Two months of the season is usually enough data to get a good idea where teams and players stand. Jeff Samardzija’s traditional stats could be an exception.
Samardzija hasn’t looked good at all using traditional stats such as wins and ERA. He has a 1-7 record and 4.63 ERA, continuing a trend of disappointment from the last two seasons.
Looking deeper at the numbers, however, Samardzija could be on the cusp of becoming an ace. Through 72 innings, Samardzija has career bests in K/9 (10.5) and BB/9 (1.4), and his 7.64 K/BB ratio is the third best in baseball.
While home runs continue to hurt Samardzija, with 10 allowed thus far, he’s also had his share of bad luck. He currently has a .340 BABIP, more than 40 points worse than his career norm. The ERA metrics do show the aforementioned ace potential with a 3.14 FIP, 2.81 xFIP, and 2.96 SIERA. Put that with his 1.18 WHIP and nearly 250 strikeout pace, and that’s a pitcher you’d take in any league.
If an owner in your league is selling at almost any discount, now is the time to buy.
Editor’s Note: Introducing FanDuel Mixup, the newest way to play FanDuel Baseball. Smaller lineups, so you can draft your team on the go, plus fun themes every week! Play now.
-Everyone wants to know what’s wrong with Masahiro Tanaka. It’s difficult to pinpoint after he allowed only one run in 7.1 innings with 13 strikeouts in one start, and then seven earned runs in the next outing. The walk rate, while still very good, is the worst of his career since coming to the States (2.5 BB/9), but that certainly doesn’t explain an ERA above 6.00. Perhaps Tanaka’s long history of elbow issues is shining through, or maybe it’s just a case of bad luck (.339 BABIP). Either way, using him in a two-start week against Boston and Baltimore does seem like playing with fire when Tanaka has allowed at least six earned runs in three of his last four starts.
-Remember the offseason when so many of us suggested Robbie Ray was on the cusp of becoming an elite pitcher? He hasn’t allowed a run over his last three starts, lowering his ERA to an even 3.00 through 11 starts. Ray legitimately looks like an ace, now on a 200 inning pace, and his outstanding 11.0 K/9 isn’t far behind last season. Baseball Prospectus ranks him as the 18th best pitcher so far, at the time of this writing.
-You’ll notice on that same table that Rays ace Chris Archer is ranked third best. His fantasy pace has been in between what we saw in his outstanding 2015 season and less-good 2016. However, he’s trending up with a career-best 10.8 K/9 and home run rate that’s nearly been cut in half vs. last season. There have been a few mediocre starts from Archer, inflating his ERA, but he doesn’t seem to be a pitcher I’d want to sell at this point. Plus, he has an incredibly enticing two-start week ahead against the White Sox and Oakland.
-I mentioned Adam Wainwright several weeks ago in this spot as a pitcher I didn’t think was finished. He’s rolling now, allowing only one run over his last four starts, including seven scoreless innings at Coors Field over the weekend. While the WHIP is still quite ugly due his high BABIP, Wainwright’s groundball rate has seen a slight rebound to near 50 percent this year, and he’s allowed only four home runs, as a result. His currently 7.9 K/9 is far from ace-like, but it is his highest rate since 2013. Wainwright is starting to look like a sneaky good pick up in mixed leagues, as long as your expectations are reasonable.
-Prospect rankings are a tool for fantasy owners, but often players fall through the cracks. One of them was Padres pitcher Dinelson Lamet, a power arm who never appeared on a top 100 list, to my knowledge, and was only ranked as the ninth best player in the Padres organization by Baseball America during the offseason. He’s looked like an ace through two starts, with a 2.70 ERA and 16/3 K/BB in 10 innings after posting a 3.23 ERA and 11.5 K/9 in eight starts at hitter-friendly Triple-A El Paso. Lamet has averaged better than 95 mph on his fastball, ranking 10th best among starters this season. The high ceiling is more than enough to take a chance on in mixed leagues if he’s still available.
-As usual, Chase Field in Arizona has been quite the haven for runs. It’s been the best park in baseball this year, and Arizona’s hitters have extremely attractive matchups next week at home against San Diego and Milwaukee. Get your Diamondbacks ready.
