Fantasy Baseball

2017 Fantasy Baseball Week 8 Pitching Planner: Black Hole Sun

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Black hole sun, won’t you come

And wash away the rain

Black hole sun, won’t you come

Won’t you come

— ‘Black Hole Sun’, Soundgarden

Chris Cornell was the truth.

Yes, I say ‘was’ – Cornell left us at age 52 this week. It’s been a tough one for me to swallow, as I grew up on his array of bands from Temple of the Dog, Soundgarden, and Audioslave. Cornell, with his expertly crafted lyrics to go along with his incredible voice that no adjective would do justice, just had a way of getting to me. If you are like me, when you sang lyrics to his song, you tried (likely unsuccessfully) to match the varying tones – you felt what he was feeling in that moment.

Hell, he even wrote a song about a legendary baseball player who had a bit of a potty mouth (NSFW). That’s right up my alley!

Anyway, I knew I had to incorporate this into my weekly article where I use music as a title. Normally, I save the songs I really like the lyrics and melody to in a playlist to filter between later. I did my this routine for Cornell’s playlist and when I went to narrow down my options for the topic, it didn’t surprise me to see 57 potential song titles to go through. Sigh, this is gonna take awhile.

However, the first song I looked at alphabetically was arguably Cornell’s biggest success in the mainstream scene: ‘Black Hole Sun’. I always thought this was a song about someone battling a drug addiction, but Cornell claims otherwise:

“It’s funny because hits are usually sort of congruent, sort of an identifiable lyric idea, and that song pretty much had none. The chorus lyric is kind of beautiful and easy to remember. Other than that, I sure didn’t have an understanding of it after I wrote it. I was just sucked in by the music and I was painting a picture with the lyrics. There was no real idea to get across.”

When I did the podcast with fellow F6P writer Joe Bond the other night, we got to talking about buy low and sell high candidates. To connect this thought with Cornell’s quote, you could view a pitcher’s ERA/WHIP as the chorus – ‘kind of beautiful and easy to remember’.  However, some people ‘don’t have a real understanding of it’ outside of that.

I dug into the statistics and tried to figure out why these guys were having (or not having) success. At the end of it, there actually were four or five statistics that I honed in on to evaluate belief in a pitcher. I plotted ERA+WHIP z-scores against FIP+xFIP+LOB%+BABIP+Statcast z-scores. I also looked at changes in batted ball data and pitch mix.

Just as the phrase ‘black hole sun’ is a conundrum, I found several conundrums and highlighted each of the players that intrigued me the most below. Enjoy!


I know, this was a pretty long introduction. Nonetheless, I wanted to say my piece on the great Chris Cornell before the moment had passed. In addition to asking me questions regarding streaming pitchers this week, feel free to vent about Cornell’s work. Tell me your favorite song, no matter the band (or even some of his amazing solo work)!

2017 Fantasy Baseball Week 8 Pitching Planner

Auto-Start

The Auto-Start tier strictly includes pitchers that should be started every week regardless of league size and matchup.

PlayerTeamOpp1Opp2
Clayton KershawDodgersSTL
Stephen StrasburgNationalsSD
Chris SaleRed SoxTEX
Max ScherzerNationalsSEA
Gerrit ColePirates@ATLNYM
Johnny CuetoGiants@CHCATL
Zack GreinkeDiamondbacksCWS@MIL
Carlos CarrascoIndians@CINKC
Jacob deGromMetsSD
Yu DarvishRangers@TOR
Jake ArrietaCubsSF
Chris ArcherRays@MIN
Dallas KeuchelAstrosDETBAL
Justin VerlanderTigers@HOU
Jon LesterCubsSF@LAD
Marcus StromanBlue Jays@MIL

Promoted

  • No one achieved a promotion this week. However, there a couple of guys from the Auto-Stream section on the brink.

Relegated

  • After two bad starts, I’m moving Rick Porcello down a tier. Now, do I think he lasts long there? Nah. The K-BB% is a career best, he just needs to figure out how to induce that weak contact again. Statcast says he is allowing the 15th worst average exit velocity (min. 100 batted ball events) after a stellar season in that department in 2016.

Auto-Stream

This tier consists of pitchers who don’t quite reach the trust level of the Auto-Starts. However, due to matchup or recent performance, they are capable of having elite level production in a given week.

