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Week 19 Pitching Forecaster

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The starting pitching landscape is barely different from the way you found it a week ago, just days before the non-waiver trade deadline.

Most Added Starters (as of 8/2)
Player Name % change
1. Scott Kazmir, SP, Indians 15
2. Alex Wood, SP, Braves 14
3. Chris Archer, SP, Rays 12
4. Tyler Chatwood, SP, Rockies 12
5. Henderson Alvarez, SP, Marlins 12
6. Jenrry Mejia, SP, Mets 12
7. Bud Norris, SP, Orioles 11
8. Mark Buehrle, SP, Blue Jays 10
9. Randall Delgado, SP, D-Backs 10
10. Wei-Yin Chen, SP, Orioles 7

Cliff Lee, Yovani Gallardo, Jeff Samardzija, Phil Hughes and Joe Saunders -- among many others rumored to be changing uniforms -- stayed put, though Jake Peavy, Ian Kennedy and Bud Norris did get changes of scenery. Only Peavy figures to be a factor in standard and shallow mixed leagues on a regular basis over the next two months, though Kennedy and Norris might find their way into the weekly top 70 in a future two-start week.

Lee is not only still a Phillie, but he is ready to return after getting scratched from his last start due to a stiff neck. Gallardo, however, has been shelved by a strained hamstring, but given his recent performance, he was due to be benched in many mixed leagues anyway. In short, you can go about the business of assessing your pitching options not too differently than how you've been doing it in recent weeks.

That advice extends to how you treat Justin Verlander. Though there have been a few bright spots, he has essentially been mired in a nine-game slump, during which he has put together a 4.61 ERA and 1.59 WHIP. As bad as those numbers are, Verlander deserves some slack, yet he is currently benched in 12 percent of the leagues on CBSSports.com.

The former Cy Young Award winner has allowed contact at a surprisingly high rate during his recent downturn, though he has done a better job of getting swings-and-misses over his two most recent starts. Normally with two starts, Verlander would be among the top three starters in a given week, but this week, I have him ranked 13th. That still means he should start in any format, given his long track record of success and some signs of a turnaround in his recent starts (i.e., more swinging strikes and ground balls). Those concerned about Verlander's decreased velocity can take heart in knowing that his velocity was down in several of the starts he made prior to the beginning of his current slide in mid-June.

Thanks to Nando Di Fino for filling in last week, while I was on vacation. He's handed back the reins, so it's time to trot out a new top 70 for Fantasy Week 19 (Aug. 5-11).

Monday update: Several teams tinkered with their rotations over the weekend, and that has impacted the pool of two-start pitchers. The Red Sox, Indians and Dodgers have all decided to go with a six-man rotation, at least temporarily. Stephen Fife, who started for the Dodgers on Sunday, will probably not take another turn for awhile, but Steven Wright and Danny Salazar are slated to start for the Red Sox and Indians, respectively, in Week 19. Salazar, even as a one-start option, is worth a flyer in standard and deeper mixed leagues, while Wright is better suited for AL-only leagues.

Those shifts mean that Justin Masterson, Ricky Nolasco and Ryan Dempster lose their two-start status, but Zack Greinke, having been pushed back from Sunday to Monday, gains an extra start. Both Masterson and Greinke had been advisable starts in shallow formats, and even Masterson continues to be, even though he'll get just one start.

The Mets and Athletics actually subtracted starters over the weekend, with the former team sending Carlos Torres to the bullpen and the latter demoting Tommy Milone to Triple-A Sacramento. Those moves created two-start weeks for Jenrry Mejia and Dan Straily. While Mejia is best left for NL-only leagues, Straily clocks in at No. 56 in this week's top 70.

Finally, J.A. Happ is expected to return from the disabled list to start for the Blue Jays on Wednesday, replacing Todd Redmond in the rotation. Though he's coming off a scary injury, having taken a line drive to the head, Happ is worth activating in AL-only leagues and stashing in deeper mixed leagues.

