Seth Trachtman

The Week Ahead

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Week Ahead: Beware of Shark

Friday, May 4, 2018


Several times in the early season we’ve looked at velocity readings. Continuing with that theme, there’s reason to be very concerned about Jeff Samardzija.

 

I was one of many very high on the Giants starter entering the season based on his elite control and ERA metrics from 2017. Since then he showed decreased velocity during spring training and spent most of April on the DL due to a pectoral injury.

 

Samardzija has made three starts since returning from the DL, and the results have been mediocre, to say the least. He has 12/10 K/BB in 13.2 innings, and the problems comeback to continued velocity loss. He’s averaged at least 94 mph on his fastball every season since 2011, but early this year Samardzija is averaging less than 92 mph.

 

Not only has Samardzija lost velocity, but his average fastball velocity has decreased with each start so far. As a result, it’s no surprise that the Giants pushed back his next start, giving Samardzija two starts in the upcoming week.

 

I hate to sour on a preseason sleeper so soon, but there is clearly still something wrong here. If you can get anything of value for Samardzija in a trade at this point, I wouldn’t hesitate.

 

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-Of course, velocity isn’t everything, as Tyson Ross is showing this season. Ross struggled in his return from thoracic outlet syndrome last year, but he’s pitched like his old self this year with a 2.85 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and 10.1 K/9. He’s doing it despite velocity that is still one mph below what it was pre-surgery by making his slider his primary pitch (46 percent). For a pitcher with a history of arm injuries, the high rate of sliders is very concerning, but his adjustment is clearly working. Ross’ success gives hope to other pitchers who have returned from that procedure and struggled like Matt Harvey and Phil Hughes.

 

-It was good to see Marcus Stroman get back on track in his last start. You might recall Stroman missed time in spring training with a shoulder issue and proceeded to allow at least four runs in each of his first five starts. Control had been a major issue for him early on, but Stroman has allowed only one walk in each of his last two starts. More telling is his elite groundball rate above 60 percent again, showing that he’s still getting plenty of movement on his sinker. He doesn’t have the easiest two-start week ahead with Seattle and Boston, but it should be safe to use him again.

 

-Luis Castillo is also coming off an encouraging outing after working on some mechanical issues. He allowed two runs in six innings vs. Milwaukee with 7/1 K/BB, which followed the worst outing of his season. He also showed the best velocity of his season so far, better than 96 mph on his fastball. That’s still about one mph below his average from last season, but overall he’s had the eighth best velocity in baseball among starters. Hopefully, he continues to reward fantasy owners for their patience.

 

-This isn’t really a newsflash for his fantasy owners, but Blake Snell is emerging as a true ace. He has a 2.55 ERA and 0.95 WHIP through seven starts, showing a much-improved 2.6 BB/9. Snell pitched much better after a mid-May demotion last year, posting a 3.71 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, and 3.5 BB/9, but he’s obviously taken that control to another level this year, especially over his last four starts with a total of two walks.

 

-Fernando Romero will be a popular pickup this week after a scoreless MLB debut. There’s reason to like Romero as an extreme groundball pitcher with a groundball rate consistently above 50 percent in the minors, a fastball that averaged 96 mph in his first start, and a career 8.7 K/9 in the minors. However, the control is still a problem. He had a mediocre 3.2 BB/9 at Double-A Chattanooga last year, and the BB/9 has been above 4.0 early this year. The profile shows a bit of Tyler Chatwood, which isn’t an insult and is certainly worthy of a pickup in mixed leagues, but the mediocre control is worth watching with a tough two-start schedule in the coming week.

 

-After a nine-game road trip, the Rockies will be returning home for all of next week. Believe it or not, this is the first week of the season in which the team has been at Coors Field for a full Monday through Sunday week. Rejoice, Rockies hitter owners!

 

Going Twice…

 

Note: Probable pitchers as of Friday, May 4, and are subject to change.

 

American League

 

Strong Plays

 

Luis Severino: BOS, OAK

James Paxton: @TOR, @DET

Michael Fulmer: @TEX, SEA

Blake Snell: ATL, @BAL

Dallas Keuchel: @OAK, TEX

 

Decent Plays

 

Dylan Bundy: KC, TB

Drew Pomeranz: @NYY, @TOR

Marcus Stroman: SEA, BOS

 

At Your Own Risk

 

Brett Anderson: HOU, @NYY

Danny Duffy: @BAL, @CLE

Fernando Romero: @STL, @LAA

Matt Moore: DET, @HOU

 

 

National League

 

Strong Plays

 

Clayton Kershaw: ARI, CIN

Aaron Nola: SF, NYM

Carlos Martinez: MIN, @SD

Stephen Strasburg: @SD, @ARI

Kyle Hendricks: MIA, CHW

Sean Newcomb: @TB, @MIA

 

