The Rays continue to surprise as one of baseball’s top teams in 2019. The key to their success has been run prevention, not only from expected starters Blake Snell and Charlie Morton, but also some unsung heroes. Yonny Chirinos has been one of their biggest surprises.
After an up and down rookie season in 2018, Chirinos has pitched at an ace level this year. Only eight of his 14 appearances have been official starts, but the right-hander is averaging more than five innings per appearance with an elite 2.88 ERA and 0.93 WHIP. He’s done it with outstanding control, posting a 1.7 BB/9 that is nearly a full walk better than last season and nearly on par with his 1.5 BB/9 from his minor league career.
The Rays had Chirinos follow their opener in three consecutive appearances during May, but he’s now made four straight turns in the rotation. During his current streak of starts, Chirinos has a 2.22 ERA and 27/6 K/BB in 24.1 innings.
For all Chirinos’ recent success, there is some reason to temper expectations. His BABIP is .226, 62 points lower than last season and extremely unlikely to be sustained through the remainder of the season. The ERA metrics (4.05 FIP, 4.04 xFIP, 4.07 SIERA) tell a similar story of a pitcher who is overachieving, especially considering Chirinos’ mediocre 1.3 HR/9.
In other words, it’s not the worst time to sell high if you can find an owner willing to pay for the early performance. Still, there are a few pitchers in the game with better control, and the numbers over what’s now 164.2 MLB innings (3.22 ERA, 3.75 FIP, 1.09 WHIP) should convince even the biggest skeptics that Chirinos has fantasy value in all leagues.
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-Lance Lynn might look curious as a “strong play” next week with a 4.40 ERA, but few pitchers have been more impressive over the last month. Since May 10, Lynn is 3-2 with a 3.18 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and incredible 57/8 K/BB in 45.1 innings. Overall, Lynn’s 3.03 FIP and .349 BABIP show a pitcher that has been extremely unlucky, and that luck should continue to even out. As noted recently, Lynn has mixed his pitches better during his current streak, and the results are showing. You still might have a chance to buy low on Lynn and trade for him from an owner who hasn’t been paying attention recently.
-One of this year’s biggest busts has been Cardinals starter Miles Mikolas, whose ERA is a full two runs higher than last season. The numbers below show his biggest issue:
Mikolas does have a slightly worse BABIP and walk rate, but his flyballs are flying out of the park more than twice as often despite a nearly identical flyball rate as last year. The league average home run per flyball is about right in between what Mikolas produced last season and what he’s done so far this year. That provides reason to project Mikolas as a sub-4.00 ERA pitcher the rest of the way, though that doesn’t exactly make him a shoo-in for positive value in shallow (12 teams or fewer) mixed leagues given the continued lack of strikeouts. Next week’s relatively easy matchups vs. Miami and a DH-less Angels squad could help him get on track.
-We continue to hear Marcus Stroman’s name mentioned in trade rumors. Given his extreme 57.5 groundball rate and 59.7 percent career rate, fantasy owners have reason to pay attention to the potential trade partners. Toronto has been near the bottom of the league in groundball defensive efficiency, but it also should be noted that Stroman’s BABIP is almost 40 points lower at the Rogers Centre than on the road during his career thanks to the groundball-swallowing turf. That makes the prospect of a trade seem detrimental, but pitching-needy contenders like the Cardinals, Cubs, Astros, Red Sox, and Indians would represent defensive upgrades.
-If you’ve been patient with Twins starter Michael Pineda, that patience is finally starting to pay off. Returning from elbow and knee surgeries this season, Pineda’s velocity has been down significantly compared to what he showed in recent seasons with the Yankees. However, since a brief IL stint to rest his knee, Pineda’s velocity has bounced back in two starts (94.0 mph average fastball) and he hasn’t allowed a home run in those starts. He had an atrocious 2.1 HR/9 before going on the IL, pushing his ERA to 5.34, but the results are headed in the right direction after his break. Pineda has also been a WHIP asset this year (1.21) as a result of his elite 1.7 BB/9. There’s some risk ahead in a two-start week that includes the Red Sox lineup, but Pineda is looking like a more interesting play the rest of the way if he can maintain this velocity.
