Following an underwhelming first season in Boston, Rick Porcello is now looking much more like the impact arm that the Red Sox parted with big talent (including Yoenis Cespedes) to acquire in a December 2014 trade.
Porcello was coming off a 15-win season with the Tigers when he came aboard, prompting the Sox to hand him an $82 million contract extension right away. His output in Year One of that deal (9-15, 4.92 ERA) was obviously a major disappointment. Here in 2016, however, the right-hander is on a roll and looking like a frontline starter.
Through his first seven starts, Porcello is 6-1 with a 3.11 ERA and 0.99 WHIP. His control has been typically sharp (1.9 BB/9) and his strikeouts have taken another healthy tick upward after last year's encouraging jump.
Since coming over to Boston, Porcello has traded in ground balls for missed bats, and that's a swap that his fantasy owners will happily take, especially with the overall results that are coming attached.
Next week, Porcello will match up against a pair of mediocre offenses as he looks to add to his impressive win total. He is owned in 85 percent of Yahoo leagues but if he's still out there in yours, now is the time to jump.
* The Blue Jays are looking ahead to series against the Rays and Twins, the two lowest-scoring offense in the American League. Marcus Stroman is of course a recommended play but I'm even more intrigued by Toronto's other two-start pitcher, J.A. Happ. Each of his seven starts this year has been quality and he's coming off one of the best outings of his career in San Francisco. Despite his 5-0 record, he is owned in only 64 percent of Yahoo leagues and 58 percent of ESPN leagues.
* Colin Rea is a very strong mid-tier option with two starts at Petco Park, where he's 2-0 with a 3.32 ERA. In his last home outing, the righty shut down the Mets with eight innings of one-run ball.
* Pitching on the road has been no problem for Joe Ross, who has a 1.21 ERA in four starts away from Washington this year. He's slated to pitch in New York and Miami.
* Conversely, Philadelphia's Jerad Eickhoff has been much better in his own yard, where he has a 2.25 ERA and 22-to-3 K/BB ratio in three starts. He's looking ahead to very favorable home match-ups against the Marlins and Braves, and is available in more than half of all leagues.
* I've got Juan Nicasio (available in 55 percent of Yahoo leagues) listed as a Strong Play. He has home tilts against the lowly Braves and a Rockies team that, as usual, is much less intimidating away from Coors. Good strikeout potential here.
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Rick Porcello: @KC, CLE
Danny Salazar: CIN, @BOS
J.A. Happ: TB, @MIN
Marcus Stroman: TB, @MIN
Tyler Wilson: SEA, @LAA
Carlos Rodon: HOU, KC
Doug Fister: @CWS, TEX
Michael Pineda: @ARI, @OAK
Nathan Eovaldi: @ARI, @OAK
Wade Miley: @BAL, @CIN
Chris Archer: @TOR, @DET
At Your Own Risk
Cody Anderson: CIN, @BOS
Yordano Ventura: BOS, @CWS
Matt Shoemaker: @LAD, BAL
Jered Weaver: @LAD, BAL
Jose Berrios: @DET, TOR
Phil Hughes: @DET, TOR
Sean Manaea: TEX, NYY
Derek Holland: @OAK, @HOU
Joe Ross: @NYM, @MIA
Jaime Garcia: COL, ARI
Madison Bumgarner: @SD, CHC
Francisco Liriano: ATL, COL
Juan Nicasio: ATL, COL
Noah Syndergaard: WAS, MIL
Clayton Kershaw: LAA, @SD
Kenta Maeda: LAA, @SD
Kyle Hendricks: @MIL, @SF
Zack Greinke: NYY, @STL
Colin Rea: SF, LAD
Jerad Eickhoff: MIA, ATL
Wei-Yin Chen: @PHI, WAS
John Lamb: @CLE, SEA
At Your Own Risk
Chase Anderson: CHC, @NYM
Chris Rusin: @STL, @PIT
Alfredo Simon: @CLE, SEA
Aaron Blair: @PIT, @PHI
Robbie Ray: NYY, @STL
The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:
Wednesday, May 18th: R.A. Dickey vs. TB
The Rays have scored the second-fewest runs in the AL. Dickey will look to stymy them at home with his knuckleball.
Thursday, May 19th: Kendall Graveman vs. NYY
Graveman has a 3.57 ERA at home, and the Yankees have a sub-600 OPS as a team on the road.
Saturday, May 21st: Kevin Gausman @ LAA
The righty continues to look excellent and has a very favorable match-up here against one of the AL's worst lineups.
Wednesday, May 18th: Tom Koehler @PHI
In his last turn against the Phillies, Koehler turned in his best outing of the season with seven innings of one-run ball.
Wednesday, May 18th: Brandon Finnegan vs. CLE
The lefty's occasional control struggles should be less of an issue against a Cleveland lineup that doesn't take many walks.
Thursday, May 19th: Jeff Locke vs. ATL
Locke has turned in three consecutive quality starts. He shouldn't have trouble with a Braves offense that is barely averaging three runs per game.
6: BAL, BOS, CWS, DET, HOU, KC, SEA, TB, TEX
7: CLE, LAA, MIN, NYY, OAK, TOR
6: ARI, CHC, COL, MIA, MIL, NYM, PHI, SD, SF, STL, WAS
7: ATL, CIN, LAD, PIT
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:
Chris Young: Out indefinitely (forearm)
Kris Medlen: Out indefinitely (forearm)
Mike Moustakas: Out indefinitely (thumb)
Andrelton Simmons: Out indefinitely (thumb)
Garrett Richards: Out for the season (elbow)
Eduardo Escobar: Out until mid-May (groin)
Jed Lowrie: Out until late May (foot)