by Ray Kuhn
There is a reason why the fantasy baseball season is called a marathon. For as much work as you did drafting your team in March and tinkering through the early part of the season, things can just as easily be lost in September. Each decimal place of ERA matters the same in May as it does in September, but the problem is that in September, there isn’t nearly as much time to recover. The problem though, is that good pitching this time of year could be hard to find. If you are trying to maximize strikeouts and wins, then your quest could become even more difficult. Let’s take a look at who is taking the mound twice this week and how they rank.
- David Price – Toronto Blue Jays – vs. NY Yankees; vs. Tampa Bay
- Chris Archer – Tampa Bay Rays – at Boston; at Toronto
- Dallas Keuchel – Houston Astros – vs. LA Angels; vs. Texas
- John Lackey – St. Louis Cardinals – vs. Cincinnati; vs. Milwaukee
- Tyson Ross – San Diego Padres – vs. San Francisco; vs. Arizona
- Gio Gonzalez – Washington Nationals – vs. Baltimore; vs. Philadelphia
- Alex Wood – LA Dodgers – vs. Arizona; at Colorado
- Danny Salazar – Cleveland Indians – at Minnesota; at Kansas City
- Jason Hammel – Chicago Cubs – vs. Milwakee; vs. Pittsburgh
- Shelby Miller – Atlanta Braves – at NY Mets; at Miami
- Jamie Garcia – St. Louis Cardinals – vs. Cincinnati; vs. Milwaukee
- Eduardo Rodriguez – Boston Red Sox – vs. Tampa Bay; vs. Baltimore
- Brett Anderson – LA Dodgers – vs. Arizona; at Colorado
- Chris Heston – San Francisco Giants – at San Diego; at Oakland
- Luis Severino – NY Yankees – at Toronto; vs. Chicago White Sox
- Jeff Samardzjia – Chicago White Sox – at Detroit; at NY Yankees
- A.J. Burnett – Pittsburgh Pirates – at Colorado; at Chicago Cubs
- Robbie Ray – Arizona Diamondbacks – at LA Dodgers; at San Diego
- Adam Warren – NY Yankees – at Toronto; vs. Chicago White Sox
- Jonathon Niese – NY Mets – vs. Atlanta; at Cincinnati
- Erik Johnson – Chicago White Sox – at Detroit; at NY Yankees
- Roenis Elias – Seattle Mariners – at Kansas City; at LA Angels
- Daniel Norris – Detroit Tigers – vs. Chicago White Sox; vs. Minnesota
- Jimmy Nelson – Milwaukee Brewers – at Chicago Cubs; at St. Louis
- Martin Perez – Texas Rangers – at Oakland; at Houston
- Wily Peralta – Milwaukee Brewers – at Chicago Cubs; at St. Louis
- Henry Owens – Boston Red Sox – vs. Tampa Bay; vs. Baltimore
- Matt Moore – Tampa Bay Rays – at Boston; at Toronto
- Aaron Harang – Philadelphia Phillies – at Miami; at Washington
- John Lamb – Cincinnati Reds – at St. Louis; vs. NY Mets
- Jeremy Guthrie – Kansas City Royals – vs. Seattle; vs. Cleveland
- Jhoulys Chachin – Arizona Diamondbacks – at LA Dodgers; at San Diego
- Michael Lorenzen – Cincinnati Reds – at St. Louis; vs. NY Mets
- Cody Martin – Oakland A’s – vs. Texas; vs. San Francisco
- The top tier is extremely thin this week, so there aren’t many advantages to be gained. There are only four percent of CBS leagues in which John Lackey is available, but don’t overlook the right-hander this week. There are few pitchers taking the mound twice this week that have been performing better than Lackey has over his past three starts; 2.11 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 21.1 innings. To say that Lackey has surpassed the expectations of owners who bought low on the 36-year old this season would be an understatement. Lackey ended his last start at 200 innings so far this season and he shows no signs of slowing down. In his last three starts against Reds, who Lackey faces this week, the right-hander has struck out 23 batters in 21 innings. For his other start, Lackey gets the Brewers who shouldn’t offer much in the way of offensive resistance. You have to know the pickings are slim when Lackey is one of the best recommended options.
- Perhaps lost in the shuffle of the Dodgers multiple player acquisitions was the trade for Alex Wood. But so far this season, Wood has not been able to duplicate the success he had last season; 2.78 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. This season, Wood has more than doubled his WHIP (up to 1.37) and his ERA has also taken a hit. After his last start, which was right up there for his best all season, Wood’s ERA sits at 3.67. Wood followed up seven shutout innings in San Diego with a brutal outing in Arizona that saw him allow six runs in just 1.2 innings. However, Wood was able to rebound without issue at home against the Rockies by holding them to just one run over eight innings while striking out five. Now that he is showing the same potential that he had last season, Wood should be back on your fantasy radar (if he ever left).
- With the Red Sox out of playoff contention, all that’s left for their young players is to audition for next season. One starter who is doing a very good job of that is Eduardo Rodriguez. Rodriguez came to the major leagues with a good amount of fan fare, but there has been an adjustment period. After allowing eight runs over five innings against the Marlins on August 12th, it has been smooth sailing for Rodriguez. He was able to take his ERA of 4.83 and knock it down to 4.48 with his next start as the rookie held the Indians to one run over eight innings. Since then in 23.1 innings over four starts, Rodriguez has allowed just five runs while striking out 21. The pedigree and recent performance is here for Rodriguez, and he making his best case for a spot in Boston’s 2016 rotation.
- Yes, Jon Gray does have 3.60 ERA over his last three starts and he is available in 70% of CBS leagues. Does that mean you should pick him up? Well he is a former first round pick and the talent is there and he has 35 strikeouts in 36 innings this season, I might be inclined to pass. On the season, Gray’s ERA is 5.00 and his WHIP sits at 1.56. The fact that Gray is making both of his starts at home this week also has to steer you away.
- Adam Warren really is back in the Yankees’ rotation by default. Warren has had some success as a starting pitcher, but his preferred role is coming out of the bullpen. However, New York really doesn’t have many any other options for that role. In his last three games, Warren has a 3.06 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 17.2 innings. While he does have the platoon advantage against a good portion of Toronto’s vaunted lineup in his first start of the week, this might be a good enough reason to walk the other way.
- While in most situations, I would stay away from using Warren this week, there are some scenarios in which he could be a plausible option. And this is the spot in the festivities where I recommend searching for a high strikeout reliever or just moving away from the 2-start strategy.