Week 7 means two things. First, allergy season is almost over and those of us who suffer from spring allergies will be able to walk out of the house without loading up on tissues and allergy meds. Second, it’s time to start looking at standings and trying to scrape for categories. It’s not too late to start searching for wins, K’s and help with ratios. We’re here to help look for diamonds in the rough and point out the overlooked matchups. We’re also here to help fantasy GMs avoid a few landmines hiding in the schedule.
Pitchers to Target
Tyler Lyons is not a pitcher that was on anyone’s radar during April. He was a guy that was added to the Cardinals rotation because Joe Kelly’s hamstring wouldn’t allow him to stay on the mound. Lyons was drafted in 2010, but signed to late to join the Cardinals farm system. His career started at the lowest level of the Cardinals farm system when he was already 23. He advanced quickly through the minors, but appears to have been the victim of a numbers game. He was passed over by other, higher ceiling prospects like Shelby Miller and Michael Wacha.
Tyler Lyons might not have the pedigree of a Miller or Wacha, but he has a pair of tasty matchups this week. Lyons starts the week at home against Chicago and ends it at home against Atlanta. Lyons has everything fantasy GMs should want in a streaming candidate. He has a K:BB ratio greater than 3:1, has a K/9 over 7.00 and a BB/9 under 3.00 and he pitches for a team that has a competent offense and defense. If ever there was a week to have Lyons on a fantasy roster, it’s this week. Both the Cubs (.629 team OPS) and Braves (.667 team OPS) are in the bottom half of offenses on the road. Both teams also own an identical .641 OPS against right-handed pitching this season. Lyons is owned in 1% of fantasy leagues. That number should climb a lot higher this week.
Everyone has had Ricky Nolasco. Everyone. Whether he was the sabrmetric darling who’s name was written on everyone’s notebook with hearts around it in 2008 or the guy that everyone wanted to strangle for, oh, every year from 2009 to 2012, everyone has rostered Nolasco. He’s not quite Captain Sabr anymore, but he does have a pair of decent matchups at home this week and the Twins offense might be a lot better than everyone thought. He draws the Red Sox and the Mariners this week in Minnesota. The Red Sox are 22nd in the league in road OPS with a .653 mark while the Mariners are a mediocre .687 on the road. Nolasco is available in most fantasy leagues and could actually provide some value this week.
There aren’t many solid options for streaming in single-game matchups this week, but Miami’s Henderson Alvarez gets to face a Giants offense without Brandon Belt in the middle of the lineup. The Giants are fairly average at home with a .721 team OPS. Henderson has been slightly better on the road than at home in his career (a 3.97 road ERA vs. a 4.14 mark at home) and he’s a ground ball machine with a 2.27 GB:FB ratio. The Giants have grounded into 18 double plays at home so far this year. Belt’s injury makes the Giants look a lot less worrisome.
Pitchers to Avoid
Mark Buerhle gets two starts next week. He starts the week at home against the Angels and ends it on the road at Texas. The Angels are the best road offense in baseball with a .791 team OPS on the road and the Rangers are the 13th best offense at home with a .726 team OPS. Buerhle owns a .288 BABIP with a 26.2% LD%. That’s a lot of line drives that are finding gloves. His 4.51 xFIP also indicates that his 1.91 actual ERA is due for a regression to his career average. Roll with Burly if you don’t have a choice, but don’t be surprised if that pretty ERA vanishes in a hurry.
Andrew Cashner appeared to be at the beginning of a breakout season with a solid April. Well, it’s May and he gets two tough road starts this week. Cashner gets to start the week in Cincinnati and end the week pitching in Coors. Cincinnati is 7th in the league with a .727 team OPS and Colorado is the best team in the league at home with a 1.001 team OPS. Cashner also owns a 4.21 ERA on the road for his career. Two bad matchups plus a mediocre record on the road equals keep Cashner on the bench this week.
Dallas Keuchel has quality starts in five out of seven starts this year. He draws the Rangers in Houston this week. Keuchel is still worthy of a roster spot, but it might be a good idea to keep him on the bench this week. Texas has the 10th best offense on the road with a .716 team OPS. Keuchel has been much better on the road (2.18 road ERA this year) than at home (5.01 ERA on the road). It’s a tough matchup and Keuchel doesn’t have a track record of success pitching in Houston.