#Fantasy baseball: Marlins’ Pablo Lopez pitching like a waiver wire steal

#Fantasy baseball: Marlins’ Pablo Lopez pitching like a waiver wire steal

It is challenging enough to deal with injuries to players such as Ronald Acuna Jr., Alex Bregman, Aaron Judge or Kirby Yates during a normal baseball season, but it is even more taxing this year with the added stress of dealing with the coronavirus.

The trick is remaining on top of the waiver wire to quickly to find pieces, like an Anthony Santander or Randy Dobnak, who can not only help you temporarily deal with the voids in your roster, but also help for the long haul.

Finding those pieces are the key to winning any fantasy season, but even more important in an odd season like this.

Over his first four starts, the Marlins’ Pablo Lopez is 2-1 with a 2.42 ERA and 1.164 WHIP. He also was striking out a career-best 9.67 batters per nine and walking a career-low 2.01 per nine.

The 24-year-old right-hander also entered Friday with the fifth-best ground-ball rate (60.3) and ninth best swinging strike rate (14.7 percent) in the majors. Not bad for a guy who entered the season 7-12 with a 4.76 ERA, 1.247 WHIP and was walking 2.4 per nine.

Lopez has a five-pitch repertoire that features a fastball averaging 94 mph, a sinker and changeup, while occasionally throwing a cutter or curveball. Opponents are hitting .273 against his fastball, but he owns a 36 percent strikeout percentage and a career-high 15.3 swinging strike rate on the pitch he uses 26.7 percent of the time.

Batters are 8-for-31 (.258) against his changeup, a pitch he uses 29.5 percent of the time. He hasn’t issued a walk with the pitch, has struck out 12 batters and has a 25.5 percent swinging strike rate. Against his sinker, which has a max velocity of 95, he has allowed four singles and he has a 66.7 percent ground-ball rate.

Lopez, who is owned in less than 40 percent of ESPN and Yahoo leagues, has not allowed more than two earned runs in any of his first four starts, and his 2.25 FIP and 2.81 xFIP are numbers that should be a reason to be confident he is more than just a streaming option.

A look at some other waiver options, available in 45 percent or more of ESPN leagues, who can help your fantasy team:

Despite going 0-for-8 in the Blue Jays’ doubleheader on Thursday, snapping an eight-game hitting streak, Randal Grichuk was 18-for-54 (.333) with six homers, 14 RBIs and a 1.094 OPS over his first 14 games this month. All of his homers and RBIs came during that hit streak, in which he hit .424.

Ian Happ is still striking out in 27.8 percent of his at-bats, but he is hitting .315 with six homers, 14 RBIs, 13 runs and a 16.7 walk percentage. His .405 BaBIP indicates this likely won’t be sustained, but having the Cubs’ leadoff hitter on your side probably isn’t a bad thing.

San Francisco’s Kevin Gausman picked up his first win in his sixth start on Thursday, despite it being the first start in which he allowed more than three earned runs this season. He also is striking out a career high 12.2 per nine innings and walking a career-low 1.7 per nine.

Before sustaining a right tibia fracture last season, the Angels’ versatile Tommy La Stella was an All-Star. Over his first 23 games this season, he hit .284 with three homers, 12 RBIs, 12 runs, 11 walks, just five strikeouts and a .866 OPS. He is hitting .321 over his past 14 games.

Tommy La Stella (r.) celebrates with David Fletcher.AP

Though Kansas City’s Brad Keller has walked 12 percent of the batters he has faced, he hasn’t allowed a run over his first three starts (17 ²/₃ innings) and opponents are hitting .140 against him. He will give up runs, it is inevitable. But judging by his 3.48 ERA over 72 career appearances (3.59 as a starter), he can provide solid depth to your rotation.

Before COVID-19 appeared in the Mets’ clubhouse, Robinson Cano was 8-for-25 (.320) with three homers, six RBIs, six runs and a 1.106 OPS in six games since returning from a quad injury. He is hitting .373 with four homers, 13 RBIs and a 1.059 OPS for the season.

Houston’s Framber Valdez might have two losses, but he has not allowed more than three earned runs in any of his five appearances and hasn’t allowed more than one run in any of his past four.

Oakland’s Robbie Grossman entered Friday with at least one hit in nine of his previous 11 games — going 12-for-35 (.343) with four homers, nine RBIs, two stolen bases, 13 walks and a 1.426 OPS in that span.

Big Hits

Tim Anderson SS, White Sox

He was 15-for-36 (.417) with five homers, eight RBIs, three stolen bases and 15 runs and a 1.378 OPS over his first nine games this month.

Yu Darvish SP, Cubs

After losing his first start, the 34-year-old is 4-0 with a 1.04 ERA, 29 strikeouts and a .180 opponent average over his past four starts.

Dominic Smith 1B/OF, Mets

Before the Mets were hit by COVID-19, he had at least one hit in 12 of his previous 13 games, going 18-for-50 (.360) with five homers, 16 RBIs and a 1.271 OPS.

Dominic Smith
Dominic SmithAP

Liam Hendriks RP, Athletics

Allowed one earned run over his first 10 appearances this month (0.90 ERA), going 7-for-7 in save chances while striking out 15 and limiting opponents to a .147 average.

Big Whiffs

J.P. Crawford SS, Mariners

Hitless in five straight games before Friday (19 at-bats). He had one RBI on a sacrifice fly, two walks and seven strikeouts in that span.

Trevor Gott RP, Giants

After going 4-for-4 in save opportunities and allowing one run over his first six appearances, he allowed 11 ER, five homers and a .583 opponent average over his past three outings (two of which were blown saves).

Daniel Murphy 1B, Rockies

Went 14-for-31 (.452) with three homers, 11 RBIs and a 1.226 OPS over his first nine games this month, but went 4-for-27 (.148) with one RBI and a .327 OPS in his past seven.

Ross Stripling SP/RP, Dodgers

Allowed 17 runs (12 earned) over his past three starts (8.10 ERA), as well as six homers and a .345 opponent average.

Check Swings

  • After allowing four earned runs and taking the loss in his first start, the White Sox’s Dylan Cease is 4-0 with a 1.93 ERA, 16 strikeouts and .229 opponent average over his past four starts. Unfortunately, his 6.14 FIP is an indicator this good fortune is unlikely to last.
  • If you own any Orioles, Blue Jays or Nationals players over the next week, keep them in your lineup when they face the Red Sox pitching staff. They have allowed the second most homers (43) and walked the third most batters (107). They have also allowed the most earned runs (151) and hits (252) en route to the second highest opponent average (.279) and worst WHIP (1.59) in the majors.
  • “The Dark Knight” Matt Harvey returned to the majors this week and allowed two homers and two walks over three innings in his Royals debut. Despite hitting 95 mph on the radar gun, he once again looked more like Alfred wandering into the Batcave and taking the Batmobile for a spin after drinking too much brandy.
  • Fernando Tatis Jr. entered Friday leading the league in homers (12), RBIs (29), runs (26) and stolen bases (six, tied with five others). He also was leading the league in the most “unwritten rules” of baseball broken.

Team Name Of The Week

Leave it to Weaver

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