2018 Fantasy Baseball Week 3 Pitching Planner: Strange Times

by Tyler Thompson
2018 fantasy baseball week 3 pitching planner

"I will be the one, to pull you through the mere
Before you come, before you come undone
Strange times are here"

- 'Strange Times', Black Keys, Attack & Release

Dan Auerbach, co-frontman for the two-man group of the Black Keys, went through a bad divorce in the mid-2000's, leading to some great songs on their hit album 'Attack & Release'. That sounded bad - I am not 'happy' that they got divorced, just happy that it led to some awesome music.This song, in particular, was made for his daughter, who he promised to raise well with these lyrics. He wanted to 'pull her through' these troubling times 'before (she had) come undone'.

Anyway, now that I've already rambled about non-baseball things enough, why do I bring this song up?

It's simple really - there have been some strange times in the early going, especially on the pitching side. It's hard to distinguish what is real and fake. (The next line is a spoiler alert for Ex Machina - breeze over it if you haven't seen it. It's a spectacular film that I just watched this past week! As the kids would say, 10 out of 10, would recommend.) Or, like the movie Ex Machina taught us, even when you know something is fake it can still trick you.

Well, like Auerbach, I want to pull you through these 'strange times' as we experience them together. I can't live in a world where Jakob Junis has a 100% LOB%. On the flip side, a world where Noah Syndergaard has a 22.2% HR/FB ratio is just frivolous. There is still plenty of time for things to even out and we want to be on the right side of guessing natural regressions for pitchers.

Next week, I will discuss how many batters faced we need to properly evaluate a pitcher. After bringing out the big guns early with a Black Keys song, I may have set myself up for failure in the future pitching planners. Nevertheless, let's hop to the 2018 Fantasy Baseball Week 3 Pitching Planner to knock down our lineups for the upcoming period.

Tequila shot count for me saying that something was 'there' for a pitcher - zero.

2018 Fantasy Baseball Week 3 Pitching Planner

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

Corey KluberIndians@BAL
Clayton KershawDodgersWAS
Chris SaleRed Sox@OAK
Max ScherzerNationals@LAD


  • No promotions were necessary for the Auto-Start tier. These four dudes are just in another league.


  • Once again, it's going to take some crazy downfall or injury for any of these guys to drop.


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.

Noah SyndergaardMets@ATL
Justin VerlanderAstros@CWS
Shohei OhtaniAngelsSF
Robbie RayDiamondbacksSF
Yu DarvishCubsSTL
Stephen StrasburgNationals@LAD
Carlos MartinezCardinalsCIN
Jacob deGromMetsWAS@ATL
Aaron NolaPhillies@ATLPIT
Zack GreinkeDodgersSF
Luis SeverinoYankeesTOR
Chris ArcherRaysMIN
Dallas KeuchelAstros@SEA@CWS
Carlos CarrascoIndians@MIN
Rich HillDodgersWAS
Jameson TaillonPirates@PHI
Gerrit ColeAstros@SEA
James PaxtonMarinersHOU@TEX


  • Insert the 'eyes emoji' - Shohei Ohtani has joined the Auto-Stream tier. Thus far into his career, he's impressed the masses and draw new viewers to the game. Whether it's throwing a perfect game into the 7th inning or hitting in every game he's started at DH, there's nothing he can't do. We will see if the league adjusts like they always do, but I can't keep him out of this tier for what might happen in the future. In the present, he's a stud, plain and simple. Update - he's now starting on Tuesday against Boston. I'm keeping him in this tier, but moving him closer to the bottom.
  • Newly-acquired Gerrit Cole is making the Astros look like thieves in that deal with the Pirates. With a 41.6% K-BB% through three starts, there has been no pitcher better than Cole in 2018. In perfect Houston fashion, they have gotten Cole to throw fewer fastballs and rely more on outstanding offspeed pitches. Despite his inflated draft cost, I'm upset that I didn't end up with any shares this season.

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  • With the aforementioned Cole gone, Jameson Taillon has certainly stepped up to the challenge of being the team's new ace. In fact, Taillon might have the best numbers of the field outside of Cole in the early going. With a start against Miami in Week 3 and one against Philly in Week 4, I don't expect him to drop from this tier anytime soon.
  • Wait, what was that? Oh, Robbie Ray just walked another batter. He's always been bad with walks, but definitely not to this (6.32 BB/9) level. What's worse is when he does throw it over the plate, he's getting throttled. According to FanGraphs, his hard-hit percentage (48.7%) is second among qualified pitchers only to Zack Davies. With one more bad start, I have to make adjustments. However, I'm confident that he can turn it around quickly.

Dream Stream

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.

