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The Week Ahead

The Week Ahead: Shark Tank

by Seth Trachtman
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

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.


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-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.

Going Twice…


American League


Strong Plays


James Paxton: MIN, TOR

Chris Archer: CHW, OAK

Justin Verlander: LAA, @BOS


Decent Plays


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


National League


Strong Plays


Max Scherzer: @LAD, TEX

Robbie Ray: SD, MIL

Carlos Martinez: @CIN, PHI

Ivan Nova: @BAL, MIA


Decent Plays


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


Streamer City


The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:


American League


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.


National League


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.


Total Games


American League




7: HOU, KC



National League


5: NYM





The Infirmary


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)