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 2 fared:
Tim Hudson- Hudson pitched very well this week. He was able to deliver a neutral ERA of 3.58 along with a superlative WHIP (.78) and a win.
Charlie Morton- Morton did not destroy his owners’ ratios, but he did not really help in many places either. A 4.85 ERA, 1.38 WHIP and 8 Ks were not exactly what his owners were hoping for.
Kyle Lohse- Fueled by a hear complete game on Sunday, Lohse was able to notch 2 wins along with excellent ratios. He also accumulated 13 Ks and posted an ERA of 2.63 and a WHIP of 1.17.
Now, for the featured arm:
Nathan Eovaldi, Miami Marlins
Eovaldi is currently owned in 31% of Y1 leagues and 32% of ESPN leagues. Eovaldi is not going to be in line for two starts again until week 5, but if you wait too long to grab him, you will miss out. His ownership levels are rising quickly.
There are not many pitchers out there capable of throwing faster than Eovaldi. Pairing an average fastball velocity of 95+ with sterling control seems almost unfair, but that is precisely what Eovaldi brings to the table. Through 3 starts, Eovaldi has struck out 19 batters while only walking 1. He has only been able to notch one win over that span, but the 4.19 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 19K in 19.1 innings will play in most formats. Since all of the ERA indicators are well under 3.00, it looks as if Eovaldi has been unlucky to yield as many runs as he has.
In his second start against the Padres, Eovaldi was cruising along before allowing a 3 run bomb to Alexi Amarista with 2 out in his last inning of work. Against the Phillies this past Saturday, a couple of hit clusters from the top of the order amounted to 4 earned runs. Rarely do 6 singles and a double over 6.1 innings result in that much damage to the ERA.
Untimely hits have done Eovaldi in thus far. It is possible that he is less effective with runners on base, but a 61% strand rate is unsustainably low for a pitcher of his talent level.
The downside on Eovaldi is that he relies almost exclusively on two pitches (fastball, slider). While there have been a few pitchers to find success with similar repertoires (Masterson, E. Santana), it is really difficult to achieve ace status without a go to secondary pitch that is effective against lefties. For further analysis, check out this analysis from Eno Sarris.
The knee buckling velocity along with sublime control and a friendly pitchers park make me very optimistic that Eovaldi can keep the good times rolling. As long as he can continue to avoid walks, he is good enough to be a mixed league asset. Go ahead and add this guy before your competition does.
Two Start Pitchers
With many MLB teams playing seven times in week 4, there are plenty of intriguing 2 start pitchers available. You still need to act quickly to lock up the best of the bunch. Here they are:
Joe Kelly, St. Louis Cardinals @NYM (Mejia) vs. PIT (Liriano)
Kelly is owned in 29% of Y! leagues and 18% of ESPN leagues.
Pros: Kelly has the support of a strong offensive lineup and he does a good job keeping the ball on the ground. Despite a lack of Ks, Kelly has been able to post low ERA numbers by avoiding the long ball and stranding over 80% of the baserunners he allows. Matchups against the streamable Mets and a home date against the free swinging Bucs look good, especially considering that Kelly was able to win 3 games against the Pirates last season.
Cons: Kelly is never going to help your team WHIP with a K/BB under 2 and a BABIP near .300. He has also struggled at times against lefties and has a fairly small sample size of innings as a starter from which we are able to judge him.
Final Verdict: Kelly is a solid, but unspectacular pitcher who can be used in favorable matchups. This looks like a fine opportunity.
Joe Kelly: Green Light: All Systems Go!
Tanner Roark, Washington Nationals vs. LAA (Richards) vs. SD (Cashner)
Roark is owned in 23% of Y! leagues and 3% of ESPN leagues.
Pros: Roark has elite control and he does a good job avoiding the long ball. He clearly benefitted from batted ball luck during his outstanding 2013 run, but most of Roark’s ERA indicators were in the low 3s suggesting that the success was not a total fluke. Although based on a tiny sample size of 19.1 innings, Roark only allowed 1 earned run while pitching at home in 2013. Home matchups against the Angels (sans DH) and Padres hardly look intimidating.
Cons: In looking at the 2013 peripherals, it is clear that Roark will not be as fortunate with his BABIP and strand rates. The biggest question for many analysts is whether or not he can continue to achieve league average K rates with such a low swinging strike rate (5.8% career). Also, his last start against the Braves was worse than any turn from 2013. Roark’s draw of up and coming ace Andrew Cashner for his duel with the Padres also reduces his chance of earning a win.
Final Verdict: I am not at all sold on Roark as a starting pitcher, but I love these match-ups for the right hander.
Tanner Roark: Green Light: All Systems Go!
Scott Feldman, Houston Astros @SEA (Ramirez) vs. OAK (Milone)
Feldman is owned in 29% of Y! leagues and 27% of ESPN leagues
Pros: Feldman’s numbers to date have exceeded anyone’s wildest expectations. He has allowed just 1 earned run over 20.2 innings and has picked up 2 wins. His match-ups are not prohibitive this week, so it is possible that he can keep the good times rolling.
