Two-start pitching analysis for the coming week

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Fantasy staple Charlie Morton got off to a particularly bad start after his offseason was disrupted by a broken leg sustained in last year’s playoffs. There were obvious fears of malfunction due to age (38), but those fears were really not reflected by the radar gun.

Yet something was wrong in April. Morton had a 7.00 ERA in four starts, walking 11 in 18 innings. At the time, the culprit was clearly based on observation or digging into the numbers as Morton struggled to get a grip on his curveball. Slowly but surely the curveball is round, and so is Morton’s effectiveness.

Charlie Morton #50 of the Atlanta Braves gets his fantasy back

Charlie Morton could make 180 in his fantasy fortunes in 2022. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The results started to straighten out in May with a 4.60 ERA and 31/11 K/BB in 31.1 innings. However, this month, he really made things exciting with a remarkable 40 strikeouts and four walks in 25 innings, resulting in a 3.60 ERA over four starts. Morton’s home runs are still slightly higher for the season, but his K/9 (10.4) and BB/9 (3.1) match his recent history exactly.

Patience pays off for fantasy managers who didn’t panic when things looked bleak for Morton early in the year, now that his grades and performance are finally starting to plummet towards the average. With his recent streak, there are now few pitchers in the game who look more attractive right now.

-Regression comes in a good way, like what we’ve seen in Morton, but of course it can go in a negative direction. in one way or another, Michael Wacha has managed to overcome the laws of space and time thus far with a 2.34 ERA over 12 starts, despite a very mediocre 6.6 K/9, 3.97 FIP and 4.39 SIERA. This is not to say that Wacha cannot be an effective pitcher, as he showed similar improvement at Tampa Bay late last season after smashing his blade. Still, his current BABIP of .227 is just not sustainable. As we’ve seen with early top performers like Eric LauerTarik Skubaland Zac GallenWacha’s time for a blast is likely to come sooner or later, and a tough match-up in Toronto early next week is one of many risky match-ups on the horizon.

Martin Perez is in a similar situation to Wacha, although his breakthrough seems even more remarkable given his lack of historical success. The southpaw is a legit Cy Young contender with a sub-2.00 ERA and only two home runs allowed in 87.1 innings. To the credit of Perez there is a marked improvement in skills here with a career best 2.2 BB/9 along with a solid increase in grounders (53%). Yet Perez’s 2.6% HR/FB is nearly 10% below his career standard. With more sinkers and better control, Perez is finally a solid mid-rotation starter, but clearly he’s not as good as the ERA shows this season. He remains a plug-and-play with a two-start week ahead at KC and the Mets, but you shouldn’t take the ERA for granted.

-With Hyun-Jin Ryu for the season, Ross Stripling is here to stay in the Blue Jays starting rotation. The escaping ball really plays in his favor this year, having had terrible home run problems the past two seasons. Dividing time between the bullpen and the starting spin, Stripling has a 3.08 ERA and 1.06 WHIP, with a BB/9 below 2.0. By throwing more sliders and changeups, Stripling has quietly seen his groundball rate skyrocket (53%), which may be just as responsible for improving the home run rate as the ball itself. We can’t expect Stripling to continue to perform as an ace in the unforgiving AL East, but the elite control will play into every role. He’s back as a viable fantasy launcher, especially if you need WHIP help.

Going twice…

Remark: Estimated pitchers as of Friday, June 24 and are subject to change.

