Let’s say that despite some evidence that Yu Darvish is being squeezed at the plate, you don’t have much hope for him to improve his control over the last six weeks of the season. That’s okay — at this point, we’re in the crucible. If you still have some time left before your deadline, it might be time to check the schedule closely. It might just change your mind about him.
Using his control peripherals, there isn’t a great asterisk to his poor control. His first-strike percentage is below league average, so his is zone percentage, and his reach rate is also below average. The only thing he has going for him is his elite-level contact rate, but in order to take advantage of that, he’ll need to get batters to reach a little more outside the zone. And he won’t do that without getting more strikes — the league has figured that much out.
But Darvish can still be great, given the right competition. Against Oakland this year, for example, he has given up six runs with 18 strikeouts and five walks in 14.2 innings. That would work for any fantasy team.
So it’s almost irrelevant, at this point, to talk about Yu Darvish and his rest-of-season projection when you can talk about the next few matchups he’s got. With about six weeks left in the season, most starters have less than five starts left. You might as well talk about Yu Darvish, the strikeout ace, going up against the particular teams he’ll face — especially given the unevenness of your average six weeks of schedule.
And this particular year, Yu Darvish is about to face some easier competition. If you extrapolate out normal rest going forward, he should face, in order: Baltimore at home, Tampa Bay at home, Cleveland on the road (making him a good two-starter the first week in September), Tampa on the road, Cleveland at home, Anaheim on the road, Oakland at home, and Anaheim at home. Even if the first and last starts are not the most stellar — Baltimore has a little pop, and the Angels in Texas could get something going — virtually every start in between is an attractive one for him.
In a similar fashion, you might not love Ian Kennedy. He’s still a fly ball pitcher giving up lots of home runs and line drives, and there might not be a great reason to believe that will change. Except that he’s got the following schedule: vs SD, @LAD, @SF, vs LAD, vs SD, @COL, vs CHC. There’s only one stinker in the bunch.
The point is simple. When you’re considering your next starting pitcher acquisition, you might as well do so with eyes wide open. Take a look at the schedule and try to extrapolate out their matchups, and you might know the most important thing about their upcoming six weeks.