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The highest rated two-start starter on the Streamonator who is owned in less than 70% of RCLs is, gulp, John Lackey. The ‘nator likes him at a $13.90 value for his starts against the Chicago White Sox at home and the Milwaukee Brewers on the road (does anyone one else close one eye and grimace every time they write Milwaukee and wait to see if spell check flags it or not?). Here is the full list of players Streamonator gave a positive value who are owned in less than 70% of RCLs:

I rank those three Lackey, Chacin, Snell, with Lackey in the Replicas tier and Chacin and Snell right next to each other in the Standards tier. I think the Cubs have a big second half (and look, they’re already on their way), and I think Lackey has a chance to bounce back, too. However, when you take an initial glance at his numbers, they look, well, not great. But let’s take a closer look at Lackey and his short term value.

His 5.04/5.69 ERA/FIP is not ideal and, more importantly, tells us that he has been more than just unlucky. He has earned his ERA thus far. But let’s take a quick look at his career FIP:

This chart leaves us with an important question: Will Lackey’s numbers come back down out of the clouds to his normal ranges of fluctuation, or, at almost 39 years old, is he just done? If it is the former, then we might have one of the better pitchers in the league available as a buy-low, or, at the very least, a streaming option in the short term. If it is the latter, then this argument is essentially over.

Lackey, like pretty much everyone on the Cubs, had a rough first half. His main problem was serving up dingers. He doubled his HR/9 from 1.1 in 2016 to 2.2 in 2017. But that has not exactly been a rarely seen problem in 2017’s version of baseball. Home runs are up across the board, so Lackey is certainly not alone there. Let’s add HR/FB% and Hard% to our FIP chart:

His Hard% and HR/FB% are both career highs (read: not good). However, his Hard% only increased from 34% to 36%, and he has been up above 30% since 2012. His HR/FB%, though, jumped from 13% all the way up to 21%. Could a 2% increase in Hard% lead to an 8% increase in HR/FB%? Sadly, in our current Super Ball Era, the answer is probably. Some of that is probably bad luck, but with the way balls are flying out of ballparks any increase in Hard% could lead to a pretty drastic increase in home runs, especially if the overall FB% is up, too. Ahem:

Lackey’s FB% is up from 36% to 38%, and it is up steadily since 2015 when it was 33%, his lowest since 2005. In fact, everything on this graph is up since 2015, which is no bueno. Unfortunately, there is some more evidence that suggests this has been more than just some bad luck and that there could be even darker times ahead:

His BABIP is actually well below the league average, sitting at .271. And this is after he was almost exactly at the league average in 2015 and WAYYYY below the league average in 2016, at .255. Lackey owners would much prefer to look at this chart and see a .340 BABIP because then they could at least hope for the numbers to normalize. If his current BABIP normalizes, though, even darker times may be ahead.

When you look at the rest of his numbers, though, not much else jumps out. The strikeouts are OK (though down from last season), he isn’t walking many more batters than usual, and his GB% is actually slightly up. He has, however, lost 1 MPH on his fastball. And with MLB changing the way they measure velocity, that number should actually be UP, if anything. So, that is another cause for concern.

The main problem, as we just spent all this time talking about, is the home run. If Lackey can keep the ball in the ballpark, he could very well have a solid second half. If he can’t, well, you’ve seen the charts above. It’s not pretty. For now, he is a streaming option when the matchups call for it. This week, especially with what should be a somewhat rejuvenated Lackey, are matchups that call for it. Streamonator likes him this week, and I am not one to argue with Rudy and his algorithms.

Here is the rest of the list for this week.

Pitchers are listed in order by rank. Colors represent 8 toughest or 8 easiest opponents according to team wOBA for last 14 days.

THE BEST

Player Opponents ERA/FIP K9/BB9
Jacob deGrom NYM @SD, @SEA 3.37/3.69 10.31/2.86
Zack Greinke ARI ATL, @STL 2.97/3.29 9.94/1.93
Madison Bumgarner SF PIT, @LAD 3.57/3.78 8.48/1.56
Gerrit Cole PIT @SF, @SD 4.18/4.20 8.06/2.01
Jameson Taillon PIT @SF, @SD 3.08/3.17 8.88/2.96

THE REPLICAS

Player Opponents ERA/FIP K9/BB9
Brad Peacock HOU @PHI, @DET 2.49/2.37 12.19/4.98
Hyun-Jin Ryu LAD MIN, SF 4.21/5.00 8.55/2.72
Kyle Hendricks CHC CHW, @MIL 4.09/4.50 7.44/3.06
John Lackey CHC CHW, @MIL 5.04/5.69 7.55/2.78
Lance Lynn STL COL, ARI 3.30/4.96 7.93/3.06
Jordan Montgomery NYY CIN, TB 4.09/4.20 8.26/2.84
Felix Hernandez SEA BOS, NYM 3.88/4.88 8.62/2.30
Eduardo Rodriguez BOS @SEA, KC 3.66/4.12 9.90/3.39

