As I mentioned last week, at this stage of the game in many season long leagues, the only way to improve your team is by making wise and timely waiver wire moves. If you need to improve your Fantasy starting pitching staff, you need to analyze matchups and try to find value before your opponent does. This is a busy time of year for Fantasy Sports players. Although Fantasy Baseball season is starting to wind down and owners should be paying attention to their weekly lineups now more than ever, many are now losing focus and concentrating on preparing for the upcoming Fantasy Football season. Take advantage of those kind of Fantasy Baseball owners and keep on reading box scores and looking for that diamond in the rough. In order to further help you in your specific search for that extra starting pitcher, I’ve identified another seven starters who are owned in between 14-51 percent of Yahoo! Sports Fantasy leagues, who have favorable matchups from August 19-25. 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 August 18.
Nathan Eovaldi (R), Blue Jays, 35 percent owned, vs. Twins
Venue: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY
Nathan Eovaldi’s last start against the Indians wasn’t pretty, but even though he didn’t have his best stuff, he still managed to keep the Yankees in the game as he picked up his seventh consecutive win dating back to June 20. Of course, you don’t have to be on your “A” game
when your team’s bats back you up with the second highest runs scored per nine innings total. In his next start against the Twins, Eovaldi gets the luxury of pitching at Yankee Stadium, where the Yanks are 12 games over .500 this season. In addition, Eovaldi has been much more effective when pitching in the Bronx. He has a 3.41 home ERA as opposed to his 4.94 ERA when he pitches on the road. The Yanks have taken three out of four against the Twins so far this season, and Eovaldi gave up just two runs across eight innings in his last start against the Twinkies. Look for him to keep the Yanks in the game as he goes for “lucky” win number 13 on Wednesday night.
Kyle Hendricks, (R), Cubs, 25 percent owned, vs. Braves
Venue: Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL
All signs point to the Braves having a very tough night of it against the Cubs on Thursday. Kyle Hendricks faces an anemic Atlanta Braves offense that has scored the fifth fewest runs in baseball this season at home, where his overall 3.97 ERA drops to 3.39. Statistically, the Cubs’ offense has been mediocre this season. However, they are white hot, having won 15 out of their last 17 games. Hendricks pitched well against the Braves in his only start against them, and if you combine their lack of ability to score runs and the fact that the Braves are 20 games under .500 on the road this season, the only remaining question is, why don’t more Fantasy Managers own shares in Kyle Hendricks?
Luis Severino, (R), Yankees, 51 percent owned, vs. Indians
Venue: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY
Luis Severino’s confidence and poise seems to have grown with every one of his first three major league starts. Armed with a 98 MPH fastball, a hard change and a slider, which is the pitch that betrays him on occasion, Severino has struck out 18 batters in the 17 innings he’s pitched so far. If you watch this kid pitch, it’s easy to see why Yankee GM Brian Cashman was reluctant to include him in a trade deadline deal last month. Severino pitched well in his first start against the Indians on the road and has the bonus of making his next start at Yankee Stadium, where the Yankees bats come alive. Opposing major league batters are hitting just .222 against Severino in his limited work so far, and although the Indians may make some changes to their offensive strategy when they face him this time around, they have been a weaker offensive team when they play on the road.
Joe Ross, (R), Nationals 36 percent owned vs. Brewers
Venue: Nationals Park, Washington, DC
Since struggling in his first two major league starts, Joe Ross has rolled off seven consecutive outings in which he hasn’t given up more than three runs. He faces a Milwaukee Brewers team that has struggled all season long but whose bats have gone even quieter in recent days. The Brewers have a slash line of .220/.257/.341 over the past week. Although they have lost six games in a row and are now one game under .500, the Nationals are a much better team when they play at home, as their 31-23 won/loss record at Nationals Park would suggest. With a 9.06 K/9 rate and 13.4 percent swinging strike rate, Ross has done a good job missing bats, and he’s limited the traffic on the base paths with his 1.51 BB/9 rate. Ross’ SIERA, xFIP and FIP statistics suggest that he is pitching much better than his overall 3.86 ERA would indicate.
Kevin Gausman, (R) Orioles, 14 percent owned, vs. Twins
Venue: Camden Yards, Baltimore, MD
Kevin Gausman is another starter who pitches better when he’s fed home cooking and gets to sleep in his own bed. Gausman pitches to a 1.50 ERA in the hitter friendly confines of Camden Yards as opposed to his 6.44 ERA when he pitches on the road. Perhaps Gausman likes pitching at home better because he knows that he’ll have the support of an Orioles’ lineup whose overall team batting average is 36 points higher when they play in front of a home crowd. With a 16.8 percent line drive rate, 11.1 percent swinging strike rate and a significantly reduced BB/9 rate this season, Gausman’s peripheral stats are much improved as compared to last season. With a fastball that tops out in the upper 90 MPH range and the appearance that the Orioles have finally committed to keeping him firmly entrenched within their starting rotation, Gausman should be able to continue to find his rhythm and carry on with his career development. Look for Gausman to provide you with a quality start against a Twins team that is batting just .224 when they play on the road.
Ivan Nova, (R), Yankees, 15 percent owned vs. Astros
Venue: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY
With a 16 percent ownership rate in Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Leagues, many seem to have forgotten that Ivan Nova won 37 games between the 2011 and 2013 seasons. There is no telling what his stats would have looked like had he not had to battle injuries that eventually led him to have to undergo Tommy John surgery. When healthy, at worst, Nova would have been considered one of the final pieces of your Fantasy pitching staff. Not all pitchers are able to pitch successfully when they come back from having had their ulnar collateral ligament reconstructed, but Nova has pitched well since making his season debut on June 24. Since then, he has given up three or fewer runs in seven of his nine starts. We’ve already discussed the fact that the Yankees are a much better team when they play at home, but in addition Nova’s opponent, the AL Central leading Astros are 11 games under .500 and struggle with the bat when they play on the road. Overall, they are a free-swinging team that is second in the majors with 1,037 offensive strikeouts, but their home batting average and slugging percentage of .248 and .456 dips to .236 and .388 when they take their act on the road. The Astros do have some firepower in their lineup, and it might not be a cakewalk, but Nova has a good chance of pitching effectively in this matchup.
Danny Duffy, (L), Royals, 22 percent owned vs. Orioles
Venue: Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, MO
As I mentioned previously, the Orioles offense is much tamer when they play on the road, and they face a Royals team with a home won/loss record that is 22 games over .500 and enjoys a huge home field advantage against their opponents. Starter Danny Duffy has only 12.1 innings pitched against the Orioles in his career. However, he has recorded a 1.46 ERA and 0.81 WHIP in that relatively small sample size. Duffy has been coming on strong since coming off of the disabled list earlier this season, having given up three or fewer runs in eight of his last 10 starts. Like the Royals, the Orioles won/loss record suffers when they play on the road. They are 16 games over .500 at home and 11 games under .500 when they are the visiting team, a fact which should work in Duffy’s favor in this matchup.