My Top 70 Starting Pitchers for Week 19
Rank Player Start 1 Start 2
1 Clayton Kershaw @STL (Kelly) TB (Hellickson)
2 Stephen Strasburg ATL (Minor) PHI (Kendrick)
3 Adam Wainwright LAD (Greinke) CHC (Villanueva)
4 Chris Sale NYY (Kuroda) MIN (Albers)
5 Anibal Sanchez @CLE (Kluber) @NYY (Hughes)
6 John Lackey @HOU (Oberholtzer) @KC (Shields)
7 Max Scherzer @CLE (McAllister) N/A
8 Felix Hernandez TOR (Johnson) N/A
9 David Price @LAD (Capuano) N/A
10 Yu Darvish @LAA (Richards) N/A
11 Hisashi Iwakuma TOR (Dickey) MIL (Peralta)
12 Madison Bumgarner MIL (Hellweg) N/A
13 Justin Verlander @CLE (Masterson) @NYY (Pettitte)
14 James Shields MIN (Albers) BOS (Lackey)
15 Matt Harvey COL (Bettis) N/A
16 Zack Greinke @STL (Wainwright) TB (Hernandez)
17 Cole Hamels CHC (Wood) N/A
18 Mike Minor @WAS (Strasburg) MIA (Alvarez)
19 Jake Peavy @KC (Santana) N/A
20 Matt Cain MIL (Peralta) BAL (Chen)
21 Jose Fernandez @PIT (Cole) N/A
22 Mat Latos OAK (Straily) N/A
23 Jered Weaver @CLE (Jimenez) N/A
24 Patrick Corbin NYM (Hefner) N/A
25 Cliff Lee @WAS (Jordan) N/A
26 Derek Holland @HOU (Keuchel) N/A
27 Matt Garza @HOU (Bedard) N/A
28 Tony Cingrani SD (Ross) N/A
29 Francisco Liriano @COL (De La Rosa) N/A
30 Justin Masterson DET (Verlander) N/A
31 Jordan Zimmermann ATL (Medlen) N/A
32 Doug Fister @CLE (Salazar) N/A
33 A.J. Burnett @COL (Nicasio) N/A
34 Homer Bailey OAK (Colon) N/A
35 Gio Gonzalez ATL (Teheran) N/A
36 Jeff Samardzija @PHI (Martin) N/A
37 Hiroki Kuroda @CHW (Sale) N/A
38 Shelby Miller LAD (Nolasco) N/A
39 Julio Teheran @WAS (Gonzalez) N/A
40 Jeremy Hellickson @ARI (Miley) @LAD (Kershaw)
41 Hyun-Jin Ryu @STL (Westbrook) N/A
42 Lance Lynn CHC (Rusin) N/A
43 C.J. Wilson @CLE (Kazmir) N/A
44 Corey Kluber DET (Sanchez) LAA (Williams)
45 R.A. Dickey @SEA (Iwakuma) OAK (Straily)
46 CC Sabathia @CHW (Santiago) N/A
47 Alex Wood MIA (Eovaldi) N/A
48 Kris Medlen @WAS (Zimmermann) N/A
49 Felix Doubront @KC (Guthrie) N/A
50 Gerrit Cole MIA (Fernandez) N/A
51 Ervin Santana BOS (Peavy) N/A
52 Wade Miley TB (Hellickson) NYM (Mejia)
53 Jose Quintana NYY (Pettitte) MIN (Correia)
54 Jeff Locke MIA (Alvarez) @COL (Chatwood)
55 Brandon Beachy MIA (Turner) N/A
56 Dan Straily @CIN (Latos) @TOR (Dickey)
57 Danny Salazar DET (Fister) N/A
58 Kyle Lohse @SEA (Ramirez) N/A
59 A.J. Griffin @TOR (Buehrle) N/A
60 Alexi Ogando @LAA (Hanson) N/A
61 Chris Archer @ARI (Delgado) N/A
62 Jon Lester @KC (Chen) N/A
63 Ivan Nova DET (Porcello) N/A
64 Mike Leake SD (Kennedy) N/A
65 Travis Wood @PHI (Hamels) N/A
66 Bartolo Colon @CIN (Bailey) N/A
67 Chad Gaudin MIL (Thornburg) BAL (Feldman)
68 Jacob Turner @ATL (Beachy) N/A
69 Martin Perez @LAA (Williams) @HOU (Oberholtzer)
70 Tyler Chatwood @NYM (Mejia) PIT (Locke)

