Fantasy Baseball recap: Nick Pivetta continues good start

1. Pivetta continues good 2018

Nick Pivetta’s strong start to 2018 continued Sunday. Pivetta struck out seven in 6 1/3 innings whilst giving up just two earned runs. He now has a 2.57 ERA with 28 strikeouts in 28 innings. This is a significant improvement from last season when he had a 6.02 ERA in his first year in the majors. Five starts are not enough to completely dispel what we saw in 2017. However, with the strikeout rate staying similar and providing upside Pivetta should be rostered in all 12-team mixed leagues.


2. Williams continues strong start but is a regression coming?

Facing Pivetta yesterday was Trevor Williams who also struck out seven and gave up two earned runs to continue his own good start to the season. Williams improved from 2016 to 2017 and appears to be continuing to take steps in the right direction. His ERA this season is 2.15 but the other statistics are not as impressive as Pivetta’s. Williams has pitched 29 1/3 innings but has just 21 strikeouts and more worryingly has given up 15 walks. If he continues to walk batters at that rate without significantly improving his strikeouts he will struggle to keep preventing runs being scored. A good sign is that he has gone nose to nose with some tough opposition but the underlying numbers mean I would not be adding him in anything less than 14-team mixed leagues.

3. Hughes struggles on return

Phil Hughes did not find it easy on his return for the Twins. Facing the Rays, Hughes only managed 3 1/3 innings with two strikeouts and two earned runs. It was not a disaster by any means and as he settles in to the season he should improve. For now Hughes remains a streamer in 12- and 14-leagues.

4. McCullers and Lopez face-off in weird outings

Lance McCullers and Reynaldo Lopez went head to head Sunday in a battle of two young strikeout studs. In a twist no one saw coming both struggled to strike batters out but still managed to be successful. McCullers had just three strikeouts in six innings but importantly only walked one and gave up just one earned. McCullers has generally been good in 2018 but one bad outing against the Twins has seen him carrying an inflated ERA. Now is the time to buy-low on McCullers before he strings together more good outings.

As for Lopez he is actually a sell-high. Sporting an ERA of just 1.50 in 24 innings with 23 strikeouts his value may never be higher. The reason I would look to sell is that Lopez has had some control issues. He already has 15 walks this season having walked 36 across 91 2/3 innings in his previous two major league stints. If he cannot get the control right there could be major regression coming for the young Sox pitcher.

5. Price goes deep into game

Despite giving up four earned runs in 7 2/3 innings I am extremely enthusiastic about this start from David Price. After he managed just one innings against the Yankees there was concern he might be battling injury. He then managed just five innings against the Angels in his last start so to see him go deep in a game is a really good sign. Price is a guy I would be targeting if his owner in your league is concerned about health. Maybe try floating Lopez or Williams out there and see if they bite on their hot starts?

6. Rough outing for Lucchesi

Yes this was a rough outing for Joey Lucchesi but that is to be expected. The Cardinals offense can be a juggernaut when it gets rolling and this time they got to Lucchesi a little. Lucchesi was actually rolling through three innings but got stuck in the bottom of the fourth so it is not all bad for the young pitcher. Lucchesi is a guy who is worth owning in 14-team leagues and the upside makes him worth a gamble in some 12-teamers but generally you are going to find yourself using him as a streaming in shallower formats.  He is still sporting a 2.70 ERA on the season and has 29 strikeouts through 26 2/3 innings. The biggest concern from this start is four walks but given that he has had zero or one in three of his other four outings mean I am not immediately concerned by this one start.

7. Another rough outing for Quintana

Jose Quintana continued his dreadful start to 2018 with a four earned run outing in Colorado. In fairness you should have probably seen this one coming as he was in Colorado but it is concerning. I do think Quintana will turn it around and so he is a buy-low for me. Right now this is probably someone you could get for Williams or Lopez because I can envisage panic on the Quintana owners face this morning when he sees this line and his 7.78 ERA.

8. Mikolas outshines Castillo

A pair of contrasting outings was had in St. Louis where Miles Mikolas outpitched Luis Castillo. This three earned run, three strikeout, four walk, five innings outing for Castillo is a continuation his bad start. He now has a 6.51 ERA with 11 walks and 24 strikeouts in 27 2/3 innings. The fact the strikeouts are there is promising and Castillo has had some tough road starts but I did have concerns about him entering the season. Currently he is a buy-low but he is below Price and Quintana on that scale by some distance.

In contrast, Mikolas loves facing the Reds. In two starts against the Reds he has pitched 14 innings with 10 strikeouts and two earned runs. His other two starts, both against the Brewers, have seen him surrender eight earned runs in just 12 innings. I would like to see how he does against other clubs before making a final decision but as of now Mikolas is a streamer in 12- and 14- team leagues.

9. Saves Saves Saves

Kenley Jansen got a save Sunday and looked better striking out two. He did give up two hits but no walks and improved velocity should be a good indicator for his owners. Jansen remains a buy-low but off this outing you may struggle to get his owners to bit at this point.

Josh Hader got his third two innings save in four outings. He did give up a run but he also struck out three to take his total to 29 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings, in 2018. The Brewers are using Hader in a way that fantasy owners could only have dreamt of. Hader should be owned in all leagues.

Keone Kela got a save in his first outing since getting bashed about on Friday. Kela did not walk anyone which is a positive considering he had already walked four in 5 2/3 innings prior to this outing. Treat Kela as the Rangers closer for now and in all roto leagues he should be owned.



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