Week Ahead: Resurgent Lance Lynn among intriguing two-start pitching options

Seth Trachtman
Rotoworld

 

It’s never too late to adjust. First-year Rangers starter Lance Lynn is successfully adjusting in his early 30’s.

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While Lynn has never shown better velocity than the last two seasons, the results have also been the worst of his career. After posted a 3.38 ERA in nearly 1,000 innings with the Cardinals, he moved to the American League last year and finished with a 4.77 ERA. He was still able to earn a three-year contract with the Rangers in the offseason, but Lynn has a mediocre 4.67 ERA through 10 starts this year.

Lynn has brought his ERA down lately, however. He has three consecutive quality starts, lowering his ERA by more than one run in the process. He’s also posted 24/3 K/BB in 21 innings in those three outings, showing pinpoint control that has been uncommon during his career.

Early in his career with the Cardinals, Lynn leaned almost exclusively on his fastballs. He threw them at least 70 percent of the time in each season. So far this year has been the first time he’s thrown fastballs less than 70 percent of the time. It’s probably no coincidence that the trend started after his worst outing of the season, an eight-run drubbing by Oakland on April 23.

Over the last five starts, Lynn has thrown his fastball only 62 percent of the time, compared to 75 percent over his first five starts. His last three starts, in particular, have featured a much heavier use of his slider, and the results have been stellar.

Baseball is a game of adjustments, and perhaps hitters will start to adjust to the new version of Lynn. Still, it’s difficult to complain about Lynn’s recent results, and the ERA metrics (3.47 FIP, 4.14 xFIP, 4.19 SIERA) show even more upside. A two-start week like he has at Seattle and vs. Kansas City next week is the perfect time to add Lynn if he’s still available in your league.

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-A disappointing prospect for the last few years and arguably the worst starting pitcher in MLB last season, Lucas Giolito has clearly turned a corner this year. Any doubters should finally be convinced by his complete game shutout of the Astros on Thursday, bringing Giolito’s ERA down to 2.77 through nine starts. He’s allowed only five runs in 33.1 innings this month. The differences this season include a significant increase in his velocity, greater use of his dominant changeup, and obviously better overall command. There’s still some reason to be skeptical of Giolito’s current ERA with a home run per fly ball rate that has been more than cut in half compared to last season, but patient owners are finally getting the payoff.

-Of course, Jordan Lyles’ early-season breakout is taking prospect patience to a whole new level. Lyles was rushed to the majors at age 20 by the Astros in 2011, and never had an ERA below 4.00 prior to this season. He did start to show flashes last year between San Diego and Milwaukee with a career-high 8.6 K/9 due in part to the increased use of his curveball. That usage has continued this season as a starter in Pittsburgh, and so have the strikeouts. He allowed only one earned run in three consecutive starts until his sixth inning blowup vs. Colorado yesterday, but the 9.3 K/9 and K/BB of at least 3.00 for the second straight season make him appear to be a viable fantasy pitcher in most leagues.

-If it hasn’t been decided already, Trevor Cahill and Matt Harvey could be pitching for their rotation spots next week with Andrew Heaney’s imminent return. The Angels are paying the pair a combined $20 million this season, but they’ve both been truly dreadful. Cahill is coming off his best start so far, but there is reason to be skeptical with a groundball rate that has plummeted by more than 10 percent this year, resulting in an atrocious 14 home runs allowed in 49 innings. Harvey has been similarly prone to the long ball this year, and has resorted to throwing more offspeed stuff with a fastball that continues to be overwhelmingly hittable since his arm problems in New York. The two Angels are among a long list with very risky two-start pitchers for next week.

-We’re going into the final week of May but only the second full week of games at Coors Field this season. After an exciting weekend for Rockies hitters vs. Orioles pitching, the onslaught should continue vs. Arizona and Toronto in a seven-game Coors Field week. Prior to the start of the homestand, the Rockies have only played 20 games at Coors vs. 28 games on the road, so it’s a relative buy-low point to acquire Colorado hitters, as well.

 

Going Twice…

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

 

American League

Strong Plays

Gerrit Cole: CHC, @OAK
Matthew Boyd: @BAL, @ATL
Masahiro Tanaka: SD, BOS

Decent Plays

Lucas Giolito: KC, CLE
Lance Lynn: @SEA, KC
Chris Bassitt: LAA, HOU
Rick Porcello: CLE, @NYY
Marco Gonzales: TEX, LAA
Daniel Norris: @BAL, @ATL
Brad Keller: @CHW, @TEX
Michael Pineda: MIL, @TB
Yonny Chirinos: TOR, MIN