Honorable mention: Wily Peralta @SF (Cain), @SEA (Iwakuma); Tim Lincecum vs. MIL (Hand); Zack Wheeler vs. COL (Chatwood); Wei-Yin Chen @SF (Cain); Andrew Cashner @CIN (Arroyo).

Two-Start Options to Consider

John Lackey, Red Sox (@HOU, @KC): Normally I don't include two-start pitchers who make my top 10 in this section, but because Lackey is starting in fewer than four-fifths of our leagues, I apparently have some convincing to do. Simply put, Lackey has pitched his way into must-start status. He currently has the best BB/9 and ground ball rates of his career, and his 8.1 K/9 rate is his highest since 2005. While Lackey has hit a minor rough patch over his last three starts, he continues to eat innings, having now pitched more than six innings in nine consecutive starts. Factor in a pair of favorable matchups, and Lackey profiles as one of the most attractive options in Fantasy for the coming week.
This week's rank: 6
My take: Solid mixed league start

Jeremy Hellickson, Rays (@ARI, @LAD): Hellickson has shown improved command this season, but for the first two-and-a-half months, he wasn't reaping the rewards. He had been far too homer-prone, but in recent weeks, Hellickson has done a much better job of getting grounders and keeping the ball in the park. Over his last eight starts, Hellickson has put up a 2.66 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, and there's still possibly room for improvement. Hellickson has a history of getting frequent popups and yielding a low rate of hits on balls in play, but his BABIP over this eight-game stretch is a pedestrian .288. He's been a solid play of late and could be more than that over the remainder of the season.
This week's rank: 40
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

Corey Kluber, Indians (DET, LAA): Kluber's minor league record hinted at his potential to get strikeouts, but it left his ability to command the strike zone and strand runners in doubt. Those haven't been problem areas this season, and his only real liability is a 26 percent line drive rate. Even if Kluber gets whacked around at times, he's good enough at avoiding contact and walks to be worth starting, at the very least, in all two-start weeks.
This week's rank: 44
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

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R.A. Dickey, Blue Jays (@SEA, OAK): Though he has yet to put together an extended string of impressive starts, Dickey has turned a corner over his last seven outings. In that time, he has rediscovered his control, but home runs continue to be an issue. Dickey hasn't done much to improve a pedestrian ground ball rate, which now stands at 44 percent, and he has paid the price by allowing 18 of his 24 home runs at Rogers Centre. While Dickey's home start against the A's could be unproductive, he should fare well on the road against the Mariners, and that's reason enough to start him this week.
This week's rank: 45
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