Cons: Feldman’s start defies all logic. He is a solid pitcher capable of eating innings, but do not expect the elite numbers to continue. Despite the amazing ERA so far, he has an XFIP of 5.63 and a SIERA of 5.55. If you think Feldman’s .119 BABIP will hold up much longer, than I have some lovely ocean front property in New Mexico that might interest you.
Final Verdict: The matchups are not bad, but Feldman is overdue for some heavy regression.
Scott Feldman: Yellow Light: Proceed with Caution.
Brandon McCarthy, Arizona Diamondbacks @CHC (Samardjiza) vs. PHI (Hamels?)
McCarthy is owned in 3% of Y! leagues and less than 1% of ESPN leagues
Pros: McCarthy’s start has been the exact opposite of Feldman’s. The underlying data suggests that better days are ahead, as McCarthy ERA of 7.78 is more than 4 runs higher than his XFIP (3.34). McCarthy generally keeps the ball in play. He does not walk or strike out many hitters. His early struggles have been due to a ridiculous 45.5% of fly balls leaving the park. Once he regresses back to his career norm of just under 10%, his ERA will fall in closer to the XFIP. McCarthy has two good-looking matchups against non-elite offensive units.
Cons: It is difficult to trust anybody with an ERA over 7. April has not historically been very kind to McCarthy either. This is not the first time he has gotten off to a rocky start to a season.
Final Verdict: While I do not fully trust McCarthy, he is on the same level as Feldman. Do not put too much stock in early season ERA numbers without looking under the hood.
Brandon McCarthy: Yellow Light: Proceed with Caution.
More Widely Available 2 Start Options
Yellow Light: Proceed with Caution.
Josh Collmenter, Arizona Diamondbacks @CHC, vs. PHI- Collmenter is slated to replace Delgado in the AZ rotation. Don’t get too excited if he fares well against the Mets. He is a solid, but risky option. He is generally better suited for relief work.
Jeremy Guthrie, Kansas City Royals @CLE, @BAL- Guthrie is a solid pitcher who generally performs well on the road. You could do worse.
Garrett Richards, Los Angeles Angels @WAS, @NYY- His velocity is up early and he has solid underlying stats. He is a pitcher to keep an eye on, but not to trust in these match-ups.
Wily Peralta, Milwaukee Brewers vs. SD, vs. CHS- Peralta is pitching well and has excellent matchups, but with an off day Thursday he could also get his second start skipped.
Jenrry Mejia, New York Mets vs. STL, vs. MIA- I like his upside, but his BB rate is way too high for me to trust him in a mixed league.
Dillon Gee, New York Mets vs. STL, vs. MIA- Gee is a solid pitcher when the matchups are in his favor. These aren’t prohibitive matchups, but they aren’t great either.
Taylor Jordan, Washington Nationals vs. LAA, vs. SD- Another pitcher worth keeping an eye on. I am not ready to trust him yet after a rough turn against the Braves.
Red Light: Use at Your Own Risk.
Ryan Vogelsong, San Francisco Giants @COL, vs. CLE- Mediocre pitcher at Coors? No thanks.
Tommy Milone, Oakland Athletics vs. TEX, @ HOU- Milone was wretched against the Rangers last year, but he does pitch well at home. Too many solid options for me to justify using him this week.
Edinson Volquez, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. CIN, @STL- Volquez has looked good early on, but it is hard for me to trust a pitcher with control issues against these patient lineups.
Bruce Chen, Kansas City Royals @CLE, @BAL- Chen is best used at home against light hitting offenses. This is not the right spot.
Dallas Keuchel, Houston Astros @SEA, vs. OAK- Keuchel has altered his pitch mix and is getting more Ks early on. If the Ks stick, he could emerge as a streaming option, but it is too early to tell right now.
Jorge De la Rosa, Colorado Rockies vs SF, @LAD- He already got rocked by the Giants in San Francisco. I am afraid of what could happen at Coors Field.
Carlos Carrasco, Cleveland Indians vs. KC, @SF- His velocity is way down from last year. Too difficult to trust him right now.
Alfredo Simon, Cincinnati Reds @PIT, @ATL- Simon has pitched admirably and should stick around since Latos has had another setback. I still don’t trust him with 2 road starts against good teams.
John Danks, Chicago White Sox @DET, vs. TB- His velocity is down even further. He is not the same guy he was before surgery.
Mike Pelfrey, Minnesota Twins @TB, vs. DET- I have a hard time envisioning a scenario where I would be tempted to use Pelfrey.
Rotations with Question Marks
Baltimore Orioles: Either Miguel Gonzalez or Bud Norris will get two starts in week 4. The decision will hinge on whether or not the O’s decide to skip Norris in week 3. If Norris gets skipped, he gets 2 turns in week 4. If he does not, then Gonzalez gets 2. Neither make for attractive options.
Detroit Tigers: Drew Smyly has been skipped a couple of times lately. If he is available in your league, go get him. He should get two starts in week 4.