Week Ahead: Ohtani for Two

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Seth Trachtman
·7 min read
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Not since Babe Ruth has baseball seen a two-way talent like Shohei Ohtani. The upcoming week could be the time he truly announces himself as an elite two-way player in 2021.

The Angels have gone with a six-man starting rotation this season, meaning the opportunity for two-start weeks from their starting pitchers is few and far between. With a seven-game week next week, Ohtani is currently scheduled for that rare two-start week.

The early season has been shaky from Ohtani on the mound between blister issues and poor control. Through three starts, he’s walked 13 batters in only 13.2 innings. However, Ohtani has regained the velocity that he showed upon his MLB arrival in 2018, and those results are also clear with 23 strikeouts. After multiple seasons of arm problems, Ohtani is clearly healthy, showing flashes of game-changing ability in the batter’s box and on the mound.

The handling of Ohtani still isn’t uniform across all of fantasy baseball, but in the case of most leagues, fantasy managers can choose between using him either as a hitter or a pitcher. Considering how well he’s hit early in the year, among the league leaders with seven home runs and 18 RBI, the upcoming week might be the first in which managers with weekly lineups have a real decision to make on which spot to use Ohtani given the two starts.

The lineup decision is tough to answer and dependent on your hitting and pitching alternatives. But it says something for Ohtani’s pitching ability that it’s a decision at all, with home starts against the Rays and Dodgers on the horizon. Ohtani showed his best control of the season thus far in an outing at Texas on Monday (9/2 K/BB in five innings), and a healthy Angels lineup should provide the opportunity for ample run support in his two starts.

-There was some buzz this spring about Nick Pivetta, and he turned some heads by outdueling Jacob deGrom over five innings this week. There’s no question Pivetta is a big reason for Boston’s great April, but there are also some red flags, mainly walking at least three batters in all five of his starts this season. At the time of this writing, he leads the AL with 17 walks over 25.2 innings, a pace that Pivetta can’t keep up if he wants to maintain his success. It would be almost malpractice to sit Pivetta in his upcoming two-start week with AL bottom feeders Detroit and Baltimore on the docket, but this could be a chance to sell high in a trade.

-Chris Paddack has continued to frustrate early this season after posting a 4.73 ERA in 12 starts last year. Despite great command, Paddack’s limited two-pitch repertoire has caused him to get hit hard at times, but the ERA metrics (3.22 FIP, 4.00 SIERA) along with slightly increased velocity this year point to improvement ahead. A two-start week against the poor lineups of the Pirates and Giants give reason for fantasy managers to keep him active.

-There hasn’t been a more disappointing pitcher this April than Kenta Maeda. He became a true ace last year and had a fabulous spring, but over five regular season starts he has a 6.56 ERA, 1.76 WHIP, and a league-worst 36 hits allowed. Maeda has been particularly bad over his last two starts at Oakland and Cleveland, allowing 12 earned runs and six homers in 8.2 innings. Still, he didn’t walk a batter in either of those outings, has maintained most of his velocity and spin from last year, and has a still-strong 4.00 K/BB ratio this season. There’s reason to think Maeda will get back on track, and a two-start week against the Rangers and Tigers is a good time to start.

Going Twice…

Note: Probable pitchers as of Friday, April 30, and are subject to change.