Wade Miley, Diamondbacks (TB, NYM): Miley has been a little hard to figure out this year. For much of May and June, he possessed the sharp control that defined his strong rookie campaign, but he was also exceptionally vulnerable to extra-base hits. Over the past month, Miley has been wilder, yet he finished July with a 1.74 ERA. He maintained that low mark with help from a 93 percent strand rate, but he surely won't be so fortunate in the future. According to FanGraphs.com, Miley had a 3.68 xFIP for the month, and even if he doesn't improve his control, that's a good standard by which to set our expectations. That makes Miley a decent choice as a waiver pickup in two-start weeks.
This week's rank: 52
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Jose Quintana, White Sox (NYY, MIN): Up untl recently, Quintana had been no more than a decent two-start option in weeks in which two-start pitchers have been scarce, but he's suddenly more intriguing. In his six July starts, Quintana compiled a 2.79 ERA with 38 strikeouts in 38 2/3 innings. While he continues to avoid walks and induce popups, Quintana has also been getting more swings and misses, racking up 10 or more of them in five of his starts this past month. Though Quintana does get both starts at hitter-friendly U.S. Cellular Field, he also gets the good fortune of facing two of the American League's worst power-hitting teams in the Yankees and Twins.
This week's rank: 53
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Jeff Locke, Pirates (MIA, @COL): The Cardinals notched four earned runs on 10 hits in just four innings against Locke on Wednesday, and that marked the first time since April 18 that the lefty allowed more than three earned runs in a start. Over that 17-start span, Locke threw 59 percent of his pitches for strikes and walked 48 batters over 106 innings. He was able to compensate for his wildness by keeping extra-base hits to a minimum, and because Locke is a ground ball pitcher who calls PNC Park home, he can continue to do that to a certain extent. That looks especially likely with an upcoming home start against the Marlins, but a visit to Coors Field renders Locke as a fringe option in standard mixed leagues this week.
This week's rank: 54
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Dan Straily, Athletics (@CIN, @TOR): After cruising his way to a 2.80 ERA over a 10-start stretch, Straily came down to earth his last two times out, failing to advance beyond the fifth inning both times. He wasn't any more contact-prone than usual, but batters did manage to hit him hard when they did connect. Straily is not much of a ground ball pitcher, so he can be at risk of allowing too many extra-base hits at times, and that makes him a little dangerous with starts at Great American Ball Park and Rogers Centre. Because he still has potential to deliver wins and strikeouts, Straily can be started in standard mixed leagues, but more as a last resort this time.
This week's rank: 56
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start.

Chad Gaudin, Giants (MIL, BAL): Gaudin has not been bad on the road, though his 3.20 ERA away from AT&T Park was built in part on the foundation of a .252 BABIP that will be hard to sustain. At home, Gaudin has been even better (1.96 ERA), and like the rest of the Giants' staff, he's been aided by his park's dimensions. Gaudin has yet to allow a home run in a home start, so with two upcoming starts by the bay, it's reasonable to use him to get an extra start into your rotation.
This week's rank: 67
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Martin Perez, Rangers (@LAA, @HOU): Times have gotten tough for Perez, as he has posted a 6.45 ERA over his last four starts, but even during his recent downturn, there have been some good signs. For the most part, Perez has not struggled with his command and his ability to get ground balls. Strikeouts have been in short supply, but an 11 percent swinging strike rate hints at his potential to help with Ks. A start against the Astros is usually a good oppotunity to exploit that potential, and he will also face an Angels lineup that's missing Albert Pujols and has not been as potent as they were earlier this season. Starting the rookie is not without its risks, but it looks like an especially good week to get two starts out of him.
This week's rank: 69
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Tyler Chatwood, Rockies (@NYM, PIT): Chatwood hasn't shown the same promise for strikeouts that Perez has, and his occasional bouts of wildness make him a potential liability for WHIP. His high ground ball rate and propensity for getting batters to hit into double plays does keep his ERA in check. (To put this in perspective, Adam Wainwright leads all pitchers with 23 GDPs, but if Chatwood maintained his current pace and had as many innings as Wainwright, he would have 27 rather than 14.) Chatwood got clobbered by the Braves in his last start, but with a pair of decent matchups, he could easily bounce back, keeping runs to a mininum.
This week's rank: 70
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Wily Peralta, Brewers (@SF, @SEA): July did not end well for Peralta, but prior to his back-to-back losses was a chain of four consecutive strong starts. Even in those poor starts, Peralta built on his recent trend of getting more strikeouts, and he appears to be making headway on his long-standing control issues. Maybe Peralta will revert back to being an ineffective pitcher with a 5.00-plus ERA, but with decent matchups and favorable venues looming this week, this might be a good time to gamble on the chance that he builds on his recent successes instead, at least in deeper mixed leagues.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start

