Draft prep? When did that happen? Draft Day? Distant memory. Early season? Frustration. Mid Season? Still frustration. Pre-All Star Break? Feels like a lifetime ago. All Star Game? You mean the 4-hour Derek Jeter tribute?
It’s the dreaded post-All Star Break portion of the fantasy season. It’s time to claw for every last win, K and save while trying not to roast your already roasted ratios. Luckily you’ve got some help coming your way. You dialed 9-1-1. FP-9-1-1!
Pitchers to Snag
Remember when everyone was falling all over each other to draft Danny Salazar in March? Yeah, those were fun times. Salazar posted the strikeout and walk numbers that fantasy GMs expected, but they also came with an ERA over 5.00. It appears to have been driven by a sky high .369 BABIP and it’s more than a little surprising that a team that relies on metrics as much as the Indians do didn’t stick with Salazar a little longer. He did suffer a drop in velocity, but it was early in the season and it’s doubtful he was built up to his peak. There wasn’t a reported injury so it’s likely that his issues were more mechanical in nature. Mechanical issues are fixable. Physical issues are fixable by visits to Dr. Andrews and long periods with a red cross next to your name.
Danny is back in the majors this week after a ten-start stint in Triple-A and he’s being thrown right back into the fire with a two-starts. Salazar gets the Twins and Royals away from Cleveland. Two mediocre offenses in ballparks that favor pitchers could be exactly what Salazar needs to turn that 5.00+ ERA into something more manageable and he was probably waived weeks ago. Go out and grab him before the guy that drafted him does.
The New York Mets’ Jon Niese is making his triumphant return from the DL on Monday and is set to also get the two-start treatment this week. Niese had a six-game quality start streak broken when he was lifted after only retiring a single batter in his last outing on the Fourth of July. He had a shoulder issue, but it came from a line drive. Not a thrown pitch. Niese is more than likely fine and he has a pair of decent matchups this week that fantasy GMs should want to take advantage of. He gets the Mariners and the Brewers away from New York.
The Mariners everyday lineup boasts six (!) left-handed hitters. Niese is a competent lefty who owns a .271 wOBA against lefties this year. He should dominate the Mariners lineup. The Brewers are a middle of the pack offense against lefties with a .706 OPS against left-handed pitching. It’s not a slam dunk matchup like against the Mariners, but it’s not a matchup to be scared of.
Are you looking for a one-start streamer this week? Look no further than Danny Duffy. Duffy’s peripherals are skewed by spending most of the early part of the season in the bullpen, but Duffy has a quality start in six of his last seven efforts. He gets the Indians in Kansas City on Wednesday and the Indians are the fifth worst team in the league against left-handed pitching. Duffy has been phenomenal on the road in 2014 with a 2.22 ERA in 56 2/3 innings. He’s struck out 45 while walking only 14. Danny Duffy is safe to roll with away from Kansas City.
Pitchers to Bag
Matt Cain gets the two-start treatment this week, assuming he isn’t on the DL by the weekend. Giants manager Bruce Bochy claims Cain has a “cranky” elbow. If words could be a large, red sign with flashing lights that read “AVOID”, those would be them. Honestly, Cain is safe to cut in anything except deep NL-only leagues. The only matchup fantasy GMs should feel safe with is Cain against San Diego and even then it’s probably a good idea to think about sitting him.
We generally like Tom Koehler here at FP911, but we like him a lot more at home (2.75 ERA) than on the road (5.76 ERA). Koehler has a pair of road starts lined up for next week. Fantasy GMs would be wise to avoid them both.
Phil Hughes only gets one start next week and it’s one that fantasy GMs would be wise to leave Hughes on the bench for. He gets the White Sox playing in Minnesota. The White Sox are a competent offense this year. They rank 11th in OPS against righties and 7th in OPS on the road. Hughes has exactly one quality start in his last six outings and it’s probably not a good idea to roll with Hughes until he’s able to leave a game without giving up five runs or more.