As the calendar turns to June, trade rumors will become more rampant in MLB. One of the biggest names mentioned in those rumors is Giants ace Madison Bumgarner.
The long-time Giants lefty has been unscathed this year after consecutive injury-plagued seasons, just in time for his pending free agency. While his ERA is just a tad above 4.00, there are also some very positive signs in his statistical profile after two down years. Bumgarner has one strikeout per inning for the first time since 2016, and his 5.29 K/BB ratio is his best since 2015. His ERA metrics (3.59 FIP, 3.72 xFIP, 3.86 SIERA) are also the best we’ve seen since 2016.
The clear difference this year has been Bumgarner’s slightly regained velocity after three straight seasons of slight velocity decline. Still, there is reason for fantasy owners to be concerned about the possibility of leaving Oracle Park, long a pitcher’s haven. There are few teams he could be traded to with comparable overall park factors, and the long ball has become a much bigger problem for the lefty in recent seasons.
Would this be a reason to downgrade rest-of-season Bumgarner’s outlook? Not necessarily. Oracle Park has actually played about neutral for right-handed batters over the last year-plus, and the Giants have been in the middle of the pack defensively this season.
Unfortunately, some factors are completely out of fantasy owners’ control as we try to project rest-of-season performance. The possibility of a real-life trade can spur anxiety for Bumgarner’s fantasy owners, but in this case it won’t necessarily be a bad thing, especially with the prospect of greater run support.
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-Dylan Bundy has yet to post an ERA below 4.00 aside from his cup of coffee in 2012, but he still has a lot of supporters who remember his status as a former elite prospect. While he currently leads the AL in losses for the second straight year, Bundy has started to come around lately. During the month of May, he’s 2-2 with a 2.64 ERA and only four home runs allowed in 30.2 innings. That home runs are notable after he allowed nine homers in six starts over the first month and led the AL in home runs allowed last season. The combination of an extreme flyball pitcher and Baltimore don’t mesh well together, but the recent success provides hope that Bundy has turned a corner. Facing two teams that rank in the top 10 in home runs next week, we can cross our fingers that the recent trend holds.
-Few pitchers have been more disappointing in 2019 than Noah Syndergaard. The former Mets ace had a career 2.93 ERA coming into this season, but his ERA currently stands at 4.90 through 12 starts. Usually a master at keeping the ball in the park, Syndergaard has actually had long ball problems this year (1.2 HR/9). The numbers show he’s thrown his sinker and slider less often this season in favor of his four-seam fastball, and the result has been a 47 percent groundball rate, his lowest rate since 2015. The lack of groundballs is disconcerting, but Syndergaard’s ERA metrics point to overall improvement going forward (3.62 FIP, 3.78 xFIP, 3.81 SIERA). Given his recent injury history, I don’t feel great calling Syndergaard a “buy-low candidate,” but there is more than enough reason for his current owners to keep playing him, especially with a favorable two-start week ahead vs. San Francisco and Colorado.
-It’s definitely a popular opinion, but there’s clear reason to expect regression from Brewers starter Zach Davies the rest of the way. He had a career 4.04 ERA in 80 starts before this season, but the ERA currently stands at nearly half that (2.19). Still, there’s no clear sign of skill improvement this season with a 2.21 K/BB ratio and 6.1 K/9, both numbers that are actually worse than his career norms. Perhaps he can hang on for another week with a very easy two-start slate ahead vs. Miami and Pittsburgh, but Davies’ ugly ERA metrics (4.07 FIP, 4.88 xFIP, 5.05 SIERA) show reason to trade him sooner than later.
-Corbin Martin is a quality prospect, but Houston’s patience with him in the rotation is somewhat surprising. He’s failed to last more than four innings in each of his last three starts and now has a 5.51 ERA. Injuries to Colin McHugh and Forrest Whitley, along with Josh James’ struggles in the pen, have limited the Astros alternatives, but there are some viable options like Brady Rodgers and Cy Sneed at the Triple-A level, along with bullpen groundball specialist Framber Valdez. Martin is penciled in as a two-start pitcher next week, but might need to rebound at Seattle on Monday to keep the second start.
