Lads (and ladies), sit with me for a moment while I bless yee with a bit of the folklore of the old country, the Emerald Isle to be exact. A place of legal drugs, pubs, whiskey, rolling green hills, lovely redheaded lassies, and a tradition of folklore as rich as an Irishman’s heart. You may be familiar with stories of wee men and their pots of gold, or the luck of the Blarney Stone, Stonehenge perhaps, but how many of you are familiar with the Púca? To be clear Púcas are ghosts or spirits, bringers of good luck or bad fortune, they are said to be both helpers and hindrances. The really tricky thing about Púcas is how tough they are to identify due to their ability to change appearances and shape-shift. We’re all familiar with Púca’s in one way or another but the most well known Púca to those of us in the States is a giant rabbit named Harvey. That would be the protagonist from Mary Coyle Chase’s play of the same name. The play was later adapted to the silver screen in a film staring Jimmy Stewart, and its a worthwhile take.
The premise of the play is simple the main character Elwood has an imaginary friend or Púca a 6’3 rabbit by the name of Harvey. Elwood introduces the Rabbit to everyone he meets and for this reason his family takes him to be committed. When they arrive at the Sanitarium, Veta Elwood’s sister, is instead committed by the hapless doctor who allows Elwood to walk away scot-free. The doctor later realizes his error and the search for Elwood is on. When Elwood returns to search for his lost pal Harvey his delusional begins to have an effect on the staff of the sanitarium. Just before Elwood can be injected with a drug to make him a perfectly normal human being Veta realize that Elwood is fine the way he is care free and happy. Even if he’s delusional.
So where am I going with all this? Why the verbose description of a movie from the 50’s? What the hell does this have to do with two start pitchers? Well I’ll tell you, in many ways starters can be Púcas to our fantasy teams. Sometimes they’re helpers bringing us good luck and great fortune and other times they’re a hindrance destroying our ratios and crushing our dreams. I’m looking at you Taijuan Walker…My favorite of all Púcas this season is also named Harvey. Matt Harvey of course! In a lot of ways there a ton of parallels besides just the name. Harvey certainly has some magic (his fastball), some people would introduce you to him as their fantasy ace (but is he really?), and he could certainly bring great fortune, or could be a serious hindrance if he injures himself again. He was lights out in his first start going 6, punching out 9, and walking 1. His average velocity was also in line with his 2013 averages of 95 mph on his fastball, and 96 on his two-seamer. Though he did throw his slider a lot less (5.5% vs. Washington, vs. 18.7% of the time in 2013) on Wednesday . It’s only one start, so let’s not get too crazy, but it was a great way to begin the season after missing all of 2014 and taking the mound for the first time in nearly 20 months. Well great news Razzballers, he’s back with two starts this week, and the matchups are tasty. Two home matchups in fact one against the Phillies and the other vs. Miami. If you have Harvey enjoy the week ahead, may this Púca bring your great riches!
In honor of our theme of Púcas I’ll be naming each of the tiers after a different mythical creature. If you feel I missed one or misrepresented one that was mentioned than bring it up in the comments and we can call each other names and handle this shizz like real O.G internet trolls. See what I did there?!?
The Griffins (Must Start) – No not those Griffins, I mean the bad-ass mythical animal that’s pretty much a lion with wings. Well maybe it’s more of an eagle with lions body. The only way a creature could be more majestic is if it was part me and part Tehol. Wow part Ralph, part Tehol…that’s scary but the ladies would love us.
The Dragons (Great Starts) – These guys breath fire, kick ass, take names, etc, but they’re just a tick below the Griffins. A few really interesting players in this tier this week, none more than Michael Pineda. One start at Baltimore scares me a little, but the start at Tampa looks delightful. In Pineda’s two starts vs the O’s last year he was 1-0 with an ERA of 0.72, a whip of 0.32, and a K/9 of 8.75. So maybe it’s not so scary as there’s some history of success. I like Zimmermann but don’t love the matchup at Fenway, deGrom gets the same matchups as Harvey and there’s a lot to like with last year’s NL ROY this week. Scott Kazmir rounds out the tier with two very winnable matchups in Houston and Kansas City. If he can follow up his dominance of the Indians this past Wednesday he could be a top option.
Phoenix (Good Starts) – This tier is full of players with the greatest upside. Players who like the Phoenix can rise above the ashes of their tough matchups, bad previous start, up and down careers, and past failures, etc to be reborn. The Phoenix houses your Shane Greene’s, Danny Duffy’s, Gerrit Cole’s, Adam Wainwright’s, etc. These are guys I considered for the first two tiers but need to prove something to me before I can settle them into the heights of the upper echelons.
Adam Wainwright, Stl: (vs. Mil, vs. Cin); Danny Duffy, KC: (@Min, vs. Oak); Anibal Sanchez, Det: (@Pit, vs. CWS); Gerrit Cole, Pit: (vs. Det, vs. Mil); Shane Greene, Det: (@Pit, vs. CWS); Andrew Cashner, SD: (vs. Ari, @CHC); Daniel Norris, Tor (vs. TB, vs. Atl); James Paxton, Sea (@LAD, vs. Tex)
Centaur (Meh Starts) – Are these starts good? Are they bad? Are they one of each? Much like the Centaur they are a little of both. Do I trust Jake Odorizzi? I really want to but I don’t. These are the guys that I don’t trust but I don’t hate either. Lots of solid streaming options in this tier, Tom Koehler in particular. He’s widely available and draws road starts at Atlanta and the Mets, neither fear-inducing lineups. Mat Latos is in the house….he was awful, but I’m not ready to bottom him out yet. You’ll notice Matt Shoemaker’s a man-horse, his road splits last year were awful so I’m discounting him a bit this week.
Jake Odorizzi, TB: (@Tor, vs. NYY); Matt Shoemaker, LAA (@Tex, @Hou); R.A. Dickey, Tor: (vs. TB, vs. Atl); Tim Hudson, SF: (vs. Col, vs. Ari); Tom Koehler, Mia (@Atl, @NYM); Mat Latos, Mia (@Atl, @NYM); Brandon McCarthy, LAD: (vs. Sea, vs. Col); Rick Porcello, Bos: (vs. Was, vs. Bal); Shelby Miller, Atl: (vs. Mia, @Tor); Wei-Yin Chen, Bal: (vs. NYY, @Bos); Mike Leake, Cin: (@CHC, @Stl); Matt Garza, Mil: (@Stl, @Pit); Eddie Butler, Col (@SF, @LAD)
Trolls (Avoid These Starts) – Trolls are the worst, they hang under bridges, steal, they smell, and they wear overalls by choice!
Trevor May, Min: (vs. KC, vs. Cle); Jeremy Hellickson, TB: (@SD, @SF); Chris Heston, SF: (vs. Col, vs. Ari); Aaron Harang, Phi: (@NYM, @Was); Ross Detwiler, Tex: (vs. LAA, @ Sea); Rubby De La Rosa, Ari: (@SD, @SF); David Buchanan, Phi: (@NYM, @Was)