Fantasy baseball's Week 7 presents us with a good number of widely available, value-pick options from the two-start pitcher list, with two in particular heading up Monday's list of recommended pickups.
Alex Cobb, SP, San Francisco Giants (69.6% available in ESPN leagues): Though his most recent outing was an ugly one (5⅓ innings pitched, 10 hits, 7 earned runs last Tuesday), it's a forgivable offense considering the game was in Colorado's Coors Field. In his two turns before that, Cobb went a combined 10⅓ frames, allowing three runs while striking out 14 of 39 hitters (35.9%). Sure, this week's matchups are hardly easy, the first coming Monday at home against the New York Mets and the second on Sunday at Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park, but Cobb's stuff has looked plenty good enough to warrant fantasy starter status even in mixed leagues anytime he's not facing a Coors assignment. This season, he has shown increased velocity on his sinker (94.5 mph on average, a career high for any fastball type) and splitter (89.4 mph, again a career high), with the latter continuing to generate a good share of his swings and misses. Though his results haven't yet caught up with his raw skills, Cobb brings enough of the latter to warrant having him active as long as he stays healthy, which has been his primary obstacle to him breaking through since the beginning of 2021.
Tyler Anderson, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers (63.3% available): He and his Dodgers teammates have a far more fantasy-friendly schedule than their division-rival Giants, despite all seven of the team's games coming on the road. The Dodgers visit the Washington Nationals and Arizona Diamondbacks, both of those teams averaging fewer than four runs per game, and the Diamondbacks are the majors' second-most strikeout-prone offense (25.4% of their trips to the plate). That bodes well for Anderson, who, like Cobb, has made subtle tweaks to his pitch selection, giving him a much better chance at getting swings and misses. Anderson adjusted the grip on his changeup earlier in the year and has made it into his primary pitch (31.2% usage), with it responsible for 19 of his 34 strikeouts. He has exceeded 80 pitches in each of his past three outings and should therefore deliver both quantity and quality to fantasy teams.
Clay Holmes, RP, New York Yankees (54.8% available): He's the speculative save-getter fantasy managers must add entering Week 7 -- and, remember, I'm loathe to casually use the word "must." After Aroldis Chapman's poor outing on Sunday, representing the fifth straight game in which he allowed a run, the Yankees' usual closer admitted to having dealt with an Achilles issue of late. That could perhaps explain both Chapman's diminished velocity and control, both of those issues fueling his disappointing performance to date. Holmes, meanwhile, has soared into the next-in-line role in the Yankees' bullpen since his July 2021 acquisition, to the point that he has chipped in with four saves of his own already in 2022. This Yankees have a major league-leading 29 wins thus far, and fantasy managers, of course, are aware that saves can come only in wins, and Holmes brings one of the highest-floor-plus-high-ceiling skill sets of anyone in the game. He has 83.3% ground ball and 26.9% strikeout rates, which is an absurdly good combination. I'd argue that, even without clarity on Chapman's status before the Week 7 lineup deadline, Holmes should be both added and started on the chance he's going to play a big role during the coming week.
More Week 7 notes
A trio of National League Central teams seem likely to welcome new members to their rotations as replacements for either injured or struggling starters, and all three are worth rostering in any league larger than ESPN's standard. Aaron Ashby (94.6% available), who has 28.5% strikeout and 63.8% ground ball rates in his brief big league career, should occupy a regular rotation spot for the Milwaukee Brewers for as long as Freddy Peralta (shoulder) is sidelined. Matthew Liberatore (93.2%), who had a so-so big league debut on Saturday, nevertheless brings good strikeout potential and should be called upon by the St. Louis Cardinals if Steven Matz's (shoulder) injury turns out to be of the long-term variety. Roansy Contreras (97.8%) seems likely to join the Pirates' rotation on a more permanent basis beginning on Tuesday, after he posted a combined 2.64 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 33.4% strikeout rate in 18 starts between Double-A and Triple-A since the start of 2021.
One of the hitters I didn't mention in the Week 7 Forecaster, but whose team did earn a mention for its favorable schedule, was the Cincinnati Reds' Tyler Naquin (89.3% available), who has seven multihit performances in his past 12 games. Naquin's exclusion was a result of his left-handedness, coupled with the team's four games among seven scheduled against left-handed starters, but the Reds have begun giving the outfielder regular play regardless of any platoon issues. He's not the strongest choice they have, but his boost in playing time, the help the Reds' lineup got from Joey Votto's return and the fact that all seven of the team's games come at their homer-friendly ballpark props Naquin up as a still-relevant mixed-league starter.
Adley Rutschman's (40.8% available, somehow) debut weekend was a success, but he'll face his biggest challenge yet at this level in a Monday assignment against the Yankees' Gerrit Cole. Worry not, though, as after that game is in the books, the Yankees will need a Wednesday spot starter because of their Sunday doubleheader, and the Boston Red Sox, who will host Rutschman's Orioles during the coming weekend, will need an extra starter of their own for Saturday's doubleheader. There's enough unproven pitching in the Orioles' schedule that Rutschman should be locked into every starting lineup for Week 7. Cardinals rookie Nolan Gorman (73.6%), who had an impressive first big league weekend of his own, faces a tougher week ahead, as after he mashed against weak Pirates pitching he'll have to tangle with pretty good pitching staffs of the Toronto Blue Jays and Brewers. That five of Gorman's six games are scheduled against right-handers is a help, but he's a little less appealing of the two rookies, considering the matchups and his penchant for strikeouts.