There were plenty of pitchers I could have led with today, but I’m sure the question on everyone’s mind is if they should be picking up Brandon Finnegan or not after going 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks. It’s a good question and no wrong answer, really. Finnegan was a pitcher we haven’t seen yet yesterday in many ways: his Fastball velocity spiked over a tick, he threw more Changeups than Sliders after heavily favoring the breaking ball and barely touching his slow ball in 2016, but most importantly, he tossed his Fastball for a strike at a 67.9% rate. For a guy who held a 4.40 BB/9 last season, that is incredibly good. And there’s more about that Fastball – He stopped throwing Sinkers (previously his favorite heater) to nearly exclusive Four-Seamers, which – get this – had a vertical break of 14.90 inches. Essentially, his Four-Seamer stayed five inches higher than the league average lefty Four-Seamer, which is unreal. Like the greatest rising Fastball you’ve ever heard of. This is a whole lot to take in and I’m not sure how to assess it. It’s not like Finnegan went out there, got lucky and somehow landed on his feet to produce a stud outing. But it’s also not like the Phillies aren’t a terrible offense and he needed 25 pitches to get through the first inning (and then firing six straight perfect innings). Do I believe Finnegan will stay a stud? Not necessarily, but I do believe that he’s a different pitcher now that is well worth a flier if he’s still out there. I do worry the inconsistent Fastball command will return, but the added velocity + Movement mixed with a heavier reliance on his Changeup does seem like a positive step in the right direction.
Let’s see how every other SP did yesterday:
Chris Sale – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. Aces gonna ace. Man this was a fun game to watch and the GIF maker in me is so thrilled to have a ton of starts with Sale at Fenway with their camera angle that favors left-handers. But the Yankee fan in me is far from thrilled. I’m a conflicted man.
Dylan Bundy – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks. I was trying to do productive things tonight but my phone kept blasting from Ben Palmer and Alex Fast acting like five-year olds who discovered cotton candy as they watched Bundy display his new Slider (it’s not a Cutter despite what we’ve been told previously) and dismantle the Jays offense. I’m loving the new pitch as it masks his Fastball plenty more, though the concern is still there that his Fastball command won’t be consistent start-to-start. Also keep in mind that Bundy look super gassed in that seventh and I question if he’ll have an IPS above six this year.
Jacob deGrom – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. Aces gonna ace. How people ranked you past #15 makes no sense to me. But injury concerns! So? He was placed behind Darvish, Strasburg, and Carrasco. Whatever, hope you got deGrom at a discount because this ride is going to be fun.
James Paxton – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. Best night ever. Paxton looked so good spotting his heater inside to right-handers while using his deuce to close the door often. I would have liked to have seen a little more Cutter involvement (13 thrown opposed to 27 Curves), but if he keeps producing these lines then I really don’t care.
Jameson Taillon – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks. Taillon went into Fenway park and escaped with 0 ER and six strikeouts across seven innings. Don’t doubt the man when he’s throwing a heavy 96/97 Fastball, a monster hook, and a new Changeup that induces weak contact with great fade. I’m all on board and so should you.
Bartolo Colon – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. The Giant Peach had his first start of the year back where he was The Big Apple and it was heartwarming. So was this line because that’s just silly. Colon is a guy that can do this out the blue against some NL Easy teams, but he’ll also give you a 5 ER spot with that giant smirk of “yup, what are you gonna do about it?” That’s just how he is and we love him for it. I think.
Wily Peralta – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. Peralta, what juju is this that you allowed four baserunners against the Rockies lineup in Miller Park? I don’t want some, asking for a friend.
J.A. Happ – 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 9 Ks. Nine strikeouts? Jeez Orioles, you really know how to make a visitor feel welcome. 3 ER still hurts and no Win yet for Happ as a 3.70 ERA and sub 16 Win season is still in the cards. Those Ks are not legit and I don’t think Happ has it in him to return Top 40 value this year.
Tanner Roark – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. Meh. I don’t see Roark as Top 40, which I’m sure gets me some hate but I just don’t believe another full season of soft/hard contact rates await while he still has a questionable walk problem.
Garrett Richards – 4.2 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. I was having such a party tonight. Taillon, Paxton, Bundy, deGrom, Eickhoff, it was like the greatest hits collection and you actually like all the tunes. WHAT! I can’t believe they have She Drives Me Crazy on here! Then I started watching Richards and I couldn’t contain myself. 91mph Sliders, Fastballs looking dirty down in the zone and inducing groundballs and weak contact like whoa…it was marvelous. But then of course he had to be all stupid and get pulled from the game because he got a bicep cramp. Yes, just a bicep cramp even though we all feared it was his elbow acting up. He’ll get the DTD label on your team, but don’t worry. I’d be shocked if he missed his next start.
Jerad Eickhoff – 6.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. Low WHIP? Check. Decent ERA? Check. Respectable strikeout total? Check. Eickhoff isn’t as flashy as the others, but he gets the job done.
