If there’s less than two weeks to go and you’re noticing you have some catching up to do in innings pitched, you best get busy. I know in two of my high-payout standard roto leagues, there are four points separated by two wins, and at least a couple points to be had in strikeouts. As much as I hate the win category, I know I’m in win-chasing mode, and to that end, I’m looking at the most favorable matchups I can find.
There are a good number of decent options on the waiver wire as you head into the weekend, but I’m going to make a few recommendations based almost exclusively off of the fact that some starters are facing lineups that have been struggling to score runs. After all, if they don’t score, you’re in darn fine shape.
In the last 30 days, here are your worst seven offenses, sorted by wOBA:
Why use seven? Well, because the worst five didn’t include the Seattle Mariners, who are almost always a good idea to start pitchers against unless Felix Hernandez is on the hill. Also, because it illustrates how bad the Red Sox have struggled, where you might otherwise shy away from starting pitchers against Boston.
If you’re streaming for wins, other categories be damned, just insert whatever warm body who is facing the Astros or the Indians. But other than that, here are a few decent risks:
Chris Tillman @ Boston
Tillman is owned in 8% and 16% of ESPN and Yahoo leagues, respectively — so he’s widely available. His strikeout rate in August jumped to almost 22% and since August 1st, he’s held opposing hitters to just a .197/.261/.388 triple slash line. Over that same span, he’s struck out 33 batters over 40.1 innings pitched, giving up just 29 hits, although he has been somewhat prone to the long ball. His BABIP over that span suggests he might have been getting a little lucky with the bouncing ball, but the Orioles are playing pretty darn well and Boston is not.
Kevin Correia @ Houston
Correia is once again inexplicably decent. Throwing against the Houston Astros, who have won exactly 13 of their last 45 contests makes Correia inexplicably useful to your fantasy squad. I’m not even going to look at ownership rates, because he’s unquestionably available, but if you just want to close your eyes and pray for a win, look no further.
Mark Buehrle @ NY Mets*
Buehrle is owned in about half of ESPN and Yahoo leagues, so he may very well already be on a roster. But if he’s out there, this particular start versus the Mets should be tough to pass up. On the season, Buehrle has done just about exactly what you’d expect from him. Decent ERA, minimize the walks, keep you in most ballgames. He’s given up more than four runs in any given start just three times this year and his move to the NL has also given him a nice little boost in the strikeout category with his K% at 14.8%, the highest it’s been in four seasons. Miami certainly isn’t setting the world on fire with their offense either, but Buehrle is a pretty safe bet to not get blown up, and the chance for a win is pretty good.
Ricky Nolasco @ NY Mets*
Actually, thumbs down on this one – he’s paired up with R.A. Dickey, who is awesome.
Alex Cobb vs. Toronto
The Blue Jays have struggled to score runs lately, and Alex Cobb has quietly had a pretty nice little season. He was absolutely cruising versus Boston until Jacoby Ellsbury rained on his parade, but he actually only gave up a pair of hits over six innings pitched – they were just timely hits. On the season, Cobb’s been inducing almost 60% ground balls, which might explain his rotten strand rate as ground balls are going to have a larger BABIP. Plus, if you want to buy a smallish sample size, Cobb seems to be much more comfortable throwing at home with an FIP of 3.09 vs. 4.39 on the road. Trust that Tampa will be able to at least put four on the board vs. Rickey Romero and give Cobb a good chance at a dubya.
Jake Odorizzi vs. Cleveland
Because you love to start rookies. And it’s Cleveland!
*Alright, it seems there has been some shenanigans with the Mets rotation and R.A. Dickey is now facing off with Mark Buehrle, and Ricky Nolasco now gets Chris Young. The Buehrle start is no longer that attractive, while starting Nolasco might not be a horrible idea. Nolasco has been on a nice little run with FIP in August and September of 3.29 and 2.53, respectively — including two complete game shutouts, both against Washington. Rub some chicken legs together and find yourself some good juju...
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