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Hopefully, you are happy with your rotation after nearly a month of play. If not, you might start off May as one grumpy Fantasy owner.
That's because there aren't many good opportunities to pick up a useful and reasonably safe pitcher on waivers. As I discussed in this week's column on two-start pitchers, most of the pitchers scheduled to go twice are highly-owned, and the remainder are largely unappealing. Some one-start pitchers are favorably impacted by their matchups or venues, but they, too, are typically unavailable in most leagues.
Unless you enjoy the thrill ride of using risky pitchers from waivers, this is a week to either stick with your existing rotation or bring someone off your bench.
The Two-Start Landscape
The waiver wire isn't completely devoid of viable options, but even the best available pitchers aren't likely to inspire much confidence. Chris Tillman and Jimmy Nelson have yet to establish consistency, and Brandon Finnegan and Steven Wright don't have extensive track records as starters. If I were determined to replace the last pitcher in my rotation, I'd take a flier on Nelson, who is performing much better against righties than lefties once again. Aside from Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Kole Calhoun, he isn't likely to face a left-handed hitter this week who will do much damage.
Brandon Finnegan is also worth some consideration, especially in leagues where he can be used in a relief slot. His matchups, however, should give you pause before hitting the "Add" button. So what better time to break down this week's impact matchups?
Matchups that Matter
At first glance, Finnegan would seem to be a solid two-start pickup. The Giants are no easy matchup, but the Brewers are tied for 21st in runs scored and rank 28th in batting average. With Ryan Braun, Chris Carter and Domingo Santana in the fold, they could pose a problem for a left-handed starter. That could be especially true for Finnegan, who is allowing more flyballs to righties (41 percent, per FanGraphs) than to lefties (22 percent) and has yielded all of his extra-base hits to right-handed hitters.
Owners may be underestimating Finnegan's degree of difficulty. I ran a Twitter poll asking which two-start relief-eligible pitcher Head-to-Head league owners would prefer in Week 5: Finnegan or Tanner Roark, who has a challenging matchup of his own against the Cubs. Even though Roark has been strong in three of his last four starts, the early results suggest that owners overwhelmingly prefer Finnegan to the Nationals' righty, giving him a 71-to-29 percent edge at the time of this writing.
If you could start only one of Brandon Finnegan or Tanner Roark as a SPARP in Week 5, who would you start?— Al Melchior (@almelccbs) April 29, 2016
Neither relief-eligible starter may be worth using, given their matchups, but if I had both options, I would give the edge to Roark, who has looked sharp of late.
A trio of borderline righties should also sit this week due to their matchups. Nathan Eovaldi has improved in each successive start, but that trend should end when he faces the Red Sox, who have a .353 OBP against righties this season. Jerad Eickhoff will oppose the Cardinals, who lead the majors with a .372 wOBA versus right-handed pitchers. Juan Nicasio may have dodged a bullet in Week 4 by having his start at the Rockies postponed, but he has a similarly difficult task this week in going up against the Cubs.
With a 93 percent ownership rate, Jake Odorizzi isn't there for the taking on waivers, but if he is on your bench, it's time to suit him up. He will face the Angels, who trail all teams besides the Braves in wOBA and are hitting .216 against righties. While Odorizzi is generally much better at home than on the road, it should help that he will be visiting pitcher-friendly Angel Stadium.
The Braves have been an opposing pitcher's best friend, and this week Steven Matz and Patrick Corbin get the benefit of starts against the majors' worst offense. Better yet for Matz and Corbin, the Braves have been even more inept against lefties than righties. There are still limits to who you can trust against Atlanta. Even though Shelby Miller is set to face them, I wouldn't bother with him or his extreme control issues this week.
Extreme Park Factors
It may be hard to bench Hector Santiago while he is on a nice run, but just as the Brewers could provide trouble for Finnegan, they could give the Angels' lefty similar fits. Santiago's career 3.98 road ERA isn't terrible, and he appears to be an improved pitcher so far in 2016. While he has been better at getting ground balls, that progress has occurred disproportionately against lefties. According to FanGraphs, Santiago is still allowing flyballs at a 48 percent rate against righties. That does not bode well against the Brewers' righty-heavy lineup, especially at Miller Park.
It's been an ugly beginning to the season for Jon Gray, but we can give him some benefit of the doubt, since both of his starts to date have been at Coors Field. With 12 strikeouts in 8 2/3 innings, he has been missing bats, and with a pair of road starts in Week 5, maybe he will fare better when contact is made. Even in AT&T Park, the Giants could be tough on Gray, but the Padres could be a good enough matchup to make Gray worth using in deeper mixed leagues.
Cole Hamels (groin) is planning to make his next scheduled start on Sunday against the Angels. Barring a setback, he should be safe to use for his Week 5 outing at the Tigers.
Anthony DeSclafani (oblique) will start for Class A Dayton on Friday night. This could be his final rehab start, which would put him in line to rejoin the Reds' rotation for Week 5, most likely at home against the Giants. Owners in standard and shallow leagues should take a wait-and-see approach, while owners in deeper leagues should plan on starting DeSclafani if he is activated.