Fringe Starters for Week 1 – Remastered

The 60 game schedule means every start is important.

It’s March, and that means fantasy baseball draft season is underway! I mean, it’s mid-July and we are drafting for fantasy baseball? Yup, we are traversing through unprecedented times and the same goes for fantasy baseball. Despite the craziness that is 2020, this article will help you determine which fringe starters you’ll want to pull the trigger on during the last few rounds of your draft.

Let’s say you play in a league with daily transactions, and you look to churn and burn your roster. In this scenario, you should always have at least one slot (most likely two) where you look to stream pitching. You’ll want to make that last pick in the draft count, at least for the first couple of weeks. For example, don’t grab Steven Matz who faces The Red Sox followed by the Braves, both on the road. Instead, take someone like Kyle Gibson who draws the D-Backs and Giants.

Maybe you’re in a weekly moves league, and you’re deciding between two pitchers as your last starter. This chart should be the tiebreaker between these two players. Even in weekly leagues, you shouldn’t get too attached to the back end of your rosters, especially given the abbreviated season. Use the tables below to help find that diamond in the rough for the first week and a half of 2020. Then, as his matchups get tougher, drop him for the pitcher you really want after another owner throws him on waivers because of a rough outing.

Keep in mind the fluidity of the current situation. Some teams have more off days than others, so they can afford to go with a four-man rotation. Others will use six-man rotations. I’ll highlight those teams and pitchers as well. There are some nuggets below, including this one based on FanGraphs Depth Charts:the bottom five teams in projected runs scored include the Mariners, Orioles, Giants, Marlins, and Tigers. Feast on these teams when streaming pitchers. Let’s dive into each team’s first three opponents and pinpoint the top fringe starters.

*Note: The starters discussed below are probable as of today’s article. Updates will be made over the next week as teams make their final rotation determinations.

 

ATLANTA BRAVES

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
7/24 – 7/26 3 x @NYM none
7/27 – 7/28 2 x @ TBR none
7/29 – 7/30 2 x TBR none
7/31 – 8/2 3 x NYM none
  • With King Felix opting out and Cole Hamels likely to start the season on the IL, an opportunity opens up for Kyle Wright. He’ll face the Rays on the road and the Mets at home. The matchups are moderate so I’d only pull the trigger is 15-team and deeper formats.
  • I’m not touching Sean Newcomb as he slots in as the number four starter for the Braves. His career walk rate is 11.6% (MLB rate since his debut season: 8.5). No thanks.

 

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
7/24 – 7/27 4 x @SDP none
7/28 – 7/29 2 x @ TEX none
7/30 – 8/2 4 x LAD none
  • Prior to Mike Leake opting out, the Diamondbacks hinted at a potential six-man rotation. While still a possibility, I’m intrigued by Merrill Kelly‘s first start against the Rangers.
  • Assuming the D-Backs roll with a traditional five-man rotation, I really love Zac Gallen and Luke Weaver in San Diego for their opening outings. Unfortunately, you’ll have to spend a mid-round pick on them and they follow up with Dodgers at home.
  • With a five-man rotation, Madison Bumgarner would avoid the Dodgers and draw the Padres and Rangers, both on the road. Given the stellar matchups, he may deserve a slight bump in your rankings.

 

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
7/24 – 7/26 3 x @BOS none
7/27 – 7/28 2 x @MIA none
7/29 – 7/30 2 x MIA none
7/31 – 8/2 3 x TBR none
  • Not a single Baltimore starter is being drafted in a standard 12-team league but John Means is the most interesting. If you can avoid the start in Boston, he’s worth a shot against the Marlins on 7/29, especially with his increased velocity.
  • Asher Wojciechowski is worth a flier in deep leagues as he draws the Marlins in his first outing.

 

BOSTON RED SOX

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
7/24 – 7/26 3 x BAL none
7/27 – 7/28 2 x NYM none
7/29 – 7/30 2 x @NYM none
7/31 – 8/2 3 x @NYY none
  • Right now, the Red Sox rotation is a mess. Eduardo Rodriguez is on the IL which means Nathan Eovaldi is the Opening Day starter. The good news is he draws the Orioles and Mets both at home. I’ll roll the dice with him along with Martin Perez who is currently listed as the number two.
  • Let’s not forget, Perez increased his SwStr% by two percent with the addition of his cutter and was effective through the first two months of 2019. In AL-Only, I’d give him a look.

