July is here! We’re nearing the official halfway point of the MLB regular season, which is a good time for fantasy baseball managers to assess their rosters. Not only should we look at how our teams and standings look to this point, but also where the standings are likely to change with the players we’re rostering. Some hot starts will regress over the second half, while some players with disappointing first halves still have time to right the ship.
Giants left-handed starting pitcher Alex Wood is one of those players hoping for improvement the rest of the way. Coming off one of the best seasons of his career, Wood’s overall performance has been dire to this point with a 5.03 ERA and 1.36 WHIP over 15 outings. A few really bad starts have inflated those numbers, including a recent start at Atlanta in which he gave up six runs in one inning.
What’s so remarkable about his ugly numbers is that the peripherals aren’t much worse than last year, when Wood finished with a 3.83 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. While his K/9 is down a little over one strikeout, his BB/9 and HR/9 are almost identical to last season. So it should come as a surprise that Wood’s ERA metrics (3.59 FIP, 3.58 SIERA) nearly match the results from last year.
Clearly, Wood has seen some bad luck over the first half with a career-worst .340 BABIP that would seem likely to even out sooner or later. He’s a pitcher who many fantasy managers have either given up on already, or are considering pulling the plug. Yet, the profile shows that improvement in 2022 is likely.
There is value to be had now for “buying low” on Wood and other players like him at this point in the season. The work in evaluating players and predicting future performance shouldn’t stop on draft day, and studying your players and those available on the waiver wire similarly could make the difference in a league title.
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-Chris Flexen was one of the most reliable starting pitchers in the game last season, and he’s finally started to come around for the Mariners this year. He was likely an early drop after a poor start to the year, but Flexen now has seven consecutive starts with three or fewer runs allowed. Over that time, Flexen has been far from a league winner, with a 3.60 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, and 27/14 K/BB in 40 innings. Still, his stats have had some value, and there’s even more to be said for Flexen’s reliability lately. The long-term numbers don’t look great with a 4.53 FIP and 4.99 SIERA, but fantasy managers have an opportunity to ride the hot streak in the short term with a two-start week ahead.
-Overcoming a nagging back injury, Reds top prospect Nick Lodolo is set to make his MLB return early this week. The results were mixed in three April starts prior to the injury, but there’s so much in the left-hander’s profile to like. His minor league numbers showed a dominant performer who could miss bats (career 13.9 K/9) and throw strikes (1.5 BB/9) while also posting a groundball rate well over 50%. We shouldn’t expect a big workload as the Reds look toward their future, but Lodolo could be a nice addition to fantasy rosters.
-The Dodgers starting rotation continues to battle injuries, with Walker Buehler sidelined and Andrew Heaney back on the shelf with a shoulder injury. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the team added a pitcher from outside the organization, and they also have Dustin May waiting in the wings as they rehab from arm injuries. However, Mitch White is the fifth starter for now, and has a chance to be a valuable addition to fantasy rosters. He’s done a solid job as a starter in six recent outings, with a 3.60 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, and 22/8 K/BB in 25 innings, and the minor league track record is similarly strong. This is a great time to add White if he’s still available in your league, with a pair of favorable matchups next week against the Rockies and Cubs.
Note: Probable pitchers as of Friday, July 1, and are subject to change.
