- With the start of the season's fourth full week, we’re getting to a point where we can start trusting many of the advanced metrics to explain fantasy production.
With the last full week of April upon us, the 2019 season feels like it’s getting into a rhythm. The weather is hopefully settling down across the more boisterous parts of the country, and those pesky five-game weeks are almost a thing of the past. What’s more, we’re getting to a point of the season where we can start trusting many of the advanced numbers that support the surface stats that account for fantasy production. That’s when you can really start identifying and addressing the true holes on your roster.
Let’s turn our attention to the week at hand with a special focus on these 10 players.
Pitchers to Watch
Kevin Gausman, Braves
Gausman is off to an excellent start after beginning the season on the IL. He has thrown 19 2/3 innings across his three outings, pitching to a 2.75 ERA and 0.76 WHIP with 22 strikeouts. He tossed a gem his last time out, holding the Diamondbacks to two runs on three hits in seven innings, striking out 10 and walking one. Gausman is leaning on his splitter more than ever, with using it 41.2% of the time. Its 21% whiff rate ensures that it will remain the key pitch in his repertoire. Gausman will take the mound twice this week, facing the Reds on Tuesday and Rockies on Sunday.
Joe Musgrove, Pirates
Musgrove leads all starters with a 0.81 ERA through three starts, allowing two earned runs in 22 1/3 innings. He has fanned 21 batters while walking just four, and has a glittering 0.76 WHIP to go along with his league-leading ERA. Musgrove has one of the most diverse arsenals in the league, with six pitches that all have a usage rate of at least 4.5%. He leans on his slider and four-seamer, but the sinker and change do plenty of heavy lifting, and he’ll mix in a curve and cutter for good measure. Musgrove takes the ball twice this week, going up against the Diamondbacks on Monday and Dodgers on Saturday.
Jack Flaherty, Cardinals
It’s been a rough start to the season for Flaherty, who has a 5.00 ERA and 1.61 WHIP in 18 innings. He’s been getting knocked around the yard, allowing 25 hits, including four homers, borne out by a 54.5% hard-hit rate. Flaherty’s expected batting average, slugging percentage and wOBA are all at least 65 points better than his actual marks, which suggests that some bad luck has been working against him, even though he has allowed a huge percentage of hard contact. He also has 22 strikeouts against four walks, a ratio that should eventually swing things in his favor. He’s slated for two starts this week, facing the Brewers on Monday and Reds on Sunday.
Yonny Chirinos, Rays
Chrinos is thriving as the flex man on Tampa Bay’s pitching staff, making two starts and two appearances out of the bullpen, one of which came after an opener. All told, he has thrown 19 1/3 innings, racking up a 3.26 ERA, 0.83 ERA and 19 strikeouts against four walks. The Rays are always going to turn to him for multiple innings at a time, mostly as a starter or the first pitcher after an opener, and that all but guarantees his fantasy floor. The team has him slated for two traditional starts this week, taking on the Royals on Monday and Red Sox on Sunday.
Mike Minor, Rangers
Minor was excellent in his last trip to the mound, going the distance in a shutout of the Angels. He allowed three hits and two walks, striking out seven in what was his first complete game since 2013 and first shutout of his career. Minor has made four starts this year, totaling a 2.60 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 22 strikeouts against eight walks in 27 2/3 innings. He’ll make his next start on Monday against the A’s; then toe the rubber on Saturday in Seattle.
Hitters to Watch
Michael Conforto, OF, Mets
Conforto is taking off this year, slashing .299/.413/.584 with five homers, seven doubles and 11 RBI in 92 plate appearances. This is the player he proved he could be in 2017 before a shoulder injury shortened that season and wrecked a large chunk of his 2018 campaign. His walk rate remains high at 14.1%, and he has cut his strikeout rate to 20.7%. If this is who Conforto is, he’s going to compete for MVP awards.
Javier Baez, 2B/3B/SS, Cubs
Baez has picked up where he left off last year, hitting .289/.314/.566 with six homers, five doubles, 16 RBI and two steals in 86 plate appearances. He’s still not walking at all, but he proved last year that he can be among the best offensive players in the game without drawing many free passes. At this point, the baseball community should be taking this as an established skill.
Eddie Rosario, OF, Twins
Rosario is one of the hottest hitters in the majors, belting five homers in his last three games, and six in his last five. He’s up to a .300/.347/.743 slash line with nine homers, four doubles and 20 RBI in 75 plate appearances.
Francisco Lindor, SS, Indians
Lindor made his 2019 debut on Saturday, going 1-for-5 with a single and a strikeout. The Indians offense has been terrible this season, with Lindor on the IL and Jose Ramirez struggling. The shortstop's return should inject some life into this listless offense. Fantasy owners should keep a close eye on how often Lindor runs after missing nearly a month of the season because of an ankle injury.
Charlie Blackmon, OF, Rockies
Blackmon has finally started to wake up over the weekend, leaving the yard in both of his last two games. Those were his first two homers of the season, and he's now slashing .264/.316/.425 in 87 plate appearances. He has struck out three times as often as he has walked, and his soft-hit rate has jumped to 22.9%. His previous career high was 21.1%.
Pitchers scheduled to make two starts this week (Alphabetical Order by Team)
Zack Godley, Arizona Diamondbacks
Luke Weaver, Arizona Diamondbacks
Kevin Gausman, Atlanta Braves
Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox
Hector Velasquez, Boston Red Sox
Jose Quintana, Chicago Cubs
Manny Banuelos, Chicago White Sox
Sonny Gray, Cincinnati Reds
Carlos Carrasco, Cleveland Indians
Matt Boyd, Detroit Tigers
Spencer Turnbull, Detroit Tigers
Wade Miley, Houston Astros
Brad Peacock, Houston Astros
Matt Harvey, Los Angeles Angels
Tyler Skaggs, Los Angeles Angels
Kenta Maeda, Los Angeles Dodgers
Pablo Lopez, Miami Marlins
Jake Odorizzi, Minnesota Twins
Steven Matz, New York Mets
J.A. Happ, New York Yankees
Domingo German, New York Yankees
Chris Bassitt, Oakland A's
Jake Arrieta, Philadelphia Phillies
Zach Eflin, Philadelphia Phillies
Joe Musgrove, Pittsburgh Pirates
Trevor Williams, Pittsburgh Pirates
Erik Swanson, Seattle Mariners
Jack Flaherty, St. Louis Cardinals
Yonny Chirinos, Tampa Bay Rays
Mike Minor, Texas Rangers
Lance Lynn, Texas Rangers
Jeremy Hellickson, Washington Nationals
Teams playing seven games: Diamondbacks, Red Sox, Tigers, Astros, Angels, Yankees, Phillies, Pirates, Rangers
Teams playing six games: Braves, Orioles, Cubs, White Sox, Reds, Indians, Rockies, Royals, Dodgers, Marlins, Brewers, Twins, Mets, A’s, Mariners, Cardinals, Rays, Nationals
Teams playing five games: Padres, Giants, Blue Jays