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Be Cautious with Thor | Add Hector Santiago for Week 5

Frank Stampfl RotoExperts Staff April 27, 2017 3:22PM EDT

Thor is Human After All

News broke Thursday that Noah Syndergaard has been scratched from his start yet again due to “tired arm.” I wish I could skip my job when my arms or hands get tired. Nevertheless, this is obviously extremely serious considering the player involved. Syndergaard was a consensus Top-5 starting pitcher in Fantasy and was even creeping into the first round of 15-team drafts.

Digging deeper into this tired arm issue, Syndergaard revealed he’s felt some irritation in his right biceps and shoulder. The injury has also been described as biceps tendinitis. He’s been taking anti-inflammatories to cancel out the pain. This is frustrating for owners who started him in weekly lineup formats but the Mets and his owners have to think about the big picture. Syndergaard is still just 24 years old, and he is the only Mets pitcher who hasn’t dealt with a serious injury.

The team absolutely needs to play it safe and will continue to protect him. It’s well documented that Syndergaard is a gamer who wants to help his team but anytime we’re talking about an injury to a pitching arm, it’s better to be safe than sorry. For Fantasy owners, the situation is definitely worrisome but don’t try and sell prematurely. When Syndergaard is on the mound, he’s still one of the best. Continue to monitor this situation with caution. On the bright side, it’s not his elbow and we haven’t heard the name Dr. James Andrews…yet.

08 JUL 2016: New York Mets trainer Brian Chicklo walks off the field with New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard (34) during the fifth inning of the game between the New York Mets and the Washington Nationals played at Citi Field in Flushing,NY. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)

Noah Syndergaard is battling “tired arm,” which has affected his biceps and shoulder. Photo Credit: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire

Hit the Bench in Week 5

Unfortunately, there are a ton of pitchers I would not use in Week 5 based on their matchups or performance thus far. I hope you have better options available.

I don’t care that Vince Velasquez has put together two quality starts or that he’s a two-start pitcher in Week 5; I’m benching him. He’s allowed two or more walks and given up at least one home run in each start this season. Also, he only has five strikeouts total over his past two starts, a span of 12.1 innings to be exact. Next week he will face the Chicago Cubs and the Washington Nationals, two teams that profile great against him. Both teams have patient hitters and plenty of power. This tells me that Velasquez will be walking quite a few guys and could allow a few home runs. I understand he has strikeout upside but it’s not worth sacrificing your ERA and WHIP.

Francisco Liriano has been better since he was blown up in the first start of the season, but now he gets the Rays in Tampa again. I’m still not over that first start in which he recorded just one out and allowed five earned runs. He just doesn’t match up well against the Rays. They have an extreme platoon lineup against left-handed pitching, which is very dangerous. As a result, the Rays are ranked sixth in all of baseball against lefties with a .331 wOBA. No thanks! Bench Liriano for Week 5.

I’ll admit that I have a soft spot for Jeff Samardzija and would consider him a buy low right now, but wait until after Week 5 when he faces the Dodgers in Los Angeles. The strikeouts are way up but he’s still allowing too many walks and way too much hard contact. Additionally, the Dodgers have been deadly against right-handed pitching and at home this season. If you need more evidence, Samardzija is 1-3 with a 4.62 ERA over his career against the Dodgers.

Patrick Corbin has pitched well in his last two starts, albeit against the Padres, but he will face the Nationals in Washington in Week 5. Corbin has pitched worse on the road this season and the Nationals have absolutely crushed left-handed pitching. They own a MLB-best .442 wOBA against lefties thus far. With Trea Turner back, and Washington’s offense playing as well as it has, don’t take a chance with Corbin in Week 5.

Jordan Montgomery has been a great fifth starter for the Yankees, and a worthy addition in deeper leagues this season, but he should not be trusted in Week 5. As good as he’s been, command has been a bit of an issue and he is a fly ball pitcher, which can make him prone to allowing home runs. Speaking of home runs, he faces the Cubs in Week 5, a team that’s no stranger to the long ball. They currently rank third in wOBA against lefties with a .376 mark. Montgomery has upside in good matchups but this is not one of them.

