Each individual pitcher’s career development is unique. Luke Weaver is another example.
A popular sleeper for the Cardinals entering last season after a great end to his 2017 campaign, Weaver was one 2018’s biggest disappointments. He struggled to maintain a rotation spot in St. Louis, finishing the season with a 4.95 ERA in 136.1 innings. That was especially frustrating given Weaver’s minor league track record, with a glistening career 2.03 ERA.
Arizona acquired Weaver in the Paul Goldschmidt trade this offseason, and they’re seeing a terrific turnaround for the 25-year-old right-hander. Through nine starts, Weaver has a 3.16 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and 4.58 K/BB ratio, again showing the brilliant command that made him such a great prospect. He’s also been very consistent, allowing three or fewer earned runs in eight straight starts after struggling at Dodger Stadium in his first start of the year.
After getting pounded against lefties last season, Weaver is throwing his cutter more often this year (plus-10 percent) and has developed the pitch to be one of the most effective in his arsenal. Left-handed hitters produced an .841 OPS and launched 11 home runs in 324 plate appearances last year, but this year they have a .621 OPS and only two long balls in 116 plate appearances.
We’ve also seeing Weaver’s control nearly match what he did in the minors. He currently has a 2.1 BB/9 after producing a 1.7 BB/9 for his minor league career. Arizona lost Patrick Corbin in the offseason, but Weaver’s success is lessening the blow of losing their left-handed ace. Weaver is quickly becoming an every-start fantasy option, as is the case next week with a two-start week with visits to roomy San Diego and San Francisco.
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-So much attention has been paid to the Yankees injuries this season that we’re almost overlooking what’s happening on the field, both good and bad. One discouraging development has been the performance of J.A. Happ, after signing a two-year, $34 million contract in the offseason. The 36-year-old lefty is off to a rough start (4.44 ERA, 2.0 HR/9), and the ERA metrics show that he’s actually been a little lucky. There’s reason for concern with a loss in fastball velocity and resulting sub-7.0 K/9, down a full three strikeouts from last year. It’s too soon to give up on Happ after what he did last year, but he’s no longer an automatic play, even in an easy two-start week at Baltimore and KC.
-With all the attention paid to this week’s top prospects, some lesser prospects have come up under the radar. Giants right-hander Shaun Anderson apparently has a rotation spot with the team already starting to look toward the future. He pitched well in his first MLB start, albeit against a weak Toronto lineup. He’s far from a top prospect, but the former third-round pick out of Florida has moved up quickly through the minors because of his excellent control (2.3 BB/9 for his career) and could be a spot starting option later this season pitching his home games in one of the league’s most pitcher-friendly ballparks. That said, it’s a little soon to utilize Anderson in a possible upcoming two-start week unless you’re desperate for wins.
-While still a big name earning a big paycheck, Jake Arrieta continues to deteriorate into a league-average starter. His current 4.02 ERA is more than a half run lower than his FIP (4.68), and Arrieta has had trouble both keeping the ball in the park (1.3 HR/9) and throwing strikes (3.7 BB/9). The former Cy Young winner has allowed fewer than four earned runs in only one in his last five outings and continues to rely on his 50-plus percent groundball rate with an infield defense that is one of the worst in MLB. With a sub-8.0 K/9 for the second straight year, there doesn’t seem to be much reason to keep Arrieta around in shallow leagues.
-Speaking of big names, both Chris Archer and Yu Darvish are listed in the “At Your Own Risk” two-start section below for next week due to their poor starts to the year and difficult upcoming matchups. That’s not necessarily an endorsement to drop them, though they both have shown some reason to do so if you’re in a roster crunch. Archer has an ERA above 5.00 after consecutive awful starts before and after his short IL stint, and his fastball velocity has declined nearly two mph from last year. Darvish has averaged fewer than five innings per start with an atrocious 7.1 BB/9 and 1.7 HR/9, though he is coming off the best start of his season.
Note: Probable pitchers as of Friday, May 17, and are subject to change.
At Your Own Risk
At Your Own Risk
The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:
Wednesday, May 22: Daniel Norris vs. MIA
Norris has pitched well in four of his five starts, and faces a Marlins lineup with a sub-.600 OPS against lefties.
Wednesday, May 22: Jefry Rodriguez vs. OAK
Rodriguez is giving reason to own him with the help of Cleveland’s easy schedule. He gets another shot against an Oakland lineup that ranks 22nd in OPS vs. right-handers (.695) after he put together a quality start against them on May 12.
Sunday, May 26: Danny Duffy vs. NYY
It’s not what we expected after last year, but the Yankees have really had trouble against lefties this year after posting the second highest OPS in baseball against them last year. They rank 23rd in OPS against southpaws with the absences of top right-handed bats like Giancarlo Stanton and Miguel Andujar. Duffy will get a shot to take advantage next weekend.
Wednesday, May 22: Merrill Kelly @ SD
It’s been an up and down “rookie” season for Kelly, but he’s set for his third shot against a Padres lineup that ranks 23rd in OPS vs. right-handed pitchers. Kelly faced the Padres twice in April.
Friday, May 24: Nick Margevicius @ TOR
Some of the luster has worn off Margevicius after his fast start, but he has a favorable matchup at Toronto next week. The Blue Jays have a .616 OPS vs. lefties, 27th in MLB and worst in the AL.
Saturday, May 25: Jeremy Hellickson vs. MIA
Hellickson hasn’t given much reason for fantasy owners to hang on to him with a 6.00 ERA in 36 innings, but he has a chance to get on track against the Marlins next week. Incredibly, the Marlins have averaged 2.56 runs per contest through 41 games.
6: DET, LAA, MIN, OAK, SEA, TB, TEX
7: BAL, BOS, CLE, CHW, HOU, NYY, TOR
5: CIN, LAD, MIL, STL
6: ARI, COL, MIA, PIT, SD
7: ATL, CHC, 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.
Jose Altuve: Placed on IL (hamstring)
Elvis Andrus: Placed on IL (hamstring)
Miguel Andujar: Out for the season (shoulder)
Manny Banuelos: Status uncertain (shoulder)
Miguel Cabrera: Day-to-day (knee)
Michael Conforto: Placed on IL (concussion)
Nelson Cruz: Placed on IL (wrist)
Yandy Diaz: Day-to-day (ankle)
Mitch Garver: Placed on IL (ankle)
Tyler Glasnow: Out 4-6 weeks (arm)
Zack Greinke: Status uncertain (abdomen)
Felix Hernandez: Out at least 2-4 weeks (shoulder)
Ender Inciarte: Placed on IL (back)
Jung Ho Kang: Placed on IL (oblique)
Jonathan Loaisiga: Out indefinitely (shoulder)
Kenta Maeda: Placed on IL (thigh)
Jeff McNeil: Day-to-day (abdomen)
Francisco Mejia: Placed on IL (knee)
Jordy Mercer: Placed on IL (quadriceps)
Tyler Naquin: Placed on IL (calf)
David Peralta: Status uncertain (neck)
Manny Pina: Placed on IL (hamstring)
Anthony Rizzo: Day-to-back (back)
Miguel Rojas: Day-to-day (back)
Tyson Ross: Placed on IL (elbow)
Anibal Sanchez: Placed on IL (hamstring)
Travis Shaw: Placed on IL (wrist)
Trevor Story: Status uncertain (knee)
Julio Urias: Out indefinitely (suspension)
Vince Velasquez: Placed on IL (elbow)