Lance McCullers Jr.Astros@SEA@CWS
Kenta MaedaDodgers@SD
Alex WoodDodgers@SD
Masahiro TanakaYankeesMIATOR
Patrick CorbinDiamondbacksSFSD
Zack GodleyDiamondbacksSD
Jose QuintanaCubs@COL
Marcus StromanBlue JaysKC
Brent SuterBrewersCINMIA
Miles MikolasCardinalsCIN
Charlie MortonAstros@SEA
Garrett RichardsAngelsSF
Hyun-Jin RyuDodgers@SDWAS
Michael FulmerTigersBALKC
Taijuan WalkerDiamondbacksSD
Nick PivettaPhillies@ATLPIT
Vince VelasquezPhillies@ATL
Jake ArrietaPhilliesPIT
Jon LesterCubsSTL@COL
Chase AndersonBrewersMIA
Luis CastilloReds@MIL@STL
Blake SnellRaysMIN
Danny DuffyRoyals@TORDET
Mike MinorRangersSEA
Luke WeaverCardinals@CHC
Zach DaviesBrewersCIN
Cole HamelsRangers@TB
Trevor BauerIndians@MIN
Kyle HendricksCubsSTL
David PriceRed Sox@LAA@OAK
Gio GonzalezNationals@NYM
CC SabathiaYankeesMIA
Jake FariaRaysTEX
Jakob JunisRoyalsDET
Jon GrayRockiesCHC
Steven MatzMetsWAS
Mike ClevingerIndians@BAL
Jose BerriosTwinsCLE
Drew PomeranzRed Sox@OAK
Sonny GrayYankeesTOR
Daniel MengdenAthleticsCWS
Ivan NovaPirates@PHI
Jake OdorizziTwins@TB
Kevin GausmanOrioles@DETCLE
Mike FoltynewiczBravesPHINYM
Tanner RoarkNationals@NYM
Yonny ChirinosRaysTEXMIN
Tyler SkaggsAngelsBOSSF
Michael WachaCardinals@CHC
Sean ManaeaAthleticsCWSBOS
Rick PorcelloRed Sox@LAA
Brandon McCarthyBravesPHINYM


  • Droppers from the Auto-Stream tier include Masahiro TanakaLance McCullers Jr., and Alex Wood. With disappointing starts to 2018, each of these players had to move to make room for Ohtani and Taillon.
  • Hey guys, Chase Anderson is starting against Miami. Have I mentioned that the Marlins offense is not scary at all? Hopefully, this start will help alleviate his 5.98 FIP that underlies his 3.38 ERA.
  • David Price had an injury scare in his last start, so keep that in mind. He's slated to start twice this week, but he could have a shorter stint in that first one. A) It will help him get his legs back under him. B) The Angels offense is really freaking good thus far.

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  • The most important note concerning Daniel Mengden is that he's got the best mustache in the game. Secondary note, he's got a home start against the White Sox this week. Mustache Mengden should be on a waiver wire near you and he needs to be in your starting lineup for Week 4.
  • There are quite a few pitchers that I only want to start for one of their two starts if possible. Avoid the Boston start for both Tyler Skaggs and Sean Manaea. Additionally, don't use Braves starters Mike Foltynewicz and Brandon McCarthy against the Mets. Finally, I was already on the fence of using Kevin Gausman against Detroit - definitely don't start him against Cleveland.

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 the said player.

Junior GuerraBrewersCINMIA
Joey LucchesiPadres@ARI
Anibal SanchezBravesPHI
Zack WheelerMetsWAS@ATL
Sean NewcombBravesNYM
Trevor RichardsMarlins@MIL
Lance LynnTwins@TB
Jhoulys ChacinBrewersMIA
Adam WainwrightCardinals@CHCCIN
Eduardo RodriguezRed Sox@LAA
Alex CobbOrioles@DET
Tyler MahleReds@MIL
Jordan ZimmermannTigersBALKC
Matt BoydTigersKC
Francisco LirianoTigersKC
Dylan BundyOriolesCLE
Felix HernandezMariners@TEX
Eric SkoglundRoyalsDET
Steven BraultPiratesCOL@PHI
J.A. HappBlue Jays@NYY
Ian KennedyRoyals@TORDET
Matt HarveyMets@ATL
Tyler ChatwoodCubs@COL
Kyle GibsonTwinsCLE@TB
Chad KuhlPiratesCOL
Dillon PetersMarlins@MIL
Josh TomlinIndians@BAL
Clayton RichardPadres@ARI
Mike FiersTigersBAL
Tyler AndersonRockiesCHC
Jordan MontgomeryYankeesTOR
Martin PerezRangers@TBSEA
Marco EstradaBlue JaysKC@NYY
Sal RomanoReds@MIL
German MarquezRockies@PITCHC
Matt MooreRangers@TB
Julio TeheranBravesNYM
Aaron SanchezBlue JaysKC@NYY
Trevor WilliamsPiratesCOL@PHI
Bryan MitchellPadresLAD
Jose UrenaMarlins@MIL
Andrew HeaneyAngelsBOS
Brian JohnsonRed SoxBAL
Ben LivelyPhilliesPIT
Lucas GiolitoWhite Sox@OAK
Derek HollandGiants@ARI
Luis PerdomoPadresLAD@ARI
Caleb SmithMarlins@NYY@MIL
Kyle FreelandRockies@PIT
Jason HammelRoyals@TOR
Andrew TriggsAthleticsBOS
Nick TropeanoAngelsBOS
Chad BettisRockies@PIT
Ty BlachGiants@ARI
Tyson RossPadresLAD


