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Patience is one of the toughest skills to develop in fantasy, but also one of the most important. Fantasy managers who practice patience are often rewarded, such as the case with those who drafted young Tigers lefty Tarik Skubal.
He showed interesting upside in his debut last year despite a 5.63 ERA in 32 innings, with a 37/11 K/BB over that time. The culprit for the high ERA was the long ball, and that continued early this year when he allowed eight home runs through six April appearances, leading to a 6.14 ERA. Of course, the control over that period made matters even worse, as Skubal walked 14 batters in only 22 innings.
The home run issues have been far from solved since then, but Skubal has shown improvement while also displaying a dominant strikeout rate and better control. Over his last eight starts, Skubal is 4-3 with a 3.48 ERA, 1.34 ERA, and 63/17 K/BB in 44 innings. The Tigers have rightfully remained conservative with his innings and pitch counts, with Skubal reaching 100 pitches only once, but he’s missing bats with a sizzling 12.9 K/9 that nearly matches the outright dominance we saw from him in the minors with a career 13.2 K/9.
It’s apparent home runs are going to be a long-term concern for Skubal that will plague his ERA as one of the most flyball prone pitchers in the league (47% flyball rate) in the juiced ball era, so limiting baserunners will be key. To that end, Skubal is due for better luck considering his .347 BABIP since his hot streak started in May.
The Tigers aren’t a roster that is going to give Skubal much run or bullpen support, but that hasn’t stopped him from winning games during his current hot streak. At this point, even with a start against the formidable Astros lineup next week, the young left-hander looks like a plug-and-play for fantasy managers who stood pat early in the year.
-Patience has also paid off for Ross Stripling drafters. The former Dodger struggled last season and was atrocious to start 2021 with a 7.20 ERA through his first six starts. Though, it’s worth considering three of those starts were in the Dunedin hitter’s heaven. Moving to Buffalo in June has helped the Blue Jays pitching staff and Stripling, who has made two strong home starts against the Astros and Yankees this month, and now has a 2.45 ERA and 29/8 K/BB in 29.1 innings in his last five outings. Considering home runs were the root of his early-season issues, it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that Stripling has finally rounded into form. We shouldn’t forget Stripling had a 3.51 ERA and 1.20 WHIP through his first four MLB seasons that included one All-Star appearance, and his 3.63 K/BB ratio is starting to show signs of that ability returning. A great two-start schedule against the Marlins and Orioles next week should be the final reason you need to scoop up Stripling if he remains on your waiver wire.
-The Cardinals are absolutely desperate for pitching with injuries to Jack Flaherty and Miles Mikolas, and it looks like Johan Oviedo is delivering. The 23-year-old Cuban is coming off the best outing of his career, throwing seven scoreless innings against the Marlins on Wednesday, and he has a solid 13/3 K/BB in 15.1 innings during June. We’re likely to continue seeing hiccups from the youngster, but he’s shown dominant upside with a fastball that’s averaged better than 95 mph and a sharp slider that led to a 10.0 K/9 between High-A and Double-A in 2019. His upcoming two-start week against the Tigers and Pirates couldn’t be much easier, so he could be worth a short-term pickup.
-Eduardo Rodriguez drafters are likely at a loss with the lefty’s ERA now standing at 6.21 following a pair of mediocre starts in the last week. It might not come as much consolation if he’s pummeled your team ERA, but Rodriguez has also been the unluckiest pitcher in MLB with a .380 BABIP. Believe it or not, his 4.33 K/BB ratio ranks 23rd in MLB and is the best of his career, with a terrific 10.5 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9. The ERA metrics also reflect a much better pitcher with a 3.63 FIP and 3.55 SIERA. All of this is to say that you shouldn’t look to move on from Rodriguez yet, with the hope that he will finally get on track in his upcoming two-start week against the Rays and Yankees.
Note: Probable pitchers as of Friday, June 18, and are subject to change.
