Fantasy Baseball Category Impact: Wins and QS
Each week, Colby Conway provides in-depth analysis on specific category contributors who may be lingering on your waiver wire.
As I’m writing this, it is July 4th, so happy Independence Day to you, your friends and your family! Since you’ll be reading this on the 5th, or shortly thereafter, I hope your holiday was exceptional and filled with good times!
This week in Category Impact, we are talking wins and quality starts! It’s been quite a few weeks since we delved into this specific category, so it was time to get back into it and analyze some guys on the rubber that can give our fantasy teams a boost. Whether they are pitching for a hot offense, or pitching well themselves, each of the players below has the opportunity to benefit your fantasy team, regardless of format.
Without further ado….
Merrill Kelly , SP ARI – If Kelly isn’t owned in your league it’s time to scoop him up. Despite not winning any of his last three starts, he’s still pitching well, and even in some of his less-than-ideal outings, he’s posting numbers that keep him fantasy relevant. He’s posted five quality starts in his last seven outings, allowing two earned runs or less four times. Could a minor alteration in his arsenal be the reason for his recent string of success? Perhaps.
Notice the usage on that cutter? He hardly used it during the year, but the usage is continuing to increase, and he threw it more than ever before in his lone start this month. For the year, his cutter has generated a measly .244 batting average and a weak 85.4 exit velocity. Keep a watchful eye on his repertoire, because that could be the key to Kelly’s success.
Brendan McKay , SP/1B TB – McKay’s ownership has soared following a successful debut on the mound. In his professional debut against the Rangers, he struck out three batters, allowed just two base runners and carried a perfect game into the sixth inning. He will stick in the rotation and start tonight for the Rays, and there’s little to no reason he shouldn’t stick with the team. Yes, he ShoehiOhtani-esque, in that he carries both pitching and hitting eligbility, but for 2019, he will greatly benefit your team on the bump. He’s big league ready on the mound, but there’s still plenty of development and maturation needed to succeed at the plate as well. As mentioned earlier, his ownership has skyrocketed and he may already be available in your league, but if not, go ahead and add him. He’s certainly worth it, and while he’ll experience some growing pains at this level, there’s simply too much talent to not take a dive in the Tampa waters.
Steven Brault , SP PIT – The Pirates are scoring runs in bunches and hitting for a nice average. As a starting pitcher for one of the hottest offensive teams in baseball, Brault has carved out a nice niche on fantasy rosters. Over his last five starts, he’s posted a 2.42 ERA and 1.58 WHIP, and despite winning just one game, he should be doing much better. Yes, the .282 batting average allowed during that span is worrisome, but he’s served up just one home run and in the month of June, his 22.5 percent soft contact rate is the lowest of the season. Brault has actually been better the more he faces a lineup, in terms of earned run average, so even if the Pirates employ an opener with him, he will be fine to get far enough into the game to earn a victory. He’s worked at least five innings in four of his last six starts, allowed two earned runs or less in five of the past six games. He’s not the flashiest name to add, but he’s useful in fantasy formats at this juncture.
Homer Bailey , SP KC –Despite failing to notch a quality start in his last three outings, Bailey has pitched well since about the middle of June. He’s 3-0 in his past six starts, posting three quality starts in that span, not to mention coming close to notching another two quality starts. He’s added a splitter in his repertoire, and he’s throwing it much more in 2019, and with great effect. This season, opponents have generated a .206 batting average (.192 xBA) against that pitch, not to mention a 39.0 percent whiff rate. Also, every fantasy owner should love the downward trend in 2019 on the barrel rates by pitch for Bailey in 2019.
Lastly, do you know what Clayton Kershaw , Lucas Giolito , German Márquez , and Bailey all have in common? They all have a 0.5 WAR over the last 30 days, per Fangraphs. Bailey is pitching well, and while he’s had some rough stretches in his career, he’s in the midst of a good one, and can actually benefit your fantasy team.