Always start with the bad news . . .
I’ve fallen and I can’t get up
Junior Guerra came up lame running down the first-base line in his Opening Day start. He’s been diagnosed with a right calf strain and is expected to miss the next 4-6 weeks. If you don’t have a disabled list reserve spot in your league, you can cut bait on Guerra. If you do have one, he is worth stashing based on last year’s performance. While we’re on last season, Guerra was great in his 20 starts. He pitched to a 2.81 ERA with 100 strikeouts in 121.2 innings pitched. I wouldn’t expect production like that again, however. He allowed a ton of hard contact, nearly 34 percent of the time, yet had an extremely low .250 BABIP. He isn’t likely to repeat last year’s ERA. That makes it easier to cut bait with him if you need to.
To a lesser extent
Felix Hernandez left his first start with groin tightness after covering first base on a bang-bang play. He’s listed as day-to-day for now with his next start against the Angels in question. King Felix’s skills are already in a steep decline as evidenced by his 3.82 ERA and 1.32 WHIP in 2016. His owners should pray he returns soon and puts together a few solid performances in a row. If/once he does, SELL, SELL, SELL.
Pitchers to avoid in Week 2
Jake Odorizzi has just one start in Week 2, and unfortunately, it comes against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. This is a double whammy when it comes to Odorizzi. In 2016, he owned a 5.40 ERA in five starts against the Sox. Specifically, in Fenway Park he owned a 7.20 ERA in three starts. Obviously, the Red Sox don’t have David Ortiz, but they did replace him with Mitch Moreland who owns right-handed pitching. Odorizzi might be your SP4 or SP5, but you’re better off benching him in Week 2.
Kevin Gausman is in a similar boat to Odorizzi. He has just one start in Week 2 but it’s against the Blue Jays in Toronto. There are a few reasons why this is not a favorable spot for The Gas Man. Gausman has traditionally sucked on the road in his career. He owns a 4.81 ERA on the road as opposed to his 3.04 ERA at home. Last season was no different. Gausman had a 4.32 ERA on the road as opposed to 2.67 at home. How did he fare against the Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre, you ask? In three starts last season, Gausman was 0-2 with a 7.04 ERA. I think he has Top 40 upside this season but wouldn’t trust him in Week 2.
What happens when you put Odorizzi’s and Gausman’s matchups together? You get Dylan Bundy. While the two-start week will be attractive, Bundy will be on the road against the Red Sox and the Blue Jays. It doesn’t get much worse than that. Similar to Gausman, Bundy struggled mightily on the road in 2016. He owned a 5.21 ERA outside of Camden Yards in 2016 in 17 appearances (six starts). Bundy is coming off a stellar first start in which he struck out eight over seven innings against the Blue Jays, but I still wouldn’t risk it. He’s a different beast on the road.
And now for the good news . . .
I’ve got a little something for everybody here on The Arms Watch. For those of you who play in leagues with daily transactions and are looking for a few favorable matchups this weekend, I’ve got you covered.
Friday, R.A. Dickey @ Pittsburgh Pirates, this seems like a good spot for Dickey for a number of reasons. First, the Pirates’ bats have been pretty quiet through their first few games. Second, pitching in PNC Park is never a bad thing. In fact, it’s one of the better environments for a pitcher. Third, I’ve spoken to multiple people and they agree that a knuckleballer facing a new lineup for the first time favors the pitcher. Dickey hasn’t pitched regularly in the National League since 2012, and this current Pirates lineup has not seen much of Dickey, if at all. Making his 2017 NL debut for his new Braves team – I’m streaming Dickey Friday night.
Saturday, Adalberto Mejia vs. Chicago White Sox, Mejia won a spot in the Twins rotation after a dominant spring during which he maintained a 1.88 ERA with 14 strikeouts in 14.1 innings pitched. This is Mejia’s first opportunity to start in the majors, but he has enjoyed a successful minor league career. In 2016, he was 9-5 with a 3.00 ERA with 126 strikeouts in 132 innings across two different levels. Hopefully, the moment isn’t too big for him.
Sunday, Clayton Richard vs. San Francisco Giants, Richard was absolutely dominant in his first start of the season against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He pitched eight shutout innings, while striking out five and inducing 16 groundball outs. Not only is he a streaming option for this weekend, but he’s a player who should be on your radar regardless. He doesn’t have strikeout upside, but he keeps the ball down, which leads to a ton of groundballs. If you need a start on Sunday, take Richard against the Giants. They aren’t scaring anybody.
Two Starts are better than one
Brandon Finnegan is lined up to face the Pirates in Pittsburgh and the Brewers at home. He was masterful in his first start of the season, against the Phillies, in which he allowed just one hit over seven innings while striking out nine. When he’s on, he can be lights out. It’s just a matter of consistency with Finnegan. His 2.45 ERA against the Pirates and 3.86 ERA against the Brewers in 2016 says these are two decent spots for him.
Charlie Morton is pegged for two starts on the road, which will come against the Mariners and the Oakland A’s. I’m not sure if you heard, but Morton is in the midst of a career renaissance during which he’s learned to pitch with much more velocity. He was hitting 95-96 mph consistently during the spring, and he did the same in his first start against the Mariners, too. It sucks that both starts are on the road, but both come in favorable ballparks, especially with the inept Oakland A’s.
The Closer Carousel
If you don’t know, now you know. Greg Holland is the undisputed closer for the Rockies. Holland has closed out both the Rockies’ wins while Adam Ottavino was used exclusively in a set-up role. The biggest positive for Holland has been his velocity. So far, his fastball is sitting at 94.3 MPH while I think? Casilla earned a save in the team’s Opening Day win and the next day, Ryan Dull blew his opportunity. It sucks that Bob Melvin didn’t just use Casilla again, but perhaps the fact that Dull failed will help Casilla’s cause. Casilla should be speculatively owned as a RP3 in the meantime.
With any questions on who to start, sit, or add, feel free to ask on Twitter @Roto_Frank.
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