The aces in the hole feature is designed to help readers get a leg up on the opposition by uncovering hidden short-term value on your league’s waiver wire. This feature will analyze a few possible two start pitchers to target for next week while featuring one starter (not necessarily a double starter) poised to graduate from the streamer ranks. Only pitchers owned in less than 40% of both Y! and ESPN leagues will be examined in this piece. If you seek two start options for the current week, click here.
Since many weekly league owners like to grab next week’s two-start pitchers as soon as line-ups are set for the week before, this feature will serve as an early guide for those looking to gain an advantage. Rainouts and rotation changes can strike at any minute, so be sure to check back in the comment section for updates. If your league has a Sunday night line-up deadline, feel free to ask me your SP questions on twitter (@tlandseadel). I will respond to any question posed before 9 PM EST.
Keep in mind, all of the pitchers analyzed here are high risk options. Some will pan out, some will not. I would never advise anyone to start a mediocre two-start option or a streamer instead of a bona fide fantasy ace. These suggestions may make sense for owners in points leagues and category based leagues that tend to reward quantity over quality. They are best used to supplement your pitching staff, not to support it. If your league uses an innings maximum and/or rewards a quality focus, then you might want to set your standards a little higher.
Before we move on, let’s take a look at how the two recommended options from the week 1 fared:
Erasmo Ramirez- Erasmo was brilliant in his first start delivering a win over 7 innings of 2 run ball. His second start did not go nearly as well. The overall line: 1 W, 5.73 ERA, 1.45 WHIP and 7 Ks.
Nate Eovaldi- Eovaldi delivered 2 quality starts with 1 win, and may have gotten a second had he avoided a 3 run homer in his last inning of work on Sunday. The overall line here was much better: 1 win, 3.46 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, with 14 Ks.
Now it is time to discuss this week’s featured pitcher. This starter needs to be universally owned:
Erasmo Ramirez, Seattle Mariners
As of Saturday, Erasmo was only owned in 35% of Y! leagues and 8% of ESPN leagues.
Last week’s feature was James Paxton. Now his rotation mate gets a turn for a little more love. Erasmo Ramirez first became known to the fantasy baseball community after a late season call up in 2012. During that stretch, he posted a sparking 3.36 ERA along with a 1.00 WHIP and healthy K totals over 59 major league innings. Entering the 2013 season, Ramirez was a trendy sleeper on a lot of draft lists.
Ramirez’s success has always been built around elite control and two outstanding offerings (change-up and slider) but Erasmo seemed to lose his way in 2013. An arm injury delayed his 2013 MLB debut until July and when he arrived he was not the same pitcher. He struggled with his command, walking over 3 batters an inning (yes, that is high for Erasmo) and his slider just did not generate whiffs the way it had in past seasons. The end result was an ERA near 5 and very little love from drafters heading into 2014.
This spring, Ramirez regained his control and demonstrated his filthy stuff. He finished up with an ERA of 1.14 to go with a .845 WHIP and a dazzling 20/2 K/BB ratio over 23 innings. After going 7 strong in the season opener with 6 Ks and 0 BBs and 2 earned runs, those spring numbers don’t look flukey. Ramirez did not have his best stuff on Sunday against the A’s, but given his other 2014 results, I am willing to chalk that one up to a rough outing until I see evidence to the contrary. It might make sense to keep him benched for another start or two (especially next week against the A’s), but the upside still remains.
Ramirez is going to give up the occasional long ball, but he is a great bet to be an asset in the WHIP category because of his elite control. Considering that he plays half of his games at pitcher friendly Safeco Field and that the new look M’s offense has been red-hot, Erasmo could do big things this season. If he is still on the free agent list in your league, you need to make the add before someone else does.
Two Start Pitchers
The options this week are not quite as good as the first two weeks. The better pitchers on this list have difficult match-ups and some of the best match-ups are reserved for unreliable starters. The end result is a lot of yellow light options, but I have picked out two guys who seem to be the safest of the bunch.
Jake Odorizzi, Tampa Bay Devil Rays @BAL (Gonzalez), vs. NYY (Tanaka)
Pros: Odorizzi is a solid pitcher on a very good team. He does not walk very many and he is able to keep the ball on ground. He was absolutely brilliant in his first start, going 6 scoreless innings and allowing only 3 hits and 3 BBs. Although Baltimore and New York typically have fearsome offenses, neither team has been able to get the bats going yet.
Cons: Just because the O’s and Yanks have been quiet offensively until now does not mean they will continue to struggle. Both teams have power packed line-ups capable of scoring a lot of runs. Odorizzi was pretty mediocre over the spring (4.24 ERA, 1.47 WHIP).
Final Verdict: Odorizzi is the best of the bad options this week.
Jake Odorizzi: Green Light: All Systems Go!
Martin Perez, Texas Rangers vs. CHW
Perez is no longer a two start option. Adjust accordingly.
