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Pitching Primer: Week 13

Fri Jun 14 10:28am ET
By MIKE BARNER
Contributing Writer

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Lopez can get it going this week


There are some interesting starting pitchers who are projected to take the mound two times each during Week 13. There aren’t a ton of big names among them, but they could still be valuable to fantasy managers. Let’s highlight five of them and what to expect based on their respective matchups.

Pablo Lopez, Minnesota Twins: vs. TB, at OAK

Lopez hasn’t finished with an ERA above 3.75 since the 2019 season. Through his first 14 starts this year, he has a 5.33 ERA. His 4.12 FIP indicates that he hasn’t been that bad, but his biggest issue has been giving up 1.7 HR/9. For his career, he has only allowed 1.1 HR/9.

The Rays are tied for the fewest home runs in baseball, so keeping them inside the park might not be an issue for Lopez. The Athletics have more power, but they have scored the third-fewest runs and struck out the second-most times in baseball. As disappointing as Lopez has been, this could be the week that gets him back on track.

Nick Pivetta, Boston Red Sox: at TOR, at CIN

Facing the potent Phillies’ lineup in his last start, Pivetta allowed four runs over four innings. He was wild, walking four batters and throwing 93 pitches. It’s worth noting that start was at Fenway Park. Since the start of last season, he has a 4.07 FIP and a 1.25 WHIP at home. On the road, he has a 3.80 FIP and a 0.98 WHIP.

Not only will Pivetta have both of his starts on the road in Week 13, but the first comes against a Blue Jays team that has scored the fifth-fewest runs in baseball. The Reds have been more productive, but they only have a .671 OPS against right-handed pitchers. Pivetta is worth starting in most formats.

Triston McKenzie, Cleveland Guardians: vs. SEA, vs. TOR

It’s difficult to predict what McKenzie will do whenever he steps onto a mound. Prior to his last start, he had given up eight home runs over his last 15.1 innings. However, he held the Reds to two runs and no home runs over 5.1 innings on Tuesday. His overall 4.10 ERA for this season isn’t horrible, but his 5.63 FIP and 1.41 WHIP are both red flags.

As inconsistent as McKenzie has been, he is still likely worth taking a chance on in Week 13. We already detailed how poorly the Blue Jays have performed at the plate. They have also hit the fourth-fewest home runs in baseball. The Mariners have scored the seventh-fewest runs in baseball, while striking out the most times. Neither of these lineups is anything to be afraid of.

Ronel Blanco, Houston Astros: at CWS, vs. BAL

With their bullpen overworked, the Astros needed Blanco to give them length in his last start. He didn’t disappoint, allowing one run over six innings against the Giants. He has made 12 starts this season, logging at least six innings in seven of them. His 2.67 ERA is great, but his 4.14 FIP and .199 BABIP allowed indicate that he has had some luck on his side.

Blanco has an excellent matchup in his first start, considering that the White Sox have scored the fewest runs in baseball. The Orioles will be much more imposing, which makes starting Blanco a little risky. However, he has shown that he can slow down some of the top lineups, including when he held the Yankees to two runs over 5.2 innings at Yankee Stadium. Given how well he has performed for much of the season, there’s no need to overact to the outing against the Orioles and bench Blanco.

Bailey Falter, Pittsburgh Pirates: vs. CIN, vs. TB

The good news is that Falter has a 3.86 ERA over 13 starts. However, his FIP isn’t as impressive at 4.56. He also has just a 16.9 percent strikeout rate. His career strikeout rate is 19.3 percent, so it’s difficult to expect much improvement from him in that department. His 9.5 percent barrel rate allowed is on pace to be the highest mark of his career, and yet, opponents only have a .237 BABIP against him.

Projecting Falter over the long haul, expect his ERA to finish the season above 4.00. However, regression might not be coming for him yet. The Reds’ best hitter is Elly De Laz Cruz and he only has a .655 OPS versus left-handed pitchers this season. Combine that with the Rays’ struggles to score runs and Falter is a viable streaming option.

Mike Barner has been covering fantasy sports since 2007. His work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, Yahoo, SportsLine and RotoWire. Mike was also a finalist for the 2018 FSWA Basketball Writer of the Year award. Follow Mike on Twitter @rotomikebarner.

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