  • Surprisingly, Junior Guerra rated very highly in my system. I suppose that's what happens when you have a two-start week against the Reds and Marlins. I'm very hesitant to start him against the Reds. If he performs well though, I'm good with rolling him out against Miami as a weekend streamer.
  • Also a surprise, Anibal Sanchez finished higher in my ratings than expected. I have to give it to him - he's been impressive against good competition in his first three appearances. However, I need to do no more than point out his 96.4% LOB% (!) thus far to tell you that it's only the middle of April.
  • Alex Cobb got lit the hell up in his first start as an Oriole. Boston sluggers Hanley Ramirez and J.D. Martinez sent him packing in the third inning. While I'm picking him up if he's on waivers in a normal league, I'm also waiting to start him. Common sense would say he needs a couple of starts to get his 2017 mojo back. Conversely, common sense would also say that pitching for Baltimore is not a good setup.

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  • In an effort to enhance my own knowledge of the Miami rotation, I have been picking out a player a week to discuss. This week, I will use Tyler's Simplistic Scouting Spotlight on southpaw Dillon Peters. He's a groundball specialist with a flat fastball and two offspeed pitches. I wonder if the Marlins are going to try something different with his heater (loose terminology) because it just sucks. However, I really like the curveball as is and the changeup has some potential. Leave him on waivers, but keep an eye on him in deeper leagues.
  • If you are in a league with daily roster moves, go ahead and stream Aaron Sanchez against the Royals. I only have him ranked so low because of what the Red Sox are going to do to him over the weekend.
  • Tyson Ross definitely deserves a mention here. I'm very skeptical, but I wanted to at least include him in the rankings this week.

Arms Amending

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.

Trevor CahillAthleticsGeneral build-up (late signee)April 17th
Brandon FinneganRedsStrained bicepsApril 21st
Johnny CuetoGiantsAnkle injuryLate April
Jason VargasMetsHand surgeryLate April
Erasmo RamirezMarinersStrained latLate April
Jeff SamardzijaGiantsStrained pectoralEarly May
Alex ReyesCardinalsTommy John surgeryEarly May
Luiz GoharaBravesSprained ankleMid May
Joe MusgrovePiratesStrained shoulderMid May
Doug FisterRangersRight hip strainMid May
Ervin SantanaTwinsFinger surgeryLate May
Dan StrailyMarlinsForearm tightnessLate May
Jerad EickhoffPhilliesStrained latLate May
Matt ShoemakerAngelsStrained forearmLate May
Madison BumgarnerGiantsFractured fingerJune
Carlos RodonWhite SoxShoulder surgeryJune
Anthony DeSclafaniRedsStrained obliqueJune
Danny SalazarIndiansShoulder inflammationJune
Nathan KarnsRoyalsElbow inflammationJune
Wei-Yen ChenMarlinsElbow discomfortJune
Nathan EovaldiRaysElbow issuesJune
Jimmy NelsonBrewersShoulder surgeryAll-Star Break
Shelby MillerDiamondbacksTommy John surgeryAll-Star Break
Julio UriasDodgersShoulder surgeryAll-Star Break
Dinelson LametPadresTommy John surgery2019


  • First off, I will exhibit a moment of silence for author-favorite Dinelson Lamet as he heads down the path of Tommy John surgery. (Silence.) Get well soon, buddy. We will see you next season better than ever.
  • The Reds will be getting back Brandon Finnegan this week, which won't last long if his injury history tells us anything. He takes the spot of Cody Reed, who shouldn't have been rostered anyway. While Finnegan has had short stints of success in the past, I'm steering way clear of this one.

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  • Under the radar, Trevor Cahill will be returning to action early this week in a start against the Chicago White Sox. I usually proceed with caution when dealing with first-time returners, but he was simply a late signee. With an extended rehab under his belt, I expect Cahill to come out firing. He is my Stream of the Week, which is a first - appearing in the Arms Amending section instead of the Dream Stream one.
  • Johnny Cueto hurt his ankle while working out, which really just sucks for this San Francisco rotation. He is the third of their big three starters to go down with Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Samardzija. However, it seems like Cueto won't miss too much time and Shark should be returning very soon as well. Better days are ahead for the Giants, but for now, they will have to utilize Tyler Beede and Andrew Suarez.

Check out the rest of our great 2018 Fantasy Baseball content.

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