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The Week Ahead

Week Ahead: Kirby's MLB Adventure

by Seth Trachtman
Updated On: May 28, 2022, 2:20 pm ET

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All eyes were on top prospect George Kirby when he was promoted by the Mariners in early May, and he threw six scoreless innings against the Rays in his first MLB start. He hasn’t paid dividends in the three starts since then, but there’s reason to believe patience will pay off.

Kirby has shown off his eye-popping stuff in the majors, including a fastball that’s averaged nearly 96 mph, along with a plus slider and changeup. However, Kirby’s exemplary control had just as much to do with his dominance in the minors as his plus stuff (2.34 ERA, 10.7 K/9, 1.6 BB/9 since 2019), and we are already seeing signs of that in Seattle with 20/2 K/BB in 20 innings.

He’s faced some challenges with his matchups thus far, including excellent lineups like the Mets and Boston, but the schedule changes for the better next week. Kirby has as favorable a two-start week as we could imagine, going on the road to face the Orioles and Rangers. Those two offenses rank 25th and 29th in OPS vs. right-handed pitching this season, and could allow for Kirby to finally gain some momentum after allowing a total of nine earned runs over his last two starts.

Hiccups come with the territory as young players are called up to the majors, and that’s often even the case with a prospect with as much polish as Kirby had prior to his promotion. Rather than be discouraged by his 4.50 ERA so far, fantasy managers have reason to be encouraged by the components that have led to a 3.39 FIP and 3.17 SIERA, as well as the imminent matchups.

-Tyler Wells’ control has been similarly excellent, with an elite 1.4 BB/9 through nine starts. Predictably, Wells has seen his velocity flounder after moving from a relief role last year, and the strikeout decline has followed with a 6.0 K/9 that is near the bottom of the league compared to 10.3 K/9 last season. The Orioles have also handled Wells with kid gloves, as he’s yet to throw 80 pitches in a game. Beyond the poor supporting cast, the pitch cap is a limiting factor in Wells’ ability to tally wins, but the elite control will certainly play for his WHIP. If you have reasonable expectations, Wells should be a solid addition and provides more reason for fantasy managers to move with a two-start week ahead.

-After missing April with a shoulder injury, it’s not a surprise to see Luis Castillo’s velocity down from its usually elite 97 mph for his fastball and sinker. Fortunately, we are seeing a promising trend recently with the velocity inching upward, averaging 96 mph over his last two outings. The cumulative strikeout and groundball rates are well down from his career norm, but the increase in velocity for what has traditionally been a slow starter gives reason for optimism as Castillo approaches a two-start week.

-Freddy Peralta’s shoulder injury is a tough blow for the Brewers, but it does finally give Aaron Ashby an opportunity as a regular member of the team’s starting rotation. Not surprisingly, Ashby’s control has been rough this season with a 5.3 BB/9 over 34 innings, but he’s still suppressed his ERA by missing bats and posting an elite 66% groundball rate. Ashby’s stuff continues to be electric, working primarily off a 96 mph sinking fastball and low-80’s slider. The poor control and resulting high pitch counts will limit Ashby’s innings naturally, but the stuff makes him the NL’s version of Framber Valdez and a must-add if he was dropped in your league.

 

Going Twice…

Note: Probable pitchers as of Friday, May 27, and are subject to change.

American League

Strong Plays

Kevin Gausman: CHW, MIN

Tarik Skubal: MIN, @NYY

Michael Kopech: @TOR, @TB

Framber Valdez: @OAK, @KC

Drew Rasmussen: @TEX, CHW

 

Decent Plays

Jordan Montgomery: LAA, DET

George Kirby: @BAL, @TEX

Tyler Wells: @BOS, CLE

Martín Pérez: TB, SEA

Rich Hill: BAL, @OAK

Paul Blackburn: HOU, BOS

Cal Quantrill: KC, @BAL

Ryan Yarbrough: @TEX, CHW

Dylan Bundy: @DET, @TOR

 

At Your Own Risk

Glenn Otto: TB, SEA

Jonathan Heasley: @CLE, HOU

Rony Garcia: MIN, @NYY

 

National League

Strong Plays

Zac Gallen: ATL, @PIT

Eric Lauer: @CHC, SD

Walker Buehler: PIT, NYM

Julio Urias: PIT, NYM

Logan Webb: @PHI, @MIA

Luis Castillo: @BOS, WAS

 