Gerrit Cole: KC, @BOS
Kyle Gibson: OAK, KC
Aaron Civale: @CHC, @MIN
Tarik Skubal: STL, HOU
Ross Stripling: @MIA, BAL
Frankie Montas: @TEX, @SF
Jake Odorizzi: @BAL, @DET
Mike Minor: @NYY, @TEX
Ryan Yarbrough: BOS, LAA
Cole Irvin: @TEX, @SF
At Your Own Risk
Eduardo Rodriguez: @TB, NYY
Jordan Lyles: OAK, KC
Eli Morgan: @CHC, @MIN
J.A. Happ: CIN, CLE
Jorge Lopez: HOU, @TOR
Keegan Akin: HOU, @TOR
Clayton Kershaw: @SD, CHC
Julio Urias: @SD, CHC
Tyler Mahle: @MIN, ATL
Sandy Alcantara: TOR, WAS
Zach Eflin: WAS, @NYM
Ian Anderson: @NYM, @CIN
Charlie Morton: @NYM, @CIN
Johan Oviedo: @DET, PIT
Adbert Alzolay: CLE, @LAD
At Your Own Risk
Blake Snell: LAD, ARI
Tyler Anderson: CHW, @STL
Merrill Kelly: MIL, @SD
The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:
Tuesday, June 22: Chris Flexen vs. COL
Facing the Rox away from Coors Field is a dream matchup for any pitcher, as Colorado sports a .568 OPS on the road. Flexen is also coming off two quality starts, including eight scoreless vs. Minnesota.
Tuesday, June 22: Bailey Ober vs. CIN
Have you noticed Ober yet? The previously unknown Twins prospect has been a bright spot, consistently throwing strikes with a 3.71 ERA and 21/2 K/BB in four starts over 17 innings. Cincinnati isn’t the easiest matchup, but Ober is clearly worthy of a pickup if still available.
Wednesday, June 23: T.J. Zeuch @ MIA
Zeuch hung in there against the Yankees on Thursday, and would get a much easier outing next week at Miami. The Marlins have the eighth worst OPS in baseball vs. right-handers.
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Wednesday, June 23: Caleb Smith vs. MIL
Smith has proven he can still miss bats since reverting back to a starting role, and Milwaukee is near the bottom of the league against lefties with a .674 OPS. He had his best start of the year vs. the Brew Crew two weeks ago, allowing one run in five innings with eight strikeouts.
Thursday, June 24: Joe Ross @ MIA
Ross is rounding into form, throwing eight scoreless innings with nine strikeouts against the Giants in his last outing. Facing the Marlins is a much easier opponent.
Sunday, June 27: Eric Lauer vs. COL
Lauer has been a risky, inconsistent play since joining the Brewers rotation, but his matchup couldn’t get much easier than the Rockies at home next weekend. A very strong 36/13 K/BB in 33 innings shows potential.
5: CHW, LAA, SEA
6: BOS, CLE, DET, KC, MIN, NYY, TB, TOR
7: BAL, HOU, OAK, TEX
5: COL, SF
6: ARI, CHC, CIN, MIA, MIL, PHI, PIT, SD, STL, WAS
8: ATL, NYM
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.
Tejay Antone: Placed on IL (forearm)
Cody Bellinger: Placed on IL (hamstring)
Andrew Benintendi: Placed on IL (ribs)
Shane Bieber: Placed on IL (shoulder)
Matthew Boyd: Placed on IL (triceps)
Alex Bregman: Placed on IL (quad)
Tucker Davidson: Placed on IL (forearm)
Jacob deGrom: Status unknown (shoulder)
Jose Devers: Placed on IL (shoulder)
Corey Dickerson: Placed on IL (foot)
Rafael Dolis: Placed on IL (finger)
Josh Donaldson: Status unknown (calf)
Justin Dunn: Status unknown (shoulder)
Adam Eaton: Placed on IL (hamstring)
Mychal Givens: Placed on IL (back)
Tyler Glasnow: Out indefinitely (elbow)
Austin Hedges: Placed on IL (concussion)
Evan Longoria: Out 4-6 weeks (shoulder)
Colin Moran: Day-to-day (back)
Max Muncy: Placed on IL (oblique)
Chad Pinder: Day-to-day (head)
Michael Pineda: Placed on IL (elbow)
Anthony Rendon: Day-to-day (triceps)
Anthony Santander: Day-to-day (ankle)
Max Scherzer: Placed on IL (groin)
Jean Segura: Placed on IL (groin)
Andrelton Simmons: Day-to-day (ankle)
Brady Singer: Status unknown (shoulder)
Edmundo Sosa: Day-to-day (hand)
Tyrone Taylor: Placed on IL (shoulder)
Gleyber Torres: Status unknown (back)