The non-waiver trade deadline finally passed, and we can now start to take advantage of the changes to pitching staffs that took place. There are some rotations that were reshuffled, and in some cases, this benefits those of us in H2H leagues where the two start pitchers have extreme value, in the appropriate situation.
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As I have been known to pontificate occasionally (every week that I cover two start options, I believe), I would recommend that all these pitchers in the top tier be started, without concern for their opponent or the venues in which they will be playing. Lynn makes the list this week due to the reshuffling of the Cardinal's rotation, and that is good news for fantasy owners of the fine SP.
Our first sub-tier consists of six SPs that have been pitching very well recently, beginning with Duffy and ending with Anderson. Duffy ended July with four consecutive QS, yielding a total of three earned runs over 25.1 innings. Watch out, though, as his control has been spotty, with only a 19:11 K/BB ratio in those four appearances. Keuchel was dominant in his last game vs Oakland, allowing only one earned run in a complete game victory where he also posted five Ks. In his previous outing, he didn't allow an earned run to Miami over seven innings, and I like his superb pitching to continue when he faces Philly on the road and Texas at home this week. Wheeler has been on a solid streak, allowing one or zero earned runs in all his six starts since June 30th, striking out 30 batters in those 32.1 innings, and his control has been very good in five of those outings. The Washington start is a bit worrisome, but he should be good to go against Philly. Cobb has been racking up loads of strikeouts over his past two games, totaling 10 and 12 against St. Louis and Milwaukee, respectively. He is also 5-0 over his last six games, and while Oakland is a tough test, the road park is favorable for pitchers, and facing the Cubs should not be scary. Roark has racked up four consecutive wins, and has been fantastic in those appearances, allowing only four earned runs, limiting hits and walks and striking out 24 over 28 innings. He is shaping up as the second best SP in our nation's capital, right behind Doug Fister. Anderson, as seasoned fantasy players know, has injury issues, but when healthy, he can be dominating. He is owned in just over a quarter of leagues, and while he is dealing, he should be targeted by savvy owners. I especially like his two match ups this week.
The second sub-tier starts with Hand and runs through McCarthy. Hand doesn't blow away many hitters, but his results have been difficult to argue with, as he has been stingy with the hits and walks in his past four appearances, although you need to look elsewhere if you want a high percentage strikeout artist. The two games this week on the road aren't optimal, but he gives a real good shot at picking up a QS or two. Santiago moves back to the rotation to replace injured Tyler Skaggs. He is generally good at limiting base runners, and while he can provide good strikeout numbers, he needs his control to be effective, and that has been in evidence of late.He pitches in two good parks for pitchers this week, although the Dodgers are sort of scary as an opponent, so maybe just plug him in at home against Boston. Kuroda doesn't overwhelm, either on the field or as a fantasy option, but he does provide steady production, and that is something desirable in fantasy. He can be useful if you need some decent peripherals and potentially a win or QS this week. Buehrle didn't look so good following the All-Star break, but bounced back nicely against the Red Sox, holding them to one earned run over 6.2 innings. I see the two bad games vs the Rangers and Yankees as aberrations, and expect that he will be an acceptable option at home, since he has good numbers career-wise against both teams he faces this scoring period. Nelson gets to start two games, after being scratched from his scheduled start due to a blister. He gives decent potential for strikeouts and has been sharp over his last two QS efforts. For the record, I like his chances against the Giants and Lincecum more than when he faces the Kershaw-led Dodgers in his second start this week. Gausman needs to work on his control to be more effective, but he is coming off two QS in two starts. I would like to see him rack up some more Ks, as he did in the minors, but the potential makes him desirable, even with two so-so match ups this week. McCarthy has gone 3-0 since joining the Yankees, and while that trend is due to alter somewhat, especially with his two match ups this week, he is still a solid option most starts.
Beginning the third sub-tier (that ends with Miley), Simon leads off the group of useful but slightly scary pitching options in Week 19. Hudson has rebounded from a two game hiccup mid month, although it isn't showing up in the win column. He is never going to excite if you crave Ks, but he is especially good in leagues that reward QS. Two road starts are not an issue, as he has been excellent away from AT&T Park in 2014. Norris has been up and down his past four starts, but he has also been striking out batters at a decent clip, reminiscent of his early days with the Astros. Guessing when he is on his game is a dangerous play, but if I had my druthers, I would use him against the Cards at the end of the week and avoid the start in Toronto. Hughes finally managed to pitch a QS his last time out, but received his third straight loss for the effort. Use him against the Padres, but the match up against Oakland screams avoidance. De La Rosa will get a longer leash than he already had in Boston, with the trades of Lackey and Lester. I don't like his descending K rate, but he has been showing better control of late, and that counts for something, especially if he can limit the hits the way he was earlier in late June and July. Miley rounds out the sub-tier, and while I am not ready to go all in on him, he does offer strikeouts and tends to limit the earned runs. A trend toward less control is worrying, and he is not stellar when pitching at Chase Field, so that is why he is ranked so low here. Use with caution this week.
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The final sub-tier leads off with Richards and terminates the middle tier with Samardzija. Richards has permitted his opponents to score four earned runs in back to back contests, albeit against the Tigers and Orioles who can hurt a pitcher any given game. Just because he faces Detroit again and Boston shouldn't worry us, right? It is entirely possible he gets things under control this week, but I am taking a wait and see approach right now. Morton is a pitcher I want to believe in, but with a reduced K rate and him being more hittable in his past two starts, I am going to hold off using him, too, although both his match ups at home are tempting. Maybe you are more adventuresome than I, and if so, plug him in against the Marlins and Padres. Gonzalez has been hit hard in two of his last three starts, lasting just 3.1 and 3.2 innings respectively. He did pitch well in the sandwich filler, holding the Reds to one earned run over seven innings, so there is hope, but I tend to avoid using inconsistent SPs, and that's how I see Gonzalez right now. If I had to choose, I would go with him against the Mets in his first start, though, and bench him against the Braves on the road, although if you want Ks, then the game vs Atlanta could yield a nice return.Samardzija has not been lights out since joining the A's, although he did sparkle in his two victories for Oakland. It is the other three games that worry me, where he has allowed three or four earned runs. I prolly shouldn't have ranked him this low, but inconsistency scares me, especially in a two-start week. If you believe, go ahead and start him against the Rays and Twins; you will get some Ks at any rate.
There are some pitchers here that may surprise. You prolly know I didn't trust Lincecum given what I had written about him last season and this year, but McAllister , Danks and especially Hammel were promoted by me at various points this season. I still figure that Hammel will rebound, and the word out of Oakland is that his rotation spot is secure for now. Kendrick, Noesi and Wood can have their moments, but those are too unpredictable for me to insert them into my lineup at this late point in the season.
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Should you have questions regarding fantasy baseball, especially starting pitching, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org to continue the discussion.