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

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Fantasy managers often give up on players after getting burned. Whether it’s injuries, bad luck, or simply unrealistic expectations, projecting player performance can be fickle and test our patience.

Few current MLB players have burned fantasy managers more than Jameson Taillon. The right-hander has seen his fair share of injuries and bad luck during his career since breaking in as a top prospect with the Pirates in 2016. Even when he was mostly healthy like 2021, his performance wasn’t quite up to expectations.

Through six turns in the starting rotation this season, Taillon is giving his fantasy managers much more than expected. He continues to show velocity that’s slightly down from his early seasons, averaging 94 mph on his fastball, but Taillon has been terrific with only three walks allowed over 30.2 innings.

Taillon already had a wide repertoire before this season, but he’s taken another step forward with the introduction of a cutter. The added pitch, in combination with pinpoint control, has allowed Taillon to rebound in spite of stuff that doesn’t quite stack up to what we saw in his best days with Pittsburgh.

The bigger concern for the rest of the season remains Taillon’s durability. Last season was only the second time he had 29 starts in MLB since his promotion in 2016, and Taillon has still reached 150 innings only once. Fantasy managers who took a flier on Taillon are going to be very happy if he can show this level of consistency through the rest of the year.

-It’s been a long few years in Baltimore, but the kids are coming. Kyle Bradish is one of the first of many who could be a major part of the team’s future, and the early returns have been splendid. The former fourth-round pick got a look after showing markedly improved control at Triple-A, and that has continued into the majors with only three walks in 17 innings. Prior to this season, his stuff was his calling card with a mid-90’s fastball and plus slider. The sample size is still relatively small, but Bradish’s BB/9 improvement of more than two walks so far garners consideration in the shallowest of leagues with a two-start week on the horizon.

-The Royals curiously moved Brady Singer to the bullpen to begin the season, but he’s back in the MLB rotation after one minor league start. KC’s pitching has been a big issue this season, and Singer has the potential to help fix it. The former first-round pick is still harnessing his control with a career 3.5 BB/9 in the majors, but a 2.4 BB/9 in the minors along with a career groundball rate above 50% shows potential. He’s been about league-average through two MLB seasons, but still has the talent to take the next step and could be a streamer in weekly leagues with two starts next week.

-Do you have the guts to employ Wade Miley in a two-start week? The 35-year-old missed the first month of the season due to an elbow injury and was pounded by the Padres in his first MLB outing this season. However, home matchups against the Pirates and Diamondbacks lineups next week couldn’t be more tempting. Miley’s control was way off in his first start, but the velocity and groundball rate looked just fine. He’s a big risk coming off a poor first start, though a case can be made to employ Miley next week in deeper weekly leagues.

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Going Twice…

Note: Probable pitchers as of Friday, May 13, and are subject to change.

