Aces in the Hole: Oh Jenrry!

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. For a look at streamers 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 week 4 fared:

Tanner Roark– Roark was sensational this week. He only got 1 win, but he did not allow any runs over 15.2 innings with a WHIP of .83 and 13 Ks.

Wily Peralta– Peralta was pretty good also. He earned 1 win, with a  3.38 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 12 Ks over 13.1 innings.

Now for some analysis on a pitcher who could be more than just a streamer:

Jenrry Mejia, New York Mets

As of Saturday, Mejia was owned in 38% of Y! leagues and 38% of ESPN leagues.

Strikeouts are king in our world, so starters capable of striking out close to a batter an inning are likely to be relevant in most formats.  With the K focus, pitchers like Tim Lincecum, Zach Wheeler and Corey Kluber are nearly universally owned despite less than stellar ratios.

I am not as big on some of the names mentioned above as many fantasy analysts are, but Jenrry Mejia is in the same class and deserves to be owned in more leagues.  Mejia gets great movement on his fastball and he uses curves and change ups to keep hitters off-balance.  The newly added slider has really turned Mejia into a strikeout machine.  Although the sample size is small, there is reason to believe that Mejia can continue to average close to a strikeout per inning with a swinging strike rate of 11.4% over the past two seasons.

When you consider that Mejia is also an elite ground ball artist with a career fly ball percentage under 25%, there is a lot to like here.  His BABIP usually sits above .300 due to the lack of fly balls, but the hits he does allow are more likely to be singles (fly balls usually help BABIP, but hurt ERA since they are more likely to be XBHs).

The downside to Mejia is his career long struggle with the walk.  Mejia’s BB rate currently sits at 4.76/9, which is not out of line with career numbers.  Due to the high walk rate and his batted ball profile, Mejia is highly unlikely to help in the WHIP column.  Positive contributions in ERA and Ks, however, could make him a valuable asset.  If he can ever get the walks under control, look out.

I don’t typically like to roster pitchers who are going to hurt my WHIP, but if I am deciding between a guy like Mejia and Lincecum, I will take Mejia every time.  Mejia costs less and may actually have a higher ceiling at this point.  Additionally, it is really difficult to cut ties with a big name like Lincecum, but if Mejia does not pan out the decision is pretty easy.  I do not think Mejia is a must own, but he certainly needs to be watched closely over the coming weeks.

Two Start Pitchers

Week 5 was a light scheduling week across MLB. Because so many teams had off days and a couple other prominent pitchers went down with injuries (Sale, Nova), there are many rotation questions going forward. Many teams will have the option to skip their 5th starters at some point, and those decisions will impact who gets 2 starts in week 6.

Nate Eovaldi, Miami Marlins vs. NYM (Colon), @ SD (Stults)

Eovaldi is owned in 30% of Y! leagues and 25% of ESPN leagues.

Pros: Eovaldi combines strikeout ability and a high ground ball rate with excellent control. He is a better pitcher than some guys owned in 80% +. The matchups here are absolutely dreamy as both the Mets and the Padres are bottom 3 in wOBA against right-handed pitchers over the past 2 seasons.

Cons: Eovaldi struggles against lefties, so that issue can bite him from time to time.

Final Verdict: I will recommend Eovaldi in neutral or better matchups until his ownership numbers get where they need to be. These matchups are much better than neutral.

Nate Eovaldi: Green Light: All Systems Go!

Henderson Alvarez, Miami Marlins vs. NYM (Wheeler), @ SD (Erlin)

Alvarez is owned in 7% of Y! leagues and 6% of ESPN leagues.

Pros: Alvarez has a skill set that plays well for streamers. He keeps the ball on the ground (career GB rate of 55.5%) does not issue many free passes and generally keeps the ball in the yard. He is a very solid pitcher and the matchups here can’t get much better. His no-hitter last year and 2 hit shutout of the Mariners demonstrate what he is capable of when on top of his game.

