Let's talk fringe Starting Pitchers. Quietly, these back end of the rotation guys win some teams championships. Differentiating, however, the good from the bad from the ugly is the difference between watching your ratios balloon in Roto and losing your H2H Playoff matchup cause you lost ERA and WHIP, and edging out those few extra pitching points, or advancing. So, here's a few guys who are on my radar. Some are owned, some aren't. I'd love for the Cafe to throw their own names into this list as well, rank them, discuss them, upside/downside. Let's all benefit here, eh? Whether it's 'start Player X on the Road only, or vs Lefty Heavy Lineups, or never/always, let's all benefit, and maybe I'll turn this into an article or something. So, in no particular order...
Zach McAllister, CLE -- Former pretty highly ranked Yankee prospect, McAllister has been pretty solid this season (yesterday's start aside). 3.42 ERA, 3.88 xFIP, 3.73 SIERA to go with an impressive 8.17 K/9. He faces Minnesota his next time out. Watch him closely, I expect him to dominate. He has a normal BABIP and a Strand Rate that's actually only in the 60s right now. I want this guy on my team. I may not roll him out there every fifth day (after the Twins, he's due for Boston, but after that likely @Oakland, @Seattle and Oakland, missing the Angels and Yankees potentially) but I'd start him against a lot of teams that I wouldn't other guys on this list. Plus he's Irish. I like Irish guys. What do you think of Zach?
Bronson Arroyo, CIN -- Before yesterday's egg, Arroyo had strung together Quality Starts in 4 of his previous 5 outings, and looked pretty darn impressive. Arroyo is no stranger to being very valuable down the stretch, with a 3-year Split August ERA of 2.82, and 3.41 in September. As the dog days of summer drag, Bronson apparently ramps up. With all the times the Reds face the Cubs, Mets, and Phillies this August, that could certainly continue to be the case. September presents a similar moniker, riddled with games against the Cubs, Phillies, and Astros. Sure, he won't do much for your K/9, but if he's giving you an ERA under or close to 3, with a ton of Win potential, won't you make that sacrifice? I know I'm ready to...
Luis Mendoza, KC -- After making short work of the Indians yesterday, Mendoza may be getting some more looks than he was last week. Here's who he is to me: a guy who is worthy of a few spot starts over the remainder of the season. The good news is that his overall numbers are unattractive enough to probably dissuade many others from giving him a look. And who could blame them? But he's tossed QS in 5 of his last 6 outings, with a 28:11 K:BB to go along with it, which is encouraging. If the matchup is right, as it was yesterday with Cleveland, Mendoza is worth a look. Being in the AL will make it a less likely occurrence, and run ins with Texas, Anaheim, and Detroit are going to happen, but so will ones with Oakland, the aforementioned Cleveland, and Minnesota as well.
Brett Anderson, OAK -- Don't look now, but this guy's making rehab starts. He's now more than a year out of his Tommy John surgery, and speculation is that he's just one or two more rehab starts away from re-joining his teammates in Oakland. You want cheap upside? Here he is. You know there's teams that got in a DL bind and wound up dropping him while he went unnoticed. He probably won't blow the doors off, but he's put up several mid-3 xFIP seasons in a row, battling a bevy of injuries, with a K/9 ranging from mid-6 to mid-7. Only problem I see here is that Oakland, outside of one series with Seattle, has a downright brutal September schedule. Phew. Take a look at it if you get a chance. It's nothing but the Angels, Rangers, and Tigers. You guys were asking why Billy Beane didn't make a deadline move to buy? That's why. Still, maybe Anderson will be worth one or two spot starts over the final six weeks of the season. Likely not much else. Though I'm open to opposing opinions.
