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The Week Ahead

Week Ahead: Strong Sleepers

by Nick Nelson
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

The second week of the MLB season is lighter on premium two-start pitchers -- I've only got six Strong Plays listed compared to 15 in Week 1 -- but there are plenty of intriguing names that fall into the middle tier. I'm going to focus on two of them below before we dive into your full list and streamers.

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* First, let's talk about Toronto's Aaron Sanchez. The 23-year-old was a popular draft sleeper coming off a solid rookie season for the Jays, and he built upon the hype with an excellent spring, in which wrapped up a rotation spot by posting a 1.35 ERA and 19-to-3 K/BB ratio over 20 innings.

His momentum didn't slow down in a sterling season debut. Facing the Rays in Tampa, Sanchez hurled seven innings of one-run ball with eight strikeouts and no walks. He faces two tough AL East opponents in the coming week, including the Red Sox at Fenway, but with that Toronto offense behind him, you know he'll have run support. Sanchez is available in around 30 percent of Yahoo leagues.

* Another guy who followed up an spectacular spring with a strong season debut is Juan Nicasio. He was nearly untouchable in March, allowing zero runs with a 24-to-5 K/BB ratio over 15 innings in the Grapefruit League, and his dominance carried over to his first meaningful start. On Wednesday, the right-hander shut down the Cardinals, allowing one run on two hits over six innings with seven strikeouts and zero walks.

Last year, Nicasio took a big step forward in terms of missing bats, with a 10.0 K/9 rate that towered over his career mark, though he mostly did it as a reliever. Now, he's getting a chance to start, and he is flourishing like so many other transplants in the Pittsburgh rotation have done before.

He opens his week with a tough match-up in Detroit, but it's pretty tough to bet against the 29-year-old right now. He is presently owned in only 61 percent of Yahoo leagues.


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Going Twice...

American League

Strong Plays

Sonny Gray: LAA, KC

Carlos Carrasco: @TB, NYM

Decent Plays

Aaron Sanchez: NYY, @BOS

Derek Holland: @SEA, BAL

Hisashi Iwakuma: TEX, @NYY

Michael Pineda: @TOR, SEA

Kyle Gibson: CWS, LAA

Mike Fiers: KC, DET

Collin McHugh: KC, DET

Carlos Rodon: @MIN, @TB

Clay Buchholz: BAL, TOR

At Your Own Risk

Colby Lewis: @SEA, BAL

Matt Moore: CLE, CWS

Chris Young: @HOU, @OAK

Anibal Sanchez: PIT, @HOU

Shane Greene: PIT, @HOU

Yovani Gallardo: @BOS, @TEX

Ubaldo Jimenez: @BOS, @TEX

Nick Tropeano: @OAK, @MIN

National League

Strong Plays

Gio Gonzalez: ATL, @PHI

Stephen Strasburg: ATL, @PHI

Jon Lester: CIN, COL

Decent Plays

Michael Wacha: MIL, CIN

Andrew Cashner: @PHI, ARI

James Shields: @PHI, ARI

Aaron Nola: SD, WAS

Kenta Maeda: ARI, SF

Juan Nicasio: @DET, MIL

Patrick Corbin: @LAD, @SD

At Your Own Risk

Jeff Samardzija: @COL, @LAD

Jon Niese: @DET, MIL

Charlie Morton: SD, WAS

Taylor Jungmann: @STL, @PIT

Wei-Yin Chen: @NYM, ATL

Tyler Chatwood: SF, @CHC

Brandon Finnegan: @CHC, @STL

Bud Norris: @WAS, @MIA

Jhoulys Chacin: @WAS, @MIA

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, April 12th: Kendall Graveman vs. LAA

The 25-year-old showed some nice signs as a rookie last year, and has a 2.60 career ERA in the minors. He's got a favorable tilt here at home against the Halos.

Wednesday, April 13th: Kris Medlen @ HOU

Medlen had his strikeout stuff working this spring. Let's see if he can keep it rolling against a K-prone Houston lineup.

Friday, April 15th: CC Sabathia vs. SEA

The former Cy Young winner has become somewhat of a non-factor in fantasy leagues, but in the right match-ups he's still intriguing. This one at home against the lefty-heavy M's would qualify.

National League

Wednesday, April 13th: Jerad Eickhoff vs. SD

Last year Eickhoff put up a 2.65 ERA in eight starts after being called up by the Phillies in August. He notched 10 strikeouts in each of his final two starts. He's got a nice soft assignment against the Padres.

Thursday, April 14th: Drew Pomeranz @ PHI

The Phillies are bad. Pomeranz is a big lefty with bat-missing stuff.

Friday, April 15th: Tom Koehler vs. ATL

Koehler put up a 3.29 ERA at home in 2015. He'll look to pick up where left off against a weak Braves offense.

Total Games

American League



National League



The Infirmary

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:

A.J. Pollock: Out indefinitely (elbow)

Kyle Schwarber: Out indefinitely (ankle)

Cameron Maybin: Returning this week (wrist)

Jarrod Dyson: Returning this week (oblique)

Andrew Heaney: Out until until late April (left flexor muscle strai)

Matt Garza: Out until May (shoulder)

Ben Revere: Out until late April (oblique)

Nick Nelson
Nick Nelson is a frequent contributor to Rotoworld's baseball coverage and regularly blogs about the Minnesota Twins at Twins Daily. Follow him on Twitter @NickNelsonMN.