Cons: Alvarez does not miss very many bats. Like most arms who pitch to contact, he is susceptible to clusters of hits against any lineup.

Final Verdict: These are the types of spots you look for with pitchers like Alvarez. Use him with confidence.

Henderson Alvarez: Green Light: All Systems Go!

Bartolo Colon, New York Mets @MIA (Eovaldi) vs. PHI (?)

Colon is owned in 36% of Y! leagues and 36% of ESPN leagues.

Pros: Colon gets a lot of flack and it is absolutely hilarious to watch him hit, but he is actually a pretty solid pitcher. He does not walk anybody (3 BB in 32 IP) and he is able to pitch deep into games. Aside from his nightmarish outing against the Angels, Colon has posted quality starts in his other 4 turns. The Marlins have displayed some hot hitting against righties this year, but over the past two seasons both teams have been near the bottom in wOBA. Colon may also post higher than normal K rates against these two clubs.

Cons: Colon tends to challenge hitters and as a result he gives up plenty of hard contact. With a slight fly ball tilt to his batted ball profile, he can be susceptible to the long ball and he is capable of imploding in any start.

Final Verdict: This one is riskier than the others, but I like the matchups for Bart this week. I am willing to roll the dice. Are you?

Bartolo Colon: Green Light: All Systems Go!

Josh Beckett, Los Angeles Dodgers @WAS (?) vs. SF (Lincecum)

Beckett is owned in 13% of Y! leagues and 19% of ESPN leagues.

Pros: Josh Beckett is finally healthy and out of the AL East. He is not going to regain fantasy ace status, but he certainly makes for a good plug and play when the matchups are favorable. The matchups he faces in week 6 are pretty neutral. Both teams are in the middle of the pack against right-handed pitchers .

Cons: Beckett gives up too many HRs and is clearly in line for a BABIP correction (.173 BABIP so far). He is not pitching as well as his numbers seem to indicate on the surface. Both the Nats and the Giants are capable of scoring runs in bunches.

Final Verdict: Beckett has the big name, but there are better options this week. You might be better off using less heralded pitchers like Danks, Stults or Erlin this week.

Josh Beckett: Yellow Light: Proceed with Caution.

Additional Two Start Pitchers

Yellow Light: Proceed with Caution.

Robbie Erlin, San Diego Padres vs. KC, vs. MIA- Erlin is a solid pitcher and has fared well at home. He makes for a pretty good option this week.

Eric Stults, San Diego Padres vs. KC, vs. MIA- Stults also pitches well at home. The matchups are above average.

John Danks, Chicago White Sox @CHC, vs. ARZ- Danks is not a lock for two starts, but he could see two plus matchups here. I like his chances of notching a win or two.

Drew Hutchison, Toronto Blue Jays @PHI, vs. LAA- Hutchison has pitched well, but the Angels matchup scares me here. They are red-hot.

Jordan Lyles, Colorado Rockies vs. TEX, @CIN- Lyles has pitched well with 4 straight quality starts. The matchups here are a little scary though.

Bruce Chen, Kansas City Royals @SD, @SEA- The matchups look enticing, but Chen is best used at home and the Padres actually fare well against lefties. Chen may not get 2 starts if he gets skipped this week.

Red Light: Use at Your Own Risk.

Robbie Ross, Texas Rangers @COL, vs. BOS- Good pitcher, terrible matchups.

Vidal Nuno, New York Yankees @LAA, @MIL- The Angels are hitting well right now and Nuno will be facing them for the second time in 3 starts. Neither matchup looks very favorable.

Roenis Elias, Seattle Mariners @OAK, vs. KC- The lefty has pitched well, but the A’s are facing him for the second time. His success relies on a deceptive delivery, so we will see how the A’s adjust.

Edwin Jackson, Chicago Cubs vs. CWS, @ATL- BB rates are sky-high and he is giving up lots of solid contact despite not allowing any HRs. HRs will come.