Decent Plays

Adam Wainwright: SD, @CHC

Pablo Lopez: @COL, SF

Marcus Stroman: MIL, STL

Aaron Ashby: @CHC, SD

Jakob Junis: @PHI, @MIA

Kyle Wright: @ARI, @COL

Charlie Morton: @ ARI, @COL

Nick Martinez: @STL, @MIL

Ranger Suárez: SF, LAA

 

At Your Own Risk

Erick Fedde: @NYM, @CIN

David Peterson: WAS, @LAD

Drew Smyly: MIL, STL

Kyle Hendricks: MIL, STL

Jake Woodford: SD, @CHC

Trevor Williams: WAS, @LAD

Patrick Corbin: @NYM, @CIN

German Marquez: MIA, ATL

Zach Thompson: @LAD, ARI

Cody Poteet: @COL, SF

 

Streamer City

The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:

American League

Tuesday, May 31: Konnor Pilkington vs. KC

Pilkington has been inconsistent so far, but the lefty has a good track record of missing bats in the minors, with a 10.7 K/9 and 3.04 ERA in 100.2 innings at Double-A last season. The lowly Royals lineup has a horrific .634 OPS against lefties this year.

 

Tuesday, May 31: Devin Smeltzer @ DET

Coming off the best start of his career, Smeltzer seems likely to get at least one more opportunity in the Twins rotation. The soft-tosser is set to face a weak Tigers lineup with a .663 OPS vs. left-handers.

 

Wednesday, June 1: Jeffrey Springs @ TEX

We’re getting to the point that Springs should be added in all leagues, but if still available, he has a great matchup ahead at Texas. The Rangers have struggled at the plate, including a .703 OPS against lefties.

 

National League

Wednesday, June 1: Mitch White vs. PIT

White hasn’t worked deep into games with the Dodgers yet this season, but he gets an opportunity next week against the Pirates. He’s fanned more than one batter per inning for his career and faces a Pirates lineup that ranks 22nd in OPS against right-handers.

 

Thursday, June 3: JT Brubaker vs. ARI

Despite poor control, Brubaker has started to come around in May with a 3.22 ERA and 26/9 K/BB in 22.1 innings. His schedule has helped, and it gets even easier facing a D’Backs lineup with a .639 OPS against right-handed pitching.

 

Saturday, June 4: Zach Davies @ PIT

Davies’ command continues to be mediocre as his ERA inches toward 5.00, but he remains a viable matchup play against Pittsburgh’s aforementioned weak lineup.

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Total Games

American League

6: BOS, CLE, CHW, HOU, KC, LAA, NYY, OAK, SEA, TOR

7: BAL, TB, TEX

8: DET, MIN

 

National League

6: ARI, CIN, PHI, PIT

7: ATL, COL, LAD, MIA, NYM, SD, SF, WAS

8: MIL, STL

9: CHC

 

The Infirmary

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 NBCSports Edge’s Injury Page.

Ronald Acuña: Day-to-day (quad)

Brandon Belt: Placed on IL (knee)

Kris Bryant: Placed on IL (back)

Dylan Carlson: Placed on IL (hamstring)

Curt Casali: Placed on IL (head)

Aroldis Chapman: Placed on IL (Achilles)

Jazz Chisholm: Day-to-day (hamstring)

Aaron Civale: Placed on IL (leg)

Josh Donaldson: Placed on IL (COVID-19)

Yan Gomes: Placed on IL (oblique)

Aaron Hicks: Day-to-day (hamstring)

Jordan Hicks: Placed on IL (forearm)

Kyle Isbel: Placed on IL (COVID-19)

Joe Kelly: Placed on IL (hamstring)

Andrew Kittredge: Placed on IL (back)

DJ LeMahieu: Day-to-day (wrist)

Jonathan Loáisiga: Placed on IL (shoulder)

Steven Matz: Placed on IL (shoulder)

Jeff McNeil: Day-to-day (knee)

Yoan Moncada: Day-to-day (leg)

Max Muncy: Status uncertain (elbow)

Marcell Ozuna: Day-to-day (abdomen)

Freddy Peralta: Placed on IL (shoulder)

Jorge Polanco: Day-to-day (ankle)

Hunter Renfroe: Placed on IL (hamstring)

Luis Robert: Placed on IL (COVID-19)

Joe Ryan: Placed on IL (COVID-19)

Giancarlo Stanton: Placed on IL (calf)

Seiya Suzuki: Day-to-day (hand)

Abraham Toro: Placed on IL (shoulder)

Daniel Vogelbach: Placed on IL (hamstring)

Taylor Ward: Day-to-day (neck)

Spenser Watkins: Placed on IL (elbow)