This week in the Pitching Planner, I want to make a concerted effort to use more data visualization to get my points across.
I recently had a job interview where I was asked how I presented data to large groups of people. From a career standpoint, this was an easy question to answer. However, when I thought back to my most recent articles, I found that I have gotten away from using graphs and GIFs. I used to overflow with those items and now I've gotten a little lazy.
Well, fear no more! Lazy media is a thing of the past. (Actually, I'm still going to be somewhat lazy. However, I will be lazy by using smart people's GIFs and creating colorful pictures from FanGraphs. What a magical world we live in!) Time to get GIF-fy with it. Nah-nah nah nah nah-nah-nah,nah-nah nah nah nah-nah! I'm not on drugs, I swear.
As is (now) customary, we will start with a few of the outings that caught my eye in the first half of Week 10.
- The only pitcher I would have wanted to start last Monday would've been Luis Severino. Sevy had more strikeouts versus Tigers batters in one game (10) than Tigers pitchers did against Aaron Judge in the doubleheader (8). Okay, that was a low blow, but an eight-inning masterpiece led the way on Monday on what was a slow day for starters.
- Should I just save a spot in this section for Andrew Heaney now? He threw a complete game shutout against the Royals, which has been right on par with his 2018 season to date. Heaney only allowed two baserunners and was able to effectively work around hitters with all of his pitch types. I really can't say anything else about Heaney that I haven't already said - dude's killing the game.
- Holy hell, a terrific Tuesday absolutely made up for the mediocre Monday. We had 17 (SEVENTEEN!) quality starts and four almost quality starts. It's like winning an award and having all of these people to thank at the podium. I'd like to thank Max Scherzer, Corey Kluber, Patrick Corbin, and James Paxton for being by my side all season. Also, I wouldn't be here without my behind the scenes crew of Sean Newcomb, CC Sabathia, and Zack Eflin. *pushed off stage*
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 7, 2018
- First off, if you aren't following the Pitching Ninja, what are you even doing on Twitter? Are you retweeting NBA memes from a very predictable Finals series? Could you be favoriting some posts about fantasy football in June? Get off my lawn. What are we talking about? Oh, right, Sonny Gray was a monster in his last start. Hey, although I've never been a fan, you've gotta ride the hot hand! How about that for slant rhyme?
- Sam Gaviglio is the name that the police make you repeat in a sobriety test. He's also a pitcher who has had a decent start to his 2018 season for the Blue Jays. Look, I know there are a few positives here, but the history here is indicative of a coming down to Earth. LOB%, BABIP, and a potentially meek K% will hinder him from being a guy you can count on for more than a stream against the Marlins.
- Hello - it's good to see you again, vintage Carlos Carrasco! This outing against the Brewers was by far his best since that complete game where he had 14 punchouts back on May 9th (also against Milwaukee). If I was a betting man, I would bet that his end-of-season ERA is closer to his 2016-2017 average (~3.30) than his current 2018 one (4.23). Trade accordingly.
- Jose Berrios in 2018 is just going to be one of those guys you have to start every week and be happy with the overall stats. Most recently, you are ecstatic about the fantastic complete game performance against the White Sox. One constant throughout the season (largely) has been his great K/BB, which was a perfect 10/0 on Thursday. Hopefully, he can fix those home/road splits and jump into SP2 status. For now, we must endure the growing pains.
- Whatever Miles Mikolas did over in Japan to revamp his career is about to become a very popular thing to do for middling arms. Now, he's riding a pristine 2.8% BB-rate due largely to a 71% first-strike rate, which is first among qualified starters. However, that's not as positive of an asset as one would think. Sure, the studs like Severino and Scherzer are up there with him, but so is Brandon McCarthy. If your stuff is hittable (see his low K% and SwStr%), teams will start gearing up for your first pitch. That could ultimately doom Mikolas. For now, my reckless speculation can be overlooked, but I would be looking to sell.
Now, let's hop into Week 11!
2018 Fantasy Baseball Week 11 Pitching Planner
Get customized Fantasy Baseball advice for your team using MyPlaybook from FantasyPros.
The Auto-Start tier strictly includes pitchers that should be started every week regardless of league size and matchup.
|Chris Sale||Red Sox||@BAL|
- I think I've left Stephen Strasburg out of this group for too long. He's clearly better than the next tier of guys, so I'm going to throw him here for a week or two and see how it goes!
