Fantasy Baseball

2017 Fantasy Baseball Week 11 Pitching Planner: Carry the Zero


Found the pieces, we counted them all alone
Didn’t add up, forgot to carry a zero

— ‘Carry the Zero’, Built to Spill

I’m not sure about today’s Common Core way of teaching math (subtle jab at something I know nothing about), but I was taught to carry my numbers when adding big numbers as an elementary school student. To instill in our brains that it was a necessary evil, my meticulous math teacher made us write out what number we carried over.

Yes, even if it was a zero.

Sometimes, carrying the zero in life can be an effort in futility. Can you imagine how mad toddler-me was when I was trying to finish a test in time and I had to write out all this shit? Given the lyrics to this song, I would say that the artists that consist Built to Spill would agree with this notion. The narrator sings of a relationship that was effortful, yet without bearing happiness or fruit.

There are times where we can feel like this in the fantasy baseball world too, right? We use all of these statistics to explain why Player A is succeeding or why Player B is scheduled for a downfall. Then, when the same thing keeps repeating itself, we wonder why we use these statistics at all!

Don’t give up hope. Just keep searching until you find that method of madness that works for you. If peripheral statistics like FIP and xFIP aren’t working for you, look elsewhere – don’t harp on it. We have such a wealth of data that giving up is not an option.

If you keep carrying the zero, eventually they will start turning into positive integers.

To assist you in your quest to find that next big thing in predicting pitcher production, I present to you xStats. Now, some of you may be familiar with these already, but I wanted to point this out for those who aren’t. This could work for you or not, but giving it a shot to figure out is half the battle!

Some of the best baseball nerds in the game are innovating the way we use plate discipline data and other stats to come up with expected statistics for players. Don’t ignore them! As their R-squared numbers improve, so do their abilities to beat you in fantasy baseball. Don’t fall behind the curve. Luckily, they share their data on various websites.

I found xStats for the top 97 qualified pitchers and compared them to their actual stats. Using this differential, I found several pitchers to be strangely placed in the chart! I share these guys with you now in highlighting some over- and underachievers in a different color.


Before we start, let’s go over which xStats I will be using and how they are calculated:

  1. Expected wOBA (xOBA): This is calculated using Statcast data only. Launch angle and exit velocity are the two vital ingredients.
  2. Expected Strikeout Rate (xK%): Now, this is a little different than what I thought it would be. Baseball Reference’s pitching pitches data is the basis for calculation. Doing some scouring through the site, I can understand why now! Great stuff.
  3. Expected Walk Rate (xBB%): Similar to xK% calculations, just using different stats to achieve the end goal.

For more information, visit these two sites! If you want to see my xStats versus actual stats spreadsheet, let me know on Twitter and I will email you a copy.

2017 Fantasy Baseball Week 11 Pitching Planner


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

Max ScherzerNationalsATL@NYM
Stephen StrasburgNationalsATL@NYM
Clayton KershawDodgers@CLE
Chris SaleRed Sox@PHI
Yu DarvishRangers@HOUSEA
Lance McCullersAstrosTEX
James PaxtonMariners@TEX
Zack GreinkeDiamondbacks@DET
Carlos MartinezCardinals@BAL
Carlos CarrascoIndians@MIN
Chris ArcherRays@DET


  • Can I attempt to come up with a catchphrase for Carlos Martinez? There’s a car lot business back in Arkansas called Car-Mart. Their slogan: ‘Drive Easy’. I feel like this applies for C-Mart’s last month or so.
  • James Paxton is healthy again and needs to be auto-started. He’s turning into the 2016 version of Rich Hill – elite when healthy but not healthy often.


  • The above picture depicts Jacob deGrom watching an unidentified Brewers player scoring one of the 15 earned runs he has allowed over his last two starts. Who’s more frustrated: Mets fans or fantasy owners?
  • Gerrit Cole fell from grace almost as soon as he received it from this author. He’s allowed 4 earned runs or more in his last three starts as of this writing.
  • Honestly, Marcus Stroman didn’t do anything wrong in his recent starts. I just can’t support keeping a guy without strikeout upside in the top group. He’s a fantastic SP2 if you have high strikeout guys around him though.
  • I have left Jake Arrieta on this list hoping for a big bounce back. He’s bounced back to a degree, but the improvement has been too gradual for me. Out of this group, he’s the likely return candidate.
  • Inconsistency has been the name of the game for Johnny Cueto. I still don’t mind him as a SP1, but the current play of the rest of his team has to scare those in leagues where the win is important.


