In the spirit of keeping things fluid here, we’re going to get a head start on the two-start pitcher/waiver wire outlook for this week. We’ll cover options for the 10 teams that had off days yesterday, and we’ll cover the other 20 teams in both Intel posts this weekend.
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- OF Steven Souza made his debut as a Diamondback yesterday after missing the start of the season with a pectoral injury. He hit fifth and went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
- You know SP Pat Corbin is at or near ace-level status when the start he posted yesterday could be considered his worst of the year in eight trips – six innings, one earned run, but only five strikeouts.
- It was a near no-hitter for SP Julio Teheran, who went 6 2/3 innings before allowing a hit to 2B/SS/3B Asdrubal Cabrera. Teheran finished the seventh inning and left the game with only two hits and two walks allowed, with six strikeouts. This was a great bounceback after leaving his last start with upper back tightness, and you can return to starting him in almost all outings with confidence.
- OF Nick Markakis went 3-for-4 with his fifth home run of the season, a double, three RBI, and three runs scored.
- OF/1B Trey Mancini has taken a few steps forward this season in terms of plate discipline, with a slight drop in strikeout rate and a tick up in walk rate, but he’s not producing much power right now. That’s primarily due to a decline in his already paltry fly ball rate – after hitting it in the air 29.7% last season, he’s only done it 25.8% this season. His hard-hit rate is normal for him, and he’s had some bad luck on the fly balls he has hit, so we’d recommend Mancini as a smart buy-low target if there’s an owner frustrated with this early power outage.
Boston Red Sox
- SP David Price is making life very difficult on his fantasy owners because there’s been no point in this season where they could just set it and forget with Price in their lineup. Whether it was his weird hand numbness issue against the Yankees, or a stretch after last night’s game where he’s pitched to a 8.22 ERA over his last five starts, Price probably shouldn’t be started in shallower mixed formats for the time being until he gets it together. Last night’s line, by the way? 3 2/3 innings, six hits, two walks, seven earned runs, four strikeouts.
- Two-start pitcher: Six home games against Miami and the White Sox give SP Kyle Hendricks a fantastic opportunity for a big week. He draws SP Jarlin Garcia on Monday against Miami and SP James Shields on Sunday against the White Sox, both games he should be favored to win. Hendricks is a must-start in all formats.
- Waiver wire: OF Albert Almora (63% owned) has led off for a few weeks now and offers plenty of upside in runs scored and batting average.
Chicago White Sox
- In the playing time battle of fringe outfielders, OF Daniel Palka played designated hitter yesterday and went 1-for-4 with a two-run homer, OF Trayce Thompson went 1-for-4 with walk-off solo homer, and OF Adam Engel went 0-for-1 with a walk, a steal, and a run scored. If we were looking to take a shot on one guy in an AL-only league, it’d be Engel – he’s been terrible at the plate yet manager Rick Renteria keeps playing him, primarily for defense, but if Engel can get himself to just “bad” at the dish instead of his current “shouldn’t be in the majors” level, he’s going to be able to steal enough bases to have value.
- Two-start pitchers: Our first seven-game week to analyze belongs to the Reds, who host the Mets for three games before traveling to LA for four with the Dodgers. SP Homer Bailey faces SP Jacob deGrom (most likely) and SP Kenta Maeda, two matchups that present a low probability for a win. We’d start Bailey in NL-only leagues, but that’s it. SP Luis Castillo gets SP Jason Vargas, who was bombed out again yesterday, and SP Clayton Kershaw…who is Clayton Kershaw. For a team that is 7-24 right now, though, the Vargas matchup is a rare opportunity for a win from a Cincy starter, and that offsets the risky Kershaw matchup – start Castillo in 12-team and larger leagues.
- Waiver wire: SP Tyler Mahle (72% owned) has strikeout upside and doesn’t put himself in position to have complete wipeout starts (like, say, David Price). He’s going to be valuable all season, just don’t expect many wins.
- Another big game for 1B Edwin Encarnacion – 3-for-5, all singles, but three RBI, a run scored, and a walk.
- Two ugly outings in a row for SP Carlos Carrasco, who went 5 1/3 innings and allowed 12 baserunners and six earned runs, striking out seven. The command wasn’t there at all for Carrasco, and he continues to not get as much mileage out of his changeup as he did last year, when it was probably the single biggest factor in his terrific season.
- Two-start pitchers: The Rockies will return home Tuesday after a nine-game road trip to host a two-game set against the Angels and a four-game set against the Brewers. SP Jon Gray will face TBD for Los Angeles and SP Chase Anderson for Milwaukee. Gray is striking out too many batters right now to be afraid of Coors, and we’d start him in all formats, especially with the Brewers lineup struggling to produce power early this season.
- Waiver wire: RP Adam Ottavino (69% owned) should be on all rosters, simply as a deterrent for fantasy owners who feel forced in to using bad starting pitchers in a weekly lineup league – instead of doing that, you could have Ottavino, who continues to deliver weeks of about three innings and six strikeouts.