- There were no relegations this week. We lose Clayton Kershaw and Noah Syndergaard to injury (again), but no one is out because of performance.
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.
|Lance McCullers Jr.||Astros||@OAK||@KC|
- I had a mini-freakout when Patrick Corbin started experiencing velocity drops. The fact of the matter is that Corbin is just a great pitcher now. It's not really going to matter if his fastball velocity has dropped a couple of MPH on average. He's still a must-start pitcher and should be handled as such on your roster.
- While Blake Snell may have some issues maintaining his current pace, that's okay! Say it with me - "that's okay!" He's in the top 15 among qualified pitchers in great statistics like K-BB%, FIP-, xFIP-, and SwStr%. Is that good? Why yes, average fantasy baseball player, that's good.
- If you are wondering why I moved Trevor Bauer to the trusted tier, then join the party. You are late - just like me. Not even fashionably late, either. Just late. He was using the slider last August and September, but I ignored the amount of effect it would have long-term. Ten starts in 2018 later, he is making me look stupid. He was such an easy buy in 2018 drafts too. Sigh. I need to write this one down in my 'reminder' notebook for next year when evaluating pitchers with new pitches during a season. (By the way, albeit a lazy effort, that graph basically says everything. An effective slider makes all of his other pitches better.)
The Dream Stream group more closely reflects the pitchers that you are contemplating starting or sitting. These are all worthy starters in a typical 12-team mixed league.
|Eduardo Rodriguez||Red Sox||@BAL||@SEA|
|J.A. Happ||Blue Jays||@TB|
|David Price||Red Sox||@SEA|
|Rick Porcello||Red Sox||@SEA|
- It feels wrong suggesting veterans Anibal Sanchez and Brandon McCarthy in the Pitching Planner this week. However, that's what you get when a first-place team is facing the Padres and Mets at home. Both guys have been 'good enough' this season when healthy. 'Good enough' is going to be a nice streaming option for the back end of your fantasy rotation this week.
- My scoring system loves Trevor Richards as a streaming option this week. Sure, the walk rate was god awful to start the season. However, check out his minor league numbers and tell me that his control is terrible. He actually had a decent return against the Cardinals on Thursday save for an untimely homer. I wouldn't start him right away against the Giants, but if he looks good in that game, absolutely roll him against the O's. Be wild, be adventurous!
Eduardo Rodríguez, Nasty 88mph Cutter (grip/release/spin) pic.twitter.com/37vqxk3Huw
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 30, 2018
- Similar to Bauer, Eduardo Rodriguez is having the best season of his career. Dissimilar to Bauer, it's the cutter that E-Rod is throwing significantly more. The best part - he's throwing it out of the same tunnel as his slider and changeup, which is baffling hitters with balls breaking every which way. If he can keep changing up his pitch mix in every start, we could be looking at a huge breakout here.
- Unsurprisingly, I'm calling halfsies on Dylan Bundy and Chris Stratton in Week 11. I very much want to start them in their Miami outings. I very much want to bench them otherwise. Don't get cute with their complimentary starts, either. The Dodgers hit righties hard and are on a hot streak, so Stratton could be in trouble there. And don't even get me started on Bundy - I'm just not a fan and the Red Sox offense is pretty darn good.
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 the said player.
|Carlos Rodon||White Sox||DET|
|Jalen Beeks||Red Sox||@BAL||@SEA|
|Marco Estrada||Blue Jays||WSH|
|Aaron Sanchez||Blue Jays||WSH|
|Sam Gaviglio||Blue Jays||@TB||WSH|
|Jaime Garcia||Blue Jays||@TB|
|Reynaldo Lopez||White Sox||CLE||DET|
- There are a couple of situations with rookies and fifth starter spots. The first I will talk about is Jalen Beeks after his rough debut. Now, it was just one bad inning and he was able to tough it out for another inning before getting pulled. He should get a second chance here, but the Red Sox could get cute after the start that Steven Wright churned out. I say knuckleballers are prone to having that one immaculate start if their stuff is on, so don't take too much stock into that. Beeks is worth a flier, especially if you hear good news about his status going into Week 11.