At Your Own Risk

Adrian Sampson: @SEA, KC
Tommy Milone: TEX, LAA
Aaron Sanchez: @TB, @COL
Trevor Cahill: @OAK, @SEA
Jefry Rodriguez: @BOS, @CHW
Ivan Nova: KC, CLE
Homer Bailey: @CHW, @TEX
Dan Straily: DET, SF
Matt Harvey: @OAK, @SEA
Adam Plutko: @BOS, @CHW
Ryan Weber: CLE, @NYY

 

National League

Strong Plays

Max Scherzer: MIA, @CIN
Luis Castillo: PIT, WAS
Clayton Kershaw: NYM, PHI
Rich Hill: NYM, PHI
Jacob deGrom: @LAD, @ARI

Decent Plays

Matt Strahm: @NYY, MIA
Sonny Gray: PIT, WAS
Cole Hamels: @HOU, @STL
Zack Greinke: @COL, NYM
Jordan Lyles: @CIN, MIL
Steven Matz: @LAD, @ARI
Gio Gonzalez: @MIN, @PIT
Jeff Samardzija: @MIA, @BAL
Trevor Richards: SF, @SD
Jon Gray: ARI, TOR

At Your Own Risk

Jose Urena: @WAS, @SD
Michael Wacha: @PHI, CHC
Merrill Kelly: @COL, NYM
Antonio Senzatela: ARI, TOR

 

Streamer City

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

American League

Tuesday, May 28: Clayton Richard @ TB
Richard is back from his knee issue and generally not a great option, but the groundball specialist will face a Rays lineup that only ranks 20th in OPS vs. lefties (.699 OPS) and will be without lefty basher Yandy Diaz.

Friday, May 31: Andrew Cashner vs. SF
There are still few acceptable situations to use Cashner, but facing the Giants is one of them. San Fran ranks 27th in OPS against right-handers (.665) and have hit only 36 home runs in more than 1,000 at-bats against them.

Friday, May 31: Dylan Covey vs. CLE
The groundball-heavy Covey is becoming a regular spot-starting option with the White Sox weak AL Central schedule. Cleveland is still trying to find the right lineup and rank 26th vs. right-handers with a .669 OPS.

National League

Thursday, May 30: Drew Pomeranz @ MIA
Pomeranz has yet to establish his control this season, but his velocity and strikeouts are back. He couldn’t possibly have a better matchup to get on track than a visit to Miami. The Marlins have a pitiful .599 OPS against lefties, hitting only eight home runs in 418 at-bats.

Saturday, June 1: Shaun Anderson @ BAL
Anderson has been adequate so far, and the control artist has a decent matchup late next week if he’s still in the Giants rotation. Baltimore can hit the long ball, but their .689 OPS against right-handers is 22nd overall.

Saturday, June 1: Erick Fedde @ CIN
Success in MLB has become more and more about preventing the long ball, and Fedde is highly capable of doing that with a groundball rate that’s currently at 60 percent. He will face a Reds lineup ranked 25th in OPS vs. right-handers next week (.674).

 

Total Games

American League

6: BAL, DET, HOU, MIN, OAK, TOR
7: BOS, CLE, CHW, KC, LAA, NYY, SEA, TB, TEX  

National League

5: ATL
6: CHC, MIL, PHI, SD, SF, STL, WAS
7: ARI, CIN, COL, LAD, MIA, NYM  
8: 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 Rotoworld's Injury Page.

Brett Anderson: Status uncertain (neck)
Tyler Anderson: Out for the season (knee)
Miguel Andujar: Out for the season (shoulder)
Charlie Blackmon: Day-to-day (calf)
Ryan Braun: Day-to-day (knee)
Willie Calhoun: Placed on IL (quadriceps)
Robinson Cano: Placed on IL (quadriceps)
Brandon Crawford: Day-to-day (eye)
Khris Davis: Status uncertain (hip)
Wade Davis: Placed on IL (oblique)
Yandy Diaz: Placed on IL (hand)
Wilmer Flores: Placed on IL (foot)
Dee Gordon Placed on IL (wrist)
Ryon Healy: Placed on IL (back)
Jeremy Hellickson: Placed on IL (shoulder)
Max Kepler: Day-to-day (knee)
J.D. Martinez: Day-to-day (back)
Colin McHugh: Placed on IL (elbow)
Jeff McNeil: Placed on IL (hamstring)
Oscar Mercado: Day-to-day (hip)
Omar Narvaez: Day-to-day (knee)
Brandon Nimmo: Placed on IL (neck)
David Peralta: Day-to-day (shoulder)
Roberto Perez: Day-to-day (head)
Yasiel Puig: Day-to-day (shoulder)
CC Sabathia: Placed on IL (knee)
Andrelton Simmons: Out indefinitely (ankle)
George Springer: Day-to-day (back)
Trevor Williams: Placed on IL (oblique)
Christian Yelich: Day-to-day (back)

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