Justin Verlander: KC, @OAK
Alek Manoah: @OAK, @SEA
Luis Garcia: KC, @OAK
Tarik Skubal: CLE, @CHW
Nick Pivetta: TB, NYY
Michael Kopech: MIN, DET
Jameson Taillon: @PIT, @BOS
Michael Wacha: TB, NYY
Johnny Cueto: MIN, DET
Cal Quantrill: @DET, @KC
Chris Flexen: @SD, TOR
Dane Dunning: @BAL, MIN
Cole Irvin: TOR, HOU
Zack Greinke: @HOU, CLE
Dean Kremer: TEX, LAA
Rony Garcia: CLE, @CHW
At Your Own Risk
Dylan Bundy: @CHW, @TEX
Austin Voth: TEX, LAA
Jonathan Heasley: @HOU
Carlos Rodón: @ARI, @SD
Julio Urías: COL, CHC
Sandy Alcantara: LAA, @NYM
Kyle Wright: STL, WAS
Max Scherzer: @CIN, MIA
Taijuan Walker: @CIN, MIA
Mitch White: COL, CHC
Eric Lauer: CHC, PIT
Kyle Freeland: @LAD, @ARI
Madison Bumgarner: SF, COL
Dakota Hudson: @ATL, PHI
Ranger Suárez: WAS, @STL
Andre Pallante: @ATL, PHI
Nick Lodolo: NYM, TB
Alex Wood: @ARI, @SD
At Your Own Risk
Hunter Greene: NYM, TB
Ian Anderson: STL, WAS
German Marquez: @LAD, @ARI
Kyle Hendricks: @MIL, @LAD
Paolo Espino: @PHI, @ATL
Justin Steele: @MIL, @LAD
Mitch Keller: NYY, @MIL
Braxton Garrett: @WAS, @NYM
Patrick Corbin: MIA, @ATL
The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:
Wednesday, July 6: Aaron Civale @ DET
Civale’s numbers aren’t pretty, but he’s getting back on track since returning from the IL and has a very easy matchup against the Tigers. The young Detroit squad is dead last against right-handers with a .585 OPS.
Thursday, July 7: Jose Urquidy vs. KC
Home runs remain a big issue for Urquidy, though he had a good June with a 3.68 ERA and has a chance to keep that going against an anemic Royals lineup. KC has a .660 OPS against right-handers, fifth worst in MLB.
Friday, July 8: Daniel Lynch vs. CLE
The Royals are hopeful Lynch can return from a blister next Thursday. The lefty has fanned more than one batter per inning this season in spite of poor control, and would face a Guardians lineup that is last in OPS against southpaws (.614).
Wednesday, July 6: Trevor Rogers vs. LAA
Rogers has been one of the biggest busts of the first half, though the ERA metrics suggest slight improvement ahead. He has a nice opportunity against the Angels, who have the seventh worst OPS vs. lefties (.673).
Thursday, July 7: Dallas Keuchel vs. COL
Keuchel is a risky long-term play, though reuniting with former Astros pitching coach Brent Strom does provide some intrigue he can get back on track. He has a good matchup next week against the Rockies on the road, who have a .635 OPS away from Coors Field.
Thursday, July 7: David Peterson vs. MIA
If you haven’t hopped on the Peterson bandwagon yet, it’s about to leave the station as he sports a 3.10 ERA in 52.1 innings so far. He should be able to keep the success going vs. a Marlins lineup that hasn’t touched lefties, with a .617 OPS.
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6: LAA, MIN, NYY, OAK, SEA, TB, TEX
7: BAL, BOS, CLE, CHW, HOU, KC, TOR
6: MIL, PHI, SD
7: ARI, ATL, CHC, COL, LAD, MIA, NYM, PIT, SF, STL, WAS
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: Likely to return Friday (foot)
Yordan Álvarez: Day-to-day (head)
Harrison Bader: Placed on IL (foot)
Johan Camargo: Placed on IL (knee)
Jazz Chisholm: Placed on IL (back)
Brandon Crawford: Placed on IL (knee)
Zach Davies: Placed on IL (shoulder)
Matt Duffy: Placed on IL (back)
Zach Eflin: Placed on IL (knee)
Jack Flaherty: Placed on IL (shoulder)
Nolan Gorman: Day-to-day (hand)
Bryce Harper: Out 6-8 weeks (thumb)
Andrew Heaney: Placed on IL (shoulder)
Austin Hedges: Placed on IL (concussion)
Adrian Houser: Status uncertain (elbow)
Daniel Hudson: Out for the season (knee)
Kenley Jansen: Placed on IL (heart)
Trevor Larnach: Placed on IL (abdomen)
Jed Lowrie: Placed on IL (shoulder)
Brandon Marsh: Day-to-day (knee)
Austin Meadows: Placed on IL (Achilles)
Jeremy Pena: Day-to-day (head)
Jorge Soler: Day-to-day (back)
Josh Staumont: Placed on IL (neck)
Taylor Trammell: Placed on IL (hamstring)