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We’ve reached that point in the Fantasy Baseball season when you have to try to take advantage of every opportunity to gain an advantage against your opponents. If you see an opening and can work the waiver wire to find a pitcher who’ll give you an additional quality start for the week, don’t hesitate! Just like the Steve Winwood song advises, “While you see a chance take it.” That additional start might help you eventually leap frog over your rivals. You have to try to find that little extra something every week that, when taken collectively, will help you compete for that elusive Fantasy Baseball title. To help you in your search, I’ve identified another seven pitchers who are owned in between nine and 63 percent of Yahoo! Sports Fantasy leagues with favorable matchups between August 5 and August 11. As usual, I warn you, some of these selections may not be suitable for the faint of heart…
All quoted stats are accurate as of the morning of 8/4/15
Wei-Yin Chen (L), Orioles, 57 percent owned, vs. A’s
Venue: O.co Coliseum, Oakland, CA
The Orioles have been doing their best to stay in contention in the AL East, and by winning eight of their last ten games they’ve moved to within five and a half games of the first place Yankees. Wei-Yin Chen will try to take advantage of the Orioles’ recent hot streak as he tries to sneak a win against the A’s. Although the Orioles haven’t been a very good road team, Chen has held his own away from Camden Yards with a 2.89 ERA. He faces an Oakland team that he has dominated across his career. He has a 4-0 won/loss record, a 1.69 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in five career starts against the Athletics. Those stats along with the fact that Oakland’s O.co Coliseum has yielded the ninth fewest runs overall so far this season, should give Chen a good chance at providing you with a quality start on Wednesday.
Joe Ross, (R), Nationals, 21 percent owned, vs. Diamondbacks
Venue: Nationals Park, Washington, DC
Joe Ross faces the Diamondbacks for the first time in his career at Nationals Park, another venue that, surprisingly, doesn’t see many runs scored. Ross will try to take advantage of the fact that Nationals Park has been the scene of the second fewest runs scored overall so far this season, and continue his streak of not allowing more than three runs in any of his first six career starts. Ross’ 9.23 K/9 rate should allow him to take advantage of the Diamondbacks’ free swinging ways; they are eighth in the majors in offensive strikeouts. His opponent, Jeremy Hellickson, has a 5.94 road ERA in addition to a .293 batting average against, which could further work in Ross’ favor in this start.
Mike Leake, (R), Giants, 63 percent owned, vs. Chicago Cubs
Venue: Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL
Mike Leake’s next start is against a Chicago Cubs team that he has beaten nine times out of eleven career decisions. Look for the Cubs to struggle against Leake since they’ve posted a .235 batting average and .373 slugging percentage against other right-handed pitchers this season. The Cubs are facing a pitcher who is on a roll. In his first start for the Giants, since being traded from the Reds, Leake gave up just two runs in 6.1 innings, and he has now given up three or fewer runs in 11 of his last 12 starts this season. Since he’s pitched many games at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, Leake is used to pitching in bandbox type stadiums. Leake’s sinkerball, which has induced opposing batters to hit groundballs at an above average rate of 51.5 percent this season, is the perfect antidote at home run happy Wrigley Field. With Leake’s opposing pitcher, Kyle Hendricks, being an effective pitcher at home, this matchup has the potential to be a fairly low scoring affair.
Zack Godley, (R), Diamondbacks, nine percent owned, vs. Reds
Venue: Chase Field, Phoenix, AZ, OH
Although Zack Godley is eventually expected to move into the Diamondbacks’ bullpen, he fits the bill as a good streaming candidate whom you can ride while he’s hot. He’s won his first three starts, pitching to a 1.50 ERA and 1.06 WHIP while striking out 17 in 18 innings pitched. Godley has shown that he can just as easily get batters to hit a groundball (54.5 percent of the time) or strikeout. Batters swing at his pitches that are out of the strike zone at an above average rate of 49.1 percent. He has also compiled a well above average 12.1 percent swinging strike rate so far this season. Although Chase Field is known as a good hitters park, the Reds’ overall team batting average drops 27 points and they have a .384 winning percentage when they play on the road. Look for Godley to have the advantage in this matchup, as he uses the element of surprise in his first ever start against the Reds.
Danny Duffy, (L) Royals, 20 percent owned, vs. White Sox
Venue: Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, MO
Danny Duffy has certainly suffered through his ups and downs over the past couple of seasons. His 2015 4.28 ERA and 1.43 WHIP are certainly nothing to write home about, but if you find yourself desperate for a starting pitcher who’ll be available on your league’s waiver wire this Sunday, Duffy is someone who might fit the bill. After posting a 2.53 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 149.1 innings last season, many were surprised when Duffy’s ERA ballooned to 5.87 by May 16 of this season. The good news is that since he was placed on the DL due to biceps tendinitis, Duffy has pitched to a 2.92 ERA since rejoining the Royals starting rotation on June 24. Duffy has won three of his four career decisions against the White Sox to go along with a 3.09 lifetime ERA against the team from the south side of Chicago. With the Chicago White Sox batting just .236 against left-handed pitching this season, Duffy has an opportunity to give the Royals and your Fantasy team a win in this matchup.
Jon Niese, (L), Mets, 15 percent owned vs. Rockies
Venue: Citi Field, Flushing, NY
Here come the Mets! The “Amazins” have won four in a row and are 20 games over .500 in their home park. Starter Jon Niese also elevates his level of play when he pitches at Citi Field. He pitches to a 3.62 home ERA compared to his 4.08 road ERA. On the other hand, the Colorado Rockies are a team that is moving in the opposite direction. Niese should be able to take advantage of the fact that Colorado’s .306 team batting home average drops to .242 when they play on the road. In addition, they are batting just .249 against lefty pitchers. The Rockies are 12 games under .500 away from Coors Field and have a 5-11 won/loss record since the All-Star break. Niese has given up three runs or fewer in nine of his last ten starts and should give the Mets the opportunity to win this game.
Erasmo Ramirez, (R), Rays, 29 percent owned vs. Braves
Venue: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, FL
With eight wins so far this season, Erasmo Ramirez has been a nice surprise for the Rays. Ramirez has significantly reduced his HR/9 and BB/9 rates this season, and he has been especially effective while pitching at home with a 2.89 ERA and 0.94 WHIP. Opposing batters are hitting just .216 against him, and he faces a Braves team that is 24th overall in runs scored. The Braves are 17 games under .500 on the road this season and have lost seven of their last ten games. There probably won’t be too many runs scored by either team in this matchup, but when you take the Braves’ futility when playing on the road into consideration, Ramirez has a good chance at notching his ninth win of the season.