Fresh off winning the American League Cy Young Award in 2013, Max Scherzer hasn't missed a beat. In his first six starts for the Tigers this year, the right-hander is 3-1 with a 2.08 ERA and a remarkable 51/11 K/BB ratio in 39 innings.
Scherzer might be the game's preeminent strikeout pitcher. His 11.1 K/9 rate in 2012 led the majors. His 10.1 mark last year ranked second to Yu Darvish. This year he's at 11.8, leading the AL and trailing only Stephen Strasburg and Jose Fernandez among big-leaguers.
He has been particularly dominant at home this season, where he's 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 21 innings, and that makes him an especially attractive two-start play in the coming week. He's scheduled to face the Astros and Twins, both at home.
Houston and Minnesota are both among the more K-prone lineups in the league, creating a very favorable equation for Scherzer. The Detroit ace has notched double-digit punch-outs in two of his six starts thus far and seems likely to do so once or twice in The Week Ahead.
If you're not lucky enough to have Scherzer on your roster, let's take a peek at a few two-start guys who may actually be available to you:
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $50,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Friday night's MLB games. It's $25 to join and first prize is $7,500. Starts at 7:05pm ET on Friday. Here's the FanDuel link.
* As you can see below, the National League side is chock full of Strong Play options this week. In the middle tier, the guy I'll be following is Jordan Lyles. He's been shockingly effective in two starts at Coors Field this year (2-0, 0.66 ERA) despite allowing a lot of contact. Next week he'll face the Rangers lineup at home and the Reds on the road. Tough test.
* Robbie Ray is set to make his major-league debut for Detroit on Tuesday and could start next Sunday as well if Anibal Sanchez isn't ready. He had a 1.59 ERA in five starts at Triple-A, and draws a favorable home match-up against Houston for his intro to the majors.
* What to make of Roenis Elias? He unleashed his filthy curveball at Yankee Stadium this past week, racking up 10 strikeouts over seven innings, and he has a 3.09 ERA on the season. However, he has failed to complete six innings in four of his six starts and has struggled with his control. With his first match-up coming in Oakland against a potent A's offense, I'm tabbing him as a Decent Play but he's worth a shot.
* David Phelps moves from the bullpen to rotation for the Yankees and is scheduled to face the Angels and Brewers on the road. Those are no easy assignments, and he has struggled as a starter in the past, but he has struck out 16 over 11 2/3 innings as a reliever.
Scott Kazmir: SEA (Young), WAS (Zimmermann)
Jered Weaver: NYY (Phelps), @TOR (Hutchison)
Yordano Ventura: @SD (Stults), @SEA (Elias)
Max Scherzer: HOU (Cosart), MIN (Gibson)
Jose Quintana: @CHC (Samardzija), ARI (Miley)
J.A. Happ: @PHI (Kendrick), LAA (Skaggs)
Martin Perez: @COL (Lyles), BOS (Lester)
Chris Archer: BAL (Tillman), CLE (Bauer)
Roenis Elias: @OAK (Chavez), KC (Guthrie)
David Phelps: @LAA (Weaver), @MIL (Garza)
Jeremy Guthrie: @SD (Erlin), @SEA (Elias)
Trevor Bauer: MIN (Deduno), @TB (Archer)
Zach McAllister: MIN (Gibson), @TB (Bedard)
Chris Tillman: @TB (Archer), HOU (Oberholtzer)
At Your Own Risk
Robbie Ross: @COL (Nicasio), BOS (Lackey)
Chris Young: @OAK (Kazmir), KC (Ventura)
Samuel Deduno: @CLE (Bauer), @DET (Sanchez)
Kyle Gibson: @CLE (McAllister), @DET (Scherzer)
Brett Oberholtzer: @DET (Ray), @BAL (Tillman)
Jarred Cosart: @DET (Scherzer), @BAL (Gonzalez)
Hector Noesi: @CHC (Jackson), ARI (Bolsinger)
Jordan Zimmermann: LAD (Kershaw), @OAK (Kazmir)
Shelby Miller: @ATL (Harang), @PIT
Tim Hudson: @PIT (Morton), @LAD (Greinke)
Matt Cain: @PIT , @LAD (Kershaw)
Jon Niese: @MIA (Eovaldi), PHI (Hernandez)
Matt Garza: ARI (Bolsinger), NYY (Phelps)
Clayton Kershaw: @WAS (Zimmermann), SF (Cain)
Zack Greinke: @WAS, SF (Hudson)
Nathan Eovaldi: NYM (Niese), @SD (Stults)
