(Writer’s Note: The Mariners announced Friday that Taijuan Walker would be shut down after his start against the Astros. He’s still a good single play there, but go with Gerrit Cole for a 2xSP.)
Here are this week’s recommendations:
Ubaldo Jimenez – 23.5% ESPN – v. KC (.305 team wOBA), @CWS (.300)
Jimenez is the starter fantasy players just can’t quit, because just once he’s left for dead, he’ll reel off a run of five solid starts and get people back on his side. To-date, Jimenez’ ERA sits at 3.79, which is the lowest it has read all season, with the exception of a six-inning, one-run season opening appearance.
The tumble, in a good way, has looked like this from month to month (May-Sept.): 6.37-4.83-4.67-4.18-3.79. With a pitching slash of 3.79/4.04/4.06, it looks like he isn’t doing it with smoke and mirrors, either. The walks are still scary high, but his home/road splits have leveled off finally (4.33 home/3.29 away), which make him a more palpable play in weeks where he’s not starting both on the road. It also helps to get a couple weak offenses this week, too.
Martin Perez – 34.1% ESPN – v. PIT (.312), v. OAK (.320)
Perez squares off against another pitcher that was heavily considered for this week’s piece, uber prospect Gerrit Cole (39%, @TEX, v. CHC). Ultimately, it felt as though the matchups worked slightly in favor of Perez, for whom Texas has won the last seven times out.
In that time frame, Perez is 6-0, and has seen his ERA drop from 4.37 to 3.41. He also has 6.6 K/9 in that time frame, up slightly from his 6.0 season mark, but still below league average for starters. The 22-year-old left-hander has been a nice surprise in an injury-ravaged Rangers rotation — 11 men have started games for Texas this year — and through 15 starts and 95 innings (about a half season worth of work) Perez has the look of a +3.0 win starter. At his age, that’s phenomenal.
Taijuan Walker – 15.0% ESPN – v. HOU (.300), @STL (.319)
Walker has been perfectly acceptable in his first two big league starts, the first a five-inning win versus the Astros, followed by a five-inning no-decision versus the Royals. It’ll get tougher with the Cardinals over the weekend, but not before he gets the Astros at home for another accommodating start. Through 10 innings, Walker has only fanned four, while walking three.
And honestly, nothing can really be read into by that. What we know is that Walker throws hard (94.2 mph heater/90.4 mph cutter), and has been a strikeout machine in the minors. The Astros should be a good test for Walker a second time, but should also be an opportunity for him to show more in the strikeout department. And right now, the Cardinals offense looks more run of the mill than it has all season, so maybe he’ll be catching the birds at a good time. Nonetheless, if Walker comes out with another solid week, he may be well above our 50% threshold. Get him while you can.
As an aside, and a matter of housekeeping, I’d like to address a few things. In the past few weeks, I’ve had some pitchers schedules be completely messed up, such as Sonny Gray only making one start — on I think a Wednesday, no less — and one entire week where only three starts were made by the pitchers combined.
I go by the ESPN probables on Friday morning, so that leaves three-fifths of a rotation to go through before my recs even come up for air. If anyone knows of a more reliable spot for ‘probables’ let me know, and I’m more than willing to check it out.
Also, the spreadsheet is completely updated, and the ERA is under 4.00. Huzzah! Thanks for reading.