This week’s two-start list includes a knuckleballer, a veteran lefty, and a portly up-and-comer who racks up a ton of strikeouts. Let’s dive right in:
Erik Bedard (21.5 percent ESPN/45 percent Yahoo!) – v. NYM, v. CHC
Bedard’s been a bit short on results so far, and it’s not entirely the fault of his bad offense. Sure, he’s 2-5 and his offense has compiled a .268 wOBA — for context, recently released Orlando Hudson was slightly worse at .253 — but in eight starts, the 33 year-old lefty has only amassed 41.0 innings pitched, or just over five per tilt. That’s about as negative as one can be about Bedard’s performance thus far, however, considering he carries a 3.07 ERA (3.25 xFIP), 2.9 K/BB, and has whiffed an excellent 25.4 percent of batters he’s faced. The Mets have been decent against southpaws (.310 wOBA), but are 10th in the majors in highest whiff frequency against port-siders (22.4 percent). That should play up for the lefty, who may struggle to garner many wins this season, but should provide good value in other categories even if he isn’t dealt later in the campaign. As for the Cubs? They’re one spot above the Mets in lefty whiff-rate (22.8 percent), and have the second worst wOBA of all offenses against lefty counterparts (.266), with their neighbors to the south the only team worse (.263).
R.A. Dickey (33.3 percent ESPN/37 percent Yahoo!) – @PIT, v. SD
Dickey gets Bedard’s Bucs on Tuesday before wrapping the week up against San Diego. Dickey’s been roughly the equivalent of his 2011 self with one exception: winning. He’s 5-1 right now, with a 3.65 ERA (3.28 last year) to go with 6.5 K/9 (5.8), 2.1 K/BB (2.5), and a 1.26 WHIP (1.23). Basically, he’s seen a bit of a shift but it hasn’t been a detriment. Dickey gets the awful aforementioned Bucs offense in Pittsburgh, where they’ve actually been worse (.265 wOBA and OBP) than they have on the road. Basically, the offense doesn’t walk (6.4 percent), whiffs a ton (22.6 percent), and has proven glacial in its home digs (nine steals) and awful at running altogether (14th in successful attempts, worst at getting caught). Afterward that tasty matchup, Dickey gets the Pads, who are tied for second-worst in team wOBA (.286), trail only the Pirates in whiff rate (21.8 percent), and are probably the worst baserunning team in the entire game. Dickey may rack up wins and strikeouts this week, and is a must-start if you’re looking to stream value here. Don’t be surprised if he matches his win total from last year well before the All Star break.
Felipe Paulino (1.5 percent ESPN/3 percent Yahoo!) – @NYY, @BAL
Paulino was a big sleeper of mine entering the season, and has seen his season start a bit late due to injuries. However, he’s been quite good in his three starts so far, allowing no earned runs in two of them (oddly enough, against the same exact clubs he’s facing this week but in the exact opposite venues), and whiffing no fewer than six in any time out. He’s also shown good durability, as one might expect from a 6’2” 270 lb. frame, averaging 104 pitches per outing (16.7 per frame). So far, Paulino’s fanned 28 percent of hitters he’s faced, kept the free pass in check (6.7 percent, down from career 9.3 mark), and has induced a solid 43.8 percent ground ball rate, making his FIP and xFIP not extraordinarily worried about his 1.93 ERA thus far. Most importantly, it’s kept his usually troublesome BABIP at .313, a more stomachable figure than the .341 he put up last season in his first go-round with the Fighting Yosts. All of this is a long-winded way of saying pick up Paulino in deep leagues, because even though he’s facing two really good offenses in the Yankees (.349 wOBA, third in MLB) and the upstart Orioles (.328, sixth), he’s shut them down once already and has the strikeout stuff — starting with a 95.6 miles-per-hour heater — to shut down even some of the best lineups in the game. After all, as I noted, he’s shut out each of these clubs once already. Get on the Paulino train before he cruises out of my 50 percent territory!