You probably hear from baseball analysts all the time talk about “regression to the mean,” but that doesn’t always have a negative connotation. Case in point Mike Fiers.
The Astros right-hander was set to be removed from the rotation before the team’s bevy of injuries, but since May 30, there haven’t been many more effective pitchers in baseball. Over that time he’s gone 4-0 in five starts with a 1.72 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 29/11 K/BB in 33.1 innings. As a result, his season ERA has plunged from 5.21 to 3.81.
The biggest difference for the veteran right-hander has been clear. Fiers has been able to keep the ball down. He allowed at least one home run in each of his first nine starts and 18 in total over 46.2 innings. Despite a 38/17 K/BB during those nine starts, there was simply no way he could produce a viable ERA with such severe home run issues.
Of course, an easy recent schedule hasn’t hurt Fiers, either. During his five-game streak, he’s faced Minnesota, Kansas City, the Angels, Boston, and Oakland. All five of those teams currently rank in the bottom eight of the AL in runs scored. Plus, the best offense of that group, Boston, is tied for 27th in baseball in home runs.
This streak of no home runs allowed won’t last for long, just as his streak of home runs allowed wasn’t going to last forever. That doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage while the going is good. Fiers has a rematch against Oakland to start the next week before a legitimate test against the Yankees, who have hit the second most home runs in baseball.
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-Speaking of regression, it looks like Jose Quintana has turned the corner for the White Sox. After an especially slow start, Quintana’s ERA has gone down nearly one full run in June. He has two straight wins and had his best start of the year on Thursday, throwing 6.2 scoreless innings at Minnesota with nine strikeouts and no walks. Oddly, Quintana has made four straight road starts this month, so his home/road splits (5.94 ERA home/3.93 ERA road) are also starting to look lopsided. Quintana is no stranger to some streakiness, as he showed last year with four sub-3.00 ERA months and two months with an ERA above 5.00. He has shown uncharacteristically mediocre control and home run issues this season, but with nearly one strikeout per inning and much better ERA metrics than his real 4.69 ERA, there’s reason for optimism.
-Tyson Ross has been Jekyll and Hyde in two starts since returning from thoracic outlet syndrome. He allowed only two earned runs in 5.2 innings during his first start before getting blasted by Toronto this week, allowing seven runs in three innings. The poor results shouldn’t come as a surprise after Ross’ mediocre rehab assignment success, and his velocity is also down significantly, nearly two mph compared to 2015. Even with a two-start week ahead, it’s best to avoid using the former Padres ace for now.
-It certainly looks like Taijuan Walker has turned the corner with the change of scenery this year. He picked up right where he left off in May following blister issues, beating tough opponents in Detroit and Colorado this month. Walker has allowed a total of two home runs over his last six starts, reversing a trend that really hindered him over the last two seasons in Seattle. Worth noting is that seven of his 11 starts have been on the road, as opposed to hitter-friendly Chase Field, and his ERA away from home (2.65) is nearly two runs lower than in Arizona.
-Rich Hill owners have been in quite a predicament this year. From blister issues to control struggles, it hasn’t been a fun season for the lefty. The big difference for Hill over the last two years when he rejuvenated his career was his control improvement, but Hill has an atrocious 5.9 BB/9 this season as he tries to find his curveball control again. The positive is that Hill has allowed two or fewer earned runs in four of his last five starts, but the lefty has still yet to last more than five innings in a start due to the control issues. This week’s matchups (LAA, @SD) are favorable, at least.
-It’s going to be a busy week for Cleveland and Minnesota, each set to play eight games this week due to a doubleheader. For owners in weekly leagues, the extra games could be worth picking up a lower-tier hitter to get some more at-bats for the week.
