Weekly Planner: Dallas Keuchel's slider makes him worthy of an add

Monday May 19th, 2014

The Astros' Dallas Keuchel has revamped his slider, which has increased his fantasy value.
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

It's time for the fantasy community to take notice of Dallas Keuchel. After his two starts this week, it might be too late to add the guy who has been one of the most overlooked pitchers in the majors this season.

Keuchel entered the year without any serious expectations. He made 31 appearances last year, including 22 starts, and compiled a 5.15 ERA, 4.25 FIP and 123 strikeouts in 153 2/3 innings. He was one of many question marks in the Houston rotation, though one that could, if he figured it out, be a part of the team's future as it continues its tear-down and rebuilding process.

Through eight starts, the 26-year-old Keuchel appears to have figured it out, and it's largely thanks to a slider that has been one of the league's hardest pitches to hit. Keuchel throws his slider about one-fourth of the time, and it averages 79.3 mph. It has a 23.6-percent swinging-strike rate and hitters swing at it more than 40 percent of the time it's out of the zone, a sign of how much bite it has.

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The slider is driving Keuchel's increased strikeout rate, which is now up at 22.2 percent. His overall swinging-strike rate is 11.5 percent, good for 13th in the majors. It also gives him a go-to pitch against lefties, who compiled a .273/.327/.423 line against him last year. This year, however, they're hitting just .222 with a .389 slugging percentage against the slider, according to Brooks Baseball. He has been able to keep righties off-balance with his changeup, but before trusting his slider, he didn't have a pitch that helped him keep lefties honest. Now he does.

Keuchel is starting to get some attention from fantasy owners, but he's still widely unowned. He takes the ball twice this week, starting against the Angels and Mariners. The Angels have been solid offensively this year, but the Mariners have been terrible, amassing a .230/.292/.369 line as a team. Keuchel is definitely worth adding for his two starts, and he's likely worth keeping around for good in deeper mixed leagues.

Roster trends

Most added

A.J. Pollock, Diamondbacks -- Pollock has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball over the last week, going 12-for-25 with two homers, two triples, four steals and five RBI in his last seven games. The power likely won't last, but he's now slashing .302/.353/.532 for the season.

Dallas Keuchel, Astros -- Keuchel tossed a complete game shutout against the Rangers last week, striking out seven and issuing nary a free pass. He's very quietly amassing a great season, posting a 3.06 ERA, 3.02 FIP and 47 strikeouts against 11 walks in 53 innings. He should be owned in most mixed leagues.

Jaime Garcia, Cardinals -- Garcia returned to the mound on Sunday one year and one day after his last start before a shoulder injury derailed his 2013 season. He's a guy who, if healthy, would have been drafted in nearly all mixed leagues, so feel free to add him if you need help in your rotation.

Most dropped

Danny Salazar, Indians -- Salazar has struggled all season and the Indians made the somewhat-surprising decision to demote him to Triple-A Columbus. If you can sacrifice the roster spot, however, it's worth keeping him around to see if he can right the ship in the minors.

Chris Colabello, Twins -- Chris Shelton 2.0 is officially upon us. Colabello has had a miserable time at the plate in May, hitting .127/.172/.200 with 23 strikeouts in 58 plate appearances. Even those of you in deeper mixed leagues can go ahead and cut bait here.

Bryan Shaw, Indians -- Shaw picked up the first save in the post-John Axford era in Cleveland, but that was a week ago and he hasn't been presented with another opportunity. Cody Allen has been the most effective reliever for the Indians this year, and while it's just speculation, Allen seems like he would be the guy if the Indians decide to shun a closer committee.