 

CHICAGO CUBS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
7/24 – 7/26 3 x MIL none
7/27 – 7/30 4 x @CIN none
7/31 – 8/2 3 x PIT none
  • I’d stay away from the veteran Jon Lester. As the Cubs’ current number two, he’ll face the Brewers at home followed by the Reds in Great American Ballpark.
  • Tyler Chatwood and Alec Mills fill out the backend of the rotation and while I’m not drafting either, they are streaming options in their second starts against the punchless Pirates.

 

CHICAGO WHITE SOX

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
7/24 – 7/26 3 x MIN none
7/27 – 7/30 3 x @CLE Thursday, 7/30
7/31 – 8/2 3 x @KCR none
  • I’m avoiding the Twins with any fringe starter. That leaves Dylan Cease and Gio Gonzalez at the backend of the rotation. Cease as the number four draws the Indians and Royals on the road so he’s worth a last-round flier.
  • Both Dallas Keuchel and Reynaldo Lopez are interesting in their second starts in Kansas City. I’d stream them both there. I’d think about holding Keuchel given Chicago’s soft schedule this year.

 

CINCINNATI REDS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
7/24 – 7/26 3 x DET none
7/27 – 7/30 4 x CHC none
7/31 – 8/2 3 x @DET Friday, 4/3
  • Trevor Bauer, while not fringe-worthy, draws the Tigers in his first two outings. That alone could be enough to bump him up a few spots in my rankings.
  • Wade Miley and Anthony DeSclafani close out the rotation for Reds facing the Tigers in expansive Comerica Park for their second starts. I don’t love the start at home versus the Cubs, but both are great streaming options to close out the second weekend.

 

CLEVELAND INDIANS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
7/24 – 7/26 3 x KCR none
7/27 – 7/29 3 x CHW none
7/30 – 8/2 4 x @MIN none
  • The Indians skate through their first series but the matchups get progressively worse. Their top three are off the boards early in drafts, leaving Aaron Civale and Zach Plesac. I like Civale more than Plesac but neither are great options against the White Sox or Twins. Look elsewhere.

 

COLORADO ROCKIES

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
7/24 – 7/26 3 x @TEX none
7/27 – 7/29 2 x @OAK Monday, 7/27
7/30 – 8/2 2 x SDP Thursday, 7/30
  • The Rockies start on the road for their first two series and have two days off. They can afford to roll out a four-man rotation two times through.
  • In this case, German Marquez is very valuable in his first two starts. You’ll have to spend a top-200 pick to grab him though.
  • The only other semi-interesting option is Jon Gray,¬†given his strikeout potential against the Rangers who struck out fifth most as a team in 2019.

 

DETROIT TIGERS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
7/24 – 7/26 3 x @CIN none
7/27 – 7/30 4 x KCR none
7/31 – 8/2 3 x CIN none
  • The Reds have added some mashers, so for Detroit, let’s focus on the series versus the Royals.
  • Currently, Spencer Turnbull is listed as the number four starter. He’s looked good in camp, and given the matchup, I’d throw a late-round dart at him.
  • Michael Fulmer missed all of 2019 to Tommy John Surgery but if he’s stretched out, he’s worth a start at home against the Royals.

 

HOUSTON ASTROS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
7/24 – 7/27 4 x SEA none
7/28 – 7/30 2 x LAD Thursday, 7/30
7/31 – 8/2 3 x @LAA none
  • Avoiding the Dodgers is a must for a fringe starter. Lance McCullers, while not fringe-worthy, draws the worst projected offensive club followed by a good, not great, Angels offense. He should be targeted around pick 200.
  • With Jose Urquidy hitting the IL, Josh James slots into the number four slot. He reported late to camp but is reportedly built up to 75-80 pitches. James should be targeted after pick 200 in all formats.

 

KANSAS CITY ROYALS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
7/24 – 7/26 3 x @CLE none
7/27 – 7/30 4 x @DET none
7/31 – 8/2 3 x CHW none
  • A four game set against the Tigers, who struck out more than any team in 2019, allows for a couple of deep league options. After missing some time due to COVID-19, Brad Keller could slot in at the backend of the rotation to face the Tigers.
  • Danny Duffy and Jakob Junis will face Cleveland on the road, followed by the Tigers in Detroit. If you can stomach the first matchup, they provide a decent upside in their second go-around.

 

LOS ANGELES ANGELS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
7/24 – 7/27 4 x @OAK none
7/28 – 7/30 3 x SEA none
7/31 – 8/2 3 x HOU none
  • The Angels are attempting to roll with a six man rotation.
  • This makes Andrew Heaney even more appealing, pitching in a favorable park to open the season followed by the Mariners at home.
  • Dylan Bundy and Griffin Canning are moderately interesting against the Athletics but must be benched against the Astros.
  • With Julio Teheran likely missing the opening series, the Angels will likely use openers for spots five and six.

