Welcome back to our SP Schedule Preview! Glad to have you here. This part of the season is fun because we have learned so much yet still know next to nothing relative to a full year of data. Luckily, I’m here to sort through the chaos with you and find the best matchups on the horizon.
Increasingly important as the injuries mount, the new offensive environment has made streaming a viable option to not only tread water but potentially gain ground on your competition. Heck, the Mariners have a team average under .200. These are wild times we’re living in. With that, here are my new offensive tiers.
The only major change to my offensive tiers is the Rockies’ placement. After a stubborn start to the season, I’m finally ready to bump them into the top offensive tier when playing at home. Being the worst collection of talent the organization has put out in recent memory I wanted to wait and see if Coors could really prop them up that much. It has.
The OPS itself jumps from dead last to fifth. Despite a severe lack of talent, we still must avoid Coors. Otherwise, injuries are the key factor in knocking teams down (Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto, and basically every other Met, Mike Trout for the Angels). That being said, let’s dive into the team-by-team breakdown!
In one of my favorite articles from the 2021 season, Zach Buchanan of the Athletic gave a little insight into Bumgarner’s resurgence. Definitely worth the read, but basically the team has stopped inundating him with information and instead, giving his catcher the full game plan to call. The results have been pleasing to all those who’ve stuck with Mad-Bum over the last few seasons. His run of good-not-great matchups here will be a test.
Zac Gallen will not be returning over the next few weeks from his elbow injury. Luke Weaver likely won’t either, testing the Diamondback’s pitching depth. Martin was the key piece coming back to Arizona in the Zack Greinke trade and has a shot to stick in this rotation with a strong stretch ahead against mostly National League foes.
Kelly struck out 12 Dodgers on Thursday night, which is something that should get your attention. He’s had random bouts of dominance with intermittent ineffectiveness since his return from the KBO. Tread lightly.
Neither Widener nor Frankoff stick out as viable options. Not that the Cardinals, Giants, Mets, A’s, or Angels have strong offenses, those two just offer little by way of stuff.
Turning out to be one of the higher-variant rotations in baseball, here we have a collection of Jekyll and Hydes. Morton was been very hot and cold this season. Inconsistency may just have to be something we accept in his old age. You’re likely not going to sit him, but that @BOS scares the bejesus out of me.
Anderson has been similarly inconsistent. His Ks have taken a bit of a hit, but his real issue is an inability to limit hard contact. A calling card in 2020, this may just be a function of the league being more aware of how he pitches. Better of late, it’s time for him to adjust. Four consecutive divisional matchups give him a chance to find his footing.
Smyly and Fried have each come off the IL with strong showings. Fried of course is more well regarded than Smyly and has the privilege of missing both the Dodgers and Red Sox at Fenway. So, take a wait-and-see approach with Smyly while Fried gets in his groove.
Davidson looked good against the Mets last week and should return to the rotation this week after a brief return to the minors. He’s mildly interesting and in a situation worth keeping tabs on.
Ahead of an AL Central tour, Means is the only guy who can be trusted from the O’s. Like, even the only one you should CONSIDER trusting. He’s proven to be nearly matchup-proof at this point, so starts against Minnesota and Chicago are not the end of the world.
Otherwise, this rotation is approaching hot garbage levels. Kremer is the only one that still intrigues me, but the results have not been good enough to overlook. That start against Cleveland could be stream-worthy if he shows any signs of life beforehand.
Boston Red Sox
One of the best rotations in baseball statistically, Chaim Bloom and the Sox staff have really worked some magic with this bunch. A five-game week gives us no double starts coming up, but Pérez, Eovaldi, and the struggling E-Rod are all great streamers against the Marlins at home.
Such ends the good times with a literal gauntlet afterward. 14 consecutive games against the Astros, Yankees, and Blue Jays make this staff borderline unusable for a two-week stretch. Probably a good time to sell high on some Pivetta shares.
Time to dust off those Arrieta and Williams shares with a series in Pittsburgh starting Tuesday. Remember Week 1? We were all so young then, so unaware of the season that’s been foretold…
I digress, Hendricks has truly turned a corner and that’s GREAT news. I touched on it two weeks ago, but he’s basically only struggled with the Braves this season. He’s allowed 14 ER in 7.2 innings against Atlanta (16.43 ERA) and 11 ER in 35 innings against everybody else (2.83 ERA). That will play against everyone on his ledger, even San Diego.
