Buy-low opportunities are all around if you look hard enough. Right now that could be the case with former Tampa Bay ace and two-time All-Star Chris Archer.
The Pirates starter has been a massive bust this season, posting a 5.36 ERA in 17 starts with an NL-worst 22 home runs allowed. His trying season has included two IL stints, a career-worst 4.5 BB/9, and diminished velocity to start the year. Contributing to the negativity is the general narrative that the Pirates got fleeced when they traded Austin Meadows, Tyler Glasnow, and former first-round pick Shane Baz to the Rays for Archer last season.
While it’s difficult to argue with any of the current Archer criticism, recent results are showing some real bright spots. Archer has allowed three or fewer earned runs in five consecutive starts, and he has 37/12 K/BB in 26 innings with a more respectable 4.15 ERA during that time. His fastball velocity has also increased recently, averaging 94.5 mph, about one full mph better than his average fastball velocity prior to his recent success and close to his career norm.
Home runs have remained a major issue for Archer recently, but he has a sub-4.00 xFIP and SIERA during his recent five-game success streak. He’s also accomplished this against a rough schedule, including San Diego, Milwaukee, and two outings against the Cubs.
Fantasy owners almost surely won’t get what they paid for Archer when they drafted him this season, with a top 150 ADP that suggested a bounceback season. Still, he’s starting to at least return some value lately, and showing enough upside to be a waiver addition in shallow leagues. Now is the perfect time to take a chance on Archer with a two-start week ahead against the Cardinals and Mets.
-The addition of Homer Bailey wasn’t much of a headliner for the A’s, but it looks like the veteran has found something recently. Since June 7, he’s 4-0 with 35/13 K/BB in 41 innings and a 2.85 ERA over seven starts. Bailey has thrown his splitter more often this season, helping him produce a respectable 8.2 K/9, and Oakland has space in their rotation to ride out Bailey’s success with the return of Marco Estrada apparently not imminent. While the difference in park factors between Oakland and Kansas City isn’t much, the A’s have been a far superior defensive club this season. Bailey has a brutal two-start week ahead against Houston and Texas, but you could do worse for a long-term flier given the recent results.
-With Gio Gonzalez about to return and the Brewers mentioned as buyers in trade rumors involving starting pitchers, Chase Anderson’s rotation spot could be on shaky ground in the near future. Still, he’s doing his best to secure his spot with his recent success, allowing two or fewer runs in five straight starts. Manager Craig Counsell’s quick hook has probably helped, but Anderson has a 2.45 ERA and 20/5 K/BB in 25.2 innings during that span. The last few seasons have been inconsistent for Anderson, whose velocity jumped two mph in 2017 as he posted a 2.74 ERA, only to regress last year. He still managed a sub-4.00 ERA despite allowing 30 home runs in 158 innings. This year the velocity is better than ever, and Anderson’s recent success provides more reason to invest.
-Speaking of pitchers who have had recent success, Dario Agrazal has been a savior for the Pirates as a fill-in fifth starter. The 24-year-old has rarely been mentioned on prospect lists because he can’t miss bats, to be blunt. Agrazal has a career 5.7 K/9 in seven minor league seasons, but his pinpoint control (1.3 BB/9 for his career) has gotten him to the majors. He has a 2.45 ERA through four starts, which could make him a popular pickup. However, you’re really playing with fire given the poor strikeout rate, as Agrazal has fanned only seven batters in 22 innings and has a very fortunate .250 BABIP to this point.
-Toronto is about to get a new rotation option, just in time to add some depth at the trade deadline. Ryan Borucki had a 3.87 ERA in 17 starts last season, but he hasn’t appeared in a game with the Blue Jays this season due to an elbow injury. That’s set to change with his return on Monday in what will likely to be a two-start week. Despite an average groundball rate, Borucki did an outstanding job keeping the ball in the park during his rookie season (seven home runs allowed in 97.2 innings), which helped make him a fantasy asset. With a sub-7.0 K/9 that he’s shown at Triple-A and the majors, Borucki will need to continue the long-ball prevention trend to help fantasy owners in mixed leagues, but he should at least be on the radar in deep leagues.
