by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The season is quickly coming to an end, and that means fantasy owners are far more apt to roll the dice and take a gamble. For two weeks anyone can get scorching hot or string together two or three impressive starts, and that can make the difference in championships. Opportunity is key, though, so let’s take a look at two pitchers who are set to get one and decide if they are worth the gamble:
Daniel Mengden – Oakland A’s
After showing potential to emerge in 2016 his season got off to an inauspicious start as he missed the start due to a broken foot. When he returned in late May/early June he struggled badly, allowing 9 ER over 8.0 IP in two starts, and was handed a ticket back to Triple-A. However he’s back, pitching well and given his total innings thrown (69.0 innings) and where Oakland is in the standings he should get three more starts:
- September 20 – at Detroit
- September 26 – vs. Seattle
- October 1 – at Texas
Those aren’t necessarily easy opponents, but they aren’t particularly scary either. Mengden has shown the three skills we look for while coming up through the minors, including a 9.0 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 and 1.20 GO/AO. His biggest issue in the Majors over the past two seasons has been keeping the ball in the ballpark (1.33 HR/9 over 95.0 innings), and that will be a risk that you need to maneuver around. At the same time, when starts are a commodity that you can’t always depend on Mengden becomes an interesting gamble depending on your needs.
The upside is there, and he showed it in his last start in Philadelphia (complete game shutout). It’s certainly not the craziest gamble to take, as long as you can absorb the risk in ERA/WHIP.
Rafael Montero – New York Mets
He’s been talked about a lot, as he’s shown some signs of finally living up to some hype that was long bestowed upon him (though he’s been virtually forgotten). At the same time he owns a 4.83 ERA as a starting pitcher as he’s struggled with his control (4.62 BB/9) and while his groundball rate has been solid, it also is unspectacular (46.1%). So is some strikeout potential really enough to excite anyone?
Even then his SwStr% in the second half of 10.6% is alright, but he’s not going to be more than a strikeout per inning pitcher (at best). Considering the walks, that’s simply not enough to offset the risk. Then you have the matchups to consider:
- September 20 – at Miami
- September 26 – vs. Atlanta
It’s possible he takes the ball in the season finale in Philadelphia, but that’s not a guarantee. He’s already thrown 135.1 innings this season, so we have to figure he’ll be around 150 after that Atlanta start. That would put him in the same range as last season (148) and the team may not want to force the issue.
He’s a high risk, relatively low reward option and that is not one we’d want to take.
Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com, MILB.com, Baseball Reference