I’d like to start things off this week by giving a shout out to J-FOH for covering the trash/treasure post this week while I was busy fighting traffic and stuffing my face in the Philly area during the holiday weekend. Great job, buddy. And by the way, the food pics will keep coming as long as you swear by those “Philly cheesesteaks” by that sandwich chain out on the west coast. I can’t even… Let’s move on, shall we?
Last week, we looked at a few hitters who might be able to help your fantasy teams as well as highlighting a couple of players who could be cut loose at this point in the season. Now it’s time to look at a few pitchers who could potentially be difference-makers (for better or worse) over the next few weeks (with ESPN ownership %):
• James Shields (96.9%): Big game James’ first season in San Diego has been a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, his 3.90 ERA and 1.34 WHIP have actually caused more harm than good to the owners who drafted him as a #2 SP back in March. On the other hand, his 194 strikeouts are the 9th most in MLB this season, with an elite 9.58 K/9 (10th among SPs) to match. On a third hand that looks like a spork, Shields has channeled his inner Kazuhisa Ishii over the last month, leading all MLB pitchers with 21 walks allowed and ranking 2nd to only Hector Santiago with a 5.25 BB/9 over that span. His next two scheduled starts are at Chase Field in Arizona and at Coors Field in Colorado, where he’s allowed 12 earned runs in 18 innings, including 10 walks and 5 HR allowed across 3 starts this season. It might be wise to keep big-ratio James out of your lineup for that stretch. BEAR.
• Derek Holland (64.9%): Holland is one of those players who always seems to get overlooked by the fantasy crowd. Maybe it’s because he pitches in Texas, or perhaps it’s the fact that he’s only made 10 big league starts over the last two seasons. Hmmm… that could be it. While his durability is an ongoing issue, Holland appears to finally be healthy and he is certainly dealing at the moment. In four starts since coming off of the DL on August 19th, he’s produced a 2.15 ERA and a 0.82 WHIP with 25 strikeouts and just 3 walks in 29 1/3 IP. One of his three quality starts over that span was against the Seattle Mariners, who he’s scheduled to face in two out of his next four starts. The other team that he’s scheduled to face twice over his next four starts, the Houston Astros, has something in common with the Mariners – they struggle against pitchers who feature above-average sliders. It just so happens that Holland’s slider is not only his out pitch, but also one of the better pitches in the league when he’s healthy and throwing well. Bring on the Ks. BULL.
• Lance Lynn (90.4%): The St. Louis Cardinals are arguably the best team in baseball, and Lynn has had yet another fine season as one of their most reliable workhorses as the postseason draws near. Over the past month, however, the numbers suggest that the Cardinals have been thriving in spite of Lynn rather than because of him. In his last five starts, he’s produced a 5.16 ERA and a 1.90 WHIP with 14 strikeouts and 11 walks in 22 2/3 IP. There doesn’t appear to be any relief on the horizon either. Three out of his next four starts (@Cin, @CHC, vs Cin, @Pit) are on the road, where he’s been much less effective throughout his career (3.95 road ERA; 2.86 home ERA). In his last starts against the Cubs and Pirates respectively, Lynn allowed 13 runs (9 earned) and 15 baserunners in 3 total innings of work. In shallow redraft formats, he can be safely dropped. BEAR.