Fantasy Baseball: Two-start pitching guide for MLB week ahead

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·6 min read
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The excitement and instant gratification of sports is arguably unmatched entertainment. As fantasy managers, we have to reprogram ourselves to think about the long game and the “big picture” rather than judging solely based on today's results.

When favorable results aren't there for our favorite players, it's always good to take a step back before doing something drastic and reactionary. Do the numbers stack up with the player's history? Is there an underlying reason for the struggles that is likely to be fixed as time passes?

That brings us to White Sox veteran starting pitcher Lance Lynn. After missing the first two-plus months to a knee injury, his results were simply atrocious. Lynn allowed 10 hits over 4.1 innings in his first start of the season against a weak Tigers lineup, and the results continued to get worse. He had a decent start or two sprinkled in, but Lynn had a 7.50 ERA by the All-Star break with velocity that was also down from recent seasons. The major statistical culprit was the long ball with seven home runs allowed in 36 innings, but his 35/7 K/BB showed glimpses of the old ace.

Since the break, Lynn has seen a turnaround with two outstanding starts over his three outings, resulting in a 2.55 ERA and 22/1 K/BB over 17.2 innings. The home runs have remained an issue with four allowed, but Lynn is beginning to show a velocity rebound to go along with the results, with a fastball that averaged better than 93 mph in his last start and is in line with what we've seen from him over the last two seasons.

It's fair to wonder if Lynn's arm wasn't at full strength after knee surgery and a long layoff, but there's evidence he's back now. He was dropped in many leagues during the struggles, though the momentum is going in the right direction now. Just as encouraging for Lynn is an extremely light schedule for the White Sox the rest of the way, beginning with matchups against the lowly Royals and Tigers next week that will net Lynn two very enticing scheduled starts.

Lance Lynn has two favorable fantasy matchups for the week ahead. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Lance Lynn has two favorable fantasy matchups for the week ahead. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

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-Big moves by contenders at the trade deadline should also be considered in the future performance of starting pitchers. With the correlation of team wins to starting pitcher wins, the trade deadline buyers have really helped their starters. The Padres are the most obvious example after adding Josh Hader, Juan Soto, Josh Bell, and Brandon Drury. Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove might not need much help, with 10 and eight wins, respectively, the rest of the starting rotation has records hovering around .500. Former Cy Young winner Blake Snell is just 4-5 through 13 starts, though he's allowed one run or fewer in five of his last six starts. Improved recent performance paired with his new elite supporting cast could be just what he needs to continue his resurgence, and Mike Clevinger and Sean Manaea could be right behind him.

-Don't like now but Yusei Kikuchi is finally coming around. The Blue Jays starting pitcher has been a bust since signing a lucrative contract in the offseason, though his velocity has been mostly fine. He's completely lacked control this season, with a BB/9 above 5.0, but that's changed since coming off the IL recently with only one walk in each of his last two starts. Perhaps the time off gave Kikuchi an opportunity to make mechanical adjustments, but it's a great sign heading into a nice two-start slate against Baltimore and Cleveland.

-Oakland starter James Kaprielian is another example of a pitcher who has turned things around after a slow start. His overall peripherals aren't pretty, but few pitchers have been better since the start of July. He has a 1.89 ERA in six starts during that time, taking advantage of an easy schedule and keeping the ball down. Kaprielian's struggles missing bats (6.0 K/9) are cause for caution, but Kaprielian should continue to be useful as a spot starter in his first of two starts next week against the scuffling Angels.

Going Twice…

Note: Probable pitchers as of Friday, August 5, and are subject to change.

American League

Strong Plays

Shane Bieber: @DET, @TOR

Martín Pérez: @HOU, SEA

Decent Plays

Lance Lynn: @KC, DET

Brady Singer: CHW, LAD

James Kaprielian: LAA, @HOU

Jordan Lyles: TOR, @TB

Yusei Kikuchi: @BAL, CLE

Jameson Taillon: @SEA, @BOS

At Your Own Risk

Tyler Alexander: CLE, @CHW

Kyle Bradish: TOR, @TB

National League

Strong Plays

Zack Wheeler: MIA, @NYM

Blake Snell: SF, @WAS

Decent Plays

Chris Bassitt: CIN, PHI

Zac Gallen: PIT, @COL

Miles Mikolas: @COL, MIL

Braxton Garrett: @PHI, ATL

Alex Wood: @SD, PIT

Keegan Thompson: WAS, @CIN

Graham Ashcraft: @NYM, CHC

At Your Own Risk

Aníbal Sánchez: @CHC, SD

Chad Kuhl: STL, ARI

Zach Thompson: @ARI, @SF

Tommy Henry: PIT, @COL

Streamer City

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

American League

Monday, August 8: Jose Suarez @ OAK

It's always a good day to start your pitchers against the A's, especially ones in a groove like Suarez. He didn't allow an earned run in either of his last two starts, including an outing vs. Oakland, plowing through a lineup that now has a .636 OPS against lefties.

Tuesday, August 9: Ryan Yarbrough @ MIL

Milwaukee's weakness this season has been hitting left-handers, with a .663 OPS. The crafty Yarbrough has lowered his ERA by nearly a full run over his last four starts, with a 3.26 ERA over that time.

Wednesday, August 10: J.P. Sears vs. LAA

Sears was one of the biggest pieces acquired in the Frankie Montas trade from the Yankees, befuddling hitters at Triple-A and the majors this year. The control artist could get an opportunity next week against an Angels lineup with a .642 OPS vs. southpaws and also missing multiple pieces.

National League

Wednesday, August 10: Madison Bumgarner vs. PIT

While he's kept his team in games, Bumgarner hasn't done much for fantasy managers this season. That could change against the Pirates lineup, which has a .652 OPS against left-handers.

Thursday, August 11: Drew Smyly @ CIN

Cincinnati's lineup has been okay against left-handers this season with a .707 OPS, but they are now without Tyler Stephenson, Tommy Pham, and Brandon Drury. It's another opportunity for the left-handed Smyly to lower his ERA.

Thursday, August 11: Nick Lodolo vs. CHC

The talented Lodolo is really rounding into form, with only two earned runs and 16/4 K/BB over his last two starts spanning 12 innings. He should be able to capitalize on a favorable matchup against the Cubs, marking a rare occasion when rostering both starters in a game could be advantageous.

Total Games

American League

5: MIN, TB

6: BOS, CLE, DET, HOU, LAA, NYY, OAK, SEA, TEX, TOR

7: BAL, CHW, KC

National League

5: LAD, MIL

6: ATL, CHC, CIN, COL, NYM, PHI, SD, SF, STL, WAS

7: ARI, MIA, PIT