- The second rookie situation takes us to Cleveland. So, after Adam Plutko throws a no-hitter in Triple-A, everyone is clamoring back for him over Shane Bieber. There are a couple of things I will say about that. For one, Bieber also threw a no-hitter the week before. Don't fall prey to recency bias. Secondly, Bieber has the better minor league track record and long-term promise. Why not get him more reps at the majors and see if he can be the spark plug that propels you in the summer months? Sometimes these organizations just overthink things, man.
You’ll like this video. You’ll like it ahh-lawt. pic.twitter.com/pZagdF8H14
— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) June 7, 2018
- This was the video of the week for me. We already saw what they could do with a Sandlot remake, but how about this performance by Brent Suter? It's spot on, beautiful, and likely a better performance than he will have on the mound this week. Or ever maybe? Bravo!
- Cole Hamels has been the subject of trade talk since the offseason and he's actually pitched well enough on the surface to get the Rangers a decent return. He could have a good start against a left-hating Dodgers offense, but I'm not risking it.
This is usually where I put the players that are on the disabled list or making rehab appearances. Not only is it important to know where they are in their recovery, but knowing who will be replacing them is key as well.
|Kenta Maeda||Dodgers||Hip strain||Soon!|
|Mike Soroka||Braves||Shoulder tightness||Soon!|
|Shelby Miller||Diamondbacks||Tommy John surgery||Soon!|
|Chris Archer||Rays||Left abdominal strain||Mid June|
|Yu Darvish||Cubs||Triceps tendinitis||Mid June|
|Marcus Stroman||Blue Jays||Shoulder fatigue||Mid June|
|Joey Lucchesi||Padres||Strained right hip||Mid June|
|Ivan Nova||Pirates||Strained ring finger ligament||Mid June|
|Julio Teheran||Braves||Thumb contusion||Mid June|
|Robbie Ray||Diamondbacks||Oblique strain||Late June|
|Rich Hill||Dodgers||Blister||Late June|
|Drew Pomeranz||Red Sox||BIceps tendinitis||Late June|
|Andrew Triggs||Athletics||Forearm discomfort||Late June|
|Johnny Cueto||Giants||Elbow inflammation||Early July|
|Ervin Santana||Twins||Finger surgery||Early July|
|Jeremy Hellickson||Nationals||Hamstring strain||Early July|
|Clayton Kershaw||Dodgers||Lower back strain||All-Star Break|
|Shohei Ohtani||Angels||UCL sprain||All-Star Break|
|Jimmy Nelson||Brewers||Shoulder surgery||All-Star Break|
|Hyun-Jin Ryu||Dodgers||Groin strain||All-Star Break|
|Jake Faria||Rays||Left oblique strain||All-Star Break|
|Zach Davies||Brewers||Shoulder inflammation||All-Star Break|
|Alex Reyes||Cardinals||Right lat strain (surgery)||2019|
- And after four innings of major league work in 2018, Alex Reyes says goodbye until at least 2019. We all can learn something here, right? Quit over-hyping these dudes. Think about some of the young arms that are going to be put in this situation next year and don't allow yourself to fall for their draft price. The list includes Brent Honeywell, Dinelson Lamet, Jharel Cotton, and Jose De Leon.
- Well, we could possibly be getting Mike Soroka back this weekend if everything is going right for the rookie. The Braves want him to make one more rehab start after tearing it up in his first one with Triple-A Gwinnett.
- Kenta Maeda isn't expected to require any rehab assignments for the Dodgers. That's great news for a team that is asking a mediocre bullpen to open and close games. He should be back this weekend, but I will leave him in this section just in case.
- Chris Archer heads to the disabled list, which means, you guessed it, more 'opener' opportunities for the Rays! Yay! I mean, why would anyone writing an article where you rank starting pitchers for the week want to have stability and quantity for their piece? Jokes aside, this sucks because Archer was finally hitting his stride in his last several starts.
- Here's what I love about the opportunity in MLB. A struggling Drew Pomeranz that Boston felt inclined to start suffers biceps tendinitis, which allows the aforementioned Beeks to get a crack at the rotation for an extended period of time. Pom's future in the rotation now rests on the shoulders of the rookie instead of his own.
Check out the rest of our great 2018 Fantasy Baseball content.