Seth Trachtman

The Week Ahead

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Week Ahead: Jackpot

Friday, June 1, 2018


No major airline offers a direct flight from Memphis to St. Louis. Jack Flaherty is well aware of this by now.

 

The Cardinals starting pitcher began the season in St. Louis but has since been demoted to Triple-A Memphis twice. Now, finally, it looks like he’s here to stay.

 

The right-hander had a fabulous season at Memphis in 2017 but struggled during his major league debut, with a 6.33 ERA in 21.1 innings. His fortune has changed through six starts this year, however. Flaherty has pitched with the confidence and control that he showed in the minors, posting a 2.62 ERA and 36/9 K/BB in 34.1 innings.

 

The 34th overall pick in the 2014 draft, Flaherty has been nothing short of dominant during his pro career with a 2.73 ERA and 3.60 K/BB ratio in 432 innings in the minors. He’s had a sub-3.00 ERA in all but one of his five minor league seasons, though there has been skepticism regarding his upside as a pitcher whose fastball sits in the low-90’s in an era when seemingly everyone is throwing in the mid-to-high 90’s.

 

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Fortunately, Flaherty has a true out-pitch in his slider. He’s thrown it nearly 30 percent of the time and can command the pitch, helping him post a BB/9 near 2.0 for the second consecutive season. He’s also shown elite dominance with a 9.4 K/9 thus far, including two outings with at least nine strikeouts.

 

Half of his six outings this season have come against the Pirates, and the Bucs did catch up to Flaherty on Thursday night with four runs allowed (three earned) in five innings. With sub-par velocity resulting in somewhat limited margin for error, it’s not shocking that hitters are having more success as they see Flaherty more frequently.

 

Nevertheless, the elite command and control at age 22 doesn’t lie. With Alex Reyes now back on the DL, Flaherty is here to stay and quite deserving of the chance.

 

-Twins youngster Fernando Romero had one of the worst starts of the year this week, inflating his ERA from 1.88 to 4.15 after allowing eight runs in 1.2 innings. It’s not surprising that he wouldn’t be able to maintain a sub-2.00 ERA, especially with mediocre control thus far, but I’m still a believer long-term due to the strikeouts and groundball rate above 50 percent. It’s helped him allow only two home runs in 30.1 innings. A sub-3.00 ERA is a asking a lot considering that Romero has a BB/9 above 4.0 between Triple-A and the majors this season, but the elite sinking fastball makes him a still intriguing arm. That said, it might not be the worst idea to sit Romero in shallow leagues next week following the awful start, just in case.

 

-One start into his season, it sure looks like Nathan Eovaldi is healthy. In his first MLB start post-Tommy John surgery, his fastball averaged 97 mph and he didn’t allow a hit against Oakland in six innings. That velocity has always made Eovaldi enticing, but he’s still yet to post a K/9 above 7.1 in the majors due to the lack of a true out-pitch. Still, the right-hander has been a perennial underachiever in relation to his ERA metrics. From 2013-15, he had a cumulative FIP of 3.44 before home run issues did him in during 2016. He’s not the ace-level pitcher we saw in his first start, but Eovaldi could certainly be better than the fantasy results we’ve commonly seen from him to this point in his career.

 

-Joe Musgrove is rewarding patient fantasy owners after missing nearly the entire first two months of the season with a shoulder injury. He’s allowed only one run through his first two starts in Pittsburgh, and we’re seeing some very interesting early trends. After finishing last year as a dominant reliever in Houston, Musgrove is now showing the best starting velocity of his career and also making his cutter a significant part of his repertoire. It’s likely no coincidence that Musgrove has been an extreme groundball pitcher to this point, with a 58 percent groundball rate. It’s been a few years since he was a regular minor league pitcher, so how easy it is to forget just how good Musgrove was before reaching the majors, posting a career 2.86 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and amazing 1.1 BB/9. Now that he’s showing some of the velocity that he had in the pen, Musgrove very well could be on track to developing into an ace and should be scooped up in all shallow leagues in which he remains available.

 

-Don’t look now but Danny Duffy is finally getting back on track. The overall stats are still ugly with a 5.71 ERA and 1.58 WHIP, but the lefty has allowed a total of two runs over his last two starts. There remains reason for concern with Duffy’s 4.3 BB/9, two more walks per nine innings than his cumulative total from the last two years. The good news is that his velocity has picked up significantly after a slow start, and the recent success is encouraging after terrible showings vs. Boston, Cleveland, and the Yankees. He’s a worthy flier if he was dropped in your league.

 

-After most teams had full weeks due to Memorial Day week, next week features only five teams with seven-plus games. As a result, there are fewer two-start pitchers this week than normal.

 

Going Twice…

 

Note: Probable pitchers as of Friday, June 1, and are subject to change.