Rich Hill – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. When Hill is on the…mound he’s an ace. We know this. Well, we kinda know this. Dave Roberts apparently ios being super cautious with Hill now and pulling him sooner than most, i.e. 75 pitches and just five innings tonight. What. That’s terrible news. Yeah, I know this might give you more starts, but if his IPS is well below six then we have a problem here. Sure, this maaay help with the injury problem, but the dude is still going to get hurt and now you’re telling me he won’t give you a proper stud outing when he does pitch. Not cool.
Alex Cobb – 5.2 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. I’m pretty encouraged by this and think it’s a great sign for Cobb. Play the matchups right (that is, don’t toss him out there in Fenway) and you can get some solid value from Cobb who used to be a definitive Top 30 starter. That talent is still in there and the price of free is well worth the upside he brings.
Hector Santiago – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Santiago is not this good. Seriously.
Charlie Morton – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. I’ll admit, when making The List I hated myself the night of for not adding Morton at least to like #98 given the velocity growth he showed last year. Sure, he might not last long, but there’s no reason not to chase him as a flier when a ton of other poor options surround him. I’d be grabbing him if in need of an arm in a deep 12 teamer.
Trevor Cahill – 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks. I can imagine someone who doesn’t know much about fantasy baseball wondering if they should add Cahil or Finnegan. Answer: It’s never Cahill.
Cole Hamels – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Ehhhhh I feel like Hamels is going have a lot of those starts that don’t get you upset but you’re never too thrilled. Sounds like he might be the new King of Pretty Good ala Masahiro Tanaka and Gerrit Cole before.
Ian Kennedy – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 5 BBs, 5 Ks. If you drafted Kennedy, it was for the Ks. You weren’t expecting the world from ERA/WHIP, but hot damn, five walks? That’s like you telling your friend next drink is on you and they order Johnny Walker Blue. Not cool.
Taijuan Walker – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. There’s been a lot of talk about what to expect from Walker this year and this start will do absolutely nothing. Those that liked him will say “Duuuuude, 7 Ks and one walk!” The rest like me will say “Duuuude, 4 ER and a 1.33 WHIP”. I’m not falling for this one.
Tyler Chatwood – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. I want to do the blurb I’ve done for years about avoiding Colorado pitchers, but I just don’t have the heart to do it now that Gray is fantasy relelvant. Or maybe I should with the adendum of Gray at the end. But that wouldn’t have the same effect. Dammit Gray, even without any shares on my fantasy teams and not performing well to start the year, you’re still finding a way to make me upset at you! But Nick, how do you feel about Chatwood? Oh. I feel…nothing.
Danny Salazar – 5.2 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 9 Ks. This is so Salazar and represents everything I feel about him. High strikeout total? Sure! Plenty of walks that make you scream? Yep! Bloated ERA and WHIP as a result? YOU BETCHYA.
Michael Pineda – 3.2 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks. 4 ER in 3.2 innings. Against the Rays. But look at that K/BB! I thought we were past this.
Jharel Cotton – 4.1 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. I watched this start – I watched like every start today because it was pitching heaven oh my lord – and I felt really bad for Cotton as things didn’t go his way. Three runs scored by ways of a bloop double from simmons and a sawed off dink single to left just don’t seem right. What I did like was a solid Curveball and good velocity at 93/94 that can play super well with an unreal Changeup. It’s all there, don’t let this deter you. I actually expect Cotton to be dropped a bit after this one and take that as an opportunity if you need another arm in your 12-teamer.
Matt Moore – 5.1 IP, 6 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. You hear that? That’s the wailing sound of owners who took Moore over starters lik Matt Shoemaker, Garrett Richards, and Dylan Bundy. To be fair, they drafted him to pitch in AT&T park, not Coors-lite but too late, I wrote the blurb already and I’m rolllllling.
Dan Straily – 3.1 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 0 Ks. How does it feel Straily? How does it feel to be living the life you ran away from in 2016? WELL NOW YOU CAN’T HIDE. Well, maybe you’ll have the same luck factor you did as last year, I like to think I won’t fall for the gambler’s falacy after all.
Andrew Triggs vs. Los Angeles Angels – I don’t think Triggs gets enough love and totally believe this is a streamable outing for those in H2H 12 teamers. Jason Hammel against the Twins is another considerable option, though I like Triggs a bit more. Lance Lynn vs. Chicago Cubs also works given the rainout, but I feel like this one is cheating since he should be owned in over 20% of ESPN leagues (and Hisashi Iwakuma is owned well over 50%…people man. PEOPLE.), and there is some risk given it’s the Cubs, but I like Lynn a lot this year and he should be owned in 12 teamers.
Francisco Liriano vs. Tampa Bay Rays – Liriano had a great second half with the Jays and it may have been a product of reuniting with Russell Martin. If you need an upside play for the weekend, Liriano could whip out a great deal of strikeouts without demolishing your rate stats.
Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer
Mike Foltynewicz vs Pittsburgh Pirates – Not many decent options here, so I’ll go with Folty’s upside against the middling Pirates. I don’t love his secondary stuff and I think his massive Fastball is more hittable than it seems, though it’s hard to deny his strikeout upside.
Game of the Day
Matt Harvey vs. Atlanta Braves – I’m incredibly curious if Harvey can maintain velocity steadily above 95mph, and if he doesn’t, then if he can still be effective.
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