If you went to your fantasy baseball lineups page last night you likely saw plenty of red exclamation points next to your players’ names and the PPD symbol where the games column was. That’s because there was quite a bit of weather impacting yesterday’s slate of games that resulted in six games being postponed. One game on Saturday has already been called off with the Rangers and Yankees opting not to play. Make sure you check out the MLB weather page over on Fantasy Alarm along with the MLB lineups page to stay up-to-date on all the latest news around the league.
While the weather was certainly the story, we did have baseball played on Friday and there were some top performances worth highlighting from a few guys that may still be sitting on your fantasy baseball waiver wire. Let’s check them out!
Josh Winder Tosses Another Gem
After starting the season in the bullpen, Winder has now made back-to-back starts for the Twins and he has impressed, tossing 12 shutout innings while walking just one and striking out 15. The 2021 Futures Game participant did not crack the Top 100 prospects list heading into the season but he is certainly pitching like he belongs in an MLB rotation. If you go a little deeper into his numbers from him over his two starts you will see that what you are seeing is rather legitimate, posting a sub-2.00 xFIP, an indicator that there are no underlying factors to suggest he is in for a downturn inproduction. His next start is certainly going to put this current stretch to the test as he faces off against a much more dangerous Houston Astros lineup but seeing as he is currently rostered in only 11% of ESPN fantasy baseball standard leagues I would suggest looking to add him off of your fantasy baseball waiver wire and stash him to see if he can continue to be effective.
A Healthy Byron Buxton is Really Good
There isn’t a fantasy baseball offseason that goes by without the debate on Byron Buxton and where he should rank among the fantasy baseball player rankings and projections. On one hand, you have a player that has flashed both game-changing power and speed that made him the number one prospect in baseball at one time. On the other hand, you have a player that has only played more than 92 games once in his seven-year MLB career heading into this season. So the debate continues, what if Buxton stays healthy? In 62 games last season we saw him hit 19 home runs with nine stolen bases while batting .306 with an OPS of 1.005. But, I have played just 62 games. Even this year he has already missed time, having played 18 of the Twin’s 27 contests but, he has been one of the league’s best players once again when on the field. He currently leads the league in home runs with nine and has a .290 batting average with an OPS of 1.109. Is it more likely than not that Buxton finds the injured list again this season? History says yes, but a healthy Byron Buxton is really good for baseball.
Fantasy Baseball Buy Low/Sell-High
The biggest story around baseball so far this season has been the lack of offense around the league due to an apparent change in baseball. The lack of scoring has resulted in some pitchers, who we’ve normally faded or at the very least considered to be nothing more than a streaming option having some of the best starts of their careers. The question now is what should we be looking to do with these starting pitchers? Should we trust that what we see now is what we will get over the course of the year? Or is it now an opportunity to sell and expect their performances to fall back in line with their career norms? Let’s dive into a few pitchers that pitched last night that I am at least a bit skeptical about.
Chad KuhlSP Colorado Rockies
Heading into the 2022 MLB season Kuhl had a career 4.44 ERA, 1.42 WHIP and a FIP of 4.61 as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. This offseason he then went and signed with the Colorado Rockies. Chad Kuhl, in Coors Field, should have been a green light to stack against all season long but, a funny thing has happened, Kuhl has been lights out to start the year. In his five starts this season he is 3-0 with a 1.82 ERA, 0.84 WHIP and a 3.38 FIP. He has an xERA (expected ERA) of 2.90 on the year, so while maybe getting a bit lucky, that is still wildly better than anything we have ever seen from Kuhl in his career. On Friday night he allowed just one run on three hits over six innings against the Diamondbacks while striking out five. Kuhl is not missing many bats, posting just a 6.67 K/9, the lowest mark his career from him but he is getting VERY good batted ball luck with hitters posting a .179 BABIP. To me, Kuhl, if on your roster, is a sell-high candidate. Eventually, those batted balls are going to drop in and he doesn’t have the strikeout rate right now to get himself out of jams consistently enough for the runs to not start to pile up or on him.
