There is a statistical jungle in baseball, filled with so many numbers it’s easy to get lost. You’re a busy person – there’s no time for you as a fantasy owner to go out and discover the statistical gold. That’s where I come in. Every week, I’ll be out there for you, looking through stats and information databases to find the three starting pitcher matchups that stand out from the rest. They won’t always be the best pitchers and won’t always be streamers, but these are my “Matchups of the Week.”
Aaron Nola (Unranked on The List) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (Tuesday July 21st)
I know this will be Nola’s first start in the MLB and it’s usually not smart to start a pitcher in Nola’s situation, but when I see talent and a tantalizing matchup, it’s hard to pass up. The LSU alum throws from a low ¾ arm slot where he can sit around 94 MPH on his Fastball mixed with a Curveball and Changeup that each flash plus potential according to Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel. However, as with any rookie, there is risk with Nola. His strikeout numbers have fluctuated in his 150 innings pitched in minors from a low 7 K/9 in AA to right around above 9 K/9 in AAA, but it came with an increase in walks. The saving grace is a small sample size that can write off a lot of the data can be written off because so. What really makes this matchup an intriguing one is that Nola gets to face the lackluster offense of the Tampa Bay Rays, a team who has posted 90 wRC+ against right-handed pitchers this year who also lose the benefit of starting a DH since this game will be played in Philadelphia. While Nola may not last as long in his start as the other pitchers on this list, he’s probably the most interesting streamer choice because of his potential and matchup.
Dan Haren (#91) @ San Diego Padres (Friday July 24th)
While Dan Haren may no longer be the ace of the Marlins pitching staff since Jose Fernandez came off the DL, he is in the middle of a renassaince year in his 13th season in the big leagues. A lot can be attributed to Haren’s change in approach since coming to Miami. Known as a ground-ball machine for his entire career, Haren, now East of the Mississippi River for the first time, has transformed himself as a flyball pitcher, generating career lows in GB% and career highs in FB%. The main catalyst is a dramatic cut of his trademark pitch, the Splitter. Usually thrown around 15% for the majority of his career, the Marlin veteran now only throws it less than 5% of the time. If this is a result of the Marlin’s coaching staff trying to reinvent Haren, they’ve done a great job as all of his flyballs are being caught by above-average defenders in the outfield as well as half his games should be played in spacious Marlins Park. While this week’s matchup is not located in Miami, Petco Park can do an exemplary job of playing big as well. I’m not sure how much longer Haren can pitch in the major leagues, but he is showing that even an old dog can learn new tricks.
Brett Anderson (#59) @ New York Mets (Sunday 7/26)
Talk about a redemption tour. Coming up this Sunday, Brett Anderson should make his 20th start of the season. For the uninitiated, it seems as if I’m just making a point of it because it’s a round number. However, for the people that have been following Anderson this year and the past few, myself included, it marks a very special occasion for him. Back in 2009, Anderson started 30 games for the Oakland Athletics and pitched well enough place 6th in the Rookie of the Year voting and seemed as if he would be the Athletics ace for years to come. Unfortunately, Anderson caught the injury bug and hasn’t been able to reach the 20 start benchmark since his second season. After a stopover in Colorado last season, Anderson found himself in Los Angeles as a sixth starter and soon was pushed into the rotation after Hyun Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy went down with injuries and al he’s done is prove when healthy, Anderson can be a valuable piece to any rotation and a valuable streamer for fantasy owners as well. While he has posted some high strikeout numbers in some starts, they haven’t been consistent but he has done a great job of keeping the ball in the park and generating groundballs and there is no doubt that he will continue this trend in this upcoming week. He’ll get to feast on the NL Easy this week as he’ll face the Braves and Mets, but the Mets matchup is just too good to pass up. The Mets offense can be summed just by looking at the stats from their game on Sunday vs. the Cardinals where they went 1-for-26 with runners in scoring position and 25 runners were left on base in their 18 inning marathon. It’s a fortunate lineup to face and I have few doubts that Anderson will perform well.