Saturday, August 18, 2018

Which Mets starting pitcher has the lowest ERA since the All-Star break?


The obvious answer is NL Cy Young candidate Jacob deGrom. However, that answer is wrong.


The answer is Zack Wheeler.


Yes, the right-hander who didn’t even throw a pitch in the majors in 2015 or 2016 due to injuries and posted an ERA over 5.00 in 17 starts last season has been lights out since the break.


Now more than three years removed from Tommy John surgery, Wheeler is finally back into form. Since the break, he ranks sixth in ERA (1.41) and fifth in WHIP (0.84) following five starts, lowering his overall numbers to a very respectable 3.75 ERA and 1.23 WHIP for the year.


The trade rumors seemed to be rampant for Wheeler at the trade deadline, whose ERA is just 2.82 since the start of June. It’s no wonder given his bounce back, which includes a career-best 96 mph average velocity on his fastball (10th best among starting pitchers) and 2.96 K/BB ratio. Also under team control through next season, Wheeler looks like a potential building block behind the duo of deGrom and Noah Syndergaard if the Mets stand pat this offseason.


It’s worth noting that Wheeler has benefited from a very easy schedule since the break, with matchups against bottom feeders San Diego, Miami, and Baltimore accounting for 60 percent of his results, but his best starts since the break came against Pittsburgh and Atlanta.


While it’s been a dire year for Mets fans, Wheeler is one reason to hold out hope for next season. As we look toward 2019, Wheeler could stack up as a top 30 starting pitcher going into next spring if he continues to produce down the stretch.


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-Another oft-injured starter who has performed among the elite since the break is Carlos Rodon. The White Sox lefty ranks eighth with a 1.69 ERA. Rodon’s control from 2016 has mostly returned this year (3.2 BB/9) and despite his struggles to miss bats, his velocity has been fine since returning from a shoulder injury.


-The always conservative Rays have taken special care of Blake Snell since returning from a shoulder injury earlier this month. He’s averaged less than 61 pitches in three starts, capping out at 76 pitches in his last outing. This has to be frustrating for fantasy owners, but kudos to the Rays for taking care of their 25-year-old lefty as he works his way back. Despite his brief DL stint and limited recent pitch counts, Snell still ranks ninth among starting pitchers in the Rotoworld Player Rater as he continues to show true dominance. Look for the pitch counts to continue to increase this week, though it wouldn’t be at all surprising if the third place Rays (24.5 games behind Boston in the AL East) shut him down before the end of September.


-Kevin Gausman has been excellent since being traded to the Braves, with a 2.84 ERA in three starts. His outstanding career second half trend is continuing, as the former Orioles ace’s ERA is a full run lower following the break during his career (3.60 in the second half vs. 4.77 before the break). Not surprisingly, the move to the NL and out of Camden Yards has aided Gausman’s ability to keep the ball in the park, though his velocity and strikeout rate remain down significantly from previous years.


-Oakland continues to be one of this year’s best surprises due in large part to resurgent performers like Brett Anderson. The veteran lefty has allowed only two runs in 19.2 innings this month. With the current era of strikeouts, Anderson has gone the other way as an extreme groundball pitcher whose already low strikeout rate has plummeted to 4.4 K/9 this season. He’s getting by with the help of a sub-2.0 BB/9, but the overall ERA metrics (4.53 FIP, 4.54 SIERA) don’t support his recent success. He has a two-start week ahead, but there’s reason to be cautious.




Note: Probable pitchers as of Friday, August 17, and are subject to change.


