Nick Nelson

The Week Ahead

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Week Ahead: Zack Attack

Friday, May 09, 2014


Zack Wheeler was widely considered to be one of the Top 10 prospects in all of baseball heading into the 2013 season, so when he made his debut for the Mets in mid-June, it was an event.

The 23-year-old was exceptional in his first start, hurling six scoreless innings against the Braves to pick up a win, and he delivered 16 more strong starts the rest of the way, finishing with a 7-5 record, 3.42 ERA and 84/46 K/BB ratio over 100 innings after being shut down in mid-September. It was an impressive showing for the rookie, setting high expectations for his first full season here in 2014.

Thus far, Wheeler has mostly lived up to the hype. His ERA is a little bloated at 4.35, thanks largely to a brutal outing in Colorado at the beginning of May where he coughed up six earned runs in four innings, but the Rockies (who lead the majors in scoring by a substantial margin) have been doing that to plenty of pitchers. Take that start out of the equation and Wheeler's ERA drops to 3.31.

He has also been consistent in the K column, notching six or more strikeouts in five of his seven starts, and he has allowed only two homers in 39 innings. These are very positive signs that help cancel out what continues to be an elevated walk rate.

In The Week Ahead, Wheeler will go twice. His starts against the Yankees and Nationals both come on the road, but neither lineup is overly dominant and we like his chances to post solid results. He's owned in only 65 percent of Yahoo! leagues, so he's a great candidate to plug in and keep.

Let's take a look at a few of the week's other interesting two-start plays, followed by your usual lists and breakdowns.

Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $45,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Friday night's MLB games. It's $25 to join and first prize is $7,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on Friday. Here's the FanDuel link.

* Tyler Lyons stepped into the Cardinals rotation to fill in for Joe Kelly, and it looks like he might stay there for a while as Kelly is now expected to be out until June. Lyons was great in his last start, suppressing the Braves in Atlanta with six innings of one-run ball. He'll draw the Braves again next week, along with the Cubs, and he'll get them both at home. Lyons is available in 98 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

* After delivering eight scoreless innings in his latest start, Tom Koehler now has minuscule 1.99 ERA on the season. He's bound to come hurdling back to Earth at some point when his .177 BABIP starts to normalize, and it might happen this week with two starts on the road, but it's hard to bet against him (or the first-place Marlins) right now.

* The Angels are scheduled to face lefty starters in five of their seven games. That makes both Chris Iannetta and Collin Cowgill worthwhile plays.

Going Twice…

American League

Strong Plays

R.A. Dickey: CLE (Salazar), @TEX (Lewis)
Mark Buehrle: LAA (Wilson), @TEX (Ross)
David Price: @SEA (Iwakuma), @LAA (Santiago)
Felix Hernandez: TB (Ramos), @MIN (Nolasco)
Jesse Chavez: CWS (Danks), @CLE (Salazar)
James Shields: COL (De La Rosa), BAL (Jimenez)
C.J. Wilson: @TOR (Buehrle), TB (Ramos)
Rick Porcello: @BAL (Norris), @BOS (Doubront)

Decent Plays

Cesar Ramos: @SEA (Hernandez), @LAA (Wilson)
Hiroki Kuroda: NYM (Colon), PIT (Locke)
John Danks: @OAK (Chavez), @HOU (Peacock)
Danny Salazar: @TOR (Dickey), OAK (Chavez)
Ubaldo Jimenez: DET (Smyly), @KC (Shields)
Bud Norris: DET (Porcello), @KC (Guthrie)

At Your Own Risk

Colby Lewis: @SEA (Hernandez), TOR (Dickey)
Vidal Nuno: NYM (Wheeler), PIT (TBD)
Ricky Nolasco: BOS (Doubront), SEA (Hernandez)
Hector Santiago: @PHI (Lee), TB (Price)
Brad Peacock: TEX (Lewis), CWS (Danks)
Felix Doubront: @MIN (Nolasco), DET (Porcello)

