After an opening week of blowouts, pitcher’s duels and, oh yeah, 19-inning ball games (thank you New York Yankees for completely letting sleep evade me this weekend), we look ahead to Week 2 in Fantasy Baseball and a chance to settle into reality.
While 4 for 5 in last week’s Pitching Planner, relatively speaking looks good to me on paper, I can not help but think about how many people like myself were completely wronged in daily leagues by Mat Latos’ embarrassment of a “start” in Miami. Although, assuming he is healthy, Latos is certainly better than what he displayed last week, by no means can I predict him as one of five pitchers to start given his spring, and the fact that he starts on the road this time, against the same team that teed off on him in the first week.
Aside from Latos, I do believe there are a few pitchers that offer good value in Week 2, while others may be relatively overpriced, or higher owned than they should be after an impressive first week.
MLB Week 2 Pitching Planner: 5 Pitchers to Start
1. Danny Duffy, SP, Kansas City Royals
Entering the season, Duffy seemed like a potential high-end sleeper if he could stay healthy, and despite the poor first outing, I believe that to be true. Despite giving up five earned runs in five innings, he did not issue a walk and struck out five. He draws a start against Minnesota to open the second week, and the Twins seem like they could be an opposing lineup to target for pitchers this season. I realize David Price is elite, and Anibal Sanchez was on my list last week, but to score one run in a three game series is a bit embarrassing. After the “Twin Cities” he gets a start in Kansas City (where he posted a 2.67 ERA last season) against Oakland, and despite their shocking offensive prowess in the first week, they are by no means murderer’s row. I like a strong two start week from Duffy in week 2.
2. Andrew Cashner, SP, San Diego Padres
Cashner did not quite open the season as we had hoped after an electric spring, but he gets the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday (at Petco) and then the Chicago Cubs over the weekend. He posted a 2.11 ERA the last three years at home, and while I’m not a huge fan of starters in Wrigley Field, I think the young lineup for the Chicago Cubs is going to take some time to gel. And, until that happens, I have no issues targeting starters opposing them in the opening weeks. One run at Coors Field against Tyler Matzek, are you freaking kidding me? He even gave you three walks, but I digress.
3. Daniel Norris, SP, Toronto Blue Jays
Norris jumped at his opportunity to replace Marcus Stroman in the rotation by dominating all spring to the tune of a 4-0 record in 7 starts. While he drew a tough opening start at Yankee Stadium to open the season, granted not a great lineup but still difficult environment, he should find much more success against the light hitting Tampa Bay Rays lineup on Tuesday. In addition, he should get a second start on Sunday against the Atlanta Braves. Neither lineup scares me, and more importantly, even if they get a couple runs off Norris, he could still scrape out a 2-0 week given Toronto’s offensive potential. Best case scenario, Norris offers 15-20 strikeout potential in two-start weeks.
4. Travis Wood, SP, Chicago Cubs
Wood is one of those “blah” picks, and I’ll be the first to admit that, but I like him in this spot against the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday at Wrigley. Cincinnati selected Wood in the second round of the 2005 draft, and he has always pitched well, 2.98 ERA in 10 starts, against the Reds in the last three years. In that same time frame, he has posted a 2.87 ERA in 10 April starts. Those stats, in addition to drawing the start against Jason Marquis, just give me that gut feeling that Wood makes for a good streamer option.
5. Taijuan Walker, SP, Seattle Mariners
Walker may be my riskiest selection of all given his disaster on Friday night against Oakland. Despite that though, this start may be do or die time for Walker reassuring Seattle that he deserves a stable spot in the rotation, and I think he steps up. He draws the start at Dodger Stadium and while I think Los Angeles has a fine lineup, I do not believe it is as powerful as they have shown in the opening week (for starters, Adrian Gonzalez is not going to suddenly hit 50 home runs this season. Walker posted a 0.67 ERA in 27 innings pitched this spring. Every starter has a bad night, and I think Friday was that night for Taijuan.
5 Pitchers to Sit/Avoid in Week 2
1. Wily Peralta, SP, Milwaukee Brewers
Similar to my gut feeling about Wood, I really do not like Peralta against the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday, opposing Lance Lynn. Lynn has always been lights out in April, especially at home, and has had success against the Brewers throughout his career. Peralta, meanwhile, has not faired extremely well against St. Louis, 4-4 with a 4.33 ERA in 9 starts the last three years, and Milwaukee’s offense just is not showing much to start the season. Even if it’s a low scoring, 3-2 type ballgame, I like the Cardinals getting the 3 runs a lot more than the Brewers, so without much strikeout potential, there’s just not a lot to draw me to Peralta in week 2. By the way, if Lynn were not such an obvious start this week, I would have him on the list above, as he is probably one of my top options all week.
2. Gio Gonzalez, SP, Boston Red Sox
Gonzalez makes for the sucker bet this week. His numbers in April are solid, his numbers against the Boston Red Sox (who he draws on Wednesday) are solid , but I just don’t see the numbers adding up. I would anticipate the 19-inning affair the Red Sox played on Friday night having a little bit of a hangover effect for a couple days (and for that reason I like Gonzalez’s teammates Jordan Zimmerman and Stephen Strasburg to fair well against Boston on Monday and Tuesday. That brings us to the Wednesday day game where Gonzalez matches up with Wade Miley at Fenway Park. If we are in Las Vegas, I anticipate the line opening up at near even odds on both sides, and the general better flocking to Washington when they see the match-up of Gonzalez vs. Miley. If I have to have some stats to back up my gut instinct, in 2013 Gonzalez had a 5.34 ERA in 6 April starts, and went 2-4 with a 5.06 ERA during 11 day games. The matchup looks good, but it screams bounce back game for the Red Sox lineup.
3. Chris Archer, SP, Tampa Bay Rays
Archer will get the Blue Jays in Toronto on Wednesday, and while he was really good against the Miami Marlins this past Saturday, I really like the Blue Jays offense, and they are a particularly righty heavy lineup, which has caused Archer problems in the past. Although Archer had success at the Rogers Centre last year, he posted a 4.14 ERA in 6 starts against Toronto. In addition, Archer has allowed a .262 batting average against right-handers, compared to a .228 average from lefties. The middle of the Blue Jays order, Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, are all righties. Not to mention, Jose Reyes is a switch-hitter, and 9-20 lifetime against Archer. While I like his prospects for the full season, this looks like a week to sit Archer.
4. Jeff Samardzija, SP, Chicago White Sox
Samardzija has not exactly looked spectacular in his first two outings with the White Sox, and I wouldn’t bank on him finding his groove against David Price and the Detroit Tigers on Friday. He has posted a 4.73 ERA during day game starts in the last three years (44 starts), and he is 12-24 on the road in that same time frame.
5. Jimmy Nelson, SP, Milwaukee Brewers
Jimmy Nelson was absolutely dominant against Pittsburgh on Saturday, and showed the promise he displayed last season in Triple-A. While I think he will certainly improve on his 2014 numbers, considering that wouldn’t take much (2-9 record, OUCH), I still think 2015 will come with some growing pains. He starts Friday, and will once again oppose the Pirates, but this time at PNC Park where they went 51-30 last season. I don’t anticipate a total annihilation, but I’d be very surprised if he lasts more than 5 innings and gives up less than three runs. In a mixed league, I think you will find that there are better options on your bench this week.
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