Each week in Fantasy First Pitch, I put the spotlight on a dozen borderline two-start pitchers for the coming week. One pitcher I won't be writing about for Fantasy Week 18 (July 28-Aug. 3) is Homer Bailey. He's being treated as a borderline option, but particularly over the past two months, he's been anything but.
Bailey will get a mention as a must-start option for Week 18, but I wanted to invest a little time and online real estate to give him his due here. As a 26-year-old, Bailey broke out in 2012 by carrying over the gains he made in control and efficiency the previous season while strengthening his ground ball tendencies. Then in 2013, he added a higher strikeout rate to the overall package, elevating himself to near-must-start status.
Even though Bailey is activated in only 54 percent of the leagues on CBSSports.com and has a 4.22 ERA, he never left that echelon. His command was slightly off earlier in the season, but his biggest offense was a .358 BABIP. Now that he is allowing fewer hits on balls in play, Bailey is back to being as good as he was in 2013. He has also taken his skill stats up a notch over his last 10 starts, getting whiffs on 13 percent of his pitches and throwing 66 percent of his pitches for strikes.
The results for Fantasy owners have been good, too, as Bailey has gone 4-2 with a 3.26 ERA and 58 strikeouts over 66 1/3 innings during that period. He's been going deep into games as well, and three times during the streak he has pitched at least eight innings or more.
The two-start options are good for the coming week, but Bailey is still one of the better ones. It's time to get him off your bench.