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.

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Michael PinedaYankees@LAA@OAK
Corey KluberIndiansLAD
Johnny CuetoGiantsKC
Jake ArrietaCubs@PIT
Jon LesterCubs@NYM
Marcus StromanBlue JaysCWS
Luis SeverinoYankees@OAK
Robbie RayDiamondbacks@PHI
Alex WoodDodgers@CIN
Marco EstradaBlue JaysTB
Michael FulmerTigersARI
Kyle HendricksCubs@NYM
Sonny GrayAthleticsNYY
David PriceRed SoxPHI@HOU
Gerrit ColePiratesCOL
Jacob deGromMetsCHCWSH


  • Last time I did the rankings, Corey Kluber was injured and not included. Thus, it is the norm for me to put him in the second tier rather than the top tier for at least a week. With a good start against the Dodgers, he will move up accordingly.
  • I struggled with putting Michael Fulmer in this tier instead of the top tier. He has been fantastic to this point and a source of stability in a fantasy world where that is rare. However, he just doesn’t have that ‘it’ factor – doesn’t seem to take over games like some of the guys in the elite tier. Alarmingly, the xStats imply that Fulmer’s wOBA and BB% could worsen as the season progresses. Something to watch out for!

Dream Stream

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

Jimmy NelsonBrewers@STLSD
Jason VargasRoyals@SF@LAA
Sean ManaeaAthleticsNYY
Jose BerriosTwinsSEA
Drew PomeranzRed Sox@HOU
Brandon McCarthyDodgers@CLE@CIN
Chase AndersonBrewersSD
J.A. HappBlue JaysCWS
Zack GodleyDiamondbacks@PHI
Joe BiaginiBlue JaysCWS
Brian JohnsonRed Sox@PHI
Tanner RoarkNationals@NYM
Dylan BundyOrioles@CWS
Ervin SantanaTwinsSEA
Mike LeakeCardinalsMIL
Dan StrailyMarlins@ATL
Andrew TriggsAthletics@MIA
Jake OdorizziRays@TOR
Jeff HoffmanRockiesSF
Aaron NolaPhilliesARI
Brad PeacockAstrosTEX
C.C. SabathiaYankees@LAA@OAK
Jordan MontgomeryYankees@LAA
Rick PorcelloRed SoxPHI@HOU
Randall DelgadoDiamondbacks@PHI
Jeff SamardzijaGiants@COL
Ivan NovaPiratesCHC
Lance LynnCardinalsMIL@BAL
Edinson VolquezMarlinsOAK
Ariel MirandaMariners@MIN
Gio GonzalezNationals@NYM
Jaime GarciaBravesMIA
Jesse HahnAthleticsNYY
Justin VerlanderTigersTB
Junior GuerraBrewersSD
Masahiro TanakaYankees@OAK
Mike ClevingerIndians@MIN
JC RamirezAngelsNYYKC
Jose QuintanaWhite Sox@TOR
John LackeyCubs@NYM@PIT
Matt ShoemakerAngelsNYY
German MarquezRockies@PIT
Tyler ChatwoodRockies@PITSF
Jesse ChavezAngelsKC
Eddie ButlerCubs@PIT
Kyle FreelandRockies@PITSF
Wade MileyOrioles@CWSSTL
Mike FoltynewiczBraves@WSHMIA
Josh TomlinIndiansLAD


