Week 7 Pitching Forecaster

Sometimes ERAs can be deceiving. Especially this early in the season, they can get distorted by white noise and random chance.

That's why even though Hisashi Iwakuma and Patrick Corbin are among the major league ERA leaders, neither one cracks the upper half of the top 70 list of starting pitchers for Fantasy Week 7 (May 13-19).

While both pitchers have been very good -- in fact, good enough to be included on this list on a weekly basis -- both have been stranding baserunners at rates above 85 percent. Even the best pitchers often have rates 10 percentage ponits lower than that.

At the other end of the spectrum are Marco Estrada and Brandon McCarthy. Both are currently among the starting pitchers with the highest ERAs in the majors, yet both have earned a spot on the top 70. Estrada still sports impressive strikeout (9.1 K/9) and walk (2.8 BB/9) rates, but a freakishly-high home run rate (2.6 HR/9) and .327 BABIP have led to his widespread benching across Fantasy leagues on CBSSports.com. A low strand rate had hurt McCarthy in his earlier starts, but his luck has started to turn, and he's fired off consecutive quality starts. As long as he continues to display pinpoint control, he will keep providing value for Fantasy owners.

This week's rankings may not reward the pitchers who have been the best at preventing runs through the first six weeks of the season, but every one on the list is worthy of activation in standard mixed leagues for the coming week. And why did Jason Vargas, Justin Grimm and Chris Tillman get spots in this week's rankings, while John Lackey, David Phelps and Josh Beckett didn't? My review of selected two-start options for the week covers the details.

Monday update: Zack Greinke appears to have a strong chance to return from his broken collarbone much ealier than anticipated, with a shot to start Wednesday against the Nationals. Though we may not know Greinke's status for certain until after Monday's lineup deadline, Greinke is worth the risk to start in most formats.

Johnny Cueto (lat, oblique) and Brett Anderson (ankle) may also return this week, though their status is less clear. Should each of them return later in the week, it would likely cut into the two-start weeks for Homer Bailey and A.J. Griffin, respectively. John Danks (shoulder) is tentatively slated to make another rehab start, so Hector Santiago's two-start week will remain intact for now.

