by Will Overton
Last week I emphasized the importance of narrowing in on a specific category specialist when looking through your waiver wire to find the right fit for your team and what you need. I focused on base stealers in my last waiver report, this week I am going to be looking at the forgotten guys on waiver wires, the guys who help you in ratio categories.
Fair warning, this topic is geared more towards head to head players building for the playoffs, but roto players can get use out of this too. Ratio specialists get overlooked because at times it feels impossible to really make or lose ground in ratio categories with just one guy. In a head to head league though where you have a guy like Adam Dunn or Pedro Alvarez on your team for power, a high average specialist can be played if for no reason than to balance the other guys out.
The same goes for pitchers too. You like to have the flame throwers who rack up K’s, but some of those guys area risk every start to walk five batters, like a Yu Darvish, and blow your WHIP up. Or someone like Max Scherzer may go out and give up 8 ER in 3 IP. This is where the less attractive options who steadily go 6 – 7 IP with 2 ER come in handy, even if they don’t get K’s.
So, yes in the end, it is more difficult to make or lose ground in these categories, but it’s not impossible, and if you roto players look at your standings you may even be within a few points of multiple teams in these categories and not know it. So with that said, here are some hitters who can help your average and some pitchers who can help your ERA and WHIP.
Jon Jay – OF, St. Louis Cardinals: Just because is labeled as a ratio specialist doesn’t mean he can’t help anywhere else. As the Cardinals leadoff man Jay scores his share of runs, 16 this month, and he also swipes some bases, 15 on the season. But his bread and butter as a fantasy player is a knack for getting himself on base. Jay is going through a very nice hot streak that has lasted most of August, as he’s hitting .360 for the month and has an OBP of .439. Jay has currently gotten a hit in each of his last nine start going 16 – 46 over that time. If you need someone who gets on base there aren’t many doing it as often as this guy.
Jordan Pacheco – 3B, Colorado Rockies: Typically it’s the power hitters in Colorado that get attention, but Pacheco and his two HR’s this season still has some value because he just keeps getting on base. Pacheco is currently riding an eight game hitting streak and is 10 – 31 in that eight game span. Don’t expect a whole lot more than some help in the average category, but Pacheco has been consistently reaching base ever since he started playing.
Jeff Keppinger – 2B/3B, Tampa Bay Rays: Typically Jeff Keppinger is a specialist against left handers, he’s hitting .416 against them this season, but he’s hitting lefties and righties this season for a very under the radar .326 average. The Rays are noticing the impressive hitting of Keppinger much more than fantasy owners, and so he’s been seeing a lot of time in the fifth spot of the lineup lately which should lead to RBI opportunities to go along with that .326 average.
Yonder Alonso – 1B/OF, San Diego Padres: This one isn’t a lock for average help, but Yonder is turning it up right now with a .314 average this month after a .290 last month. He is also 8 – 19 in his last five games. Alonso has the potential to be a .300 hitter on a regular basis in the spacious confines of Petco Park. While playing in San Diego saps his power, it’s good for the average of this line drive hitter.
Clayton Richard – San Diego Padres: You want to find a pitcher with good ratios who probably isn’t owned in many leagues, San Diego is a good place to look. Richard hasn’t been on the top of his game all season, but he’s been fantastic for the last month and a half. Richard has a 2.27 ERA in his last six starts. Like a lot of the guys on this list Richard doesn’t strike out many batters, but he has impeccable control and one of the better WHIP’s in baseball. Richard has also won four of his last starts which is a big help too.
Kyle Kendrick – Philadelphia Phillies: Kendrick has bounced back and forth between the rotation and bullpen throughout this season, but right now he’s a starter and he’s killing it on the mound. Kendrick has allowed 4 ER’s in his last 29.1 IP with a 0.76 WHIP in that span with just three walks. There is no lock that Kendrick keeps this up or close to it, but he’s getting it done right now so I’d roll with him.
Jeff Karstens – Pittsburgh Pirates: Since the beginning of July Jeff Karstens has a 2.75 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP. Those are the kinds of numbers that can lower a team’s ratios. And when Karstens is pitching at home, it only gets better since he has a 1.76 ERA in Pittsburgh this season. The success Karstens is having isn’t necessarily an aberration either because last year he had a 3.38 ERA as well.
Eric Stults – San Diego Padres: Remember what I said about pitchers for the Padres, it applies here too. Stults has gone from journeyman to a pitcher with a 2.45 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP while pitching in San Diego. Plus Stults is doing it on the road and at home which is even better. And he’s been even better recently with a 1.69 ERA and1.00 WHIP in his last five starts with a 4 – 0 record. You won’t get many strikeouts here, but right now you’re getting consistent quality starts.