We’re starting to get on a roll in this corner of the internet now, with a 60% success rate overall and back-to-back weeks going 3-for-4. We also haven’t had a blow up in two weeks, meaning at the very least I haven’t been destroying your teams.
Let’s jump right into it – we have a Friday/Saturday set with 27 probable pitchers owned in less than 50% of ESPN leagues, giving us a deep pool to select from. But are there any arms worth trusting?
Dan Straily (3.5% owned) – No love for my guy? I’ve held Straily since draft day in the league I care about the most (small cash but big bragging rights among friends, including a trophy). While he’s rewarded me with 21 strikeouts in 16.2 innings, he’s posted just one quality start and a 5.94 ERA. Fortunately, a 2.94 FIP, 3.12 xFIP, and 5.25 K:BB ratio all lie below that unsightly ERA, making him a solid add while he remains in the rotation. Even better, Straily draws the Mariners at Safeco Field. The Mariners walk less than almost any other team and also sport just a .298 wOBA against righties. Buy, buy, buy.
Kevin Slowey (33%) – Count me a believer. The 1.81 ERA and 0.94 WHIP certainly aren’t sustainable, and even the 2.93 FIP will probably correct closer to his 3.78 xFIP. But he’s improved, adding some strikeout ability to his ever-present command. His swinging strike rate is up, the contact rate against him is down, and he’s being successful while throwing the fewest pitches in the zone he’s ever thrown. The culprit may be an improved slider, which has huge pitch values in the early going despite similar movement and velocity to his 2011 edition of the pitch. Whatever the change, arm action or otherwise, he’s coaxing a 28% whiff rate on them compared to just 20% in 2011. With all of that, his early success and a match-up against a Dodgers team that really struggles with righties (.289 wOBA), I’ll roll with him.
Shaun Marcum (1%) – A 7.20 ERA and a 2.10 WHIP don’t really mean a tonne to me after one start fresh off the disabled list, an impromptu relief appearance and a start on an odd schedule due to the relief outing. Marcum has walked more batters than we’re used to, but his plate discipline profile looks basically unchanged, and I’m confident that will correct over more innings. He draws the Pirates this weekend, who are no joke at the plate. However, in Marcum’s favor is that the Pirates strikeout plenty and don’t walk much, giving him a good chance to succeed and get back on track.
Edwin Jackson (26%) – Do it, but lookk away. Or don’t do it, I can’t fault you. This might stop my short but enjoyed no-bust streak, but Jackson actually sets up well this weekend in Washington. The Nationals are struggling at the dish (except for Bryce Harper, of course), striking out more than the league average while walking less. Their wOBA against right-handers is also just .303 and is 29th overall at .294. There’s a non-zero chance Harper ruins this for me, but consider that only one other regular (Ian Desmond) has even a league-average wOBA so far. Oh, and Jackson has a 3.21 FIP, 3.56 xFIP and 21.7% K-rate. He hasn’t been that bad. Just set it and don’t watch.
Week 5 Average: 6.3 IP, 2 W, 2.17 ERA, 2.57 FIP, 1.0 WHIP, 5.3 K, 3-of-4 successful
Season Average: 5.6 IP, 1.6 W, 4.52 ERA, 3.95 FIP, 1.3 WHIP, 4.7 K, 12-of-20 successful