Waiver Wire


Stock Watch: The Last Chance or the Bitter End?

Can you believe it’s the last Stock Watch of the year? Me Neither. And yet, here we are, at another end-of-the-season frenetic pennant race. And at the end of the season, all the old rules are gone.

You might have noticed things getting a little weird on your waiver wire. If you didn’t, check out my post from yesterday. See, I told you things have gotten weird. 

Things like this move I made this morning: I dropped the perfectly good Charlie Blackmon for the perfectly terrible Emilio Bonifacio. Yeah. Why? Because Blackmon has only four games left (instead of five), one in San Diego and three in Los Angeles against the Dodgers and I need steals. Injured and disappointing players are finally getting tossed back into the free agent pool, giving you the possibility of seeing Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez on the wire, along with Joey Votto and Jacoby Elsbury. Don't get excited. That’s just a sample from my leagues; where it really gets strange is in just how much our waiver wires will begin to differ in the final days of the season, especially after ace pitchers throw their last regular season games. (I predict some Clayton Kershaw and Chris Sale drops in the near future, among others.)

So there’s a lot to sort out. Especially when you remember to check in on any starter you pick up and see who he’s facing and in what park. Case in point: Derek Holland (39% owned in Yahoo! leagues) is pretty widely available. He’s got a 1.31 ERA in 34.1 IP on the season and a history of talented pitching.  A good pickup. But his last start will be in Texas against an Oakland A’s squad that isn’t as bad as their “historic” collapse—and that seems to be un-collapsing. Not so good. I’m still on the fence with Holland, but I’m inclined to let him go at this point. 

Let’s check out some high-potential hitters the usual way, and then check out some starters, with extra emphasis on who they’re playing and where. 

Shallow Leagues (30-50% Owned)

Adam Eaton (47%) continues to play well, does a little of everything.

Javier Baez (45%) does everything but batting average…at which he is very, very bad. But the Cubs are committed to him.

Steve Pearce (44%) is on such fire that I can’t not recommend him. Maybe only 44% of leagues are still going on?

Nori Aoki (41%) is hitting over .380 over the last month. Sustainable? Obviously not. A good predictor of his talent? Certainly, no. Worth using? Yeah. Also, didn’t his name used to be longer?

Chase Headley (39%) has been a pretty good, quiet producer for New York. Especially in runs scored.

Kennys Vargas (39%) might be the best source of power on the waiver wire. Well, him and Pearce.

Jed Lowrie (39%) has had a rough year, but some games in Texas could be just what he needs.

Dioner Navarro (34%) is still playing at home, and the Blue Jays are scoring tons of runs.

Domonic Brown (33%) is back from his hand injury, and he’d finally been hitting before. He’s got to be desperate to earn next year’s playing time, so take a chance if you’re desperate too.

You know I want you to pick up Kolten Wong (32%).

Medium Leagues (20-30% Owned)

Adam Lind (30%) has been pretty much on fire lately, batting over .340 in the past month.

Adam Dunn (30%) will be playing in Texas. How is that a combination to leave on the waiver wire. Pick him up!

A.J. Pollock (29%) offers good speed…and actual hitting ability. Not common at this stage of the game, not at all.

Lorenzo Cain (29%) offers even more speed…and he’s been hitting well too. Definitely useful as the season winds down.

James Loney (27%). Batting average. You already know.

Jordy Mercer (26%) has had a nicely productive little month. Remember, he’s a shortstop—it doesn’t take much.

Luis Valbuena (23%) defied my prediction and kept hitting. Thanks a lot, Luis.

Avisail Garcia (22%) is making the most of his mostly-missed season.

Justin Turner (20%) has got to get an award for most valuable part-timer or something.

Deep Leagues (Under 20% Owned)

Chris Coghlan (18%) is batting .320 in the last month.

Oswaldo Arcia (15%) is a relatively promising power source.

Wilmer Flores (14%) is making me want to hit up a Mets game before the season ends. Because he’s hitting so well, just so that’s actually clear.

Jake Marisnick (13%) has offered a little bit of everything this month.

Tyler Flowers (10%) has been on this list so much that I’m inclined to think he’s actually good. Maybe I'll draft him next year.

Arismendy Alcantara (10%) is yet another all-power, sub-Mendoza young Cub. I guess it’s just the two of them, but it seems like a lot.

Speaking of power, Dayan Viciedo (8%) can’t hit for average either, but he’s smacked five homers this month.

Daniel Nava (5%) has been playing well enough to use lately.

Jarrod Dyson (5%) has not, but he’s your guy if you lost two points in steals in the last two days—like me! 

Jose Ramirez (5%) is a lot better, just because he plays short. Also a speed source.

Rougned Odor (4%) not only has the coolest name in baseball, but he’s playing at home and on a nice hot streak.

Welington Castillo (3%) is contributing across the board for deep leaguers in need of a catcher.

Freddy Galvis (3%) has been a pretty hot hitter since returning to the Majors last month. And he plays pretty much every position.

Some Pitchers to Go For

Masahiro Tanaka is scheduled to pitch against Boston this week, so if someone gave up on him, scoop him up. Or just don’t forget to take him out of that DL slot.

Mike Fiers gets the Cubs on the last day of the season, so that’s pretty nice.

Jake Peavy should enjoy facing the Padres, even though the game will be in San Francisco.

C.J. Wilson just got rocked for a 54.00 ERA, but his final start will be against the deflated Mariners, in Seattle. Good chance of a bounceback.

I’m picking up Bartolo Colon right now for his final start: at home against the Astros. Who could ask for more? I’m picking up Jon Niese too, for the exact same reason. You know what, I’m just gonna give in and become a Mets fan.

Aaron Harang recommends himself by facing the Phillies.

Tsuyoshi Wada gets to face Milwaukee, which seems like a pretty good opportunity, given their play. It looked like a terrible matchup when I first looked at the schedule over a month ago, but hey, things change.

I kept thinking Cory Rasmus was the knockoff Colby Rasmus or something. Turns out he pitches for the Angels, is off to a really strong start, and gets to face the Mariners.

Two guys for today: Yusmeiro Petit (against the Padres) and Edinson Volquez (against the Braves). Good enough pitchers, fantastic matchups. And then you can drop ‘em, because their regular seasons will be done.



RotoAuthority Unscripted: Your Guide to the End of the World

Okay, maybe “end of the world” is too dramatic. Technically we still have the playoffs to look forward to, and I guess some of you probably have those new “fantasy football” teams to manage in the fall. But for us at RotoAuthority (or, at least me, I actually didn’t think to ask the other guys) fantasy baseball has been life since January and the nail-biting end-of-the-season pennant races carry with them an air of finality. Win or lose, the game will be over soon. 

Well, that’s kind of depressing. Fortunately, it gets worse. 

That’s right, just like in the times before the real end of the world (as depicted in the movies), a time of anarchy and social breakdown is upon us in the fantasy baseball realm. Check out your league’s transaction pages. Seriously, tab over to your league home and scroll through your league’s transactions. They’re crazy.

Proof that the World is Ending

My personal favorites are the ones where somebody picks up an injured star like David Wright or Starlin Castro…and then drops them in their next waiver move.

But some are more illustrative: one team picked up Mike Zunino and dropped Jacoby Ellsbury.  The latter might be back this week, but who can take a chance on his return for injury? And given the choice of pickup, I’m willing to bet this owner needed power anyway.

Here’s another: this owner dropped suddenly-awesome pitcher Carlos Carrasco for Jake Marisnick. Not only is the speedy outfielder surging in popularity, but Carrasco won’t pitch again until the last day of the season…and you really never know what will happen on the season’s final day. For this owner, the possibility of one last Carrasco start in five days wasn’t enough to keep them from getting almost a week’s worth of Marisnick. Plus, maybe Carrasco will still be on the waiver wire in a couple days....

How about this: Alejandro De Aza added, Michael Morse dropped. This owner is riding De Aza’s hot streak (which is getting him playing time) and enjoying De Aza’s speed. As for Morse? How well will his power play in the last week? Probably not too good, as he gets to fight for the NL Wild Card on the California coast.