My Top 70 Starting Pitchers for Week 7
Rank Player Start 1 Start 2
1 Felix Hernandez @NYY (Sabathia) @CLE (Masterson)
2 Jake Peavy @MIN (Correia) @LAA (Vargas)
3 Matt Moore BOS (Lackey) @BAL (Tillman)
4 Max Scherzer HOU (Keuchel) N/A
5 CC Sabathia SEA (Hernandez) TOR (Dickey)
6 Clayton Kershaw WAS (Haren) N/A
7 Adam Wainwright NYM (Niese) N/A
8 Justin Verlander @TEX (Darvish) N/A
9 Stephen Strasburg @SD (Volquez) N/A
10 Matt Harvey @CHC (Jackson) N/A
11 Cliff Lee CIN (Arroyo) N/A
12 David Price BOS (Lester) N/A
13 Jordan Zimmermann @LAD (Beckett) @SD (Stults)
14 Yu Darvish DET (Verlander) N/A
15 Chris Sale @LAA (Wilson) N/A
16 Mat Latos @PHI (Cloyd) N/A
17 Anibal Sanchez HOU (Norris) @TEX (Grimm)
18 Gio Gonzalez @SD (Smith) N/A
19 Cole Hamels CLE (Kluber) N/A
20 A.J. Burnett MIL (Estrada) HOU (Lyles)
21 James Shields @OAK (Parker) N/A
22 Tony Cingrani @MIA (Fernandez) N/A
23 Doug Fister HOU (Harrell) @TEX (Holland)
24 Lance Lynn NYM (Hefner) MIL (Estrada)
25 Shelby Miller NYM (Marcum) N/A
26 Hyun-Jin Ryu @ATL (Maholm) N/A
27 Clay Buchholz @MIN (Worley) N/A
28 Ryan Dempster @MIN (Diamond) N/A
29 Jeff Samardzija COL (Garland) N/A
30 Madison Bumgarner @COL (De La Rosa) N/A
31 R.A. Dickey SF (Zito) @NYY (Sabathia)
32 Zack Greinke WAS (Detwiler) N/A
33 Kris Medlen LAD (Capuano) N/A
34 Matt Cain @COL (Chacin) N/A
35 Mike Minor @ARI (Miley) LAD (Beckett)
36 Homer Bailey @MIA (Nolasco) @PHI (Kendrick)
37 A.J. Griffin TEX (Grimm) KC (Mendoza)
38 Wade Miley ATL (Minor) @MIA (Nolasco)
39 Marco Estrada @PIT (Burnett) @STL (Lynn)
40 Hiroki Kuroda TOR (Buehrle) N/A
41 Jon Lester @TB (Price) N/A
42 Derek Holland @OAK (Colon) DET (Fister)
43 Hisashi Iwakuma @NYY (Hughes) N/A
44 Justin Masterson NYY (Phelps) SEA (Hernandez)
45 Kyle Lohse @PIT (Locke) @STL (Westbrook)
46 Alexi Ogando @OAK (Straily) N/A
47 Tommy Milone KC (Santana) N/A
48 Andy Pettitte SEA (Harang) N/A
49 Alex Cobb BOS (Doubront) N/A
50 Patrick Corbin ATL (Teheran) N/A
51 Jaime Garcia MIL (Peralta) N/A
52 Andrew Cashner @BAL (Tillman) WAS (Haren)
53 Paul Maholm LAD (Ryu) N/A
54 Brandon Morrow SF (Vogelsong) N/A
55 Phil Hughes SEA (Iwakuma) N/A
56 C.J. Wilson CHW (Sale) N/A
57 Travis Wood COL (Nicasio) NYM (Gee)
58 Ervin Santana @OAK (Milone) N/A
59 Dan Haren @LAD (Kershaw) @SD (Cashner)
60 Scott Kazmir @PHI (Pettibone) N/A
61 Jason Vargas KC (Guthrie) CHW (Peavy)
62 Trevor Cahill @MIA (Slowey) N/A
63 Justin Grimm @OAK (Griffin) DET (Sanchez)
64 Tim Hudson @ARI (Kennedy) N/A
65 Ian Kennedy ATL (Hudson) N/A
66 Yovani Gallardo @PIT (Rodriguez) N/A
67 Chris Tillman SD (Cashner) TB (Moore)
68 Hector Santiago @MIN (Hernandez) @LAA (Blanton)
69 Jose Fernandez CIN (Cingrani) N/A
70 Brandon McCarthy @MIA (Sanabia) N/A

Two-Start Options to Consider

R.A. Dickey, Blue Jays (SF, @NYY): There's no denying that Dickey has not been the same pitcher this year. His velocity is down and he has struggled mightily with command. Still, all is not lost, as Dickey is getting swinging strikes at an 11 percent rate and has lasted six or more innings in all but one start. He shouldn't be treated as an ace at this point, but he shouldn't be benched in any format, particularly during a two-start week.
This week's rank: 31
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

Homer Bailey, Reds (@MIA, @PHI): Bailey has been hit hard in his last two starts, but overall this season, he has been a more dominant pitcher, getting more whiffs and grounders. It's too soon to panic over Bailey's mini-swoon, so he is close to a must-start in a two-start week.
This week's rank: 36
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

A.J. Griffin, Athletics (TEX, KC): Griffin's strong flyball tendencies mean he gets more outs on balls in play, but so far this season, it's also meant too many home runs. That should be less of a problem in Griffin's home starts, and he gets two of them this week. He also has the good fortune of facing the Royals, who have hit the fewest round-trippers in the American League.
This week's rank: 37
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

Most Added Starters (as of 5/13)
Player Name % change
1. Scott Kazmir, SP, Indians 47
2. Jeff Locke, SP, Pirates 20
3. Francisco Liriano, SP, Pirates 19
4. Travis Wood, SP, Cubs 18
5. Chris Tillman, SP, Orioles 17
6. Jeremy Guthrie, SP, Royals 11
7. Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, Indians 11
8. Kevin Slowey, SP, Marlins 11
9. Jason Vargas, SP, Angels 10
10. Zach McAllister, SP, Indians 9

