The trade deadline is behind us and we’re officially in the dog days of summer. Here are a pair of starting pitchers who could boost the back of your fantasy rotation.
Joe Blanton | SP | Dodgers | Owned: 22% Yahoo! and 18.7% ESPN
By now you should know all about Blanton’s MLB-best K/BB ratio, and if you don’t, then I suggest reading Ben Duronio’s recent piece on the hefty right-hander. The 31-year-old was traded via waivers from the Phillies to the Dodgers late last week, and he went on to hold the Cubs to two runs in six innings in his first start for the Los Angeles over the weekend.
Blanton has seen his strikeout rate rise into the ~7.5 K/9 and ~19.0 K% range once he shifted to the NL a few years ago, solid rates but not exactly elite fantasy totals. Outside of what appears to be a 41.1-inning fluke last year, he’s always been a fly ball pitcher and Citizen’s Bank Park isn’t all that forgiving. His home run rate with the Phillies (1.4 HR/9) was nearly double his rate with the Athletics (0.8 HR/9), and now he’s moving back into a pitcher’s park.
The walk rate has continued to trend downward while the strikeout rate has held relatively steady in recent years, so that big K/BB number is more reflective of his progress as a pitcher than just a one-year spike. The problem is that Blanton still owns a 4.52 ERA due in part to a 68.2 LOB%, so you’d be banking on some improved strand rate performance — getting away from Philadelphia’s bullpen will help with the inherited runners — if you grab him to fill out your rotation the rest of the way. Blanton’s next three starts are scheduled to come at the Marlins, at the Pirates, and at home against the Giants.
Zach McAllister | SP | Indians | Owned: 15% Yahoo! and 9.3% ESPN
It has been just a dreadful year for Cleveland’s rotation, which was supposed to be one of their strengths coming into the season. They’ve combined for just 4.7 WAR, third worst in the AL and sixth worst overall. Both Ubaldo Jimenez and Josh Tomlin have been replacement level, Derek Lowe had to be designated for assignment, and Justin Masterson‘s walk rate returned to its pre-2011 level. For a team that needed a bunch of stuff to go right to win the AL Central, the rotation has been a major letdown.
The Indians’ best starter this year has been the 24-year-old McAllister, who’s pitched to a 3.42 ERA (3.59 FIP) and racked up 1.5 WAR in just 68.1 innings. He’s missing bats (8.17 K/9 and 21.5 K%) and limiting walks (2.37 BB/9 and 6.3 BB%), though all the fly balls (just 36.9% grounders) will inevitably lead to some homers (0.92 HR/9) pitching in the AL. The 63.3 LOB% is a red flag for the time being, but I also think the 5.00 ERA (4.19 FIP) ZiPS RoS projection is overly harsh. Some correction is in order, but I don’t believe it’ll be enough to make him unrosterable.
McAllister’s scheduled to start at home against the Twins and
Indians Red Sox his next two times out, but then he’ll make a West Coast swing through Oakland and Seattle. Obviously those last two parks are right up his alley. You can extract some nice value out of the right-hander by spot-starting him against weak offenses or whenever he pitches in big parks with two months to go in the season.