- 1B Miguel Cabrera returned to the lineup after missing the Tampa Bay series with a left biceps issue. He went 1-for-4 with a strikeout before leaving the game with a right hamstring strain. The regularity of these nagging injuries is the norm for the 35-year-old Cabrera.
- RP Will Harris was given a shot to get the save in the ninth inning with a 5-3 lead yesterday, and it only took two batters to see that he wasn’t going to be able to get the job done. By the time manager A.J. Hinch reversed course and brought in RP Brad Peacock, it was too late, and the Yankees completed a comeback to win a crazy 6-5 game and take the four-game set 3-1. The Astros have a minor bullpen problem with very little depth behind Peacock and RP Chris Devenski, and it will continue to hurt their rotation’s ability to get as many wins as you’d expect from a team this good.
Kansas City Royals
- OF Jorge Soler hit his fourth home run of the season and scored three runs in yesterday’s game. He has to be owned in all leagues based on the combination of playing time safety, power skills history, and plate discipline improvement.
Los Angeles Angels
- RP Blake Parker pitched a perfect seventh inning last night, striking out all three batters he faced. In a bullpen turned upside down by the injury to RP Keynan Middleton, Parker could realistically be a week or two of good outings away from getting another shot at closing.
- OF/SP Shohei Ohtani has played three straight days in the lineup and hit two singles and walked yesterday, so he looks healthy and ready to go for his liked start on the mound this weekend in Seattle.
Los Angeles Dodgers
- Taking a small step back off the ledge regarding RP Kenley Jansen, who earned his fifth save of the season with a clean ninth inning. His velocity continues to take very small steps toward normalcy, as well.
- C/2B Austin Barnes finally hit his first home run of the season, and also walked twice. Barnes has a lot of talent and has not seemed healthy early on, so he could be a smart buy-low opportunity in leagues where the catcher pool is deep.
- SP Hyun-Jin Ryu‘s groin injury is serious enough that it is expected to keep him out until after the All-Star Break. Ryu is a terrific pitcher…when healthy. This is too long to justify holding him in almost any mixed league, unless you have designated DL spots or a deep bench.
- Two-start pitchers: SP Jarlin Garcia and SP Jose Urena will each get two starts next week, first at Wrigley Field against the Cubs, and then at home against Atlanta. We like both guys, but the Braves are a dangerous lineup right now and the Cubs at home are dangerous when it isn’t freezing (which it won’t be based on the current forecast – low 60s and sunny), so we have a hard time recommending either in any mixed-league format.
- Waiver wire: SP Caleb Smith (21% owned) needs to start using his changeup more as a viable third pitch in order to have a safer long-term outlook, but he’s striking out way too many guys right now to only be owned in 1/5 of leagues. Smith should be started in all leagues when he has a favorable matchup, especially against strikeout-prone teams.
- Two-start pitcher: SP Chase Anderson will face SP Corey Kluber at home on Tuesday and SP Jon Gray at Colorado on Sunday. It’d be hard to come up with a tougher two-start week when you consider opponent and venue, and for a low-strikeout, high-contact pitcher like Anderson, the risk is too high to recommend him in any leagues smaller than 15-team mixed. Even that would be a stretch because the Brewers’ lineup isn’t hitting well enough right now to give Anderson a shot at a win.
- Waiver wire: 1B Jesus Aguilar (16% owned) is playing four or five times a week with 1B/OF Eric Thames out.
- SP Zach Davies was placed on the disabled list yesterday with right shoulder inflammation. He is only expected to miss one start.
- 1B Logan Morrison is waking up a little bit – yesterday’s three-hit game, which included a home run and a double – made it six games in his last seven with a hit, and he’s only struck out three times in those 28 plate appearances.
New York Mets
- SP Jason Vargas is probably not going to get demoted any time soon, but after yesterday’s outing – 4 2/3 innings, six earned runs, 11 hits, two walks, three home runs, three strikeouts – he is not making a compelling case to be on any fantasy roster, and there aren’t many positives to pull from in hoping for a turnaround. With SP Matt Harvey looking terrible out of the bullpen, Vargas’ performance mostly solidifies SP Steven Matz’s role in the rotation, and maybe opens the door for SP/RP Robert Gsellman to return to starting at some point this summer.
- OF Michael Conforto was dropped to fifth in the order and went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and a walk.
New York Yankees
- SP Masahiro Tanaka was great in shutting out the Astros for six innings, so don’t let the final line fool you in to thinking this was another barely-above-average outing. In the sixth, Tanaka allowed a couple of singles and hit a batter before being lifted for SP Chad Green, who allowed all three of those runners to score. In addition to those three earned runs, Tanaka only allowed five hits, didn’t walk anyone, and struck out five.
- OF Khris Davis is in a pretty rough slump right now, with only two hits in his last 31 plate appearances. Davis’ hard-contact rate is at a career-high 46.4% right now, though, and he’s still got the same plate discipline and batted ball profile as the last two seasons where he hit 40 home runs. With the A’s returning home this weekend, we bet Davis gets rolling again soon, but if you can find a way to trade for him now, do so.
