There are two important axioms in fantasy baseball to consider as we move into Week 2 of the season:
- Do not overreact to any performances so far, good or bad
- Pitching is a volatile commodity, and it’s never too early to add depth to your staff
These two statements seemingly contradict each other, but the point is that statistics over a handful of games mean almost nothing (especially for pitchers who have only had one outing). At the same time, it’s not too early to correct mistakes, changes in situation, or injury since draft day. Hello, Stephen Matz, Carlos Rodon, Drew Smyly or Rich Hill owners (did I mention that pitchers are volatile commodities?).
Keeping the first rule of thumb in mind, you will not find Clayton Richard on this list. He still has only three things in common with the best pitcher in baseball – his first name, his handedness, and the division he plays in. Let me see it a couple more times before I buy in, Mr. Richard.
Below are the best options that may be available in your league to cure your pitching woes. Some can be long-term options, some are designated for a quick, one week fix, and some have potential that lands in between. They are listed in rank order.
Please remember, do not drop a Top-175 draft pick at this point for any of these players unless there has been a significant injury or negative change in playing time or circumstance since your draft day.
#1 ADD OF THE WEEK
Enjoy the production today through September
Robert Gsellman – Mets
- Ownership: 46% Yahoo, 28% ESPN
- Upcoming opponent: @MIA
I may be higher on Gsellman than most, but it’s startling to see his ownership percentage so low considering his late-season success in 2016 (2.42 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 42 K/44 IP) and his now solidified spot in the Mets rotation. The Mets have already turned one long-haired, under the radar “late bloomer” into an All-Star (Jacob deGrom), and now may be the last chance to get Gsellman before he breaks out as deGrom 2.0. It doesn’t hurt that he will face the Marlins in Miami in his next start, so at worst, give him a test drive and get him in your lineup this week.
Read my full pre-season report on Gsellman.
CATCHING THE BUZZ
These pitchers recently have had a spike in ownership.
Get in on the action now, or it may be too late.
Brandon Finnegan – Reds
- Ownership: 45% Yahoo, 32% ESPN
- Upcoming opponent: @PIT
Finnegan is likely to be the most added pitcher this week coming off his dominating effort against the Phillies last Wednesday (his ownership is already up 30% in the last two days). He has the pedigree to be a higher end starter but has been plagued by control and command issues during his time in the majors and minors.
Supporters will mention his 2.93 ERA in the 2nd half of last year as a sign for a potential breakout in 2017, and his 7 IP, 9 K, 1 BB, zero ER performance against the Phillies might confirm that belief. Be aware that he also walked almost 4 batters per 9 and registered a 4.29 xFIP during that aforementioned 2016 stretch.
Finnegan has the potential to be lights out one night and a gas can the next. Buy him for the upside, but be ready to endure some stressful outings from time to time.
Dylan Bundy – Orioles
- Ownership: 52% owned in Yahoo, 44% ESPN)
- Upcoming opponents: @BOS, @TOR
Bundy is a 24-year-old former 1st round pick (4th overall) who had a stellar beginning to 2017 (7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 8 K, zero BB vs. Toronto). He has two tough assignments this week in Boston and in Toronto, but if you have a hole in your rotation and are willing to hope for lightning in a bottle, Bundy can be dominant regardless of the opponent, when he is on. His injury history may limit his long-term use, but benefit while you can, or hope for a good week and take advantage of his rising stock to flip him in a trade.
High floor, but low ceiling names from the past
Lance Lynn – Cardinals
- Ownership: 49% Yahoo, 23% ESPN
- Upcoming opponent: @WAS
Hyun-Jin Ryu – Dodgers
- Ownership: 40% Yahoo, 11% ESPN
- Upcoming opponent: @ CHC
These two have had above average success in the past, but are returning from injury after not pitching for a year or more. It’s easy to buy into a comfortable name you recognize, but the innings will be capped and productivity post-injury still needs to be proven. They won’t destroy your ratios, but they won’t win your league for you either. Keep expectations tempered, especially this week as both have a difficult road matchup.
THE FALLBACK OPTION
For deeper leagues and those late to the waiver party
Joe Musgrove – Astros
- Ownership: 34% Yahoo, 17% ESPN
- Upcoming opponent: @SEA
Musgrove is another 24-year-old former first round pick who debuted in the 2nd half of 2016 with a somewhat pedestrian 4.06 ERA and 1.21 WHIP and league average batted ball rates across the board. Musgrove is not over-powering (91 MPH FB), but his fastball-slider mix still induces a useful 21% K rate, and he should continue to be exceptional in limiting free passes to about 2BB/9 based on his minor league track record.
His 3 BB, 2 K outing last Thursday is not likely to be the norm going forward. A strong Spring earned him a spot in the Astros rotation, and it is likely that Musgrove can take a step forward in his first full season and provide quality, if unremarkable outings in the neighborhood of a 3.75 ERA and 1.20 WHIP, along with 8K/9. Wins may be easier to come by than for most as he is backed by a dynamic Astros offense. If you are looking for some stability at the back-end of your rotation, you could do much, much worse.
These pitchers have a good situation for the week but are not long-term investments.
Add and enjoy in the short-term, but don’t get too attached.
Charlie Morton – Astros
- Ownership: 9% Yahoo, 7% ESPN
- Upcoming opponents: @SEA, @OAK
It’s difficult to think about Charlie Morton without yawning, but if you play in a weekly league, Morton is a decent bet for quality starts that won’t kill your ratios. You may luck into a win or two and pile up 8 or 9 K’s from one roster spot.
Tyler Chatwood – Rockies
- Ownership: 8% Yahoo, 5% ESPN
- Upcoming opponents: vs. SD, @SF
Chatwood had a ridiculous home/road split in 2016 (6.19 ERA at home, 1.69 on the road), but seeing that he will be facing the Padres at home and then the Giants at AT&T later in the week, makes him worth a streamer look. A good chance for a win vs. the Padres, and an ERA in the 3.50-4.00 range with about 8 K’s over the two starts is probably better than what is at the end of your rotation right now.
Grab this guy now if you have a bench spot before it’s too late. A good performance may vault him to the top of the waiver claim list next week, but for now, stash and hold.
Daniel Norris – Tigers
- Upcoming opponents: vs. BOS, @CLE
A key piece the Tigers received in return for David Price in 2015, Norris has posted a 3.64 ERA over two partial seasons in the majors. Injuries have kept him under the radar thus far, but there is a lot of upside if he can stay healthy. Don’t drop a useful arm, but stash him now if you have the flexibility to do so.
Good luck! Have a great week! Check back next weekend for your waiver and streamer pitching needs.
Visit Fantasy Rundown for more streaming and two-start pitching options