Just a reminder before we dive into this week’s picks, I’d just like to remind everyone that these are generally starters owned in 10-50 percent of all leagues.
Now, this week’s two-start starters:
Felix Doubront (2.9 percent ESPN/6 percent Yahoo!) @KC, v. CLE
I love young lefties with strikeout stuff, and Doubront is exactly that. So far he’s fanned well over 10 per nine, generated reasonable figures on his groundball and strand rates, and is only a bit unsightly when it comes to BABIP and ERA (5.19 despite a 3.38 xFIP). Like Mr. Humber below, Doubront gets a couple of decent offensive clubs in the Royals and the Indians. And while the Indians hold their ground versus southpaws (.325 wOBA versus .318 overall mark), the Royals are among the absolute worst in the game against portsiders (.267 wOBA versus .322 overall mark). Looking for something interesting to swing your ledger? The Indians and Royals are among the four toughest teams to strike out, both checking in under 17.5 percent of the time, while Doubront has fanned an impressive 25.6 percent of all hitters by featuring a decent fastball but very good offspeed offerings. I say go for it, but don’t blame me. I just work here.
Edinson Volquez (16.8 percent ESPN/50 percent Yahoo!) v. COL, @PHI
Volquez just sneaks in under my self-imposed 50 percent rule, but boy has he been good since coming over to the Padres! The biggest benefit thus far for Volquez — despite by all accounts a groundball pitcher — has been that fewer fly balls are leaving the yard for him than at any point in his big league career. Obviously, that’s the move from GAB to Petco talking, but this is a dramatic improvement for an erratic young hurler who last eclipsed 190 innings in 2008. The Rockies are a good offense, but he gets them at home, where the geriatrics are far more human (.278 team road wOBA/.376 home). The jury is still out on the Phillies offense, but at this point, they’re more awful than anything (.256/.301/.357 triple-slash, .294 wOBA). Ordinarily, that’d be a bad matchup, evoking images of Volquez’ home digs from when he was with the Reds, but that seems unlikely this time around.
Jeff Samardzija (18.7 percent ESPN/26 percent Yahoo!) v. ATL, @MIL
I already sounded the horn on my affinity for the Shark last week, who by virtue of going seven days between starts due to an off day plus a rainout actually missed out on his projected two-start status. Nevertheless, my sentiments still ring relatively true. Samardzija dazzled the Reds on Wednesday, allowing one run on three hits with seven strikeouts in nailing down his third win of the young campaign.
To date, Shark is getting a respectable amount of groundballs, fanning nearly a quarter of all hitters, and perhaps most importantly, being stingy with the free pass (7.6 percent). The home run rate and the strand rate are flukily low, but with excellent FIP and xFIP numbers, there’s reason to believe — if he keeps the free pass in check — he’s going to be a good building block for the future on the north side. The Braves have a really good offense (.327 team wOBA ranks seventh), so that part of the equation is simply a gut-feel on my part. The Brew Crew, on the other hand, are a high-whiff, low-walk group that lives and dies by the long ball (32, tied for third in MLB), which Samardzija has been extraordinarily stingy on. I like the young righty this week, and think he’ll soon price himself out of my 50 percent bracket.
Also possibly consider:
Philip Humber – @CLE, v. KC: The dude just threw a perfecto and gets a couple division rivals this week. Both offenses are pretty good, but so is Humber. Leaning towards yes on this one.
Ivan Nova – v. TB, v. SEA: Nova may roughly translate to “doesn’t go” in Spanish, but the young righty has been full steam ahead so far this year. The Mariners offense has been abysmal (.292 wOBA, over 3:1 K/BB rate), and Nova has added plenty of Ks while shaving the BB (8.2 and 2.6 per nine, respectively). The Rays offense is very well-rounded and may give Nova more trouble, but keep in mind that Evan Longoria is on the shelf for the foreseeable future.
Jarrod Parker – v. TOR, v. DET: The young phenom has looked alright so far, but he gets two middle-of-the-pack offenses that — at least in my view — appear ready to break out. A cursory glance at Parker’s line would make him look like a groundballer, but in fact he’s more of a line drive pitcher (an awful distinction, no?) so far this year. He’s a relatively good play, but with a high strand rate and the strikeouts just not coming quite yet, it’s really your call.