Fantasy owners often overreact based on April results, one way or the other. Brandon Woodruff’s owners are now getting the payoff for exercising patience.
The young Brewers right-hander has allowed only one earned run in three consecutive starts, and his ERA over that time has gone from 5.81 to 4.25. He also picked up a win in each of those outings. For the season, Woodruff’s 11.5 K/9 is ninth best among starting pitchers, and his ERA metrics (2.87 FIP, 3.31 xFIP, 3.39 SIERA) show his best could be yet to come.
It’s also notable that six of Woodruff’s eight starts have come at home, and Miller Park continues to rank as one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the game. Despite that fact, Woodruff has allowed an impressive four home runs in 42.1 innings, identical to last year’s numbers, showing an ability to keep the ball in the park in a season which few pitchers have been able to do so.
Entering a two-start week, Woodruff finally does get a chance at two road starts, though that’s of little consolation given the lineups of Philadelphia and Atlanta. Still, Woodruff is quickly developing into the Brewers ace, and nearly to the point that he’s a must-start in all fantasy leagues.
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-Speaking of breakout pitchers, Detroit lefty Matthew Boyd has had perhaps the biggest breakout thus far in 2019. He’s been the fourth best pitcher in fantasy baseball, and the indicators make him look even better. He has a league-best 2.30 FIP, more than a half-run better than his actual ERA, and his 11.3 K/9 is 13th best in the league. Boyd’s improvement started with the increase of his slider usage last season, posting a sub-4.00 ERA in the second half. He’s thrown the dominant pitch 36 percent of the time this year. There is some reason to expect regression, particularly with a home run per flyball rate that is less than half of his career average, but the strikeout rate increase of nearly nine percent shows real skill improvement. Boyd has a tough test next week against two teams that have slammed lefties (Houston and Oakland), but he’s an automatic plug-and-play at this point.
-It’s been an up and down early season for Carlos Carrasco, resulting in his 4.91 ERA through eight starts. However, he leads the AL with an 8.00 K/BB ratio with current career bests in K/9 (12.5) and BB/9 (1.6). His home run issues have been apparent, but Carrasco has still managed a respectable 3.53 FIP and 2.85 SIERA to this point. All of this is to see that fantasy owners shouldn’t be too worried about the early ERA as he approaches an easy two-start week at the White Sox and vs. Baltimore.
-Jerad Eickhoff has been all the rage since replacing Nick Pivetta in the Phillies rotation. He has a 1.73 ERA in four starts, including one at Coors Field. It’s a great story after Eickhoff struggled to return from arm issues that limited him to only three appearances in the majors last year. Still, there is some reason to believe serious regression is coming. Eickhoff has yet to allow a home run despite being a flyball pitcher, and his opponent BABIP is an unsustainable .250. This doesn’t necessary mean Eickhoff won’t be usable going forward, but he should still make you nervous if you’re counting on him as more than a matchup play.
-Mike Fiers needed 131 pitches to throw his second career no-hitter this week. It’s only the seventh start in MLB since 2014 of at least 130 pitches, and Fiers accounts for two of those with his no-hitters. If you’re wondering about a hangover effect, Fiers had a quality start after his previous no-hit outing, albeit with three days of extra rest. Among the other five 130-plus pitch outings since 2014, only one pitcher (A.J. Burnett in 2014) struggled in the following start. That anecdotal evidence is based on a very small sample but is still somewhat reassuring. Fiers still has ugly numbers overall, but he’s allowed three of fewer earned runs in each of his last three starts.
Note: Probable pitchers as of Friday, May 10, and are subject to change.
