With the first month of the season in the books the league and the players starting to take shape as May gets rolling along, there are still a lot of valuable players on those fantasy baseball waiver wires, including some solid starting pitching.
Let’s take a look at a few starters in action this weekend that could set your fantasy baseball team up for an attack run in May.
Merrill Kelly, Arizona Diamondbacks
It’s a nice start to the season out in the desert as the Diamondbacks sit just 1.5 games behind the Dodgers for first place in the NL West. So far, this Arizona team is doing a solid job of building on last year’s 74-88 record and putting the horrendous 52-win 2021 season even further back in the rearview mirror. The D-Backs’ pitching staff is anchored by Zac Gallen, but it’s their number two guy on the hill we’re going to take a look at.
Veteran right-hander Merrill Kelly takes the mound for Arizona Friday versus the Nationals. Coming off a six-inning, six-hit, five-strikeout, 1 earned run win in Denver, Kelly continues to build off of his career-best season in ’22. The 34-year-old struggled to start the season with back-to-back duds against the Dodgers but has stabilized both his season and the Diamondbacks’ rotation, grinding to a 2-3 record with a 3.06 ERA and 1.30 WHIP. Kelly is a guy who truly battles with hitters every outing. Kelly threw at least 94 pitches in four of his five starts in April. When the situation gets tight, Kelly only excels. Batters are 1-for-12 against him when the count is full.
As gutsy as Kelly’s performances have been, Arizona is 0-3 in his starts at Chase Field. He may not be picking up the wins at home yet, but you can’t say it is Kelly’s fault as batters are only hitting .182 against him in Phoenix. After facing Washington to kick off the weekend, Kelly is next projected to start at home next Thursday against the Marlins.
Drew Smyly, Chicago Cubs
I’ve been raving about their lineup and felt insanely lucky to have picked up Marcus Stroman off the waiver wire in my league, but the Cubbies have stumbled of late, dropping seven of their last 10 games. Saturday afternoon, they’ll look to veteran lefty Drew Smyly to get things back on track in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field against Miami.
Smyly is off to a 3-1 start, sporting a 2.83 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP. The ERA and WHIP his best since only a handful of starts with the Rays back in 2014. Much like Kelly for Arizona, Smyly is a vet who got hammered to start the season, but has rebounded nicely. After giving up six runs on nine hits over 4.2 innings in his 2023 debut at Cincinnati, the Chicago southpaw has only given up five runs since. Smyly has also been a kind presence to the Cubs’ bullpen lately as he’s gone seven-plus innings in two of his past three outings.
Like I mentioned, the Cubs play a day game at Wrigley Field Saturday, so check out these splits on Smyly. So far this season, Smyly’s ERA at home is 1.53, that number plummets to 0.68 for home day games. At Wrigley hitters are batting just .119 against Smyly and at home during the day the average falls a little bit more to .114. The numbers are pointing to an exciting afternoon at Wrigley Saturday, don’t miss out on all the fun.
Hunter Brown, Houston Astros
To close out the weekend, the surging Astros wrap up a divisional series in Seattle. Houston will be looking to get back on track after dropping two in a row to the Giants while the not-to-long-ago sinking Mariners have started May with a few wins and could be ready to finally get back to last season’s playoff form. In Sunday’s series finale, Houston will turn to second-year man Hunter Brown.
Brown really grinded through 4.1 innings Tuesday versus the Giants, giving up two runs, five walks with four strikeouts on 96 pitches. The outing was only the third time in six outings Brown has given up any runs. Brown has an odd thing going about his starts this season: he either goes four-plus innings or seven-plus innings. With Seattle having the worst batting average (.218) in the league, the path is set for Brown to go deep in this one.
Pitching away from Minute Maid Park has not phased the young righty at all. In three road starts, Brown is 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA, 22 strikeouts and opponents batting just .175. Sunday will be Brown’s first start at T-Mobile Park.
That’s it. Good luck and have a great fantasy weekend!