PlayerTeamOpp1Opp2
Lance McCullersAstrosDETBAL
Michael PinedaYankeesKCOAK
Rick PorcelloRed SoxTEXSEA
Danny SalazarIndiansKC
Kyle HendricksCubsSF@LAD
Michael FulmerTigers@HOU@CWS
Masahiro TanakaYankeesKC
Marco EstradaBlue JaysTEX
Danny DuffyRoyals@NYY@CLE
Jose QuintanaWhite Sox@ARI
Carlos MartinezCardinals@COL

Notables

  • How does a guy with a 33% K-rate have such a horrible time getting outs the other 67% of the time? Ask Danny Salazar and his lack of control. However, a 0.383 BABIP would be historically bad, especially lined up next to his career mark of 0.309. Better days ahead!
  • What has most fantasy owners scratching their head about Danny Duffy is the 9% strikeout rate differential between 2016 and 2017. However, maybe we shouldn’t be so shocked. In 2014-2015, he had a 18% K-rate over 286 IP. Perhaps it’s just a pitch mix issue (crazy changes over the last three years in changeup usage). Whatever it is, it’s scaring me for his value going forward and this could be a rough week for D^2.

Dream Stream

The Dream Stream group more closely reflects the pitchers that you might find on the waiver wire depending on league size.

PlayerTeamOpp1Opp2
Luis SeverinoYankeesKC
Ivan NovaPirates@ATL
Taijuan WalkerDiamondbacksCWS
Jordan MontgomeryYankeesKCOAK
Drew PomeranzRed SoxTEX
Sonny GrayAthleticsMIA
Jesse HahnAthleticsMIA
Tanner RoarkNationalsSEASD
Aaron SanchezBlue JaysTEX
Zack WheelerMets@PIT
Julio TeheranBravesPIT@SF
Ervin SantanaTwins@BALTB
Mike FoltynewiczBravesPIT@SF
Alex WoodDodgersCHC
David PriceRed SoxSEA
Brandon McCarthyDodgersCHC
Zack GodleyDiamondbacks@MIL
Julio UriasDodgersCHC
Robbie RayDiamondbacks@MIL
Dylan BundyOriolesMIN
Aaron NolaPhilliesCIN
Patrick CorbinDiamondbacksCWS@MIL
Alex CobbRaysLAA@MIN
Eduardo RodriguezRed SoxSEA
Jake OdorizziRaysLAA@MIN
Matt AndrieseRaysLAA
Matt ShoemakerAngels@TB@MIA
Andrew TriggsAthletics@NYY
Charlie MortonAstrosDET
Mike LeakeCardinals@LAD
Michael WachaCardinals@LAD
JC RamirezAngels@TB@MIA
Edinson VolquezMarlins@OAK
Eddie ButlerCubsSF
Jose BerriosTwins@BAL
Jason VargasRoyals@NYY@CLE
Joe BiaginiBlue Jays@MIL
Rich HillDodgersSTL
Gio GonzalezNationalsSEA
Jesse ChavezAngels@MIA
Dan StrailyMarlinsLAA
Erasmo RamirezRaysLAA
Nathan KarnsRoyals@NYY
Ian KennedyRoyals@NYY
Lance LynnCardinals@LAD@COL
Matt CainGiantsATL
A.J. GriffinRangers@TOR
Matt GarzaBrewersTORARI

Notables

  • The biggest issue for Sonny Gray has been striking guys out. The conundrum here is that batters are making contact on 70% of balls thrown out of the zone by Gray according to PITCHf/x on FanGraphs. That’s 10% higher than his career mark, which is remarkable. I think that turns in Gray’s favor going forward and he gets that K/9 closer to his career average.
  • As of this writing, I am optimistic that David Price will return this week. If he throws, he goes. He will likely move up these tiers pretty quickly.
  • The biggest conundrum behind the success of Dylan Bundy is that opposing offenses have him figured out. The line drive rate has gone up along with the hard hit rate against Bundy. Where is this success coming from without the ability to strike batters out? A 0.253 BABIP is a good place to start.
  • What do Lance Lynn and Gio Gonzalez have in common this year? Well, despite their high HR/9 allowed, they both have a sub-2.80 ERA. How is this possible? Left-on base percentage, fam. (Can I say fam? I think I ruined the moment by pointing it out.) Lynn’s is at 84.8% while Gio’s is at an astonishing 91.4%. League average ranges from 72-75%, which is right where the career LOB% falls for these guys. Now THAT is the definition of a conundrum.
  • Welcome back to the rotation, Erasmo Ramirez! He should be a nice plug-in-play against the fighting Mike Trout’s this week.
  • The Braves offense is so bad without Freddie Freeman AKA MVFree. Crowd: How bad is it! The Braves offense is so bad that I’m streaming Matt Cain against them.

