Seth Trachtman

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Week Ahead: Miles From Nowhere

Friday, May 11, 2018

It’s good to be a Miles Mikolas owner.


The mustachioed Cardinals right-hander came back to MLB from Japan in the offseason for what looks like a bargain-basement price of two-years, $15.5 million. Through seven starts he’s pitched at a Cy Young level, going 5-0 with a 2.51 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and 35/3 K/BB in 46.2 innings.


Obviously, Mikolas’ control has been nearly perfect with a 0.6 BB/9 after posting a 1.1 BB/9 in Japan last season. Though, his stuff has been far from pedestrian with a fastball that has averaged 94 mph, an excellent 54 percent groundball rate, and two quality breaking balls that he’s collectively thrown nearly as often as his fastball.


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Just how good has Mikolas been so far? Historic in terms of his control. Only one pitcher in the modern era has had a season with a 0.6 BB/9 or better: Former Twins right-hander Carlos Silva, who produced a 0.4 BB/9 in 2005. The names that have produced a sub-1.0 BB/9 over a full season in the modern era include Greg Maddux, David Wells, Jon Lieber, LaMarr Hoyt, Bob Tewksbury, Cliff Lee, Phil Hughes, and Bret Saberhagen.


We have a very long way to go, but Mikolas is in very select company. The mediocre strikeout rate (6.8 K/9) is the only complaint fantasy owners can have at this point. The ERA metrics (3.59 FIP, 3.10 xFIP, 3.34 SIERA) don’t quite support his real ERA so far, but they’re also not far off.


-Mikolas isn’t next week’s only two-start pitcher who has shown elite control. We’ve also seen it from A’s right-hander Daniel Mengden, picking up where he left off late last season. He has similar peripherals to Mikolas with a 6.7 K/9 and 1.0 BB/9. Unlike Mikolas, the control pretty much came out of nowhere last season after posting a career 2.7 BB/9 in the minors. Over Mengden’s last 15 major league starts, he has a 1.4 BB/9 with a 3.61 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and 3.86 FIP. This all begs the question: Will the mustache look continue to spread around MLB starting pitchers after the control these two have shown?


-Alex Wood has been quite good this season (3.60 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 8.4 K/9), but he’s yet to get a win after going 16-3 last season. Beyond the bad luck, his 2.70 FIP shows further misfortune so far this season. The lefty ranks ninth “best” in ERA to FIP differential, which should at least make his owners optimistic that more good days are ahead.


-Arm injuries have now hindered Andrew Heaney for the last several seasons, but there is some reason to be encouraged. The 4.78 ERA isn’t pretty, but the lefty has allowed only four earned runs over his last three starts spanning 17 innings, and that includes tough opponents in the Yankees and Rockies at Coors Field. He’s shown an ace-level 9.9 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 26.1 innings. It’s hard to say this is a great buy-low opportunity given the injury risk, but all signs are pointing up.


-The peripherals aren’t as strong for White Sox right-hander Reynaldo Lopez, but he continues to perform. He still doesn’t have a win but has a 2.44 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in seven starts this season. Taking a look at the game log, you’ll still see some truly erratic starts, as he’s allowed at least four walks three times, but more recently has walked a total of four batters over his last three starts spanning 20.1 innings. Overall, the 1.63 K/BB ratio and 4.94 FIP aren’t what you want to see, though Lopez’s 9.1 K/9 and 3.01 K/BB over his minor league career is notable. There’s no getting around the poor command, but I’m not ready to run away just yet, especially with Lopez’s elite velocity.


-Philadelphia desperately needed a starter to emerge behind Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta this season, and they found one in Nick Pivetta. He has more than one strikeout per inning for the second consecutive year, but he’s also been able to avoid walks and keep the ball in the park so far this season. Pivetta was able to respond from an awful start at Washington on May 4 (six earned runs while recording only three outs) to throw five scoreless innings vs. San Francisco on Wednesday. If anything, Pivetta has had back luck to this point with a .330 BABIP, and his owners will be encouraged to know that his FIP, xFIP, and SIERA are all well below 4.00.


Going Twice…


Note: Probable pitchers as of Friday, May 11, and are subject to change.


