In weekly leagues I would be more hesitant because the Tigers have the third highest OPS against lefties for the season.

Pitchers to start only in dire circumstances

Vance Woorley has pitched great in his past few starts, but I’m still not buying yet. Also, he’s only scheduled to have one start which puts him at a disadvantage because 95 percent of the pitchers have at least two starts this week.

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Fantasy baseball starting pitcher rankings for week 15

These fantasy baseball starting pitcher rankings were pulled Friday morning. Please be aware the matchups are subject to change. The data is up to date as of Thursday night. Also, player comments were written Friday morning.

Must-start pitchers

James Shields has hit into a run of bad luck in his last nine starts (5.43 ERA and 1.60 WHIP). All the underlying statistics and PITCHf/x data suggest he’s the same pitcher as previous years. Eventually the bad luck will positively regress and I’m banking on his long track record. I recommend buying low. A reader on Twitter asked me if I would trade Doug Fister for him Shields and I said yes without hesitation because Fister scares me. It’s not Fister’s fault, I don’t trust ground ball pitchers where Ryan Zimmerman is at third base.

Stream options in 10-team & must-starts in 12-team

Since joining the rotation Marcus Stroman has a 2.48 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 22.1 percent strike out rate and a 5.5 percent walk rate. Obviously the ERA will regress, but I expect his ERA to be in the 3.10-3.25 range. The only question I have is how many innings will he throw this year? He only threw 123.1 innings last year and I find it hard to believe he throws more than 180 innings. The Blue Jays have playoff aspirations, which lead me to believe they’ll put him on the DL with a phantom injury to give him time off to limit his innings. … Henderson Alvarez has been on an unbelievable stretch in his last eight starts (1.01 ERA, 1.11 WHIP). He has a lot of ingredients I like with starting pitchers: he has good stuff, generates a lot of ground balls and doesn’t walk anyone. His kryptonite is left handed batters. Lefties have a career .777 OPS compared to .675 from righties and this year there isn’t much a difference in the numbers. The Cardinals offense has struggled this year, but with Oscar Taveras back in the majors and playing center field provides another left handed batter for the lineup. … If you drafted and/or acquired C.J. Wilson you had to expect him to have hot and cold streaks because his command can come and go from start to start. Right now he’s on a cold streak. In his last five starts he has a 5.97 ERA, 1.61 WHIP and a 12 percent walk rate. The start at home against the Blue Jays is not as scary as it sounds because the Jays are only 15th in the majors in wOBA against lefties. … Matt Cain is striking out less batters and is walking more batters, but I’m still a believer. The days of sub-3.00 ERAs are gone, but he still pitches in a great home ballpark and the weakest division in the majors. The decline in his velocity has been well documented, but that’s not why I wasn’t high on him entering drafts. Last year he threw the fastball up in the zone 49 percent of the time, which is the same rate in 2008-09. When the velocity is 94-96 mph he was able to get away it, but when its only 91-92 mph that pitch is extremely hittable. This year he’s only throwing the fastball up in the zone 45 percent of the time and is throwing it down in the zone a career high pace.

Stream options in 12-team & must-starts in 15-team

I’ve seen a lot of hype surrounding Taijuan Walker after his first start, which is warranted because his ceiling is a number two starter, but ceiling and what he is right now are completely different. He has a great fastball and cutter, but they’re both thrown at the same velocity (more or less). If he is going to have sustained success the command of the curveball or changeup is going to have to jump a full grade; the fastball command can extremely loose but he can get away with it because of the velocity and movement. If not, batters are going to sit on the fastball and they will eventually time to it. … For the year Drew Hutchison has a 2.23 and 1.04 WHIP on the road compared to a 6.75 ERA and 1.59 WHIP at home. Tampa’s offense has not been as anemic as you think. In the last month they are 17th in the majors in runs scored and 12th in wOBA.

Stream options in 15-team

In 36 home starts Tommy Milone has a 3.19 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. The start is in San Francisco, another big ballpark that suppresses power. The Giants are tenth in the majors in wOBA against lefties, which is why he’s not a must start in 15-team mixed leagues.

