Pitching Primer: Week 14

Sun Jul 3 10:41pm ET
By MIKE BARNER
Contributing Writer

There are some big-name pitchers that are scheduled to start twice each in Week 14, including one star who is set to return from injury. As we filter through all of the options, let’s highlight five players who are expected to start two times each, and what their matchups could mean for fantasy baseball.

Justin Verlander, Houston Astros: vs. KC, at OAK

Verlander’s bounce back from Tommy John surgery is incredible. He’s logged 97 1/3 innings through 15 starts, posting a 2.03 ERA and a 0.83 WHIP. There is one significant change, though, and that’s his 24.2 percent strikeout rate. That’s a major decline for him, given that he had a strikeout rate of at least 34.8 percent in both of his first two full seasons with the Astros.

Despite his strikeout deficiencies, Verlander has the potential to be a league-winner in Week 14 based on his matchups. First up will be the Royals, who have scored the fourth-fewest runs in baseball. After that will be the Athletics, who have scored the second-fewest runs. Sit back and enjoy the ride.

Max Scherzer, New York Mets: at CIN, vs. MIA

It’s been over a month since Scherzer was sidelined with an oblique injury. He looked like his overpowering self in his minor league rehab start Wednesday, registering eight strikeouts and throwing 80 pitchers across 4 2/3 innings. After the outing, he deemed himself ready to return to the majors.

As things currently stand, Scherzer is projected to jump right back into the thick of things with a two-start week. Given that he threw 80 pitchers Wednesday, he might not be limited in either outing. There’s no need to overthink this one. Get Scherzer right back into your starting lineup.

Madison Bumgarner, Arizona Diamondbacks: vs. SF, vs. COL

Bumgarner has registered a 3.63 ERA through 16 starts, which is significantly better than his 4.67 ERA last season. However, regression could be coming. His FIP (4.67) is actually higher than it was last season (4.32), and his strikeout rate has decreased by nearly four percentage points to 16.5 percent. His WHIP is also higher at 1.37.

As negative as all of those underlying numbers are, Bumgarner could still be a viable starting option in 12-team and deeper leagues. The majority of the Giants’ best hitters are lefties, so Bumgarner could have an advantage there. Also, he’ll face the Rockies outside of Coors Field, which is noteworthy since they only have a .635 OPS on the road.

Nick Pivetta, Boston Red Sox: vs. TB, vs. NYY

Where would the Red Sox be without Pivetta? In a season in which their starting rotation has been in shambles because of injuries, he’s made 16 starts and logged 94 2/3 innings. He’s not just eating innings, either, given his 3.23 ERA that is supported by a 3.69 FIP. His strikeout rate isn’t anything special at 23.6 percent, but he’s done a better job of keeping hitters inside the ballpark, allowing what would be a career-low 1.0 HR/9.

Pivetta’s two opponents this week are at opposite ends of the spectrum. The Rays’ lineup is struggling, scoring the fifth-fewest runs in baseball. However, the Yankees are thriving with the most runs scored. When he faced them earlier in the season, he allowed four runs across 5 2/3 innings. If you’re in a shallow league, benching Pivetta might not be a bad idea. However, if you play in 12-team or deeper formats, his matchup against the Rays alone could make him worth the risk.

Johnny Cueto, Chicago White Sox: vs. MIN, vs. DET

When injuries hit the White Sox’s starting rotation, they turned to Cueto to help fill in. He has stepped up in big way, logging at least six innings in seven of his nine outings. Not only that, but he’s allowed three earned runs or fewer eight times, leaving him with a 3.33 ERA to go along with his 1.17 WHIP. In fantasy, he’s better off as a streaming option considering his modest 20.5 percent strikeout rate.

If you are looking for a streamer, Cueto might be your man this week. The Twins won’t be an easy matchup, given that they have the sixth-highest OPS in baseball. If he can navigate that with another quality start, though, his second outing has the potential to be a dominant one against a Tigers team that has scored the fewest runs in baseball. They have only hit 42 total home runs, which is by far the lowest mark. In fact, 13 teams have hit at least double the amount of home runs the Tigers have.

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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