Your usual host, Paul Sporer, is away this week crossing things off his bucket list. Things like meeting Robert Pattinson, teaching tortoises how to french kiss, making snow angels in horse manure, and trying to figure out why people find Curb Your Enthusiasm funny… or, you know, doing normal, work-related stuff. He wasn’t very specific… In any case, I’ll be filling in for him today with VP and tomorrow with Weekly Planner. Here goes…
Patrick Corbin (Yahoo! 14%, ESPN 22%, CBS 37%) has quietly put together an impressive string of starts. While he struggled in his first go-round earlier in the year (5.27 ERA) and pitched out of the bullpen in his second back in July (5 G, 0 GS), Trevor Bauer’s struggles opened up a rotation spot, and Corbin has run with it. Through four starts, he has a 2.77 ERA with 24 strikeouts and six walks in 26 innings.
Corbin doesn’t have lights-out stuff or the ace-level upside of fellow Snakes prospects Bauer, Skaggs (who I’ll get to later), and Archie Bradley, but he does have enough to get the job done to go along with good control.
Paul gave you a heads up weeks ago, so hopefully you already stashed Brett Anderson (Yahoo! 19%, ESPN 15%, CBS 52%) in your fantasy league. If not, he’s still available in plenty of Yahoo! and ESPN games, but he’s going quickly and will continue to do so after his strong debut (7 IP, 1 ER, 6 K, 0 BB); he started the week essentially at zero percent ownership. Anderson has been a strong fantasy play in all league formats since his rookie year in 2009… when he manages to stay healthy. Unfortunately, he’s battled a number of maladies in his brief career and is now coming off Tommy John surgery.
When on the mound (and not the mend… yup, I went there), Anderson has terrific control of an arsenal built for groundballs. His four-seamer clocked in at 93 mph in 2009 and 2010, although it fell to 91 mph before his injury last year and sat there on Tuesday. It’ll be interesting to see if his velocity rises, but his brutal breaking ball should still allow him to strike out an above-average number of batters. He’s well worth a play in most mixed leagues.
Derek Holland (Yahoo! 52%, ESPN 29%, CBS 79%) had two mediocre-ish starts this week against New York and Baltimore, and while it’s tempting to boot him from the list given how bad he’s been lately (four starts with five-plus runs allowed over his last seven outings), I’ll leave him on here one more week and force Paul to make the call. One of the many perks of being in charge. I’d say it’s right behind drinking on the job and having groupies. Holland does have good stuff and peripherals that outpace his ERA (4.21 xFIP to 4.98 ERA), so he’s a decent bet to bounce back regardless. That the Yankees didn’t hand him his own ass and merely dinged him for four earned runs may portend good things in itself.
Alex Cobb (Yahoo! 15%, ESPN 14%, CBS 42%) got absolutely obliterated this week in a start against the Angels, making it into just the third inning before getting yanked after allowing eight runs, all earned. You know Cobb has my seal of approval, so he’ll keep getting complementary bottle service in the
VIP VP section while I’m running this club. Still, if you have the flexibility to pick and choose your matchups with him, it’s probably best to do so.
We say goodbye to two VPers this week. Jeff Samardzija (Yahoo! 49%, ESPN 43%, CBS 84%) and Mike Minor (Yahoo! 40%, ESPN 53%, CBS 67%) remain very good fantasy plays, but their ownership rates are simply too high to warrant further inclusion. Samardzija was roughed up a bit by the Reds (four runs in five innings), but he did strike out five without issuing a single walk. Minor dominated the Dodgers, going seven strong while allowing just one run, a solo homer to Luis Cruz. If either is still available in your league and you need an arm, you could do much worse.
Tyler Skaggs (Yahoo! 8%, ESPN 4%, CBS 26%) had a strong start this week, by rookie debut standards. The Marlins aren’t exactly an imposing bunch of guys to stare down from the rubber, but he went 6 2/3 while allowing two runs and just three hits. He walked five, which is worrisome, but he has plus command and has always posted good walk rates in the minors, so I’m not concerned yet. Skaggs has outstanding upside as a result of his terrific stuff, highlighted by a big, rising fastball that sits in the low 90s and a ridiculous curve that should draw plenty of whiffs. That stuff only translated to a 7.7 K/9 at Triple-A, so Skaggs may not be ready to dominate big leaguers yet, but in an NL-only league at this point in the season, he’s as good as they come.
Luke Hochevar (Yahoo! 5%, ESPN 0%, CBS 21%) was dropped in most fantasy leagues after a bad April and a horrendous May, but the Royals stuck it out with the one-time top prospect, as AL-only leaguers should do now. He’s been mixing awful starts (like seven- and six-run outings against Baltimore and LA) with outstanding ones (like his zero-run, one-hit, 10-strikeout effort against the Rays this week) of late; while he’s been volatile, the overall numbers are still quite serviceable for an AL-only league hurler. The peripherals are pretty much in line with where they were last year, so expect an ERA around 4.00 going forward, even if the road there is ugly. Take advantage of the risk-averse owners in your league who want no part of this roller coaster ride and enlist Hoch to your team.