If Samuel L. Jackson were here – and how I wish he was – he would tell us all to hold on to our butts. This coming week is the final week of action for many head to head leagues, although the bulk of roto leagues keep rolling until the final day of the season. With such limited time left, I decided to switch things up a bit. While I updated the overall ranks per usual, I also factored in the remaining schedule. Names matter very little at this point in the season; what we need is production. There’s no time to worry about a struggling starter turning things around when he’s only got two or three starts left. Run with the guys who have been pitching well, and play the matchups. Start your studs. You know who they are by this point, and there aren’t many of them. With this altered ranking system in mind, there are some pretty huge rankings swings this week. Rather than do a deeper dive on a handful of risers and fallers like usual, I’m going to highlight a double handful of starters with interesting matchups and/or interesting second-half production.
- Stephen Strasburg, WSH (+15) – Stras has been pretty solid over his last four starts, which is good enough for me at this point in the season. His fastball is still sitting down at 93, which is, as they say, not good. What is the cure for a downturn of velocity? Upcoming dates with the Marlins and Mets!! Reap the rewards of those juicy NL East matchups, baby.
- James Paxton, SEA (-13) – Surprise, surprise. Pax is dealing with an injury. Well, not so much injury as illness this time, as he is trying to fight off some sort of pneumonia. His 150.1 innings this year are a career-high, so really you should be thankful that you’ve got as much from him as you have. It’s unclear how much time he’ll miss exactly, but you’re probably looking at 1-2 starts max. You’re starting him whenever he’s out there, but it’s anyone’s guess as to exactly when that will be.
- Masahiro Tanaka, NYY (+18) – Tanaka will infuriate you with his gopheritis, but he’s been able to avoid that over the second half. He has a 2.09 ERA over 64.2 second-half innings with a sterling 22.4% K-BB% and 0.70 HR/9. The upcoming matchups aren’t great (Boston and Tampa), but when he’s rolling, I consider him relatively matchup-proof.
- Derek Holland, SF (+2) – I’ve written plenty about Holland here over the second half, but it bears mentioning that he gets the Padres not just once but twice over the next two weeks, which makes him a streaming god. All hail the Dutch Oven.
- Ross Stripling, LAD (N/A) – Look who’s back…back again…Stripling’s back…tell a friend. Just don’t tell Alex Wood, who is now moving to the bullpen as the Dodgers continue their fickle yo-yo act with their pitching staff. Stripling went just 3.1 innings in his last start (his first since August 9th) so it’s fair to worry how deep he will be pitching in his next couple of starts as he gets stretched out. IF, and I simply cannot capitalize that IF hard enough, but IF he sticks in the rotation the rest of the way, he lines up against the Cardinals the day this gets posted, then the Padres and Giants. Those last two matchups are lovely, so if – IF – he gets those starts, he’s a great stream.
- Luis Castillo, CIN (+17) – Do you hate Luis Castillo? Did he tank your season with his horrendous first half? Well get in line partner, and this line is long. You probably hate Castillo so much that you haven’t noticed his 2.98 second-half ERA, his 0.97 WHIP, his 10.87 K/9, or even his 1.58 BB/9. You also probably didn’t notice that his velocity is back up to 97 MPH on the fastball, where it was last year before it inexplicably dropped off early this season. He’s basically back to what he was last year, and needs to be back in your good graces. He gets the Cubs next, which is a start I could see avoiding, but he gets the Marlins after that, and he should be started everywhere for that one.
- Matt Boyd, DET (+30) – Boyd has been quietly terrific over the second half, posting a 3.09 ERA over 67 innings with a vastly improved 20.7 K-BB% compared to 12.4% in the first half. Yes, he pitches for the lowly Tigers, so it’s unlikely he will grab a win down the stretch. That said, he squares off against other lowly AL Central opponents in the Royals and the Twins, so anything is possible.
- Brad Keller, KC (+24) – Keller deserved a little more respect from me, having posted a 2.95 ERA over the second half. The real improvement came in terms of his strikeout and walk rates, however, as his K-BB% went from a hideous 3.4% in the first half to a palatable-but-still-not-great 12.2%. He lines up for dates with the Pirates and Tigers next, which makes him a perfectly reasonable streamer to me.
- Joe Ross, WSH (N/A) – Joe Ross made a trimphant return to the Nationals rotation, logging five innings while allowing only two runs. The BB/K wasn’t good as he walked two and didn’t record a strikeout, but he actually threw his changeup more than his slider. That is a huge departure from his pitch mix pre-Tommy John when he tossed less than 10% changeups. I don’t trust him at all just yet, but he is slated to get the Marlins twice in a row, and that could be worth a look in deeper formats.
- Matt Shoemaker, LAA (-3) – Shoemaker isn’t that good, and he isn’t pitching very deep into games. He could easily have not made the list. I just wanted to point out that his spoonerism name is Shatt Moemaker (moo-maker), which is hilarious when you say it out loud. Maybe it’s just me.
The Top 100 Starting Pitchers
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