by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
As the calendar turns to September, the pressure is on all fantasy owners. Are you in a position where you need to take a risk for wins or strikeouts? Should you play it safe? Luckily, this week is full of talented options across the league to help you make your push for a title.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the tiers (and remember, the pitchers are also ranked within each tier):
- Tier 1 – The Elite
- Tier 2 – Not quite elite, but among the better options
- Tier 3 – Solid options
- Tier 4 – Borderline options only usable under the right circumstance
- Tier 5 – Options worth avoiding
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the week ahead:
- Clayton Kershaw – Los Angeles Dodgers – at Col, at Cin
- Stephen Strasburg – Washington Nationals – at Phi, at Mia
- Chris Sale – Chicago White Sox – at NYY, at Bal
- Madison Bumgarner – San Francisco Giants – at SD, vs. Ari
- Felix Hernandez – Seattle Mariners – at KC, vs. TB
- Adam Wainwright – St. Louis Cardinals – at Cin, vs. Pit
- Cole Hamels – Philadelphia Phillies – vs. Was, vs. Atl
- Derek Holland – Texas Rangers – at Oak, at LAA
- Mat Latos – Cincinnati Reds – vs. Stl, vs. LAD
- Justin Masterson – Cleveland Indians – vs. Bal, vs. NYM
- Hiroki Kuroda – New York Yankees – vs. CWS, vs. Bos
- Doug Fister – Detroit Tigers – at Bos, at KC
- Chris Tillman – Baltimore Orioles – at Cle, vs. CWS
- Wade Miley – Arizona Diamondbacks – vs. Tor, at SF
- John Lackey – Boston Red Sox – vs. Det, at NYY
- Jon Lester – Boston Red Sox – vs. Det, at NYY
- Homer Bailey – Cincinnati Reds – vs. Stl, vs. LAD
- Matt Moore – Tampa Bay Rays – at LAA, at Sea
- Jose Quintana – Chicago White Sox – at NYY, at Bal
- Charlie Morton – Pittsburgh Pirates – at Mil, at Stl
- Chris Archer – Tampa Bay Rays – at LAA, at Sea
- Travis Wood – Chicago Cubs – vs. Mia, vs. Mil
- Ian Kennedy – San Diego Padres – vs. SF, vs. Col
- Erasmo Ramirez – Seattle Mariners – at KC, vs. TB
- Andy Pettitte – New York Yankees – vs. CWS, vs. Bos
- Brandon McCarthy – Arizona Diamondbacks – vs. Tor, at SF
- Bartolo Colon – Oakland Athletics – vs. Tex, vs. Hou
- Dan Straily – Oakland Athletics – vs. Tex, vs. Hou
- Jason Vargas – Los Angeles Angels – vs. TB, vs. Tex
- Paul Maholm – Atlanta Braves – vs. NYM, at Phi
- Garrett Richards – Los Angeles Angels – vs. TB, vs. Tex
- Bud Norris – Baltimore Orioles – at Cle, vs. CWS
- Bruce Chen – Kansas City Royals – vs. Sea, vs. Det
- Andrew Albers – Minnesota Twins – at Hou, vs. Tor
- Henderson Alvarez – Miami Marlins – at CHC, vs. Was
- Tyler Thornburg – Milwaukee Brewers – vs. Pit, at CHC
- Danny Duffy – Kansas City Royals – vs. Sea, vs. Det
- Yusmeiro Petit – San Francisco Giants – at SD, vs. Ari
- Todd Redmond – Toronto Blue Jays – at Ari, at Min
- Daisuke Matsuzaka – New York Mets – at Atl, at Cle
- Chad Bettis – Colorado Rockies – vs. LAD, at SD
- Paul Clemens – Houston Astros – vs. Min, at Oak
- Generally Wainwright would be a Tier 1 option, but he has two tough matchups and took a beating in his last outing. This season he owns a 7.13 ERA against the Reds and 4.50 ERA against the Pirates, helping to downgrade him one tier.
- Madison Bumgarner has been dominant against the Padres (2.70 ERA) and Diamondbacks (1.71 ERA) this season. He has struggled lately, but obviously he’s one of the better options for the coming week.
- What has happened to Hiroki Kuroda recently? He’s allowed 12 ER over his last 11.0 IP (two starts) and 29 hits over his past 16.2 IP (three starts). He owns a 1.54 ERA in 11 home starts, so it’s impossible not to have him slotted into your lineup, but the recent struggles do have to pull him down a notch.
- It doesn’t matter what Chris Archer has done overall this season, he hasn’t generated enough strikeouts (6.24 K/9) and has benefited from luck (.231 BABIP, 80.4% strand rate). Obviously he’s a usable option, but we need to be prepared for a potential regression.
- Travis Wood has two favorable matchups, but has also benefited from a .238 BABIP (with a 22.8% line drive rate). Throw in the fact that he pitches for the Cubs, meaning wins may be an issue, and has been better on the road (3.42 ERA at home still isn’t awful) and there is reason to be skeptical.
- Andy Pettitte has had his issues, but he’s righted the ship at the perfect time (3-0 with 1 ER over 19.2 IP in his past three starts). The lack of strikeouts does down grade him, as does his struggles at home (4.79 ERA), but depending on your other options his recent strong stretch makes him a viable option.
- If Charlie Morton wasn’t set to face the Cardinals in his second start he’d likely have been a Tier 3 option. That said, he’s been pitching exceptionally well and is still likely worth using in all formats, depending on your other options.
- Generally we are skeptical for a pitcher’s first start off the DL, but Matt Moore does have strikeout potential and gets a Mariners team that has whiffed the sixth most times in the league. Entering play on Saturday the Angels had struck out the fourth most times in August (239) and the Mariners tied for the eighth most (222). Use Moore in all formats.
Sources – Fangraphs, CBS Sports