There are just a scant three weeks left in the Fantasy Baseball season. Many of you are already engaged in playoffs and/or championships already and the rest of you will be soon enough. In roto-scoring leagues, Fantasy managers are either scrambling to pick up points in the counting stat categories or protecting leads in categories across the board (ratio stats especially!). If you haven’t been aggressively pursuing strikeouts and saves, time is running out. I never advocate chasing wins, but it’s worth trying if a win or two will net you some precious points in the standings.
The pitching planner has taken a conservative turn over the past few weeks and that’s not changing now. As always, we’re trying to help those of you with a lead to protect it. A couple of bad outings can impact your ratio stats, so be very careful with streamers and any pitcher on the table below with a ranking of “4”. If you absolutely have to start any of the pitchers ranked “3” or higher below, at least choose opponents with poor hitting splits according to the handedness of the pitcher. I’ll provide some data among the rankings to help in that regard. As usual, here is the scale used to rank pitchers:
The probable starters table below will now have a simplified numbering system to rank the starters as follows:
- Must-Start Pitcher – These pitchers you’re starting no matter the opponent or circumstance.
- Quality Starter – These pitchers can be started in most formats but they’re not quite aces.
- Streaming option – These pitchers have favorable matchups and can be started.
- Proceed with Caution – These are risky starters that you should consider benching.
- Benched – Do not start these pitchers.
SELECTED STREAMING OPTIONS
- Nola vs. WSH – Nola has been dominating teams not named the Mets and was superb in his last outing. The Nationals are just average against right-handed pitching and Nola has a 2.10 ERA at home, making him a worthwhile gamble if you need strikeouts and a possible win.
- Kelly @ BAL – Kelly has been on a streak during which he’s looked like a completely different pitcher. Over his last seven starts he’s pitched 43.2 innings with a 1.85 ERA and a 32: 15 K:BB ratio. The Orioles are tough on right-handed pitchers (.321 wOBA) but they also strike out a lot (22.3 percent K rate vs. righties), so I expect Kelly to at least put up a quality start.
- Warren @ TB – The Rays simply lack the punch (.142 ISO and .304 wOBA vs. righties) to scare anyone away. Warren has been very effective as a starter whenever the Yankees plug him into the rotation, so this is a great spot to take a chance with him.
- Happ vs. CHC – Happ has pitched like an ace for Pittsburgh with a 1.79 ERA, .217 BAA and 42 strikeouts over the last 40 innings pitched. The Cubs strike out 26 percent of the time against lefties, the highest K rate in MLB, so this is a great spot start with Happ pitching at home.
- Buehrle (L) @ ATL – The Braves have a .286 wOBA against southpaws. Buehrle has been shaky of late, but should be successful against hapless and hopeless Atlanta.
- Jhoulys Chacin vs. SD – Chacin has only started two games this season, so there isn’t a ton of data to go by. The Padres’ bats don’t scare me and they won’t scare Chacin either.
- Rodon (L) vs. OAK – It’s taken the better part of the season for Rodon to reign in his control, but over his last six starts he’s been superb. Over his last 41 innings he has a 1.76 ERA and .186 BAA with 41 strikeouts and just 15 walks. The A’s have a punchless .128 ISO against southpaws, so start Rodon with confidence here.
- Nolin (L) @ CWS – Normally, I would never advise using a rookie at this late stage of the season. However, the White Sox are the worst team in baseball against southpaws with a pathetic .281 wOBA and .103 ISO.
- C. Kershaw (L) vs. COL, vs. PIT
- F. Hernandez vs. LAA, @ TEX
- S. Strasburg @ PHI, vs. MIA
- C. Hamels (L) vs. HOU, vs. SEA
- G. Cole vs. CHC, @ LAD
- C. Kluber vs. KC, vs. CWS
- J. Lester (L) @ PIT, vs. STL
- G. Richards @ SEA, @ MIN
- S. Gray @ CWS, @ HOU
- J. Zimmermann @ PHI, vs. MIA
- J. Shields @ ARI, @ COL
- K. Medlen @ CLE, @ DET
- J. Odorizzi vs. NYY, vs. BAL
- J. Garcia (L) @ MIL, @ CHC
- S. Kazmir (L) @ TEX, vs. OAK
- C. McHugh @ TEX vs. OAK
- E. Volquez @ CLE, @ DET
- T. Ross @ ARI, @ COL
- M. Buehrle (L) @ ATL, vs. BOS
- M. Shoemaker @ SEA, @ MIN
- M. Perez (L) vs. HOU, vs. SEA
- P. Hughes vs. DET, vs. LAA
- J. Nicolino (L) @ NYM, @ WSH
- U. Jimenez vs. BOS, @ TB
- K. Gausman vs. BOS, @ TB
- J. Teheran vs. TOR, vs. PHI
- J. Tomlin vs. KC, vs. CWS
- T Koehler @ NYM, @ WSH
- A. Pena vs. STL, vs. CIN
- A. Brooks @ CWS, @ HOU
- K. Lobstein (L) @ MIN, vs. KC
- J. Danks (L) vs. OAK, @ CLE
Our weekly look at the hottest hitters over the past two weeks.[table “1425” not found /]
Felix Hernandez Photo Credit: Meridiano