Last week we looked at a pitcher who was a concern after losing velocity. This week is much the opposite, as Charlie Morton heads into a two-start week after a strong initial performance against Seattle.
Morton made only four starts with the Phillies last season before tearing his hamstring, but in the process, Ground Chuck showed some very intriguing signs with a fastball velocity increase of more than two mph. Along with his history of extreme groundball rates, the velocity was enough for the Astros to hand him a two-year, $14 million contract this offseason, and it looked like another clever move by Houston in spring training after Morton posted a 1.04 ERA in 17.1 innings.
The strong performance continued into Morton’s first start of the year, when he went toe-to-toe with James Paxton, allowing two runs in six innings. As the reports said in the spring, Morton also showed that 2016 uptick in velocity while tearing through the Mariners lineup, short of a Jean Segura two-run homer.
Morton has a long history of injuries, still never making 30 starts in a season over his nine-year career. However, he’s also posted a sub-4.00 ERA three times as a direct result of his extreme groundball rates (1.98 GO/FO for his career), and the newfound velocity potentially puts Morton on the next level. He’s certainly interesting enough to be picked up if still available in your league.
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-There was some concern in spring training over Carlos Carrasco’s arm health, but he’s put those issues behind him with a decent first start of the year at Texas, allowing two runs in 5.2 innings and fanning seven. His velocity was on par with last year, and he heads into a two-start week vs. the White Sox and Tigers.
-James Paxton couldn’t have looked much more dominant against a good Houston lineup this week, throwing six scoreless innings. He gets a rematch against the Astros and the aforementioned Charlie Morton on Monday at home before taking on the Rangers later in the week.
-Do you like scary movies? If the answer is yes then you’ll enjoy Jered Weaver’s start at Coors Field on Tuesday. Weaver was rocked in his first start, allowing four runs in five innings vs. the Dodgers with a continued average fastball velocity of just 83 mph, and it seems unlikely that his fastball will play well at altitude.
-What can we take from Matt Harvey’s first start of the year? On one hand, he fared well vs. Atlanta, allowing two runs on only three hits in 6.2 innings. On the other hand, his velocity wasn’t great, down slightly from velocity that was already down significantly last season. Manager Terry Collins did say before the game that he was most concerned with Harvey’s command and not his velocity, and by that grading system Harvey got an A. He has two very favorable road matchups this week at Philadelphia and Miami as we watch if the success can continue.
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Chris Sale: @DET, TB
Carlos Carrasco: CHW, DET
Justin Verlander: BOS, @CLE
James Paxton: HOU, TEX
Cole Hamels: @LAA, @SEA
Charlie Morton: @SEA, @OAK
Michael Pineda: TB, STL
Ian Kennedy: OAK, LAA
J.A. Happ: MIL, BAL
Alex Cobb: @NYY, @BOS
Dylan Bundy: @BOS, @TOR
Drew Pomeranz: BAL, TB
Matt Boyd: MIN, @CLE
Jharel Cotton: @KC, HOU
Garrett Richards: TEX, @KC
At Your Own Risk
Hector Santiago: @DET, CHW
James Shields: @CLE, @MIN
Jon Lester: LAD, PIT
Jacob deGrom: @PHI, @MIA
Jameson Taillon: CIN, @CHC
Matt Harvey: @PHI, @MIA
Tanner Roark: STL, PHI
Jerad Eickhoff: NYM, @WAS
Brandon Finnegan: @PIT, MIL
Matt Moore: ARI, COL
Jeff Samardzija: ARI, COL
Chad Kuhl: CIN, @CHC
Taijuan Walker: @SF, @LAD
Dan Straily: ATL, NYM
At Your Own Risk
Adam Wainwright: @WAS, @NYY
Tyler Chatwood: SD, @SF
Antonio Senzatela, SD, @SF
Trevor Cahill: @COL, @ATL
Wily Peralta: @TOR, @CIN
Rookie Davis: @PIT, MIL
The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:
Wednesday, April 12: Steven Wright vs. BAL
Knuckleball pitchers are their own animal, and Wright has owned the Orioles in the past, albeit in a limited sample size. He’s 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 22 innings against them.
Thursday, April 13: Jason Vargas vs. OAK
The A’s really didn’t hit lefties well last season (fifth worst OPS), and this season’s changes like Rajai Davis and Mark Canha shouldn’t really scare anyone.
Friday, April 14: Kendall Graveman vs. HOU
This pick up could be more than just a worthwhile streaming opportunity. Graveman showed significantly increased velocity in his Opening Day start, with a fastball that was up two mph, and worked off that pitch almost exclusively to allow two runs in six innings vs. the Angels.
Wednesday, April 12: Jamie Garcia @ MIA
Miami ranked 22nd in OPS vs. lefties last season, though they were without Giancarlo Stanton for much of the year.
Thursday, April 13: Brett Anderson vs. LAD
The Cubs are prepared to feast on the Dodgers lineup after they ranked dead last in OPS vs. lefties by a wide margin last season. Jon Lester has been repositioned to start Game 1 of the series, and Anderson will start Game 3.
Friday, April 14: Clayton Richard @ ATL
If your leaguemates haven’t jumped on this wily veteran after his first start of the year, Richard has a strong matchup against Atlanta next week, who had the third worst OPS vs. lefties last season.
6: BAL, CHW, CLE, HOU, KC, LAA, MIN, NYY, OAK, SEA, TB, TEX, TOR
7: BOS, DET
6: ARI, CHC, LAD, MIA, MIL, PHI, SD, STL, WAS
7: CIN, COL, NYM, PIT, SF
Here’s some injuries to prominent players from the first week, and other players to watch for in the coming week. You can get a full listing of injured players at Rotoworld's Injury Page.
John Axford: Out indefinitely (shoulder)
Keon Broxton: Return to be determined (nasal fracture)
Lonnie Chisenhall: Could return this week (shoulder)
Rich Hill: Placed on the 10-day DL (blister)
Collin McHugh: Could join the rotation this week (arm)
Roberto Osuna: Could return this week (back)
Trevor Rosenthal: Could return as early as this week (lat)
Denard Span: Still day-to-day (hip)