Note: Probable pitchers as of Friday, May 31, and are subject to change.
At Your Own Risk
Aaron Nola: @SD, CIN
Madison Bumgarner: @NYM, LAD
Noah Syndergaard: SF, COL
Robbie Ray: LAD, @TOR
Kyle Hendricks: COL, STL
Zach Davies: MIA, PIT
Jon Lester: LAA, STL
Eric Lauer: PHI, WAS
Pablo Lopez: @MIL, ATL
At Your Own Risk
The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:
Tuesday, June 4: Devin Smeltzer @ CLE
Smeltzer might only get one start next week with Michael Pineda on the comeback trail, but that start is favorable against a Cleveland lineup that has the sixth worst OPS vs. lefties. The Twins control artist threw six scoreless innings in his first MLB start.
Thursday, June 6: Ariel Jurado vs. BAL
A groundball specialist, Jurado has pitched well since joining the Rangers rotation and has a nice matchup ahead against a weak-hitting O’s lineup (25th in OPS vs. right-handers).
Friday, June 7: Brad Keller vs. CHW
Keller has already faced the White Sox three times this season, allowing six earned runs in 18 innings (3.00 ERA). He gets a fourth shot next week, with Chicago sporting a weak .719 OPS vs. righties.
Wednesday, June 5: Anibal Sanchez vs. CHW
Sanchez pitched well in his return from a hamstring injury, and gets another great matchup next week facing the White Sox without the benefit of the DH. Chicago has a .719 OPS vs. right-handers, ranking 21st in MLB.
Thursday, June 6: Jhoulys Chacin vs. MIA
It’s been a rough first two months for Chacin, but he is keeping the Brewers in games, allowing four or fewer runs in all but one of his starts. He has a chance to do much better against the Marlins, who have a pitiful .638 OPS against right-handers.
Saturday, June 8: Merrill Kelly @ TOR
Kelly has struggled since his success the first time around the league, but has a nice opportunity to get on track at Toronto. The Jays rank 27th with a .666 OPS against right-handers.
6: BAL, CLE, DET, KC, MIN, NYY, TOR
7: BOS, HOU, LAA, OAK, SEA, TB, TEX
6: ARI, ATL, CIN, COL, LAD, MIA, MIL, NYM, PHI, PIT, SF, STL, WAS
7: CHC, SD
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.
Austin Barnes: Placed on IL (hamstring)
Charlie Blackmon: Placed on IL (calf)
Welington Castillo: Placed on IL (head)
Francisco Cervelli: Placed on IL (head)
Carlos Correa: Out 4-6 weeks (ribs)
J.P. Crawford: Placed on IL (ankle)
Zack Cozart: Placed on IL (shoulder)
Chris Davis: Placed on IL (hip)
Aledmys Diaz: Placed on IL (hamstring)
Hunter Dozier: Status uncertain (chest)
Jon Gray: Day-to-day (finger)
Josh Harrison: Placed on IL (hamstring)
Matt Harvey: Placed on IL (back)
Odubel Herrera: Out indefinitely (suspended)
Yadier Molina: Day-to-day (hand)
Mitch Moreland: Placed on IL (back/knee)
David Peralta: Placed on IL (shoulder)
Tommy Pham: Day-to-day (leg)
Michael Pineda: Placed on IL (knee)
Aaron Sanchez: Status uncertain (finger)
George Springer: Placed on IL (hamstring)
Max Stassi: Placed on IL (knee)
Justin Turner: Day-to-day (hamstring)
Neil Walker: Status uncertain (quadriceps)
Luke Weaver: Placed on IL (forearm)
Tony Wolters: Day-to-day (hand)