by Will Overton
One of the things you’ll find me preaching here over and over is that if you want to win your league you need to know your team and your standings. You need to be aware of not where you are overall in the standings, but where you are in each individual category as well.
If you are winning saves by 20 you need to know it. If you are within five stolen bases of gaining or losing three of four points, you need to know it. A successful fantasy owner constantly knows where he stands and knows what can gain him the most ground in the standings at all times.
Knowing your standings isn’t enough though, you also need to know how to change your standings. If you are blowing people away in saves, but in the middle of the road in strikeouts, it does you no good to add the next big closer in waiting, unless you think you can trade him. Every move you make should have a purpose, whether it’s a trade or free agent signing, if it isn’t going to affect the standings, it’s just a waste of time.
If you are in that spot where you need to pick up some strikeouts, I am going to highlight a handful of guys who can help get you there. Streaming is another way to rack up K’s in a hurry, but it can kill your ratios and it’s not possible in all leagues. Here are some more permanent options to consider.
Jake Odorizzi – Tampa Bay Rays: It’s been a tough year for the Rays so far. One bright spot recently though is Jake Odorizzi, who has really blossomed after a rough start to the season. One of the things propelling Odorizzi’s success has been a fantastic strikeout rate. For the season Odorizzi has a 10.55 K/9 rate and since May 1 it is 11.50 K/9. This isn’t just a good rate, it’s an elite level rate. During his time in the minor leagues Odorizzi showed big strikeout potential, but we didn’t see this in his short big league stint last season. Odorizzi’s numbers have improved across the board the last two months and if you don’t’ mind a lack of wins he’s worth grabbing in any league format.
Matt Shoemaker – Los Angeles Angels: Shoemaker has become an out of nowhere pleasant surprise for the Angels and fantasy owners. Shoemaker was originally a spot starter who has claimed a permanent job. The last two games Shoemaker has really cemented his spot with 15.2 IP, allowing only three runs and racking up 16 strikeouts. Shoemaker has a very nice 51 K’s in 50 IP for a K/9 rate of 9.18. I feel like you have to be a little skeptical because Shoemaker’s track record isn’t that impressive, but right now he’s rolling and he’s racking up K’s. Be prepared to jump ship if it starts to sink, but until then you might as well get some K’s.
Wade Miley – Arizona Diamondbacks: So far Wade Miley has left a little bit to be desired in his overall numbers. However he has seen a rise in his strikeouts this season to the tune of a 8.26 K/9 rate. Miley is also consistent if nothing else as he has gone at least five innings in every game this season. He Hs also gone at least six innings in nine of the last ten games. That’s important because you’re going to get a lot more strikeouts from a guy going seven innings per game than you are from a guy going five innings per game. Miley’s ERA has been coming down and I anticipate that it will continue to come down as the strikeouts go up.
Rubby De La Rosa – Boston Red Sox: I know that Eric has mentioned De La Rosa a few times since his call up, but I am going to bring him up again. De La Rosa showed above average strikeout stuff in the minor leagues and he’s showing now in the big show. De La Rosa has a total of 30 K’s in 32 IP so far in five starts. He also has at least seven strikeouts in three of those five starts. De La Rosa is likely to have ups and downs, but at this point I think he has been pitching well enough to maintain a rotation spot, even when Clay Bucholz returns to action. De La Rosa should maintain a K/9 rate between 8 and 9 and continue to make a good impression as a rookie.
Jake Arrieta – Chicago Cubs: I’ve talked about Jake Arrieta once before this season, but he fits the bill for this week’s topic as well. At the age of 28 with all the hype he once had gone, Arrieta is finally putting together a complete effort it seems. The last three games Arrieta has been arguably not just the best pitcher on the waiver wire, but in all of baseball. Arrieta has allowed just one run in his last 20 IP with 27 K’s and 2 BB’s.. Those numbers go beyond just good and it’s making harder to write him off as just a fluke. Arrieta won’t maintain an ERA under 2.00 for long, but you can’t just let him sit on the waiver wire and not reap the benefits of what he’s doing now because you’re scared of what might happen later.