by Ray Kuhn
As the season draws to a close, here are some options to help you make that final push:
Studs that never should be benched:
- Matt Cain – vs. Arizona and @ San Diego.
- Cole Hamels- vs. Washington and @ Miami.
- David Price – @ Boston and @ Chicago White Sox.
- Chris Sale – vs. Cleveland and vs. Tampa Bay.
- Justin Verlander – vs. Kansas City and @ Minnesota.
- CJ Wilson – vs. Seattle and @ Texas.
- Jordan Zimmerman – vs. Milwaukee and @ St. Louis.
Five Pitchers that should be starting in every format:
Yu Darvish – vs. Oakland and vs. Los Angeles Angels. Although Darvish did not quite fully meet the expectations established for him, he is finishing the season strong as his ERA of 4.02 is the lowest it has been in 2 months. He also has now struck out over 200 batters on the season and if he continues that strikeout trend over his 2 starts this week there is some definite value. It seems like he has recovered from his rough August, and I would use him without hesitation.
Wandy Rodriquez – @ New York Mets and vs. Cincinnati. The way the Mets have closed the season, especially at home, they give just about every pitcher facing them some value. The fact that Rodriquez is pitching twice is an added bonus. He seems to have found his groove in Pittsburgh with 5 quality starts in a row and wins in 3 of his last 4 starts. His 1.27 WHIP is a little on the higher side, but his ERA of 3.65 helps make up for that, along with his ability to pitch deep into games and factoring in the decision.
Anibal Sanchez – vs. Kansas City and @ Minnesota. It is safe to say that Sanchez did not live up the expectations this season, but that is not to say there is not some value to be extracted from him as he closes the season making 2 starts. He is facing 2 teams that are not playing for anything and one of his starts comes at home where he has a 3.74 ERA this season. His ERA in his last 5 starts is 1.88 and he has only walked 6 batters in his last 7 starts. As he looks to close the season on a high note, I would take advantage of it.
Derek Holland – vs. Oakland and vs. Los Angeles Angels. Over the last 2 months Holland has been on a roll. He last lost a start on July 31 and has a 2.79 ERA along with a 4-0 record since then. For another pitcher that big things were expected of, I would capitalize on his reversal. Holland also added to his value by striking out 38 batters over 42 innings and only walking 9. Another good sign for Holland is that despite his struggles at times this season, his WHIP is still a respectable 1.16.
Phil Hughes – @ Minnesota and @ Toronto. Hughes has been a winning machine for the Yankees this season with 15-12 record in 29 starts. Look for that to continue this week as he makes 2 starts against teams playing out the string. He will scatter some hits, but he keeps the walks to a minimum and will strike out enough batters to have a positive impact, especially in a week where he starts twice. His ERA of 3.96 shows that he will pitch well enough to keep his team in the game and also rack up some innings. Especially based on his matchups this week, there is some value to be had.
Five That Must be Debated Based on Your Situation:
Lance Lynn – @ Houston and vs. Washington. When Lynn was dominating hitters and making the All-Star team, it did not seem possible that he would fall off enough to the point that he was sent to the bullpen. However he seems to have recovered well and used the time to get his groove back. He has had a quality start in both of his outings back in the rotation, giving up 1 run combined and striking out 12 batters in 12.1 innings while allowing 12 base runners. I would resume using Lynn as a starter without hesitation.
Paul Maholm – vs. Miami and vs. New York Mets. Although he is not flashy, Maholm could be a useful option in some leagues this week. He has been up and down lately, but for the most part, you can expect at minimum a quality start. His ERA for the season of 3.85 paints an even better picture than that. Although he won’t strike many batters out, that is less of a liability when he starts twice. The upside might not be incredibly high here, but this risk is less than some other options that are probably also available.
Aaron Harang – @ San Diego and vs. Colorado. Harang is another solid, if unspectacular, option. He is making both of his starts this week against teams playing out the string in pitcher’s parks. As his 1.43 WHIP suggests, Harang has a habit of getting into trouble, but as his 3.80 ERA shows he can just as easily get out of it. The problem with that is that it causes him to average just under 6 innings a start, and he does not strike many batters out either. Since the All-Star break he has regressed some, as his ERA in those 12 starts is 4.21 but if it is innings you are looking for this week, Harang is one of the less riskier options.
Andy Pettitte – @ Minnesota and @ Toronto. Pettitte returned from an extended absence due to injury and picked up where he left off. Granted he did not pitch deep into the game, 75 pitches and 5 innings, but he earned the win and did not give up a run. He also added 3 strikeouts and gave up 6 total base runners. Do not expect him go more than 5 or 6 innings in his remaining 2 starts as the Yankees try to build him up for the playoffs, but he still has some value.
Tommy Milone – @ Texas and vs. Seattle. The soft tosser did regress some after the All Star break, 4.21 ERA to raise his season mark to 3.81, but that does not mean he should be sent to the bench. He has only walked 33 batters on the season in 174.2 innings so that is a positive. But there is hope as 4 of his last 5 starts have been quality starts. Some of his prior outings and his lack of strikeouts might have been enough to scare some off, but I think you could do worse this week.
Three for Thought:
Brett Anderson – @ Texas and vs. Seattle. Based on his 2.57 ERA and 1.03 WHIP, it should be a no brainer to start Anderson this week. But he did leave his last start with an oblique issue. It is possible that caused him to be dropped in some leagues, so it is worth the flier on Anderson if he is healthy enough to make his 2 starts this week. [Update – Anderson will miss the rest of the season due to an oblique injury; Travis Blackley will replace him in the rotation, but does not hold fantasy appeal]
Tyler Skaggs – @ San Francisco and vs. Chicago Cubs. Talent is not the issue for the young hurler, and his first 3 starts were an example of that. But his last two starts have been more destructive than his first three were positive. He gave up 5 runs in each of his last 2 starts and pitched 3 and 4 innings respectively. I would probably stay away and let someone else be enamored with his prospect status.
John Lannan – @ Philadelphia and @ St. Louis. As you head this far down on 2 start options, Lannan is one of the more reliable options. In the 2 starts since he was placed back in rotation, he has had one good and one bad start. If you average the two together, you get a pretty average pitcher that will walk some batters and not strike many out. There could be the chance for a win here, but not much else.
What are your thoughts on these options? Anybody else you have your eye on that could be a sneaky play this week?