One owner added Steve Pearce and dropped Juan Lagares. This one interests me because it would be totally reasonable the other way around. Clearly, this owner doesn’t need speed and does need power—if someone needs speed, I’d expect Lagares to find his way onto another team pretty quick.

Jay Bruce got picked up and Josh Hamilton dropped. Bruce actually stuck around on the waiver wire for a long time—it wasn’t until now that someone was willing to take the batting average risk. 

Closers (especially of the newly-minted variety) are showing up in a lot of transactions too, as owners sort out who can actually use a few more saves from the likes of Ken Giles, Zach Putnam, and Edward Mujica.

Owners who are coming close to their innings cap are shedding starters like…well, like stuff you shed. I was gonna say flies, but that didn’t make sense and it was gross. Many of those with daylight between their team’s IP total and the league cap are streaming starters to gain ground in wins and strikeouts. If you’ve got a shallow league, you might even be able to target nothing but the next day’s best matchups and help your ERA and WHIP too.

How to Thrive in the Apocalypse

When I was in college, I had some friends that, I think, actually would have welcomed a zombie apocalypse for its survival challenge. Maybe this feeling wasn’t so uncommon given how many movies and TV shows are out there on exactly this topic, but thriving in the fantasy baseball apocalypse was never really on anyone’s radar. Until now.

Step One: Take stock of the situation. There are no actual zombies here, so take the opportunity to check your place in the standings of each category carefully. Where can you move up in less than a week? Where might you lose ground? Or, if you’re playing for your life in the playoffs, what are your opponents’ strengths?

Do they have Billy Hamilton and Dee Gordon? Forget about steals. Do they have seven closers? Maybe toss yours and concentrate on starts. Where will your squad be playing? Your Colorado guys might have killed it for you last week (I know that I enjoyed the five combined homers from Michael Cuddyer and Wilin Rosario)…but the Rockies are on the road for the rest of the season, and in extreme California pitchers’ parks, so you know how I repaid ‘em? By sending them to the waiver wire, of course. Hey, the end of the world is a cutthroat place.

Step Two: Think Short-Term. Very short term. You aren’t trying to build a new civilization underground—you’re just trying to go out with the biggest bang you can. That might well mean having an unconventional-looking team. Maybe you need to make up ten steals, so you pick up Lagares, Marisnick, Jarrod Dyson, Jordan Schaeffer, Emilio Bonifacio, and Lorenzo Cain. Maybe you can snag a couple points in homers an RBI, so you go after Pearce, Arismendy Alcantara, Tyler Flowers, Wilmer Flores, and Kennys Vargas. Or maybe you actually need to take care of your batting average, so you don’t do either of those things.

Short-term thinking is most important with your pitchers, however. With just one or two starts left, none of these pitchers will be throwing at their true talent level; instead they’ll be rooted in particular parks and against particular opposing hitters. Some of those situations will be a lot better than others. Sure Taijuan Walker is an electric arm and a great strikeout generator…but do you really want him against Toronto? Sonny Gray has had an excellent year…but his last two games are against the Angels and in Texas. Maybe that’s not so good. Danny Salazar’s got his last game today against the Royals—that’s not bad. Derek Holland has just one more start, at home, against Oakland. That’s pretty bad. Yusmeiro Petit will face the Padres. Got to love that, even if it’s in San Francisco.

You get the idea. Good pitchers may be a bad idea. If you’d leave them on your bench, it’s time to drop them. Lesser pitchers with good matchups may be a good idea. There is a tomorrow, but there’s no next week. Go get ‘em.



Stock Watch: Late September Hope

I was thinking to myself that the end of the season is truly the mirror image of its beginning. 

Then I realized how obvious that idea is and I felt kinda dumb.

I guess breaking it down won’t do it much good, but maybe it’ll help a little. We’ve got about two weeks of games left at this point (more like 11 or 12 games actually), and instead of making our waiver wire picks based on a small sample size we hope to extrapolate into a large one, we’re making picks based on a nice, large sample…and hoping they work out over a stretch of 12 games.

And I thought the era of two Wild Cards was supposed to give us hope in late September.

The good news, though, is that there are things we can know about and can predict: things like quality of opponents and tendencies of parks. The sorts of things that help fuel those epic late-year drives…and the collapses that are their all-too-frequent corollaries. Stock Watch won’t be a perfectly exact science this week…but it ought to do you better than random guessing.

But no promises.

Shallow Leagues (30-50% Owned in Yahoo! Leagues)

Javier Baez (47%) will wreak havoc on your batting average—but that power is here to play. Consider him a situational pickup for those who’ve give up average or who are so good they can handle his sub-Mendoza line.

Adam Eaton (46%) is playing good and stealing bases. His schedule is pretty mixed, but those games in Detroit don’t look as bad as they used to.

Russell Martin (46%) is way better in real baseball, but he’s got plenty of fantasy value. The Brewers’ and Reds’ pitching staffs should see to that. Jordy Mercer (31%) is another Pirate who could have a good end to the year.

Lonnie Chisenhall (42%) doesn’t have any schedule-related extremes that should keep you from picking him up if you need 3B help. He’s not as good as the beginning of the season, but he’s not useless either.

Kennys Vargas (40%) has too many games in Minnesota (which should help his team score runs but depress his homers), so if you’re looking for homers look elsewhere—but, then again, Vargas has a lot of power and isn’t facing any pitching that still scares me. Call him a maybe, I guess.

Dioner Navarro (40%) is a great potential source of homers. All the rest of his games are at home, at Yankee Stadium, or in Baltimore. But mostly at home. Pick him up. Adam Lind (31%) should also enjoy the last couple weeks of the season.

Kolten Wong (34%) is a must for anyone interested in speed or second base. Why do I keep talking this guy up? Because he’s playing the Brewers and Reds at home (hitters’ park, bad opposing pitchers) and finishes the season in Arizona (extreme hitters’ park, terrible opposing pitchers). You don't have to be good to hit with a schedule like that! Pick up any Cardinals you see.

By the way, why is Steve Pearce (34%) still on the waiver wire? Seriously.

James Paxton (47%) should be owned just about everywhere—he’s picked up right where he left off at the beginning of the season. He should rise above some relatively tough matchups.

Brandon McCarthy (41%) has been great and should also get two more starts after today’s: at home against a (probably) resting-the-veterans Orioles and then against the Red Sox.

Henderson Alvarez (40%) is another guy starting today who should get two more starts: his are against the hapless Phillies and against the, again, probably resting-the-stars Nationals at the very end of the season. Jarred Cosart (30%) gets those same matchups.

Bartolo Colon (38%) should be pitching the last game of the year against the Astros. At home. Got to like that. 

Jake Odorizzi (37%) is really good. But that’s tempered by the fact that his last couple starts are nothing exciting.

Derek Holland (35%) not only looks good for this year, but I’d be getting ready to draft him for next year.

Medium Leagues (20-30% Owned)

James Loney (28%) shouldn’t be prevented by his schedule to keep doing what he does.

Juan Lagares (27%) looks like he’s emerging as a steals threat. Also, most of the rest of the Mets’ games are on the road. Not that he’s a power guy, but it should help. Travis d’Arnaud (25%) should also be happy to be playing on the road for a while.

A.J. Pollock (23%) has just been great since coming back. Arizona’s got a hitting-favorable schedule, but I’d have been recommending Pollock anyway. 

Drew Stubbs (22%) is just the guy for your team…through Sunday. This series at home against Arizona is just the time to use Stubbs. Then let him go, because the Rockies finish the year on the road in San Diego and Los Angeles.

Lorenzo Cain (22%) keeps on stealing…when he plays.

Oscar Taveras (21%) is another Cardinal to take advantage of.

Yusmeiro Petit (29%) doesn’t seem to have much left to prove. Roll him out there.