Alzolay has been very impressive so far this season and will be tested with starts against the Reds, Padres (x2), and Cardinals. Still, I am ready to trust him and his 22.5 K-BB% moving forward in most matchups. On the other side of that coin, Davies has almost identical strikeout and walk rates, making him practically unusable.
Chicago White Sox
What has quickly turned into one of the strongest rotations in baseball also has the easiest upcoming schedule. Playing in the AL Central will do that for you. Cease is in line for some true domination if he can get back on track after a rough go in the Bronx. Keuchel too. Both unbelievable options over the next three weeks.
Giolito and Rodón bear the ‘brunt’ of this stretch only because they catch a three-game set with the Blue Jays. No matter, all are must-starts moving forward. Giolito might’ve even turned the corner just in time for a two-start week. Lynn too, possibly with the easiest run in the league moving forward.
Wade Miley suffered a foot injury during his Wednesday start and has been placed on the IL. And that will move the trio of Mahle, Hoffman, and Gray each up a day. Sit tight for Miley’s replacement. I’m assuming it will be José de León, who has mild appeal moving forward.
Castillo’s season has taken years off my life. Can’t even begin to decipher what’s happening with him. I will note that last week’s start against the Giants was his first of the year above 70º and not in Coors Field. There is no data I could find that had his weather splits, but I’ll gladly cling to this.
If someone in your league is trying to unload Mahle after his blow-up against the Giants, go after him. Heck, invite me on as your second owner and let me at him. I’m still incredibly high on Mahle and see this as a small bump in the road during a prolonged, sustained breakout. He’ll get back on track against the Nationals and is a premier two-start option this week.
As of writing this (Friday afternoon), Gray has only seen the 6th inning twice this season and completed it once. Of course, that’s only in six starts and I expect him to sharpen as he regains his sea legs. A favorable stretch against NL opponents should help him to do so.
Hoffman bounced back Friday after a poor string of outings. The strikeouts returned which is a great sign, but I’d still be hesitant to stream him until the Rockies come to town.
I can’t help but look ahead to that four-game set against the White Sox. What a fun series that could be, and one with serious divisional implications. This rotation is lucky enough to get a four-game set in Detroit before, though, one that even gives Hentges value as a streamer coming off a blowup in Anaheim.
Otherwise, this staff shows a pretty clear divide. Bieber is an ace, Plesac and Civale have both shaken off subpar starts, and whoever replaces Triston McKenzie and Hentges generally can’t be trusted. All the best to McKenzie as he heads down to get his mind right.
Oh! Gomber with a two-step on the road!! Sign me right up for that!!! Weeks like this are like an eclipse, you won’t want to miss it because there’s no telling how long until there’s another. Freeland has the same and I’ll trepidatiously trust him. The Mets are a glorified AAA team right now and have a solid two weeks here to be streamed against.
This road week against the Pirates and Mets makes this rotation look better than it ever has. Márquez should get back on track, same with Gray, even Senzatela could wind up alright. Stay away from these guys at home while catching your league sleeping this week with some road Rockies.
Turnbull will get the old ‘No-Hitter Bump’ ahead of a two-start week that starts against Cleveland. He’s still the same pitcher, though, so I hope you didn’t go FAAB crazy on him. Nevertheless, play his matchups coming up against alternating types of offenses.
The strikeouts are back for Skubal (22 in his last 16 IP), which is good! Games against the Yankees and White Sox are not. Ride that game against Cleveland before comfortable leaving him on the bench again. Ureña can always stay there, as you know.
Lastly, a couple of guys bucking the strikeout-needy trend, Boyd and Mize have both found some recent success without gaudy K%’s. Boyd has been better than Mize, but it’s hard to take the shine from a #1 pick. However, Boyd’s upcoming run against gives me WAY more confidence than Mize. Each can enjoy a start against Seattle soon, too.
One of the more intriguing rotations in baseball, as most teams struggle to find the depth the Astros are approaching a difficult decision. Jake Odorizzi and Framber Valdez are moving through their rehab assignments and José Urquidy is already throwing again, giving Houston seven viable starters. García is certainly heading for either the bullpen or AAA, even after a strong stint in the rotation, but who else?