- Two-start pitchers: SP Zach Eflin is likely to stay in the rotation after a solid performance on Wednesday, so he’s set up as the first two-start pitcher in a seven-game week for Philly next week, all at home. He’ll draw SP Jeff Samardzija on Monday and SP Noah Syndergaard on Saturday – not great matchups! We’d bench Eflin in all mixed formats. SP Aaron Nola is the other two-start guy, and he is a must-start everywhere, all the time – he draws SP Derek Holland on Tuesday and SP Jacob deGrom on Sunday.
- Waiver wire: No recommendation.
- SP Trevor Williams delivered another fine, not great, start, going 5 2/3 innings and allowing four hits, one walk, three runs, and striking out two. He did get a season-high in groundballs, though, which is encouraging considering his propensity for fly balls.
San Diego Padres
- Two-start pitchers: Seven home games await the Friars, and SP Tyson Ross and SP Clayton Richard will be the beneficiaries. Ross faces SP Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals on Monday and SP Michael Wacha and the Cardinals on Saturday – both lineups aren’t setting the world on fire right now, and although it’ll be hard for Ross to be depended on for a win in either game, he’s still worth starting in 12-team mixed and larger formats, and if you need strikeouts, we’d start him in 10-team mixed leagues too. Richard faces SP Jeremy Hellickson on Tuesday and SP Carlos Martinez on Sunday – he doesn’t have enough upside to risk starting in any mixed format.
- Waiver wire: No recommendation.
San Francisco Giants
- Two-start pitchers: Seven road games in the Keystone State await the Giants, with SP Jeff Samardzija and SP Derek Holland each drawing two starts. Samardzija should be started everywhere, and it helps that he has winnable matchups against SP Zach Eflin on Monday and SP Jameson Taillon on Saturday. Holland is recommended in 15-team mixed – even though he’s allowed a bunch of home runs, he’s struck out nearly a batter an inning and has a good strikeout to walk ratio. Philly has the third most strikeouts in the majors rate now, and the Pirates lineup has cooled down after a good start.
- Waiver wire: OF Mac Williamson (61% owned) should be back in the lineup tonight and offers as much power upside as anyone you’re going to find on waivers at this point in the season.
- 2B/OF Dee Gordon stole two bases yesterday in a 3-for-4 effort, scoring two runs as well.
- C Mike Zunino struck out in all three of his at bats yesterday, giving him 10 in his last four games. That, after a stretch where he homered twice in three days. This is the life of owning Zunino, and a reminder that if you own him, you play him all the time – the last thing you want to do in a weekly league is miss a four-homer week because you’re trying to guess when Zunino is going to get hot.
St. Louis Cardinals
- Two-start pitcher: SP Carlos Martinez is the lone two-start guy in a six-game week, and he’s a must-start in all formats. He’ll host Minnesota and SP Fernando Romero on Tuesday, and travel to San Diego to face SP Clayton Richard on Sunday.
- Waiver wire: No recommendation.
Tampa Bay Rays
- Two-start pitcher: It is a six-game week for Tampa Bay, but only over five days, as they play a doubleheader in Baltimore on Saturday. SP Blake Snell is their lone two-start guy, hosting SP Sean Newcomb and the Braves on Tuesday and SP Dylan Bundy and the Orioles in Baltimore on Sunday. Snell’s recent form is hard to ignore, even with the Braves lineup hitting well and Newcomb being solid – go ahead and start Snell everywhere you own him.
- Waiver wire: 2B Joey Wendle (9% owned) is hammering pitches in the strike zone and has made progress in his plate discipline. He is going to be given every day playing time all season as long as he’s healthy, and we’d have a hard time naming 15 more valuable second basemen in fantasy right now. He should be much more owned than nine percent.
- OF Nomar Mazara went 2-for-5 with five RBI last night, and with homers in three consecutive games is now on pace for a fantastic season – .285 average, 29 home runs and 108 RBI. This is your daily reminder that one week can still change everything at this point in the season when it comes to season-long outlooks on players. Especially in Texas, where the best is yet to come for hitting opportunities.
- SP Mike Minor didn’t have his best stuff last night, and his fastball isn’t delivering nearly as much value as it did as a reliever last year, but he still continues to get the job done – he earned his third win of the season with six innings of solid work, allowing three earned runs on seven hits and three walks, striking out four.
Toronto Blue Jays
- 3B Josh Donaldson returned to the lineup yesterday and played both ends of a doubleheader, going 4-for-11 with two home runs, four RBI, and four runs scored. He’s good to go in every fantasy lineup, until he gets hurt again.
- 2B/3B Yangervis Solarte also had a huge day in the twin bill, going 8-for-10 with two home runs, seven RBI, and four runs scored.
- RP Sean Doolittle went 1 2/3 innings for his sixth save, needing only 17 pitches to do so. All of his other outings this year have been one inning, so it is equal parts encouraging and alarming that he was asked to go this long. Alarming, because Doolittle has now appeared in 14 games and has thrown 14 2/3 innings, putting him on pace for career highs in both those categories. With his injury history, we’ll hope his save opps going forward are of the shorter variety.