Decent Plays

 

Tyson Ross: WAS, STL

Zack Godley: @LAD, WAS

Jacob deGrom: @CIN, @PHI

 

At Your Own Risk

 

Jarlin Garcia: @CHC, ATL

Jon Gray: LAA, MIL

Jeff Samardzija: @PHI, @PIT

Luis Castillo: NYM, @LAD

Jeremy Hellickson: @SD, @ARI

Wade Miley: CLE, @COL

Jose Urena: @CHC, ATL

Derek Holland: @PHI, @PIT

Zach Eflin: SF, NYM

Homer Bailey: NYM, @LAD

Clayton Richard: WAS, STL

 

 

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, May 10: CC Sabathia vs. BOS

Fact or fluke? The Red Sox have been the worst team in the AL vs. lefties early this season, with a .636 OPS. This matchup doesn’t look great for CC on the surface, but it is if you follow the early BoSox numbers, not to mention his 1.71 ERA.

 

Thursday, May 10: Ian Kennedy @ BAL

Kennedy is off to another inconsistent start, but he’s coming off a fine start against the White Sox and has a chance to face a banged up O’s lineup that has a .662 OPS, second worst in baseball. At least early on, Kennedy is showing improved control with a 2.80 K/BB ratio nearly matching 2016.

 

Saturday, May 12: Domingo German vs. OAK

German is tasked with replacing Jordan Montgomery in the rotation, and he has tons of talent with a career 2.54 ERA and 8.8 K/9 in the minors. Oakland has been a surprisingly effective offense early this year, but this is a still a nice time to try him out.

 

 

National League

 

Tuesday, May 8: Jeremy Hellickson @ SD

It’s a stretch to say that Hellickson is back, showing the worst velocity of his career in the early going with a sub-6.0 K/9 for the second straight year, but he’s been effective so far and faces a Padres lineup with a .669 OPS, third worst in MLB.

 

Friday, May 11: Brandon McCarthy @ MIA

Yes, the Marlins are bad. Their .623 OPS is 39 points lower than the second worst team. McCarthy has been far from dominant, but he’s yet to allow more than three earned runs in a start this season.

 

Friday, May 11: Eric Lauer vs. STL

Looking to take a risk? Lefties have caused issues for the Cardinals, with a .685 OPS. Lauer was terrible in his first start at Coors Field and in the first inning of his second start at San Francisco, but he finished that start with four scoreless innings and 7/2 K/BB total in five innings. The 2016 first-round pick is a very good prospect, with a career 3.04 ERA and 9.9 K/9 in the minors.

 

Total Games

 

American League

 

5: CHW, CLE

6: BOS, DET, HOU, KC, LAA, MIN, NYY, OAK, SEA, TB, TEX, TOR

7: BAL

 

National League

 

5: PIT

6: ARI, ATL, CHC, COL, LAD, MIL, PHI, STL

7: CIN, MIA, NYM, SD, SF, WAS

 

The Infirmary

 

Here’s some injuries to prominent players from the last 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.

 

Tyler Austin: Day-to-day (hip)

Miguel Cabrera: Placed on DL (hamstring)

Welington Castillo: Day-to-day (abdomen)

Yonny Chirinos: Out one month (forearm)

J.P. Crawford: Placed on DL (forearm)

Johnny Cueto: Placed on DL (elbow)

Zach Davies: Placed on DL (shoulder)

Jacob deGrom: Should start on Monday (elbow)

Randal Grichuk: Placed on DL (knee)

Austin Hedges: Placed on DL (elbow)

Scott Kingery: Day-to-day (elbow)

DJ LeMahieu: Placed on DL (hamstring)

Ben Lively: Placed on DL (back)

Victor Martinez: Day-to-day (ankle)

Steven Matz: Day-to-day (back)

Keynan Middleton: Placed on DL (elbow)

Jordan Montgomery: Out up to two months (elbow)

Wil Myers: Placed on DL (oblique)

Joe Panik: Out 6-8 weeks (thumb)

Steve Pearce: Placed on DL (oblique)

Martin Perez: Placed on DL (elbow)

Yasiel Puig: Placed on DL (hip/foot)

Erasmo Ramirez: Out at least one month (shoulder)

Robbie Ray: Placed on DL (oblique)

Hyun-Jin Ryu: Out until after All-Star break (groin)

Miguel Sano: Placed on DL (hamstring)

Corey Seager: Out for the season (elbow)

Travis Shaw: Day-to-day (foot)

Dansby Swanson: Day-to-day (wrist)

Nick Tropeano: Placed on DL (shoulder)



You can find Seth Trachtman on Twitter @sethroto.
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