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Fantasy Baseball Takeaways: What to do with struggling starters

·6 min read
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Dylan Bundy deserves your patience

After getting lit up over the weekend, Bundy sits with an ugly 5.03 ERA. The poor outing came against a Dodgers offense that entered with the second-best wRC+ in baseball, and the game featured a whopping 25 runs scored. Bundy still has a 1.14 WHIP, ranks top-25 in CSW and is in the top 10% of the league in fastball spin rate and Hard Hit%, so you should absolutely add him if he was dropped in your fantasy league. He has a 3.09 expected ERA and has had to deal with an incredibly tough schedule (and bad defense) to open the season. Bundy sits 0-4 with a brutal ERA but has the potential to be a top-30 fantasy SP moving forward.

Luis Castillo struggling mightily

Castillo has been arguably fantasy’s biggest bust so far, especially given just how well the rest of the early drafted starting pitchers have fared. He was hit hard again over the weekend, when he allowed six runs (four earned) over just four innings against a Cleveland offense that ranks bottom-five in wRC+. Castillo’s start hasn’t been due to poor luck, as he’s somehow seen his K% drop from 30.5 last season down to 16.8, which is in the bottom 15% of the league in a year when strikeout rate is historically high.

Hitters are also making good contact, so it’s easy to see why Castillo’s expected ERA is 4.87. His CSW ranks No. 145 among starters. He’s already allowed as many barrels as he did all of last season. Castillo’s next start comes in Coors Field, so things could easily get even uglier before they improve, and it also doesn’t help Cincinnati fields one of the league’s worst defenses. Castillo will pitch better, but he has a 6.42 ERA despite allowing just one long ball at a home park that’s easily the most HR-favorable in baseball.

Quick Hitters:

Brandon Crawford is up to seven homers, tied for fifth among shortstops. He’s also added three steals, and he’s recorded a 2:6 K:BB ratio this month. Crawford is especially valuable in daily transaction leagues (.969 OPS versus righties), and he remains widely available with few believers. The Giants’ new hitting coaches have resulted in a much-improved offense, and most importantly, Oracle Park is now boosting homers for left-handed batters after being historically the toughest on them. Crawford remains terrific defensively, and he’s currently sporting career-highs in BB% (11.1) and Barrel%.

• Max Scherzer recorded a 14:1 K:BB ratio in Yankee Stadium on Sunday. The 36-year-old is posting career-bests in K% (35.5) and WHIP (0.78) this season.

Wade Miley tossed a no-hitter over the weekend, which marked the fourth of the season already (fifth if you count Madison Bumgarner’s). The feat will continue becoming less rare given the new baseball environment that currently features a league-wide K% (24.2) that’s higher than Roger Clemens’ career mark (23.1). But Miley pitched through an error and walked just one, and he somehow sits with a 2.00 ERA and 0.75 WHIP after six starts despite calling home to baseball’s best hitter’s park so far this season. Regression is coming, but those are impressive stats from someone still available in about 50% of Yahoo leagues.

Jacob deGrom is headed for an MRI after leaving Sunday’s start. Early reports suggest it’s more in his lower back than lat area, but obviously fantasy managers will be holding their breaths waiting for the results. deGrom’s 48.0 K% is comically ahead of the rest of baseball.

Kevin Keirmaier was put on the IL over the weekend, which was a good excuse to link to this video highlighting an amazing play (and later interview) he was involved in last week. 

• Tyler Matzek with the no-look play.  

• Alex Reyes gave up his first run of the season over the weekend but remains on pace to finish with 46 saves and a 0.53 ERA with a 6.88 B/9 rate.

• Nate Pearson struggled during his season debut Sunday, posting a 0:5 K:BB line while lasting just 2.1 innings. MLB.com’s No. 1 right-handed pitching prospect, Pearson is still worth adding in deeper fantasy leagues, but he’s also not without risk. Pearson has nasty stuff but is in a tough spot in the AL East, although the Blue Jays moving away from Dunedin to Buffalo in June improves his home park some.

• Whit Merrifield stole his MLB-leading 11th bag Sunday, and he’s already matched his walk total from last season. No one in the National League has more than seven stolen bases.

Gleyber Torres finally hit his first homer of the season Sunday. It came against a pitcher in Joe Ross who’s served up seven home runs over his last four starts (20.2 innings), but it’s not like Torres has looked overmatched with a 25:17 K:BB line this season. That’s also come with an average exit velocity that ranks in the bottom 4% of the league, so hopefully Sunday was the start of his bat waking up.

Tommy Pham started only once over the three-game weekend series in San Francisco, and he’s batting .190/.307/.202 with zero homers to open the season. It’s been ugly, but Pham’s slow start shouldn’t exactly shock given he suffered a serious stabbing during the offseason, and his Statcast numbers are encouraging. Quickly grab Pham in any league in which he was dropped.

Adolis Garcia swatted two more homers and stole a base over Saturday and Sunday. He’s up to nine long balls on the year, which deserves extra credit given his home park. Garcia’s Barrel% ranks in the top 4% of the league, so he’s not a fluke, but he’s also likely looking at a 50-point type batting average correction moving forward.

Cedric Mullins homered and swiped a bag over the weekend, as he continues to be one of the biggest waiver wire difference makers this season. He’s shown real plate discipline growth, has a .292 expected batting average and hits in a park that boosts power for lefties, so Mullins is here to stay.

Yordan Alvarez recorded his fourth straight multi-hit game Sunday and is batting .362. That’s awfully valuable considering the historically low league-wide batting average right now, and his knees appear to be cooperating.

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