Don’t use Jorge De La Rosa (23%) tonight, but his next start will be in San Diego; then he should get the season’s last game in LA, against a Dodgers team that will (presumably) be preparing itself for the playoffs. A sneaky-good pickup, if you ask me.

Deep Leagues (Under 20% Owned)

Guess who Jon Jay (17%) plays for. Yeah, the Cardinals. Go for it.

Avisail Garcia (17%) is an interesting see-what-you-have kind of play.

Conor Gillaspie (15%) doesn’t have the time to help your batting average, but if you’re needing a third baseman to do no harm, he’s your guy.

Mike Zunino (14%) and Mark Reynolds (13%) offer power-at-all-costs. Same as always.

Oswaldo Arcia (11%) has been relatively productive lately; home games could cost him homers but help in other areas.

Gerardo Parra (9%) and the Brewers have a pretty good hitting schedule for the rest of the year. I wouldn’t be surprised if they produced decently—which is usually a lot to ask at this level of ownership.

Jose Ramirez (6%) is finding favor with the Indians, plays both middle infield positions and steals some bases. Cool.

Chris Owings (6%) should benefit from Arizona’s favorable schedule for hitters.

If Jarrod Dyson (5%) can steal bases off the bench for Kansas City, he probably can for you too, if you’re desperate for speed.

Trevor Bauer (14%) has a couple of okay starts left…I guess I’m not that excited, but this is the level at which excitement is usually unwarranted.

Shane Greene (12%) should have three starts left. So if you need quantity, he could be your guy. The Blue Jays, Orioles, and Red Sox could be easier opponents, though.

Jeremy Hellickson (10%) gets the White Sox and Indians. Could be worse.

Odrisamer Despaigne (7%) has two starts left, both against the Giants. His next one is at home, so he’s worth using for that. See how hard the Giants are fighting for the Wild Card before making a decision to use Despaigne in the less-friendly game at San Francisco next week.

Drew Pomeranz (5%) is supposed to get a spot start against the Phillies on Saturday. That’s the sort of thing to watch for and take advantage of.

Run Away (Seriously, Don’t Pick These Guys Up)

Brandon Belt, Michael Morse, and Angel Pagan all look like they could help a shallow league team…but they can’t. After today’s Arizona game, the Giants will be doing nothing but play in pitchers’ parks in San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Stay away from Giants hitters.

For the same reason we like the Blue Jays’ hitters, we have to stay away from their pitchers—even the highly talented ones like Marcus Stroman. Save Blue Jays pitchers for next year.



Stock Watch: The Exciting Part

Stock Watch, like the baseball season itself, is nearly at an end. And like the baseball season, Stock Watch is just now getting to its most exciting point.

Okay, maybe not if you’re stuck with the hopeless task of dragging your team from eighth place to seventh, but if you’re desperately trying to claw into first place or beat your first week’s playoff matchup, yeah, we’re reaching the climax of the season.

Yesterday, we talked about the strategy of just trying to get through the week (also, I made oblique references to Duran Duran, but not as many as I’d hoped) and I’ll stand by that idea for anyone in the playoffs…and pretty close to it for roto leagues too. (You keeper leaguers are on your own, as usual.) But just in case you feel the need to do things like plan ahead, check out our September Values feature for a look at some players who have the chance to overperform their talent thanks to the parks they’ll be playing in or the quality of their opponents.

Wow, between those last couple articles, I guess you don’t need Stock Watch at all. I guess I’ll call it a season….

All right, enough fake self-effacing. I wanted to think of a clever transition between useful past articles and the fact that keeping Stock Watch up-to-date was still relevant, but this was the best I could come up with. So before my creative writing skills are tested (any further) past their limits, let’s just move on to the players.

Shallow Leagues (Owned in 30-50% of Leagues)

Collin McHugh (49%) continues to dominate. He’s probably owned by everyone who reads this column, but seriously, tell your friends or something.

Javier Baez (49%) and Mookie Betts (47%) might be part of a pretty bright shortstop future, but they’re also part of a pretty bright present. Baez isn’t hitting for average, but he’s producing power and speed, and the Cubs get to face the soft underbelly of NL Central pitching this month. Betts is doing everything that Baez is…but also hitting for average. In my mind, these guys should be universally owned. Plus, both play an extra position in Yahoo! leagues.

Dustin Ackley (45%) is another middle infielder producing power and speed over the last month. He’s not exactly a prospect anymore, but he’s producing.

Kennys Vargas (45%) might be next year’s Matt Adams-type—that is, he didn’t really get much attention before coming up, but just didn’t stop hitting and forced us to think seriously about him in the draft. Anyway, he’s hitting for power and average, and Minnesota’s Target Field may depress homers, but has actually increased scoring this year—by a lot.

James Paxton (45%) isn’t generating a ton of strikeouts, but he’s pitching quite well anyway and gets to enjoy one of baseball’s best pitching parks.

Jake Odorizzi (45%) has kept his WHIP under 1.00 for the last month—which is particularly important since giving up too many walks is his only real drawback.

The success of Kyle Hendricks (41%) continues, and it continues to surprise me. I don’t like the Cubbies’ schedule for pitchers this month almost as much as I do like it for their hitters, but there it is: Hendricks has been awesome.

Brock Holt (41%) is scoring and stealing like crazy. A great option for a shallow bench, since he plays just about everywhere.

Bartolo Colon (40%) will get to enjoy a nice schedule and (unless his turn in the rotation is really unlucky) a bunch of home games.

Brandon McCarthy (38%) keeps on pitching really, really well for the Yankees.

Jed Lowrie (38%) is off to a pretty good start since returning from the DL.

I mentioned Kolten Wong (36%) yesterday for his good matchups this week, but those should continue all month. Love the Cards’ schedule for hitters.

Dioner Navarro (34%) is hitting better than most catchers, and yet is not widely owned.

Nick Castellanos (33%) isn’t doing anything truly special, but racking up Runs and RBI anyway. It’s good to play for the Tigers.

Medium Leagues (Owned in 20-30% of Leagues)

Brad Miller (30%) is finally showing some of why he seemed to have offensive promise before the season.

Scooter Gennett (28%) is not the reason for the Brewers’ offensive malaise; he’ll still help your average, and maybe Runs and RBI. 

Luis Valbuena (28%) is cheap power at 2B and 3B. Who needs Kris Bryant anyway?

Juan Lagares (28%) has stolen nine bases in the last month and actually hit the ball too.

Jarred Cosart (27%) has gotten amazing results without dominating through strikeouts. Naturally, I’m skeptical, but sometimes it takes awhile for hitters to catch up to my disbelief.

Miguel Gonzalez (25%) has pretty much the same story as Cosart, plus his team is coasting into the playoffs. Who could have predicted we could say that about the Orioles in this lifetime, let alone this year?

Travis d’Arnaud (25%) might have to hit in the Mets’ CitiField, but he should still be owned—at the least—in every two-catcher league. And he might be better than your catcher in single leagues too.

James Loney (24%) must be a favorite here, but hey, consistent average is hard to find. For what it’s worth (not much) he hit for power last month too.

Drew Stubbs (22%) has a little power, a little speed, and a Colorado home park. How is he not more loved than this?

Derek Holland (22%) has been great in two starts since coming off the DL. Pick him up. Now.

Jacob Turner (21%) keeps hitting while playing all over the diamond. Not a ton of playing time, but he’s batting nearly .370.

Oscar Taveras (21%) is finally hitting!

Dillon Gee (21%) and Jon Niese (20%) pitch for the Mets. They have a bunch of home games. They don’t have to be that good to be good for your fantasy team.

Tsuyoshi Wada (20%) will have an uphill battle against tough NL Central hitters…but man, has he been good so far. Keep an eye on him, as this month is likely to be a good test of his staying power.

Deep Leagues (Owned in Under 20% of Leagues)

Kendrys Morales (19%) might have finally busted out of his season-long funk: he’s hit five homers and sports a respectable .255 batting average in the last month. Maybe don’t sit out till May next year….

