Based on his background, you hardly would have expected Jacob deGrom to be a star pitcher in the big leagues -- especially not right away. He was a ninth-round pick in 2010 and his stats in the minors have always been solid but never spectacular, helping explain why he's never been rated as a top prospect.
Yet, ever since joining the Mets rotation back in mid-May, deGrom has been consistently dominating opposing lineups. In 16 starts he has a 2.87 ERA and 1.22 WHIP, with a 94-to-33 K/BB ratio in 100 innings. His 8.4 K/9 rate beats any mark he ever posted in the minor leagues, and it's tough to view that as a fluke when he's making so many people swing and miss; his swinging strike rate (11.4 percent) is 12th-highest in baseball.
In The Week Ahead, deGrom is looking ahead to a pair of home match-ups, one against a quality Nationals lineup and the other against a lesser Cubs lineup. The right-hander is owned in about 95 percent of ESPN leagues but is inexplicably still available in about 35 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Grab him if you can.
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $35,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Friday night's MLB games. It's $25 to join and first prize is $5,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on Friday. Here's the FanDuel link.
* If you're looking for a high-caliber option that is probably available in your league, take a look at Kyle Hendricks. The rookie has been remarkably effective since stepping into the Cubs rotation, with a 3-1 record and 2.10 ERA through his first five major-league starts. He has worked into at least the seventh in each of his last four turns. He is lined up to face the Brewers at home and the Mets on the road.
* Odrisamer Despaigne has struggled in his last few starts, but I like his chances of getting back on track this week. In his first start he goes at Petco against a Rockies offense that has been terrible on the road. His second start comes against a Cardinals team that has scored the second-fewest runs in the NL.
* Hop aboard the Wily Peralta train if you can! He's won each of his last five starts, with a 1.64 ERA during that stretch, and he set a career high for strikeouts his last time out.
* Colby Lewis turned in a massive clunker in his last start before the All-Star break, coughing up 11 earned runs against the Angels, but since then he has a 2.20 ERA. He gets the Rays and (gulp) Angels at home.
* Unowned in more than 70 percent of Yahoo! leagues and more than 80 percent of ESPN leagues, Collin McHugh takes his 3.18 ERA and 115-to-35 K/BB ratio into the coming week, with favorable tilts against the Twins and Red Sox.
Sonny Gray: @KC (Ventura), @ATL (Teheran)
Jon Lester: @KC (Guthrie), @ATL (Minor)
Felix Hernandez: TOR (Hutchison), @DET (Porcello)
Collin McHugh: MIN (Pino), @BOS (Kelly)
Justin Verlander: @PIT (Locke), SEA (Paxton)
Rick Porcello: @PIT (Volquez), SEA (Hernandez)
Drew Hutchison: @SEA (Hernandez), @CWS (Danks)
Nick Tepesch: TB (Hellickson), LAA (Santiago)
Colby Lewis: TB (Smyly), LAA (Richards)
Jeremy Hellickson: @TEX (Tepesch), NYY (Capuano)
Drew Smyly: @TEX (Lewis), NYY (Kuroda)
Yordano Ventura: OAK (Gray), @MIN (Hughes)
Joe Kelly: @CIN (Latos), HOU (McHugh)
Wei-Yin Chen: NYY (Capuano), @CLE
At Your Own Risk
Doug Fister: @NYM (deGrom), PIT (Volquez)
Adam Wainwright: @MIA (Cosart), SD (Despaigne)
Shelby Miller: @MIA (Koehler), SD (Hahn)
Jesse Hahn: COL (Lyles), @STL (Miller)
Jeff Locke: DET (Verlander), @WAS (Gonzalez)
Jacob deGrom: WAS (Fister), CHC (Hendricks)
Wily Peralta: @CHC (Hendricks), @LAD (Ryu)
Yovani Gallardo: @CHC (Arrieta), @LAD (Haren)
Hyun-jin Ryu: @ATL (Minor), MIL (Peralta)
Mat Latos: BOS (Kelly), @COL (Flande)
Kyle Hendricks: MIL (Peralta), @NYM (deGrom)
Jake Arrieta: MIL (Gallardo), @NYM (Niese)
Julio Teheran: LAD (Haren), OAK (Gray)
Odrisamer Despaigne: COL (Flande), @STL (Wainwright)
Edinson Volquez: DET (Porcello), @WAS (Fister)
David Buchanan: NYM (Niese), @SF (Lincecum)
Jon Niese: @PHI (Buchanan), CHC (Arrieta)
Tom Koehler: STL (Miller), ARI (Miley)
Jordan Lyles: @SD (Hahn), CIN (Cueto)
At Your Own Risk
Jarred Cosart: STL (Wainwright), ARI (Collmenter)
Dan Haren: @ATL (Teheran), MIL (Gallardo)
Yohan Flande: @SD (Despaigne), CIN (Latos)
Mike Minor: LAD (Ryu), OAK (Lester)
Josh Collmenter: @CLE (Salazar), @MIA (Cosart)
The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:
Tuesday, 8/12: Matt Shoemaker vs. PHI
Since the start of July, Shoemaker has a 3.24 ERA and 30-to-5 K/BB ratio in 33 innings.
Wednesday, 8/13: T.J. House vs. ARI
The rookie hurled has yielded three or fewer earned runs in seven straight turns. He's been much better at home than away.
Friday, 8/15: Danny Duffy @ MIN
Fantasy owners are finally wising up to Duffy and his 2.39 ERA, but he remains unowned in more than half of leagues. This match-up in Minny is an excellent one.
Wednesday, 8/13: Tyler Matzek @ SD
Matzek had been pitching pretty well up until an implosion in his last start at Comerica, so look for him to get back on track against the hapless Padres in San Diego.
Friday, 8/15: Brad Hand vs. ARI
Hand has rattled off four straight quality starts, and has a 2.28 ERA during that span.
5: CLE, CWS, LAA
6: BAL, BOS, MIN, NYY, SEA, TOR
7: DET, HOU, KC, OAK, TB, TEX
6: ARI, CIN, PHI, WAS
7: ATL, CHC, COL, LAD, MIA, MIL, NYM, PIT, SD, STL
BAL: 5 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
BOS: 5 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
CLE: 3 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
CWS: 4 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
DET: 3 vs. RHP, 4 vs. LHP
HOU: 7 vs. RHP, 0 vs. LHP
KC: 5 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
LAA: 5 vs. RHP, 0 vs. LHP
MIN: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
NYY: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
OAK: 4 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP
SEA: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
TB: 6 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
TEX: 5 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
TOR: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
ARI: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
ATL: 5 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
CHC: 6 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
CIN: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
COL: 6 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
LAD: 6 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
MIA: 6 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
MIL: 4 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP
NYM: 6 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
PHI: 3 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP
PIT: 6 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
SD: 5 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
SF: 3 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
STL: 6 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
WAS: 5 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
You can get a full listing of injured players at Rotoworld's Injury Page but here's the latest on a few prominent players who have been out of action:
Paul Goldschmidt: Out for the season (hand)
Allen Craig: Out indefinitely (foot)
David Ross: Out until mid-August (foot)
Shane Victorino: Out for the season (back)
Brett Anderson: Out indefinitely (back)
Eric Hosmer: Out until September (hand)
Matt Garza: Out until late August (oblique)
David Phelps: Out until September (elbow)
Brett Lawrie: Out until September (oblique)
Nate McLouth: Out until mid-August (shoulder)