The baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint. That’s a good thing for first-year Yankees lefty James Paxton.
New York paid a hefty price to acquire him from the Mariners in the offseason, but through four months of the season, Paxton has a major disappointment. At that time, he was only 5-6 with a 4.72 ERA, 1.51 WHIP and 117/35 K/BB in 89.2 innings.
Now seven starts later, Paxton has effectively turned his year around. He’s won every one of those seven starts and now sports a 12-6 record, 4.16 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, and 168/50 K/BB in 132 innings. As with seemingly every other pitcher in the game, keeping the ball in the park has been an issue, but Paxton is finally finding some momentum as we head down the stretch. His 11.5 K/9 nearly matches his career-best 11.7 K/9 from last season and ranks ninth among starters with at least 100 innings pitched.
Formerly an extreme groundball pitcher early in his career, Paxton’s trend has completely reversed as he’s developed and thrown his cutter more often. That’s had a very positive impact on his strikeout rate, but Paxton has really struggled to keep the ball in the park. The net impact probably isn’t great now that he’s pitching his home games in a hitter’s park, but Paxton’s ERA metrics are finally in check (4.00 FIP, 3.89 SIERA).
Now that Paxton is rolling again, fantasy owners can finally use him confidently like they had during most of his Mariners career.
-Much has been made of Jack Flaherty’s second half, but he’s not the only young Cardinals starter who has been terrific since the break. Groundball connoisseur Dakota Hudson has a 3.23 ERA since the break, but it’s his drastic WHIP difference been an even bigger story. His WHIP was 1.53 going into the break, but since then it’s been 1.22. That’s as much a result of an extremely lucky .238 BABIP as anything, which is a major red flag. Fantasy owners will take it, as Hudson has had scoreless outings in four of his last five starts. Even with his league-best 57% groundball rate, there should be some regression expected from Hudson sooner or later, and this week will test him with a start at Coors Field followed by a home outing vs. Milwaukee.
-The 2019 season has been dominated by rookies, and Zac Gallen is one of the headliners. He was great in seven starts with Miami (2.72 ERA, 10.7 K/9) but has somehow been even better since joining Arizona (2.25 ERA, 11.0 K/9). The amazing control that Gallen showed in the minors this year actually hasn’t continued into the majors, but the right-hander continues to be effective with a strong fastball and elite changeup. Not surprisingly, the ERA metrics show some likely regression (3.35 FIP, 4.15 xFIP, 4.30 SIERA) with what seems like some good luck in the home run department, but he continues to impress and has a favorable two-start week in front of him.
-After a slow start to the year due in part to injury, the Braves have to like what they’re seeing from Mike Foltynewicz. His ERA is still 5.28 overall, but he’s 3-0 with a 3.31 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, and 31/14 K/BB in 32.2 innings since returning from the minors in early August. Velocity improvement was key to Foltynewicz’s breakout 2018 season, and that velocity still hasn’t returned late this year. Still, he’s done a better job of missing bats and keeping the ball in the park recently with the help of an easy schedule that has included two starts against Toronto and one at Miami. His two road outings against division rivals Philly and Washington will be key for the Braves next week.
Notes: Probable pitchers as of Friday, September 6, and are subject to change.
At Your Own Risk
Madison Bumgarner: PIT, MIA
Jose Quintana: @SD, PIT
Max Fried: @PHI, @WAS
Zack Wheeler: ARI, LAD
Jon Lester: @SD, PIT
Mike Foltynewicz: @PHI, @WAS
Jordan Lyles: @MIA, @STL
Logan Webb: PIT, MIA
Dakota Hudson: @COL, MIL
Anibal Sanchez: @MIN, ATL
Chase Anderson: @MIA, @STL
Merrill Kelly: @NYM, CIN
At Your Own Risk
The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:
Thursday, September 12: J.A. Happ @DET
It’s been a forgettable year for the home run prone Happ, but he gets an anemic Tigers lineup on the road next week. Happ has also pitched well in three of his last four appearances.
Friday, September 13: Trevor Richards @ LAA
Richards continues to piece together quality outings, with a 2.70 ERA and 10.3 K/9 over his last four appearances. He’s definitely worthy of a look after a slump while with Miami at midseason.
Friday, September 13: Jordan Zimmermann vs. BAL
Somehow, Zimmermann has been solid in four consecutive starts. His outing next week vs. Baltimore looks favorable, as the O’s have the fifth worst OPS against right-handers.
Thursday, September 12: Gio Gonzalez @ MIA
The Marlins continue to struggle hitting anyone. Gonzalez hasn’t been great lately, walking four batters in each of his last four starts, but this matchup against a lineup with a .685 OPS vs. lefties is too good to pass up.
Friday, September 13: Tyler Mahle @ ARI
Mahle is one of the few Reds pitching stories that hasn’t gone well this year, but he was excellent in his first start back from the minors and faces a Diamondbacks lineup that ranks only 20th in OPS vs. right-handers.
Friday, September 13: Dereck Rodriguez vs. MIA
It’s been a rough year for Rodriguez after setting the world on fire in his rookie season, but if there was ever a time to use him, this would be it. Miami has a .663 OPS against right-handers and is without Brian Anderson for the rest of the year.
6: BAL, BOS, CLE, CHW, DET, KC, LAA, MIN, SEA, TB, TEX, TOR
7: HOU, NYY, OAK
6: CIN, COL, LAD, PHI, STL, WAS
7: ARI, ATL, CHC, MIA, MIL, NYM, PIT, SD, SF
Here’s some injuries to prominent players from the last week, and other players to watch for in the coming week. You can get a full listing of injured players at Rotoworld's Injury Page.
Jose Alvarado: Out for the season (elbow)
Javier Baez: Day-to-day (thumb)
Tim Beckham: Out at least two weeks (hamstring)
Travis d’Arnaud: Day-to-day (neck)
Yu Darvish: Day-to-day (arm)
Alex Dickerson: Day-to-day (oblique)
Sam Dyson: Status uncertain (biceps)
Adam Eaton: Out indefinitely (knee)
Kyle Farmer: Placed on IL (oblique)
John Hicks: Day-to-day (illness)
Keston Hiura: Placed on IL (hamstring)
Jon Jay: Out for the season (hip)
Mitch Keller: Status uncertain (wrist)
Craig Kimbel: Placed on IL (elbow)
Dustin May: Day-to-day (neck)
Nomar Mazara: Day-to-day (oblique)
Francisco Mejia: Placed on IL (oblique)
Jordy Mercer: Day-to-day (wrist)
Reyes Moronta: Out for the season (shoulder)
Mike Moustakas: Day-to-day (hand)
Max Muncy: Placed on IL (wrist)
Joe Musgrove: Start skipped (foot)
Tyler Naquin: Out for the season (knee)
Omar Narvaez: Day-to-day (back)
Tommy Pham: Day-to-day (arm)
Manny Pina: Day-to-day (head)
David Price: Status uncertain (wrist)
Albert Pujols: Day-to-day (illness)
CC Sabathia: Out indefinitely (knee)
Pablo Sandoval: Out for the season (elbow)
Nick Senzel: Day-to-day (shoulder)
Eric Sogard: Day-to-day (nose)
George Springer: Day-to-day (concussion)
Tony Watson: Day-to-day (wrist)
Tyler White: Out for the season (back)
Matt Wieters: Day-to-day (calf)
Alex Wood: Status uncertain (back)