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. For a close look at week 7 streaming options, Rob Adams presents his Week 7 Stream Team right 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.
Here is how the recommended options from week 6 fared:
Nathan Eovaldi: Eovaldi was somewhat disappointing this week. He gave up two solo HRs in the first inning of his first start, and then dominated the rest of the way. His second start however, was pretty rough. He finished with a 3.75 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 13 Ks and he did not get any wins.
Jon Niese: Niese pitched very well, but was let down by the bullpen in his first outing so he too failed to notch a win. Owners will gladly take the 2.08 ERA and 1.15 WHIP with 12 Ks as a consolation.
Henderson Alvarez: Alvarez was awesome in his first start pitching a complete game shutout, and really bad in the second. The final line was a 3.46 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 9 Ks and a win.
Now, for the featured arm, who also happens to be a two start pitcher.
Dallas Keuchel, Houston Astros @LAA,(Richards) @SEA (Maurer?)
Keuchel is owned in 6% of Y! leagues and just over 1% of ESPN leagues.
I would be featuring Keuchel here regardless of his 2 start status, so this piece will focus primarily on his skills.
The 26 year old southpaw is enjoying a fantastic start to his 2014 campaign. He has been able to accumulate 3 wins so far to go with a 3.68 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 40 Ks in 44 innings. Those numbers look mixed league worthy, so a look under the hood will help us determine whether or not Keuchel is worth owning in mixed leagues.
Keuchel’s two greatest assets have always been his command and his ability to induce ground balls. He is only walking 2.25 per 9 and inducing ground balls an eye popping 65.6% of the time. While some regression is certainly possible here, his career GB rate is 56%. Dallas Keuchel is an elite ground ball artist any way you slice it, and that is clearly a big plus.
Dallas Keuchel had a respectable K/9 of 7.20 in 2013 and a K% of 18.0. So far this year, his K/9 is 8.18 with a corresponding K% of 22.1. His swinging strike rate is up a full 2 percentage points from 2013 (8.9% to 10.9%) thanks in part to the development and increased usage of a slider. He is throwing a higher percentage of first pitch strikes (64.6%) and he is also getting hitters to chase more pitches outside the zone (36% O-swing %) so there is a chance he could be able to keep this up.
A high HR/FB rate has always plagued Keuchel, but this issue is not quite as harmful considering that his fly ball rate is in the low 20s and there are fewer batters reaching base due to the low walk totals. The crazy thing here is that Keuchel’s BABIP might actually indicate that he has been unlucky thus far. Keuchel has only allowed line drives 13.6% of the time, so his BABIP could easily be lower than it is. The fact that every major ERA indicator is hovering around 3 seems to back that idea up.
What would you be willing to pay for an SP who has a K/BB rate of 3.64, a ground ball rate of 65.6% and an xFIP of 2.84? What if I told you that pitcher was Dallas Keuchel and that he is sitting on your waiver wire right now?
Keuchel was never a big time prospect, but over the course of his minor league career he developed a reputation as a hard working guy who was always able to find a way to be successful at each level when given the time to adjust. This looks like a pitcher who has found a recipe for success, but he is being ignored because he lacks the elite pedigree and he pitches for a terrible team.
Do yourself a favor. If you have a roster spot, go ahead and add Dallas Keuchel. He might not keep this up, but what if he does?
For this week, Keuchel’s matchup against the Angels is a tough one, but he also draws the Mariners who are easily the most inept lineup against lefties. I would prefer to start Beckett ahead of Keuchel, but I would much rather own Keuchel for the long haul, and I still think Keuchel is a good option in week 8.
Dallas Keuchel: Green Light: All Systems Go!
More Two Start Pitchers
Josh Beckett, Los Angeles Dodgers @NYM (Mejia), @PHI (Burnett)
Beckett is owned in 25% of Y! leagues and 27% of ESPN leagues.
Pros: Beckett is still able to rack up the strikeouts with the best of them and he has enjoyed good results so far this season with a 2.80 ERA. The matchups this week can’t get much better against two relatively punchless lineups (Mets and Phillies).
Cons: Beckett will undergo BABIP regression (.225 right now) and he serves up too many long balls. Both lineups have a couple big bats capable of wrecking a good outing with one swing of the bat.