American League

Strong Games

George Kirby: BALL, OAK

Robbie Ray: BALL, OAK

Kevin Gausman: FOREST, TB

Sonny Gray: @CLE, BAL

Shane Bazo: MIL, @TOR

Jordan Montgomery: OAK, @CLE

Martin Perez: @KC, @NYM

Decent Games

Luis Garcia: @NYM, LAA

Jameson Taillon: OAK, @CLE

Frankie Montas: @NYY, @SEA

Michael Wacha: @TOR, @CHC

Tyler Wells: @SEA, @MIN

Paul Blackburn: @NYY, @SEA

Triston McKenzie: MIN, NYY

Ross Stripling: FOREST, TB

Devin Smeltzer: @CLE, BAL

Jonathan Heasley: TEX, @DET

At own risk

Lucas Giolito: @LAA, @SF

Zach Plesac: MIN, NYY

Dean Kremer: @SEA, @MIN

National League

Strong Games

Zack Wheeler: ATL, STL

Charlie Morton: @PHI, @CIN

Pablo Lopez: @STL, @WAS

Decent Games

Luis Castillo: @CHC, ATL

Clayton Kershaw: @COL, SD

Adam Wainwright: MIA, @PHI

Eric Lauer: @TB, @PIT

Keegan Thompson: CIN, BOS

Jose Quintana: @WAS, MIL

Tyler Anderson: @COL, SD

At own risk

Eric Fedde: PIT, MIA

Chad Kuhl: LAD, ARIA

Jerad Eickhoff: @WAS, MIL

Streamer City

The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable matchups this week:

American League

Wednesday 29 June: Chris Flexen vs. BALL

Flexen has started to straighten out after a slow start to his season, allowing three or fewer earned points in five consecutive starts. Next week’s matchup against Baltimore looks like another big chance to keep his streak going, facing an O’s lineup with a .675 OPS vs. right-handers.

Wednesday 29 June: Dane Dunning @ KC

Dunning’s peripherals far exceed its second consecutive season of inconsistent performance. He recently struggled against some mediocre opponents, but still has an easy match-up ahead of him vs. KC (0.662 OPS vs. RHP) without Salvador Perez

Friday July 1: Brad Keller @ DET

Keller has cooled predictably after his hot start, but he’s coming off a gem against Oakland. Detroit’s lineup has been equally meaningless this season, with a .586 OPS against right-handers.

National League

Wednesday 29 June: André Pallante vs. MIA

Pallante has quietly been one of the top groundball pitchers in MLB this season, with a 63% elite groundball percentage that has helped him achieve an ERA of less than 2.00 so far. That will likely diminish, especially with his low strikeout rate (6.1 K/9), but he’ll have another good match-up against Miami next week.

Friday July 1: Adrian Houser @ PIT

Houser has been inconsistent lately, but his matchup couldn’t get much better in Pittsburgh next week. He has yet to face the Pirates this season, who have a .652 OPS vs. right-handers.

Sunday July 3: Anthony DeSclafanic vs. CHW

DeSclafani’s first start back from an ankle injury has not been great, but general conditions remain positive. He faces a White Sox lineup that is quite upside down and surprisingly anemic to right-handed pitching, with a .657 OPS.

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Total number of games

American League

5: DET

6: BALL, FOREST, CHW, HOU, KC, LAA, TEX

7: NYY, OAK, SEA, TB

8: CLE, MIN, TOR

National League

5: ARI, NYM, SF

6: ATL, CHC, CIN, COL, MIA, MIL, PHI, SD, STL, WAS

7: LAD, PIT

the infirmary

Here are some injuries from prominent players from the past week and other players to watch out for in the coming week. You can get a full list of injured players at NBCSports Edge’s Injury page

Aaron Ashby: Posted on IL (forearm)

Mookie Betts: Posted on IL (forearm)

Byron Buxton: Daily (knee)

Carlos Carrasco: Daily (back)

Harold Castro: Daily (calf)

Brandon Crawford: Daily (knee)

Zach Eflin: Daily (knee)

Adam Angel: Posted on IL (hamstring)

Ty France: Daily (elbow)

Luis Gonzalez: Posted on IL (back)

Ke’Bryan Hayes: Day to Day (Shoulder)

Dany Jimenez: Posted on IL (shoulder)

Buddy Kennedy: Status uncertain (wrist)

Kevin Kiermaier: Posted on IL (hip)

Manny Machado: Daily (single)

Manuel Margot: At least two months out (knee)

Jeff McNeil: Daily (hamstring)

Austin Meadows: Posted on IL (COVID-19)

Tylor Megil: Four weeks shut down (shoulder)

Danny Mendick: Out for the season (knee)

Yadier Molina: Posted on IL (knee)

Yoan Moncada: Posted on IL (hamstring)

Tyler O’Neill: placed on IL (hamstring)

David Peralta: Daily (back)

Salvador Perez: Indefinitely Off (thumb)

Luis Robert: Daily (leg)

Tony Santillan: Posted on IL (back)

George Springer: Daily (elbow)

Zach Thompson: Posted on IL (forearm)

Luke Voit: Daily (hamstring)

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