2021 Fantasy Baseball Week 5 Pitching Planner (May 3 – May 9)

by Brandon Morrow
2021 Fantasy Baseball Week 4 Pitching Planner (May 3 - May 9)

Welcome to the 2021 Fantasy Baseball Week 5 Pitching Planner (May 3 - May 9)! This week's edition highlights some post-hype sleepers that I am very high on for this week and the long term. The offseason hype train of breakout pitchers often cools down fast after a bad start or two, and that is what has happened in the case of a few of these starters.

In my first article, Domingo German was owned in 65 percent of leagues, and now he is only owned in 35 percent. I believe Yusei Kikuchi was way above the 60% mark as well. Don't let one or two bad starts write off all of the positive things we saw preseason and late last season.

In the 2021 Fantasy Baseball Week 5 Pitching Planner (May 3 - May 9) I highlight which of these pitchers to pounce on now that your league mates have given up on them.

2021 Fantasy Baseball Week 5 Pitching Planner (May 3 - May 9)

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Start of the week 

Yusei Kikuchi Vs. Baltimore Orioles (May 5th), Seattle Mariners (28% Owned)

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Kikuchi was a very popular breakout pick coming into the season due to the uptick in his velocity that he displayed last season and into the spring. The season hasn’t gotten off to the start that we were hoping for, but there have been bright spots. In his most recent start, he pitched a seven-inning scoreless gem against the Astros while recording seven strikeouts. 

Kikuchi has gone 6+ innings in four of his five starts, and it seems to be flying under the radar. A workhorse like this in 2021 is very rare, and when you can grab a guy who can give you a quality start almost every time he starts you have to do it. He is also a strikeout per inning guy with potential for more, as he has a 10 strikeout game this season along with a seven and a six strikeout game. 

The Orioles are in the bottom five in almost every offensive category and are the easiest challenge for Kikuchi by far this season. I expect him to pitch deep into this game and potentially dominate. Kikuchi is a guy you can trust all season long, and he won’t be rostered in only 28% of leagues for much longer. 

Pitchers to target

Brady Singer Vs. Cleveland Indians (May 5th), Kansas City Royals (60% Owned)

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After a shaky first start of the season, Singer has been lights out. He has given up just two earned runs in his last 18 innings pitched and carries a 2.95 ERA on the season. His xERA is sitting at 2.92, which shows this start is no fluke. 

Singer is avoiding more barrels and getting more swings and misses this year than he did last year. What might be most impressive about this is that Singer was very solid last season pitching to a 4.06 ERA and 3.85 xERA. He is getting five percent more whiffs on his sinker this season than he did last, and his velocity is up one MPH across the board. 

The Indians are a very, very weak offensive team. They are in the top five for almost all pitching categories and bottom five for almost all hitting categories. Singer should have no problem carving them up and continuing his breakout season. Grab him if he is available and hold onto him, as he could be a stud all year. 

JA Happ Vs. Texas Rangers (May 4th) Minnesota Twins (20% Owned) 

Happ has torn apart bad offensive teams in back-to-back starts, with 14.1 innings and only two earned runs allowed against the Indians and Pirates. He isn’t going to get you much for strikeouts, as he only has six in that 14 inning stretch, but the ratios can be very good.

The Rangers are a bad offensive team, much like the Pirates and Indians. I expect Happ to be able to exploit this matchup and post similar results to his two previous starts. Happ has an xERA of 3.70 this season, and he is seemingly always a good start in plus matchups like this. 

I don’t love Happ over the course of the season, but he did post a 3.47 ERA over 49.1 innings last season so there is potential for a season-long contributor here. I recommend picking him up here and throwing him back in the pond after this start unless he completely dominates. 

Logan Webb AT Colorado (May 5th) San Francisco Giants (10% Owned) 

The Rockies' offense actually hasn’t been that bad, but they are not good enough for me to avoid. Coors Field doesn’t scare me with this group, especially with a good pitcher who doesn’t give up fly balls like Logan Webb

Webb has a FB percentage of 8.2, down from last season's 14.4. He is also giving up the least amount of hard contact of his career up to this point. Webb became a trendy pick out of spring training, but he got off to a pretty rocky start which led to people forgetting about him. He broke out in his start against the Marlins going seven innings of shutout baseball with eight strikeouts. His xERA of 3.45 shows he has been somewhere in between the good and bad this season, and I expect the good to keep growing here. 

