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Pitching Planner for Week 20 | Preparing for the Home Stretch

Tim McCullough Managing Editor August 15, 2017 11:08AM EDT
Welcome to the Pitching Planner for Week 20! It’s hard to believe but there are just six more weeks in the 2017 Fantasy Baseball season. That means it’s time to pull out all the stops if you’re fighting for a finish in the Top 3. Stream pitchers as often as possible. If your league allows daily transactions, try churning hitters too; as long as you don’t accidentally waive a more valuable hitter, that is. This is something I really like to do with stolen bases, too. Players like Rajai Davis, Lorenzo Cain and Jarrod Dyson, all of which may be on the waiver wire depending on your league, make great speed pickups in this part of the season.

Also keep an eye open for rookie callups. Once the minor league affiliates begin the final games of their season and are no longer in contention for the post-season, most organizations begin sending their fall callups up to the Majors. They won’t arrive for another few weeks, but now is the time to pay attention and see which minor leaguers are generating some buzz as potential September callups. One of the best ways to get this information is from the various beat writers for the teams and their Twitter feeds. RotoExperts will also let you know about any such callups we hear about.

The table below will be published each week showing the expected pitching rotation matchups, whether the game is at home or on the road, and it will include the pitcher’s handedness (left-handers are designated with an “L”). Finally, you will note that each matchup is assigned a ranking numbered #1-5. This number refers to my recommendation as far as starting that pitcher in Fantasy play and the rankings break down as follows:

1 – Must-Start – These pitchers are aces and are virtually matchup proof.

2 – Favorable Start – These pitchers may or may not be aces but the matchup is favorable.

3 – Streaming Option – These pitchers are in a favorable matchup, so they can be started if needed.

4 – Risky Start – The matchup is prohibitively risky. Owners are advised to avoid this pitcher.

5 – Bench – Do not start this pitcher in this matchup.

Editor’s Note: I apologize for the missing rankings grid. We are experiencing technical problems with the grid display and are working to fix them as soon as possible. If you have a question about pitching for this week, email me and I will answer as quickly as possible: tim.m@rotoexperts.com


Jacob deGrom @NYY, MIA – deGrom has a 2.01 ERA with 49 K over his last 40.1 innings – the very definition of “automatic starter.”

Danny Salazar @MIN, @KC – In four starts since returning from his “banishment to the bullpen,” Salazar has a 1.42 ERA, 36 K in 25 IP and he’s held batters to a paltry .170 BA. Add in two weak opponents and just say, “thank you sir, may I have another?”

Justin Verlander @TEX, LAD – Verlander has come out on the other side of a rough stretch to excel over his last six starts with a 2.01 ERA and 44 strikeouts over his last 40 innings. (See deGrom, Jacob – definition of…)

pitching planner

Jacob deGrom has been the very definition of “automatic” lately. Photo Credit: Joshua Sarner/Icon Sportswire.

Michael Fulmer @TEX, LAD – Fulmer may be wearing down during these dog days of August. After giving up just four HRs over the firs 101.1 innings this season, he’s given up six homers in his last 38.2 innings. That’s a recipe for disaster against two of the Top 5 home run hitting teams in MLB. I’d bench him this week if your ratios can’t tolerate a potential pair of disasters.

Kevin Gausman @SEA, LAA – Gausman is a different pitcher since the All-Star break and the most significant improvement has been to his WHIP, which was 1.76 prior to the break and 1.28 since. His strikeout to walk ratio has also gone from 1.93 K:BB up to 3.58 K:BB. He’s pitching much like he did during last season’s breakout performance and finally worthy of a roster spot for the first time this season.

Sonny Gray NYM, @BOS – Over his last six starts, Gray has a 1.98 ERA and has held batters to a .185 BA with 37 strikeouts in 36.1 IP.

Collin McHugh @ARI, OAK – After a pair of decent starts, McHugh was pounded by the White Sox for seven earned runs on nine hits. His changeup has been getting creamed and his cutter, a pitch that was very effective for him last season, has been a disaster thus far. You can’t trust him for the start against the Diamondbacks but I’d give him a whirl at home against the woeful A’s and their .304 road wOBA.

Brad Peacock @ARI, OAK – Aside from one disastrous start against the Blue Jays last week (7 ER on 9 hits, including 3 HRs), Peacock has been an unhittable strikeout machine with 112 punch-outs over 88 IP.

Luis Castillo @CHC, @ATL – Walks have been an issue, especially in his recent outings (8 BB in his last 12 IP), but he’s been a road warrior this season with a 2.97 ERA in five starts, a span of 30.1 IP.

Jerad Eickhoff @SD, @SF -The Padres and Giants are ranked 27th and 30th in MLB against RHPs. The Padres have a .306 wOBA (really bad) and .173 ISO (which isn’t all that bad) against righties, while the Giants are at .293 (really really bad) and .133 (worst in MLB). That means the odds that Eickhoff could throw a pair of gems are really good.

Gio Gonzalez LAA, @SD – Gonzalez has a 1.75 ERA and 0.86 WHIP over his last six starts.

Zack Greinke HOU, @MIN – Greinke was recently battered into submission by the Dodgers and Cubs but in the six starts prior to those two whoopins’, Greinke pitched to a 2.08 ERA with a 1.11 WHIP and held opponents to a .194 BA.