Jon Jay (19%) has been hitting for a huge average for the last month. With a favorable schedule, he could even keep it up.

Steve Pearce (19%) is the Orioles’ latest Chris Davis. Okay, maybe without quite so much power, but also without the whole hitting .200 thing.

Drew Hutchison (19%) has struck out nearly a batter per inning in the last month. But yeah, pitching in Toronto is still scary. Tom Koehler (18%) has done pretty much the same thing, but he gets to pitch in the NL East. Bud Norris (17%) is another whiff-per-inning guy, and he might give the best possibility for wins out of this trio.

Joe Panik (18%) now has a .400 average in his last 100 AB. Not ignorable, even if it’s not sustainable.

Jordy Mercer (17%) has provided more-than-customary power in the last month from the middle infield and hits in a potent Pittsburgh lineup.

Lorenzo Cain (17%) is for those who need an influx of steals.

A.J. Pollock (17%) was hitting great. Then he went on the DL. Now he’s back. It’s only been two games, but he’s hitting great. Not convinced? Ask RotoGraphs.

Yusmeiro Petit (17%) just dominated. Again. Maybe the onetime-prospect-turned-journeyman-turned-reliever-turned-emergency-replacement-for-Time Lincecum has finally found his footing in a Major League rotation. It’s certainly worth a roster spot to find out.

Kevin Gausman (13%) could be a very good source of both SP counting stats. Can’t really say the same for ERA and WHIP.

Josh Collmenter (11%) has been really, really good lately. He’s a pick-up-and-drop option, though, because Arizona pitchers have very little shelf life until they become deadly to your team—they spend the whole second half of September in hitters’ parks, mostly against good-hitting teams.

Arismendy Alcantara (11%) can’t hit the Mendoza line, but he can smack five homers in a month. You know it: Cubs schedule.

Tyler Flowers (10%) also hit five homers in the last month. Hey, second catchers don’t grow on trees.

Jordan Schafer (10%) is hitting over .300 with seven steals in the last month.

Oswaldo Arcia (8%) has smacked eight homers in the last month. He hasn’t hit for any average, but that much power is worth a look.

Odrisamer Despaigne (7%) hasn’t been any good lately—but he should be getting more starts in San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles for the rest of the season.

Ender Inciarte, Jose Ramirez, and Jarrod Dyson (all 5%) have been good steals sources in the last month.

Jonathan Schoop (5%) has hit a bunch of homers and plays 2B/3B.



RotoAuthority Unscripted: All You Need is Now

So you made it into the playoffs. Nice. I suppose. Too bad your work ain’t done yet. Playing three straight weeks of sudden-death may add excitement to the season’s last month, but it also adds a significant element of luck…which means you should sit tight, cross your fingers, eat a chicken dinner every night (Wade Boggs style, for you kids who don’t know) and make sure not to touch the white lines when your run off the field, because there’s nothing you can do, right? 

You know that’s not right. (Except the chicken dinners part—go ahead.) With luck comes the opportunity to make your own, assuming you’ve got any roster flexibility at all. If you don’t, well…maybe stay away from those white lines after all. But most of us have some players we can drop, space to pick someone up for a week—or a single game—just to take advantage of the matchups. Which means taking advantage of the real-life matchups and the matchup your opponent offers.

Now, let’s back up a moment, because our roto-style readers are starting to feel their eyes glaze over with all this playoff talk. Wake up! This stuff applies to you (us) too. Not quite as heavily, to be sure, but our time is running out too and that means that playing matchups (and categories) for super-short-term gain is what we need to be doing. So pay attention and use the elements of this article that you can. The other stuff, well by this time you should know what to ignore in my writing by now. 

First step in the playoffs: get to know your opponent. This is sudden death; you aren’t trying to do anything so abstract as pick up an average of 3.5 RBI per week to make up a point and a half in the category by season’s end. You just need to beat this one opponent, this one time. (Uh…that’s not you, roto-leaguers.)

Here’s a for-instance for you: I’m in a playoff matchup against a team that’s lost the SB category only once all year. The only question is how a team with Dee Gordon and Billy Hamilton lost the category that one time. Anyway, what did I do? I dropped Rajai Davis and picked up Adam Dunn. If I need steals next week, well, hopefully Davis is still there. But my team hasn’t made it to next week yet, and there’s no guarantee it will. Yet.

So check out your opponent and see what their strengths and weaknesses are before making your moves. Then, it’s time to get down to business.

Another thing you should do in the playoffs (but maybe not in roto formats): quit speculating on guys who might produce in the future. Joc Pederson? Gone. George Springer? Dropped. Your next start is in Colorado? Out. (Just kidding. Colorado is on the road all week—so bench or drop their hitters!) If you ain’t helping this week, you’re hitting the waiver wire. All you need is now.

Who’s worth your attention this week, then? Let’s take a look at the pitching matchups around the league, with an eye on guys who might actually be available.

Starters

Collin McHugh starts today at Seattle, Jacob deGrom pitches at home against the Rockies, and Yusmeiro Petit takes on the Diamondbacks in San Francisco. I love those guys for right-away pickups.

Roberto Hernandez and Dan Haren get to take on the Padres in Los Angeles. It might not be Petco, but it’s still a nice combination for the pitchers.

Jake Odorizzi is just generally underowned, but don’t get scared off when you see “@NYY” as his matchup—that just isn’t what it used to be.

Tanner Roark gets to take on the Mets in New York, which is a truly sweet matchup. Actually, CitiField is so pitcher-friendly that I’d consider picking up his opponent, Bartolo Colon, as well as Jon Niese, who pitches later in the week. (But it’s always better to get the guy pitching against the Mets first.)

Jason Hammel will be taking on the Mariners in Seattle, and later Sonny Gray and James Paxton will face off in a hopefully-epic pitchers’ duel in that same pitching-friendly park. I guess Grey isn’t available, though.

Hector Santiago will face the Astros in Los Angeles, which should be a nice opportunity for strikeouts.

Relievers

If your matchup says that saves are an attainable win for you this week (and not a totally assured win), make sure there are no closers left on the wire for your opponent to pick up. Jenrry Mejia (52% owned in Yahoo! leagues) may be available, as could Neftali Feliz (49%), Chad Qualls (37%), Eduard Mujica (24%), and Jake Petricka (22%). If these guys are on your waiver wire and you lose the saves category, you won’t be able to blame the machines….

Hitters

It’s here that your particular matchup will be most influential, because the hitters you actually need might be very different to the hitters that are actually good. But here are some guys who could be primed for decent weeks. (As much as can be guessed, anyway.)

Mookie Betts (45% owned) has games against Baltimore and Kansas City, is playing hot, and is eligible at SS and OF. Is that really worse than the guy you’re running out there? Maybe it isn’t.

Lonnie Chisenhall (40%) scared me off with games in Detroit in the second half of this week…but then I remembered how much trouble the Tigers’ pitching staff has run into, and the fact that their park is very hitting-friendly. Keep him away from David Price and Max Scherzer, but it’s a good week to have him. Plus, he’s hitting better this month than he was earlier in the second half.

Chase Headley (40%) also does okay, with games against Tampa Bay and in Baltimore. With the Orioles’ weak staff and the Rays being more or less ready to let the season to run out, these matchups are better than they look at first glance.

Russell Martin (40%) plays against the Phillies and Cubs all week, which makes him a pretty nice option for an emergency catcher—or even a replacement for your starter if he’s got tough opponents this week.

Jed Lowrie (38%) gets to play in Chicago (AL) until Thursday…but let him go after that, as he’ll be in Seattle.

Kolten Wong (35%) and Oscar Taveras (21%) get to face the Reds and Rockies. That. Is. Nice.

Adam Dunn (35%) returns to his former and homer-friendly park in Chicago. A great option if you expect to be in a fight for home runs. Like Lowrie, he gets to play in Seattle after that, so be ready to use the drop button.

Dioner Navarro (33%) doesn’t have great matchups, with the Cubs and Rays—but both should be easier opponents than they have been at other parts of the year. And he’s red-hot right now. And he gets to play all week at his launching-pad home park.

