May 22, 2022, 11:45 am
Welcome fantasy baseball lovers! My name is Joe Orrico and I host the Fantasy MLB Today Podcast here at SportsEthos. I’m going to be giving you guys a weekly article going forward to wrap up the fantasy week with the biggest storylines, while we’ll also look ahead at the week to come. You can find me on Twitter @JoeOrrico99 for daily threads on players, random thoughts, and of course the links to my show, which goes Monday-Friday. Without further ado, let’s get into it!
Big Stories of the Week:
Freddy Peralta has really rebounded his last two times out, including a seven inning, 10 strikeout gem against the Braves on Monday. After struggling mightily and worrying fantasy managers and Brewers fans alike, the buy-low window is now firmly shut on Freddy.
Speaking of the end of a buy-low window, Trevor Story firmly shut that sucker down with his outrageous 3 HR, 5 R, 7 RBI, 1 SB night on Thursday at Fenway (surely a week-winner for you H2H players), and followed it up with a Friday grand slam. It was enough to catapult him into the top-50 range on the season (50 exactly at the time of writing) and it seems like he is finally settling into his surroundings in Boston.
Yusei Kikuchi has looked very impressive his last three times out. He’s gone a total of 17.1 Innings, and has only allowed six hits, three earned runs and has struck out 20. It also needs to be noted that out of his seven starts, five have come against the Yankees and the Astros, so the fact that his ERA sits at 3.38 is very impressive considering the caliber of opponents.
Nick Pivetta went off and had a career-night on Wednesday against the Astros. He threw a complete game, two-hitter while striking out eight. He’s strung together three good starts in a row, but I’m still not convinced this is legit. He has the second-highest average exit velocity in the majors at 92.4 MPH and the fourth-highest hard-hit rate at 48.3%. Those metrics combined with his 5.10 career ERA lead me to believe this is a couple of good starts and fantasy managers shouldn’t be rushing to pick him up quite yet.
Matt Chapman: The Blue Jays’ new third baseman has struggled to this point of the season, batting .185 and not really fitting into the Jays lineup that well. However, with his history of 25-35 HR seasons combined with his career-high 53.8% hard-hit rate and a potent Blue Jays lineup (albeit one that has started slow), I see him as a prime buy-low target.
Yasmani Grandal: The switch-hitting catcher has gotten off to a very slow start, batting .185 with just two dingers. His advanced metrics remain solid, however, ranking him among the top-25 percent of players in average exit velocity, hard-hit rate, BB%, and K%. This one is a strong buy.
Jose Abreu: Abreu has occasionally gotten off to slow starts and this year is no exception. He is batting just .207 with four HR and 17 RBI, both incredibly low for Jose. However, he still ranks among the top-one percent of hitters in average exit velocity and hard-hit rate, and really all of his advanced metrics show that he will be perfectly fine despite the tough early going.
Yu Darvish: He may seem an odd choice for a sell-high with his 3.91 ERA and less than stellar start to the season. However, now is the perfect time to sell him. He’s coming off a very impressive seven inning shutout of the Phillies, but the numbers show he is in decline. His 19.6% K rate is nearly 10% off of his career mark, his hard-hit rate is also a career-high at 38.8%. His statcast page is a bit of a scary place. Sell while there is still name-brand value mixed with his latest outing.
Byron Buxton: A lot of this comes down to me not trusting him to stay healthy, and we’ve seen it this year with knee and hip issues already coming up. We have also seen a big dip in SB the last couple of years, which is likely a directive from management/training staff to avoid injury risk. When healthy, he is one of the more elite players in the game, a point that fantasy managers should drive home in negotiations.
Paul Blackburn: An almost “too good to be true” start to his season has me looking to sell Blackburn in the leagues where I have him. While many of his metrics are nice, including a wonderful 16.5 K-BB%, his hard hit rate of 43.9% and his xBA of .277 make me worry. Try to sell using the great traditional stats (1.91 ERA, four Wins, .99 WHIP) and his high K-BB%, and you should be able to get yourself a very nice return.
Now let’s take a look at my three favorite targets who are projected to pitch twice this week that I think are worth adding (Note: weather delays, injuries, and Major League managers not caring less about fantasy viability all factor into these starts. Sometimes a guy is projected to go twice in a week and only gets one start, and vice versa, so keep that in mind).
Alex Cobb: May 23rd vs NYM, May 29th @ CIN
He has one of the bigger discrepancies between ERA and xERA (5.61 and 1.83) in all of baseball, and the other metrics also support the fact that he’s been unlucky. He’s among the top-five across the entire MLB in xBA, xSLG and hard-hit rate, plus he’s got a career high 28.1% K rate. Priority add for this week and beyond.
Jordan Montgomery: May 24th vs BAL, May 29th @ TB
Montgomery is a great play this coming week. Despite his K% going down, he’s been able to be successful by lowering his BB% by almost three percent while pitching to a career-best ground ball rate (48.7%). Factor in that he gets the lowly O’s followed by the middle of the pack Rays lineup, and you’ve got yourself a great two-start pitcher for the coming week.
Tyler Anderson: May 23rd @ WSH, May 28th @ ARI
This one is really a match made in heaven for fantasy managers (and Dodgers fans), as Anderson will get the brutal Nationals lineup followed by the D-Backs at pitcher-friendly Chase Field. He’s been able to limit hard contact, ranking in the 88th percentile for average exit velocity, and 92nd for hard-hit rate, to go along with a stellar BB rate of 3.4%.