Week Ahead: Baseball is Back! – The Week Ahead

Friday, July 20, 2018

Baseball is back! Welcome to the second half!


As we look toward the last 2.5 months of the regular season, it’s a good time to take inventory of what’s on your roster and ways you can improve. As with MLB organizations, one of the ways of doing that is via trade.


Here are some pitchers worth noting for the drastic differences in their first vs. second half performances for their careers. While looking at this year’s trends should be more important for evaluating this year’s second half performance, these numbers are at least worth noting.


Top 10 Career 2nd Half ERA Improvement (min. 200 IP)



Player 1stH ERA 2ndH ERA Diff
Zach Davies 4.66 3.37 -1.29
Marcus Stroman 4.43 3.14 -1.29
Kevin Gausman 4.77 3.58 -1.19
Alex Cobb 4.34 3.16 -1.18
Chad Bettis 5.51 4.40 -1.11
Matt Moore 4.93 3.84 -1.09
Tanner Roark 4.05 2.98 -1.07
Drew Smyly 4.12 3.17 -0.95
Marco Estrada 4.49 3.57 -0.92
Kyle Hendricks 3.52 2.65 -0.87



Top 10 Career 2nd Half ERA Decline (min. 200 IP)

Player 1stH ERA 2ndH ERA Diff
Jordan Lyles 4.74 6.22 1.48
Tyler Chatwood 3.97 5.26 1.29
Trevor Bauer 3.64 4.66 1.02
Robbie Ray 3.80 4.66 0.86
Jason Vargas 3.95 4.81 0.86
Jason Hammel 4.29 5.12 0.83
Jordan Zimmermann 3.47 4.30 0.83
Mike Leake 3.72 4.50 0.78
Kyle Gibson 4.19 4.97 0.78
Dallas Keuchel 3.37 4.13 0.76


-Maybe the Orioles finally have reason to be optimistic with Kevin Gausman and Alex Cobb on the list, though keep in mind their first half ERAs have also been inflated by 2018 stats. That said, Gausman has seen drastic second half ERA improvement over the last two seasons. As for Cobb, he’s shown the best velocity of his career this season, and things could hardly get any worse, right?


-Even since returning from a DL stint, Stroman’s results have been up and down for the Jays. Fantasy owners have been burned by his 5.86 ERA in only 12 starts during the first half, but his elite 61 percent groundball rate and 4.33 FIP is still reason for optimism about a bounce back in the second half.


Tanner Roark was chugging along in the first half until mid-June. Over his last six starts, Roark’s ERA has gone from 3.63 to 4.87. That’s certainly reason to worry, in conjunction with his mediocre 4.50 FIP. Hopefully, the All-Star break has given Roark an opportunity to regroup and eventually continue his career second half improvement trend.


-Did you really need another reason to cut bait on Tyler Chatwood? He leads MLB with 73 walks in only 84 innings, and his ERA went above 5.00 just before the break. He seems likely to lose his rotation spot when Yu Darvish returns, or the Cubs could even add a starter earlier via trade.


Trevor Bauer finds himself on the bad list, but his current 2.24 ERA is actually higher than his FIP. The league-best 0.4 HR/9 is probably unsustainable, especially considering his career 1.0 rate, but I don’t see his career second half struggles as enough reason to be worried.


Robbie Ray owners might want to curb their enthusiasm regarding a second half rebound. The lefty had an injury-plagued first half with an ERA above 5.00, and lost velocity at the start of the year. His 4.61 FIP, as a result of an awful 1.9 HR/9 and 5.0 BB/9, is a concern.


Other Notes for the Week Ahead:


Corey Kluber is returning from a right knee injection, which was hopefully the culprit for a couple rough starts at the end of the first half. The defending AL Cy Young winner still has a sub-3.00 ERA and the best K/BB and BB/9 of his career, but his FIP is more than a half run higher than his ERA due in large part to a 1.3 HR/9. That’s certainly worth watching.


Blake Snell has the sixth worst differential in ERA vs. FIP in the first half (2.27 to 3.41). Coming into the year, most fantasy owners would have probably been happy with the first half FIP number as his actual ERA. It’s still something to keep in mind, as Snell’s control has improved this year but not as much as you’d think by looking at the ERA (3.6 BB/9 compared to 4.1 BB/9 last year).


Jaime Barria has been a revelation for fantasy owners during the first half, but is also on the bad FIP list. His FIP currently stands at 4.83, 1.28 points higher than his current ERA. The 21-year-old has a bright future, but we should temper expectations this year with his mediocre 7.1 K/9 and 1.5 HR/9. His .270 BABIP shows plenty of first half luck.