Jeff Samardzija: CWS (Quintana), @ATL (Wood)
Aaron Harang: STL (Miller), CHC (Jackson)
Kyle Kendrick: TOR (Happ), @NYM (Gee)
Henderson Alvarez: NYM (Colon), @SD (Erlin)
Juan Nicasio: TEX (Ross), @CIN (Simon)
Jordan Lyles: TEX (Perez), @CIN (Cueto)
At Your Own Risk
Robbie Erlin: KC (Guthrie), MIA (Alvarez)
Eric Stults: KC (Ventura), MIA (Eovaldi)
Roberto Hernandez: TOR (Hutchison), @NYM (Niese)
Edwin Jackson: CWS (Noesi), @ATL (Harang)
The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:
Wednesday, 5/7: Danny Salazar vs. MIN
Salazar possesses a bloated 6.04 ERA on the season, but his strong peripherals -- especially an 11.0 K/9 rate -- suggest that number is going to drop. He was excellent in his last start and will look to carry it forward at home.
Thursday, 5/8: Scott Carroll vs. CHC
Filling in for Chris Sale, Carroll shut down the Rays to pick up a win in his big-league debut. See if he can keep it going at home against the crosstown rivals.
Friday, 5/9: Collin McHugh @ BAL
The out-of-nowhere righty has been absolutely brilliant in his first two starts for the Astros. He seems unlikely to keep up at this rate but is worth riding for now.
Thursday, 5/8: Tom Koehler @ SD
Koehler beat the Padres at home in his first start of the season. He'll take his 2.97 ERA into Petco to try to repeat the feat.
Friday, 5/9: Mike Leake vs. COL
Leake has pitched into the seventh inning at least in each of his five starts. The Rockies are averaging only 4.0 runs per game on the road (7.4 at home).
Friday, 5/9: Jenrry Mejia vs. PHI
The young Mets righty has fanned 31 hitters in 28 innings, and has been lights-out in two of his three starts at home.
6: BAL, LAA, NYY, TB, TEX
7: CLE, CWS, DET, HOU, KC, MIN, OAK, TOR
6: ARI, ATL, CHC, MIL, NYM, PIT, STL, WAS
7: CIN, COL, LAD, MIA, PHI, SD, SF,
BAL: 3 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP
BOS: 2 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP
CLE: 6 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
CWS: 5 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
DET: 5 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
HOU: 5 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
KC: 4 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP
LAA: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
MIN: 7 vs. RHP, 0 vs. LHP
NYY: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
OAK: 5 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
SEA: 6 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
TB: 6 vs. RHP, 0 vs. LHP
TEX: 4 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP
TOR: 5 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
ARI: 5 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
ATL: 5 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
CHC: 4 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP
CIN: 4 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
COL: 4 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP
LAD: 6 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
MIA: 4 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP
MIL: 5 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
NYM: 5 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
PHI: 5 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
PIT: 6 vs. RHP, 0 vs. LHP
SD: 6 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
SF: 5 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
STL: 5 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
WAS: 3 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP
You can get a full listing of injured players at Rotoworld's Injury Page but here's the latest on a few prominent players who have been out of action:
Chris Davis: Out until mid-May (ribs)
Tony Cingrani: Out until mid-May (shoulder)
Tyler Chatwood: Out indefinitely (elbow)
Bruce Chen: Out indefinitely (back)
A.J. Griffin: Out for the season (elbow)
Jarrod Parker: Out for the season (elbow)
Russell Martin: Out until mid-May (hamstring)
Bryce Harper: Out until early July (thumb)