Can you believe it? Week 4 of the 2013 season is already practically upon us. This week sees some very strong two-start pitching options for fantasy owners to consider, as well as some strong one-start guys to play. I for one, am especially excited about the upcoming week of action because I own a handful of these guys that I am fond of. Okay okay, I’ll stop talking about myself and get to some of the guys on the hill that I am advertising for this week’s action.
Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers: His eyes resemble his pitching; Awesome. Scherzer is off to a very good start in 2013, sporting an ERA under three and 30 strikeouts (3rd in AL). Still, I don’t think he receives the amount of credit he deserves as a legitimate fantasy ace. This week, however, he’ll have as good a chance as any to make that case. Scherzer is one of the best two-start options this week, facing the Royals and Braves. In my personal rankings, I have him fifth among starting pitchers this week. With a terrific lineup behind him and a strong defense surrounding him, I like Scherzer to finish as a top 15 fantasy starter this year.
Shelby Miller, St. Louis Cardinals: I love this kid. One, because I own him in many leagues and two, because he is very, very special. Miller is impressing early on in his career, holding a 1.96 ERA, two wins and 18 strikeouts. He could have had a third win if he received run support during a well-pitched contest. Anyway, Miller is another two-start guy this week, getting the Nationals and Pirates. The Nationals matchup is especially enticing, considering Dan Haren will be on the mound for Washington, who has struggled heavily this season (8.10 ERA). At age 22, if Miller continues to pitch well (and he can only get better) and the Cardinals continue to provide run support (5th in MLB in runs), I like him as an early favorite to win the NL MVP.
A.J. Burnett, Pittsburgh Pirates: Burnett is coming off a dominating peformance on Wednesday afternoon, tossing seven scoreless innings, striking out eight and taking a no-hitter late into the contest. Despite being a rather shaky option in the past, Burnett is looking good through three starts, sporting an ERA of 2.63 and 35 strikeouts (1st in NL). Any guy who has over 2,000 career strikeouts certainly has the type of pedigree you want in a fantasy starter, and Burnett is another great option here in Week 4. He faces the Phillies, a team that ranks no higher than 20 in all major offensive categories, rarely walks and often leaves runners on base. After that, he takes on division rival St. Louis. Don’t be afraid to roll with this guy.
Tony Cingrani, Cincinnati Reds: Tony the pitcher looked grrrrreat in his major league debut, but does that mean I want to use him again this week? Sure, he took over 100 pitches to get through five innings and could be a risk when it comes to walks and WHIP, but I’m confident in the rookie this week. Don’t forget, he struck out eight in just five innings during his debut, keeping batters off balance all night long. This week, he gets two-starts, one against the Cubs and the second against the Nationals. With a powerhouse of an offense behind him that ranks fourth in the league in runs scored (96), Cingrani may not even have to pitch spectacular to get wins, but if he does, watch out. I think he is a safe and solid option for Week 4 with high upside.
Hisashi Iwakuma, Seattle Mariners: Iwakuma has been one of the better surprises of the fantasy baseball season thus far. After an average 2012 campaign, Iwakuma is off to a very fast start here in 2013, winning two of four starts, striking out 18 and holding an impressive 1.69 ERA. Of course, playing for the Mariners may make it difficult to win many games, but I believe Iwakuma has all the stuff to give this team a chance to win every night he is out there. This week, he will be on the hill against the Astros and Angels. Here’s a guy who isn’t going to walk a lot of batters (AL leading 0.53 WHIP) and can give you a ton of innings over the course of the season. The blister he is dealing with won’t keep him from pitching this week, so I’d roll with him while he’s hot.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.