Pitching Primer: Week 9

Fri May 19 3:31pm ET
Contributing Writer

With teams getting hammered by injuries, there are some ugly starting rotations across baseball. With some fantasy managers scrambling to find replacements, streaming pitchers is important. Let’s discuss five projected two-start pitchers for Week 9, and what their matchups could mean for their production.

Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees: vs. BAL, vs. SD

Having a healthy ace right now in fantasy gives managers a big leg up on the competition. One that continues to plow through the opposition every fifth day is Cole, who has logged 62 2/3 innings over 10 starts for the Yankees. He has had only one bad start, which came against the Rays in Tampa Bay. He has allowed two or fewer runs in all nine of his other outings. 

Getting two starts out of Cole in one week might enable some fantasy managers to not have to push the envelope with streamers. While the Orioles have an improved lineup, the Padres have had their struggles. They have struck out the ninth-most times in baseball, while ranking in the bottom-10 in OPS. 

Kyle Bradish, Baltimore Orioles: at NYY, vs. TEX

Bradish has shown improvement after posting a 4.90 ERA and 4.46 FIP over 23 starts last season. Through his first seven starts this year, he has a 3.90 ERA and 4.23 FIP. A big difference is that he has lowered his WHIP from 1.40 to 1.30. If there is a downside that comes with him in fantasy, it’s that he only has a 21.0 percent strikeout rate.

Given his limited strikeout upside, Bradish is better suited to be a streaming option in fantasy when he has favorable matchups. However, that won’t be the case in Week 9. Taking on the Yankees at Yankee Stadium can do a number on a pitcher’s ratios. The Rangers have scored the second-most runs in baseball. Stay far, far away from Bradish.

Mike Clevinger, Chicago White Sox: at CLE, at DET

Clevinger has a 1.21 WHIP for his career, but he has a 1.46 WHIP in the early going this season. His problem has been a lack of control, which has resulted in a 10.4 percent walk rate. He also isn’t fooling a ton of hitters, generating a 19.0 percent strikeout rate. Frankly, he has been fortunate that his ERA is only 4.56, given his 5.12 FIP.

For as underwhelming as Clevinger has been, his two starts this week make him worth taking a chance on in most leagues. The Guardians and the Tigers are the two worst teams in baseball in terms of OPS and runs scored. When he faced the Guardians in his last start, he limited them to two runs over six innings. 

Michael Lorenzen, Detroit Tigers: at KC, vs. CWS

Lorenzen has shown significant improvement with his control. For his career, he has a 9.7 percent walk rate. This year, that number is 6.4 percent. That has helped him generate a 1.21 WHIP that would be his lowest mark since he worked as a reliever for the Reds in 2019. His 3.44 ERA is also supported by a 3.80 FIP. The downside is, he only has an 18.6 percent strikeout rate.

Given his lack of strikeouts, Lorenzen is more suited to be deployed as a streaming option when he has matchups that work in his favor. That will be the case in Week 9, making him someone to strongly consider adding. First up will be the Royals, who have the fourth-worst OPS In baseball. The White Sox haven’t been much better, posting the 10th-worst in baseball in OPS.

Marco Gonzales, Seattle Mariners: vs. OAK, vs. PIT

The Red Sox destroyed Gonzales in his last outing. He only made it through 1 2/3 innings, allowing eight runs on eight hits and two walks. That marked the second time that he has allowed eight runs in a start this season, and increased his ERA to 6.10. His WHIP sits at 1.59 with him allowing 47 hits over 38 1/3 innings.

As bad as Gonzales was against the Red Sox, this is a prime week to stream him. The Athletics have scored the fifth-fewest runs in baseball. After a hot start, the Pirates have fallen off at the plate, leaving them to rank inside the bottom-10 in baseball in runs scored. If Gonzales can’t come through this week, it’s going to be difficult to justify rolling with him at any point during the remainder of the season.

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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