-The Yankees have inquired about Zack Wheeler’s availability, according to Marc Carig of The Athletic. That seems curious given his mediocre 4.44 ERA, but Wheeler has a solid 3.73 FIP and has shown career-best velocity this season, averaging nearly 96 mph on his fastball. Still available in some mixed leagues, now would be the time to buy.




Note: Probable pitchers as of Friday, July 20, and are subject to change.


American League


Strong Plays


Luis Severino: @TB, KC

Cory Kluber: PIT, @DET

Jose Berrios: @TOR, @BOS

Blake Snell: NYY, @BAL


Decent Plays


Rick Porcello: @BAL, MIN

CC Sabathia: @TB, KC

Jaime Barria: CHW, SEA

Carlos Rodon: @LAA, TOR

Kevin Gausman: BOS, TB


At Your Own Risk


Mike Minor: OAK, @HOU

Marco Estrada: MIN, @CHW

Drew Pomeranz: @BAL, MIN

Daniel Mengden: @TEX, @COL

Brett Anderson: @TEX, @COL

Francisco Liriano: @KC, CLE

Yefry Ramirez: BOS, TB

Felix Pena: CHW, SEA

Yovani Gallardo: OAK, @HOU

Lucas Giolito: @LAA, TOR

Burch Smith: DET, @NYY



National League


Strong Plays


Ross Stripling: @PHI, @ATL

Aaron Nola: LAD, @CIN


Decent Plays


Patrick Corbin: @CHC, @SD

Joey Lucchesi: @NYM, ARI

Julio Teheran: @MIA, LAD

Joe Musgrove: @CLE, NYM

Jeremy Hellickson: @MIL, @MIA

Zach Eflin: LAD, @CIN

Jhoulys Chacin: WAS, @SF

Kyle Hendricks: ARI, @STL

Zack Wheeler: SD, @PIT


At Your Own Risk


Jose Urena: ATL, WAS

Trevor Williams: @CLE, NYM

Luis Castillo: STL, PHI

Tanner Roark: @MIL, @MIA

Sal Romano: STL, PHI

Corey Oswalt: SD, @PIT



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


American League


Tuesday, July 24: Jordan Zimmermann @ KC

The Royals have a .666 OPS vs. right-handers, worst in the AL, and Zimmermann has quietly pitched well since returning from injury in June. Over his last five starts, he has a 2.56 ERA and outstanding 29/2 K/BB in 31.2 innings.


Tuesday, July 24: Ryan Borucki vs. MIN

Borucki finally came down to Earth in his last start at Boston, but Minnesota presents a better play. The Twins are just 20th in OPS vs. lefties this season.


Friday, July 27: Wade LeBlanc @ LAA

The Angels aren’t faring well vs. lefties this season, with a .676 OPS, third worst in the AL. LeBlanc has been up and down lately, but this is a favorable matchup.


National League


Tuesday, July 24: Eric Lauer @ NYM

The Mets remain dead last in hitting vs. lefties by a wide margin. Lauer is coming off a terrible start vs. the Cubs, but in his previous eight starts he was getting on track with a 2.33 ERA and 36/16 K/BB in 46.1 innings.


Tuesday, July 24: Corey Oswalt vs. SD

Should you spot start pitchers head-to-head? With the matchups of Lauer and Oswalt, it makes sense. Lauer’s counterpart has struggled in the majors so far over 22.1 innings, but the Padres are the worst hitting team in baseball vs. right-handers with a .653 OPS.


Wednesday, July 25: Clayton Richard @ NYM

The Mets will actually have to face lefties back-to-back-to-back with Joey Lucchesi, Lauer, and Richard. Since May 8, Richard has allowed more than three earned runs only three times in 13 starts and has a 3.65 ERA overall.




American League






National League


5: COL





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.


Francisco Cervelli: Placed on DL (concussion)

Junior Guerra: Placed on DL (forearm)

Lourdes Gurriel: Placed on DL (concussion)

Josh Harrison: Day-to-day (hamstring)

Corey Kluber: Will return on Monday (knee)

Francisco Liriano: Left last start (back)

Evan Longoria: Could return next week (hand)

Brandon Morrow: Placed on DL (biceps)

James Paxton: Will return on Tuesday (back)

Kevin Pillar: Placed on DL (shoulder)

Albert Pujols: Could return on Monday (knee)

Wilson Ramos: Placed on DL (hamstring)

Eduardo Rodriguez: Out indefinitely (ankle)

Jeff Samardzija: Out indefinitely (shoulder)

Gary Sanchez: Will return on Friday

Scott Schebler: Placed on DL (shoulder)

Eric Thames: Placed on DL (hamstring)

Jonathan Villar: Placed on DL (thumb)

Arodys Vizcaino: Placed on DL (shoulder)

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