Over the past several years, the Tampa Bay Rays have routinely boasted one of the best pitching staffs in the league, so it's a little odd to see them presently ranked ninth out of 15 AL teams in ERA.
That can hardly be attributed to Chris Archer or Alex Cobb. The talented young right-handers have been doing fine work for the Rays, and both are scheduled for two starts in The Week Ahead, with match-ups that portend success.
Archer, coming off an outstanding rookie season, has had a few rough patches but has mostly excelled at age 25. In his last three starts, he has posted a 1.02 ERA with 23 strikeouts over 17 2/3 innings. So, yeah, he's on fire.
Cobb is actually coming off his worst start of the year, as he coughed up six earned runs over five innings his last time out, but that came in Toronto and despite the poor results he struck out seven while walking one. In his previous three starts, he had allowed zero runs over 20 innings.
Archer and Cobb are both slated to face the Marlins in Miami, and then the Mariners at home. The surprising Marlins offense could cause some troubles but I'd still feel pretty good about going with either Tampa starter.
Cobb was picked up in most leagues during his amazing scoreless streak, but Archer is still available in about 30 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
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.
* The National League isn't nearly as crowded with Strong Plays as it was last week, but on close inspection you'll find some quality options. One name I'm really liking is Jorge De La Rosa, who's available in almost 70 percent of Yahoo! leagues. He's got two home starts, which isn't always great news for a Colorado pitcher but the southpaw is 3-0 with a 2.49 ERA at Coors this season.
* Jaime Garcia, activated from the disabled list by the Cards in mid-May, still has yet to be picked up in the majority of fantasy leagues, but he has been in control over his first three starts, with 19 strikeouts and zero walks in 19 2/3 innings. That stellar command should serve him well in two starts this week.
* Miami's Henderson Alvarez hasn't allowed a run over 12 innings in his past two starts, and is looking ahead to a pair of favorable match-ups (vs. TB and @ CHC). The only thing holding him back from being a Strong Play is his health status; he left his last outing with a stiff right elbow, though the move was supposedly precautionary. Keep a close eye on him.
Chris Archer: @MIA (Alvarez), SEA (Hernandez)
Alex Cobb: @MIA (Wolf), SEA (Elias)
Felix Hernandez: @NYY (Phelps), @TB (Archer)
Scott Kazmir: @NYY (Kuroda), @BAL (Norris)
C.J. Wilson: @HOU (McHugh), CWS (TBD)
James Shields: @STL (Garcia), NYY (Kuroda)
Anibal Sanchez: TOR (Hendriks), BOS (Lackey)
John Lackey: @CLE (Masterson), @DET (Sanchez)
Hiroki Kuroda: OAK (Kazmir), @KC (Shields)
David Phelps: SEA (Hernandez), @KC (Duffy)
Samuel Deduno: @MIL (Gallardo), HOU (Feldman)
Danny Duffy: @STL (Miller), NYY (Phelps)
Bud Norris: @TEX (Saunders), LAA (Kazmir)
At Your Own Risk
Joe Saunders: BAL (Norris), CLE (Masterson)
Liam Hendriks: @DET (Sanchez), STL (Garcia)
Kyle Gibson: @MIL (Garza), HOU (Keuchel)
Justin Masterson: BOS (Lackey), @TEX (Saunders)
Jaime Garcia: KC (Shields), @TOR (Hendriks)
Matt Garza: MIN (Gibson), @PIT (Volquez)
Clayton Kershaw: CWS (Quintana), @COL (De La Rosa)
Jorge De La Rosa: ARI (Anderson), LAD (Kershaw)
Blake Treinen: PHI (Buchanan), @SD (Stauffer)
Shelby Miller: KC (Duffy), @TOR (Buehrle)
Tim Lincecum: @CIN (Bailey), NYM (Wheeler)
Charlie Morton: @SD (Stauffer), MIL (Gallardo)
Roberto Hernandez: NYM (Colon), @CIN (Simon)
Zack Wheeler: @CHC (Arrieta), @SF (Lincecum)
Bartolo Colon: @PHI (Hernandez), @SF (Hudson)
Yovani Gallardo: MIN (Deduno), @PIT (Morton)
Henderson Alvarez: TB (Archer), @CHC (Arrieta)
Homer Bailey: SF (Lincecum), PHI (Buchanan)
Jake Arrieta: NYM (Wheeler), MIA (Alvarez)
At Your Own Risk
Tim Stauffer: PIT (Morton), WAS (Treinen)
David Buchanan: @WAS (Treinen), @CIN (Bailey)
Randy Wolf: TB (Cobb), @CHC (Samardzija)
Chase Anderson: @COL (De La Rosa), ATL (Harang)
The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:
Tuesday, 6/3: T.J. House vs. BOS
House was exceptional against the White Sox in his last start and the Boston offense has been scuffling, especially away from Fenway.
Thursday, 6/5: Jake Odorizzi vs. HOU
The Tampa Bay righty has been on a nice little run lately, with a 1.66 ERA and 31 strikeouts over 21 innings in his past four starts.
Tuesday, 6/3: Gavin Floyd vs. SEA
The resurgent Floyd has been tremendous since joining the Braves in early May, with a 2.37 ERA in five starts.
Thursday, 6/5: Juan Nicasio vs. ARI
In the month of May, Nicasio is 3-1 with a 2.10 ERA.
Thursday, 6/5: Travis Wood vs. NYM
Wood has been stellar in his past couple turns, and draws a Mets club that is among the worst hitting teams in the NL.
6: BAL, BOS, CLE, CWS, DET, HOU, LAA, OAK, SEA, TEX, TOR
7: KC, MIN, NYY, TB
6: ARI, CHC, CIN, COL, LAD, PIT, SD, SF, WAS
7: MIA, MIL, NYM, PHI, STL
BAL: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
BOS: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
CLE: 5 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
CWS: 3 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP
DET: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
HOU: 5 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
KC: 6 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
LAA: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
MIN: 5 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
NYY: 4 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP
OAK: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
SEA: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
TB: 5 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
TEX: 6 vs. RHP, 0 vs. LHP
TOR: 5 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
ARI: 5 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
ATL: 4 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
CHC: 5 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
CIN: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
COL: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
LAD: 2 vs. RHP, 4 vs. LHP
MIA: 6 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
MIL: 7 vs. RHP, 0 vs. LHP
NYM: 6 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
PHI: 7 vs. RHP, 0 vs. LHP
PIT: 6 vs. RHP, 0 vs. LHP
SD: 5 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
SF: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
STL: 4 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP
WAS: 5 vs. RHP, 1 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:
Clay Buchholz: Out until mid-June (knee)
Carlos Santana: Out until early June (knee)
Nick Swisher: Out until early June (knee)
Carl Crawford: Out indefinitely (ankle)
Ryan Hanigan: Out until mid-June (hamstring)
Prince Fielder: Out for the season (neck)