2019 Fantasy Baseball: Can You Trust These Improbable Fast Starts?

Senior Fantasy Baseball Expert Adam Ronis looks at a few fast starts to the 2019 MLB season by players you wouldn't expect much production from. Can you trust these players to produce the rest of the year?

Zach Eflin dominating for Phillies

Zach Eflin has looked sharp through two starts. The Phillies right-hander has pitched 12 innings and allowed nine hits, one run, one walk and struck out 14. He is 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA and 0.83 WHIP. While a lot of pitchers off to good starts have been feasting on weak offenses, Eflin did it against the Nationals and Twins, who aren’t weak opponents.

Eflin didn’t allow much hard contact last season with a 29.1 percent rate and has limited the opponents to 23.3 percent this season. Eflin has reduced the use of his four-seam fastball and slider and has added a cutter to his arsenal. Eflin has been pounding the strike zone, throwing first-pitch strikes 73.3 percent of the time. Elfin has an 11.1 percent swinging strike rate and is getting hitters to chase pitches out of the zone 32.7 percent of the time.

Eflin was on my radar late in drafts because he was solid last season. In 24 starts, he had a 4.36 ERA (3.80 FIP), 1.30 WHIP with a 22.5 percent strikeout rate and 6.8 percent walk rate. It’s only two starts, but Eflin looks good and should be owned in all leagues.

Boyd surging for Tigers

One of the biggest surprises of the season has been Matt Boyd. The Tigers left-hander has pitched 11.1 innings and allowed 10 hits, four earned runs, walked four and struck out 23. He struck out 10 in five innings against the Blue Jays and struck out a career-high 13 over 6.1 innings at Yankee Stadium. While the Yankees lineup has been hindered by injuries, it’s still an impressive feat.

Boyd mainly throws a four-seam fastball and his best pitch is a slider and he mixes in a curve. Boyd had a stretch last season in which he pitched well and had a 1.16 WHIP. To get a pitcher off waivers or late in the draft to produce that WHIP over 170.1 innings is great value. He had a 1.08 WHIP in the second half last season.

The upcoming schedule for Boyd is excellent. He pitches in a division with some of the weaker offenses getting to pitch against the Indians, White Sox and Royals often. Hold Boyd unless you overwhelmed in a deal.

Matt Boyd
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Is Jason Heyward finally good?

Heyward was widely ignored in most Fantasy drafts as he hasn’t topped 14 home runs since 2012. The Cubs outfielder has a slash line of .323/.421/.613 with nine runs, three home runs, eight RBIs and two stolen bases. He had a game over the weekend with two home runs and two stolen bases.

While it’s only nine games, a few things stand out. Heyward is hitting the ball in the air more, something we have pleaded from the 6-foot-5, 240 pound 29-year old. He has a 50 percent fly ball rate and his career mark is 32.4 percent. According to Statcast, he has a launch angle of 19.3 percent well above his high point of 10.9 percent over the last few seasons. The hard-hit rate is a career-high 39.3 percent.

It’s too early to say this will stick, but it’s encouraging and the ball seems juiced. If you need an outfielder in a deeper format, it’s worth taking a shot to see if the new approach can stick.

Can you trust Sean Newcomb?

In two starts, Newcomb has a 1.64 ERA. That’s where the positives end. The Braves left-hander has a 10.4 percent strikeout rate, 12.5 percent walk rate and a 1.45 WHIP. Newcomb has a 22.8 percent career strikeout rate, so the strikeouts should increase. The biggest issue for Newcomb has always been walks and it’s not changing.

Newcomb is throwing more first-pitch strikes with a 62.5 percent rate, yet has still walked six in 11 innings. He has a 4.8 percent swinging strike rate. Until he cuts down the walks, he won’t go deep into games, will have a high WHIP and is at risk of losing his spot in the starting rotation when the Braves get some pitchers back.

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Adam Ronis
About Adam Ronis 280 Articles
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