American League

Strong Plays

Aaron Civale: @KC, CIN

Decent Plays

Kenta Maeda: TEX, @DET

J.A. Happ: TEX, @DET

Michael Wacha: @LAA, @OAK

Shohei Ohtani: TB, LAD

Zack Greinke: @NYY, TOR

Kyle Gibson: @MIN, SEA

Jakob Junis: CLE, CHW

Frankie Montas: TOR, TB

Domingo German: HOU, WAS

Nick Pivetta: DET, @BAL

Steven Matz: @OAK, @HOU

Dane Dunning: @MIN, SEA

Cole Irvin: TOR, TB

Mike Minor: CLE, CHW

At Your Own Risk

Casey Mize: @BOS, MIN

Justin Dunn: BAL, @TEX

Cal Quantrill: @KC, CIN

Dean Kremer: @SEA, BOS

National League

Strong Plays

Jacob deGrom: @STL, ARI

Aaron Nola: MIL, @ATL

Walker Buehler: @CHC, @LAA

Decent Plays

Kwang Hyun Kim: NYM, COL

Huascar Ynoa: @WAS, PHI

Luke Weaver: @MIA, @NYM

Chris Paddack: PIT, @SF

German Marquez: SF, @STL

Kyle Hendricks: LAD, PIT

Tyler Anderson: @SD, @CHC

Carlos Martinez: NYM, COL

At Your Own Risk

Joe Ross: ATL, @NYY

Aaron Sanchez: @COL, SD

Matt Moore: MIL, @ATL

Joey Lucchesi: @STL, ARI

Nick Neidert: ARI, MIL

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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 5: Martin Perez vs. DET

Perez’s ERA was above 5.00 going into Thursday, but he gets an opportunity to get on track against a Tigers lineup with a pitiful .477 OPS vs. lefties, worst in MLB.

Friday, May 7: Mike Foltynewicz vs. SEA

It’s been an inconsistent early season for Foltynewicz despite the return of his velocity, but his 26/7 K/BB in 27.1 innings is encouraging. Facing a Seattle lineup with a .664 OPS against righties is also favorable.

Saturday, May 8: Garrett Richards @ BAL

Richards has been frustratingly inconsistent this season, but he’s coming off his best start of the year and faces an O’s squad with the worst OPS in baseball vs. right-handers. He’s already faced Baltimore twice this season, struggling in his first start before allowing two runs in five innings on April 10.

National League

Friday, May 7: Adrian Houser @ MIA

The Marlins lineup is ravaged with injuries, now without Starling Marte and Jazz Chisholm. Houser’s matchup in roomy Miami is a gem.

Saturday, May 8: Trevor Williams vs. PIT

Williams is on a bit of a resurgence this season, allowing two of fewer runs allowed in four of his five starts. The only exception was against his former team, the Pirates, but he will get a chance to right the ship against their lineup next weekend.

Saturday, May 8: Carlos Martinez vs. COL

If you’re able to make mid-week lineup changes, consider doing so with Martinez. His start on Monday vs. the Mets doesn’t look great, but facing the Rockies on the road has been a recipe for success from opposing pitchers. Colorado’s .547 OPS on the road is the second worst in MLB.

Total Games

American League

5: CHW

6: BAL, BOS, DET, HOU, NYY, SEA

7: CLE, KC, LAA, MIN, OAK, TB, TEX, TOR

National League

5: CIN

6: ARI, ATL, CHC, COL, LAD, MIA, PIT, SD, SF, WAS

7: MIL, NYM, PHI, STL

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.

Yordan Alvarez: Day-to-day (illness)

Brett Anderson: Placed on IL (hamstring)

Corbin Burnes: Status unknown (undisclosed)

Kole Calhoun: Placed on IL (hamstring)

Jazz Chisholm: Placed on IL (hamstring)

Garrett Cooper: Day-to-day (foot)

Garrett Crochet: Placed on IL (back)

Freddy Galvis: Day-to-day (groin)

Marco Gonzales: Placed on IL (forearm)

Brusdar Graterol: Placed on IL (forearm)

Didi Gregorius: Day-to-day (ribs)

Mitch Haniger: Day-to-day (illness)

Aaron Judge: Day-to-day (lower body)

Bryce Harper: Day-to-day (face)

Corey Knebel: Placed on IL (lat)

Nick Margevicius: Placed on IL (shoulder)

Yadier Molina: Placed on IL (foot)

Jake Odorizzi: Placed on IL (forearm)

Matt Olson: Day-to-day (eye)

Tommy Pham: Day-to-day (calf)

David Price: Placed on IL (hamstring)

Hyun-Jin Ryu: Placed on IL (glute)

Ryan Weathers: Status uncertain (forearm)

Taylor Widener: Placed on IL (groin)

Mike Yastrzemski: Placed on IL (oblique)