Week Ahead: Mad About Two

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It’s tough to practice patience in fantasy baseball, but it often pays off. That’s certainly the case with Madison Bumgarner.

MadBum’s velocity was down significantly in the abbreviated 2020 season, resulting in a hideous 6.48 ERA and ERA metrics that were just as ugly. Just one year into a massive five-year, $85 million contract, it looked like Arizona had made a massive mistake.

Three starts into 2021, Bumgarner seemed to pick up right where he left off. He allowed 17 earned runs over 13.2 innings, getting blasted by the Padres, Rockies, and A’s. The former World Series MVP and Giants superstar was left for dead on the waiver wire in many leagues after that slow start, still showing decreased velocity with a fastball that averaged less than 90 mph.

The light turned on for Bumgarner on April 18 at Washington, with his fastball averaging 91 mph and a very strong result. Since then he’s made three more starts, and the velocity and results have continued to progress. Now over Bumgarner’s last four starts, we’ve witnessing the more familiar San Francisco version, with only three earned runs in 23 innings, along with 25/2 K/BB and a seven inning “no-hitter” against Atlanta on April 25.

It’s been quite a change of fortune for Bumgarner, and in just a few weeks’ time he’s gone from a goat to a huge asset for the Diamondbacks and fantasy teams. Obviously, there is still a very long way to go for Bumgarner in 2021, and the radar gun will be worth watching closely. But suddenly Bumgarner is close to a must-start again, with a favorable two-start week vs. Miami and Washington ahead.

-Houston has made it a recent habit of producing quality, relatively unknown starting pitchers like Jose Urquidy, Framber Valdez, and Cristian Javier. Luis Garcia looks like the next one on the list. Granted, he’s produced some impressive minor league results, including a career 12.5 K/9, and Garcia’s impressive ability to miss bats with his secondary stuff has carried over to the majors this season with 28 strikeouts in 24.2 innings. He had a tough time at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, with three runs allowed in 4.2 innings, but still fanned eight batters in the process. His near future is up in the air with Jake Odorizzi on the comeback trail, but as of now he’s in line for a favorable two-start week vs. the Angels and Rangers.

-Aaron Sanchez was an All-Star with Toronto in 2016 as a power pitcher with a nasty sinker. After recovering from arm problems, he’s transitioned into a soft-tosser for the Giants this year averaging less than 90 mph on his fastball. Instead, he’s leaned on his very effective curveball and changeup, along with a 56% groundball rate, to get the job done so far. A .268 BABIP doesn’t speak well for Sanchez’s ability to continue being an effective pitcher, but he looks worthy for at least another week with a beautiful two-start slate against the Rangers and Pirates.

-The Rockies only have 10 games at Coors Fields during the month of May, but seven of them are scheduled for next week. It’s time to get your Rockies hitters in the lineup.

Going Twice…

Note: Probable pitchers as of Friday, May 7, and are subject to change.

