This week’s two-start piece includes a trio of righties and lefty who is a pretty good consideration in deep leagues. As an aside, Mike Minor is also a great play this week, but I didn’t feel he warranted a big write-up because he should be owned in most leagues already, at least if owners are still paying attention. Anyway, on to this week’s crew:
RHP Kyle Kendrick (29.7 percent ESPN/25 percent Yahoo!) – v. MIA (.302), @HOU (.302)
Kendrick has been absolutely rolling of late, and it sure helps that he gets two of the three teams which are tied for the second-worst wOBA v. northpaws this season this week. Kendrick’s hot streak — 2.18 ERA, .598 OPS allowed from July on — actually flies in the face of otherwise shaky peripherals (such as his 3.96/4.39/4.50 pitching split, resulting in only a WAR of 1.0). As a result, Kendrick’s recommendation this week is mostly on the matchups — Miami and Houston have been poor against righties all season, and both rosters have numerous holes in the lineup — than it is on his entire body of work. After all, like the Marlins and Astros, the Phillies are only playing spoiler right now, too.
RHP Alex Cobb (10.1 percent ESPN/19 percent Yahoo!) – @BAL (.313), @NYY (.340)
Cobb makes his second appearance in the two-start pieces as a nice little surprise out of St. Pete. Nothing about 24-year-old righty really jumps off the stat page, but he’s simply good across the board. In fact, in some ways, he’s really good, such as at killing worms — on the road, anyway — with a 57.9 percent ground ball rate. He limits the long ball, the free pass, and has a slightly below-average strand rate, so his 4.28 ERA is a bit inflated (3.66/3.62 FIP/xFIP). Still, he’s a good middle-to-back-end rotation kind of guy, and while he gets a couple tougher matchups this week — because for some reason, the Orioles are tough on everyone right now — I’m still going to deem Cobb hands-on this week due to the fact that they’re divisional foes, and thus teams he faces on a semi-regular basis. So, as long as Cobb can keep dazzling with his solid changeup, he should be a good play for the stretch run, both for you, and the Rays, who enter play today just two games out of first place.
RHP Carlos Villanueva (8.7 percent ESPN/24 percent Yahoo!) – v. SEA (.285), v. BOS (.319)
I’m fully on the Villanueva bandwagon, as the free agent to-be has put together a nice campaign for the Blue Jays. Since shifting out of the pen, Villanueva has been on point, with a 3.50 ERA and a .670 OPS allowed. Where he can struggle at times is with the longball (1.20 per 9 this year, 1.23 career), and he’s been extraordinarily good/lucky at stranding baserunners (74.9 career mark, typically the average is about 70.0) in his career so far, so as a result he’s slightly outperforming his FIPs (3.42/4.00/3.87). Nonetheless, the 29-year-old righty is rolling at the right time, with an impending free agency payday likely enhanced exponentially despite only 670-plus frames out of his right arm. He’s got two terrific matchups this week, with the flailing Seamen and the checked-out Scarlet hose both coming to town. It doesn’t matter much to Villanueva, however, as he’s been virtually the same pitcher on the road as home (9.0/9.4 K/9, .223 BAA both, 3.86/3.7 xFIP).
Deep League Consideration
LHP Andrew Werner (0.7 percent ESPN, 1 percent Yahoo!) – v. STL (.342), v. COL (.331)
Werner has been magnificent through three starts, spanning 18 frames with six earned runs (3.00/4.39/3.53), 17 strikeouts, and only five walks. The strand rate is high, and so is the HR/FB, and the BABIP is .222, which means Werner’s regression will be intriguing to follow. It could happen as soon as this week, as both clubs tend to pummel lefties. Still, at home, with Werner’s whiff propensity, he could be worth a look if you’re in a pinch.
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