American League

Strong Plays

Shane McClanahan: DET, @BAL

Lucas Giolito: @KC, @NYY

Dylan Cease: @KC, @NYY

Nathan Eovaldi: HOU, SEA

Logan Gilbert: @TOR, @BOS

Decent Plays

Jameson Taillon: @BAL, CHW

Garrett Whitlock: HOU, SEA

Jake Odorizzi: @BOS, TEX

Brad Keller: CHW, MIN

Luis Severino: @BAL, CHW

Yusei Kikuchi: SEA, CIN

Kyle Bradish: NYY, TB

At Your Own Risk

Jon Gray: LAA, @HOU

Chris Flexen: @TOR, @BOS

Zach Logue: MIN, @LAA

Brady Singer: CHW, MIN

Taylor Hearn: LAA, @HOU

Beau Breiske: @TB, @CLE

Spenser Watkins: NYY, TB

National League

Strong Plays

Tony Gonsolin: ARI, @PHI

Freddy Peralta: ATL, WAS

Decent Plays

Jesus Luzardo: WAS, ATL

Miles Mikolas: @NYM, @PIT

Merrill Kelly: @LAD, @CHC

Ian Anderson: @MIL, @MIA

Steven Matz: @NYM, @PIT

Tylor Megill: STL, @COL

Madison Bumgarner: @LAD, @CHC

At Your Own Risk

Alex Wood: @COL, SD

Zach Eflin: SD, LAD

Wade Miley: PIT, ARI

Taijuan Walker: STL, @COL

Aaron Sanchez: @MIA, @MIL

Antonio Senzatela: SF, NYM

Bryse Wilson: @CHC, STL

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 17: Josh Winder @ OAK

Winder has shown exemplary control in the minors and carried it over to Minnesota this season. He dominated the A’s with one unearned allowed in six innings on May 6, and gets another shot next week.

Tuesday, May 17: Jeffrey Springs vs. DET

Springs is getting his first shot as a starter in MLB, and the lefty brings real intrigue with 109/24 K/BB in 82 innings since 2020. Detroit’s offensive struggles give him another chance to shine.

Wednesday, May 18: Vince Velasquez @ KC

The White Sox might be the team to finally unlock Velasquez’s potential, as he has a sub-4.00 ERA through five starts and has been excellent in his last two outings. KC is easily his easiest opponent so far, averaging just over three runs per game.

National League

Tuesday, May 17: Tyler Anderson @ ARI

Arizona has been one of baseball’s worst offenses, especially vs. lefties (.614 OPS). Anderson is coming off a poor start against Philly, but should be able to bounce back with his glistening peripherals.

Tuesday, May 17: JT Brubaker @ CHC

Brubaker has continued to show inconsistency. The good news is that he still has more than one strikeout per inning, and is coming off back-to-back strong outings. Not surprisingly, the Cubs are in the bottom half of the league against right-handed pitching.

Wednesday, May 18: Drew Smyly vs. PIT

Smyly is getting the job done so far this season with exemplary control (five walks in 23.2 innings), now carrying a 3.04 ERA. He’s struggled to pitch deep into games, but the futile Pirates lineup should be up some help. It will be his third time facing them already, as he’s allowed four runs in 10 innings so far.

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Total Games

American League

5: CLE,

6: DET, LAA, MIN, OAK, TB, TOR

7: BAL, BOS, HOU, NYY, SEA, TEX

8: CHW, KC

National League

5: CIN

6: ATL, COL, MIA, MIL, PHI, PIT, SD, SF, WAS

7: CHC, LAD, NYM, STL

8: ARI

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.

Ronald Acuña: Day-to-day (groin)

Matt Beaty: Placed on IL (shoulder)

Alcides Escobar: Day-to-day (finger)

David Fletcher: Out 2-4 months (hip)

Wilmer Flores: Day-to-day (back)

Mitch Garver: Out indefinitely (forearm)

Nico Hoerner: Day-to-day (ankle)

Carson Kelly: Placed on IL (abdomen)

Clayton Kershaw: Placed on IL (pelvis)

Trevor Larnach: Placed on IL (groin)

Nick Madrigal: Placed on IL (back)

Manuel Margot: Day-to-day (hamstring)

James McCann: Day-to-day (wrist)

Jake McGee: Placed on IL (back)

Ryan Mountcastle: Day-to-day (wrist)

Tom Murphy: Placed on IL (shoulder)

Josh Naylor: Placed on IL (COVID-19)

Edward Olivares: Out at least six weeks (quad)

Jeremy Pena: Day-to-day (knee)

Roberto Perez: Out at least two months (hamstring)

Stephen Piscotty: Placed on IL (calf)

David Robertson: Placed on IL (COVID-19)

Brendan Rodgers: Day-to-day (hand)

Lucas Sims: Out indefinitely (back)

Max Stassi: Placed on IL (COVID-19)

Marcus Stroman: Placed on IL (COVID-19)

Seiya Suzuki: Day-to-day (ankle)

Ramon Urias: Day-to-day (abdomen)

Michael Wacha: Placed on IL (intercostal)

Joey Wendle: Placed on IL (hamstring)