Two Starts

I’ll admit that Week 5 has a scarcity of two-start pitchers to add since most of the aces are pitching early in the week and already owned. Hopefully, these two can help you out.

Regression will hit Hector Santiago at some point but let’s hope it’s not in Week 5 when he faces the A’s and Red Sox, both in Minnesota. His command has been better this season and he’s currently above his career average with a 9.6 percent swinging strike rate. We’ve seen Santiago be effective for long periods of time as evidenced by his All-Star appearance in 2015. Aside from his improved control and swinging strikes, he’s actually neutralized right-handed hitters very well this season, limiting them to a paltry .578 OPS. Both the A’s and Red Sox are loaded with right-handed hitters, so that seems to favor Santiago’s strengths to date this season. In 12-team leagues or deeper, you can start Santiago in Week 5.

This next pitcher is riskier and should only be added in deeper leagues, but R.A. Dickey has great matchups against the Mets and the Cardinals in Week 5. Both teams rank in the bottom third in wOBA against right-handed pitching, and Dickey has technically thrown a quality start in each game thus far. Obviously, there are other factors in play with a knuckleballer like weather and general feel for the knuckler, but let’s hope for the best with the Dickey.

Weekend Streamers

Adam Conley vs. Pirates, Friday – Conley has been decent so far, allowing three runs or less in each of his three starts, and he will face a Pirates lineup that is minus Starling Marte this Friday in cavernous Marlins Park. Conley has some strikeout upside and has always been better at home, evidenced by his 3.39 ERA there.

Matt Cain vs. Padres, Saturday – This is just an obvious #StreamAgainstPadres moment. The Padres are ranked 23rd against RHP with just a .296 wOBA this season, and they will continue to be a team you can stream against. Cain doesn’t have much strikeout upside but he’s done a great job of limiting hard contact and providing quality starts.

Matt Andriese @ Blue Jays, Saturday – The Blue Jays are even worse than the Padres against RHP this season with a .274 wOBA. This offense is a shell of its former self after losing Edwin Encarnacion to free agency and with Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki to the DL. Andriese isn’t a great pitcher but this matchup is just too good.

Honorable mentions: Tim Adleman @ Cardinals on Friday, Dan Straily vs. Pittsburgh on Saturday

Close the Door

Cam Bedrosian randomly landed on the disabled list last weekend with a groin strain and Bud Norris has filled in admirably. Norris has already converted three saves in three straight scoreless outings. He’s been dominant as a reliever this season, limiting hard contact to under 29 percent while posting a career-high 12.1 percent swinging strike rate. He should be owned in all rotisserie leagues while Bedrosian is out, regardless of size. As of now there is no update on Bedrosian, but groin injuries tend to linger.

Since Dusty Baker removed Blake Treinen as the closer, both Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover have converted two saves each. In the long run, I think the Nationals will for a legitimate closer, but I will stand by what I said on Fantasy BFFs: Kelley is the best pitcher in this bullpen. I don’t care that Glover has more velocity because it hasn’t translated into strikeouts. Kelley is coming off a career year during which he averaged 12.41 K/9 with amazing command for a reliever. If I can only own one, the guy I want is Kelley. Besides, Glover was just placed on the disabled list with a hip injury, the same hip that was diagnosed with a torn labrum and caused him to miss the final month of the season. It’s worth noting that Glover opted for physical therapy instead of surgery, which may spell trouble ahead.

Fernando Rodney does have six saves but has allowed runs in four of his ten appearances thus far. In his latest game against the Padres of all teams, he blew a save and allowed five runs on six hits. It may just be a matter of time for Rodney and many Fantasy owners have expected that. The two names to pay attention to here are J.J. Hoover and Archie Bradley. Hoover has reinvented his pitching arsenal with a dominant slider he’s throwing nearly 44 percent of the time. As a result, he has 12 strikeouts in eight innings pitched. Bradley is another one who has reinvented himself now as a reliever. His velocity is up 3.5 mph on his fastball, which has translated into a higher strikeout rate. Bradley also has drastically improved his command. He’s allowed just 1.88 BB/9, much lower than his career 4.32 BB/9. If you’re a Rodney owner in deeper leagues, I’d speculate on these candidates.

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