 

American League

 

Strong Plays

 

James Paxton: @HOU, @TB

Eduardo Rodriguez: DET, CHW

 

Decent Plays

 

Dallas Keuchel: SEA, @TEX

Sean Manaea: @TEX, KC

Dylan Bundy: @NYM, @TOR

Nathan Eovaldi: @WAS, SEA

Nick Tropeano: KC, @MIN

Fernando Romero: CHW, LAA

CC Sabathia: @DET, @NYM

 

At Your Own Risk

 

Danny Duffy: @LAA, @OAK

Reynaldo Lopez: @MIN, @BOS

Mike Fiers: NYY, CLE

Marco Estrada: NYY, BAL

Brad Keller: @LAA, @OAK

Matt Moore: OAK, HOU

 

 

 

National League

 

Strong Plays

 

Jack Flaherty: MIA, @CIN

Ross Stripling: @PIT, ATL

 

Decent Plays

 

Kyle Hendricks: PHI, PIT

Joe Musgrove: LAD, @CHC

Julio Teheran: @SD, @LAD

Zack Godley: @SF, @COL

Kyle Freeland: @CIN, ARI

Clayton Richard: ATL, @MIA

Jose Urena: @STL, SD

Anthony DeSclafani: COL, STL

 

At Your Own Risk

 

Derek Holland: ARI, @WAS

Zach Eflin: @CHC, MIL

 

 

Streamer City

 

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

 

American League

 

Wednesday, June 6: Mike Minor vs. OAK

Minor has been very mediocre, especially recently, but faces an A’s lineup that has the second worst OPS in the AL vs. left-handers (.683). Overall, Minor’s command has been good (3.71 K/BB) but has struggles have come from the long ball.

 

Thursday, June 7: Frankie Montas vs. KC

Montas was spectacular in his first start of the year, and while it’s not realistic to expect a repeat, there aren’t many more favorable opponents in the AL than Kansas City (12th in runs scored).

 

Sunday, June 10: CC Sabathia @ NYM

The Mets have been the worst team in MLB vs. lefties by a wide margin (.604 OPS) and are about to get even worse after Wilmer Flores went to the DL. Sabathia has struggled lately, but this couldn’t be a more favorable matchup for him.

 

 

National League

 

Wednesday, June 6: Seth Lugo vs. BAL

Spinning the wheel on Lugo isn’t easy, but he looked great on Thursday and Is facing an O’s lineup that has the fourth worst OPS in MLB vs. right-handers (.669) and will be without the benefit of the DH.

 

Friday, June 8: Andrew Suarez @ WAS

Suarez has been inconsistent this year, but his command has been outstanding (4.63 K/BB). He faces a Washington lineup that’s struggled against lefties, with a .692 OPS.

 

Sunday, June 10: Clayton Richard @ MIA

Richard has quietly been terrific over his last five starts, with a 3.22 ERA and 29/5 K/BB in 36.1 innings. Miami has just a .661 OPS against lefties. Unfortunately, Richard has a brutal matchup to open the week against Atlanta, but if you’re able to make daily moves, getting him in your rotation late in the week is a good idea.

 

Total Games

 

American League

 

5: CLE

6: BAL, BOS, HOU, LAA, OAK, SEA, TB, TEX, TOR

7: CHW, KC, MIN, NYY

8: DET

 

National League

 

5: MIL, NYM, WAS

6: ARI, ATL, CHC, CIN, COL, LAD, MIA, PHI, PIT, SD, SF, STL

 

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.

 

Ronald Acuna: Placed on DL (knee)

Mookie Betts: Day-to-day (oblique)

Byron Buxton: Placed on DL (toe)

Jeimer Candelario: Day-to-day (hand)

Ryan Carpenter: Will be placed on DL (oblique)

Franchy Cordero: Placed on DL (forearm)

Zack Cozart: Day-to-day (arm)

Yu Darvish: Placed on DL (triceps)

Matt Davidson: Placed on DL (back)

Josh Donaldson: Day-to-day (calf)

Carl Edwards Jr.: Placed on DL (shoulder)

Jake Faria: Placed on 60-day DL (oblique)

Wilmer Flores: Placed on DL (back)

Rhys Hoskins: Placed on DL (jaw)

Jose Iglesias: Day-to-day (hip)

Clayton Kershaw: Status uncertain (back)

Francisco Liriano: Placed on DL (hamstring)

Kenta Maeda: Placed on DL (hip)

Steven Matz: Day-to-day (finger)

Brian McCann: Placed on DL (knee)

Andrew Miller: Placed on DL (knee)

Ivan Nova: Placed on DL (finger)

Adam Ottavino: Placed on DL (oblique)

Marcell Ozuna: Day-to-day (finger)

Dustin Pedroia: Day-to-day (knee)

Martin Prado: Placed on DL (hamstring)

Alex Reyes: Out indefinitely (lat)

Tyler Saladino: Placed on DL (ankle)

Jeff Samardzija: Placed on DL (shoulder)

Marcus Semien: Day-to-day (paternity leave)

Noah Syndergaard: Will miss 1-2 starts (finger)



You can find Seth Trachtman on Twitter @sethroto.
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