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. Or, if you’re looking for streaming options for week 4, 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 3 fared:
Jake Odorizzi: Odorizzi was a victim of the Tuesday rain on the East Coast. The Devil Rays’ game was postponed and Odorizzi’s start pushed back a day as a result. He was not terrible, but 3 earned runs in 5 innings with just 4 Ks is probably not what most had in mind when they picked him up.
Jesse Chavez: Chavez was not featured in the original piece, but was named the next best option once it became clear that Perez would not be a double starter (for what it is worth, Perez pitched a 3 hit shutout in his lone turn).
Chavez was simply amazing this week, so hopefully you were able to get him in your lineup. Over 13 innings, he posted an ERA of 1.38 with a .846 WHIP. Chavez struck out 15 and was able to notch a win also. It is hard to do much better than that from a 2 start streamer.
Now, it is time for this week’s featured arm:
Wily Peralta, Milwaukee Brewers
Peralta has seen his ownership rates skyrocket in the past few days, but is still only owned in 27% of Y! leagues and 6% of ESPN leagues.
Peralta has two starts in week 4 against the Padres and Cubs with both starts coming at home. He is one of the best two start options for this week, so if he is on your league’s waiver wire or on your bench, get him active. The purpose of this segment, however, is to analyze whether or not Peralta is good enough to be more than a streamer.
The Brewers starting rotation is healthy and as stable as any in the league. Peralta may be the 5th starter, but there is nobody walking through that door to challenge for his rotation spot so long as he keeps pitching well.
One thing Peralta has done so far is pitch exceptionally well. He is 2-0 with a 1.96 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP over 18.1 innings in 3 starts. His K rate is a fairly neutral 6.4 K/9, despite the fact that he averages over 95 MPH on his fastball. He always does a good job inducing ground balls, and so far this year he has limited walks better than ever before (2.45 BB/9). Perhaps the most impressive thing about these numbers is that he has accumulated them against the Red Sox, Pirates, and Cardinals.
Clearly the results have been awesome, but the real question is whether or not Peralta is simply hot, or if he is doing something differently to cause this success.
The walk rate is encouraging, but it is too early to jump to any conclusions here. Since his first strike percentage (57.3%) is actually lower than his career average, I am betting that this is nothing more than a positive stretch during a small sample size. Peralta had 7 games last season where he issued 4 or more free passes. One such game would restore his BB/9 right back to career levels.
Peralta’s velocity is up a tick from last season (94.6 to 95.1 MPH), but still pretty close to his career average. He has not really altered his pitch mix at all from last season and his swinging strike rate is actually lower than his career average. He has enjoyed a spike above his already robust ground ball rate (career 52.3%, 61.% in 2014), but again, the sample is tiny and I have not found any data suggesting that it is due to Peralta’s skill development.
While Peralta certainly makes an intriguing short-term option, be sure not to pay too much for his services. I expect that his numbers at the end of the season will be only marginally better than what he posted in 2013.
Two Start Pitchers
There are 6 teams that only play 5 times during week 5 (Detroit, Baltimore, Houston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington). Since there are also quite a few top of the rotation starters getting two starts, there are fewer options to choose from. Please note that the featured arms who earn yellow and red light ratings are not necessarily the best plays from the list below.
Nate Eovaldi, Florida Marlins vs. ATL (Wood) vs. LAD (Greinke)
Eovaldi is owned in 27% of Y! leagues and 25% of ESPN leagues.
Note: Eovaldi will only be in line for 2 starts if Kevin Slowey (or Koehler) gets skipped next Saturday. I think there is a good chance that this happens, but keep an eye on the weekend starters for the Marlins to make sure. If Fernandez does not pitch next Sunday, Eovaldi only gets 1 turn in week 5.
Pros: Eovaldi is displaying tremendous command, only issuing 3 walks in his first 25 + innings. His Ks are up and he is capable of posting a pretty strong number against the free swinging Braves. His cavernous home park helps him keep the ball in the yard and he is the best pitcher of all the lightly owned options for this week.
Cons: The Dodgers tend to do pretty well against right-handed pitchers and they are capable of stacking their lineup with lefties. Eovaldi’s biggest weakness is his lack of a secondary pitch to get lefties out. Also, despite the fact that his K rate has spiked this year, Eovaldi’s swinging strike rate is about the same as it was last year, so the K rate may come down some.
Final Verdict: The Dodgers matchup is not great, but Eovaldi is good enough to excel against these two teams at home.
Nate Eovaldi: Green Light: All Systems go!
Tyler Chatwood, Colorado Rockies @ARZ (Bolsinger), vs. NYM (Niese)
Chatwood is owned in 2% of Y! leagues and less than % of ESPN leagues.
Pros: Chatwood generally profiles as a pitcher who can excel in hitters’ parks because of his ability to keep the ball on the ground. He has altered his pitch mix in the early going. Chatwood is using his best pitch (slider) more often and he has not been throwing his change or curve as much as he did last year. The result has been an increase in his swinging strike rate that might be sustainable if he continues to feature the slider. The Mets are also one of the most streamable opponents out there. Their regulars have a 21.9% K rate and a .300 wOBA against right-handed pitching over the last two seasons. Chatwood has done a great job limiting walks in his first two starts (1BB over 13 innings).