Pitchers to start only in dire circumstances

Travis Wood (who is ranked 102) was extremely effective last year and fantasy owners had to expect him to regress in 2014. However I didn’t think he would regress this poorly. In his last start (at Boston) he looked terrible and has not pitched well on the road. For the year he has 6.16 ERA and a 1.73 WHIP on the road (in nine starts). Last year he had a 2.70 ERA and 1.09 WHIP on the road (in 14 starts). Both those numbers are extremes and he’s true talent is somewhere in the middle. For the year the Reds have the lowest wOBA against lefties. … In five starts Tyler Matzek only has seven walks in five starts, which is remarkable considering his inability to throw strikes in the minors. If you’re in daily leagues he has a lot of upside considering he’s facing the Padres. If he can go six innings he could provide a quality start and a win.

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Fantasy baseball starting pitcher rankings for week 14

These fantasy baseball starting pitcher rankings were pulled Friday morning. Please be aware the matchups are subject to change. The data is up to date as of Thursday night. Also, player comments were written Friday morning. The original post can be found here.

Top 101 starting pitchers for week 14

Must-start pitchers
Jake Arrieta has pitched like an ace and if you followed my advice and rostered him after he made his 2014 debut you are very happy at the moment. On the surface the start at the Boston looks like it could be a scary proposition, but the Red Sox has only been average this year. For the year the Red Sox are 17th in the majors in wOBA and if you adjust for the home ballpark they’re in the bottom third of the league. If I own Arrieta (and I do) I am starting him in every format.

Stream options in 10-team & must-starts in 12-team
Lance Lynn has been really good so far this year, but eventually his ERA is going to regress. He’s striking out few batters and the hit distribution is exactly the same as the previous two years. The major differences is his BABIP is 30 points lower than his career and he has been lucky with the HR/FB rate. I like him against the Marlins, but he is someone I would try to sell high on. … In the month of June Ian Kennedy has been brutal; he has a 5.46 ERA and 1.45 WHIP. The underlying statistics (strikeout rate and walk rate) have been stable in June, but the biggest change has been the increase in fly ball rate. In June the fly ball rate is 43.5 percent and during the first two months of the season it was only 34.8 percent. I was a big believer in Kennedy a few weeks ago because he was missing a lot of bats and it appeared he made an adjustment to induce more ground balls. The Reds are 24th in the majors in wOBA for the year so I’m starting him in all formats, but the following week he pitches in Colorado and I’m finding other options especially if he continues to allow more fly balls. … Prior to his Sunday start against the Mariners where he struck out six in seven innings (June 22) Yordano Ventura, in his previous five starts stopped striking out batters (only 14 strikeouts in 29 innings). His last start was good enough that I’m confident in starting him in brutal matchup against the Indians who have the fifth best wOBA in the majors against righties.

Stream options in 12-team & must-starts in 15-team
I wasn’t buying Josh Beckett the day before and after the no-hitter and it looks like I was wrong because all the numbers suggest what he is doing is legitimate. However, if you play in weekly formats I would try to find another option. It’s also important to mention he has a career 3.82 ERA (in five starts) at Coors. … In 16 starts Jarred Cosart has given up more than three runs twice (not a misprint). If it wasn’t for the disaster seven earned run appearance in Oakland back in April he would have a 2.94 ERA. In general when I see pitchers with a nine percent walk rate and 1.31 WHIP I tend to shy away from streaming them, but he has improved in the three most important factors I look at with starting pitchers. The strikeout out rate is up, the walk rate is down and he’s generating more ground balls. He’s a must start in weekly quality start leagues and is a stream option in 12-team mixed leagues.

Stream options in 15-team
Chase Anderson may not have a lot of fantasy upside because he lacks the arsenal that makes fantasy owners go “wow” when they see him pitch, but he throws four pitches and can throw them all for strikes, which makes a very important real life player. His start against the Pirates is not ideal, but the following week he is a two start pitcher (home to the Marlins then at the Giants). If you play with quality starts he is someone worth looking in a 14-team mixed league. … Despite Chase Whitley’s success prior to Monday’s start in Toronto (June 23), I did not rank him because his profile suggested he would not do well in Toronto against that offense. Prior to his disaster start in Toronto he had a 2.56 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 2.5 percent walk rate. Those are peripherals I can stand behind especially against a mediocre offense in a cavernous ballpark.

Pitchers to start only in dire circumstances
In May I loved Brandon McCarthy because he was striking out batters at 20 percent clip and only walked 2-3 percent of batters, but in the month of June the strikeout rate is only 15.6 percent (hopefully the strikeout rate increases after his Friday start against the Padres). The start in Pittsburgh looks like a good stream option, but the Pirates have the fifth best wOBA at home in the majors. Also, with the addition of Gregory Polanco the offense is even better.

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