Injuries are the story of last week. Two of the best pitchers in the game have gone down. Jacob deGrom is still not throwing due to an inflamed lat muscle, but he’s said to be progressing. It remains to be seen when he’ll start throwing again. What is more concerning is the injury to Zac Gallen. Gallen suffered what they are calling a “minor sprain” to his Ulnar Collateral Ligament. Let us pray he does not need Tommy John. Gallen has said he doesn’t think he’ll need Tommy John surgery, regardless he is shut down from throwing for two weeks and will be re-evaluated after the two weeks. Jose Urquidy also left his start with shoulder inflammation, he is shut down from throwing for now as well.
Returns to the hill are the story of this week. Stephen Strasburg is set to make a rehab start this week. David Price has already thrown a batting practice session and is set to return from the IL at some point this week. Both Astros pitchers Jake Odorizzi and Framber Valdez are set to start their rehab assignments this upcoming week as well. Valdez particularly is of note, he is a really good pitcher and if you have an open IL spot you should roster him immediately. Also of note, Shohei Ohtani was scheduled for a two start week but his first start this week has been pushed back due to general fatigue. Joe Maddon has said this is just precautionary, so there is nothing to worry about there.
At the time of the writing of this, Shane Bieber did not throw a No-Hitter in his first start but he still has a start against Seattle. My weekly No-No pick of the week is…Yu Darvish!!! He’s been so good this year and has juicy matchups, we’ll be talking about him soon. With that said…Let’s go talk about him!!
THE MUST STARTS
1. Gerrit Cole NYY: (5/17 @ TEX)(5/22 vs CHW)
– I won’t spend a lot of time here. I will just leave you with these stats, 52.2 IP, 78 K’s and 3 BB. He’s in the early stages of authoring one of the greatest seasons produced in recent memory.
2. Yu Darvish SD: (5/17 vs COL)(5/23 vs SEA)
– His last start was against Colorado in Colorado where he labored early on leading to an early exit. He still did not allow an earned run in the game and with a rematch at home this time I expect great things. Both these matchups are delectable and he could be a week winner for a lot of teams this week.
3. Zack Wheeler PHI: (5/18 vs MIA)(5/23 vs BOS)
– Last year was the best season of his career. As we know that season can only be taken with a grain of salt. It would seem that Wheeler has figured something out, because he’s picked up right where he left off. He is pitching like an ace again this year. He’s averaging over a strikeout per inning and is pitching deep into games, which is his trademark, in a world where pitchers go 5 innings now more than ever. I like both these matchups for him at home where the Phillies are remarkably better than they are on the road.
4. Max Fried ATL: (5/17 vs NYM)(5/22 vs PIT)
– Since Fried has returned from his injury he’s looked like the pitcher we relied on last year. 2 starts, 11 IP, 2 ER, 4 BB, 10 K’s, .171 BAA and a 0.91 WHIP. I might be jumping the gun a bit but I’m already back on board with him. With both these matchups at home, they should all but solidify his spot as a top arm again.
5. Julio Urias LAD:(5/17 vs ARI)(5/23 @ SF)
– Urias Has pitched extremely well this season. He doesn’t always pitch deep into games but he’s still young and that’s something I believe will come with age and experience. He’s averaging over a strikeout per inning and only has 7 walks in 49.2 innings. Both of these matchups look great for him and my gut tells me a 10 strikeout game is on the horizon.
6. Hyun-Jin Ryu TOR: (5/18 vs BOS)(5/23 vs TB)
– His numbers this year are just about right in line with his career numbers. He has a safe floor so you can rest easy starting Ryu.
7. Sonny Gray CIN: (5/17 vs SF)(5/22 vs MIL)
– His streak of 48 games of not allowing more than 6 hits in a start came to end in his last start. A start against the Pirates no less. I’m still in on him and he has a solid floor. His strikeouts are right where we want them to be as well. I like both these matchups for him, neither of these lineups strike fear in the heart, so set em’ and forget em’.
8. Trevor Rogers MIA: (5/18 @ PHI)(5/23 vs NYM)
– I Had him picked as one of my preseason breakout candidates and he has done more than just break out. 44 IP, 57 K’s, .197 BAA and 1.07 WHIP has him on his way to an All-Star appearance. Both these offenses strike out a ton so I expect some gaudy numbers from Rogers this week.
9. Taijuan Walker NYM: (5/17 @ ATL)(5/23 @ MIA)
– Faith is being gained with each start. His strikeouts are not where we would like them to be and he is walking too many batters, but he’s shown the ability to limit contact and go deep into games. I’m not in love with these matchups but opponents are batting .170 against him and that is enough for me to let him enter into the must start category.
10. Michael Pineda MIN: (5/18 vs CHW)(5/23 @ CLE)
– Pineda has been pretty good this year. If anything, slightly better than expected. He’s not going to get you many quality starts because he doesn’t usually pitch deep into games but his upside lies in the WHIP category referenced by a 1.01 WHIP this season. He’s also striking out 1 batter per inning so I am starting him this week against the two inter-division rivals.
11. Charlie Morton ATL: (5/18 vs NYM)(5/23 vs PIT)
– It’s possible Charlie Morton’s run as a dominant pitcher in the league is finally over. The strikeout stuff is still there (44 K’s in 39 IP) but he is getting hit around like a pinata this year. Opponents are batting .263 against him so it’s possible he’s just missing his locations. That has also led to a 1.44 WHIP. These numbers are by no means a ringing endorsement for the 37 year old. Yet these matchups are juicy and both are at home and being played in front of a full crowd. I’m starting him this week and if he gets beat up again don’t expect to be able to start him anymore.
