May is the great equalizer in baseball. That’s true for real life and fantasy baseball. Guys that convinced us all that they are Cy Young candidates (looking your way, Tim Hudson) will start to struggle and guys who appear headed for an early retirement will remember how to get batters out (really looking your way, Homer Bailey). It’s also time to start looking at standings and trying to make up for a few deficiencies. Lacking K’s? We’ve got you covered. Looking for a tasty matchup? Got that, too. Scrambling for a win? Good luck. That’s about all you can hope for with a stat as bad as pitching wins.
It’s time once again to gaze into the crystal ball and see who is worth targeting and who should be left on the bench.
Pitchers to Target
Drew Hutchison gets the two-start treatment this week and he’s still under 5% owned in most fantasy leagues. He deserves to be on a roster this week because he’s on the road at Philadelphia and at home against the Angels. Hutchison has been a lot safer on the road (2.28 road ERA) than he has in the Dome (7.71 ERA at home), but he has less than 10 innings in Toronto and he owns a .435 BABIP in those innings. Almost one out of every two balls hit in play against Hutchison is falling in for a hit at home. That’s unsustainable and he’s due for a correction.
Hutchison also profiles as a neutral groundball:flyball pitcher with a 1.00 GB:FB ratio so far this year. Pitchers like Hutchison tend to maintain a lower than average BABIP than pitchers that allow more ground balls. Hutchison owns a .333 BABIP after about a month of baseball. That number should come down based on his batted ball profile and his ERA and WHIP should improve. Hutchison is a good bet to have another solid month and he comes with a 10.36 K/9.
Nate Eovaldi is still owned in about 40% of leagues. He won’t be for long. Eovaldi has two starts this week and both are tasty match ups. He gets the Mets in Miami and then heads to the comfy confines of San Diego’s Petco Park for the weekend. Eovaldi is finally turning his prodigious potential into actual results. He owns an 8.22 K/9 with a 1.17 BB/9. His strikeout rate is way up and his walks are way down. His line drive rate down around 10% for the year. That will come up because 10% is virtually unsustainable, but he’s capable of putting up strikeout numbers that will make up for a rise in line drive percentage and an increased BABIP. Eovaldi is one of the best options pitching this week and he’s available in almost 60% of leagues.
Ian Kennedy was disappointing in 2013, but the level of Ian hate was out of control this off-season. Kennedy is a very good pitcher as long as his BABIP stays under .300 and his BB/9 stays under 3.00. He’s doing both of those things right now and he’s averaging a strikeout per inning. He’s heading to Miami at mid-week and he’s only owned in about half of leagues. Ian Kennedy needs to be owned in the other half of leagues as well.
Pitchers to Avoid
Matt Cain gets two starts this week…assuming his finger is fine (it probably is). Fantasy GMs shouldn’t want either of them. He gets two starts on the road next week. He owns a 5.25 ERA on the road in 24 innings in 2014. Cain’s HR:FB ratio has increased in each of the past three seasons and it currently sits at 14.7%. Historically, he’s been a fly ball pitcher. Bad things happen any time a fly ball pitcher starts giving up more homeruns. He gets the Pirates early in the week and the Dodgers at the end. It might be time for fantasy GMs to take 50 cents on the dollar for Cain…if they can get it.
Martin Perez gets the avoid this week because he’s got a pair of really tough matchups. He gets to pitch in Colorado and then face the Red Sox at home. Perez is an extreme ground ball pitcher (2.31 GB:FB ratio) and doesn’t strike out very many (5.48 K/9). His BABIP is still only .281. He puts a lot of balls in play and that’s always dangerous when pitching in Coors. He suffered through a correction last week and it could continue into his starts this week. He was simply getting results that didn’t match the peripheral stats.
Danny Salazar has what appears to be a tasty matchup this week. He gets the Minnesota Twins playing in Cleveland this week, but fantasy GMs might want to think twice before rolling with Salazar. The Twins are leading the league in OBP on the road with a .356 mark. Salazar owns a .329 OBP against when pitching at home. He strikes out a lot of batters (10.98 K/9), but he also owns a gross 4.15 BB/9. Salazar needs a team willing to offer at his stuff and the Twins simply aren’t that team. Salazar needs to stay in the strike zone to succeed against the Twins and that’s just not his game. He might strike out quite a few batters, but there’s also a chance he won’t make it out of the fourth inning.