Sometimes all it takes to pitch effectively in the majors is one great pitch. For Marlins starter Trevor Richards, that’s his changeup.
The right-hander is quite a story, playing Division II college baseball at Drury University in Missouri and going undrafted. After a couple seasons with the Gateway Grizzlies in the Independent Frontier League, Miami signed Richards in 2016, and he was in the majors less than two years later.
Overshadowed by many of the Marlins more highly ranked prospects, Richards has arguably been the team’s most reliable pitcher since he was promoted last season. He has a cumulative 4.06 ERA in 40 starts, including a 3.54 ERA in 15 starts this season in large part due to his nasty changeup.
Richards has thrown the pitch even more than his fastball this season, accounting for 40 percent of his pitches. While not predictive, Fangraphs’ pitch value measures Richards’ changeup as the third most effective among starters this season, trailing only Hyun-Jin Ryu and Mike Minor. That pitch has helped him compensate for a below average fastball averaging 91 mph, and he continues to fan batters at a satisfactory 22 percent clip.
While he’s far from an innings eater, averaging less than six innings per start, Richards has become more consistent lately. Since the start of May, he’s 3-3 with a 2.82 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 46/18 K/BB in 51 innings over nine starts. This all amounts to a pitcher who should be owned in most leagues, especially with the advantages of Marlins Park for an extreme flyball pitcher.
-You have to wonder whether the trade rumors are getting to Giants ace Madison Bumgarner after his struggles in two consecutive starts. He had his worst start of the year at Dodger Stadium on Thursday, failing to make it out of the fourth inning. Despite what’s now a 4.28 ERA, Bumgarner’s average velocity remains the best we’ve seen from him since 2015, and he continues to show superlative control with a 2.0 BB/9. A pending free agent, Bumgarner seems likely to be traded by the July 31 deadline and will almost certainly go to a less favorable park for pitchers. That said, Bumgarner’s .307 BABIP is his worst since 2011, so perhaps a better supporting cast will help him in the same way it did Cole Hamels last year.
-Adam Plutko continues to be an adequate fill-in for Cleveland, and could be a sneaky streamer next week. The Indians lost Josh Tomlin in the offseason, but Plutko is nearly a clone with almost perfect control and horrible issues with the long ball. He has an atrocious 2.6 HR/9 in 108 major league innings for his career, but the UCLA alum is able to compensate for the home run issues with his control, walking only three batters in 27.2 innings this year. Next week’s opponents, Kansas City and Baltimore, rank 26th and 24th in home runs this season, respectively.
-Jesse Chavez has 74 career starts, and the 35-year-old is about to get another run in the starting rotation due to desperation on the part of the Rangers. The back of the Texas rotation has been patchwork all year, and perhaps Chavez can be the answer with a decent 4.38 ERA for his career as a starter. He’s already coming off a solid five-inning outing in which he threw 59 pitches, so it might not take long to get Chavez completely stretched out. While home run prone, Chavez goes on the road for his first two starts next week, and the first of those starts looks like a possible play at the White Sox.
-Chavez isn’t the only reliever set to enter his team’s starting rotation. Ross Stripling could re-enter the Dodgers rotation following Rich Hill’s arm injury. Stripling filled in for Hill at the start of the season, posting a 2.65 ERA and 32/10 K/BB in 34 innings over six starts to begin the year. Since then Stripling has been used sporadically in middle relief, but this is an exciting opportunity based on his early-season results, as well as last year (3.39 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 119/16 K/BB in 106.1 innings over 21 starts). Fantasy owners might want to hold off using Stripling in weekly lineup leagues for the upcoming week with a possible late-week start at Coors Field, but he’s a definite add if he was dropped in your league.
-There’s a weird quirk in the schedule for the Red Sox and Yankees this week, with the AL East rivals getting consecutive off days Thursday and Friday before a two-game series in London next weekend. The confines look favorable for hitters, with the center field fence only 385 feet away, as well as a turf field.
Note: Probable pitchers as of Friday, June 21, and are subject to change.
