With a limited slate of action Monday, it’s a pretty lean week for two-start hurlers. This week, we examine a trio of left-handed hurlers, and take a brief look at a righty whose struggled outside of throwing a perfect game. Just a reminder: Team wOBA versus the handedness of that particular starter is what’s listed.
Christian Friedrich (2.5 percent ESPN/6 percent Yahoo!) – @ARI (.320), v. LAA (.280)
The results haven’t entirely been there for Friedrich, as his ERA has ballooned to 5.59 and he’s allowed a .947 OPS over his last three starts (2-1, 9.00 ERA, .448 BABIP). Basically, he’s had some bad defense and a ton of line drives — which explains the BABIP of .404 and the xFIP of 3.02 — because he’s still managed a 15-6 K/BB rate (16 IP), and has gotten plenty of offensive support in somehow winning two of those three contests. Luckily, Friedrich gets a Halos club that really struggles against southpaws, though he also gets an Arizona offense that plays in a bandbox. Again, let me emphasize how weak the options were this week. Nonetheless, I still like Friedrich and his fly ball tendencies in Anaheim (90-93 HR park factor via StatCorner), and am hoping he can use his 24.4 percent K magic to devenomize the D-Backs.
Jason Vargas (40.3 percent ESPN/50 percent Yahoo!) – @LAA (.280), v. LAD (.326)
Vargas draws a couple very accommodating matchups against the Los Angeles clubs this week. Not only do the Halos struggle against southpaws (t-last in wOBA v. LHP), but the Dodgers will be missing Matt Kemp (MLB-leading .610 wOBA v. lefties) not only for this week but for probably a month. It’s not a dream matchup for fantasy players by any means; Vargas is strongly outperforming his xFIP/FIP largely due to a .223 BABIP (though some credit goes to the Mariners defense, which is again among the top 3-5 in the game), but he does get the better offense at Safeco (1.91 home ERA). Don’t look for any strikeouts, and don’t expect a ton of offensive help, as the Mariners have the fourth-worst offense by wOBA in the majors (.294), but Vargas should be a pretty good play this week.
Drew Smyly (25.4 percent ESPN/26 percent Yahoo!) – v. CLE (.286), @CIN (.333)
This 22-year-old lefty has quietly been one of the better starters in the American League Central. Not only is he whiffing 8.2 per nine, he’s limiting the free pass (2.5 per nine) while mixing in six different pitches. The longball has given Smyly trouble (nine in 54.2 IP), so while the Indians matchup is quite accommodating, the Reds matchup may give some owners pause (especially in GABP). That’s basically the story this week, as each pitcher seems to have one really nice matchup and one that could completely implode. Considering the other options this week included Eric Stults, Jeremy Guthrie, and Jeremy Hefner, I’ll again reiterate that this was a lean week.
At Your Own Risk:
Philip Humber (v. TOR, v. HOU)
Humber has really struggled outside of his perfecto (6.49 ERA), but gets a couple of offenses that both have wOBAs in the .310s against righties. It’s hard to recommend Humber anywhere, especially at the Cell where he’s got a 6.26 ERA despite a 9.5 K/9 (4.38 and 6.6 on the road). All in all, Humber is a confusing play.
Jarrod Parker (v. TEX, @ARI)
Normally I really like Parker, but the Rangers are just too good (MLB-best .354 wOBA), and Arizona is still a launchpad (100-plus park factor on ALL extra base hits for each batting side). I’d lean towards no on this one.
Deep League Flyer Alert:
Scott Feldman (@OAK, @SF) – Feldman hasn’t been particularly good (5.39 xFIP, 0.0 WAR, 10.5 K percent), but the A’s are the worst offense in the AL (.278 wOBA), and the Giants aren’t world-beaters either (.306). He’s owned in less than one percent of all leagues, and could be worth a look.