American League


Strong Plays


Gerrit Cole: @SEA, @LAA

Blake Snell: KC, BOS

Corey Kluber: @BOS, @KC


Decent Plays


Nathan Eovaldi: CLE, @TB

Carlos Rodon: MIN, @DET

Rick Porcello: CLE, @TB

Jose Berrios: CHW, OAK

Mike Fiers: TEX, @MIN

Shane Bieber: @BOS, @KC

Jordan Zimmermann: CHC, CHW

Brett Anderson: TEX, @MIN


At Your Own Risk


Marco Estrada: BAL, PHI

Dylan Bundy: @TOR, NYY

Ervin Santana: @CHW, OAK

Jorge Lopez: @TB, CLE

Lucas Giolito: @MIN, @DET



National League


Strong Plays


Zack Wheeler: SF, WAS

Stephen Strasburg: PHI, @NYM


Decent Plays


Alex Wood: STL, SD

Chris Archer: ATL, @MIL

Kevin Gausman: @PIT, @MIA

Julio Teheran: @PIT, @MIA

Kyle Hendricks: @DET, CIN

Derek Holland: @NYM, TEX

Vince Velasquez: @WAS, @TOR

Robbie Erlin: @COL, @LAD


At Your Own Risk


Ty Blach: @NYM, TEX

Steven Matz: SF, WAS

Chase Anderson: CIN, PIT

Austin Gomber: @LAD, @COL

Trevor Richards: NYY, ATL

Tyler Anderson: SD, STL

Homer Bailey: @MIL, @CHC




The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:


American League


Wednesday, August 22: Lance Lynn @ MIA

Despite struggling in his last start, Lynn has an excellent opportunity to get back on track at Miami. The Marlins remain pitiful vs. right-handers, with a .669 OPS and now without Justin Bour.


Thursday, August 23: Tyler Glasnow vs. KC

Tampa Bay continues to ramp up Glasnow since acquiring him from Pittsburgh, up to 79 pitches and five innings in his last start. I still worry about the control (4.9 BB/9), but his Royals matchup is too favorable to pass up.


Saturday, August 25: Ryan Borucki vs. PHI

Major league hitters are finally catching up to Borucki, as evidenced by his last two outings. Still, Saturday’s matchup vs. the Phils (seventh worst OPS vs. LHP) is favorable.


National League


Tuesday, August 21: Ty Blach @ NYM

Blach doesn’t miss many bats, but he’s worth a look in his first start of the week vs. a Mets lineup that’s second worst in baseball vs. lefties (.646 OPS).


Wednesday, August 22: Tanner Roark vs. PHI

It’s been an uneven year for Roark, but he’s gotten back on track in his last two starts and faces a Phils lineup that ranks in the bottom third in OPS vs. right-handers, albeit now with Wilson Ramos and Justin Bour.


Saturday, August 25: Tommy Milone @ NYM

Milone will likely stick in the rotation following Jeremy Hellickson’s wrist injury, and also gets to face the aforementioned anemic Mets offense.



American League


5: LAA




National League


5: ARI






Here’s some injuries to prominent players from the last week, and other players to watch for in the coming week. You can get a full listing of injured players at Rotoworld’s Injury Page.


Trevor Bauer: Out at least 4-6 weeks (leg)

Adrian Beltre: Day-to-day (hamstring)

Ryan Braun: Day-to-day (ribs)

Delino DeShields: Placed on DL (finger)

Rafael Devers: Placed on DL (hamstring)

Danny Duffy: Placed on DL (shoulder)

Edwin Encarnacion: Placed on DL (hand)

Blaine Hardy: Placed on DL (elbow)

Jeremy Hellickson: Will be placed on DL (wrist)

Ryan Madson: Placed on DL (back)

Jordy Mercer: Placed on DL (calf)

Mike Montgomery: Placed on DL (shoulder)

Logan Morrison: Out for the year (hip)

Brandon Nimmo: Day-to-day (finger)

James Paxton: Placed on DL (arm)

David Peralta: Day-to-day (illness)

Martin Prado: Placed on DL (quad)

Dereck Rodriguez: Placed on DL (hamstring)

CC Sabathia: Could return next weekend (knee)

Tyler Skaggs: Placed on DL (groin)

Yangervis Solarte: Placed on DL (oblique)

Ross Stripling: Placed on DL (hack)

Eric Thames: Day-to-day (knee)

Joey Votto: Placed on DL (leg)