Week Ahead: Joe Ryan is Extraordinary

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The Rays usually make other teams regret making trades with them, but Tampa Bay made a trade in July that could already make the organization shake their heads. That move was trading starting pitcher Joe Ryan to Minnesota as part of the Nelson Cruz deal.

Ryan was promoted to the majors in September, and he’s been nothing short of spectacular in four starts. The 25-year-old right-hander has a dominant 2.45 ERA, 0.59 WHIP, and 25/3 K/BB in 22 innings over four starts. The addition has been just in the nick of time for the Twins after trading Jose Berrios and losing Kenta Maeda to injury, and Ryan has all but locked up a rotation spot in 2022.

Of course, his dominance isn’t coming out of nowhere. Ryan was a seventh-round pick in 2018 but has been one of the best pitchers in the minors since then, with a 2.67 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 13.0 K/9, and 2.1 BB/9. While he still doesn’t have great velocity, averaging only 91 mph on his fastball, Ryan has been provoking an insane 56% flyball rate as MLB hitters struggle to square up his pitches.

For reference, no other starting pitcher this season has a flyball rate above 53%, and since 2000, there have been only 11 seasons in which a pitcher has posted a higher rate (five attributed to now Rangers GM Chris Young).

The below average velocity does create some risk that MLB hitters will figure him out eventually, but these numbers are too good to overlook. Minnesota has certainly found a keeper, and Ryan has the opportunity to finish the season on a high note with two scheduled starts in the final week.

-Many fantasy managers were similarly high on Royals right-hander Brady Singer after his 12 MLB starts last season, but his second time around the league hasn’t gone as smooth. Singer’s ERA jumped from 4.06 last season to 4.72 this season despite more than one strikeout per inning. Singer has had some minor injury issues and struggled to find consistency in his first full MLB season, living on a two-pitch repertoire. What’s made Singer so frustrating is the occasional rough outings that deem him unreliable, but he’s been great overall since mid-August with a 2.97 ERA and 37/12 K/BB in 36.1 innings over six starts. Singer has at least built some momentum going into 2022, and can finish it off with a scheduled two-start week to close out the season.

-Planning pitching for a final week can be a fool’s errand, especially with pitchers on competitive MLB teams. As those teams fight for their playoff lives, some starting pitchers could return on short rest later in the week, and there’s also a significant risk of a Game 163 next Monday. As we stand now, the most likely teams to see a Game 163 are the Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays, Giants, and Dodgers, though the Mariners, Braves, and Phillies could also get an extra game if everything falls perfectly. This means starting pitchers like Nathan Eovaldi, Gerrit Cole, Jose Berrios, Johnny Cueto, Max Scherzer, Charlie Morton, and Aaron Nola could get extra work despite only one scheduled start in the final week.

Going Twice…

Note: Probable pitchers as of Friday, September 24, and are subject to change.

American League

Strong Plays

Chris Sale: @BAL, @WAS

Joe Ryan: DET, @KC

Decent Plays

Chris Flexen: OAK, LAA

Drew Rasmussen: @HOU, @NYY

Hyun-Jin Ryu: NYY, BAL

Chris Bassitt: @SEA, @HOU

Tyler Alexander: @MIN, @CHW

Brady Singer: @CLE, MIN

Corey Kluber: @TOR, TB

At Your Own Risk

Keegan Akin: BOS, @TOR

National League

Strong Plays

Zack Wheeler: @ATL, @MIA

Walker Buehler: SD, MIL

Logan Webb: ARI, SD

Trevor Rogers: @NYM, PHI

Ian Anderson: PHI, NYM

Decent Plays

Marcus Stroman: MIA, @ATL

Wade Miley: PIT, @PIT

German Marquez: WAS, @ARI

Miles Mikolas: MIL, CHC

At Your Own Risk

Josiah Gray: @COL, BOS

Dillon Peters: @CIN, CIN

Vince Velasquez: @LAD, @SF

Streamer City

The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:

American League

Thursday, September 30: Bailey Ober vs. DET

Ober has done more than enough to earn a rotation spot in 2022 for the Twins, but the long ball remains his biggest nemesis. Detroit has the eighth worst OPS vs. right-handers, and have the eighth fewest home runs overall this season.

Thursday, September 30: Alex Cobb @ TEX

It’s been another injury-plagued season for Cobb, but he’s made two very good starts since returning from injury. He should be rostered in all leagues with an easy final matchup at Texas, who have the worst OPS vs. right-handers in the AL.

Saturday, October 2: Eli Morgan @ TEX

Morgan has had an up-and-down rookie season, but the soft-tosser has fared well when he’s kept the ball down. The Rangers should help, with the fewest home runs in the AL this season.

National League

Friday, October 1: Humberto Castellanos vs. COL

A recent addition to Arizona’s rotation, Castellanos has been solid in back-to-back starts and finishes his year vs. a Rox lineup that has been pitiful on the road (.638 OPS).

Saturday, October 2: Adonis Medina @ MIA

Medina has yet to reach five innings in a start, but the former top prospect has pitched well in back-to-back starts and could be extended for his final outing against a Miami lineup with a .680 OPS against right-handers.

Saturday, October 2: Antonio Senzatela @ ARI

Senzatela has had a solid year, though still unrecognized by fantasy managers due to his lack of strikeouts. He has missed more bats away from altitude (7.4 K/9) and will face the worst hitting lineup in MLB vs. right-handers (.668 OPS).

Total Games

American League

6: BAL, BOS, CHW, HOU, LAA, MIN, NYY, OAK, SEA, TB, TEX, TOR

7: CLE, DET, KC

National League

6: ARI, ATL, CHC, CIN, COL, LAD, MIL, PHI, SD, SF, STL, WAS

7: MIA, NYM, PIT

The Infirmary

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.

Yordan Alvarez: Day-to-day (soreness)

Cody Bellinger: Placed on IL (ribs)

Nelson Cruz: Day-to-day (illness)

Lourdes Gurriel Jr.: Day-to-day (finger)

Derek Hill: Out for the season (knee)

Andrew Kittredge: Placed on IL (neck)

Jake McGee: Placed on IL (oblique)

Mike Moustakas: Placed on IL (foot)

Harold Ramirez: Day-to-day (shoulder)

Carlos Rodon: Day-to-day (shoulder)

Miguel Rojas: Day-to-day (knee)

Darin Ruf: Placed on IL (oblique)

Anthony Santander: Day-to-day (hamstring)

Gregory Soto: Out for the season (finger)

Jacob Stallings: Placed on IL (concussion)

D.J. Stewart: Out for the season (knee)

Chris Taylor: Day-to-day (neck)

Ramon Urias: Out for the season (groin)

Garrett Whitlock: Placed on IL (pec)

Devin Williams: Day-to-day (calf)

Bryse Wilson: Out for the season (hamstring)