THE STANDARDS

Player Opponents ERA/FIP K9/BB9
Mike Clevinger CLE LAA, @CHW 2.73/3.91 9.95/4.50
Jon Gray COL @STL, @WSH 6.19/3.68 9.00/3.94
Jhoulys Chacin SD NYM, PIT 4.26/4.37 7.58/3.16
Blake Snell TB BAL, @NYY 4.98/5.16 8.20/5.95
Mike Leake STL COL, ARI 3.39/4.00 5.94/2.31
Patrick Corbin ARI ATL, @STL 4.43/4.18 8.47/2.53

THE KNOCKOFFS

Player Opponents ERA/FIP K9/BB9
Jharel Cotton OAK @TOR, MIN 5.17/4.96 7.87/3.76
Nick Pivetta PHI HOU, ATL 5.58/5.56 9.22/4.15
Clayton Richard SD NYM, PIT 5.35/4.51 6.18/2.64
Dan Straily MIA @TEX, CIN 3.49/4.07 8.34/2.54
Mike Foltynewicz ATL @ARI, @PHI 3.87/4.51 7.91/3.10
Seth Lugo NYM @SD, @SEA 4.05/3.87 6.36/2.70

THE 

Player Opponents ERA/FIP K9/BB9
Luis Castillo CIN @NYY, @MIA 3.86/4.57 11.06/3.86
Antonio Senzatela COL @STL, @WSH 4.67/4.96 6.41/3.02
R.A. Dickey ATL @ARI, @PHI 4.14/5.05 5.98/3.38
Jesse Chavez LAA @CLE, @TOR 4.88/5.27 6.98/2.86
Adam Conley MIA @TEX, CIN 6.75/4.87 6.75/4.67
Zach Davies MIL @WSH, CHC 4.76/4.88 5.99/2.95
Matt Cain SF PIT, @LAD 5.49/5.06 5.40/3.72
Tim Adleman CIN @CLE, @MIA 4.96/5.61 8.40/3.43

All pitchers are projected for two starts as of Friday night. 

If you would prefer to see the above tables as a color-coded graphic, we’ve got that too!

(Click to enlarge.)

As always, disagree with anything here? Have any questions or comments? Want to tell Mike how great he is or how much you agree with him? Want relationship or investment advice?

DROP THOSE COMMENTS!

 

 

If you want to talk fantasy baseball or football or have players you want Mike to feature, hit him up on Twitter at @mikeMaher or post a comment below!

   
  1. Curt says:
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    James Paxton, Taijuan Walker I believe have 2-start weeks, rank?

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:
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      @Curt:

      Paxton I would put in that top tier. Walker I would put in the middle of the Replicas tier.

      • Curt says:
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        @mikeMaher: Thanks, sounds about what I was thinking

  2. Andrew Edenbaum says:
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    I believe Verly also doubles. Both at home. Houston’s tough, but no Correa.
    For Taillon to 2 step, the Bucs will have to skip Kuhl. Guessing they skip Kuhl the following monday, setting Taillon up for a tasty home 2 step. Cinn. and S.D. The Pirates can only skip Kuhl once over the next 2 weeks. Can’t count on Taillon doubling next week.

  3. Hey Mike, how big a difference do you see between deGrom and Arrieta? I’m in the running, and there’s a guy willing to help me upgrade my offence if I give deGrom for his Arrieta. We only keep two pitchers, and I’ve also got Scherzer, Severino, and Nelson. I think my keepers will end up OK, but it’s more ROS I’m worried about.

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:
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      @Milarky:

      Keeper-wise, it’s not close. Gotta go deGrom. But I think you know that already.

      I think Arrieta will be fine overall, but I am concerned that his velocity is down. If the offer for offense is good enough, though, I can see making the switch.

  4. Scrapski says:
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    Hey Mike,
    Drop Morton for either Corbin or maeda?
    Who’s better of those two…?
    Thanks!

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:
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      @Scrapski:

      I would go Corbin for now

  5. LenFuego says:
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    CBS says Jacob Faria has two starts this week too.

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:
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      @LenFuego:

      Looks that way, yeah. I like Faria a lot but do not like those matchups (BAL and @NYY)

      • LenFuego says:
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        @mikeMaher: Yeah, Baltimore is not too bad, but @NYY definitely has my knees knocking.

        Vince Velasquez also supposedly has two starts this week. You like him better than Faria?

        • mikeMaher

          mikeMaher says:
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          @LenFuego:

          1. Yeah, that stadium alone should scare you. But also, the Orioles have the 4th best wOBA for the last two weeks, so there is some worry there, too.

          2. I added and removed Velasquez from the list a few times because there didn’t seem to be a consensus on whether he would start twice or not. I had him where Jon Gray is.

          My gut says still go Faria.

          • Re-Pete says:
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            @mikeMaher: Would you go Faria over a 1-start Berrios (@LAD), Cahill (NYM), or Ray (@STL)?

            • mikeMaher

              mikeMaher says:
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              @Re-Pete:

              I would, yeah.

              Streamonator values for next week:

              Faria: $7.1
              Ray: $6.1
              Berrios: $5.5

              • Re-Pete says:
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                @mikeMaher: thanks, I’ll roll with him and not watch either start.

