Wrapping up the week on Spot Starters, here is who I like today and through the weekend:
Chris Narveson (MIL v. Washington) – Narveson has been brilliant this year striking out more than a batter per inning and toting a 0.00 ERA through his first two starts. He can’t really be any better, but I see no reason he can’t continue to excel matching legitimate skills with a favorable matchup in Washington. With his first two starts, his ownership rate is definitely on the rise, but some leagues still aren’t hot to this hidden gem.
Kyle Lohse (STL v. Los Angeles) – Lohse is well on his way to recapturing the magic of 2008 when he went 15-6 with a 3.78 ERA in 200 innings having netted a 3.00 ERA over 15 innings in his first two starts amassing 10 strikeouts with just a single walk. Even more importantly, he has a ridiculously strong 58% groundball rate which could be the driving force to a resurgent season. Today he draws the lowly Dodgers who you may think are doing well enough because of Matt Kemp’s excellent start and their passable 6-7 record, but even with Kemp they have a paltry .679 team OPS.
Scott Baker (MIN v. Tampa Bay) – He has some interesting numbers in his stat line so far this year. He has an uncharacteristically high 4.9 BB/9 (well away from his 2.1 career mark), an 82% LOB% which is about 10% above league average and generally helps a guy’s ERA, but not when you have a 3.3 HR/9 rate!!! That is just absurd, even for Baker who struggles with the long ball. Exactly 1/3rd of his flyballs are leaving the yard at this point. I’m willing to bet all three of those numbers will come down and while the LOB% dropping isn’t necessarily helpful, the evening out of the other two will hack several runs off of his 6.55 ERA. The best remedy for a rough start is drawing the Longoria-less Rays.
Jeff Niemann (TB v. Minnesota) – Like his opponent, Niemann has some odd figures through two starts with a similar 3.1 HR/9 rate matched with an ugly BABIP (.344) and LOB% (55%). His strikeout-to-walk rate of 1.7 is less than impressive as his strikeout rate of 5.2 sits well below his 6.5 career mark. An even better remedy than Niemann facing his own team is facing the now Mauer-less Twins. They weren’t any good with him and without him they can’t possibly be better. It’s odd to favor both guys in a matchup since at best you can only get one win, but I don’t chase wins. Plus not everyone plays BOTH guys I recommend, so pick your favorite between (I’d lean Baker) the two and enjoy.
Jeff Francis (KC v. Seattle) – With a groundball rate even better than Lohse’s (57%), Francis is off to a great start through three starts in his first tour of the American League. He doesn’t offer overwhelming strikeout totals as his 5.7 K/9 is about what you should expect across a full season, but he could receive a boost facing the Mariners, who strikeout 3rd-most in the American League.
That’s it for Sunday. I don’t want to recommend someone I don’t really believe in just to have 2 guys.
I should have the full week 3 spot starters out this weekend.