American League


Strong Plays


Rick Porcello: OAK, BAL

Carlos Carrasco: @DET, @HOU

Lance McCullers: @LAA, CLE


Decent Plays


Masahiro Tanaka: @WAS, @KC

Sean Manaea: @BOS, @TOR

Reynaldo Lopez: @PIT, TEX

Eduardo Rodriguez: OAK, BAL

Mike Minor: @SEA, @CHW

Andrew Heaney: HOU, TB

Daniel Mengden: @BOS, @TOR

Jake Odorizzi: SEA, MIL

Francisco Liriano: CLE, @SEA


At Your Own Risk


Jaime Garcia: @NYM, OAK

Mike Fiers: CLE, @SEA

Eric Skoglund: TB, NYY

Wade LeBlanc: @MIN, DET

Mike Leake: TEX, DET

Ryan Yarbrough: @KC, @LAA



National League


Strong Plays


Patrick Corbin: MIL, @NYM

Zack Greinke: MIL, @NYM

Alex Wood: @MIA, @WAS


Decent Plays


Julio Teheran: @CHC, MIA

Jose Quintana: @ATL, @CIN

Miles Mikolas: @MIN, PHI

Tyler Mahle: @SF, CHC

Joey Lucchesi: COL, @PIT

Michael Foltynewicz: CHC, MIA

Nick Pivetta: @BAL, @STL

Yu Darvish: ATL, @CIN

Tyler Anderson: @SD, @SF

Junior Guerra: @ARI, @MIN

Trevor Williams: CHW, SD


At Your Own Risk


Sal Romano: @SF, CHC

Chris Stratton: CIN, COL

Ty Blach: CIN, COL

Jhoulys Chacin: @ARI, @MIN

Wei-Yin Chen: LAD, @ATL



Streamer City


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


American League


Monday, May 14: Jaime Garcia @ NYM

To say the Mets have struggled against lefties is an understatement. They have a league-worst .568 OPS against southpaws, 55 points lower than the next worst team. Garcia has been a risky proposition this year, but has a juicy matchup on Monday.


Wednesday: May 16: Jason Hammel vs. TB

It’s been another year of mediocrity from Hammel, but he has mostly fared well against other mediocrity this season. The Rays rank 22nd in OPS vs. right-handers this year (.702).


Friday, May 18: Nick Tropeano vs. TB

Tropeano missed one start to inflammation in his shoulder, but he’s mostly been on his game this year with a 3.42 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. He gets a favorable matchup vs. the Rays, provided he’s healthy.


National League


Thursday, May 17: Chad Kuhl vs. SD

The Padres still haven’t hit much this year, especially vs. right-handed hitters (.642 OPS). Kuhl has a 4.12 ERA after throwing seven scoreless innings at Milwaukee last weekend.


Thursday, May 17: Chad Bettis: @ SF

Bettis has been one of the best stories of 2018 so far, and while he’s likely to come back down to Earth with a K/9 of just 5.5, he’s yet to allow more than two earned runs in five road starts. A visit to San Francisco looks promising given their .688 OPS vs. right-handers, seventh worst in the league.


Saturday, May 19: Rich Hill @ WAS

Hill has been bombed in four starts this season, including his return from the DL on Tuesday. Still, he has more than one strikeout per inning and is facing a Nats lineup that has surprisingly struggled vs. lefties (.684 OPS).


Total Games


American League


5: NYY




National League





8: CHC


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.


Trevor Cahill: Placed on DL (elbow)

Nicholas Castellanos: Day-to-day (knee)

Jason Castro: Placed on DL (knee)

Robinson Chirinos: Day-to-day (wrist)

Johnny Cueto: Placed on 60-day DL (elbow)

Yu Darvish: Placed on DL (flu)

Zach Davies: Placed on DL (shoulder)

Jacob deGrom: Will return Sunday (elbow)

Aledmys Diaz: Placed on DL (ankle)

Adam Eaton: Out indefinitely (ankle)

Todd Frazier: Placed on DL (hamstring)

Dee Gordon: Day-to-day (toe)

Jason Heyward: Placed on DL (concussion)

Clayton Kershaw: Placed on DL (biceps)

Leonys Martin: Placed on DL (knee)

Carlos Martinez: Placed on DL (lat)

Wade Miley: Out 4-6 weeks (oblique)

Yoan Moncada: Placed on DL (hamstring)

Darren O’Day: Placed on DL (elbow)

Roberto Osuna: Out indefinitely (administrative leave)

Braden Shipley: Placed on DL (elbow)

Dansby Swanson: Placed on DL (wrist)

Matt Wieters: Status unknown (knee)

Jordan Zimmermann: Placed on DL (shoulder)

You can find Seth Trachtman on Twitter @sethroto.
Email :Seth Trachtman

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