Pitching is one of the most difficult aspects of managing a fantasy baseball team. Tasty matchups can turn into a sour experience, schedule changes can wreak havoc with fantasy lineups and even the best laid plans can be derailed by a few rough outings.
It’s time to peer into the unknown and see what the second week of the 2014 season has in store for fantasy pitching staffs.
Pitchers to target:
Charlie Morton gets two starts on the road next week. Normally that would be cause to avoid a pitcher, but Good Time Charlie get the Cubs and Brewers. The Cubs offense may or may not be worse than last year. The Cubs have eight runs in their first four games and appear to be lucky to have that many. The Brewers haven’t been much better and rumors have surfaced that Ryan Braun’s surgically repaired thumb is already hurting. Morton threw six scoreless in his first start against the Cubs at home last week. Morton has reconstructed his delivery in an effort to mimic Roy Halladay and the early results are promising. Morton is a pitcher to roll with for a fantasy GM looking to nick a couple cheap wins while not roasting his/her ratios.
James Paxton gets two starts this week and he’s worth adding…assuming he’s not already plucked off the waiver wire. Paxton has two starts at home next week. His first start will come against the Angels and his second will be against the A’s. Paxton was a quality prospect who got lost in the shuffle last year. It was easy to fawn over guys like Gerrit Cole or Sonny Gray while ignoring Paxton. He’s not nearly as sexy as Cole or Gray, but he could finish the 2014 season as a poor man’s version of either. Paxton struck out nine and only walked two while throwing seven scoreless in his first start of the 2014 season against the Angels. He average 94.8 MPH on his fastball and generated a 41.18% whiff percentage on his curveball. To say he had “his good stuff going,” is an understatement.
Tanner Roark draws the Marlins in Washington for his second start of the 2014 season in the middle of next week. He earned a W against the Mets last week with six innings of two-run baseball while striking out five and walking three. He gets the tasty matchup and could very well start the year 2-0.
Pitchers to Ignore
Tyson Ross was a popular sleeper pick in the offseason and he has two starts next week. Fantasy GMs should ignore Tyson because his first start is at Cleveland and his second start is at home against Detroit. Those are two bad matchups for a guy that should really only be streamed at home. Expecting two solid starts this week from Ross is like expecting Emilio Bonifacio to hit at an.800 clip for the rest of the year. Neither have any chance of happening.
Tampa Bay’s Matt Moore gets two starts next week. He’s on the road against Kansas City on Monday and then on the road at Cincinnati on Sunday. It’s really hard to recommend Moore in fantasy baseball right now. His fastball averaged only 92 MPH in his start against Toronto last week. This is a guy that was averaging 94.4 MPH two years ago. The results weren’t awful, but this is troubling for a pitcher that was drafted in the first 12 rounds of most fantasy leagues. To be fair, he’s shying away from his 4-seam fastball (only used in 16 counts against Toronto) and relying more in his sinker (used in 45 counts), but the velocity drop could be an indicator of a possible injury.
Mark Buehrle gets two starts next week as well and fantasy GMs should want nothing to do with the old, fat lefty in either. Buehrle surprised just about everyone by throwing 8 2/3 innings of shutout baseball against the Rays. He struck out ten batters. This is a pitcher that has a 5.20 K/9 for his career and he’s striking out ten batters in his first start of 2014. His average velocity on his four-seamer has fallen to “you can barely call it a fastball anymore levels) of 82.8 MPH. Even Barry Zito looks at that and shudders. He has a somewhat tasty matchup against the Astros and a less tasty matchup against the Orioles. Don’t rush to add him to your roster. The success of his last start is unlikely to be repeated.