If you’ve been looking at MLB’s ever-growing injured list over the past few weeks, you might have thought you were looking at your pre-draft starting pitcher rankings.
Elite arms like Shane Bieber (shoulder), Max Scherzer (groin), Jack Flaherty (oblique), Stephen Strasburg (neck), Sonny Gray (groin), Zach Plesac (thumb) and John Means (shoulder) have been idle for fantasy owners after landing on the IL. Earlier this week, Tyler Glasnow suffered a partial UCL tear as well as a flexor strain in his right elbow, then blamed MLB’S crackdown on foreign substances for his injury.
Jacob deGrom hasn’t landed on the IL, but watching him leave early from his past two starts, despite solid production in those outings, has become concerning.
Though some of these pitchers are on the road to recovery, the injuries have left fantasy owners searching for answers — even if for the short term. Though we’re talking about replacing top-shelf production, there’s plenty of talent available to help fill the void.
If you’re in a league in which Kenta Maeda, Chris Paddack, Taijuan Walker, Luis Garcia, Robbie Ray, Anthony DeSclafani or Framber Valdez are available, grab them … now (it may be a long shot, as their availability is between 10-30 percent in ESPN leagues). If they’re not around, check on Colorado’s Austin Gomber.
Gomber has won three straight decisions, and is 4-1 with a 1.28 ERA, 41 strikeouts and a .188 opponent average over his past seven starts.
Though he is walking 2.71 per nine innings (the 23rd-worst rate in the majors), he has walked just three batters in his past seven starts. He also ranks in the top 20 in groundball rate (47.8 percent), has an 11.1 swinging-strike rate and owns a 3.68 FIP and 3.70 xFIP, indicating he has been ever-so-slightly lucky.
If you’re concerned about Gomber pitching at Coors Field, don’t be. He is 3-1 with a 0.95 ERA, 0.812 WHIP, 24-10 strikeout-walk rate and .140 opponent average in five home starts. His 5.04 road ERA is misleading, as he was roughed up by the Cardinals and Giants to the tune of 14 runs in two starts, but has not allowed more than two earned runs in any of his past four road starts.
Though opponents are hitting .293 against his fastball, a pitch he uses about 40 percent of the time, and he has issued 11 of his 23 walks with the pitch, he is dominant with his secondary pitches. Hitters are batting .195 with 22 strikeouts and 34 percent whiff rate against his slider, which he throws 24 percent of the time. They’re also hitting .148 with 29 strikeouts, a 32.9 percent whiff rate and a 31.5 putaway percentage against his curve, and .100 with 10 strikeouts and a 34.3 percent whiff rate against his changeup.
If Gomber, the second-most added pitcher in ESPN leagues this week, can keep his control in check and continues to dominate with his secondary pitches, the 27-year-old lefty will be a must-start pitcher for the long term.
The most added pitcher in ESPN leagues this week was the Cubs’ Zach Davies. He was 1-2 with a 9.47 ERA, 14-15 strikeout-walk rate and a .325 opponent average over his first five starts, but the right-hander has turned his season around in a big way.
Over his previous nine starts before taking the mound Friday, he allowed more than three earned runs only once while going 3-1 with a 1.86 ERA and .227 opponent average. He is available in more than 55 percent of ESPN leagues.
Seattle rookie Logan Gilbert is 2-0 with a 2.49 ERA, 22-6 strikeout-walk rate and a .195 opponent average over his past four starts after going 0-2 with a 9.45 ERA and .300 opponent average in his first two big league starts. He is available in 70 percent of ESPN leagues.
Detroit’s Tarik Skubal was featured in this space last week, and Roto Rage continues to believe he is one of the best rotation additions available. He is 4-1 with a 3.00 ERA and 50-14 strikeout-walk rate over his past six starts, and is still owned in just 35 percent of ESPN leagues.
Other widely available arms worth considering include Cincinnati’s Wade Miley (2-1, 1.82 ERA, .230 opponent average over his past five starts), Tampa Bay’s Ryan Yarbrough, Oakland’s James Kaprielian, Toronto’s Ross Stripling and the Angels’ Patrick Sandoval, who was 1-2 with a 2.77 ERA, 23-8 strikeout-walk rate and 53.2 percent groundball rate before taking the mound Saturday against the Tigers.
Anthony DeSclafani SP, Giants
Over his past four starts, he is 3-0 with a 1.82 ERA, 20-6 strikeout-walk ratio and .184 opponent average. He has won three straight decisions.
Bo Bichette SS, Blue Jays
Had at least one hit in all but one of his first 15 games this month — going 22-for-63 (.349) with three homers, 11 RBIs, 14 runs, two stolen bases and a .944 OPS in that span.
Vladimir Gutierrez SP, Reds
Before taking the mound on Saturday, he was 3-1 with a 2.74 ERA, 19 strikeouts, 10 walks and a .295 opponent average over his first four starts.
Matt Olson 1B, Athletics
Hit .431 with five homers, 16 RBIs, 12 runs and a 1.287 OPS over his first 14 games this month. Entered Friday with a modest five-game hit streak.
Javier Baez SS, Cubs
Though he hit three homers in his first 12 games this month, he was 5-for-43 (.116) with 21 strikeouts, a .156 OBP and .481 OPS in that stretch.
Triston McKenzie SP, Indians
Since earning his first win on May 6, he is 0-2 with an 8.20 ERA and 17 walks. He walked four in one-third of an inning on June 12.
Yermin Mercedes C/DH, White Sox
Has not homered since May 27, going 6-for-60 (.100) with 15 strikeouts and a .298 OPS in his first 17 games since. Told you he was eventually going to start hitting like Yermin Toyota Corolla.
Eduardo Rodriguez SP, Red Sox
After his last win on May 7, the lefty went 0-4 with a 8.55 ERA and .331 opponent average over his next seven starts. Though he struck out 45 over 33 ²/₃ innings, he walked 12 and allowed 32 earned runs.
- Who was the most added position player this week in ESPN leagues? That would be former Met Amed Rosario, who raised his average from .189 on May 8 to .284 entering Friday for Cleveland, after going 43-for-121 (.355) with two homers, 14 RBIs, 21 runs, six stolen bases and a .858 OPS over his past 31 games. He is available in about 45 percent of ESPN leagues.
- Houston’s Jose Altuve entered Friday’s game having homered in three straight (for the second time this month) and six of his past eight games. He had four homers in his previous eight at-bats. In his first 15 games this month, Altuve was 17-for-60 (.283) with nine home runs, 15 RBIs, 15 runs, 11 walks, a stolen base, a .403 on-base percentage and a 1.117 OPS.
- Have you noticed what the Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks has been doing lately? He is 8-1 with a 2.79 ERA, 44-9 strikeout-walk rate and .248 opponent average over his past nine starts. Over his past seven starts, he is 7-0 with a 2.54 ERA. Fun fact: He entered Friday leading the league in homers allowed (19).
Team Name of the Week
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