Patient fantasy owners are often rewarded over a six month regular season. That’s certainly been the case for those owners waiting out Michael Pineda.
Coming back from elbow and knee surgeries, it wasn’t a surprise to see Pineda get off to a slow start this season. The big right-hander had an ugly 5.34 ERA and allowed 14 home runs in 59 innings through the first two months of the season. At that point, some fantasy owners moved on as Pineda had a short IL stint due to knee soreness.
Since that time, not only does Pineda’s knee seem healthier but so does his slider. It’s now been 10 starts since he came off the IL, and Pineda has a sparkling 2.95 ERA and only four home runs allowed in 58 innings. He’s also allowed more than three earned runs in only one of those 10 starts. Pineda’s overall ERA is down to 4.15, which matches his FIP, and his control has been even better than his terrific career standard with a 1.8 BB/9.
Prior to this season, Pineda was an unreliable pitcher for ERA due to the long ball with his extreme flyball rate and pitching his home games at Yankee Stadium. At least recently, the home run issues have calmed, helping Pineda produce his lowest ERA since 2014. It’s not only leaving Yankee Stadium that’s helped, but also Minnesota’s very easy AL Central schedule. During his outstanding 10-start stretch, eight of Pineda’s 10 starts have come against teams that are currently sub-.500, compared to seven of his first 11 starts against teams with winning records.
The recent schedule trend changes in Pineda’s upcoming two-start week vs. Atlanta and Cleveland, but over the remainder of the season the Twins have the easiest schedule in MLB. The appetizing future slate includes 10 games vs. the Royals, 10 games vs. the Tigers, and nine games vs. the White Sox. In other words, 29 of Minnesota’s remaining 54 games are against terrible division opponents. It could be a fun last two months for Pineda and the rest of the Twins.
-It’s not a shock to see Padres hard-throwing right-hander Dinelson Lamet display erratic results just back from Tommy John surgery. Even before the injury, he struggled with his control (4.3 BB/9), and that’s continued post-surgery. However, we’re seeing some good signs with elite velocity that’s only gotten better since his return, averaging 95.7 mph on his fastball, and a resulting 11.7 K/9 with his lethal fastball-slider combo. Lamet has yet to go deep into a game in his five starts since his return, with the Padres keeping him under 90 pitches per start, and that’s probably also for the best from a two-pitch pitcher. Still, the strikeouts certainly make him intriguing, and his terrific two-start slate ahead against a pair of whiffing teams in Seattle (most strikeouts) and Colorado (seventh most strikeouts) provides more reason to keep him active.
-Cleveland activated Danny Salazar from the IL as they try to buy time for Corey Kluber’s return. Based on what Salazar showed in his first start, the Indians might want to find another alternative. Returning from a year-plus of major arm issues, the formerly hard-throwing Salazar averaged 86 mph on his fastball. That’s quite a drop from the 95 mph that he averaged in his first five MLB seasons. While he was able to survive for four innings vs. Houston, allowing two earned runs, this isn’t looking like a flier you want to take in what’s scheduled to be a two-start week.
-Jordan Yamamoto’s profile is very intriguing, as is his ability to miss bats (9.2 K/9), but it looks like major league hitters have figured him out since a quick start to his MLB career. He’s allowed at least four runs in each of his last three starts, and a total of four home runs after keeping the ball in the park in all of his first six starts. With what’s been an extreme flyball pitcher so far, the more recent profile seems more accurate while his home run rate continues to rise. Yamamoto is a big risk for next week’s two starts given his recent results.
Notes: Probable pitchers as of Friday, August 2, and are subject to change.
At Your Own Risk
Jakob Junis: @BOS, @DET
Zach Plesac: TEX, @MIN
Rick Porcello: KC, LAA
Ariel Jurado: @CLE, @MIL
Wade LeBlanc: SD, TB
Trent Thornton: @TB, NYY
Mike Montgomery: @BOS, @DET
Drew VerHagen: CHW, KC
Jacob Waguespack: @TB, NYY
Danny Salazar: TEX, @MIN
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, August 7: Ivan Nova @ DET
Nova has been a poor option overall, but has pitched outstanding in his last two starts and can cap it off against the Tigers. Detroit has a .660 OPS against right-handers this season and just traded Nicholas Castellanos.
Wednesday, August 7: Tyler Alexander vs. CHW
It’s rare to suggest two starters in the same matchup, but when the Tigers and White Sox square off, it’s always worth a look. Chicago has just a .735 OPS against lefties and are without Yoan Moncada. Alexander has continued to be a control artist through three MLB outings, and gave the White Sox fits in his debut on July 3.
Friday, August 9: Brad Keller @ DET
If you need a starter on the upswing in a shallow league, take a look at Keller. He had a 2.12 ERA in July, and showed a huge uptick in velocity over his last two starts. Keller also gets Detroit in his next start.
Wednesday, August 7: Joe Ross @ SF
Ross is fighting for a rotation spot while Max Scherzer is out. While the results haven’t been there, his velocity is up significantly. Ross gets an easier matchup at San Francisco after surviving Atlanta and the Dodgers over his last two outings.
Friday, August 9: Drew Smyly @ SF
Could Smyly save the Phillies season? He’s been brilliant through his first two starts, apparently fixing the control that plagued him in Texas. He will look to keep the run going at San Francisco, who have a terrible .669 OPS against southpaws.
Friday, August 9: Cal Quantrill vs. COL
Quantrill is getting starting opportunities for San Diego again and has been quietly brilliant since the break, allowing just one earned run in 17 innings. He has another great opportunity against a Rockies lineup that has a .669 OPS away from Coors Field.
5: HOU, SEA
6: BAL, LAA, OAK, TB, TEX
7: BOS, CLE, CHW, KC, MIN, NYY, TOR
6: ARI, CIN, COL, LAD, MIL, PIT, SD, STL, WAS
7: ATL, CHC, NYM, PHI, SF
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.
Tim Beckham: Day-to-day (oblique)
Ryan Borucki: Placed on IL (elbow)
Brandon Crawford: Status uncertain (shoulder)
Alex Dickerson: Out 3-4 weeks (oblique)
Ken Giles: Day-to-day (elbow)
Randal Grichuk: Day-to-day (mouth)
Lourdes Gurriel: Day-to-day (knee)
Enrique Hernandez: Placed on IL (hand)
Ramon Laureano: Placed on IL (leg)
DJ LeMahieu: Day-to-day (groin)
Nick Markakis: Out 6-8 weeks (wrist)
German Marquez: Day-to-day (cramps)
Yoan Moncada: Placed on IL (hamstring)
Tyler O’Neill: Day-to-day (hand)
Josh Phegley: Placed on IL (thumb)
Ryan Pressly: Placed on IL (knee)
CC Sabathia: Placed on IL (knee)
Max Scherzer: Placed on IL (back)
Dominic Smith: Placed on IL (foot)
Dwight Smith Jr.: Placed on IL (calf)
Christin Stewart: Placed on IL (concussion)
Ross Stripling: Placed on IL (neck)
Pedro Strop: Placed on IL (neck)
Alex Verdugo: Day-to-day (knee)
Luke Voit: Placed on IL (groin)
Joey Wendle: Placed on IL (wrist)