It is incredible to believe that we are already entering Week 4 of Fantasy Baseball, however, we have truly hit our stride in the season.
I always mark last week and this week as the times to truly begin to analyze your team, analyze your strengths, and most importantly, analyze your weaknesses.
The scheduling has begun to “normalize” with off days only falling on Mondays and Thursdays, and now we can truly see what surprises the 2015 season may bring, and what were merely mirages through the first few weeks.
In saying that, targeting pitchers begin to be two-fold. First, you are obviously targeting the pitchers you feel have truly taken that next step in 2015, however we are also looking for those lineups that either, truly seem to have something “special,” or the opposite, just do not seem to pose any fear to an opposing pitcher.
In terms of those lineups, I really like the Milwaukee Brewers and Atlanta Braves as lineups to target. While the Braves started out hot, they have quickly come crashing back to Earth going 3-7 over their last 10 games, whereas the Brewers have been brutally awful from the first pitch.
What’s ironic? I heard someone ask over the radio if the Brewers were that team to target with opposing pitchers after Opening Day in which they lost 10-0, and I judged the caller while driving home. Pump the brakes, it’s one game, I thought.
Well, I’ll be the first to say, that guy was on to something, and I was dead wrong. The lineup looks lifeless, without Carlos Gomez it’s laughable, and unless Ryan Braun, among others, really just break out (which they are, I suppose, capable of), I will gladly target most pitchers facing them from here on.
Food for thought, they have been outscored, 99-49 to open the season. First, the fact that they have given up 99 runs in 18 games is absurd, the fact that they have only scored 49 runs in their first 18 games, despite having already played 12 home games at hitter-friendly Miller Park, makes me wonder which is worse?
You take out the Brewers’ three victories, a run differential of 15-6, and they have been outscored 93-34 in their 15 losses. Sign me up for any pitcher against Milwaukee at this point, but I digress.
5 Pitchers to Start in Week 4
1. Homer Bailey, SP, Cincinnati Reds
You heard how I began this article correct? Now that we are on the same page, Bailey gets the Brewers for a start on Wednesday. Thanks, please, may I have another?
2. Anthony DeSclafani, SP, Cincinnati Reds
Reds Manager Bryan Price raved about DeSclafani all spring, and mentioned he was a major piece into their willingness to move Mat Latos. That, along with the fact that he has been lights out all April, and he draws the, guess who, BRAVES, on Friday, puts me all in on DeSclafani at least for this week.
While the matchup with Shelby Miller is not great, Miller’s inability to last past the fifth inning, a common theme throughout his career, makes me less hesitant to worry about the matchup. I’ll just wait for Jim Johnson to come in and pull out the victory for the Reds. DeSclafani has lasted six innings, seven innings and eight innings respectively in his first three starts entering today. Maybe he can save the complete game for Friday?
3. Brett Anderson, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Assuming things go as planned, Anderson draws the San Francisco Giants on Monday and then the Arizona Diamondbacks over the weekend. Similar to the Brewers, the Giants have struggled to put up runs this season. I realize the matchup with Bumgarner is not ideal, but a cheap starter like Anderson, that has some upside and gets two starts in Dodger Stadium, feels like a good bet.
4. Chris Tillman, SP, Baltimore Orioles
Things have been rough for Tillman to say the least this year, but he has always pitched well at The Camden Yards. Tillman draws the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday, a team that he is 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA against during two starts over the last three years.
He is also 17-9 at home during that span. Here’s to hoping he can turn things around as we enter May. In addition, despite their somewhat “high profile” lineup, the White Sox have scored the third fewest runs in Major League Baseball.
5. Carlos Martinez, SP, St. Louis Cardinals
The team to score the fewest runs in Major League Baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies, 44 runs in 18 games. Martinez has actually pitched very well to start the season, despite the lack of “hype” surrounding him like other young starters such as Archie Bradley and Trevor Bauer, and he draws Aaron Harang and the Phillies on Wednesday. Martinez is 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA to start the season, and averaging over a strikeout per inning. The success continues on Wednesday.
5 Pitchers to Sit in Week 4
1. Drew Hutchison, SP, Toronto Blue Jays
Hutchison finally turned a corner in his last start after a rocky start to his 2014 campaign, however I’d like to see it one more time before trusting him in my lineup. Hutchison had a 6.28 ERA in three starts against Boston last year, the team he draws on Tuesday at Fenway Park.
2. Danny Salazar, SP, Cleveland Indians
The Kansas City Royals have been rolling all season, most runs scored in the AL Central, despite the fact that they may have an “anger management” issue of sorts. Salazar has also been rolling, however the Royals are a team willing to take a walk, and capable of using their speed to get in a pitcher’s head.
He’s 2-3 with a 5.33 ERA lifetime against the Royals in five starts. In a match-up with Yordano Ventura on Wednesday (assuming he appeals his suspension), I would take my chances elsewhere.
3. Matt Shoemaker, SP, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
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I debated if Shoemaker was worth putting on this list as he has been awful last year, so I assume most are already erring on the side of caution and benching him anyhow. If not, however, you might want to practice that strategy. Batters are hitting .311 off Shoemaker to start the year, and he draws the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday, a team that already battered him around for five runs over three innings during his previous start.
Oakland has also scored the third-most runs among American League teams this season, despite the loss of Josh Donaldson and struggles from Brett Lawrie. That, in addition to him posting a significantly higher ERA away from home throughout his career (4.45 compared to 1.98 ERA at home entering this year), gives me zero hope for him turning things around this week.
4. Jake Odorizzi, SP, Tampa Bay Rays
Odorizzi’s worst start and only loss of the season came against the New York Yankees, the same team he draws for a start on Tuesday at Yankee Stadium. Odorizzi entered 2015 with a 5-7 record and 5.68 ERA away from home, a 4.70 ERA against the Yankees, and a 5.82 ERA at Yankee Stadium.
I believe he has a chance to continue the breakout campaign, but he is not 1.65 ERA good and does not offer the strikeout potential to take the risk this week. I’d steer clear for Week 4.
5. Phil Hughes, SP, Minnesota Twins
Hughes has not looked like the same pitcher this year, compared to the one that we saw in 2014, and I do not see him turning things around in his start against the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday. Hughes already face Detroit once in a losing effort to open the season, allowing four earned runs over six innings.
This time, he will face the Tigers at Target Field where he actually posted a 4.25 ERA last season, compared to his 3.52 ERA on the season. Oh, by the way, Miguel Cabrera has absolutely destroyed Hughes in his career (16-34, 5 home runs and 12 RBI). You may want to find room for “Miggy” in your daily lineup on Wednesday, but I’m just saying.
Chris Tillman Photo Credit: Keith Allison
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