The Astros could roll with a four-man rotation if Odorizzi nor Valdez are ready for Friday’s open spot, which is likely, and call upon Javier to pitch against the Padres. Despite his great start, he seems to likely be the odd-man-out. His command is the worst of this bunch and he’s already proven his worth as a reliever. A shame, he will not be roster-able if this prediction winds up being true.
Those not in doubt, Greinke and McCullers, are approaching a murderer’s row of matchups. You’re probably not sitting either, but I wouldn’t be shy about looking for better streaming options.
Kansas City Royals
I don’t have very much faith in Keller at the moment. He has been able to keep runs off the board of late without the strikeout totals to build my trust. There is vast blow-up potential in his game.
Bubic has become something of a soft-contact wizard; that is something to monitor as his sample grows. He is a firm watch-list candidate. Still, you’ll need some serious mettle to use him in the immediate future with back-to-back starts coming against the Twins.
My taste lies more with Singer and Minor. They miss bats at about a league-average rate and are lucky enough to catch the Pirates next week. I’m not excited about Minor’s second coming against the Angels, but fully ready to take the plunge.
Los Angeles Angels
Ah, the glorious six-man rotation. Ruining two-start weeks one turn at a time. Regardless, this is a decent stretch for one of the more intriguing rotations in baseball. This staff has both the highest ERA and K/9 of any staff in the league. Neither of those stats are perfect indicators of talent, but I found it quirky that they’d be on complete opposite ends of the spectrum.
Nevertheless, what a soft run here. Heaney is a must-start against Texas, San Francisco, and Kansas City. The strikeouts should be aplenty there and in Seattle for the four remaining members of this group.
Apart from the no-hitter collective, I don’t feel fully confident in Cobb or Quintana. They’re both missing tons of bats while giving up runs. Cobb’s expected stats are better, but I need to see some consistency before diving in.
I’m much higher on Canning and Bundy than the collective/their results. The talent is there, the strikeouts are there, and in Bundy’s case, the repertoire is diverse. Canning needs a pitch with a higher difference in velocity from his fastball than either his slider or changeup and the curve seems like an easy fix if he were to use it more often.
Joe Maddon has been non-committal on where Ohtani is going to slot in, making this entire write-up potentially void. Keep an eye out during the week as to when he throws.
Los Angeles Dodgers
I want to give this rotation a nickname: The Fearsome Foursome? Whatever. These four horses are keeping the Dodgers afloat while the rest of their team is injured and they’ll need all four on top of their game ahead of a massive week.
Most Dodgers fans circled this series in Houston a long time ago and I expect the tempers to fly. Kershaw will be in rare form emotionally on Tuesday and it will be a must-watch game. I wish Bauer could pitch on four days rest to give it a go in game two, but that is unlikely and leaves a bullpen day that will be led by either Jimmy Nelson or David Price. Nelson has not shown enough so far this season to be trusted against Houston, St. Louis, or Atlanta and Price likely won’t give length fresh off the IL.
Otherwise, none of these four are leaving your lineup. Back-to-back series with the Pirates and Rangers with a potential two-start week for Bauer against those two is the type of stuff we dream about.
Chaos continues to be the norm with the Marlins staff. They only had one starting pitched named for their weekend series with the Mets as of Friday afternoon! Rogers, Alcantara, and López are to be trusted almost indefinitely still. I will be stressing when they head to Fenway, but confidence will not waiver.
Halloway is a translation for ‘bullpen day.’ Supposed to give bulk on Friday against the Mets, Miami wound up using every pitcher on their roster in a 12-inning game and had catcher Chad Wallach in the pen getting loose for a possible 13th!
One name to watch here is Poteet. His K numbers through the minors are decent and he’s now put together a few good starts in a row. Avoid him in Boston, but Pittsburgh and Colorado afterward look nice.
Ugh, any weeks with Woodruff and Burnes double starts chefs kiss, swoon. Two true aces, there’s something in that Milwaukee water. No fear moving forward.
Unexpectedly to some, a third ace has entered the chat in Peralta. Entering play on Saturday, his K% and Whiff% are in the 97th and 96th percentile for all pitchers. He’s ascended as just a two-pitch pitcher, an emerging trend this season, and has shown no signs of slowing down.
