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Pitching Primer: Week 8

Fri May 10 10:20pm ET
By MIKE BARNER
Contributing Writer

There are a lot of off days built into Week 8 in the majors, which means there aren’t a ton of pitchers set to take the mound twice. While that’s a bad thing if you’re looking for streaming options, it’s also a significant edge if you do have any of the two-start pitchers already on your roster. Let’s breakdown five of them and discuss whether they should be started or benched based on their matchups.

Chris Paddack, San Diego Padres: at LAD, vs. PIT

Paddack has been everything that we could have hoped for, and then some. The Padres’ prize pitching prospect has burst onto the scene with a 1.55 ERA and a 0.69 WHIP. While those numbers are obviously impressive, there is definitely some regression coming based on his 3.42 xFIP and .176 opponents’ BABIP. The great news is that he should be able to continue to rack up strikeouts after recording a 30.7 percent strikeout rate in the early going. His first start of the week isn’t great against the Dodgers and the Pirates have also been hitting much better since getting a couple of key hitters back from the IL. However, Paddack’s strikeout upside can make him a difference maker in that category with two starts, so keep him locked into your lineup.

Kyle Hendricks, Chicago Cubs: at CIN, at WAS

A normally reliable pitcher for the Cubs, Hendricks began the season by allowing 14 runs (eight earned) over 13 1/3 innings in his first three starts. However, he’s rebounded to allow no earned runs in three of his last four outings. He’s been especially sharp his last two starts, allowing one unearned run and recording 10 strikeouts over 17 innings. While he still has a little bit of work to do on his 1.28 WHIP, he’s been pretty much what many expected him to be with a 3.83 xFIP and a 19.1 percent strikeout rate. His first start this week doesn’t get much better with the Reds recording the seventh-lowest OPS (.679) in the league. The Nationals are expected to activate Juan Soto (back) off the IL over the weekend, but they are still missing some key hitters in Trea Turner (finger), Ryan Zimmerman (foot) and Matt Adams (shoulder), making Hendricks someone to definitely include in your lineup. 

Mike Foltynewicz, Atlanta Braves: vs. STL, vs. MIL

Foltynewicz opened a lot of eyes last year with his 3.77 xFIP, 1.08 WHIP and 27.2 percent strikeout rate. The Braves were counting on him to be one of the anchors of their rotation, but he wound up on the IL with an elbow injury. While he’s back now, he hasn’t been the same pitcher. He’s been shelled for 15 runs (11 earned) across 16 2/3 innings and has already allowed five home runs. That’s significant considering he allowed 0.8 HR/9 last year. His average fastball velocity is down 2.3 mph compared to last year, so either he’s still not healthy or he hasn’t built up his arm strength yet. Either way, he’s someone to bench with matchups against dangerous lineups in the Cardinals and Brewers on tap.

Shane Bieber, Cleveland Indians: at CHW, vs. BAL

So far, Bieber has lived up to the hype that surrounded him during fantasy draft season. He was a trendy breakout pick because even though he finished last year with a 4.55 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP, he had a 3.30 xFIP and was victimized by a .356 opponents’ BABIP. He’s gone close to the other extreme this year with opponents posting a .255 BABIP, which has helped him reduce his WHIP to 1.09. His strikeout rate has also jumped up to 26.8 percent, which will continue to saddle him with high expectations. Now he’s faced with two starts in Week 8, one of which is against a White Sox team that has struck out the eighth-most times (349). The other will pit him against the Orioles, who are in the bottom third of the league in runs scored and OPS. Expect Bieber to provide plenty of fantasy value during this stretch.

Danny Duffy, Kansas City Royals: vs. TEX, at LAA

Duffy had a rough campaign for the Royals last year, finishing with a 4.92 xFIP and a bloated 1.49 WHIP. That WHIP was his highest mark in the category since 2012, a season in which he logged just 27 2/3 innings. Part of the issue for that number was his 10.7 percent walk rate, which was up over three percentage points compared to 2017. He’s had similar control issues this season, but he’s managed to work his way out of trouble by allowing six runs over 17 2/3 innings. With so few streaming options this week, Duffy might actually be someone to consider. The Rangers have a left-handed heavy lineup and he’ll get to avoid having to face them in hitter-friendly Globe Life Park in Arlington. The Angels have also had their problems against lefties, recording the sixth-lowest wOBA (.285) against them this season. If you need help for your fantasy rotation, adding Duffy isn’t a crazy idea.

Mike Barner has been covering fantasy sports since 2007. His work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, Yahoo, SportsLine and RotoWire. Mike was also a finalist for the 2018 FSWA Basketball Writer of the Year award. Follow Mike on Twitter @rotomikebarner.

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