James Paxton: MIN, TOR
Chris Archer: CHW, OAK
Justin Verlander: LAA, @BOS
Sean Manaea: TOR, @TB
Jose Quintana: @TB, @CLE
Drew Pomeranz: @NYY, DET
Kevin Gausman: PIT, @NYY
J.A. Happ: @OAK, @SEA
Mike Fiers: @KC, LAA
Jesse Chavez: @DET, @HOU
At Your Own Risk
Masahiro Tanaka: BOS, BAL
Ian Kennedy: HOU, @SD
Max Scherzer: @LAD, TEX
Robbie Ray: SD, MIL
Carlos Martinez: @CIN, PHI
Ivan Nova: @BAL, MIA
Jeff Samardzija: @MIL, MIN
Dan Straily: @CHC, @PIT
Jake Arrieta: MIA, COL
Gio Gonzalez: @LAD, TEX
Dinelson Lamet: @ARI, KC
Junior Guerra: SF, @ARI
Jaime Garcia: PHI, NYM
Hyun-Jin Ryu: WAS, CIN
Adam Wainwright: @CIN, PHI
Aaron Nola: @ATL, @STL
Chase Anderson: SF, @ARI
Antonio Senzatela: CLE, @CHC
Eddie Butler: MIA, COL
Matt Cain: @MIL, MIN
At Your Own Risk
Tim Adelman: STL, @LAD
Jeff Locke: @CHC, @PIT
Bartolo Colon: PHI, NYM
Lisalverto Bonilla: STL, @LAD
The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:
Tuesday, June 6: Hector Santiago @ SEA
Santiago is rarely a great play, especially considering his 1.79 K/BB ratio and 1.9 HR/9 this season. There is an opportunity early next week against a Mariners lineup that has the fourth worst OPS vs. southpaws.
Tuesday, June 6: David Paulino @ KC
With Joe Musgrove and Charlie Morton going on the DL in Houston, a spot has been opened up for Paulino. He started the year with arm trouble, but had a 2.00 ERA, 10.6 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 between three minor league levels last season and looked good this week at Minnesota with two runs allowed in four innings and eight strikeouts. If the Astros give him another shot, Paulino is well worth it against KC.
Friday, June 9: Eric Skoglund @ SD
This Royals team was a mess even before losing ace Danny Duffy for an extended period. Skoglund looks like a potential bright spot, throwing 6.1 scoreless innings in his debut with his great control (2.1 BB/9 in the minors). A start against a Padres lineup with a sub-.600 OPS against lefties is worth a shot.
Wednesday, June 7: Michael Foltynewicz vs. PHI
Foltynewicz’s inconsistency has likely kept him on the waiver wire in most mixed leagues, but Philadelphia has the eighth lowest OPS vs. right-handed pitching this season.
Thursday, June 8: Edinson Volquez @ PIT
Do I trust Volquez? Never. But he has two quality starts in a row against sub-par opponents, and faces another in the Pirates, his former team. If you were ever going to use Volquez again, now is the time.
Friday, June 9: Jhoulys Chacin vs. KC
Speaking of pitchers who can’t be trusted, Chacin’s ERA is up to 5.77. However, keep in mind that it went up more than one run after allowing seven runs and failing to get out of the first inning on May 23. He’s allowed three earned runs or less in five of his last six starts, and will be facing an anemic Royals offense.
5: CLE, TEX
6: BAL, BOS, CHW, DET, LAA, MIN, NYY, OAK, SEA, TB, TOR
7: HOU, KC
6: ARI, LAD, PIT, SD
7: ATL, CHC, CIN, COL, MIA, MIL, PHI, SF, STL, WAS
Here’s some injuries to prominent players over 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.
Matt Andriese: Placed on the 10-day DL (groin)
Ryan Braun: Out indefinitely (calf)
Welington Castillo: Placed on 10-day DL (groin)
Danny Duffy: Out 6-8 weeks (oblique)
Kendall Graveman: Placed on 10-day DL (shoulder)
A.J. Griffin: Out indefinitely (intercostal)
Ian Kinsler: Placed on 10-day DL (hamstring)
Manuel Margot: Placed on 10-day DL (calf)
Cameron Maybin: Placed on 10-day DL (oblique)
Michael Morse: Placed on 7-day DL (concussion)
Dustin Pedroia: Placed on 10-day DL (wrist)
Mike Trout: Out 6-8 weeks (thumb)
Vincent Velasquez: Placed on 10-day DL (elbow)
Kolten Wong: Placed on 10-day DL (elbow)
Alex Wood: Will be reevaluated (shoulder)