Luis Valbuena (28%) and all other Cubs have great matchups: all their games are on the road against Toronto and Pittsburgh—two of the better parks for hitters and two of the worst pitching staffs in the game. Arismendy Alcantara (12%) will kill your average, but he brings power and a little speed.

Juan Lagares (25%) doesn’t have awesome matchups (playing at home this week), but you don’t care how he hits. Just how he steals, which has been a lot this month. And the Mets need some kind of excitement for the home crowds. Lorenzo Cain (17%) can give you some steals too.

Steve Pearce (19%) will be against the Red Sox and Yankees, all on the road.

Good luck this week—you’re gonna need it. And when you head over to the waiver wire, remember: all you need is now. 



Stock Watch: You Have But One Choice

Stock Watch: You Have But One Choice

Whether you need to shore up your lineup after getting hit with an injury, you need more pitching to rack up innings, or your stagnant team needs a desperate high-reward play, there’s only one place for you to turn: the waiver wire. So good luck with that.

That's why Stock Watch is here to help you out.

Shallow Leagues (30-50% Owned)

Can I join a league in which Jacob deGrom (49%) is still available? Seriously, a young pitcher with gas, who gets to pitch in Citi Field?! Get this guy on your roster before I have to use another interrobang.

Angel Pagan (47%) is healthy again and helps a little in steals and average—a relatively tough combo to find this late in the season. (Unless you're picking up part-time Kansas City outfielders, but that's another story.)

Casey McGehee (46%) has (somehow) contributed in batting average all year long. With a friendly schedule going forward, I guess he can probably keep it up for September.

Danny Salazar (46%) just likes this part of the year. He’s tearing it up again, like he did last year, and his season stats are masking it from those searching the waiver wire for new talent. Unless they set their player list to "last 30 days." So get him before they do.

Speaking of which, Kyle Hendricks (44%) has been awesome. With his low strikeout rate and a tough schedule coming up, I’m not particularly impressed…but the results have been too good to ignore.

Collin McHugh (43%) has too good of an ERA to be unowned in so many leagues. Somebody’s missing out. Many a quality season has gone useless while we all wait for regression that doesn’t come—or at least takes a long time.

Russell Martin (43%) is having an awesome year, and pretty quietly. I don’t know why he’s suddenly so good (and I didn’t look it up), but I do know he’s playing in a high-caliber offense and that the bar is pretty low at catcher.

Brandon McCarthy (42%) is another guy who shouldn’t be doing so well. Mostly because he waited until after I gave up on him. But, yeah, he’s been great since joining the Yankees. I wish my writing improved so much after moving to New York….

Jake Odorizzi (41%) is far from consistent—but he’s also the guy on the waiver wire most likely to deliver a string of truly dominant starts and carry you through the playoffs. That’s an upside play I’ll gladly make.

Lonnie Chisenhall (39%) isn’t the batting average dynamo that he looked like earlier in the season (BABIP happens), but that doesn’t mean he can’t help a fantasy team anymore.

Jed Lowrie (38%) is back off the DL, in case you want to take a chance on his little-bit-up-really-really-far-down season. That 2B/SS eligibility does come in handy, though, and sometimes all the more so in shallow leagues.

Carlos Carrasco (38%) has been crazy-good since returning to the Indians’ rotation in mid-August. I’m always intrigued when an ex-prospect shows some unexpectedly-good performance.

Kennys Vargas (37%) is pretty good. Certainly better so far than the similarly-first-named guy he replaced in the Twins’ lineup.

Kolten Wong (33%) can still provide some speed in the middle infield, and the Cards have a great schedule for hitters this month.  

Marcus Stroman (32%) is way too good to be available in so many leagues. 

Medium Leagues (20-30% Owned)

Gregory Polanco (28%) is back from the minors. It seems reasonable that he could shake off his slump and help you and the Pirates. Good if you need some upside.

Tsuyoshi Wada (28%) has rocked so far for the Cubs, seriously impressing their management. I mentioned before that Chicago’s schedule is a worry for me, but that hasn’t kept me from owning Wada in a couple leagues.

Dioner Navarro (26%) has a pretty respectable batting line for a catcher. What? That’s praise—sort of.

Drew Stubbs (24%) is giving owners power and speed. It had been awhile, but this was his profile back when he was getting drafted as a number two or three outfielder. And his playing time competition is hurt. And he plays for Colorado! Pick him up and use him in every home and Arizona game. Bench him for the others if you want, but pick him up.

Oscar Taveras (22%) has a little hitting streak, but that’s not why I’d keep an eye on him or pick him up; the Cards have a great hitting schedule, which could be just what the top prospect needs to kick-start his Major League career.

Dillon Gee (22%) and Jon Niese (21%) will get to enjoy plenty of home games and starts against weak-hitting opponents. September should be a good month for the Mets’ pitchers.

Jonathan Villar (21%) is back up with the Astros. I don’t know if he’ll play everyday, but he could still give you some steals, in a sort of Eric Young-in-the-infield sort of way.

Yusmeiro Petit (20%) has been too good out of the bullpen to ignore in the rotation. You’ve got to take a chance on a guy doing that.

Steve Pearce (20%) is going to sit out a couple days, but keep an eye on him; if he isn’t too hurt, the Orioles’ new acquisitions shouldn’t be much threat to his playing time.

Mookie Betts (20%) is heating up and plays shortstop and outfield.

Justin Turner (20%) plays all the infield positions and is hitting over .320. That's...pretty impressive, even in less than 300 AB.

Deep Leagues (Under 20% Owned)

Colby Rasmus (19%) makes some sense if you’re in need of power—but mostly if you’re desperate. He could lose some playing time down the stretch to Toronto’s September call ups.

We might as well admit that Lorenzo Cain (18%) is a speed/average threat, since he’s got 24 steals and a .298 batting average this late in the season.

Jon Jay (18%) offers little besides average, but if that’s what you need, his favorable schedule makes him a good source of it in deep formats.

A.J. Pollock (17%) is back! He was producing across the board when he got hurt and could really help you out in the last two weeks of the season, with a bunch of games at home in Arizona.

Conor Gillaspie (17%) is still hitting for average. Still!

Hector Santiago (16%) makes this list again. Why? Because he deserves it. Not pitching bad (an admitted worry with Santiago), getting strikeouts, and playing a favorable schedule for the month. Just for the rest of the season, I’d take him over plenty of pitchers who are more talented and reliable.

Bud Norris (15%) could be helpful if you need some wins and have innings to spare, pitching as he does for the heavy-hitting Orioles.

Shane Greene (15%) just got beaten badly by the Red Sox, but he’s still striking out nearly a batter per inning.

Josh Collmenter (13%) isn’t that great—but I do like his chances to produce in the next two weeks, with some favorable matchups in parks and opponents.

Arismendy Alcantara (13%) isn’t consistent, but if you can handle the average (or you’re punting it), he provides power and speed in the infield and outfield.

Derek Holland (11%) pitched well in his first start of the season. He’s an intriguing high-risk, high-reward guy. I literally just picked him up in a league in which I’m hovering around eighth and ninth place and need to take some chances.

Tyler Flowers (8%) has been my go-to replacement catcher as I’ve dealt with injuries to Yan Gomes and Brian McCann, who were pretty much the only catchers I drafted this season. But anyway, Flowers can fill in for you too.

You don’t have to truly believe in Odrisamer Despaigne (8%) to enjoy his brand of low-strikeout, low-run starts. Pitching in San Diego, expect more of the same and own this guy.

Jimmy Nelson (7%) is another high-reward type, as the top prospect for a contending (albeit stumbling) Brewers team.

Andrew Heaney (5%) just came back up for the Fish. Upside? Totally. Plus the Marlins have a pretty favorable schedule, thanks to in-division opponents like the Phillies and Mets.