Note: Probable pitchers as of Friday, June 14, and are subject to change.
Brad Peacock: @CIN, @NYY
Mike Clevinger: @TEX, DET
David Price: @MIN, TOR
James Paxton: TB, HOU
Yonny Chirinos: @NYY, @OAK
Marcus Stroman: LAA, @BOS
Rick Porcello: @MIN, TOR
Tyler Skaggs: @TOR, @STL
Adrian Sampson: CLE, CHW
Zach Plesac: @TEX, DET
Michael Pineda: BOS, @KC
J.A. Happ: TB, HOU
Daniel Norris: @PIT, @CLE
Danny Duffy: @SEA, MIN
Felix Pena: @TOR, @STL
Brett Anderson: BAL, TB
At Your Own Risk
Patrick Corbin: PHI, ATL
Kenta Maeda: SF, COL
Zach Eflin: @WAS, MIA
Jack Flaherty: MIA, LAA
Brandon Woodruff: @SD, CIN
Miles Mikolas: MIA, LAA
Anthony DeSclafani: HOU, @MIL
Erick Fedde: PHI, ATL
Jake Arrieta: @WAS, MIA
Jason Vargas: @ATL, @CHC
Shaun Anderson: @LAD, @ARI
At Your Own Risk
The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:
Wednesday, June 19: Marco Gonzales vs. KC
Gonzales was dropped in many shallow leagues in the disaster that was last week, but he already got back on track against the Angels and faces a Royals team that has a .663 OPS against lefties.
Friday, June 21: Mike Leake vs. BAL
Leake is helping his trade value with three consecutive quality starts and faces an easy opponent next week, as the O’s have the fifth worst OPS against right-handers (.694).
Friday, June 21: Ariel Jurado vs. CHW
It’s not too late to jump on the Jurado train in most shallow leagues. He has a 3.02 ERA and faces a weak White Sox lineup next week (.711 OPS vs. right-handers).
Wednesday, June 19: Daniel Ponce de Leon vs. MIA
Ponce de Leon is a little wild, but has a great opportunity against the worst lineup in the bigs (.650 OPS vs. right-handers).
Friday, June 21: Taylor Clarke vs. SF
Usually a very risky play, Clarke notched a quality start at San Francisco on May 25 and will get another chance facing MLB’s third worst hitting team vs. right-handers (.666 OPS).
Friday, June 21: Eric Lauer @ PIT
Lefties have been Pittsburgh’s kryptonite, as the Pirates have just a .654 OPS against southpaws. Lauer has a 2.03 ERA over his last five starts and will get a chance to feast on the Pirates.
5: CHW, DET
7: BAL, CLE, HOU, KC, LAA, MIN, NYY, OAK, SEA, TB, TEX, TOR
6: ARI, ATL, CHC, COL, SD
7: CIN, LAD, MIA, MIL, NYM, PHI, SF, STL, WAS
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.
Matt Adams: Day-to-day (oblique)
Alex Avila: Status unknown (calf)
Trevor Cahill: Placed on IL (elbow)
Andrew Cashner: Will miss start (blister)
Dylan Covey: Placed on IL (shoulder)
Jon Duplantier: Placed on IL (shoulder)
Carl Edwards Jr.: Placed on IL (shoulder)
Nick Hundley: Placed on IL (back)
Kevin Gausman: Placed on IL (foot)
Domingo German: Placed on IL (hip)
Ken Giles: Placed on IL (elbow)
Alex Gordon: Day-to-day (back)
Jason Kipnis: Day-to-day (hip)
Jordan Lyles: Placed on IL (hamstring)
Yoan Moncada: Day-to-day (back)
Kendrys Morales: Placed on IL (calf)
Mitch Moreland: Placed on IL (quadriceps)
Martin Prado: Placed on IL (hamstring)
Corey Seager: Out 3-4 weeks (hamstring)
Jose Urena: Placed on IL (back)
Joey Votto: Day-to-day (back)
Adam Wainwright: Placed on IL (hamstring)