Webb could be a very useful pitcher in season-long leagues and is worth holding onto if he does well here. I would be hesitant to throw him out there against top competition but he should be great in average to plus matchups. 

Domingo German Vs. Washington Nationals (May 9th) New York Yankees (35% Owned) 

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German struggled mightily in his first two starts of the season. The Yankees sent him to the alternate site for a few days and regroup. He has been excellent since his return to the Yankees, giving up only two runs in 13 innings while notching two wins.

German is a solid pitcher, who will likely hover around a high three, low four ERA this year as he did in 2019. I like him a lot in spot starts against weak competition like the Nationals are right now. Without Soto in the lineup, the Nationals are a below-average offense at best, and one that German should be able to exploit.

Germans 2021 and 2019 seasons have very similar underlying stats, showing that he didn’t lose anything last year during his season-long suspension. He makes for a fine starter rest of the season if you’re desperate, but pick and choose your spots and don’t throw him out there against top competition.

Pitchers to avoid

Kyle Hendricks Vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (May 3rd) Chicago Cubs (89% Owned)

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Hendricks has been awful to start the season, pitching to a 7.54 ERA and 7.44 xERA. He has had two good starts this season and both have come against the light hitting Milwaukee Brewers. 

The Dodgers have the best lineup in baseball, and even without Bellinger, it is extremely daunting for even the hottest of pitchers. I recommend avoiding them at all times, but especially when the pitcher has given up the most home runs in baseball like Hendricks has done this season. 

It is obviously early, but Hendricks really looks done. His velocity is down, his control is getting worse, and giving up more hard contact than ever. It’s possible he turns it around, but I expect this start against the Dodgers to get ugly. 

Zach Plesac Vs. Cincinnati Reds (May 7th) Cleveland Indians (87% Owned)

Plesac has been worse across the board in comparison to last season, and I am beginning to trust him less and less. He is a workhorse who eats a ton of innings, but realistically he would be pretty useless if he wasn’t doing that. 

Plesac doesn’t strike out a ton of batters, and he isn’t getting nearly as many whiffs or chases this season. His slider is generating 14% less whiffs than it did last season, and his inability to put people away with that pitch has left him with a less than impressive arsenal. 

The Reds have scored the most runs per game in the major leagues this season, averaging 5.3 per game. They have been a dominant force so far this year, and I expect that to continue here against Plesac.

Shohei Ohtani Vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (May 9th) Los Angeles Angels (80% Owned)

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I love Ohtani as much as anybody and think he’s must-watch television anytime he plays, but I recommend benching him in this spot against the Dodgers. Ohtani’s numbers have been pretty good, as he has a 3.29 ERA so far this season with a 15.15 K/9. The problem is that in his three starts he has only pitched a combined 13.2 innings. 

Ohtani gets a ton of swings and misses, but he also throws a ton of balls. The Dodgers offense is built off of wearing pitchers out, and they have done it to some of the best pitchers in baseball. I fear that Ohtani’s control will get him into some trouble in this spot, which could lead to a relatively short outing.

I can’t trust a pitcher with a 20 percent walk rate against the Dodgers who have the second-best on-base percentage in the league. As much as it sucks, avoid Ohtani here or risk blowing up your week's ratios.

Two Start Pitchers

Jacob deGrom (@STL, ARI)

Aaron Nola (MIL, @ATL)

Zack Greinke (@NYY, TOR)

Walker Buehler (@CHC, @LAA)

Tyler Glasnow (@LAA, @OAK)

Shohei Ohtani (TB, LAD)

Carlos Rodon (@CIN, @KC)

Aaron Civale (@KC, CIN)

Steven Matz (@OAK, @HOU)

Kyle Hendricks (LAD, PIT)

Kenta Maeda (TEX, @DET)

German Marquez (SF, @STL)

Frankie Montas (TOR, TB)

Chris Paddack (PIT, @SF)

Domingo German (HOU, WAS)

Huascar Ynoa (@WAS, PHI)

Dane Dunning (@MIN, SEA)

JA Happ (TEX, @DET)

Casey Mize (@BOS, MIN)

Jakob Junis (CLE, CHW)

Check out the rest of our 2021 Fantasy Baseball content from our great team of writers.

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