  • With Eduardo Rodriguez hitting the DL, it has opened the door for Brian Johnson to bust through. He’s not an overpowering arm, but he flat out knows how to use his stuff. He’s worth the pickup in 12-teamers this week.
  • Everyone and their momma is shouting regression for veteran Ervin Santana. Why though? xStats actually has Erv improving his K% and BB%. However, the big discretion does come in the form of his xOBA (0.314) versus actual wOBA (0.242). Considering that the expected wOBA derives from Statcast, this is worrisome but I wouldn’t freak out just yet.
  • Brad Peacock makes me insert shoulder shrug emoji. Yes, I typed it out, this is a professional you are talking about. Any well, Peacock should be a fine play against a high strikeout Rangers squad.
  • Don’t sleep on Randall Delgado. He’s one of many sneaky streamers to utilize this week. A spot start at Philly shouldn’t cause you to shy away.
  • You’ve been hearing about how Jeff Samardzija and his peripheral stats will come to fruition eventually. Not so fast says xStats! His xK% (20.7%) and xBB% (5.7%) are notably worse than his actual K% (28.9%) and BB% (3.4%). I find it non-coincidental that these xStats are right in line with his career numbers as well. It’s possible that Shark’s ERA and WHIP are right where they ought to be and his peripherals haven’t caught up.
  • Despite a FIP and xFIP that scream ‘overachieving’, Gio Gonzalez sports an xK%, xBB%, AND xOBA that suggest that he won’t fall that hard on his face. They have him producing closer to the tune of a 3.60 ERA, which wouldn’t upset me if I were lucky enough to own him in any of my leagues.

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.

Erasmo RamirezRays@DET
Zack WheelerMetsCHCWSH
Buck FarmerTigersARITB
Michael WachaCardinalsMIL
Alec AsherOrioles@CWS
Eric SkoglundRoyals@LAA
David PaulinoAstrosBOS
Luis PerdomoPadresCIN@MIL
Jacob FariaRays@TOR@DET
Ty BlachGiantsKC@COL
Alex MeyerAngelsNYYKC
Trevor BauerIndiansLAD@MIN
Joe RossNationalsATL
Adam WainwrightCardinals@BAL
Clayton RichardPadresCIN
Hyun-Jin RyuDodgers@CIN
Dinelson LametPadres@MIL
Antonio SenzatelaRockiesSF
Jeff LockeMarlins@ATL
Kevin GausmanOrioles@CWSSTL
Alex CobbRays@DET
Ian KennedyRoyals@LAA
Derek HollandWhite SoxBAL@TOR
Scott FeldmanReds@SD
Zach DaviesBrewers@STL
Jerad EickhoffPhillies@BOSARI
Steven MatzMetsWSH
Rich HillDodgers@CLE
Daniel NorrisTigersTB
Tim AdlemanRedsLAD
Ricky NolascoAngelsKC
David HolmbergWhite SoxBAL
Mike PelfreyWhite SoxBAL@TOR
Jharel CottonAthletics@MIANYY
Jhoulys ChacinPadresCIN
Miguel GonzalezWhite SoxBAL
Sam GaviglioMariners@MIN
Jose UrenaMarlinsOAK
Matt HarveyMetsCHC
Jeremy HellicksonPhilliesBOS
Ben LivelyPhillies@BOSARI
Patrick CorbinDiamondbacks@DET
Andrew CashnerRangers@HOU
Seth LugoMetsWSH
Julio TeheranBraves@WSH
Martin PerezRangersSEA
Matt MooreGiants@COL


  • Does anyone in baseball have a more fun name to say than Buck Farmer? Not to mention the endless puns one could use with his first name. Regardless, I’ve actually been impressed from what I have seen from him in the majors this year as well as his minor league stats. He’s worth consideration for streaming this week, especially in deeper leagues.
  • David Paulino wasn’t expected to contribute in the starting rotation this early on. However, don’t discount his potential to stick in the rotation moving forward. Sure, Charlie Morton and Joe Musgrove will return at some point. If Paulino is on his A-game, he easily outproduces Musgrove and Mike Fiers with arm talent.
  • Blach Party! You are invited to join in the event in many leagues where Ty Blach is available. I think I will decline with regret though. This week’s Colorado start will essentially be the cops being called on his shindig. I’ve taken this pun too far, moving on.
  • Eye-popping xStats are brought to you by Alex Cobb. I’m not sure if this was a mistake in calculation or the real deal, but his xK% is 18.7 percentage points higher than his actual K%. I double-checked and yeah that’s really real. I don’t buy that he suddenly becomes Chris Sale from the right side, but this is definitely a buy low opportunity if I’ve ever seen one. His xBB% and xOBA also imply a large rebound.
  • xStats also confirmed what I thought about Jerad Eickhoff in last week’s pitching planner. The results indicate that Eickhoff has actually pitched closer to his career BB% prior to 2017. He will likely be dropped after his two starts this week and you should scoop him up if you have the spare room.

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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