 

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
7/23 – 7/26 4 x SFG none
7/27 – 7/29 2 x @HOU Monday, 7/27
7/30 – 8/2 4 x @ARI none
  • Alex Wood is currently listed as the number four starter and if that remains, he gains a boost in value given the matchups against the Giants and Diamondbacks.
  • Keep an eye on Ross Stripling and Dustin May. If either jumps Wood in the rotation, be ready to grab them and reap the benefits.

 

MIAMI MARLINS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
7/24 – 7/26 3 x @PHI none
7/27 – 7/28 2 x BAL none
7/29 – 7/30 2 x @BAL none
7/31 – 8/2 3 x WSH none
  • I’d prefer to avoid the Phillies on the road and the Nationals at home. That being said, Sandy Alcantara and Caleb Smith should be decent options versus the Orioles in Camden Yards in their second outings.
  • I’m already a big fan of Pablo Lopez. He and his changeup are worth a last round grab since he’ll draw the dreadful Orioles in expansive Marlins Park. Remember, though, the team did bring in the fences in center and right-center.
  • The Marlins have a rough schedule so starting Jordan Yamamoto (or whoever wins the fifth spot) against the Orioles at home may be worth a flier followed by an immediate drop.

 

MILWAUKEE BREWERS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
7/24 – 7/26 3 x @CHC none
7/27 – 7/30 3 x @PIT Thursday, 7/30
7/31 – 8/2 3 x STL none
  • Adrian Houser should draw two starts against the Cubs and Cardinals. I like him as an option towards the end of drafts.
  • We haven’t seen Josh Lindblom throw a pitch in the Majors since 2017 but I like him as a late-round dart. He’ll draw the Pirates on the road followed by the mediocre Cardinals at home.
  • With Eric Lauer hitting the IL, I’d scoop Corbin Burnes or Freddy Peralta as speculative starters to round out the rotation.

 

MINNESOTA TWINS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
7/24 – 7/26 3 x @CHW none
7/27 – 7/29 2 x STL Monday, 7/27
7/30 – 8/2 4 x CLE none
  • The Twins can utilize a four man rotation with an off day on Monday. I’m pushing most of the Twins starters up my board due to their light schedule.
  • Homer Bailey, largely undrafted, will be the number four starter. He’ll face the Cardinals and Indians at home. He’s worth a shot and has seen a surge in his strikeout rate thanks to the increased use of his splitter.

 

NEW YORK METS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
7/24 – 7/26 3 x ATL none
7/27 – 7/28 2 x @BOS none
7/29 – 7/30 2 x BOS none
7/31 – 8/2 3 x @ATL none
  • Nothing to see here. The Mets have one of the most difficult matchups through the first week and a half, so other than deGrom, I’m staying away.

 

NEW YORK YANKEES

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
7/23 – 7/26 3 x @WSH Friday, 7/24
7/27 – 7/28 2 x @PHI none
7/29 – 7/30 2 x PHI none
7/31 – 8/2 3 x BOS none
  • As we approach Opening Day, the Yankees starting rotation is starting to take shape. Their first ten games, however, are tough. I’m passing on the fringe options from them until week three.

 

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
7/24 – 7/27 4 x LAA none
7/28 – 7/30 2 x COL Thursday, 7/30
7/31 – 8/3 4 x @SEA none
  • Unique schedule as the Athletics have a wrap-around in Seattle through Monday, 8/3. The Angels can be tough but the Rockies outside of Coors and Seattle on the road are much easier matchups.
  • This makes Chris Bassitt or A.J. Puk whichever earns the fifth spot very intriguing.

 

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
7/24 – 7/26 3 x MIA none
7/27 – 7/28 2 x NYY none
7/29 – 7/30 2 x @NYY none
7/31 – 8/2 3 x @TOR none
  • The Phillies will go with a fiveman rotation, so Jake Arrieta can provide some value so long as he’s healthy. He’ll get the Marlins at home followed by the Blue Jays in Toronto (or wherever they play).
  • Nothing more to see here, the backend draws the Yankees.

 

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
7/24 – 7/26 3 x @STL none
7/27 – 7/30 3 x MIL Thursday, 7/30
7/31 – 8/2 3 x @CHC none
  • Contact manager Trevor Williams is looking for a bounceback year in 2020. He’s a moderate last round option as he draws two road starts in St Louis and Chicago.
  • Mitch Keller should close the series in pitcher-friendly Busch Stadium so he’s on my radar given his elite 21.6% K-BB rate last season (league average: 14.4).