Blake Snell: @MIN, TEX
David Price: CHW, NYY
Kyle Gibson: TB, @CHW
Chris Bassitt: @STL, @LAA
Brad Keller: @CLE, @TOR
CC Sabathia: TOR, @BOS
Adam Plutko: KC, @BAL
Andrew Heaney: CIN, OAK
Marco Gonzales: @MIL, @HOU
Jesse Chavez: @DET, @TB
At Your Own Risk
Zach Eflin: NYM, @MIA
Madison Bumgarner: COL, ARI
Clayton Kershaw: @ARI, @COL
Zach Davies: SEA, PIT
Trevor Richards: WAS, PHI
Robbie Ray: LAD, @SF
Jake Arrieta: NYM, @MIA
Jon Gray: @SF, LAD
Steven Matz: @PHI, ATL
Max Fried: @CHC, @NYM
Julio Teheran: @CHC, @NYM
Ross Stripling: @ARI, @COL
At Your Own Risk
The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:
Thursday, June 27: Ariel Jurado @ DET
Jurado has shown some inconsistency lately, but he should be able to feast on a Tigers lineup that’s really struggled against right-handers. The Tigers .660 OPS against righties is the second worst in baseball.
Friday, June 28: Danny Duffy @ TOR
Toronto’s bats remain quiet, and rank 24th in OPS vs. lefties this season. That gives Duffy a favorable road matchup despite his 4.64 ERA.
Friday, June 28: Andrew Cashner vs. CLE
Cashner continues to be Baltimore’s “ace” with a 4.48 ERA, and he’s made consecutive quality starts. Cleveland ranks 23rd in OPS against right-handers (.721).
Tuesday, June 25: Cal Quantrill @ BAL
Quantrill’s early peripherals (27/8 K/BB in 31 innings) are far better than his 5.23 ERA, and a visit to Baltimore gives him an opportunity to get on track. The O’s have a sub-.700 OPS against right-handers.
Friday, June 28: Merrill Kelly @ SF
Kelly is coming off a poor start vs. Colorado, but he should be able to get back on track at the Giants next week. San Francisco continues to struggle swinging the bat, with a .673 OPS against right-handers.
Saturday, June 29: Erick Fedde @ DET
Command has been a major problem for Fedde, especially recently, but the groundball pitcher has a nice late-week matchup at Detroit. As mentioned, the Tigers haven’t fared well at all against right-handed pitching this year.
5: BAL, BOS, NYY
6: CLE, CHW, DET, HOU, KC, LAA, MIN, OAK, SEA, TB, TEX, TOR
5: CIN, SD, STL
6: MIA, MIL, PIT
7: ARI, ATL, CHC, COL, LAD, NYM, PHI, SF, WAS
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.
Nick Ahmed: Day-to-day (hand)
Nolan Arenado: Day-to-day (toe)
Manny Banuelos: Placed on IL (shoulder)
Welington Castillo: Placed on IL (ribs)
Mike Clevinger: Placed on IL (ankle)
Garrett Cooper: Status uncertain (triceps)
Rafael Devers: Day-to-day (hamstring)
Yandy Diaz: Placed on IL (hamstring)
Steven Duggar: Day-to-day (back)
Marwin Gonzalez: Placed on IL (hamstring)
Kyle Hendricks: Placed on IL (shoulder)
Rich Hill: Out indefinitely (arm)
Nick Hundley: Placed on IL (back)
Pablo Lopez: Placed on IL (shoulder)
Trey Mancini: Day-to-day (elbow)
John Means: Placed on IL (shoulder)
Adalberto Mondesi: Placed on IL (groin)
Pat Neshek: Placed on IL (hamstring)
Sean Newcomb: Placed on IL (concussion)
Hunter Pence: Placed on IL (groin)
Kevan Smith: Placed on IL (hand)
Justin Smoak: Placed on IL (quadriceps)
Trevor Story: Out several weeks (thumb)
Noah Syndergaard: Placed on IL (hamstring)