Real-life and fantasy baseball ace Madison Bumgarner bruised is ribs and sprained his AC Joint on Friday in a dirt bike accident. Outside of the question why was Madison Bumgarner on a dirt bike in April, fantasy baseball owners are asking themselves what they do now without their ace. Owners of both Bumgarner and Starling Marte, however, are asking them what vengeful gods they’ve angered. Luckily fantasy baseball pitching has plenty of options available in replacement (if you can call it replacement). The Giants fear Bumgarner’s DL stint will be two months long. Not great news for a top-ten starting pitcher.
Luckily, starting pitcher has out-of-nowhere breakouts every year, so below are three players who might be able to fill Bumgarner’s shoes. Two of these players carry an ownership below 75% owned in Yahoo! leagues, and the third is available in at least 90% of Y! leagues.
Robert Gsellman, Mets (22% owned)
Gsellman has been up-and-down in his three starts this season, and his overall numbers (5.09 ERA, 1.36 ERA are terrible. However, a great strikeout rate and a superb walk rate means his K-BB% rate is among the best. Gsellman currently sits at #25, ahead of names like Justin Verlander and teammate Matt Harvey. He racked up 20 strikeouts in just over 17 innings this season, and that’s the number you’ll want to follow. An astronomical 18.2% HR/FB rate and a way-too-low 51.7% strand rate scream positive regression, as well. Gsellman’s has an easy fix: he’s throwing his best pitch last year (his cutter) almost half as much as he did in 2016. It’s still his best pitch, he just needs to use it more.
Wade Miley, Baltimore (17% owned)
Miley’s had three starts, all good, but his ownership just doesn’t reflect that number. He allowed just eight hits in his 19 innings so far this season, but his astonishing seven walks in his first game make his overall numbers wonky. Since that 7 walk outing, he’s posting 19 strikeouts and just one walk. He’s also given up just 7 hits in those two games. Miley is on the upswing, and you should grab him before your league mates figure him out.
Chad Kuhl, Pittsburgh (7% owned)
Kuhl isn’t going to have a great next outing (he’ll be taking on the World Champs), but so far this season his 2.60 ERA has some weight behind it. His first start was pushed back a couple of days due to a rain delay, so it’s possible he got thrown off his rhythm. His first start bears no resemblance to his other two, so that’s likely. Since that bad first start, he’s pitched 12.1 innings of 3 earned runs with only nine baserunners. (one walk) with 9 strikeouts. His stringing strike rate lends credence to his start; he’s #17 in among all starting pitchers in making opposing hitters miss.