Stock Watch: September Values

Today on Stock Watch, we’re going to do something a little different. No, really. Just a little different this time, instead of wildly different, like usual. In the last few weeks, I’ve been talking about September schedules. We just finished the NL Central and both West Divisions yesterday. Last week, we hit up the NL East, the AL Central, and the first half of the NL Central. Before that, we got the AL East and a particularly long intro. For each team, I mentioned whether or not you should speculate on their pitchers, hitters or both, or if you should stay away altogether. What I didn’t do was mention any particular players that might actually be on your waiver wire and able to enjoy those favorable schedules and perform for your fantasy team. 

So that’s what we’ll do today.

Hitters

Red Sox
Brock Holt (40% owned) has slumped lately, but some hitters’ parks and easy opponents could see him bounce back in September.

Will Middlebrooks (17%) isn’t someone easy to recommend, but if anything can resuscitate his season, it might be a diet of Orioles, Blue Jays, and Pirates pitching. Be careful, though, because this schedule is more good than great.

Mookie Betts (9%) could flash some power and speed, plus he plays shortstop and outfield, which tends to be a useful bench combination.

Daniel Nava (4%) could take advantage of Boston’s friendly schedule.

Rays
James Loney (24%) should be able to continue producing good average with the helpful schedule he’s got. 

Matt Joyce (9%) is an option for deeper leagues, as the Rays get some bad pitching opponents.

Kevin Kiermaier (4%) could be a nice little producer for the Rays down the stretch.

Marlins
I’ll finally plug Casey McGehee (48%), who I don’t think I’ve suggested at any point. Well, the schedule the Fish hitters get for the next month ought to give this fluky player a nice boost. 

Jarrod Saltalamacchia (22%) could be a good power source at catcher in the last month, as he prepares to tee off against some bottom-dwelling pitching.

Garrett Jones (13%) could show some nice pop in the last month.

Adeiny Hechavarria (5%) hits for a little average and steals a little. And has a friendly schedule. Go for it.

Tigers
Nick Castellanos (32%) hasn’t been super-impressive, but the Tigers’ schedule could allow him to finish strong. 

Twins
Kennys Vargas (34%) is hitting the ball a little and could continue, with a ton of games in hitters’ havens. Don’t get too excited about power—as his Minnesota home does suppress that aspect of the game. 

Kurt Suzuki (33%) could also benefit, especially since he’s already a batting average guy.

Trevor Plouffe (20%) should be able to help you out, with nearly all his games coming in helpful parks. Plus, did you know: the Twins hitting is overall near the middle of the pack—not way in the bottom like I’d expected before doing this research.

Oswaldo Arcia (15%) could use some help with his average. He might get it.

Eduardo Escobar (5%) plays three positions and isn’t hitting badly.

Cubs
Jorge Soler (28%) was worth your attention anyway, but the Cubs get to enjoy some weak pitching in the final month, making all their young players all the more interesting. 

Chris Coghlan (13%) is reminding people that he was once Rookie of the Year (it was a pretty weak year). But he’s hitting the ball and gets to face some truly lousy pitching, so take a chance on him.

Arismendy Alcantara (8%) is pretty thinly owned for a guy who’s shown power and speed. With so many Pirates/Brewers/Reds/Blue Jays games, I even like his odds of improving on that average.

Luis Valbuena (4%) will get a chance to show off the little bit of pop in his bat.

Cardinals
Kolten Wong (34%) has had an up-and-down season but September looks like it could be an up. 

Oscar Taveras (24%) has yet to live up to his potential, but he too can take advantage of teams with pitching problems.

Jon Jay (20%) may not be the most exciting addition to a fantasy roster, but with 23 games against bottom-third pitching staffs, he doesn’t have to be.

A.J. Pierzynski (19%) may not be a replacement for Yadier Molina, but he should enjoy facing the likes of the Pirates, Reds, and Brewers pitching staffs.

Rockies
Drew Stubbs (26%) has benefitted from Colorado’s injuries and should keep on playing. September features a ton of games at Coors Field, so be prepared to take advantage of Stubbs.

DJ LeMahieu (8%) has position flexibility, speed, and, oh, 14 September games in Coors Field.

So does Josh Rutledge (8%), though he’s pretty tough to justify rostering.

Pitching

Braves
Remember when we were all excited about Aaron Harang (42%) at the beginning of the season? Well, get excited again, because the Braves pitchers get to beat up on some weak lineups, especially in the second half of September.

Marlins
Nathan Eovaldi (18%) ,Tom Koehler (17%), and Jarrod Cosart (9%) get to pitch on the only team that has managed to have a favorable schedule on both sides of the ball. It could be a good month in Miami. Keep an eye out for Andrew Heaney (5%) in case he comes back up.

Mets
Jacob deGrom and Bartolo Colon (both 43%) have been bright spots for a terrible Mets pitching staff, but they should enjoy the chance to pitch against some of baseball’s weaker lineups in one of baseball’s friendliest home parks. If Colon stays a Met, that is. Dillon Gee and Jon Niese (both 21%) could also benefit from the Mets’ schedule.

Brewers
Jimmy Nelson (12%) should benefit from a schedule that’s at least mildly helpful, with a bunch of soft Cubs and Reds games.

Astros
Collin McHugh (40%) would be underowned anyway, but he’ll be pitching against bad offenses and in good pitchers’ parks for most of September, making him all the more valuable. Scott Feldman (8%) hasn’t been nearly as good, but should still enjoy the schedule.

Angels
Hector Santiago (17%) is always a potential powder keg, but he could be very valuable as a strikeout guy with a great offense pitching against bad offenses in hitting-friendly parks.

A’s
Jason Hammel (47%)has been just a little overshadowed lately, but he’ll enjoy his games against weak opponents and in pitchers’ parks.

Dodgers
Roberto Hernandez (10%) should enjoy pitching in Dodger Stadium. In fact, the Dodgers have only three games in all of September outside of pitchers’ parks.

Padres
Odrisamer Despaigne (7%) and Eric Stults (3%) get 14 games at home, plus seven more in Los Angeles and San Francisco. It’s a pitcher’s dream.



Stock Watch: Super Pitching Edition

If it feels like it’s been a long time since Stock Watch was back to normal…well, that’s because it was. Well, the normal format is back. Sort of. No more trading advice, since that time has passed. There are still plenty of opportunities on the waiver wire, though, and when we hit the September roster expansion there will be plenty more. Too bad our fantasy rosters don’t expand too…. 

Also, it’s been so long since I did this that I ended up writing over a thousand words just on the pitchers. So…yeah. Super pitching edition! We’ll be back with hitters next week…. 

Shallow Leagues (30-50% Owned in Yahoo! Leagues)     

I think there’s a misconception out there that shallow leagues are easy to win, something for novices. But that's not completely true, because there’s so little room for error. You take a chance on a guy with upside and you don’t have any choice but to throw him right into your lineup. What’s that mean for you now? Well, it means I’ll try to find only good players to throw in this category.

Mike Fiers (49%) has, um, caught fire. His ownership has skyrocketed too, but you can consider this a green light to take the chance on a player who’s torched the competition before (and burned his owners before too). 

Chris Young (46%) is not real. I mean that literally. He is a FIP-ignoring, strike-throwing, ratio-lowering robot. That’s not as good an explanation as what you can probably find on Fangraphs, but at least we both understand it. Anyway, he’s done it this long, has a favorable park and his team is winning games. Go for it. (But spoiler alert: the Mariners’ September schedule doesn’t look too good.)

Marcus Stroman (45%) might have gotten dropped after his last start (less than an inning of work). This bad one was his second bad start in his last three, but the rest of his work has been stellar. I can understand being worried that the rookie is gassed, but if you need some upside, here’s your play.

Kyle Hendricks (42%)is getting outstanding results (he hasn’t allowed more than one run in a game since his debut). More good news is that he allowed more than half of his season’s walk total in his first two starts, so his control has largely been better than his final line indicates. Hendricks is not missing bats, though, and that worries me. This is an upside-play, to be sure, but I don’t think the performance is real.