 

SAN DIEGO PADRES

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
7/24 – 7/27 4 x ARI none
7/28 – 7/30 3 x @SFG none
7/31 – 8/2 3 x @COL none
  • If Garrett Richards can start the season healthy, he’ll get two favorable matchups, one at home versus the D-Backs and one on the road at expansive Oracle Park. But remember that the Giants moved in their fences, too.
  • Joey Lucchesi appears to be the frontrunner for the fifth spot in the rotation. While he’s a must-start against the Giants, I’m fading him for the remainder of the season.

 

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
7/23 – 7/26 4 x @LAD none
7/27 – 7/30 3 x SDP Monday, 7/27
7/31 – 8/2 3 x TEX none
  • Given the early off-day, the Giants can ride a four-man rotation but I can’t recommend starting any Giants pitcher against the Dodgers in LA during the middle of Summer.
  • I’d pick up Johnny Cueto after his start in LA where he’ll face the Padres, who ranked 29th in strikeouts as a team in 2019.
  • The same sentiment goes for Kevin Gausman who has major bounceback potential following a disappointing 2019 that featured his best K% backed by a stellar 14.8% swinging strike rate.

 

SEATTLE MARINERS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
7/24 – 7/27 4 x @HOU none
7/28 – 7/30 3 x @LAA none
7/31 – 8/3 4 x OAK none
  • The Mariners are rolling with a six man rotation in 2020. Let’s skip starters one through four given their opening series in Houston.
  • Drawing the Angels on the road isn’t ideal either but I’m mildly intrigued by rookie Justin Dunn, who regularly strikeout rates in the minors at 25% or better.

 

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
7/24 – 7/26 3 x PIT none
7/27 – 7/29 2 x @MIN Monday, 7/27
7/30 – 8/2 3 x @MIL Thursday, 7/30
  • With two off days, the Cardinals can roll with a four man rotation if they decide to do so.
  • I’m only interested in their first series against the Pirates at home. That means that former ace Carlos Martinez is a great option after pick 175. Keep in mind he’s a closer candidate given the issues in the bullpen.

 

TAMPA BAY RAYS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
7/24 – 7/26 3 x TOR none
7/27 – 7/28 2 x ATL none
7/29 – 7/30 2 x @ATL none
7/31 – 8/2 3 x @BAL none
  • There are a lot of questions surrounding the Rays rotation, as Brendan McKay and Yonny Chirinos have yet to report as of this morning.
  • Ryan Yarbrough‘s value receives a boost as a result. A home start against Atlanta is decent given they’ll be without Freddie Freeman. I love his second start in Baltimore.
  • Trevor Richards and his very good changeup could benefit if he earns the fifth spot as he’ll draw the Orioles in the weekend series.

 

TEXAS RANGERS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
7/24 – 7/26 3 x COL none
7/27 – 7/29 2 x ARI Monday, 7/27
7/30 – 8/2 3 x @SFG Thursday, 7/30
  • With two off days through the first three series’, the Rangers will likely start with a four man rotation. Drawing the Rockies on the road followed by the Giants in Oracle Park is ideal for front-liners Lance Lynn, Corey Kluber, and Mike Minor.
  • Kyle Gibson also looks like a great late round option as the number four starter. He’ll face the D-Backs at home followed by the Giants on the road.

 

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
7/24 – 7/26 3 x @TBR none
7/27 – 7/28 2 x @ WSH none
7/29 – 7/30 2 x WSH none
7/31 – 8/2 3 x PHI none
  • I don’t love this schedule at all. With Chase Anderson going down, the fifth spot is up for grabs. My money is on rookie flamethrower Nate Pearson. He’s worth a speculative grab but, again, the first two matchups are tough.

 

WASHINGTON NATIONALS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
7/23 – 7/26 3 x NYY Friday, 7/24
7/27 – 7/28 2 x TOR none
7/29 – 7/30 2 x @TOR none
7/31 – 8/2 3 x @MIA none
  • Give me backend of the rotation, the top three are essentially aces anyway. I love me some Austin Voth and Anibal Sanchez in 12-team and deeper formats.
  • Both will draw one start versus the Blue Jays (wherever they play) followed by a road start in Miami. The Blue Jays are young and talented but have not arrived yet and the Marlins are, well, the Marlins.

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)

Max Freeze

Max is the founder of the FreezeStats Blog and currently writes for PitcherList and FantasyPros. Max is a lifelong Cubs fan who used to pretend he was Andre Dawson while hitting rocks in his backyard as a kid.

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