Perez is owned in 15% of Y! leagues and 6% of ESPN leagues
Pros: Perez was an elite prospect prior to his 2012 call up, so he has a high ceiling. He has good control and a high ground ball rate, which gives him a chance to be successful in Arlington. He pitched well during the 2013 campaign (3.62 ERA, 1.34 WHIP) and in his first 2014 start (5.2 innings, 2 ER, 7 Ks). Perez also has a history of success in Arlington with a home ERA of 3.36 last season. Looking at the match-ups, Seattle’s offense does not match up well on paper with lefties, and the White Sox are capable of putting up runs, but are not exactly an intimidating match-up.
Cons: Although there were not many issues with HRs in the minors, Perez has given up his share at the major league level. Both the Mariners and White Sox are capable of leaving the yard at any time and will present a challenge for Perez.
Final Verdict: The pros seem to outweigh the cons on this one.
Martin Perez: Green Light: All Systems Go!
Wandy Rodriguez, Pittsburgh Pirates @CIN (Bailey), vs. MIL (Garza)
Rodriguez is owned in 10% of Y! leagues and 3% of ESPN leagues
Pros: Wandy pitched fairly well in his first outing this year, giving up 3 runs with a WHIP of 1.00 and a 5/1 K/BB ratio. He has always gotten out of the gates well with a 3.09 career ERA in April. Last season he had success against both clubs he will face in week 3, posting 3 quality starts in 4 tries. Wandy also excels against left-handed hitters, so he may be able to neutralize Cincy’s two best hitters (Votto and Bruce).
Cons: Wandy’s velocity was down a full 2 MPH in his first start and despite typical success against lefties, Joey Votto has done well in the match-up. The biggest Achilles heel for the aging southpaw is a tendency to give up the long ball and both lineups are pretty well loaded with power.
Final Verdict: Depending on which view you take, there is enough here to make a strong case on either side. Owners can do a lot worse, but I am nervous about the velocity dip.
Wandy Rodriguez: Yellow Light: Proceed With Caution
Roenis Elias, Seattle Mariners @TEX (Perez), @MIA (Alvarez)
Elias is owned in 1% of Y! leagues and 0% of ESPN leagues
Pros: Elias fared well in his first appearance despite being the only Mariners starter not to get a win (5 innings, 1 ER). Everyone in this rotation is trending up along with the team’s hot start. Elias is a lefty capable of pitching out of multiple arm angles, thus making it difficult for batters to pick up the ball the first couple times they face him.
Cons: Unlike his counterparts, Elias does not have the resume to suggest he is ready to enjoy sustained success at the big league level. Before April, he had never started above the AA level. He lacks a consistent motion and tends to have difficulty with command (13 Ks vs. 10 BBs in spring training). In his first start his BABIP was .167 despite a 33% line drive rate. This is a super small sample, but the point is he was extremely lucky to only yield 3 hits.
Final Verdict: While the match-up against the surprising Marlins does not look too scary, owners need to say their prayers if they are considering using Elias against the Rangers.
Roenis Elias: Red Light: Use at Your Own Risk
More Two Start Options
Yellow Light: Proceed With Caution
Bronson Arroyo, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. NYM, @LAD – The Mets are normally a team to pick on, but Arroyo struggles vs. lefties and some of the Mets best bats hit from the left side.
Juan Nicasio, Colorado Rockies @SD, vs. PHI – Nicasio has great match-ups this week, but I am not sure his skills are sharp enough to exploit them.
Hector Santiago, Los Angeles Angels vs. OAK, @DET – Santiago is a mediocre SP and these match-ups are not great. You can do better.
Jesse Chavez, Oakland Athletics @LAA, vs. HOU – Chavez graduated from the red light crew with a good first turn, but I need to see a couple more starts before I trust him.
Brandon Morrow, Toronto Blue Jays @MIN, @CLE – The match-ups are pretty good here, but Morrow is not the same pitcher he used to be. Rain could also prevent him from making 2 starts.
Tanner Roark, Washington Nationals @MIA, vs. STL – He struggled against STL last season and there is a chance he could be skipped next week, which would eliminate the second start.
Red Light: Use at Your Own Risk
Chris Young, Seattle Mariners @TEX, @MIA – Walker could be ready to replace Young by the end of next week. Don’t even think about this one.
Phil Hughes, Minnesota Twins vs. TOR, @KC – Hughes could be better in his new home, but I need to see it first.
Jacob Turner, Miami Marlins vs. WAS, vs. SEA – He has upside, but all of his career ERA indicators are well over 4.00. He needs to improve his K/BB ratio to be a fantasy asset.
Lucas Harrell, Houston Astros vs. KC, @OAK – Nothing good can come from this.
Franklin Morales, Colorado Rockies @SD, vs. PHI – He has great match-ups, but he just is not reliable as an SP.
Erik Johnson, Chicago White Sox vs. BOS, @TEX – Horrifying match-ups for the talented young right-hander.
Bruce Chen, Kansas City Royals vs. TB, @BOS – Chen can safely be used in good match-ups, but not against two of the premier teams in the AL.
David Hale, Atlanta Braves vs. NYM, vs. WAS – Match-ups are solid, but Hale is on borrowed time with Minor rehabbing. He is not as good as his numbers looked from his first start of the season.