James Paxton (41%) is back from injury. He was straight-up dominant at the beginning of the year and was the sort of prospect that performance isn’t shocking from. Snatch him back up.

I promised myself (and my wife) that I wouldn’t talk up Brandon McCarthy (41%) ever again. It seems like every time I do, he becomes horrible almost instantly. But he has been flat-out dominant since going to the Yankees. His AL ERA is 2.03 and he’s got season-long strikeout-to-walk ratio over 5.00. Seriously.

Danny Salazar (39%) is a high-risk/high-reward type at this point, but there must be teams out there that could benefit from taking a chance on him now that the pre-season hype has worn off. 

Collin McHugh (39%) appears to be better than he’s getting credit for. With over a strikeout per inning and a team that’s not as bad as everyone still thinks, there’s something here. His games logs don’t show any sign that the magic fairy dust is wearing off, and sometimes it never does.This is one guy I expect to draft next year.

Jesse Hahn (32%) isn’t really on this list for shallow leaguers, as he just got sent down to the minors. But rumor has it that he’s coming back for September when rosters expand. He’s been lights-out, so anyone with room on their roster still should consider stashing him. 

Medium Leagues (20-30% Owned)

Matt Shoemaker (28%) has pitched pretty well, plays for a first-place team and (spoiler alert) the Angels have a great pitching schedule in September, with nearly every game in favorable parks. This guy could quietly have a big last month for fantasy owners. 

Vance Worley (23%) might be falling apart as I type, as he’s had two bad starts in a row. Still, the Pirates need any pitching they can get and Worley has one great attribute: impeccable control. The pitcher hasn’t allowed more than two walks in any start this year. That’s a chance worth taking in plenty of leagues. 

Nathan Eovaldi (23%) is another super-control guy: he’s allowed more than two walks in a game just twice all season—and he’s been pitching since April 1. He’s also three good starts removed from a late-July rough patch. 

Deep Leagues (10-20% Owned) 

Jeremy Hellickson (18%) has largely pitched well since his return from the DL. What else is there to say? 

Chase Anderson (15%) has been quietly delivering OK pitching for most of the year. I wasn’t excited and I wasn’t going to list him—then I remembered that in deep leagues sometimes a nice dose of just OK is exactly what you need. So, if you do, here he is.

Trevor Bauer (15%) just got lit up, and he’s hardly been consistent this year, but he’s shown flashes of his prospect status more than once. He’s certainly a more exciting option than most of the players this deep into Stock Watch.

Roberto Hernandez (15%) should enjoy pitching for the Dodgers down the stretch. A decent pitcher on a good team is about the best bet you can make if you’re in need of wins help. 

I’d be remiss if I didn’t plug one of my few fellow Oregonians in baseball: Jimmy Nelson (14%). Also, he’s shown good control, and his overall numbers are bloated by a single bad start in July. He’s looking like a useful back-end rotation piece, and he pitches for a good-hitting team. 

Hector Santiago (12%) should, like his teammate Shoemaker (above) enjoy a pitching-friendly schedule for the Angels in September. Plus, he still misses bats and the Halos score a ton of runs. Beware of the walks, though.

Super-Deep Bonus (Less than 10% Owned) 

Roenis Elias and Tsuyoshi Wada (both 8%) have pitched very well over the last month and (obviously) aren’t on many radars.

You should never take me at face value when I talk about Chris Capuano (3%). For some reason, I’ve always rooted for him, and always expect him to be awesome. So I’ll just present the facts: he has struck out lots of batters and allowed too many runs since joining the Yankees. He is also available in your league. Don’t get too excited, but don’t mind me while I look at that cherry-picked strikeout-to-walk ratio since the beginning of August: 28:3.



Stock Watch: Fantasy Trading Deadline Part 3—Pitchers

There are only a couple days to go before most of us blast by the August Fantasy Trading Deadline, largely cementing the key players on our teams. It’s the last chance to make a big change, so get your offers in quickly and send a decent offer first. Naturally, our third installment of this series is the last, as it won’t be terribly helpful next week. You can find part one here, about some risk/reward management for trades, and part two here, dedicated to hitters to target and broken down by category. 

So click on those links and read those pieces if you’ve got time. But if you need to make a big splash in the pitching categories, you don’t have much time. So get your league pages up and ready to offer trades as you read. Or, better yet, if you’re lucky enough to play in a league where people still call each other to talk trades, start looking for phone numbers you never use anymore and get ready to wheel and deal like Billy Beane.

Today we’re going to look at the four starting pitcher categories, since RotoAuthority has an entire column dedicated to closers that pretty much tells you what you need to know every week. All I’ll add about saves is this: if you need ‘em, now is the time to suck it up and pay the market price. Saves tends to be a volatile category, and if the likes of Jake Petricka and Jenrry Mejia can actually move you up a few places in the standings, don’t be afraid to roll the dice and trade someone good to get them. (See part one of this series.)

What we aren’t going to do this week is the obvious: if you truly need pitching it’s easy enough to target a four-category monster like Clayton Kershaw or David Price, or even a three-category lock like Chris Sale or Felix Hernandez. So yes, if you need help in all four starter categories, by all means, trade for a stud pitcher if you somehow can. (Look for someone who’s too close to their innings cap!) But that advice is as easy to give as it is difficult to make happen in a real league. So this column will focus more on those less-than-perfect pitchers who might only be a true asset in the category you’re trading to get.

Strikeouts

This is probably the easiest category to go out and trade for. You need some quantity, but you only have so many roster slots and so many more innings before you reach your cap. Fortunately, you probably have more innings left than most people if you are behind in strikeouts. Unfortunately, this is such a high-total category that it can be tough to claw your way up it. We’ll try.

Looking by K/9, the top four pitchers are true superstars. Assuming you don’t have the hitters to offer in trade for Yu Darvish and Stephen Strasburg, have you thought of Jake Odorizzi? The Rays’ hurler has a 10.20 K/9, a hair better than Max Scherzer’s mark. Corey Kluber (9.80) won’t come cheap anymore, but he’ll still probably cost less than most of the names around his spot on the list. Padre pitchers are like fantasy gold: Ian Kennedy (9.53) and Tyson Ross (8.96) will help with more than just the strikeouts. Garrett Richards (8,85) could still be a relative bargain. Some more pitchers who’ve shown flaws but still managed to whiff 8.00 batters per nine or more include: Zack Wheeler, Jesse Chavez, Wade Miley, Tim Lincecum, Lance Lynn, Roenis Elias, Drew Hutchison, Chris Archer, Jason Hammel, and C.J. Wilson

If you’re more of a “What have you done for me lately?” sort of person, these guys have been getting the whiffs in the last thirty days: Alex Wood (37 strikeouts), Julio Teheran (36, and with a bad ERA on the month, so his owner might want to deal him), Drew Smyly (34), Alex Cobb (34), Francisco Liriano (33), Brandon McCarthy (33—but buyer beware, I’ve advised him before and it hasn’t gone well), Ervin Santana (32), R.A. Dickey (31), Bud Norris (29), Gio Gonzalez (29), Mike Leake (29), Chris Tillman (28), Jake Arrieta (28). Even Bartolo Colon has been in on the strikeout action in the last month, with 28 in 32.2 IP. Waiver Wire Options abound in strikeouts if you can afford to take hits in ERA and/or WHIP. Fortunately, many such options also help out in wins, balancing things a bit. 

ERA

Looking at some of those names on the strikeout lists, I’m reminded that sometimes the best thing you can do for your ERA is a little addition by subtraction. If you can afford the strikeouts or wins, consider trading or dropping your least good pitchers and replacing them with high-quality relievers—or not at all. This is especially important when you might be running into your innings cap faster than most of your leaguemates.

