Your New Seasonal and DFS Strategy Guide for the Upcoming Week
Hello, class. I am your new weekly Fantasy Baseball teacher and we’re going to shake it up. If you’ve read my work over the past five years, you should know I go against the grain. If you’re new, well, welcome to the party, one that is brought to you by the number five. We also pepper in some DFS recommendations with the seasonal angles.
Five Two-Start Pitchers to Believe In
Rick Porcello, Red Sox (@Angels, Monday; @A’s, Sunday): Thursday’s two-hit gem against the Yankees is a clear sign we’re seeing the Porcello of 2016. All you need to know is that his ground ball rate — a career-low 39.2 percent last season — is sitting at 51.8 percent in his first three starts. Gotta love him on Monday considering the Angels have hit just .232 in the past three seasons against Porcello, who also goes for $8,100 at DraftKings.
Rick Porcello reminds me of Braves great Tim Hudson. Gritty, pitches to spots, doesn’t look for Ks but outs. Good in the field. When Porcello is on, he’s awesome to watch. I’m expecting a very dirty hat this season.
— David Little (@DLittleMLB) April 13, 2018
Trevor Williams, Pirates (vs. Rockies, Tuesday; @Phillies, Sunday): I’m not a fan of his 5.19 K/9 rate but you can’t argue with his strong start. Colorado is hitting a composite .238 outside of Coors Field, a number that looks robust against Philly’s overall .221 batting average. At $6,200 at FanDuel, I’d play Williams while he’s still a bargain.
James Paxton, Mariners (vs. Astros, Monday; @Rangers, Saturday): Hell yes, I’m buying into a hurler who has struck out 30 percent of the batters he’s faced thus far. Righties have neutralized Houston’s right-handed hitters to the slash tune of .247/.332/.354 and account for 75.4 percent of the team’s strikeouts. A little pricey at FantasyDraft ($20,300), Paxton is still worth the play.
Zack Wheeler, Mets (vs. Nationals, Tuesday; @Braves, Sunday): It was against the Marlins would be a good way to excuse Wheeler’s solid 2018 debut on Wednesday, but I’m buying because the strikeout rate is consistent with his career numbers. Wheeler showed an average heater of 95 MPH along with more of a reliance toward his slider and changeup. Get in on Wheeler’s $6,200 sticker price at FanDuel.
Mike Foltynewicz, Braves (vs. Phillies, Monday, vs. Mets, Saturday): The high octane (95.5 MPH) is being complemented by an increased appearance from his change-up (11.3 percent compared to 5.6 percent last season). Foltynewicz is blowing away hitters at a 26.9 percent rate and if his 2.93 BB/9 rate holds true, there’s breakout potential. Folty is definitely worth the $6,600 investment at DraftKings.
Five Waiver Wire Options Just Waiting to be Picked Up
Keynan Middleton, P, Angels: This kid throws a level of flame (96.8 MPH) that would make Heat Miser blush in awe. Middleton rocketed from 15 percent ownership in CBSSports.com leagues to his current 39 percent as he is now the closer of choice for a team that has the third-best winning percent in baseball. He’s probably the one closer on the waiver wire who has legitimate 30-save potential, so I’d nab him now.
Dansby Swanson, SS, Braves: A rise in line drive and fly ball percentage has been the key to his strong start and why Swanson is now owned in 61 percent of CBSSports.com leagues. It also stands to reason that he’d develop more pop in his bat, evidenced by his .940 OPS. While I won’t buy him swinging it at that rate, Swanson is looking like he can offer double-digit home runs and could steal 10-15 bases if the Braves gave him the green light more often.
Colin Moran, 3B, Pirates: He’s a gem in leagues that use OBP as a category. Moran’s ability to reach base has been a strong suit throughout his professional career so far and while he may lack ideal pop for the hot corner, Moran has emerged as a line drive machine that is now owned in 43 percent of CBSSports.com leagues. As for his current lack of pop, you have to believe a 6’4, 205-pounder is going to eventually start launching them out of PNC Park at a more frequent rate.
Jarlin Garcia, P, Marlins: Six innings of no-hit ball makes for a heck of a first big league start, which is why Garcia is a deep league waiver flier worth taking. Obviously, there’s not a lot of Fantasy gold in Miami yet Garcia, owned in 10 percent of CBSSports.com leagues, is an exception. He’s not much on whiffs but Garcia is a groundball specialist (57.5 percent) who might be able to steal a few wins as he develops into a starter.
Joey Lucchesi, P, Padres: Ranked ninth in the Pads’ farm system, Lucchesi has been impressive in his first three major league starts, sporting a 1.72 ERA while striking out 16 batters in 15.2 innings. He’s seen his CBSSports.com ownership quadrupple from 11 percent to 47 percent in the process. Lucchesi’s K/9 rates and solid BB/9 rates are encouraging and when you add the fact he pitches half the time at Petco Park, there’s a strong chance he can emerge as a reliable option in most leagues.
The Minors Are Coming! The Minors Are Coming!
Nick Senzel, 3B, Reds: With Eugenio Suarez out with a broken thumb and his move back to third at Triple-A Louisville, rumors of MLB.com’s seventh-rated prospect making his big league debut are heating up. Senzel is off to a slow start at the plate, but I’d keep an eye on him as I sense the Reds have little reason not to pull the trigger and plug in the potential cornerstone of the franchise in the near future.
Swinging It DFS Style
Giancarlo Stanton, DH, Yankees ($4,700/FanDuel): I love him at home against his former employer, the Marlins, Monday and Tuesday. Stanton entered the weekend with three multi-hit games in his last six and is still slugging .500 despite a .241 batting average. He’s due for a monster run.
Kyle Schwarber, OF, Cubs ($4,900/DraftKings): Only the Reds (21) have allowed more homers than the 18 dingers allowed by the Rockies, who will have to contend with Schwarber Friday-Sunday. He’s off to a good start, one that could be enhanced by a weekend at Coors Field.
Matt Chapman, 3B, A’s ($7,700/FantasyDraft): He won’t stop hitting, so there’s no reason not to play Chapman, who had six multi-hit games in his last nine starts entering the weekend. Next week opens with three games at home against a hitter-friendly White Sox staff (4.92 ERA) before the Red Sox arrive for the weekend. I’d definitely find room for Chapman early in the week.
Under the Radar
Leonys Martin, OF, Tigers: A pair of three-hit games helped move his batting average from .217 to .295 entering the weekend. Martin’s .380 OBP and status atop the Detroit lineup makes him an interesting play. He still has enough speed to offer hopes of him returning to the form that saw him steal a combined 95 bases with the Rangers and Mariners between 2013-2016.
Albert Pujols, DH, Angels: It feels almost like Fantasy Baseball blasphemy to place Pujols in this category, yet he’s recently looked more like the future first-ballot Hall of Famer rather than the free-swinger he has been the past couple of seasons. Pujols still has a paltry .297 OBP but had five multi-hit games over his last 10 starts to boost his batting average to .274. He’s streaky, yet this feels like a good time to roll with Pujols.