Kyle Hendricks CIN, TOR – Over his last four starts, a span of 21 innings, Hendricks has pitched to a 2.57 ERA with 18 strikeouts.

Jose Quintana CIN, TOR – Quintana has surrendered six homers in his last 23 innings pitched and four of them have come in his first two starts with the Cubs. I get the feeling that the White Sox traded him away before it became apparent that something is wrong because Quintana has looked lousy recently. I’d be very cautious about starting him against two teams known for their HR hitters – especially now.

Trevor Bauer @BOS, @KC – He’s been a K machine over his last eight starts. However, if you look a little closer, you’ll note that seven of those eight starts were in the friendly confines of Progressive Field in Cleveland. Mr. Bauer is a different pitcher when he pitches just about anywhere else. In his nine road starts this season, Bauer has an ERA of 6.69 (3.83 at home), a 1.61 WHIP (1.33 at home) and most importantly, a K:BB ratio of 1.96:1 (4.19:1 at home); not so much of a K machine on the road. Amazed? It’s even more amazing when you consider that he’s pitched twice as many home innings (80) than he has on the road (40.1). So, to make a long story short – sit Mr. Bauer on your bench this week.

J. Hammel @OAK, CLE – Hammel hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in any of his last seven starts. He should give you a couple of quality starts, but wins might be asking too much. He’s 1-2 in his last seven outings.

Marco Estrada TB, @CHC – Estrada was just terrible in his first couple of starts out of the All-Star break but he’s settled down over his last four outings and pitched to a 2.08 ERA. His control hasn’t been great, though, as he’s been walking too many batters and leaving pitches up in the zone, resulting in HRs. Use him but be forewarned about a potential rough outing, especially against the Cubs.

R. Porcello STL, NYY- Porcello is getting crushed by the long ball. He’s won his last two but those wins came after a string of six losses in eight starts dating back to the middle of June. It’s also worth noting that his home ERA is 5.24 vs. 3.96 on the road. I’d think twice about starting him twice.

Jake Odorizzi @TOR, SEA – Odorizzi has only lasted four innings in each of his last two starts – one before and one after a stint on the disabled list. I’m leery of pitchers coming off the DL, and considering how hot the Blue Jays’ bats have been of late, I’d pass on Odorizzi this week.

Jerad Eickhoff @SD, @SF – Eickhoff is almost a must-start against these two teams.

M. Leiter @SD, @SF – So, here’s the thing…Leiter is a mediocre starting pitcher. He’s given up four HRs in 16 innings as a starter but somehow still managed to keep his ERA at a respectable 3.31 (small sample alert!!). However, I can’t argue against starting him because the Giants and Padres are about as weak a pair of teams as you’ll ever see

L. Cessa NYM, @BOS – Oddly enough, Cessa is much like Leiter – small sample, mediocre pitcher – except the Mets and Red Sox are a mite bit tougher than San Fran/San Diego. I wouldn’t roll the dice here.

Ty Blach @MIA, PHI – This is a regular trend here – three pitchers in a row with similar situations – except that Blach is a much better pitcher with a decent sample size from which to judge him. I’d go for it here because neither the Phillies (.304 wOBA) nor the Marlins (.319 wOBA, .139 ISO) can do much against LHPs.

K. Freeland ATL, MIL – Freeland gets a couple of home starts where his ERA is 3.19. I’ll take that anytime.



Adam Conley SF, @NYM

Dinelson Lamet PHI, WAS

Ivan Nova @MIL, STL.

Asher Wojciechowski @CHC, @ATL.

z. Davies PIT, @COL

T. Skaggs @WSH, @BAL

C. Bettis ATL, MIL.

C. Smith KC, @HOU.

Yovani Gallardo BAL, @TB.

Miguel Gonzalez @LAD, @TEX.

A.J. Griffin DET, CWS.

M. Perez DET, CWS.

Bartolo Colon CLE, ARI.

Mike Leake @BOS, PIT.

Sean Newcomb @COL, CIN.

Julio Teheran @COL, CIN.

Travis Wood PHI, WAS.


One “best bet” streamer for each day of Week 20.

MONDAY – Adam Conley vs SF – The first of three good streamers against the Giants who have a .294 wOBA and a little-league-like ISO of .126 against LHPs.

TUESDAY – Ben Lively @ SD – The Padres have a .305 wOBA vs. RHPs

WEDNESDAY – Jose Urena vs. SF –  The Giants are just as bad against righties with a .292 wOBA and a .133 ISO

THURSDAY – Jeff Samardzija vs. PHI – The Phillies have a .308 wOBA and strike out 23.4 percent of the time vs. RHPs.

FRIDAY – Zach Efflin @SF – Another right-hander against the Giants? Sure, why not?

SATURDAY – Jeremy Hellickson vs. LAA – We finish the week with a pair of starts against another weak-hitting team. The Angels have a .308 wOBA against RHPs.

SUNDAY – Kevin Gausman vs. LAA – A .155 ISO officially makes the Angels one of the wimpier AL teams. If it weren’t for Mike Trout, this whole team might be demoted to Class-A ball.


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