Fantasy Baseball

Fantasy Baseball: From the Mound

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By:  A. J. Applegarth

Into June we go, which means two things…there are officially two full months of baseball complete, and Extended Interleague Play starts this weekend!  So, without wasting too much time introducing this article, let’s talk Fantasy Pitchers!

Starting Pitching

Brian Matusz (SP – BAL) – Since breaking into the big leagues, there has always been a lot of hype built-up around Matusz, and based on his recent play, he seems to finally be living up to that hype.  Matusz has been very solid in six of his last seven starts, with the outlier being his May 7th start against the Texas Rangers in which Matusz got lit-up to the tune of 7 ER on 10 Hits.  During the other six games, Matusz has pitched against some solid offenses, including two games against Tampa Bay, and one game each against the Yankees and the Red Sox, all division rivals that Matusz will most likely see again later this year.  The other two games came against the Royals, who actually were able to rack-up 3 ER (twice) against Matusz, his highest ER total in any of those six games.  Matusz faces the Red Sox in Boston again on Thursday, and as long as Matusz gets some run support, and maintains his solid play, I fully anticipate another quality start with potential for a road win.  Matusz is owned in only 6.5% of leagues, so it’s highly likely that he’s available for tomorrow’s start if you’re looking.

Jerome Williams (SP – LAA) – Currently holding a solid 6-2 record, and a respectable 3.68 ERA and 1.30 WHIP, WIlliams has been another pleasant surprise so far this year.  Williams’s best outing was a complete game, 3-hit shutout, albeit, versus the lowly Minnesota Twins, but still impressive considering Williams is still a relative unknown surrounded by a group of potent starters out in Los Angeles.  There was a fairly high uptick in “adds” for Williams (up 15.7, but only sitting at 24.3% owned), which is probably related to the fact that Williams will take the mound for the Angels Wednesday.  If he’s still available in your leagues, he may not be for much longer.

Francisco Liriano (SP – MIN) – Speaking of the lowly Twins, Liriano has been one the few bright spots in Minnesota over his last two starts since being re-inserted back into the starting rotation.  In those starts, Liriano has only allowed 1 ER and has struck-out 17 batters.  Liriano got off to a very rough start to the season, and was eventually put in the bullpen.  Overall, he pitched pretty well out of the pen, so it only made sense to assume he would crack back into the rotation at some point sooner rather than later.  Liriano is currently owned in only 13.8% of leagues, and is now slated to start on Sunday against the Cubs in lieu of starting on Tuesday against the Phillies, so he may still be able to help you out this week.

Jarrod Parker (SP – OAK) – Parker may only have a 2-2 record, but he has only allowed more than 2 ER in a game once so far this season.  In his last outing, Parker took a no-hitter into the seventh, and finished out the game pitching eight scoreless innings of 1-hit ball against a very powerful Texas lineup.  Parker will pitch again later this week against the Arizona Diamondbacks, so it’s probably wise to expect a slightly less-effective outing since he’ll be pitching in the hitter-friendly Chase Field.  Like Matusz, Parker is currently owned in less than 10% of leagues (9.5%), and pitching in spacious O.co Coliseum for potentially half of his games is a nice bonus.

Relief Pitchers

Tom Wilhelmsen (RP – SEA) – Wilhelmson was able to notch his first career save on Monday, pitching 1.2 no-hit innings.  Brandon League has been “temporarily” removed from the closer role in Seattle, but it’s assumed he will eventually regain that role later this season.  Coming into this week, it looked as though Hisashi Iwakuma may be the go-to guy in the ninth inning after he notched two saves last week.  But, the first of those saves was an unconventional 3-inning save against Texas in the football-esque 21-8 blowout game, while the second save came while pitching in extra innings against the White Sox when no one else was available.  For now, the Seattle closer situation is still fairly up-in-the-air, but if you’re looking for some cheap saves, I’d go with Wilhelmsen over any of the other options.

Nate Jones (SP, RP – CWS) – Jones is a middle-reliever for the White Sox who is having a very nice year so far.  Jones has a 3-0 record along with very good ERA (1.61) and WHIP (1.07) stats.  The benefit of his SP, RP-eligibility allows you more flexibility if your league affords more roster space to “SP” players than just the standard “P” roster spots.  While most fantasy leagues are based on standard 5×5 category H2H setups, quality middle relievers can be pretty beneficial in Points leagues that highly reward players for IP, W, and HD’s.  

Another middle-reliever to consider:  Robbie Ross (SP, RP – TEX) – 5-0, 1.50 ERA, 1.00 WHIP

Sergio Romo (RP – SF) – Romo has temporarily taken over the closer role in San Fran for the injured Santiago Casilla, who remains DTD with leg issues.  Romo also injured his knee earlier on Wednesday, but was able to come on in the ninth and notch his third save in as many attempts over the past week.  Casilla should regain the closer role once healthy, but it should be noted that Romo is the current go-to guy until Casilla is cleared to pitch again.


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