The hard-throwing right-hander has a 3.10 ERA through five starts, showing the elite velocity that made him a top prospect. Though, the high velocity really isn’t anything new for Montas, whose average fastball velocity was about 96 mph last season.
The difference maker for Montas in 2019 has been a new pitch. He’s mixing in a splitter with regularity early this season, throwing it about 17 percent of the time so far. That pitch has helped him produce a career-high 58 percent groundball rate and 3.25 K/BB ratio so far, and Montas has yet to allow more than three runs in a start.
Montas has also shown even better velocity early this season, ranking fifth among starting pitchers with a 96.7 mph average fastball. Now with three legitimate pitches, Montas has thrown his high-powered fastball less often than his previous major league stints.
The results still haven’t been perfect. Montas has always had issues with left-handed hitters, a trend that has continued this season with southpaws hitting .292/.333/.479 against him. Still, the early results have been quite promising, and there’s a clear explanation for the improvement. That should help fantasy owners be more confident the strong early results we’re seeing from Montas aren’t a fluke.
-Mike Soroka had shoulder issues that limited him to only 56.1 innings last season, and his first start this season was similarly delayed by shoulder problems. He’s clearly healthy now. The 21-year-old has pitched like an ace through two starts and has yet to allow a long ball with a 55 percent groundball rate and 8.00 groundball-to-flyball ratio. The former first-round pick has seen nothing but success as a pro, and his career sub-2.0 BB/9 shows plenty of WHIP upside on top of the strong groundball rate. The Braves would be smart to cap his innings given the recent injury history and age, but like Julio Urias, Soroka is an excellent option as long as he’s getting starts.
-A pair of Mets starting pitchers rank 1-2 in average fastball velocity this season. Noah Syndergaard isn’t a surprise as the top flamethrower, but just behind him is Zack Wheeler. He’s always been a hard thrower, but Wheeler’s average fastball is up more than one mph from last season. He’s coming off a spectacular start vs. Philadelphia when he threw seven scoreless innings with 11 strikeouts and has now strung together three consecutive quality starts. While Wheeler’s ERA is still 4.85, it’s worth noting how difficult his schedule has been to this point with two starts each vs. Washington and Philadelphia, along with one start at Atlanta. His schedule doesn’t get much easier this week, but you shouldn’t consider sitting Wheeler with his velocity and recent results.
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-Clay Buchholz still seems to be working his arm into shape after getting a late start this season. It’s worth remembering he was shut down by the Diamondbacks last year with a flexor strain in his elbow. The outstanding control that he showed with Arizona has held early on with a sub-2.0 BB/9 so far, but there’s reason to be concerned about his arm health. He’s not missing bats and showing a four-seam fastball that’s averaging only 88 mph, down two mph from last year. Toronto has been careful not to overexpose Buchholz so far, as the right-hander has averaged fewer than 75 pitches per start. Buchholz has a relatively easy two-start week ahead (@LAA, @TEX), but you should still be cautious if you have viable alternatives.
-Despite his strong start, I’m similarly concerned about Jeff Samardzija for the same reason as Buchholz. He was one of the league’s top velocity pitchers at one point in his career, but struggled last season with a fastball that averaged 92.3 mph and shoulder issues that limited him to only 10 starts last season. We haven’t heard about any health issues for the former Notre Dame wide receiver this season, and it looks like he’s back on track with a 3.00 ERA in five starts. Samardzija also had a good spring training, but his fastball velocity is actually worse than it was last season and is now nearly three mph below what it was in 2017. He’s been helped by a favorable schedule but was knocked around a bit vs. Tampa Bay and at Washington. A two-start week vs. the Dodgers and at Cincinnati will be a huge test this week, and not one I’d trust in shallow mixed leagues.
Note: Probable pitchers as of Friday, April 26, and are subject to change.
Eduardo Rodriguez: OAK, @CHW
Frankie Montas: @BOS, @PIT
Brad Keller: TB, @DET
Jakob Junis: TB, @DET
Jake Odorizzi: HOU, @NYY
Michael Pineda: HOU, @NYY
Rick Porcello: OAK, @CHW
Clay Buchholz: @LAA, @TEX
Jalen Beeks: @KC, @BAL
At Your Own Risk
At Your Own Risk
The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:
Friday, May 3: Brett Anderson @ PIT
The wonder that is Brett Anderson continues to get outs this season, though it’s hard to believe in him over the long term with a sub-6.0 K/9 for the second straight year. That said, the Pirates rank dead last in the league with a .588 OPS vs. lefties.
Saturday, May 4: Spencer Turnbull vs. KC
Turnbull is already a consideration as a potential pickup due to his 2.77 ERA in five starts, and this could be the week to take the plunge as he faces a weak Royals lineup.
Saturday, May 4: Mike Leake @ CLE
We’ve seen consecutive seasons of declining velocity from Leake, who didn’t have much velocity to begin with. Still, he now has a sub-2.0 BB/9 for the fourth straight year and faces a Cleveland lineup with a .628 OPS vs. right-handers, albeit mostly without now-healthy shortstop Francisco Lindor.
Wednesday, May 1: Chase Anderson vs. COL
Anderson’s spot in the rotation is in jeopardy after the Brewers added Gio Gonzalez, but he has a shot to keep it if he continues to pitch like he did in his first start. After a velocity decline last year, Anderson is showing by far the best velocity of his career so far and dominated the Dodgers in his last start. He has another good opportunity against the Rockies outside of Coors Field.
Saturday, May 4: Tanner Roark vs. SF
While I’m still not crazy about Roark overall (see his 1.60 WHIP and 81.6% LOB%), you can’t beat his second matchup next week against a Giants lineup that has a league-worst .613 OPS against right-handers. If you have midweek pitching changes, this would be a time to use that rule to your advantage.
Sunday, May 5: Julio Teheran @ MIA
I’m still less than enthusiastic about Teheran, whose lack of control (4.8 BB/9) and inability to keep the ball in the park have haunted him this year, but his second start of the week at Miami to too good to overlook. The Marlins have a .619 OPS vs. right-handers, second worst in MLB.
5: CLE, DET, LAA, NYY, SEA, TEX
6: BAL, HOU, OAK, TOR
7: BOS, CHW, KC, MIN, TB
5: ARI, CHC, MIA, PHI, PIT
6: LAD, SF
7: ATL, CIN, COL, MIL, NYM, SD, STL, WAS
Here’s some injuries to prominent players from 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.
Jay Bruce: Day-to-day (quad)
Zack Cozart: Placed on IL (neck)
Hunter Dozier: Day-to-day (back)
Nathan Eovaldi: Out six weeks (elbow)
Clint Frazier: Placed on IL (ankle)
Freddy Galvis: Day-to-day (hamstring)
Erik Gonzalez: Out 10-12 weeks (collarbone)
Aaron Judge: Out indefinitely (oblique)
Jakob Junis: Day-to-day (hand)
Matt Kemp: Placed on IL (ribs)
Scott Kingery: Placed on IL (hamstring)
Starling Marte: Placed on IL (abdomen)
Austin Meadows: Placed on IL (thumb)
Mike Moustakas: Day-to-day (finger)
Roman Quinn: Placed on IL (groin)
Anthony Rendon: Day-to-day (elbow)
Bryan Reynolds: Day-to-day (quad)
Aaron Sanchez: Day-to-day (finger)
Matt Shoemaker: Out for the season (knee)
Drew Smyly: Will miss one start (elbow)
Lou Trivino: Day-to-day (thumb)
Joey Wendle: Out 3-4 weeks (wrist)