Wade Miley, Diamondbacks (ATL, @MIA): Take away a strange seven-walk start against the Rockies, in which Miley was rescued by three double plays, and the lefty has a tidy 2.3 BB/9 ratio for the season. Owners can't count on Miley for a high strikeout count, but he typically goes deep into games and can lower your team's WHIP. Though Miley's ERA is due for some growth, there's still not much to lose by using him this week.
This week's rank: 38
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

Marco Estrada, Brewers (@PIT, @STL): Sure, Estrada's 6.05 ERA is ugly, and he has allowed at least one home run in every start so far. Then again, Estrada is a home run risk when pitching in hitter-friendly stadiums, like the Brewers' Miller Park. In his road starts, Estrada has a 2.79 ERA and is 3 for 3 in quality starts. With visits to two very good venues for pitchers in Week 7, owners can't afford to let Estrada ride the pine.
This week's rank: 39
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

Derek Holland, Rangers (@OAK, DET): Holland owes much of his miniscule 1.01 WHIP to a sharp decline in walks, which is likely due to him getting more swings at pitches that would otherwise be balls. If Holland can sustain the trend, he becomes a much more reliable option for standard mixed league owners. That's even taking into account that Holland has been fortunate to have allowed only two home runs over his 49 2/3 innings. He's worth a shot with two starts, and if he continues to fare well, he could be trustworthy in one-start weeks, too.
This week's rank: 42
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

Justin Masterson, Indians (NYY, SEA): Masterson still has sporadic control issues, but he's been more efficient this season, having failed to complete six innings only once. He has also been a bigger help with strikeouts, as he is freezing batters more often with his four-seamer and slider, according to BrooksBaseball.net. Though he is an inconsistency risk, Masterson's upside justifies a start in Week 7.
This week's rank: 44
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

Kyle Lohse, Brewers (@PIT, @STL): Lohse has cooled off over his last two starts, but you can blame the schedule in part. The Rangers have been a dangerous opponent, and the Cardinals' bats have been heating up. Lohse will face his former team again in Week 7, but he should have no problem taming the Pirates. That's enough to make Lohse a safe start.
This week's rank: 45
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

Andrew Cashner, Padres (@BAL, WAS): Hard-throwing Cashner offers the potential for strikeouts every week, though he hasn't delieverd on it in his last two starts. Once he begins to get swings-and-misses more consistently, he'll rank higher in two-start weeks, but he should still be a viable alternative for many standard mixed league owners this week.
This week's rank: 52
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Travis Wood, Cubs (COL, NYM): Wood and Patrick Corbin are the only qualifying starting pitchers who have delivered quality starts in every outing this season. As a rookie and a minor leaguer, Wood had sharp command, but we hadn't seen that from him again until this season. Though he won't maintain a .202 BABIP or 0.93 WHIP, Wood will get more than his share of outs on balls in play because of a high popup rate. The Rockies pose a tough matchup, though, threatening the quality start streak, but Wood is showing enough improvement this season that he has become a decent alternative with two starts.
This week's rank: 57
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Dan Haren, Nationals (@LAD, @SD): Haren got hit hard in his early starts, but more recently, he's improved his ground ball rate and cut back on extra-base hits allowed. Meanwhile, his trademark control has been there all along. He is still a long way from showing the form from his prime years, but Haren has accomplished enough to earn a Fantasy rotation spot with two starts in a wider swath of mixed leagues.
This week's rank: 59
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Jason Vargas, Angels (KC, CHW): Overall, Vargas' numbers haven't been impressive this season, but he's overcome the wildness that marked his first two starts. Over the years, Vargas has developed into an innings-eater, and with a pair of favorable matchups at home, he has a good chance of turning in a couple of deep starts.
This week's rank: 61
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Justin Grimm, Rangers (@OAK, DET): Grimm hasn't been the contact pitcher with sharp control that he was in the minors; he's actually been better. While he has issued a few more walks than owners might have expected, Grimm has struck out 31 batters in 28 2/3 innings. That may not last, but neither will the .297 batting average that he's allowing on grounders, which is hurting his WHIP. Even if he just gets back to being a control artist, Grimm should produce enough to round out your standard mixed league rotation.
This week's rank: 63
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Chris Tillman, Orioles (SD, TB): After getting off to a poor beginning through his first three outings, Tillman has turned his young season around with four straight quality starts. Throwing more strikes and getting more grounders and popups has made the difference. Tillman is still allowing a lot of contact, but he should at least get in a good start against the power-poor Padres. Also, as recently as last season, the 25-year-old showed the ability to get big league batters to swing and miss. Tillman's a good high-upside gamble if you're looking to add a two-start pitcher for this week.
This week's rank: 67
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Hector Santiago, White Sox (@MIN, @LAA): Earlier this past week, it appeared that John Danks (shoulder) had a good chance of getting activated from the 15-day disabled list late in Week 7, but that looks like a remote possibility at best now. That means Santiago's job is safe for now, and he should get to make both of his upcoming scheduled starts. According to BrooksBaseball.net, Santiago is getting more movement and whiffs on his changeup, but he does have a longer-standing pattern of command issues. As with Tillman, though, Santiago's upside makes him someone to consider for the back of your rotation.
This week's rank: 68
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Josh Beckett, Dodgers (WAS, @ATL): Though Beckett bears the stigma of a 5.13 ERA, he's one of the better deep-league two-start options. Yes, that's faint praise, but he is throwing harder than he did last season, and he has restored his strikeout rate. However, he's allowing too many home runs and line drive base hits, and while some bad luck may be involved, a sagging ground ball rate doesn't help.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start

