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 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.
Week 1 is always a difficult one for finding two-start pitchers. First off, most of the elite pitchers in the majors toe the mound in the season’s opening days so it is not easy to find lightly owned options. The other challenge is that at the time of this writing, not all teams have finalized their rotations or even announced opening day starters. Weather can also factor in to the season’s opening week, so gambling on a low end two-start guy might not pay off.
Here are a few options for those willing to take the risk:
Dillon Gee, New York Mets vs. WAS (Strasburg) and vs. CIN (Cueto or Bailey)
Gee has been confirmed as the opening day starter for the Mets.
Pros: Both games will be at Citi Field, where Gee’s career ERA is almost a full run and a half lower than on the road. Gee has pitched very well this spring allowing just one earned run and striking out 12 batters in 14⅔ innings. Gee also fared quite well against the Nats last with a 2.72 ERA and 1.18 WHIP over 6 starts. He did not face the Reds in 2013.
Cons: Historically, Gee has not exactly been a fast starter. Over the course of his career, his highest ERA and wOBA of any month has been in March/April. He obviously has two very difficult match-ups against the Stephen Strasburg led Washington Nationals and the Cincinnati Reds who will use either Johnny Cueto or Homer Bailey. Wins could be very difficult to come by.
Lastly, given the recent weather patterns on the east coast I would not be shocked if a game or two gets postponed and Gee loses his second start as a result.
Final Verdict: As difficult as the match-ups are, I am more nervous about the weather. Gee makes a pretty good play with two home starts, but will he get both?
Dillon Gee: Yellow Light: Proceed with Caution
Nathan Eovaldi, Miami Marlins vs. COL (TBA), vs. SD (Cashner)
Eovaldi is the projected #2 starter for the Marlins, but they have yet to make it official.
Pros: Eovaldi can bring some serious heat. His average fastball velocity is among the fastest starters in the game. He has pitched pretty well this spring and his match-ups look juicy. The Rockies’ bite is not nearly as fearsome away from Coors and the Padres are projected to be one of the more streamable offenses in the majors. Miami has a cavernous home park with a retractable roof, so weather won’t be a factor either.
Cons: The heater is outstanding, but Eovaldi lacks a reliable second pitch. As a result, he does not get a ton of Ks and he could potentially damage your team’s WHIP. This spring, Eovaldi’s WHIP was 1.46 despite the outstanding ERA.
Final Verdict: Assuming Eovaldi does in fact get slotted second in the rotation, he makes for a pretty good bet this week. The ratios might not be great, but he has a decent chance to get a win and post a quality start or two.
Nathan Eovaldi: Green Light: All Systems Go!
Ricky Nolasco, Minnesota Twins @CWS (Sale), @CLE (Masterson)
Nolasco will be the opening day starter for the Twins.
Pros: Ricky Nolasco is probably the best pitcher on this list. He does a great job limiting walks and he enjoyed a sizable spike in his swinging strike rate last year also. When he is on, he is capable of dominating the opposition and the match-ups are not prohibitive here.
Cons: Nolasco has struggled somewhat this spring with an ERA of 7.07, but that is not really all that alarming for a seasoned vet. I have a huge trust issue with Nolasco. He is capable of pitching brilliantly against an elite offense, but he is equally likely to be shelled against a bad one. You also must factor in the possibility that bad weather could wipe out a start.
Final Verdict: I am not rolling the dice on Nolasco, but I am a hater. If you decide to go this route, best of luck!
Ricky Nolasco: Yellow Light: Proceed with Caution
Jorge De la Rosa, Colorado Rockies @MIA (Fernandez), vs. ARZ (TBA)
De la Rosa has been confirmed as the opening day starter for the Rockies.
Pros: De la Rosa won 16 games last season and he was able to pitch surprisingly well in Coors Field. Playing against the Marlins in Miami looks like a good opportunity and although the Diamondbacks have a formidable offense, De la Rosa has been successful at home. Since his second scheduled start is for Saturday, it is highly likely he will get both starts in.
Cons: De la Rosa has not been sharp this spring, and his numbers last year seem flukey. He was able to produce a playable ERA despite a K/BB rate under 2 and lots of hard contact. While the Marlins match-up looks good, he has historically struggled away from home and he will be facing Jose Fernandez.
Final Verdict: De la Rosa could eek out a win or two, but the possibility of a couple shellings exists also. I am looking for a better option.
Jorge De la Rosa: Red Light: Use at Your Own Risk
Scott Feldman, Houston Astros vs. NYY (Sabathia?), vs. LAA (Weaver?)
Feldman is the opening day starter for the Astros.
Pros: No worries about the weather here. Feldman will get his two starts. Feldman is a solid, but unspectacular pitcher capable of eating innings and keeping his team in the game. He does a pretty good job keeping the ball on the ground and his K rate hovers right near league average. He is a good streamer option in plus match-ups.
Cons: These match-ups are not particularly good. Feldman is prone to giving up the long ball and both of these teams have multiple players capable of going yard. Given that the Astros may have trouble scoring runs this year, Feldman is not likely to notch any wins.
Final Verdict: You could do worse, but Feldman is not a guy I would consider this week.
Scott Feldman: Red Light: Use at Your Own Risk
Mariners number 2: This is my favorite possibility. The Mariners play 7 games in week 1 (@LAA, @OAK), so their second starter will be scheduled for 2 starts. This is likely to be either James Paxton or Erasmo Ramirez. The match-ups here are fairly neutral, but both these young pitchers have mixed league upside and are currently under-owned in most leagues. I would start the winner of this spot ahead of everybody else on the list above.
Arizona Diamondbacks top 2: The D’backs have yet to announce their rotation, so stay tuned for updates. Brandon McCarthy, and Wade Miley appear to be the most likely options. The match-ups aren’t ideal (vs. SF, @COL), so Miley is the only pitcher on staff worth considering in most leagues. Even he would be a yellow light despite his solid showing in the opener.
Colorado Rockies number 2: Brett Anderson seems likely to win this rotation spot and his skill set could be a good match for Coors Field. He has pitched extraordinarily well this spring and could make for a sneaky match-up play for as long as he can stay healthy. I still want to see him pitch well in games that count before I consider plugging him into my line-up though.
Texas Rangers opening day starter: Darvish is scheduled to be the guy, but he has been scratched from his last spring start with stiff neck and there is a slight chance that he is not ready for the opener. If the Rangers replace him with someone other than C.J. Wilson, that starter could be in line for 1, or 2 starts depending on what Darvish does.
Make sure to check back in the comment section for updates and feel free to hit me up on Twitter (@tlandseadel) with specific questions.