Nick Nelson

The Week Ahead

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Week Ahead: Hero Tanaka

Friday, May 16, 2014

The big blockbuster movie release this weekend reboots a classic Japanese franchise, featuring a giant monster that emerges from the ocean to terrorize American cities.

Meanwhile, in the world of baseball, New York is being taken over by another unstoppable force from Japan.

In his latest start, Masahiro Tanaka hurled a complete game shutout against the Mets, lowering his ERA to 2.17. Now 6-0 with a 66-to-7 K/BB ratio and league-leading 0.91 WHIP in 58 innings, Tanaka has been incredibly dominant, surpassing even the most optimistic expectations placed on him after signing a $155 million deal with the Yankees.

In The Week Ahead, Tanaka will start twice in Chicago, once against the Cubs and once against the White Sox. Both lineups had better be prepared for the horrors that await.

Let's take a look at what else is brewing in the coming week...

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.

* In the discussion of great Japanese pitchers, we can't overlook Hisashi Iwakuma, who is also scheduled to go twice. He opens with a tough match-up in Texas but draws the Astros at home in his second turn. Since joining the Mariners in early May, Iwakuma is 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA and 15/1 K/BB ration in three starts.

* Drew Pomeranz has been exceptional in two starts since being added to the Oakland rotation. Over 10 innings, he has allowed zero runs on eight hits, walking two and striking out 13. He's got a pair of road match-ups on tap, and that should provide a good test, but he has looked great and is owned in only about one-third of Yahoo! leagues.

* If Garrett Richards is available to you, grab him immediately. He has been phenomenal and he's looking ahead to home starts against the Astros and Royals.

* Another must-grab is Ian Kennedy, who has sparkled in most of his recent starts and draws two favorable match-ups at Petco.

* Rafael Montero was called up by the Mets this past week to replace Jenrry Mejia in the rotation, and looked pretty good in his debut. He has performed very well in the minors, so he's worth a shot with two home starts on deck.

Going Twice…

American League

Strong Plays

Masahiro Tanaka: @CHC (TBD), @CWS (Rienzo)
Hisashi Iwakuma: @TEX (Lewis), HOU (Feldman)
Garrett Richards: HOU (Keuchel), KC (Vargas)
Jason Vargas: CWS (Carroll), @LAA (Richards)
Dallas Keuchel: @LAA (Richards), @SEA (Hernandez)
Justin Verlander: @CLE (Bauer), TEX (Lewis)
Drew Smyly: @CLE (Kluber), TEX (Lewis)
Corey Kluber: DET (Smyly), @BAL (Jimenez)

Decent Plays

Colby Lewis: SEA (Iwakuma), @DET (Verlander)
Jake Odorizzi: OAK (Pomeranz), BOS (Doubront)
Drew Pomeranz: @TB (Odorizzi), @TOR
Scott Feldman: @LAA (Skaggs), @SEA (Iwakuma)
Felix Doubront: TOR, @TB (Odorizzi)
Wei-Yin Chen: @PIT (Liriano), CLE (Bauer)
Trevor Bauer: DET (Verlander), @BAL (Chen)

At Your Own Risk

Andre Rienzo: @KC (Ventura), NYY (Tanaka)
Scott Carroll: @KC (Vargas), NYY (Nuno)

National League

Strong Plays

Madison Bumgarner: @COL (Morales), MIN (Nolasco)
Stephen Strasburg: CIN (Cueto), @PIT (Cole)
Ian Kennedy: MIN (Correia), CHC (Hammel)
Francisco Liriano: BAL (Chen), WAS (Fister)
A.J. Burnett: @MIA (DeSclafani), LAD (Beckett)
Wily Peralta: @ATL (Minor), @MIA (Turner)
Yovani Gallardo: @ATL (TBD), @MIA (DeSclafani)
Josh Beckett: @NYM (Montero), @PHI (Burnett)
Johnny Cueto: @WAS (Strasburg), STL (TBD)
Jason Hammel: NYY (TBD), @SD (Kennedy)

Decent Plays

Doug Fister: CIN (Simon), @PIT (Liriano)
Rafael Montero: LAD (Beckett), ARI (TBD)
Mike Minor: MIL (Peralta), COL (Morales)

At Your Own Risk

Anthony DeSclafani: PHI (Burnett), MIL (Gallardo)
Franklin Morales: SF (Bumgarner), @ATL (Minor)
Bronson Arroyo: @STL (Wainwright), @NYM (TBD)

Streamer City

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

American League

Tuesday, 5/20: Tyler Skaggs vs. HOU
Skaggs has completed seven or more innings in five of his eight starts this season. He'll look to collect his first home victory against the Astros.

Wednesday, 5/21: Phil Hughes @ SD
In his last five starts, Hughes is 4-0 with a 1.67 ERA. He has issued only one walk in 32 innings during that stretch.

Friday, 5/23: Roenis Elias vs. HOU
Elias has allowed three or fewer earned runs in seven of his eight starts this year, and has kept the strikeouts coming at a steady pace.

National League

Wednesday, 5/21: Tanner Roark vs. CIN
Roark hasn't allowed a run in two starts at home this year. He hurled a complete game shutout against the Padres in his last turn at Nationals Park.

Friday, 5/23: Chase Anderson @ NYM
Anderson, who had a 0.69 ERA in Double-A before being called up and excelling in his big-league debut this past week, hasn't had a bad start all year.

Friday, 5/23: Robbie Erlin vs. CHC
The San Diego southpaw has turned in three straight quality starts and has a 2.92 ERA at home.

Total Games

American League

5: MIN

National League
7: ATL, MIL,

Lefty/Righty Breakdowns

American League

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

National League

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

Matt Wieters: Out until late May (elbow)
Nyjer Morgan: Out until late May (knee)
Jose Fernandez: Out for the season (elbow)
Dillon Gee: Out indefinitely (shoulder)
Carlos Beltran: Out indefinitely (elbow)
Ben Zobrist: Out until late May (thumb)
Martin Perez: Out for the season (elbow)
Matt Harrison: Out indefinitely (back)
Colby Rasmus: Out until late May (hamstring)
Adam LaRoche: Out until late May (quads)

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 @NickNelsonMN.
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