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Remember the K in Knebel | Buy Samardzija

Frank Stampfl RotoExperts Staff May 19, 2017 3:37PM EDT
BUY LOW OF THE WEEK! 

I just can’t get Jeff Samardzija out of my head. I understand that he’s inconsistent and that may scare some people away but he has all the tools to be great. Plus, all his peripherals say he will get better … a lot better. Samardzija is currently sporting a 5.26 ERA with a 3.12 FIP, 2.80 xFIP, and even a 2.98 SIERA. His K/9 sits at 10.70 because of an 11.3 percent swinging strike rate while his BB/9 are just 1.70, all three being career bests. So why is his ERA so high? Well, he’s been a victim of bad luck. Samardzija’s BABIP is .343, his strand rate is just 59.4 percent and his HR/FB ratio is 15.9 percent, all well above league average and not in line with his career numbers. If the strikeouts and excellent command continue, his numbers will get better by default. Pitching in San Francisco, I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if he finished inside the Top-35 at starting pitcher. Now’s the time to get him on the cheap.

TWO-TURN STARTER(S) 

The following should only be performed in a deeper league 

JC Ramirez is interesting because he’s mainly been a reliever between the majors and the minors for the past five years but has been serviceable as a starter now. He’s posted three quality starts in his last five outings and has gone at least seven innings in each of his last two. He throws hard with his fastball and slider but he’s predominantly a two-pitch pitcher, which is what gets him in trouble. Ramirez will face the Rays, who have actually hit well against righties, and the Marlins who have struggled for the most part. If you’re desperate, take a shot on Ramirez.

MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 30: Milwaukee Brewers Pitcher Corey Knebel (46) pitches in relief during a game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Atlanta Braves on April 30, 2017 at Miller Park in Milwaukee, WI. (Photo by Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire)

Corey Knebel takes his robust 15.55 K/9 into the Brewers’ closer role. Photo Credit: Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire

SWIMMING UP STREAM

Yovani Gallardo vs. CWS, Saturday – Gallardo isn’t the pitcher he once was. In fact, he’s not even close but this White Sox offense is bad and one you want to target when streaming pitchers. As a team, the White Sox own a .285 wOBA against right-handed pitching, second-worst in all of baseball. If that’s not enough for you, their 23.2 percent strikeout rate is fifth-worst as well. They might even make Gallardo look good!

Zack Wheeler vs. LAA, Saturday – It took Wheeler a while to return from his Tommy John surgery but he’s picked up right where he left off. He’s dependable for a 3.50-4.00 ERA with nearly a strikeout per game. He’ll likely be on an innings limit this season but who cares? We want to stream him now! Like the White Sox, the Angels struggle against right-handed pitching. Their collective .301 wOBA against righties is seventh-worst in baseball. The one thing with the Angels is they don’t strike out all that much but if you’re in need of a quality start or close to it, I think Wheeler is in for one.

Adam Wainwright vs. SF, Sunday – Wainwright might not be available in many leagues but if you own him in a daily lineup league, this is the time to get him in. Wainwright is coming off his best game of the year in which he threw seven shutout innings against the Cubs. Not only that, he’s been much better at home this season. In four home starts, Waino owns a 3.86 ERA compared to his 7.11 ERA on the road. To top it off, the Giants offense has been just that … offensive. They own a league worst .276 wOBA against right-handed pitching so far this season and they just lost Hunter Pence. Stream Adam Wainwright!

NO, NO, NO IN WEEK 8

If you need the strikeouts it might be tough to bench Robbie Ray in Week 8 but he is facing the Brewers in Milwaukee. One might think the Brewers would slow down without Ryan Braun and Eric Thames, right? Not so fast. Entering Thursday, the Brewers had scored the most runs as a team over the past seven days. Plus, they mash against left-handed pitching. A great lineup in a great hitting environment against an inconsistent pitcher? No thanks

Luis Perdomo has opened some eyes with four straight quality starts and his strikeout upside. I like him for the season but not for Week 8, when he faces the Nationals in Washington. Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and the reemergence of Ryan Zimmerman have developed quite the offense, especially against right-handed pitching. The Nationals have a .368 wOBA against righties, third-best in baseball. Oh, and they’re awesome at home too. Sit Perdomo.

Matt Moore is coming off one of his better starts but his inconsistency is just too much for me. Moore will face the Cubs in Wrigley in Week 8, and while their offense hasn’t been great overall, they still hit well against lefties. Also, Matt Moore has a 10.50 ERA in four road starts this season.

Similar to Moore, Kevin Gausman has been just as inconsistent. In fact, he’s been flat-out awful for most of the season. He will face the Astros in Houston in Week 8, which is one of the worst spots for a right-handed pitcher. He also owns a 9.47 ERA in five road starts this season. He likely wasn’t in your lineup anyway but hey, here’s your friendly reminder.

DO BULLPENS HAVE REVOLVING DOORS?

Last week I touched on the Orioles situation as Zach Britton was shut down, reiterating Brad Brach will continue to be the guy. I may have jumped the gun. Brach has allowed at least one run in four of his last five appearances and has two blown saves during that span. He had an epic meltdown last week against the Nationals and then allowed a grand slam in the SEVENTH inning a few days ago. I get that it was a high leverage situation and maybe Buck Showalter wanted his best reliever in for that at-bat, but it’s still interesting. The lazy answer is for me to say Darren O’Day is the next man up but he has been sub-par for over a year now. Mychal Givens would be my guess because he’s displayed his strikeout upside in the past (although not so much this season). Another name to keep an eye on is Donnie Hart.

Edwin Diaz has been awful. There’s no other way to put it. His strikeouts are down, he’s allowing a ridiculous 5.97 BB/9 and is giving up home runs way too frequently. He has been removed from the closer’s role while he works on his mechanics. He shouldn’t be dropped just yet because he’s young and I believe they will give him another chance. In the meantime, somebody has to get the save opportunities on this team. There is no clear-cut answer.

The Mariners are poised to play matchups for now, which can make it a who’s who of Steve Cishek, Tony Zych, Nick Vincent, James Pazos, and Mark Rzepczynski. Good ol’ Cishek returned Monday and already has a blown save and a loss. I think Zych might be the right-hander they use in those matchups given the strikeout upside in his past. Pazos should then be the one they use against lefties, as he has completely owned them this season. If you’re desperate for saves I’d say 5-10 percent FAAB on one of Zych or Cishek and even less on Pazos. If somebody emerges, feel free to go as high as 15 percent.

Finally, Neftali Feliz has been given a “break” from the closer’s role. Let’s hope it’s permanent. This might have been the worst we’ve ever seen Feliz as he couldn’t strikeout anybody out, was walking a ton of batters and allowing a career-high HR/FB ratio. They’ve seem to have passed the reigns on to Corey Knebel and rightfully so. The guy has a ridiculous 15.00 K/9 to go along with a 0.86 ERA, 1.28 FIP and a 2.24 xFIP. The only thing that might hurt him is his walk rate, which has always been an issue. Knebel recorded his third save of the season Thursday against the Padres and his first since unofficially being named the closer. If he’s available and your FAAB hasn’t run yet, you can throw anywhere from 30-40 percent of it on Knebel. His strikeout upside is tremendous and the Brewers offense should allow them to win more games this season.

 

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