Cons: I usually don’t look to stream pitchers with dates in the two most hitter friendly parks in the NL. The Diamondbacks horrible pitching staff might allow Chatwood to get plenty of run support, but their offense is explosive enough to leave a mark on his ratios.
Final Verdict: Chatwood is far from an ace, so there is some serious stinker possibility here, but the matchups are solid enough to consider him in deeper leagues,
Tyler Chatwood: Yellow Light: Proceed with Caution.
Tyler Skaggs, Los Angeles Angels vs. CLE (Masterson), vs. TEX (Perez?)
Skaggs is currently owned in 27% of Y! leagues and 23% of ESPN leagues.
Pros: Skaggs is a solid young pitcher who does a good job inducing grounders and limiting walks. Skaggs’ velocity has also spiked this year, which could lead to greater success although it has not helped his K rate in the early going. Skaggs is a pitcher who is right on the fringe between streamer and mixed league hold and can be trusted with confidence in good matchups.
Cons: The matchups this week are not good. Both the Indians and Rangers have mashed LHPs over the last two seasons, posting wOBAs over .330. Additionally, since his first three turns have been against the Astros, Mets and A’s, it is hard to predict what Skaggs will do this week.
Final Verdict: Whether or not you decide invest in Skaggs this week, keep an eye on his performance. If he fares well, it could be a signal that he has developed enough to be a real mixed league asset. Still though, I would feel slightly better using Chatwood and much better using Miley for week 5.
Tyler Skaggs: Yellow Light: Proceed with Caution.
Kyle Gibson, Minnesota Twins vs. LAD (Greinke) vs. BAL (Tillman or Gonzalez)
Gibson is owned in 13% of Y! leagues and 10% of ESPN leagues.
Pros: Gibson has pitched pretty well in the early going. His strong performance has been mainly due to his ability to keep the ball on the ground (57% GB rate) and to limit hard contact (0 HRs, 10.5% LD rate).
Cons: Do not expect this to continue. Gibson’s K/BB of 1.11 is simply not good enough. Hitters will eventually make better contact, and once they do the runs will pile up. Despite the sparkly .93 ERA and unsustainable batted ball rates, Gibson’s XFIP sits at 4.70.
Final Verdict: Do not use him this week against two strong offensive ball clubs.
Kyle Gibson: Red Light: Use at Your Own Risk.
Additional Two Start Options
Yellow Light: Proceed with Caution: I might consider the following options in deeper leagues
Wade Miley, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. COL, @SD- The matchups are not bad by any stretch and early season swinging strike could indicate improvement. This is your safest bet of all the yellow light guys (including the features)..
Alfredo Simon, Cincinnati Reds vs. CHC, vs. MIL- Simon has pitched very well early on and has two solid matchups. The Latos setback has solidified his rotation spot for now, but just know that he isn’t really this good.
Jon Niese, New York Mets @PHI, @COL- Niese is a decent pitcher, but 2 road matchups (1 at Coors) is far from the ideal spot to use him.
Matt Harrison, Texas Rangers vs. OAK, @LAA- It is difficult to trust a pitcher coming back off the DL, but Harrison just pitched 8 scoreless in a AA rehab start. Evaluate him this week and make a call based on his performance.
Red Light: Use at Your Own Risk: I would not use any of these pitchers if I could avoid it.
Franklin Morales, Colorado Rockies @ARZ, vs. NYM- Morales is not as good as Chatwood and I do not trust him.
Chris Young, Seattle Mariners @NYY, @HOU- With Iwakuma and Walker both on the comeback trail, Young might not get the start against the Astros.
Erik Bedard, Tampa Bay Devil Rays @BOS, @NYY- Few teams have as much rotation depth as the Devil Rays, but the matchups look terrifying for the aging lefty.
Dustin McGowan, Toronto Blue Jays @KC, @PIT- McGowan is another skip candidate, but since the Blue Jays off day is Monday, we should have a clear picture before lineups set. Hutchison would line up for 2 starts if McGowan gets skipped.
CHW: Felipe Paulino’s rotation spot would have been due for 2 starts in week 5, but he is now headed to the DL. The White Sox have not announced a replacement yet. With a Thursday off day in week 5, whoever that replacement is will be skip candidate and not a good fantasy play. Quintana may get 2 starts.
MIA: As highlighted above, their 2 starter in week 5 will either be Fernandez or Eovaldi. Watch for updates on their starters for the upcoming weekend.
SEA: There are a lot of moving parts here. It is difficult to trust anyone outside of King Felix until some of their injured guys (Iwakuma, Walker, Paxton) return and solidify the rotation.
TEX: Like Seattle, there are many injured SPs in various stages of rehab. It is difficult to count on much here. This rotation is very volatile at the moment.