Chris Sale: COL, HOU
Shane Bieber: @CHW, BAL
Carlos Carrasco: @CHW, BAL
Jose Berrios: LAA, @SEA
Matthew Boyd: HOU, OAK
Brad Peacock: @DET, @BOS
Kyle Gibson: LAA, @SEA
Yusei Kikuchi: OAK, MIN
Mike Fiers: @SEA, @DET
Tyler Skaggs: @MIN, KC
Danny Duffy: TEX, @LAA
Reynaldo Lopez: CLE, TOR
At Your Own Risk
Shelby Miller: @KC, STL
Andrew Cashner: @NYY, @CLE
Trent Thornton: @SF, @CHW
David Hess: @NYY, @CLE
Ryan Carpenter: HOU, OAK
Chris Paddack: @LAD, PIT
Robbie Ray: PIT, SF
Aaron Nola: MIL, COL
Kyle Hendricks: @CIN, @WAS
Jack Flaherty: @ATL, @TEX
Brandon Woodruff: @PHI, @ATL
Sonny Gray: CHC, LAD
Jerad Eickhoff: MIL, COL
Mike Foltynewicz: STL, MIL
Joe Musgrove: @ARI, @SD
Kyle Freeland: @BOS, @PHI
At Your Own Risk
Jeremy Hellickson: NYM, CHC
Freddy Peralta: @PHI, @ATL
Wilmer Font: @WAS, @MIA
The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:
Wednesday, May 15: Clay Buchholz @ SF
Buchholz is coming off his worst start of the year and has struggled to keep the ball in the park. San Francisco could solve his issues on Wednesday, especially without Buster Posey in the lineup. The Giants have a .683 OPS vs. right-handers, seventh worst in the league.
Thursday, May 16: Dylan Covey vs. TOR
If you like groundball pitchers, you’ll enjoy Thursday’s scheduled matchup between Covey and Marcus Stroman. Covey is likely here to stay in Chicago’s rotation after Carlos Rodon’s elbow injury, and he gets a favorable matchup vs. a Jays lineup that has a .645 OPS against right-handers, second worst in MLB.
Friday, May 17: John Means @ CLE
There aren’t many interesting fantasy plays in Baltimore, but Means is becoming one of them. The lefty control-artist has a 2.48 ERA in 32.2 innings and next week fill face a Cleveland lineup that has just a .641 OPS against lefties.
Wednesday, May 15: Dereck Rodriguez vs. TOR
The early results haven’t been pretty for Pudge’s son after a great rookie season, but he couldn’t have a much better matchup than the DH-less Blue Jays at home on Wednesday.
Thursday, May 16: Eric Lauer vs. PIT
No team hits lefties worse than the Pirates (.588 OPS), and Lauer has allowed three runs or fewer in four consecutive starts. It’s an excellent streamer situation.
Saturday, May 18: Nick Margevicius vs. PIT
Margevicius doesn’t have the luster that he did at the start of the season, but the young lefty still has a 3.47 ERA, allowing more than three runs in only one of his seven outings. Like Lauer, Margevicius gets a chance to take advantage of the anemic Pirates lineup vs. lefties.
5: BOS, TB
6: CLE, CHW, HOU, KC, LAA, NYY, OAK, SEA, TEX, TOR
7: BAL, DET, MIN
5: COL, LAD, MIA, SF
6: ARI, ATL, CHC, CIN, NYM, SD, STL, WAS
7: MIL, PHI, PIT
Here’s some injuries to prominent players from the last week, and other players to watch for in the coming week. You can get a full listing of injured players at Rotoworld's Injury Page.
Matt Adams: Placed on IL (shoulder)
Jason Castro: Day-to-day (elbow)
Khris Davis: Day-to-day (hip)
Dee Gordon: Status unknown (wrist)
Shawn Kelley: Placed on IL (illness)
Steven Matz: Placed on IL (arm)
Jordy Mercer: Placed on IL (quadriceps)
Drew Pomeranz: Placed on IL (shoulder)
Buster Posey: Placed on IL (concussion)
David Price: Placed on IL (elbow)
Carlos Rodon: Likely out for the season (elbow)
Pedro Strop: Out 3-4 weeks (hamstring)
Jameson Taillon: Out at least four weeks (arm)
Gio Urshela: Day-to-day (knee)
Jason Vargas: Placed on IL (hamstring)
Ben Zobrist: Day-to-day (personal)
Mike Zunino: Placed on IL (quadriceps)