  6. Nice write-up, Mike. I’m not really a huge fan of Lackey for fantasy either but that dude is actually cool as shit. Met him once in Cali and he bought me beers all night. Erick Aybar also groped me that evening, but that’s a story for another day. In a league with very limited pitching options, am I out of my mind to fuck with Conley? He was solid for me early last season, do you think there could be anything to his supposed mechanical adjustments? My other options are Tomlin, Ryu or Hammel.

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:
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      @Kenneth Cashman:

      Thanks! Everyone knows Lackey likes his beers, so that is not surprising. He always seemed like a cool dude, too. Erick Aybar is indeed a story for another day.

      I share your affinity for Conley in that I also had him last season in a league with limited pitching options and enjoyed his success. Luckily, I stayed away from him this season. Personally, I would continue to stay away from him. He tossed a quality start last time out but still allowed eight hits and only struck out three. That is not exactly winning back my heart for a guy who looked so lost earlier in the year.

      For now, I would put a pin in Conley and roll with Ryu. Streamonator likes him in the short term.

  7. Andrew Edenbaum says:
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    I’ll try again Mike. Doesn’t it look like Verly steps ? Unless the Tigers are going to a 7 man rotation, Verlander is scheduled to start monday v. K.C. (at home), and again on sunday v. Houston (again at home). 1) Would you agree. 2) Assuming you agree, where would you place him,
    You list Taillon for a 2 step, which would require Pitt. to skip Kuhl, but no Verly double because you think Boyd, Sanchez, Zimmerman, Fulmer, AND Norris will ALL start before Verlander goes again after monday ? Please explain your reasoning. Thank you.
    I’d rank Verly alongside Cole.
    I actually don’t like Bum’s purported 2 step, because he faces Taillon and Kershaw, plus he isn’t the same pitcher he was before his mishap. Whether he’s hurting or not I don’t know, but he just doesn’t look very good, so why risk this double.

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:
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      @Andrew Edenbaum:

      Sorry, Andrew. I didn’t realize you were asking a question in your previous comment.

      For the Two-Start starters, I primarily use Razzball’s Streamonator to get the list. Then I check the list against a list CBS Sports puts out and FantasyPros’ Probably Pitchers for the next week. If there are any discrepancies, then I look a bit further to see if I can figure out what is going on. When I first started working on the lists, I did not see Verlander on any of them. Now, he is on the CBS and FantasyPros lists but not on Streamonator. BUT, it looks like that might be a mistake bc it has Detroit and Houston listed as OFF on Sunday, when they are playing each other.

      But yeah, looking at it now, it looks like you are right. He should start Monday and Sunday. I might put him lower than you have him just because of that Houston matchup.

      Re: MadBum, I try not to put too much stock into who the pitcher is facing. That can change so easily, and the opposing pitcher can really only affect the possibility of your guy getting a W or not.

  8. Grey

    Grey says:
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    You’ve convinced me to start Lackey this week…You bastard!

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:
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      @Grey:

      haha

  9. Tony says:
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    you think Gausman will ever pop up here again at some point this year? He has 2 starts…is he THAT bad?? don’t answer that…lol

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:
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      @Tony:

      Haha. There was actually a minor issue with Streamonator’s Weekly Pitcher Planner that was affecting a couple of next Sunday’s games, notably Detroit/Houston and Baltimore/Texas. I emailed Rudy about it, and he already fixed it despite being on vacation. But that is why Gausman got missed this week, but I can’t say I would have him ranked very high, anyway.

  10. Raj says:
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    Gerrit Cole starts @ SF on 7/24 and @ SD on 7/30. After Taillon starts @ SF on 7/25, I think his next start is v. Cincinnati on 8/1, right?

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:
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      @Raj:

      Yeah, Cole is the two-start starter now and not Taillon.

  11. Ryan Wilson says:
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    Am I missing something with Jon Gray? Looks like he’s starting Tuesday @ STL, but with an off-day Thursday I don’t think he’d start on the weekend unless they skip someone.

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:
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      @Ryan Wilson:

      Nope, you are correct. Looks like Senzatela is the one going twice now.

  12. Russell says:
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    How about Sonny Gray, looks like he will be making 2 starts (trade deadline aside). Where would you rank him?

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:
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      @Russell:

      Yup. Looks like @TOR, MIN now. I would put him in the middle of that top tier.

  13. Mr. Crab says:
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    Mike, looks like Tomlin will also have 2 starts. Which tier would he be? Many thanks!

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:
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      @Mr. Crab:

      I am generally not a huge Tomlin guy, but he has looked better his last two times out. I think I would put him in the Knockoffs tier. Streamonator has him at -$3, which is above Taijuan Walker and below Peacock.

  14. Anthony says:
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    What’s the deal with Clevinger? He’s listed as going twice this week on some sites, and only once on others. Do you have any idea what’s going on Mike? Thanks

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:
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      @Anthony:

      It looks like he is no longer a two-start starter. The return of Salazar likely threw things out of whack for predicting the probables.

Comments are closed.