But most of us probably want to do some addition by addition, so here are some of the better choices to target: Phil Hughes (2.64 FIP, 3.88 ERA), Jordan Zimmermann (2.68 FIP, 3.06 ERA), Hyun-jin Ryu (2.79 FIP, 3.21 ERA), Jose Quintana (2.92 FIP, 3.04 ERA), Kennedy (3.10 FIP, 3.51 ERA), Lynn (3.15 FIP, 2.97 ERA), Archer (3.18 FIP, 3.33 ERA), Hisashi Iwakuma (3.18 FIP, 2.86 ERA), and Dallas Keuchel (3.28 FIP, 3.07 ERA). This list was compiled by looking at  the best FIP's in baseball, but now here are some buyer-beware candidates whose ERA’s are beating their FIP’s: Henderson Alvarez (3.38 FIP, 2.34 ERA), Tanner Roark (3.37 FIP, 2.86 ERA), Sonny Gray (3.35 FIP, 2.86 ERA), Jeff Samardzija (3.37 FIP, 2.91 ERA), and Tim Hudson (3.44 FIP, 2.81 ERA).           

WHIP

The good news is that you usually get a good WHIP with your ERA. The bad news is that it can be hard to get one without paying the price for two when you only need to (or only can) make up ground in one category or the other. Still, here are some guys to look for when trying to help out your WHIP: Iwakuma (0.97), Roark (1.09), Chris Young (1.12), Matt Garza (1.13), Hudson (1.14), Rick Porcello (1.14), Alfredo Simon (1.16), Kyle Lohse (1.16), Colon (1.16), Jared Weaver (1.19), Jason Hammel (1.19), and Nathan Eovaldi (1.20). 

You can also target pretty much anyone with a low walk rate and hope for the best when it comes to hits over the rest of the season: Hughes (2.4 BB%), Hudson (3.9%), McCarthy (4.2%), Alvarez (4.8%), James Shields (4.9%), Dan Haren (4.9%), Hiroki Kuroda (5%), Jason Vargas (5.2%), John Lackey (5.4%), and Leake (5.5%).  

Wins

Wins are a tough one, because what you really need here is quantity, and you’re only going to manage that if you’ve got room left in your innings cap. For this one, I’d suggest looking for top teams and targeting any pitchers you can find on them. The Dodgers’ Fausto Carmona Roberto Hernandez comes to mind, as do his teammates Haren and (better yet) Ryu. Porcello, Doug Fister, Gonzalez, Lohse, Wily Peralta, Yovani Gallardo, Wilson, Scott Kazmir, Hammel, Liriano, Justin Masterson, Lackey, Lynn, Chris Tillman, and Marcus Stroman, are all targets too. Why? Because they play on good-to-great teams that win by scoring some runs and should be fighting (or cruising) through the rest of the season.

Waiver Wire Options: pretty much anyone unowned who pitchers for a team in the pennant race. This is also a category in which some targeted free agent moves can come in handy, either as options to keep or streamers to cycle through. Check out my upcoming series on September schedules, and tune in to Stock Watch next week, when all our coverage will be devoted to the waiver wire. ‘Cause, obviously…..



RotoAuthority Unscripted: Waiver Wire Wayback

It has been a terrible week for injuries, I know. My teams are riddled with little red DL markers too: the likes of Anibal Sanchez, Justin Verlander, and Josh Beckett have all hit the shelf, among others—Beckett perhaps for good. But I’m not here to talk about their replacements--though I suppose pitching for the Dodgers can’t be a bad situation for newly-acquired Roberto Hernandez (fka Fausto Carmona, not to be confusted with the onetime Devil Rays closer from a long time ago). Anyway, I’m not, partly because you’ll be getting a pitching edition of Stock Watch tomorrow and partly because I did an injury replacement piece here last week.

But Beckett’s injury got me thinking. He was someone I advocated for pretty early on in the season, and I felt (and still feel) pretty good about that call. But I started wondering: how else did I do?

So today we’ll take a look at some of my most useful suggestions from early April…and yeah, we’ll chuckle over my other ideas too.

Most of my suggestions came from editions of Stock Watch, though there’s a particularly embarrassing entry in this column describing why you shouldn’t give up on Alejandro De Aza or Alfonso Soriano. Yeah, I hope you missed that one. If you didn’t, you’ll have to search for it, ‘cause I’m too embarrassed to link to it. Self-evidently, that one counts as a big swing-and-a-miss.

Homer Picks

We’ll start with the good, including plugging this article’s inspiration, Josh Beckett, for the first time on April 26. I went from skeptic to owner and the team I got him on is my best this year. Coincidence? Maybe. Drafting Jose Altuve doesn’t hurt….

I was a little behind on fellow Dodger Dee Gordon: he was already owned in 38% of Yahoo! leagues when I advised picking him up in the first week of April. Again, I had been a skeptic.

I feel good about advising Justin Morneau early on too, though only shallow leaguers got to enjoy the suggestion. I’d say Colorado has been good for the slugger: he’s hitting .321 with 13 home runs.

Shallow leaguers also got my advice to take Miguel Montero, which I think remains good advice.

It was a quick mention, but I can still take credit for suggesting the resurgent Phil Hughes, and you know I’ve been plugging Jose Quintana all year. I also advised a few other pitchers who hadn’t even started yet: Tim Hudson, Drew Smyly, and Rick Porcello. Hudson, in particular, would have made you happy if you’d taken him.

He’s not a superstar, but if you grabbed Marcell Ozuna off the waiver wire in the season’s first week, I bet you’re glad you did. 

It wasn’t until the second week of the season (too late for me) that I jumped on the Melky Cabrera bandwagon. But since he was still available in 68% of leagues, better late than never I guess.

The second week is also when I came around to this year’s true waiver wire superstar: Charlie Blalckmon. Like Cabrera, he was taken in 42% of leagues already, so I can’t take credit for discovering him so much as passing news of him on.

I was a little bolder with Mike Morse, who was owned in less than a quarter of leagues when I plugged him on April 9. His recent performance hasn’t been awesome, but he’s delivered plenty of value to his owners.

Jon Niese is kind of the pitching equivalent to Morse: despite the fact that things haven’t been great recently, you’ve still benefited from having him on your team for the good times.

Jake Odorizzi has had his ups and downs, but if you’ve been playing him since early April are you happy? I’m guessing you are. 

I didn’t want to write good things about Alcides Escobar after getting burned so bad in 2013, but if you picked him up when he was only 28% owned, you got a better shortstop than most of us have.

Whiff Picks

I was a big fan of Grady Sizemore’s comeback, and a hot (ish) first week convinced me there was something there worth picking up. Maybe his current stint with the Phillies will work out, but in the meantime this one is a black eye for me.

The worst part about advising Sizemore? I did it two weeks in a row. I did the same with Dustin Ackley, who’s MI eligibility will no longer be fooling me into thinking he’s a bargain.

Suggestions of Justin Smoak and Yonder Alonso would have been good to miss in the season’s first week.

I really though Dan Straily would get straightened out—and I really didn’t think the A’s would send him to the minors and then trade for three pitchers in July.

For some reason, I also thought Brandon Morrow would be relevant again. Why?

Seeing some decent control, I got pretty excited over Tyler Skaggs. It didn’t last and now the former top prospect is heading for Tommy John surgery. Classic swing-and-a-miss!

I also thought I was starting a worthwhile bandwagon for Ryan Ludwick (3% owned at the time), but he hasn’t gotten the playing time and hasn’t performed well enough to deserve it.

I think Martin Perez got injured right after I suggested picking him up. Nice.

Seriously suggesting Ike Davis and Mike Olt seems pretty silly now, but the true whiff here is that I gave Lucas Duda only passing mention after Davis went to Pittsburgh.

Also shameful: around the end of April I thought I saw the light at the end of the tunnel for for Mike Moustakas. Turns out it was nothin’ but a burglar’s torch (What? No one else listened to the rest of the songs on the “Centerfield” album?).

I seemed to think early on that Corey Hart was a good idea. Rest assured, I no longer think that.

Well, I’m pleased enough and a bit surprised that my suggestions have done as well as they have—at least that my April ideas have. Hopefully a few of these guys made it on to your team, because that injury problem I mentioned in the intro? The best time to solve it was in April when you built your team’s depth.





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