Erik Johnson, Chicago White Sox @CHC, vs. ARZ- matchups look good, but it is hard to trust a pitcher who has walked 9 in his last 6.2 innings.

Carlos Carrasco, Cleveland Indians vs. MIN, @ TB- His fastball has been getting crushed.

Juan Nicasio, Colorado Rockies vs. TEX, @CIN- No thanks.

Rotation Questions

Arizona Diamondbacks: Either Bolsinger or Collmenter will get 2 starts in week 6. Neither can be trusted.

Baltimore Orioles: Bud Norris emerged from his last start with some hamstring tightness. If they decide to skip his spot in the rotation this week, he would be in line for 2 starts in week 6 @TB and vs. HOU. Right now it looks like he will pitch in week 5.

Houston Astros: Two of the following pitchers will go twice in week 6: Cosart, Oberholtzer and Peacock. Regardless of what they do with their rotation, none of them make attractive plays @DET and @BAL. Look elsewhere.

Minnesota Twins: The Sunday rain-out creates some uncertainty in their rotation, but there isn’t anybody I would trust against the Indians and Tigers. You aren’t missing anything here.

Philadelphia Phillies– Depending on what the Phillies do in week 5, two of the following will get 2 starts: Hamels, Kendrick, and Hernandez. The matchups look solid against the Blue Jays at home and the Mets on the road. I might consider using Kendrick, but Hernandez is too risky for me.

Tommy Landseadel

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Tommy is also known as tlance on the CBS and Sports Hoopla message boards. He has been playing fantasy baseball for 16 years in many different format types and looks forward to helping you with your fantasy baseball questions! You can now follow me on Twitter @tlandseadel

5 thoughts on “Aces in the Hole: Oh Jenrry!”

  1. Very nice breakdown of Mejia. Do you prefer him over Niese and Gee at this point?

    And Eovaldi’s next three starts are the Braves, Mets, and Padres? That kid must have some wonderful karma. In my opinion, he’s an absolute must-own player right now. He’s undervalued as it is, he should be started in all formats for the next two weeks, and with his upcoming matchups there’s a strong possibility his value will keep rising. What’s not to like? I wouldn’t be shocked if he has 50 strikeouts, single digit walks, and a sub 3.00 ERA by mid-may. If he can pull that off, he’s going to command a very hefty return on the trade market.

  2. Thanks Rob!

    I prefer Mejia over Gee and Niese in K/9 leagues or in leagues with innings limits. In most formats however, I think their values are similar even though they will produce different looking lines. Mejia certainly has a higher ceiling though.

    I agree with you on Eovaldi too. He could be over 90% owned if he performs like he is capable over his next 3 starts. It isn’t too late to get on board for most!

  3. With all this weather on the East Coast, I am waiting until Thursday night to post on the rotations affected. For now, just know that Eovaldi and Alvarez are still in line for 2 turns. That is where I am investing.

  4. There are many changes here, so I am not going to comment on the red light guys.

    -Colon is no longer in line for 2 starts, but Niese is, and actually makes for a better play than Colon. I rank him after Eovaldi and before Alvarez in the 2 starter ranks, but he still warrants a green light. Eovaldi, Alvarez and Niese are the 3 best lightly owned options this week.

    -Josh Beckett is not in line for 2 starts any more. Last week’s rain out + Kershaw’s reinsertion into the rotation has pushed him back.

    -John Danks will not start twice this week since he pitched on Friday. Jose Quintana will get 2 very winnable matchups.

    -Bruce Chen’s spot was skipped and he is on the DL now.

    -Robbie Ray is a risky option with some upside. He draws a Tuesday home start against the Astros and could face the Twins on Sunday also if Sanchez is not ready to go.

    – Roenis Elias is getting bumped up to yellow light territory. I still the the league catches up to him soon. His start against the A’s needs to be watched closely to see if they can adjust the second time they see him.

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