Aces in the Hole

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. Most weeks, this feature will analyze a few daily league streamer options for the current week along with possible two start pitchers to target for next week. Only pitchers owned in less than 40% of both Y! and ESPN leagues will be examined here.

Since many weekly league owners like to grab next week’s 2 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.

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.

Today’s special installment focuses on this season’s 2 game opening series between the Diamondbacks and the Dodgers being played this coming weekend. The pitching match-ups are as follows:

Game 1:
Wade Miley vs. Clayton Kershaw

Game 2:
Trevor Cahill vs. Hyun-Jin Ryu

Since we are focusing on waiver wire options in this piece, we really only need to discuss the Diamondbacks here. Kershaw and Ryu are going to be owned and started pretty much universally. Patrick Corbin was supposed to start game 1, but he exited his 3/15 start with forearm stiffness. An MRI showed damage to his UCL, so we will not see him on the 22nd, if at all in 2014. Wade Miley will take Corbin’s spot and is unowned in many leagues. Trevor Cahill will start the second game and is likely to be floating on your league’s free agent list too, so we shall take a closer look at both Arizona pitchers right now.

Trevor Cahill

Cahill is the type of pitcher who is very valuable in real life, but almost an afterthought in fantasy. His ability to keep the ball on the ground allows him to eat innings and gives his team a chance to win, but too many walks along with too few K’s have prevented Cahill from reaching ace status. He typically fares pretty well during March and April (.303 career wOBA is lowest of any month) and his career numbers suggest he pitches slightly better at home, but not enough to make a significant difference.

In addition to Cahill’s early season success, he has absolutely dominated the Dodgers over the course of his career. Cahill has a 2.01 ERA in 10 career starts which includes a 1.40 mark against the Dodgers in 2013. In fact, his success against the Dodgers surely played a large part in manager Kirk Gibson’s decision to start Cahill in this game.

Normally, given Cahill’s history against the rival Dodgers this would be a slam dunk streamer pick. Unfortunately, he has not exactly looked sharp this spring. He left his second to last spring start early after jamming his knee while trying to cover first base. The knee appears fine since Cahill was able to make his final spring start this past Sunday, but his spring line does not exactly inspire confidence. Cahill has given up 14 earned runs in 16 spring innings with a WHIP of 1.81. The only positive is that he has been able to strike out 17 over that span. It is usually wise to take spring stats with a grain of salt, but it is difficult not to be a little nervous when considering a mediocre fantasy option like Cahill.

If you play in a points league that allows you to start Cahill against the Dodgers without committing to him for the first official week, then there is not a ton of downside to starting him. Similarly, if you are looking to overwhelm your category league competition with innings pitched, then Cahill is your man once again. If you seek a pitcher to deliver positive ratios however, then you might want to pick a better spot.

Final Verdict

Trevor Cahill: Yellow Light – proceed with caution

Wade Miley

Unlike Cahill, Miley has been pitching extremely well this spring. In 14 innings, he has allowed just 2 earned runs and boasts 11 Ks against 3 BBs. Although a small sample size, Miley has historically gotten off to great starts in March and April. He sports a career 1.93 ERA and .259 wOBA in the season’s first full month. He has fared pretty well against the Dodgers over the past two seasons also with an ERA in the mid-threes.

I would feel pretty good about using Miley for his upcoming start in Australia. If that means committing to him for the first official week of the season also, the risk may be worth it. Given his early season performance in year’s past along with his strong spring showing this year, Miley looks like an excellent streamer option here.

Final Verdict

Wade Miley: Green Light – all systems go!

Tommy Landseadel

Written by 

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