Note: Probable pitchers as of Friday, July 19, and are subject to change.
At Your Own Risk
CC Sabathia: @MIN, @BOS
Homer Bailey: @HOU, TEX
Dylan Bundy: @ARI, @LAA
Ryan Borucki: CLE, TB
Jesse Chavez: @SEA, @OAK
Adrian Sampson: @SEA, @OAK
Ivan Nova: MIA, MIN
Aaron Brooks: @ARI, @LAA
Dylan Covey: MIA, MIN
At Your Own Risk
The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:
Wednesday, July 24: Reynaldo Lopez vs. MIA
Lopez has been a pitcher to avoid this season (5.97 ERA), but he’s been decent in three of his last four outings and faces the worst lineup in the league vs. right-handers (.659 OPS).
Thursday, July 25: Jaime Barria vs. BAL
We haven’t seen much of Barria in the majors this year, but his peripherals (9.2 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, 1.2 HR/9) are far better than his 5.22 ERA would indicate. He was effective last season and is worth the risk against Baltimore, who have a sub-.700 OPS against right-handers.
Friday, July 26: Yusei Kikuchi vs. DET
There’s no escaping the fact that Kikuchi has been one of this season’s most disappointing pitchers. That said, he’s allowed three or fewer earned runs in four consecutive starts and faces a Tigers lineup that has a .718 OPS against lefties.
Wednesday, July 24: Jhoulys Chacin vs. CIN
Chacin could lose his rotation spot in the coming weeks if the Brewers acquire a starting pitcher due to his 5.18 ERA, but he’s pitched better recently, allowing four earned runs in 16 innings over his last three starts. The disappointing Cincy lineup has a .716 OPS against right-handers, and was dominated by Chacin on July 3.
Friday, July 26: Dinelson Lamet vs. SF
Lamet is coming off a mediocre start against Miami but has another go against a weak lineup, facing the Giants. San Francisco has a .715 OPS against right-handers, and Lamet has still missed plenty of bats in his first three starts.
Saturday, July 27: Steven Matz vs. PIT
Matz’s inability to keep the ball in the park has caused his ERA to inflate near 5.00 this year, but the Pirates are one of the worst hitting teams in baseball against lefties. They rank third worst with a .679 OPS and will clearly be Matz’s most favorable matchup since he faced Miami in mid-May.
6: DET, HOU, KC, LAA, TB, TOR
7: BAL, BOS, CLE, CHW, MIN, NYY, OAK, SEA, TEX
5: ATL, LAD, PHI
6: ARI, CHC, CIN, MIA, MIL, NYM, SD, SF
7: COL, PIT, 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 Rotoworld's Injury Page.
Jay Bruce: Placed on IL (oblique)
Corbin Burnes: Placed on IL (shoulder)
Byron Buxton: Placed on IL (concussion)
Matt Carpenter: Placed on IL (foot)
Curt Casali: Placed on IL (knee)
Matt Chapman: Day-to-day (ankle)
Willson Contreras: Placed on IL (foot)
David Dahl: Day-to-day (foot)
Derek Dietrich: Day-to-day (knee)
Jarrod Dyson: Day-to-day (hamstring)
Max Fried: Placed on IL (blister)
Eloy Jimenez: Placed on IL (elbow)
Evan Longoria: Placed on IL (foot)
Adalberto Mondesi: Placed on IL (shoulder)
Clayton Richard: Placed on IL (shoulder)
J.T. Riddle: Placed on IL (arm)
Brendan Rodgers: Out for the season (shoulder)
Jonathan Schoop: Day-to-day (abdomen)
Nick Senzel: Day-to-day (hamstring)
Chris Taylor: Out 4-6 weeks (arm)