by Ken Balderston
Any team looking at a stretch run to the money could use a boost in the pitching game, and some can be found on your waiver wire. While not an exact science, there are usually effective options out there for the astute owner. Let’s see who could impress this week:
To be considered in most leagues
No truly enticing options this week, but there are a few interesting ones listed below
Some nice upside but also some risk
Sandy Alcantara – Marlins (at Mets, 14% owned) ‘B+’
The center of the Marcel Ozuna trade this past offseason, Marlins fans surely are expecting big things from Alcantara. With a big arm, as he’s able to hit triple digits (though he’s settled in around 95 so far in the Majors in 2018), Alcantara showed how much potential he has in his last start going 7 innings allowing 3 H, 2 BB and 6 K against the Phillies.
In fact, on the year, albeit only 2 starts, he’s allowed 1 ER in 12 IP (all at home). This week he’ll be making his first road start, against the Mets who have been better offensively of late at hom, but still carry a league worst home OPS of .630, scoring 220 runs in 69 home games, or an average of 3.18 runs a game. It’s a bit unnerving to see a rookie making his first road start, but the matchup is inviting and there’s reason to believe Alcantara can continue to build on the hot start to his Marlins career.
Solid option but also a fair amount of uncertainty
Wei-Yen Chen – Marlins (at Mets, 16% owned) ‘C+’
Wei-Yen Chen? Really? Well, frankly yes! Just when you think you know a pitcher he comes along and strikes out 23 players in his last 18 IP, and only walking 4 batters in those 3 starts. Two of those starts were at home, but he’s matching up against the Mets in CitiField. As mentioned, the Mets are really bad offensively at home, but to put the icing on the cake ESPN Park Factors ranks CitiField as league worst in runs (.710) and 23rd in baseball in HR (.860). Chen has been much better at home this year, (but ESPN has Marlins Park ranked 29th in runs and 30th in HR), but between a hot stretch, a bad offense and an inviting park there’s reason to consider throwing him out there in deeper leagues.
Significant risk but also potential to put up a solid outing
Jason Vargas – Mets (vs. Marlins, 15% owned ) ‘D+’
Many might have written Vargas off this year, thanks to spending most of April on the DL then posting an ERA over 6.00 for each month of May, June and July. He settled down in August with a 3.86 ERA in 28 IP and carries a respectable wOBA of .329 at home on the year. While he allowed a couple of runs his last start against the Dodgers, his control has been on display his last 3 starts, with 16 K and only 3 BB in 14.1 IP. This week he’ll be facing the Marlins, who have been better of late offensively but continue to sport a below .700 road OPS of .697 and have hit a measly 67 HR in 67 road games this year. As mentioned, CitiField is a fairly extreme pitchers park as well. Vargas is not a reliable pitcher, but he’s been solid of late and this matchup does very little to intimidate.
Options you might be considering but are not recommended
Felix Pena – Angels (vs. Rangers, 11% owned) ‘F’
How Pena continues to have an 11% ownership rate despite a reasonable ERA of 4.04 and a nice strikeout rate of 8.68 is beyond me. Yes he’s come out of nowhere and only has 75 innings in the books in 2018, but he’s proven to be useful including a 7 IP, 7 H, 2 ER & 6 K line his last time out. If you’ve gotten into the habit of running him out there, you might see the Rangers on the road (.678 road OPS) and just go with the flow. There are a couple of deterrents though… Pena has been pretty unreliable at home this year, with a 6.17 home ERA and 1.43 WHIP. Also, while the Rangers have been pretty bad on the road they’re 3rd in MLB in OPS so far in September (.868) and were 9th in MLB in OPS in August (.754). While these are not flagrant red flags, there’s enough here to warrant letting Pena sit this week.
Hit me up on twitter (@kenintoronto) or in the comments below if you have a player you’re considering streaming and want some thoughts on
Sites consulted: CBSsports, MLB.com, Fangraphs, Rotoworld, MILB.com