Earlier this week, we looked at some lightly owned hitters in ESPN leagues who could be potential difference makers in fantasy baseball over the second half of the season. Today, it’s time to focus on some pitchers who can give your fake teams a boost down the stretch. Even if your team’s ratios look more unsightly than a Meg Ryan facelift, there’s still plenty of time remaining to fix those issues. So put down those Francisco Liriano and James Shields voodoo dolls people, and let’s go to work.
Here are some widely available pitchers who have the potential to be fantasy assets during the second half of the season (including current ESPN ownership percentage):
I’ve written about all of these guys over the past few weeks, but their ownership numbers suggest that there might still be time to jump on their respective bandwagons. In Guerra’s case, that time might already be past, but that’s certainly understandable considering his impressive results over his last 11 starts (70.1 IP, 63/23 K/BB, 2.56 ERA, 1.05 WHIP). DeSclafani missed quite a bit of time at the beginning of the season due to an oblique injury, but has looked dominant over his last four starts (27.2 IP, 25/3 K/BB, 2.28 ERA, 0.98 WHIP). I wrote about McCarthy here during the 2015 offseason, and since returning from Tommy John surgery a couple of weeks ago, he looks like the same pitcher that he was pre-surgery.
This past offseason, I touched on Kennedy’s tendency to allow home runs and how Kansas City’s pitcher friendly Kauffman Stadium would benefit him in that regard, but I didn’t anticipate just how extreme his splits would be this season. He’s allowed an unsightly 17 homers in 61.1 innings (2.49 HR/9) on the road this season compared to just 4 homers in 38.1 innings (0.94 HR/9) at home, which is reflected in his ratios (2.11 ERA and 1.04 WHIP at home; 5.14/1.29 on the road). It’s a similar story for Shoemaker, who has allowed just 3 homers in 46.2 home innings as opposed to 10 homers in 50.1 innings when on the road. Eickhoff hasn’t had the same split issues as far as homers are concerned, but his home ratios (2.40/1.05) are far superior to the ones that he’s produced on the road (5.51/1.51).
Due to their control issues (3.62 BB/9 for Conley and 4.03 BB/9 for Santiago), these guys have proven to be a bit too inconsistent to be relied upon as every week starters. Santiago, in particular, had an extremely rough nine start stretch from April 29th through June 10th in which he produced just one quality start and posted some horrific ratios (7.59 ERA and a 1.71 WHIP). However, in their last five respective starts, Conley (8.19 K/9, 2.43 ERA, 0.98 WHIP) and Santiago (8.04 K/9, 2.30 ERA, 1.12 WHIP) have performed quite well. If you avoid the difficult matchups, these pitchers should be quite useful down the stretch.
Ah, rookie nookie. Quite the double edged sword. Look at Taillon, for instance. He pitched eight brilliant shutout innings (which could’ve easily been a complete game) in Citi Field against the Mets on June 14th then couldn’t make it past the 4th inning in each of his next two starts (8 IP, 8 ER). Giolito had control issues in Double A ball this year (4.31 BB/9) which carried over into his first two big league starts (6 walks in 7.2 innings). Glasnow looked pretty good in his MLB debut even though his numbers don’t necessarily reflect it. Reyes is still just 21 years old and is very raw. His stuff is absolutely electric though, and he could be an impact player down the stretch if the Cardinals stay in playoff contention. Nothing is guaranteed from any of these youngsters, but there’s huge upside here.
Uehara and Herrera are merely keeping the 9th inning seats warm for their teams’ respective stoppers Craig Kimbrel and Wade Davis. They are must adds for the time being though, especially in the RCL format. Clippard looks like the new closer in Arizona since Brad Ziegler was shipped off to Boston. Estevez and Maurer are the current 9th inning guys for the struggling Rockies and Padres respectively. If you need saves, you know what to do.
Chasing saves can be a tricky (and extremely frustrating) game to play, but when speculating, I’ve always believed that it’s better to prioritize skills over roles. That’s especially true in the RCL format, where high-end middle relievers hold value even when not getting save opportunities. These players all have swing and miss stuff and could see some save chances moving forward. If not, the strikeouts and ratio help should prove to be valuable to your fake team regardless.