Kyle Kendrick, Phillies (CHC, @WAS): While Kendrick has never been a strikeout pitcher, he's been closer to average in that regard for the better part of the last two seasons. That has changed recently, as he has registered more than two punchouts only once in his last six starts. That's not the sole culprit for his 7.11 ERA over that stretch; a .372 BABIP has done much of the damage, and that figure should improve. When you're a contact pitcher, though, you're more likely to be impacted by random shifts in BABIP rates. That makes Kendrick risky, even with the scuffling Cubs and Nationals on his schedule.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start

Edwin Jackson, Cubs (@PHI, @STL): In each successive month this season, Jackson's ERA has fallen, and in completely unrelated news, so has his strikeout rate. That's the fun in trying to figure Jackson out. He's incredibly inconsistent, and his peripheral stats often don't match up with his Fantasy stats. Though he has been on a roll lately, the only thing that Jackson is doing especially well is inducing ground balls. His 1.83 July ERA was helped by a .232 BABIP, and both figures look primed to soar. Despite his recent success, Jackson remains a deep-league option.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start

Andy Pettitte, Yankees (@CHW, DET): Overall, Pettitte has not been effective since his first-half disabled list stint, but he has turned in decent starts his last two times out. Still, Pettitte has continued his recent pattern of pitching to contact, and in six July starts, he has struck out only 16 batters in 36 2/3 innings. He's also been more prone to flyballs and extra-base hits, so there's not much to recommend Pettitte in standard mixed leagues now, even in two-start weeks.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start

Joe Kelly, Cardinals (LAD, CHC): Since re-joining the Cardinals' rotation, Kelly has a 1.90 ERA in four starts, but his 15 strikeouts and 11 walks in 23 2/3 innings hint at potential trouble ahead. Kelly is capable of better command, as evidenced by his minor league and rookie numbers, but his upside still isn't all that high. In his two major league seasons, Kelly has posted high WHIPs both as a starter and as a reliever, so it's just a matter of time before he lets a larger share of his baserunners score. Outside of NL-only leagues, it's not really worth going after Kelly just to get his two starts.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: NL-only start.

Tyler Thornburg, Brewers (@SF, @SEA): Thornburg pitched well enough against the Cubs in Tuesday's doubleheader to earn a longer stay in the rotation, now that Yovani Gallardo is on the 15-day disabled list. He seemed to be on the fast track last season, plowing through Double-A and Triple-A and even making eight appearances with the Brewers. Perhaps Thornburg channeled the 2012 version of himself in Tuesday's start, but overall this season, he has fallen far short of last year's standard. Given that Thornburg recorded a 5.79 ERA and 1.59 WHIP at Triple-A Nashville this year, it's too risky to assume that he's safe to use in mixed leagues until he can sustain success at the big league level.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: NL-only start

Henderson Alvarez, Marlins (@PIT, @ATL): Alvarez is on a nice run in which he has registered four straight quality starts, over which he has allowed four earned runs in 27 innings. Because he throws strikes, keeps the ball down, and pitches home games in a favorable environment, Alvarez has the potential to be a good source of ERA, but he still allows a lot of contact. Alvarez's road venues shouldn't cause problems for him this week, but even under the best of circumstances, he doesn't offer enough to be useful in mixed leagues.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: NL-only start

Jeremy Guthrie, Royals (MIN, BOS): Guthrie's up-and-down season is on something of an upswing again. He has fared well in his two most recent starts -- against the Twins and Orioles -- and he has lasted six innings or more in seven consecutive starts. However, even during this relatively good stretch, Guthrie has allowed opponents to hit .272, and he owns a 4.26 ERA. If you think Guthrie will be aided by making both of this week's starts at home, take note of his 4.31 ERA at Kauffman Stadium. With an activation rate of 24 percent, Guthrie is starting in far too many leagues.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: AL-only start

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