Two-start pitchers

(*indicates pitcher worth streaming for both starts)

1. Masahiro Tanaka

2. Adam Wainwright

3. Stephen Strasburg

4. Julio Teheran

5. Garrett Richards

6. Justin Verlander

7. Mike Minor

8. Madison Bumgarner

9. Hisashi Iwakuma

10. Doug Fister

11. Corey Kluber

12. Wily Peralta

13. A.J. Burnett

14. Yovani Gallardo

15. Francisco Liriano

16. Jason Hammel*

17. Jake Odorizzi*

18. Trevor Bauer*

19. Jason Vargas*

20. Drew Smyly*

21. Dallas Keuchel*

22. Bronson Arroyo

23. Scott Feldman

24. Colby Lewis

25. Josh Beckett

26. Drew Pomeranz

27. Mike Leake

28. Rafael Montero

29. J.A. Happ

30. Felix Doubront

31. Franklin Morales

32. Scott Carroll

33. Miguel Gonzalez

34. Andre Rienzo

35. Anthony DeSclafani

Teams playing seven games


White Sox






Teams playing five games


Weekday day games

(all times Eastern)


Tigers @ Indians, 12:05

Mariners @ Rangers, 2:05

Yankees @ Cubs, 2:20

Reds @ Nationals, 4:05


Phillies @ Marlins, 12:40

Rangers @ Tigers, 1:08

Giants @ Rockies, 3:10

Blue Jays @ Red Sox, 4:05

A's @ Rays, 4:10

Favorable matchups

Angels (vs. Houston, vs. Kansas City) -- The Angels spend the entire week at home, hosting the Astros and Royals. Even though they'll see most of the best of what the Astros have to offer, that just means Dallas Kuechel, Scott Feldman and Collin McHugh. They get James Shields on Saturday, but this is still a good week of matchups.

A's (@ Tampa Bay, @ Toronto) -- The A's get to spend the weekend in the hitter's paradise that is the Rogers Centre, and they get to avoid Mark Buehrle during their trip to Canada. They also have the good fortune to miss David Price when they visit the Rays.

Mariners (@ Texas, vs. Houston) -- The Mariners play both Texas teams this week, and they should be able to take advantage. They spend two days in Arlington with Yu Darvish planted firmly on the bench before heading home to host the Astros for a four-game series.

Cardinals (vs. Arizona, @ Cincinnati) -- The Diamondbacks' rotation as a whole has been atrocious this season, and that alone makes this week a good one for the Cardinals. They'll avoid Johnny Cueto in their trip to Cincinnati, though they will likely face the recently returned Tony Cingrani.

Nationals (vs. Cincinnati, @ Pittsburgh) -- The Nationals actually have some tough matchups this week; They're scheduled to face Johnny Cueto, Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano. The good news is that they play seven games, and also have some favorable matchups mixed in. You should be playing your Nats this week.

Unfavorable matchups

Diamondbacks (@ St. Louis, @ New York Mets) -- The Diamondbacks have to go through Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha and Lance Lynn in their first series of the week. They don't have terrible matchups against the Mets, but Citi Field favors pitchers, making this a challenging week overall.

Cubs (vs. New York Yankees, @ San Diego) -- The Cubs have to deal with Masahiro Tanaka on Tuesday, then head to San Diego for a four-game series at Petco Park. That's bad news for an offense that has struggled for large chunks of the season.

Reds (@ Washington, vs. St. Louis) -- The Reds face an imposing slate of pitchers in their six games this week. They get Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister and Tanner Roark in Washington, then take on Shelby Miller, Jaime Garcia and Adam Wainwright when the Cardinals come to town.

Rockies (vs. San Francisco, @ Atlanta) -- Like the Reds, the Rockies will see most of the best that their opponents can boast of this week. They do get to play three games at Coors Field, but will go up against Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain and Tim Hudson in those three games. When they head to Atlanta, they'll face Mike Minor and Julio Teheran.

Pirates (vs. Baltimore, vs. Washington) -- The Pirates' matchups with Baltimore aren't that bad, but they will be tested in their four-game series with the Nationals. Washington has to shuffle its rotation to account for the loss of Gio Gonzalez, but it will throw Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg and Doug Fister over the weekend.

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