Chris Sale: MIN, @TOR
Carlos Carrasco: TEX, @DET
Jose Berrios: @BOS, @KC
Luis Severino: @CHW, @HOU
Jose Quintana: NYY, TEX
Mike Fiers: OAK, NYY
Justin Verlander: KC, CLE
Jordan Montgomery: @CHW, @HOU
Sean Manaea: @HOU, ATL
Drew Pomeranz: MIN, @TOR
Alex Cobb: @PIT, @BAL
Joe Biagini: BAL, BOS
Mike Clevinger: TEX, @DET
Matt Strahm: @DET, MIN
At Your Own Risk
Kevin Gausman: @TOR, TB
Martin Perez: @CLE, @CHW
Tyson Ross: @CLE, @CHW
Ricky Nolasco: @LAD, SEA
Jesse Chavez: @LAD, SEA
Hector Santiago: @BOS, @KC
David Holmberg: NYY, TEX
Max Scherzer: CHC, @STL
Carlos Martinez: @ARI, WAS
Gio Gonzalez: CHC, @STL
Taijuan Walker: PHI, COL
Jeff Samardzija: COL, @PIT
Dan Straily: NYM, @MIL
Zack Godley: PHI, COL
Jake Arrieta: @WAS, @CIN
Junior Guerra: @CIN, MIA
Rich Hill: LAA, @SD
Hyun-Jin Ryu: LAA, @SD
Jeff Hoffman: @SF, @ARI
Jhoulys Chacin: ATL, LAD
Michael Wacha: CIN, WAS
At Your Own Risk
Nick Pivetta: @ARI, @NYM
Tim Adleman: MIL, CHC
Robert Gsellman: @MIA, PHI
Eddie Butler: @WAS, @CIN
Trevor Williams: TB, SF
Amir Garrett: @STL, CHC
Bartolo Colon: @SD, @OAK
The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:
Wednesday, June 28: David Paulino vs. OAK
Paulino’s 5.04 ERA in five starts isn’t great, but he’s shown his terrific control with a 3.71 K/BB ratio. He won his first matchup against Oakland this week and gets a rematch at home.
Wednesday, June 28: Andrew Moore vs. PHI
Moore’s first career major league start Thursday night vs. solid. Most notably, he failed to allow a free pass in seven innings after posting a sub-2.0 BB/9 in the minors between Double- and Triple-A this season. He’s ready for the majors and what’s basically a Triple-A lineup in Philadelphia.
Thursday, June 29: Luis Cessa @ CHW
If Cessa is still in the rotation next week, his Thursday outing against the White Sox is one to watch. The team has the second lowest OPS against right-handers in the AL (.708).
Tuesday, June 27: Jaime Garcia @ SD
While he’s coming off of two terrible starts, Garcia’s matchup at San Diego on Tuesday couldn’t be much more favorable. The Padres are dead last in baseball with a .640 OPS against southpaws.
Wednesday, June 28: Kyle Freeland @ SF
Speaking of teams that can’t hit lefties, San Francisco has a .684 OPS, 27th “best” in baseball. Freeland continues to quietly have a great rookie season with a 3.42 ERA
Saturday, June 1: Matt Moore @ PIT
Despite a 5.82 ERA, Moore is coming off a quality start at Atlanta and faces a Pittsburgh lineup that really hasn’t hit lefties this season (.682 OPS).
6: BAL, DET, HOU, OAK, TB, TOR
7: BOS, CHW, KC, LAA, NYY, TEX
8: CLE, MIN
6: SD, COL, MIA, MIL, NYM, PHI, PIT, SD, SF
7: ARI, CHC, CIN, LAD, 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.
Cody Allen: Paternity leave list
Tim Beckham: Day-to-day (hand)
Michael Brantley: Placed on 10-day DL (ankle)
Andrew Cashner: Placed on 10-day DL (oblique)
Francisco Cervelli: Placed on 7-day DL (concussion)
Matt Chapman: Could return on June 29 (knee)
Zack Cozart: Could return on June 28 (quad)
Josh Donaldson: Day-to-day (knee)
Jerad Eickhoff: Placed on 10-day DL (back)
Dexter Fowler: Day-to-day (quad)
J.J. Hardy: Out 4-6 weeks (wrist)
Chase Headley: Day-to-day (back)
Jason Heyward: Placed on 10-day DL (hand)
Matt Kemp: Day-to-day (hamstring)
Victor Martinez: Placed on 10-day DL (heart)
Lance McCullers: Will return on Saturday (back)
Bud Norris: Placed on 10-day DL (knee)
Eduardo Nunez: Day-to-day (hamstring)
Dustin Pedroia: Day-to-day (ribs)
Colby Rasmus: Day-to-day (hip)
Pablo Sandoval: Placed on 10-day DL (ear infection)
Yangervis Solarte: Placed on 10-day DL (oblique)
George Springer: Day-to-day (hand)
Zack Wheeler: Will miss one start (biceps)
Brad Ziegler: Placed on 10-day DL (back)