12. Patrick Corbin WAS: (5/18 @ CHC)(5/23 vs BAL)
– A tale of two tapes. Corbin was brutal in April allowing 19 ER’s over 4 starts and a .329 BAA. In May He’s completely turned it around allowing just 6 ER’s over 3 starts and a .186 BAA. The issue is he still isn’t striking anybody out. He had 9 K’s in his last start but besides that, he had not struck out more than 5 in any outing which is a real issue. If his slider is not getting the whiffs this run of success might not be sustainable. Regardless I like these matchups and Corbin may have figured something out so we’re rolling with the hot hand and starting him.
13. Adbert Alzolay CHC: (5/17 vs WAS)(5/22 @ STL)
– Alzolay will not get you many quality starts but he limits hard contact and is striking out over a batter per inning. He has a BAA of .184 and a 0.88 WHIP. I’m not expecting great starts here but I am expecting his consistency to hold true and do what he has done all season, so I am starting him.
14. Yusei Kikuchi SEA: (5/17 vs DET)(5/23 @ SD)
– Kikuchi has 5 quality starts out of 7. His two bad starts were really bad and those two starts have inflated his base numbers. He has 45 K’s in 44 IP and in his last start against the Dodgers he struck out 11 in a really impressive outing. Start him, because the Kikuchi breakout might be here.
15. J.T. Brubaker PIT: (5/18 @ STL)(5/23 @ ATL)
– Brubaker has been solid this year. He’s shown to have a decent floor, and has good strikeout numbers. I don’t care for the matchups this week though going against two veteran heavy lineups. With that said you could do a lot worse than him this week.
16. Eduardo Rodriguez BOS: (5/18 @ TOR)(5/23 @ PHI)
– We know who Rodriguez is at this point. He’s going to go 5-6 innings, allow 3-4 runs and strike out 7-9 batters pretty much every time out. I don’t love the matchups but I’m starting him anyways because we know what his floor is.
17. Anthony DeSclafani SF: (5/18 @ CIN)(5/23 vs LAD)
– I’m not the biggest DeSclafani fan. He does not strike enough batters out and really has a cap on how deep he goes into games minus his one complete game this season. Regardless he’s still managing to keep hitters off balance right now evidenced by his .179 BAA and his 0.88 WHIP. He has 4 quality starts this year out of 8 chances so he’s established a solid floor this season but I do not like the matchups this week and I am sitting him.
18. Jameson Taillon NYY: (5/18 @ TEX)(5/23 vs CHW)
– He has not looked great this season but I’m chalking it up to him still getting settled after coming back from Tommy John. His strikeout stuff is still there (43 K’s in 33.1 IP). I’m leaving him on the pine until he starts to show some level of consistency.
19. Jon Gray COL: (5/17 @ SD)(5/23 vs ARI)
– Half of his starts have been of the quality variety. I am still not sure how to feel about Gray. He is however in the midst of his best season and he pitched decently last week in his start against San Diego. I’m waiting for the blow up to happen and 2 starts against the Padres in a row could help facilitate that. I’m staying away from him.
20. J.A. Happ MIN: (5/17 vs CHW)(5/22 vs CLE)
– Happ had his worst outing of the season last week. It just so happens it was against the White Sox. He got shelled for 9 runs. Happ was having a pretty decent year until that game decimated his ERA. I still have to trust him a little bit considering how consistent he was up until that start. He can’t do much worse than his last outing so I actually would start him this week. Just don’t expect anything flashy as per usual.
21. Casey Mize DET: (5/17 @ SEA)(5/23 @ KC)
– It has been a bumpy road for Mize this year. That’s to be expected for any young pitcher. He also has 3 straight quality starts so he might be establishing what his floor is going to be this season. The problem is he just isn’t striking anybody out and I think that’s the biggest surprise about his season so far. I’d be willing to take a flier on him this week though with two decent matchups on the slate.
22. Ryan Yarbrough TB
– I wrote about Yarbrough last week and the two starts ended up not coming to fruition, because well… it’s the Rays. I’m not going to bother trying to predict what games he’ll be in this week and whether or not it’ll be a start or a piggy back because well… it’s the Rays. But as I wrote last week, if it’s an actual start leave him on the bench, if he’s piggy backing then start him.
THE NO THANK YOUS
Dallas Keuchal CHW: (5/17 @ MIN)(5/23 @ NYY), Luis Castillo CIN: (5/18 vs SF)(5/23 vs MIL), Logan Webb SF: (5/17 @ CIN)(5/22 vs LAD), Zach Davies CHC: (5/18 vs WAS)(5/23 @ STL), Justin Dunn SEA: (5/18 vs DET)(5/23 @ SD), Mike Foltynewicz TEX: (5/18 vs NYY)(5/23 vs HOU), Jon Lester WAS: (5/17 @ CHC)(5/22 vs BAL), Jordan Lyles TEX: (5/17 vs NYY)(5/22 vs HOU), Merrill Kelly ARI: (5/18 @ LAD)(5/23 @ COL), Matt Harvey BAL: (5/18 vs TB)(5/23 @ WAS), Sam Hentges CLE: (5/17 @ LAA)(5/23 vs MIN)