Usually, I give no love to the rest of this rotation, but Houser and Anderson EACH draws the Tigers and Pirates in the near future. That’s enough for me to consider streaming with Houser getting the nod over Anderson.
A broken record, maybe this is the stretch to get Maeda back on track. Heck, two games against the Orioles and Royals. If not, Twins are in for a rough go of it as the rest of this staff, Berríos excluded, inspires much confidence.
Otherwise, this is as good a stretch as any to try and stream Shoemaker and Happ. They could find success against the Orioles, Royals, and Mariners because honestly who can’t? Just be aware that if you play with fire you may get burned.
EDIT: Maeda has hit the IL with a groin strain. I’m assuming these two open spots go to Bailey Ober and Lewis Thorpe, the Twins’ two most recent spot starters. Neither is particularly interesting at the moment.
New York Mets
Talk about chaos, this schedule is difficult to predict since I genuinely don’t think the Mets know who is starting for them over the next 10 days. Manager Luis Rojas genuinely laughed when he was asked about Sunday’s probables. That’s where we’re at in Mets Land.
deGrom’s rehab start went off without a hitch, so he is tentatively due back Tuesday against the Rockies in a smash-spot and two-start week.
He is sandwiched by Peterson and Stroman, two sinker-ballers actively tinkering with their repertoires. Peterson has teased a Four-Seamer in a few starts this year and gotten great results with it (namely against Tampa Bay). He is someone to keep an eye on with two decent secondary pitches (slider and changeup) and a firm role for the foreseeable future.
Stroman has been rock-solid all year. Debuted in the Spring, he has slowly become more comfortable with his new split-change as the season has progressed and threw it a season-high 23 times on Friday in Miami with a 57% whiff rate. He’s been a savior for this Mets team.
Past those three, that idea of chaos can’t be overstated. Taijuan Walker has been strong all season but left his start Monday against the Braves with side tightness. There are murmurs he could only miss one turn so keep an eye out for him. Joey Lucchesi, Jordan Yamamoto, and Sean Reid-Foley will fill depth roles and should not be on mixed-league radars.
The name to watch here is Noah Syndergaard. He seems on track to possibly come off the IL when first possible on 5/31, as he’s already built up to five innings on a rehab assignment.
New York Yankees
This rotation has truly rounded into form. Kluber’s no-hitter seems to have cemented his status as ‘back’, putting a bow on an impressive month of May where he has yielded just six ER and seven BB in 28.2 IP. That Red Sox game will be a great litmus test as to his progress. Think of the two-start week beforehand as a fun bonus.
Previously on tenuous footing, Germán and Montgomery have both been on stellar runs. Montgomery is coming off the best start of his career, allowing zero ER in seven IP with 11 Ks against the White Sox. They both have a tough stretch of division rivals in the offing and leashes will remain tight as Deivi García looms.
The only guy here yet to put it all together is Taillon. He’s struggling to put hitters away despite good whiff rates and movement on his pitches. I fully expect him to find it at some point, just remain patient with the right-hander.
Cole is an ace and unquestionably the second-best pitcher in baseball. Keep it moving.
Is there a more underrated pitcher in baseball right now than Bassitt? He’s never spectacular, but always good allowing no less than two and more than four ER in any start this year. Some great oatmeal, Bassitt will be steady over this stretch of matchups.
I’m pretty upset Montas pulled the Rockies in Coors breaking up this stretch of favorable opponents. No matter, I’m proud to conduct the ‘Montas Is Good’ train and don’t expect to get off anytime soon. A simple adjustment, like throwing more splitters, could take him to the next level at literally any moment.
Irvin may be turning from Cinderella back into a pumpkin with just six Ks and five BBs over his last 17.2 IP. Of course, those were in games against Houston, Tampa Bay, and Minnesota, so there’s still some streaming appeal in a two-start week that includes the Mariners.
Speaking of Seattle, Kaprielian is set to enjoy back-to-back starts against the worst offense in baseball. The rookie has looked good so far I’m cautiously optimistic about his outlook.
Lastly, Manaea shook off his thrashing in Fenway with an OK start against the Astros.