Final Verdict: Becket is no longer an ace, but he is good enough to trust in matchups like these.
Josh Beckett: Green Light: All Systems Go!
Drew Pomeranz, Oakland Athletics @TB (Odorizzi), @TOR (McGowan)
Pomeranz is owned in 4% of Y! leagues and less than 1% of ESPN leagues.
Pros: Much has been made of the positives associated with the move from Colorado to Oakland. So far, Pomeranz has pitched quite well with an ERA of 1.45 and a much improved walk rate. The combination of HRs and walks have hurt him in past MLB stints. The matchups this week are above average against a solid (but not scary) Rays club and the Blue Jays who struggle against RHPs.
Cons: Pomeranz has only made 1 start so far, and although he pitched well he only lasted 5 innings. It is unwise to project a successful transition to the rotation because he has been good in relief. Pomeranz might do well, but we have not had time to judge him yet. His ERA indicators are more than 2 runs above his ERA, so there will be some regression either way.
Final Verdict: The matchups are fine, but I need to see more from Pomeranz before I trust him in my lineup. Exercise caution.
Drew Pomeranz: Yellow Light: Proceed with Caution.
Jenrry Mejia, New York Mets vs. LAD(Beckett), vs. ARZ(Arroyo)
Mejia is owned in 18% of Y! leagues and 9% of ESPN leagues.
Pros: Mejia get plenty of Ks and he has the upside of a frontline starter. The matchups against the Dodgers and Diamondbacks are not prohibitive.
Cons: Mejia continues to struggle with his command and he is on the verge of losing his rotation spot to either Degrom or Montero.
Final Verdict: Mejia is still worth holding in deep leagues, but he should not be in active lineups and he can be safely dropped in standard mixers if he does in fact lose his rotation spot.
Jenrry Mejia: Red Light: Use at Your Own Risk.
Additional Two Start Pitchers
Yellow Light Options: Proceed with Caution.
Bronson Arroyo, Cincinnati Reds @STL, @NYM- 3 straight QS for Arroyo make him worth considering. The matchup against the Cardinals is a little scary, but the Mets balance that out. Arroyo has pitched well on the road this year. Arroyo could end up getting his 2 starts in week 7 if someone gets skipped this week.
Tanner Roark, Washington Nationals vs. CIN, @PIT- Roark is a very solid option when the matchups are right. This week they are fairly neutral.
Wei-Yin Chen, Baltimore Orioles @PIT, vs. CLE- Chen is giving up a ton of hits due to a high LD rate, but his K/BB ratio sits at 3.56. I think Chen’s numbers will improve as the season moves along, but the matchups this week are not great as both lineups hit lefties well.
Jorge De la Rosa, Colorado Rockies vs. SF, @ATL- The matchups here are pretty neutral and De la Rosa has pitched fairly well over the past few weeks. Average pitcher with average matchups.
Scott Feldman, Houston Astros @LAA, @SEA- Feldman is an average pitcher and the matchups here are pretty average. The Mariners are much better against righties, so that matchup is not as attractive as one might think.
Red Light Options: Use at Your Own Risk
Jason Vargas, Kansas City Royals vs. CHW, @LAA- Vargas is a solid pitcher, but the Angels are very good against lefties and the White Sox are capable of scoring a lot of runs.
Dustin McGowan, Toronto Blue Jays @BOS, vs. OAK- Just not interested with these difficult matchups.
Matt Harrison, Texas Rangers– vs. SEA, @DET- As bad as Seattle is against lefties, Detroit is awesome. They are the number 1 lineup vs. LHP since the start of 2013.
Andre Rienzo, Chicago White Sox @KC, vs. NYY- Rienzo has won 3 times, but the peripherals are pretty ugly here. He has not been hammered yet, but it is coming.
Jake Odorizzi, Tampa Bay Devil Rays vs. OAK, vs, BOS- Odorizzi’s walk rate is too high and he is giving up lots of hard contact. He has been unlucky with BABIP also, but it is hard to trust a guy with only 1 start over 5 innings in these difficult matchups.
Scott Carroll, Chicago White Sox @KC, vs. NYY- There simply is not enough MLB data available to get a good feel for Carroll. His minor league numbers are solid, but unspectacular. Since Paulino could bump him from the rotation at any time, it is not a good idea to put him in the lineup.