American League

Strong Plays

Shane Bieber: CHC, @SEA

Dylan Cease: MIN, KC

Decent Plays

Lance McCullers: LAA, TEX

Brady Singer: @DET, @CHW

Chris Bassitt: @BOS, @MIN

Nathan Eovaldi: OAK, LAA

Jordan Montgomery: @TB, @BAL

Kyle Gibson: @SF, @HOU

Robbie Ray: @ATL, PHI

Luis Garcia: LAA, TEX

Casey Mize: KC, CHC

J.A. Happ: @CHW, OAK

Ryan Yarbrough: NYY, NYM

At Your Own Risk

Martin Perez: @BAL, LAA

Jorge Lopez: BOS, NYY

National League

Strong Plays

Trevor Bauer: SEA, MIA

Max Fried: TOR, @MIL

Decent Plays

Madison Bumgarner: MIA, WAS

Pablo Lopez: @ARI, @LAD

Sonny Gray: @PIT, @COL

Kwang Hyun Kim: @MIL, @SD

Adbert Alzolay: @CLE, @DET

JT Brubaker: CIN, SF

Aaron Sanchez: TEX, @PIT

Ryan Weathers: @COL, STL

At Your Own Risk

Jon Gray: SD, CIN

Erick Fedde: PHI, @ARI

Luke Weaver: MIA, WAS

Chase Anderson: @WAS, @TOR

Mitch Keller: CIN, SF

Jeff Hoffman: @PIT, @COL

Antonio Senzatela: SD, CIN

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Streamer City

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

American League

Wednesday, May 12: Spencer Turnbull vs. KC

Turnbull has been inconsistent since returning from COVID-19, but he faces a Royals lineup that has struggled lately, with a .688 OPS over the last two weeks. He also turned a quality start against KC on April 26.

Thursday, May 13: Brad Keller @ DET

You’re playing with fire by betting on Keller, who is sporting an ERA over 8.00. However, an uptick in velocity this season indicates that he’s healthy, and he’s allowed two or fewer earned runs in three of his last four starts. Detroit ranks dead last in MLB with a .611 OPS.

Thursday, May 13: Yusei Kikuchi vs. CLE

Kikuchi continues the breakout that many had projected this season with back-to-back strong outings, and that should continue against Cleveland. The Tribe haven’t touched southpaws this season, posting a .658 OPS.

National League

Wednesday, May 12: John Gant @ MIL

Gant continues to play with fire, walking 24 batters in 29.1 innings. That will come back to haunt him eventually, but he has another favorable outing on the schedule, this time vs. a Christian Yelich-less Brewers lineup that has the fifth worst OPS in MLB.

Thursday, May 13: Merrill Kelly vs. MIA

Kelly is lined up to face the Marlins next week after returning from the IL today. Miami remains banged up, with the third worst OPS in MLB against right-handers, while Kelly has allowed three or fewer runs in his last three starts.

Friday, May 14: Trevor Williams @ DET

The 2021 schedule has been kind to Williams, who has allowed two or fewer runs in three of his five starts due in large part to an easy slate. It doesn’t get much easier than Detroit next week.

Total Games

American League

6: BAL, CLE, DET, LAA, MIN, NYY, OAK, SEA, TB, TEX, TOR

7: BOS, CHW, HOU, KC

National League

5: CHC, LAD, NYM

6: ATL, MIL, PHI, SD, SF, STL, WAS

7: ARI, CIN, COL, MIA, PIT

Editor’s Note: Don’t forget to download the NBC Sports EDGE app to receive real-time player news and updates. Plus, it allows you to easily track your favorite players. Get it here!

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.

Luis Arraez: Placed on IL (concussion)

Jake Arrieta: Placed on IL (thumb)

Byron Buxton: Day-to-day (back)

Nick Castellanos: Day-to-day (back)

Diego Castillo: Placed on IL (groin)

Jacob deGrom: Day-to-day (lat)

Adam Eaton: Day-to-day (leg)

Bryce Harper: Day-to-day (wrist)

Enrique Hernandez: Status uncertain (hamstring)

Nico Hoerner: Placed on IL (forearm)

Brock Holt: Placed on IL (hamstring)

Alejandro Kirk: Out 4-6 weeks (hip)

Alex Kirilloff: Placed on IL (wrist)

Tommy La Stella: Placed on IL (hamstring)

Jesus Luzardo: Placed on IL (finger)

Dustin May: Out for the season (elbow)

Brandon Nimmo: Placed on IL (finger)

Rougned Odor: Placed on IL (leg)

Roberto Perez: Placed on IL (finger)

Buster Posey: Day-to-day (hamstring)

Roman Quinn: Placed on IL (finger)

Anthony Rendon: Placed on IL (knee)

Edwin Rios: Placed on IL (shoulder)

Luis Robert: Out 3-4 months (hip)

George Springer: Placed on IL (quad)

Max Stassi: Placed on IL (concussion)

Justin Upton: Day-to-day (knee)

Gio Urshela: Status uncertain (knee)

Joey Votto: Out indefinitely (hand)

Michael Wacha: Placed on IL (hamstring)

Christian Yelich: Placed on IL (back)