Buyer Beware

These pitchers are better left on your bench for the week if not the waiver wire. Guys closer to the top could be on the brink of being promoted in the right matchup or with a continued hot streak. If a player is not listed in any tiers, that should be the cue to drop said player.

PlayerTeamOpp1Opp2
Jeff SamardzijaGiants@CHC
Matt HarveyMetsSD@PIT
Zach DaviesBrewersTOR
Kendall GravemanAthletics@NYY
Sean ManaeaAthletics@NYY
James ShieldsWhite SoxDET
Chase AndersonBrewersARI
Joe MusgroveAstrosBAL
Jerad EickhoffPhilliesCOLCIN
Jimmy NelsonBrewersARI
Luis PerdomoPadres@WSH
Mike ClevingerIndiansCIN
Jacob TurnerNationalsSD
R.A. DickeyBravesPIT
Miguel GonzalezWhite Sox@ARIDET
Hyun-Jin RyuDodgersSTL
Antonio SenzatelaRockies@PHI
Scott FeldmanRedsCLE@PHI
Chris TillmanOriolesMIN
John LackeyCubs@LAD
Amir GarrettRedsCLE@PHI
Ty BlachGiants@CHCATL
Jhoulys ChacinPadres@NYM@WSH
Josh TomlinIndians@CINKC
Jose UrenaMarlins@OAK
Jarred CosartPadres@NYM
Jaime GarciaBraves@SF
German MarquezRockies@PHISTL
Tim AdlemanReds@CLE
Ricky NolascoAngels@TB
Vince VelasquezPhilliesCOL
Derek HollandWhite SoxDET
Jeremy HellicksonPhilliesCOL
Justin NicolinoMarlinsLAA
Zack EflinPhilliesCOLCIN
Daniel NorrisTigers@HOU
Hector SantiagoTwins@BAL
Clayton RichardPadres@WSH
Andrew CashnerRangers@BOS@TOR
Christian BergmanMariners@WSH@BOS
Kyle FreelandRockiesSTL
Ariel MirandaMariners@BOS
Yovani GallardoMariners@BOS
Wade MileyOrioles@HOU
Martin PerezRangers@BOS

Notables

  • If Jeff Samardzija is dropped in your 12-team league, go scoop him up as a speculative add. The peripheral run ratios love him (FIP, xFIP, SIERA). Statcast loves him less but still shows affection (average exit velo, barrels per batted ball event). The baseball gods and ERA hates him. Shark-man is a walking conundrum.
  • If you have read everything prior to this point, you know I don’t buy James Shields one bit over his first 16.2 IP. Every single statistic of his is fishy: BABIP, LOB%, HR/9, BB/9, etc. Don’t fall for him returning to pre-2016 form so quickly.
  • On the other hand, Luis Perdomo becomes very interesting as a waiver wire add. I’m sorry that I did not include him in last week’s article – I didn’t buy that he suddenly turned into a beast after an awful 2016. However, with a concerted effort to change his pitch mix to favor his nice curveball, I now have a reason to follow him. Not starting him against a nasty Nats offense, but I’m curious about him moving forward.
  • If you have the stones, stream Jacob Turner against the Padres. Hey, if Jimmy Nelson can dominate the Friars, anyone can.
  • I’m not on board the Marlins young pitcher train with Justin Nicolino and Jose Urena. These guys are just innings eaters for major league squads. They should not be allowed to eat up innings for your fantasy squad. Your innings are too delicious for them and you should let someone else eat them. What?
  • I’m actually interested in watching Christian Bergman log some innings for a depleted Mariners staff. We’ve seen in the past where Colorado pitchers leave the altitude for a new city and do much better. Keep an eye on him in deep leagues!

About Tyler Thompson

Follow me on Twitter at @therealwody. For all the latest news and best advice out there, like us on Facebook, Google+ and Instagram.

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