John Lackey, Red Sox (@TB, @MIN): Having yielded three earned runs or fewer in each of his four starts, Lackey is back in the discussion for use in standard mixed leagues, at least for two-start weeks. His 24 strikeouts in 22 1/3 innings makes him a tempting option, and that high K-rate is backed up by a 10 percent swinging strike rate. However, his two best starts have come against the Astros and Twins, while he was less impressive against Blue Jay and Ranger lineups that offer a little more thump. He does get the Twins again, but between the limited sample and a visit to the Rays, it's best to leave Lackey for owners in deeper leagues for now.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start

David Phelps, Yankees (@CLE, TOR): Don't let Phelps' 9.7 K/9 ratio fool you. A nine-strikeout performance against the Blue Jays in long relief boosted that mark, and without it, it falls to 8.0. In his two starts, Phelps' K/9 shrinks further to 6.9, which is about what you should expect over the long run, as long as he stays in the rotation. That's not bad, but unless he cuts back on walks or homers, it won't be enough to give Phelps value in standard mixed leagues, even in two-start weeks.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start

Bud Norris, Astros (@DET, @PIT): Ever since getting pummeled by the A's in his fourth start of the year, Norris has been on something of a roll, posting a 2.42 ERA over 26 innings. Still, he's not getting many strikeouts, and he's allowed only one home run over that span despite a high flyball rate. Sooner or later, Norris will revert back to who he has been for most of his career: a homer-prone pitcher with a 4.00-plus ERA.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: AL-only start

Barry Zito, Giants (@TOR, @COL): Zito is still pitching to contact, and with mediocre ground ball and strikes thrown rates, he doesn't appear to be doing much to compensate for his lack of strikeouts. Yet here the former Cy Young winner is with a 2.75 ERA. Opponents are slugging just .389 against Zito, though it's likely helped that he has made only two road starts. He was scorched in both of those outings, and with visits to Toronto and Colorado, he could be due for more of the same. Though Zito will have more good moments over the course of the season, this is an especially dangerous week to use him, even in deeper mixed leagues.
This week's rank : N/A
My take: NL-only start

Jeff Locke, Pirates (MIL, HOU): Locke hasn't been throwing strikes like he did as a minor leaguer, but he's been getting away with it, thanks to a .121 batting average allowed on grounders. At least he's been getting ground balls at a decent 48 percent clip, and the balls that go airborne may not hurt him much in two starts at PNC Park. Still, Locke is walking too many batters, so until we see him pitch more like the prospect version of himself, he should get a breather in mixed leagues.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: NL-only start

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Al Melchior at @almelccbs . You can also e-mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsintera22189995/ctive.com .

Data Analyst

Al Melchior has been playing Fantasy Baseball since 1994, getting his start in the Southern Maryland Anthropomorphic Baseball League (SMABL). He has been writing about Fantasy Baseball since 2000, getting... Full Bio

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