National League

Strong Plays

Adam Wainwright: CHC (Arrieta), ATL (Harang)
Jordan Zimmermann: @ARI (Collmenter), NYM (Wheeler)
Ryan Vogelsong: ATL (Minor), MIA (Turner)
Zack Wheeler: @NYY (Nuno), @WAS (Zimmermann)
Marco Estrada: PIT (Cole), @CHC (Arrieta)
Tom Koehler: @LAD (Haren), @SF (Lincecum)
Dan Haren: MIA (Koehler), @ARI (Collmenter)
Mike Leake: SD (Cashner), @PHI (Hamels)
Aaron Harang: @SF (Lincecum), @STL (Wainwright)

Decent Plays

Tyler Lyons: CHC (Wood), ATL (Harang)
Andrew Cashner: @CIN (Leake), @COL (Nicasio)
Bartolo Colon: @NYY (Kuroda), @WAS (Gonzalez)
Jake Arrieta: @STL (Wainwright), MIL (Estrada)
Travis Wood: @STL (Lyons), MIL (Garza)
Josh Collmenter: WAS (Zimmermann), LAD (Haren)

At Your Own Risk

Tim Lincecum: ATL (Harang), MIA (Koehler)
Jacob Turner: @LAD (Beckett), @SF (Vogelsong)

Streamer City

The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:

American League

Thursday, 5/15: Miguel Gonzalez @ KC
Although his results haven't been great, Gonzalez has posted pretty decent peripherals. Maybe those will work in his favor against a scuffling Royals lineup.

Friday, 5/16: Jose Quintana @ HOU
The lefty has rattled off three straight quality starts, with a 16/3 K/BB ratio over that span.

Friday, 5/16: Zach McAllister vs. OAK
McAllister tallied a season-high eight strikeouts over 6 2/3 scoreless innings in his last start, also at home.

National League

Wednesday, 5/14: Brandon McCarthy vs. WAS
McCarthy has been sensational over his last couple starts. See if he can keep it going in his home tilt.

Thursday, 5/15: Nathan Eovaldi @ SF
Eovaldi is somehow owned in only about half of all leagues despite his sterling 2.62 ERA and 45/6 K/BB ratio. He set a career high for strikeouts in his last start. Pick him up, as a streamer or more.

Friday, 5/16: Jordan Lyles vs. SD
He's unowned in about 85 percent of Yahoo! leagues despite a 4-0 record, 2.62 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. He has allowed only three earned runs in three starts at Coors.

Total Games

American League

6: BOS, CLE, CWS, DET, HOU, KC, MIN, OAK, SEA, TEX
7: BAL, LAA, NYY, TB, TOR

National League

5: COL, PHI
6: ARI, ATL, CIN, LAD, MIL, PIT, SD, WAS
7: CHC, COL, MIA, NYM, SF, STL

Lefty/Righty Breakdowns

American League

BAL: 5 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
BOS: 5 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
CLE: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
CWS: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
DET: 3 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP
HOU: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
KC: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
LAA: 2 vs. RHP, 5 vs. LHP
MIN: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
NYY: 6 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
OAK: 5 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
SEA: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
TB: 4 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP
TEX: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
TOR: 4 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP

National League

ARI: 5 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
ATL: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
CHC: 6 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
CIN: 5 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
COL: 2 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP
LAD: 5 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
MIA: 4 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP
MIL: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
NYM: 4 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP
PHI: 3 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
PIT: 5 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
SD: 6 vs. RHP, 0 vs. LHP
SF: 6 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
STL: 5 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
WAS: 5 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP

The Infirmary

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:

Adam Eaton: Out until late May (hamstring)
Jay Bruce: Out until early June (knee)
Wilin Rosario: Out until mid-May (illness)
David Freese: Out until mid-May (finger)
Ryan Braun: Returning this week (ribs)
Michael Pineda: Out until June (shoulder)
Donnie Murphy: Out until late May (neck)



Nick Nelson is a frequent contributor to Rotoworld's baseball coverage and regularly blogs about the Minnesota Twins at Twins Daily. Follow him on Twitter at nnelson9.
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