Pitchers to Target in Deep Leagues (2019 Fantasy Baseball)
All of the pitchers in this week’s piece have made an appearance in this column this year. With that in mind, I’m not going to provide as lengthy of a background for each in their write-ups as usual since it’s unnecessary. Instead, I’m going to include more pitchers this week and provide the pertinent updates on each repeat visitor to the article.
Framber Valdez (HOU): Yahoo – 34%, ESPN – 12%
Valdez’s last start was his first clunker in three spins in Houston’s rotation. Coughing up five runs in 3.1 innings to the Yankees at Yankee Stadium is certainly a forgivable offense for the 25-year-old southpaw. He was superb in his first two turns, and in 16.1 innings has a starter, he’s tallied a 3.16 SIERA that’s far better than his Bronx-clunker inflated 4.41 ERA, a 7.4% BB%, and 26.5% K%, per FanGraphs. His plate discipline numbers are promising in his starts, and he has a tasty matchup on tap Wednesday night. Valdez faces the visiting Pirates in his pitcher-friendly (0.866 for runs, third lowest in MLB) home digs. Pittsburgh ranks tied for 27th in wRC+ (74) against lefties this year. It’s a soft matchup that should provide Valdez a great opportunity to bounce back. He should be rostered in 12-team mixers and all deeper formats. He’s also my favorite highlighted pitcher this week, making him a worthy headliner to kick things off with.
Anibal Sanchez (WAS): Yahoo – 31%, ESPN – 15%
Sanchez actually isn’t far behind Valdez in my preference for arms in this piece in leagues where all are available. His final two projected starts before the All-Star break are dreamy. First, he faces the Tigers in Detroit. The Tigers rank dead last in wRC+ (73) against right-handed pitchers this season, and their 26.2% K% against them is the second highest. His other remaining start is at home against the visiting Marlins. Miami has the second worst wRC+ (77) against righties this year. The matchups literally couldn’t be better for Sanchez to conclude the first half. For his part, he’s earned a nod in this piece as more than just a streamer thanks to his solid pitching since his return from the injured list. He’s made five starts totaling 29.1 innings since returning from the IL on May 29. In that five-start stretch, he’s accumulated a 2.45 ERA (4.19 SIERA, which is less exciting but still acceptable), 0.85 WHIP, 3.5% BB%, and 21.2% K%. He’s also done a fantastic job of avoiding hard contact with just a 30.1% Hard%. Like Valdez, he’s a worthy addition in 12-team mixers. Additionally, he’s a streamer in leagues even shallower than that for his final two starts before the All-Star Break.
Michael Lorenzen (CIN): Yahoo – 18%, ESPN – 3%
Raisel Iglesias has pitched very well this season and hasn’t coughed up his closer gig, but manager David Bell has stayed true to his word from the spring when he said he’d be open to using him in non-save high-leverage situations. Last week, Lorenzen tallied two saves in relief of Iglesias. Lorenzen’s totaled four saves this season, and the rest of his numbers are solid, too. In 35 relief appearances spread across 39.1 innings, he has a 2.97 ERA (3.82 SIERA), 1.25 WHIP, 7.2% BB%, and 22.9% K%. Furthermore, he should avoid some of the homer issues his homer-friendly home park could present him thanks to a 47.8% GB% and just a 30.2% Hard%. His velocity’s at an all-time high this year, and his 11.7% SwStr% is also a career best. He should be owned by anyone in need of saves as he’s poised to pick up the occasional save the rest of the way. The rest of his numbers make him worth a look in 14-team mixers and larger as well.
Dylan Bundy (BAL): Yahoo – 12%, ESPN – 25%
I’ll keep this brief. Bundy’s been a regular in this piece in recent weeks. He was rough around the edges coughing up four runs on seven hits and one walk in 5.1 innings in Seattle in his last turn, but he also struck out eight more batters. Once again, he threw his fastball under 50% of the time (49.5%, to be exact) and deferred to his much better secondary offerings. He threw his curve 18.2% of the time against the Mariners, his second-highest mark after posting a season-high 22.5% mark against the Red Sox in the start before. Bundy’s two breakers (the aforementioned curve and his slider) are dynamite offerings, and I’m buying into the righty’s new pitch mix resulting in more good days than bad ones going forward. I’d advise starting him Wednesday versus the Padres in 12-team mixers or larger formats.
Robert Stephenson (CIN): Yahoo – 2%, ESPN – 1%
If you’re in a 14-team mixer or deeper format, there’s a decent chance none of the previously touted arms are available. If you’re one of the gamers who lost Frankie Montas to his 80-game suspension in a deeper league, it’s possible you’re looking at scraping the bottom of the barrel for a replacement. Instead of blowing up your ratios with a bad starter, I’d suggest giving Stephenson a look. He’s taken like a fish to water working as a reliever full time this season after multiple failed attempts as a starter. The righty’s cranked up his slider usage to 59.8% in the bullpen this year, and it’s easy to understand why he’s done so with an obscene 29.3% SwStr% and 54.2% O-Swing% against it. He’s ridden this filthy offering to a 33.3% K%. His 3.41 ERA is a bit higher than his 3.16 SIERA, and his 1.00 WHIP has been excellent as well. Stephenson was briefly on the IL, but he’s been lights out in three appearances since his activation, striking out four of 15 batters and holding the opposition scoreless on just three hits and one walk in four innings. Gamers who are struggling to find a palatable starting pitching option should consider adding Stephenson (who’s SP eligible at all platforms) as a stop gap.