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Silver League Update: Into a New ERA (NL Edition)

Well, in case you didn't notice, the trade deadline has now passed in many leagues. The way I found out involved my attempts to offer a trade. Well, I didn't need pitching that badly. I mean, 10th place in ERA is pretty good, right?

Whether you're behind in ERA like I am, or about to start your head-to-head playoffs like my wife, I thought I'd examine some pitchers that might be able to help us over the five and a half weeks we've got left. Last week we talked about pitchers who should be able to help in WHIP (sorry if you grabbed Marco Estrada because of me...), but ERA works a little differently. Specifically, it's a lot more luck dependent, so instead of looking at pitchers who've been pitching to good ERAs for the past year or month, I'll take more of a look at who has an easy--or hard--schedule coming up. Who will they play? Where will they play? You could probably use this same tactic to make educated guesses about wins, but then you'll have to care about who your pitcher plays for.

Ricky Nolasco (23% owned)  and Carlos Zambrano (20%)
I know what you're thinking: you hate Ricky Nolasco. He's tantalized too many times, and finally, this year, he's just plain been bad. True enough. You probably hate Big Z too, but the offenses they'll be facing for the rest of the season are here to help them out. While the Fish have a six games left  against the Braves (7th best offense), they also have six against the Mets (15th) and Phillies (23rd). More games against the Brewers and Nats shouldn't be too bad. Even Cincinatti is only 16th in runs scored, but I'd tread carefully there. Remember, the ERA isn't just up to Nolasco or Zambrano (who aren't horrible) it's also up to the hitters they face.

 Clayton Richard (21%) and Jason Marquis (5%)
With Padres pitchers, the good news is usually that they'll be pitching at home, and that's what these Pads ought to be doing. First, I suggest some patience. Pick these guys up for the playoffs (or just September) because the rest of August isn't exactly friendly. Starting on September 3rd, all but three of the Pads' games for the rest of the month will be at home or home-away-from-home in Los Angeles or San Francisco. They get six games against the Melky-less Giants (17th), and six more against the Dodgers (24th). They only way it could be better is if they could play themselves too....

Jhoulys Chacin (16%) and Drew Pomeranz (3%)
Speaking of guys who get to play the Padres, here are a couple of Rockies who haven't exactly been good this year. Or even okay, but Colorado pitchers are basically the opposite of their San Diego counterparts: don't play them at home. This pair at least has good enough stuff to put together a few good starts in a row. In theory. Starting this week, they're on the road against the Mets (15th) and Cubs (30th!) before going back home. I know they face the Padres in Coors, but I don't recommend the risk. In September the Rox have road games against the Braves (7th--don't push it here), Phillies (23rd), Giants (17th), and Dodgers (24th). 

Joe Blanton and Aaron Harang (both 19%)
I've recommended Blanton before and my wife paid for it, but I'll go ahead and do it again, just for fun. Most of their home starts and any starts in San Francisco or San Diego are favorable though, so I have to think the end of the year is a good time to have these guys. Sure enough, they've got nine games against the Giants (17th), three home games against the Marlins (29th), and six games against the Padres (28th). Go for it.

Barry Zito (19%)
Remember when this guy won the Cy Young? Now he's the only member of his own rotation available in enough league to mention here. Like his Dodger nemeses above, his home park makes nearly every game there worthwhile; the chance to pitch in LA and San Diego is just gravy. The Giants and Dodgers (24th) will square off nine times (in case you missed it above), while the Giants get the Padres (28th) six more times. Making things even better are the three games against Houston (27th) and the Cubs (30th). Even games against the D-Backs and Rockies seem more palatable when they happen in San Francisco, so why not enjoy some park-factor Zito stretch-run heroics?

Bronson Arroyo (15%) and Mike Leake (10%)
NL Central teams don't get the home park benefits of their Western opponents, but the good ones still get to play bottom-feeder offenses. The Reds get seven games against Philly (23rd), six against the Astros (27th), six against the Pirates (20th), and three each against the Marlins (29th), and Cubs (30th). Other than some Cardinal games to skip, look for Arroyo and Leake to boost their ERAs until the season ends.

Any Brewers Pitcher You Can Get Your Hands On
In the next two weeks, the Brew Crew has seven games against the Cubs (30th). Their other games are against Pittsburgh (20th), who they play a total of nine times until the end of the season. They've also got four games against the Marlins (29th), three against the Astros (27th), and three against the Padres (28th). It should get better for Mike Fiers, Marco Estrada, and company.

Jeff Karstens (10%) and Kevin Correia (3%)
With Correia coming back to the rotation there's an opportunity for success, but only if you're careful. The Pittsburgh schedule mixes three Padres (28th) starts, six Astros (27th), and seven Cubs (30th) with land mines like the Reds, Cardinals, and Braves. Tread carefully, but expect to sit your Buccos on the bench a couple times.

Patrick Corbin (15%) and Joe Saunders (14%)
Out of all the teams I looked at, the D-Backs might just have the friendliest schedule. Keep in mind that their home park is decidedly unfriendly, but it's still a good schedule. They have four games against the Marlins (29th), nine against the Padres (28th--only three in Petco, though), five against the Dodgers (24th--three in LA), nine against the Giants (17th--six on the road), and three against the Cubs (30th). In all of September, the only games to avoid are three at Coors Field. You don't have to be that good to succeed with a schedule like this one.

That's it for those I recommend from the NL, but I'll be back next week with more ideas about how to navigate the end of the year in the AL. In the meantime, good luck, because that's what you really need to get a month of good ERAs.


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