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
Derek Holland – Giants (at Padres, 40% owned) ‘A’
On the season, consisting of 28 starts and 157 IP, Holland has a 3.46 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 9 K/9. The ERA is better than Luis Severino, James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka’s, while the WHIP better than Jon Lester and Jose Quintana’s and the K/9 is better than Zack Greinke, Zack Wheeler and Corey Kluber. What am I getting at here? Why is this guy still available in 60% of CBS leagues?
The cherry on top is that he’s been equally as good on the road (3.42 ERA) as he is at home (3.51). This week he’s facing one of the ideal streaming matchups, the Padres in Petco. Not only are the Padres 28th in MLB in home OPS at .675, they’re 4th in MLB in home strikeouts (675) and 27th in runs scored at home (278 in 73 games or an average of 3.80 a game). There are few starters that have had the current success Holland has that are available on waivers in 60% of CBS leagues, but in a matchup like this he’s a must start in any league he’s available.
Some nice upside but also some risk
Joe Ross – Nationals (at Marlins, 9% owned) ‘B’
After losing a year to Tommy John surgery, Ross is widely available in fantasy leagues. In fact, after back to back seasons of a mid-3.00 ERA in 2015 and ‘16, Ross blew up to a 5.00+ ERA in 2017 prior to being shut down with the injury, possibly suggesting he was dealing with other issues, and further pushing down his current ownership rate. As someone without infinite upside, he was able to put up respectable K rates around 8/9 IP and control sitting around 2.5 BB/9 when healthy.
Ross still just 25-years old and made his first start back last week to some success (5 IP with 4 hits and 2 walks against a difficult Cubs offense, though he didn’t strike out a batter). This week he’s facing a much easier lineup in the Marlins, who sit dead last in MLB in home OPS (.640), runs (255 in 75 games) and home runs (49 in those 75 games). It all adds up to a much easier time, and the lack of a track record this season is the only thing holding this grade back from being an A.
Solid option but also a fair amount of uncertainty
Aaron Sanchez – Blue Jays (at Orioles, 42% owned) ‘C+’
Sanchez’s ownership rate is down to 42%… this for the 2016 AL ERA champ who is still just 26-years old! Some of his numbers this season contribute to his ownership rate being down, with a 4.90 ERA, 7.57 K/9 and 1.55 WHIP thanks in large part to a 4.90 BB/9. On the optimistic side his last 2 starts, including one in Boston, resulted in 13 IP, 14 k, only 4ER (2.77 ERA) and 1.07 WHIP. The improvement to the WHIP can be attributed to an improvement in control, only 5 BB in those 13 IP, still not a great rate but certainly an improvement.
He’ll be facing the Orioles, who have been mailing it in for a while now as they currently sit 28th in MLB in September OPS at .629, and are 25th in baseball against righties with a .700 OPS. On the season they are middle of the pack in OPS at home (.733 good for 15th) but also play to Sanchez’s main weakness, in that they rarely walk. The Orioles overall are 29th in MLB in walks sitting with a measly 382 in 147 games. The home OPS and Sanchez’s consistency are slight concerns, but overall this is a matchup to consider if Aaron’s available in your league.
Chris Stratton – Giants (at Padres, 17% owned) ‘C-’
It’s been an up and down year for Stratton, sitting with an unassuming 4.66 ERA and 1.34 WHIP through 24 starts and 135 IP. While he doesn’t strike many guys out, sitting at 6.92 K/9 this year, he doesn’t walk many either (3.06 BB/9) or give up a ton of home runs (1.13 HR/9, 12.7% HR/FB). He’s starting to heat up as well sitting with a 2.70 ERA so far in September, including a 2 hit shut out last week against the Rockies. He’ll be facing the Padres in Petco, a matchup I’ve already mentioned how enticing it is. There’s very little to scare an owner away in this start save Stratton’s inconsistency and lack of strikeouts.
Significant risk but also potential to put up a solid outing
Matt Harvey – Reds (at Brewers, 46% owned) ‘D’
Remember that time Harvey had to defend his role as a starter to the NY media? Well since the move to the Reds he has a 4.13 ERA through 117 IP streaming over 22 starts, and is really hitting the gas pedal lately with a 2.50 ERA in his last 3 starts covering 18 IP with 19 K and only 4 BB. He’s been better on the road on the year, with a 3.92 road ERA against 4.37 at home. Harvey is starting to look like someone we can trust again, and the rating on this start might have been a B- or C+ against another team, but he’s facing the Brewers in Milwaukee, where they have a .748 OPS and 343 Runs scored in 74 games (an average of 4.63 per game). While not daunting this is a tough matchup, and while Harvey has been hot he’s shown some inconsistency even since the move to Cincinnati. This is a start to consider if you really need a streamer, but also carries some significant blowup risk.
Options you might be considering but are not recommended
Jeremy Hellickson – Nationals (vs. Mets, 23% owned) ‘F’
I’m not sure many people would consider streaming Hellickson, but he does have a 3.45 ERA and 1.07 WHIP over 91.1 IP, and this is a home start against the Mets. But…. If you haven’t been paying attention the Mets have been greatly improved of late, sitting 7th in MLB in September OPS at .774. Long a pick on offense at home, the Mets have consistently been one of the better road offenses this season, currently sitting 6th in OPS at .759 ahead of the Red Sox, Cubs and Yankees… just a couple of teams you probably wouldn’t stream Hellickson against. Again, I’m not sure how many would be considering streaming Hellickson, but this is quietly a difficult matchup for him and there’s reason to look elsewhere.
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