Merrill KellySP Arizona Diamondbacks
Pitching opposite of Kuhl last night was another pitcher who is off to an equally impressive start in Merrill Kelly. Like Kuhl, Kelly came into this season with an ERA over 4.00, sitting at 4.27 with a 1.27 WHIP and a FIP of 4.30. Kelly certainly flashed a bit during a five-start stretch in 2020, posting a 2.59 ERA but in his two full seasons, he had ERA’s of 4.42 and 4.44. So, it made sense why at 33 years old, heading into the 2022 season, Kelly went undrafted in the majority of fantasy baseball leagues this season. However, those who were quick to the waiver wire after his first start from him have been rewarded with top 10 fantasy production at the pitcher position to this point in the year. Through six starts, Kelly is 3-1 with a 1.22 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and a 2.05 FIP. Looking a bit deeper into the numbers and his xERA of him is a bit higher at 3.28 but still not at all bad. Kelly is also boasting a K/9 of 8.27 which is the second-highest of his career and unlike Kuhl, there aren’t too many signs of regression here. Opponents have a .279 BABIP against him, a number that is certainly sustainable given the current state of the league’s offensive output and his strikeout rate is respectable. The one area of concern is the home run rate because, to this point, Kelly hasn’t allowed a home run and eventually he’s going to but for now this is a pitcher I am buying into.
eric lauerSP Milwaukee Brewers
Unlike the two pitchers prior, Lauer is actually coming off a strong 2021 season where he pitched to a 3.19 ERA while striking out 117 over 118.2 innings. His FIP from him last year was still 4.04 so he was getting a bit lucky but all-in-all the production there was solid. That being said, what he has done to this point has far exceeded any possible expectations. Through five starts Lauer is 3-0 with a 1.82 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and a FIP of 2.81. His most impressive statistic this season is the massive jump in strikeout rate with Lauer boasting a league-leading 12.7 K/9, well above his 8.4 K/9 career average. Over the last three games in particular Lauer has struck out a total of 32 over 19.1 innings. When it comes to his potential outlook moving forward, Lauer only has a few things that could indicate some regression, first the .258 BABIP is a number that is sustainable but better than the league average. Lauer is also allowing 1.2 HR/9 despite a 70% fly-ball rate. Again, he is likely benefiting from the change in baseball which has reduced the amount of home runs and runs scored to this point in the year but if he continues to give up fly-balls and home runs at that rate and a change is made to the baseball he could be in some trouble. The strikeout rate could be legitimate but it is such a large jump from his career norms we should at least expect some regression there as well. If he is striking out less hitters and giving up more contact there is a chance more runs are scored. Final opinion here however is to keep Lauer, and look towards the waiver wire to see if he is available.
Saturday MLB Best Bets
Dylan Cease Over 6.5 Strikeouts (-110 FD Sportsbook)
This one feels like a little bit of a gift as Cease is one of the league’s premier strikeout pitchers, posting a 12.1 K/9 on the year and he is running up against a Red Sox lineup that has looked overmatched for the majority of the season against the elite arms like Shohei Ohtani, Kevin Gausman and Alek Manoah. Cease has hit the over on this total in four of his five starts and he’s done so rather comfortably with just one start under eight strikeouts on the year.
Sean Manaea Over 5.5 Strikeouts (-145 DK Sportsbook)
So, the -145 isn’t exactly the best payout but this matchup is a pretty juicy one for Manaea who has hit the over on this prop total in all but one start this season. He faces a Marlins team that has the league’s highest strikeout rate against left-handed pitching at 29.6-percent. Manaea averages a strikeout per inning this season and I am trusting this matchup gives him a bit of a boost on that total tonight.
Kyle Freeland Over 15.5 Outs (-125 DK Sportsbook)
The Diamondbacks rank 29th in wOBA and 30th in batting average against left-handed pitching this season with a .581 OPS. Freeland hasn’t exactly been the best pitcher this season but four of his five starts have come at home where he has a 5.57 ERA. His one road start from him allowed him just one run over five innings while throwing 101 pitches against the Phillies. My assumption here is that the Diamondbacks pose a much easier matchup than the Phillies and he won’t need 100 pitches to get through five innings. Freeland is coming off the best start of his season which saw him toss seven innings of one-run baseball against the Reds who are the worst team in the league against LHP in terms of wOBA and second-worst in average….sounds a lot like today’s opponent.
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