Does Spring Training matter? It depends on who you ask and what you’re evaluating. There have been studies, such as that of former Baseball Prospectus contributor and current Houston Astros Director of Research and Development Mike Fast saying that pitcher velocity changes can matter during Spring Training.
We’re still looking at an extremely small sample size, but it’s not a sign Zack Greinke owners will find encouraging. Greinke’s fastball has reportedly been sitting at 88-89 mph this spring, according to Diamondbacks beat writer Nick Piecoro. That’s worrisome for a pitcher whose fastball velocity average has been above 91.0 mph in recent seasons.
The lack of velocity could be reflected in Greinke’s 5.06 ERA and only five strikeouts in 10.2 innings this spring, though it’s worth cautioning again that it’s an extremely small sample size. Still, Greinke is already coming off one of the worst seasons of his career (4.37 ERA in 158.2 innings), and he’s not off on the right foot.
The discounts in expert auctions were well underway last weekend when Greinke went for only $12 in the 15-team Tout Wars mixed league and the identical price in the NL-only league. Just one year ago we would have considered those prices less than half of what Greinke was worth.
If you own Greinke, it’s too early to panic, but he could be worth sitting in the early going as we see if he can build up his velocity.
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-Speaking of spring results, Lance McCullers struggled with a 7.31 ERA in 16 innings, but he had a tremendous 24/4 K/BB. That’s a good sign for a pitcher who had issues with his control last season. Even better is the fact that he seems healthy going into the season.
-There’s not much to make of San Diego starting Jhoulys Chacin on Opening Day, other than their rotation is really bad. Chacin had a 4.81 ERA between Atlanta and the Angels last season, but his ERA indicators (4.01 FIP, 4.38 SIERA) and a slight velocity rebound do show some upside for NL-only leagues.
-Justin Verlander will be starting on Opening Day for the ninth time in 10 seasons for the Tigers. If you’re wondering, he has a career 4.73 ERA and 1.14 WHIP over his previous eight Opening Day starts, though Verlander does have a strong 45/16 K/BB in 45.2 innings.
Yu Darvish: CLE, OAK
Jose Quintana: DET, MIN
Corey Kluber: @TEX, @ARI
Masahiro Tanaka: @TB, @BAL
Chris Archer: NYY, TOR
Rick Porcello: PIT, @DET
Justin Verlander: @CWS, BOS
Lance McCullers: SEA, KC
Danny Duffy: @MIN, @HOU
Ervin Santana: KC, @CHW
Kevin Gausman: TOR, NYY
Dallas Keuchel: SEA, KC
Matt Shoemaker: @OAK, SEA
Sean Manaea: LAA, @TEX
Marco Estrada: @BAL, @TB
Jake Odorizzi: NYY, TOR
Felix Hernandez: @HOU, @LAA
Hisashi Iwakuma: @HOU, @LAA
At Your Own Risk
Kendall Graveman: LAA, @TEX
Ricky Nolasco: @OAK, SEA
CC Sabathia: @TB, @BAL
Martin Perez: CLE, OAK
Note: Some two-start pitchers for Diamondbacks and Rockies to be determined.
Noah Syndergaard: ATL, MIA
Stephen Strasburg: MIA, @PHI
Madison Bumgarner: @ARI, @SD
Johnny Cueto: @ARI, @SD
Jon Lester: @STL, @MIL
Clayton Kershaw: SD, @COL
Julio Teheran: @NYM, @PIT
Carlos Martinez: CHC, CIN
Gerrit Cole: @BOS, ATL
Zack Greinke: SF, CLE
Jon Gray: @MIL, LAD
Kenta Maeda: SD, @COL
Zach Davies: COL, CHC
At Your Own Risk
Jeremy Hellickson: @CIN, WAS
Junior Guerra: COL, CHC
Scott Feldman: PHI, @STL
Edinson Volquez: @WAS, @NYM
Jhoulys Chacin: @LAD, SF
Clayton Richard: @LAD, SF
The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:
Wednesday, April 5: Charlie Morton vs. SEA
Already one of baseball’s top groundball pitchers, Morton showed an uptick in velocity last season in four starts before tearing his hamstring. The velocity has continued this spring, with a 1.04 ERA in five starts the result.
Thursday, April 6: Joe Musgrove vs. SEA
Musgrove is getting at least one start with Collin McHugh starting the year on the DL. The control artist had a 2.46 ERA in 22 innings this spring after posting a 4.06 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 62 innings during his major league debut last season.
Thursday, April 6: Jason Hammel @ MIN
The Twins didn’t fare particular well at Target Field last season, with a .736 OPS, ranking as the 11th worst OPS in MLB at home last season.
Day TBD: Tyler Chatwood @ MIL
Chatwood was one of baseball’s best pitchers on the road last season, posting a 1.69 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 13 starts. He’s very useful outside of Coors Field.
Friday, April 7: Patrick Corbin vs. CLE
It seems like an odd fit to stream a pitcher who struggled last season vs. the defending AL pennant winners, but Cleveland ranked in the middle of the pick vs. LHP last season and could sit Carlos Santana without the DH. For what it’s worth, Corbin is coming off a nice spring with a 3.44 ERA and 17/3 K/BB in 18.1 innings.
6: BOS, CHW, CLE, DET, KC, MIN, NYY, TEX, TOR
7: HOU, LAA, OAK, SEA, TB
6: ATL, CHC, CIN, MIA, NYM, PHI, PIT, STL, WAS
7: ARI, COL, LAD, MIL, SD, SF
You can get a full listing of injured players at Rotoworld's Injury Page but here's the latest on a few prominent players who will start the year on the DL.
Anthony DeSclafani: Out indefinitely (elbow)
David Dahl: Could return in late April (ribs)
Ian Desmond: Hoping to return in late April (hand)
Sonny Gray: Could return in late April (lat)
Didi Gregorius: Could return in May (shoulder)
Jason Kipnis: Could return in May (shoulder)
J.D. Martinez: Could return in May (foot)
Steven Matz: Hoping to return in May (elbow)
Drew Pomeranz: Aiming to make his start April 9 (triceps)
David Price: Out indefinitely (elbow)
Carlos Rodon: Hoping to return in early May (biceps)
Chris Tillman: Could return in late April (shoulder)