Nothing like a four-game set in Miami to get a rotation feeling right. And followed by the ever rare Friday off-day! Fun week ahead for the Phillies down in Florida.
The big news here is Howard getting the call to replace the struggling Chase Anderson for Philadelphia. It took him 68 pitches to get through three innings and he allowed two ER, but induced 12 whiffs and got his fastball up to 97 mph. Definitely something to keep an eye on.
The Big Three are still just that despite some recent struggles from Nola and Eflin. No matter, all can be trusted until we reach that eight-game stretch against the Braves, Yankees, and Dodgers. Cross that bridge when you get to it.
Something stinks! This staff looks a whole lot worse after Brubaker and Anderson’s recent blowups. I still think those two will be better than the average moving forward, but perhaps we should all be a little more careful around these parts. That being said, there should be smooth sailing ahead with the Cubs, Rockies, Royals, and Marlins.
Completely kidding, I mentioned Keller’s alternating between good and bad starts in my last preview. To my chagrin, he has managed to keep that trend going and literally alternate between good and bad starts all season. It’s truly uncanny. By my calculations, that sets him up for a good start against the Dodgers. That put my hypothesis to the test.
Crowe and Cahill are not to be used under any circumstance. Don’t even think about it. These two can make the anemic seem powerful.
San Diego Padres
Good on the Padres for building out this staff because it’s about to be pushed to the brink. Coming right off a series with the Mariners sets the Padres up for 20 games in 20 days. Shockingly, none of those games are in their own division. So weird.
Snell did the impossible last time and completed six IP. That was his first time accomplishing such a feat since July 21st, 2019. Not a typo. Hopefully, that gets him rolling ahead of a two-start week that includes a trip to Houston. Musgrove joins him in the two-step and gets a shot at the organization which oversaw the bulk of his development. It’s crazy to think of how differently these two are being valued currently, especially when compared to one another.
So recently thought to be crowded at the top, Darvish has cemented himself as the alpha of this staff. I expect him to make mince-meat of his former team. And he’ll get consecutive shots at them! Good for the Cubs to get an up-close look at what they gave up.
Coming off his best start of the season, Paddack will bet the benefit of missing Houston. I’m still not fully back in and would like to see some more consistency out of the young right-hander, especially against anyone besides Seattle.
It’s a shame that Dinelson Lamet can’t stay healthy. The stuff is so electric. He has been piggy-backing with Weathers for a bit now and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon rendering each without much mixed-league value.
San Francisco Giants
My vote for the feel-good story of the season, Kazmir made his first big league appearance in five years for the upstart Giants on Saturday and looked pretty good! No one’s expecting fantasy viability from the old-timer, but he did keep the Dodgers at bay without missing many bats. However, get that fastball up to 94 mph and the Giants have been working some magic lately…
Full of great storylines, another favorite of mine has been the metamorphosis of Gausman into a legit ace. He had the privilege of missing the Dodgers this past weekend but will not be so lucky next time I’m around. I’m genuinely excited about that battle.
Now for the wily, soft-tossing vets, Wood and Cueto continue to get it done. I won’t pretend to know how, but they do. They each have a pretty good string of games besides Wood in Los Angeles. The wheels could fall off eventually (or more likely they get injured) so ride’em while you got’em.
The prolific start for Tony Disco continues, as he hustles, jives, and mambos directly through his competition. In all seriousness, this version of Desclafani is hard to figure. He’s not missing bats or getting strikeouts at an impressive rate and doing a so-so job of limiting hard contact. His expected stats are strong though, so ride him everywhere besides LA.
EDIT: DeSclafani was annihilated by the Dodgers on Sunday. That makes sense.
Ah, the six-man rotation. Stubborn are the M’s to use six starters when only maybe one of them has been consistently effective. Beggars can’t be choosers, I guess.
I’ll throw Gilbert into the same category as Dunn and Sheffield at the moment; the stuff looks better than the results would indicate. I’d still take Gilbert in the future and ROS over the other two, but would like to see some consistency from any member of that trio. Cleveland and Detroit in a few weeks could help their cause.
Flexen turned back into a pumpkin last week after being chased by the Padres in just the second inning with eight ER. Crazily, I still don’t dislike him moving forward. The repertoire is deep enough, the command is good, and he gets plenty of ground balls. Pick your spots (Texas, Detroit) and he can remain useful.
Pushed back on Sunday, Kikuchi gets a two-start week against the A’s and Rangers. You could definitely do worse…
St. Louis Cardinals
The long-anticipated return of Miles Mikolas was immediately cut short by soreness that will send him right back to the IL. A shame, this rotation could use the depth. Gant continues to walk a tightrope and Martínez’s return could not excite me less. Stay away from these two with tough stretches ahead.
Kim’s two-start week comes against the White Sox and Diamondbacks, both on the road. That’s just not what you want. It would take an extenuating circumstance for me to use him here.
Continuing to defy the aging process, Wainwright threw another gem on Sunday night against the Cubs allowing just one hit and zero ER in eight IP with an astounding 31 (!!!) called strikes. That’s the most we have on record and just downright insane. I’m very intrigued to see whether or not he can keep this up against the Dodgers.
Flaherty might be the most boring ace in baseball, just keep riding him.
Tampa Bay Rays
The training wheels are taken off Glasnow and immediately put on McClanahan. I’m not mad, just disappointed. It’s impossible to knock the Rays’ method of development given their rampant success with pitchers in recent memory, but man, watching McClanahan twirl five incredible innings on Saturday had me thinking about what could be. No matter, both of these arms are elite and can shut down any offense. I’ll be glued to McClanahan at Yankee Stadium.
That’s it as far as excitement goes in this rotation with Luis Patiño hitting the IL for a finger laceration. Yarbrough, Fleming, and Hill are the epitome of boring in a pitching sense and should be ridden completely based on matchups.
Leave Yarbrough on the bench against the Blue Jays before letting him rip afterward. The same goes for Hill and Fleming. As always with the Rays, there is no chance this preview stays consistent so keep on top of this group.
Oh, here are all those off-days everyone’s missing! Somehow, the Rangers six days off over the next 26 days. I guess that gives them a significantly reduced chance to be no-hit.
A good run for both Dunning and Gibson will likely end due to their upcoming schedule. Gibson gets a softie in Seattle before heading to Coors (yikes) and then Houston two starts later (double yikes). I’m much more confident in Dunning over the rest of the season, but damn he doesn’t get a break here at all. The Rays are his easiest by a wide margin, a buy-low window could be opening over the next three weeks.
There’s not much else exciting going on here. Hand to god I’ll have Yang in some lineups next week with a two-step that ends in Seattle. Will I get burned? Probably.
Squeeze some streaming value of Lyles and Foltynewicz if you dare. A good run from Lyles will (probably) continue against the Mariners.
Toronto Buffalo Blue Jays
A crazy season for the Blue Jays will continue with a June 1st move to Buffalo. Is that crazier than Robbie Ray becoming an ace? You tell me. A shift in location philosophy has him throwing the ball over the heart of the plate and daring the opponent to hit it. They are (he allowed 11 BIP over 95 mph in seven IP on Saturday), but he is still missing the requisite bats to find success. The road starts against the Yankees, White Sox, and Red Sox ahead will test this plan of attack.
Starting differently, Stripling and Matz are right back where everyone figured they would be. With difficult schedules ahead, the only place I’d consider either is against Cleveland.
I’ve said it repeatedly: Ryu is an ace. Treat him as such.
Anthony Kay was sent down over the weekend opening a spot for Tuesday’s start. Things could get crazy if Alec Manoah gets the call. Get him on your roster now just in case.
Strasburg’s return should buoy the last-place Nationals. Already stretched out, he pitched into the sixth inning on Friday against Baltimore. A middling schedule will let us know what version of Strasburg to expect moving forward.
A rocky start has leveled out for Corbin. Alright, ‘rocky’ was putting it mildly, but he’s allowed just 13 ER in 35 IP (3.34 ERA) since being crushed by the Diamondbacks back in April. The confidence is almost all the way back. I’d still stay away in Atlanta though.
Lester does have enough stuff to trust at this point. Would not want to use him in the worst circumstances. Ross could be there at some point with his lack of stuff or strikeouts, but he’s given up 18 of his 25 ER in just two starts. Not sure how to reason that as he continues to fail my eye test.
Leave it to Scherzer finding a new gear at 36. His 35.7 K% would be a career-high, simply nuts.
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