Dan Straily, OAK -- Dan Straily has set both AA and AAA on fire this year, posting a K/9 over 11 at each stop, a full 2 K/9 higher than anything he had ever shown before. What's that say to me? He's doing something different this year, and it's working. Whether it's a new pitch or newly found location, or whatever it is, it's turned him into a strikeout machine that has dominated minor league hitting without walking the ballpark. That's a recipe I love. 2.57 FIP in 85.1 AA innings before being promoted to AAA where he's posted a 2.20 FIP over 53.0 innings. It's just a matter of time before Beane gives Straily the nod, and when he does, I'll be among those who grab him immediately. Without seeing him face Major League hitting, here's his August opponents I would probably be comfortable rolling him out against: @White Sox, @Royals, Indians, Twins, @Rays, @Indians -- almost everyone. Oakland has it rough in September, save for two series against the Mariners, but still, if Straily is able to carry his dominance with him from the minors, it may not even matter. Or he'll suck. I don't really know.
Bud Norris, HOU -- I want to like this guy, I really do. I don't know if it's the strikeouts of what, but I just always want to give this guy a chance and hope for the best. Thankfully, I never do. He's on a terrible team with very little Win potential, is prone to massive implosions, and has an ERA over 5, but that 3.94 SIERA is very interesting, and the 4.15 xFIP isn't much worse. What are everyone's thoughts on Bud for the remainder of the year? There's some sporadic August and September series vs the Cubs, Mets, Giants, and Phillies where he could be a decent play, but is the risk worth the possible reward?
Scott Feldman, TEX -- The original thought was that Feldman would be banished to the bullpen in favor of Alexi Ogando's return from said pen, when it was announced that Colby Lewis would miss the remainder of the season, as would Neftali Feliz. For a brief moment, the door opened for the both of them to start; and then Texas traded for Ryan Dempster. Still, Feldman may be pitching his way into remaining a member of the Ranger rotation. Any reason why he's been so much more effective lately? Posted a sub-2 July ERA over 3 starts and 1 relief appearance, and notched back to back 3.38 and 3.54 xFIP measures in June and July. Really he had a terrible May, and has otherwise pitched very well. Thoughts?
Chris Tillman, BAL -- Tillman is a guy who people were all up in arms about after his first start, when his fastball was averaging higher than 94 mph. Fast forward 4 starts and, setting 1 meltdown aside where I actually did spot start him, he has a 2.70 ERA (4.38 SIERA, 4.48 xFIP), and a 4 - 1 record. A very small sample size to work with, which is why I'm imploring the Cafe. Is he still dialing up his fastball? Has he shown more command than his peripherals thus far indicate? What are the thoughts on him going forward? Pure spot start, or could he stick on your roster for a few weeks? August doesn't appear to be a month with too many terribly favorable matchups, but in September Baltimore gets to face a less than offensively overpowering Tampa, as well as Seattle, Oakland, and a depleted Toronto. There's some opportunities there, at least.
Joe Kelly, STL -- Joe Kelly has thrown 7 QS in a row. He's not overly impressive, and his indicating peripherals suggest exactly that, but 7 QS are 7 QS. Here's what else I know. Kelly's next two slated starts are tomorrow vs Milwaukee, and next week vs San Francisco; both at Home, where his ERA is 2.30, almost a full run and a half lower than on the Road. No surprise for a Rookie. Then he likely gets Arizona, again at Home. Then either the Pirates or Astros... at Home. This guy shouldn't see another Road start until the very last week in August. Is this a good time to carry a guy for a 2 or 3 or 4 start stretch? He's been far from dominant, but he's got a good team backing him despite his 1 - 4 record, and if that August schedule didn't whet your appetite, here's some of the teams the Cards face down the stretch in September: Nationals, Mets, Brewers, @Padres, @Dodgers, Astros, @Cubs, @Astros, and Nationals. Could Joe Kelly be a valuable pitching asset over the remainder of the year based on strength of offenses he'll face?
Marco Estrada, MIL -- My bromance with Estrada is the worst kept secret at the Cafe. Dude's K/BB gets me all moist in my panties, no denying it. Is there any reason to believe he won't continue to perform at the level he has since joining the Brewer rotation? Is there anything to be concerned about? Because from what I see, this is a guy who's been very unlucky as far as W/L are concerned, and should be trotted out for all but very strong offenses (and in the NL, there's really not many/any? of them). Am I overlooking anything? 3.43 xFIP, 3.06 SIERA, 9.76 K/9, 5.40 K/BB. Yes, please.
Jeff Karstens, PIT -- I feel like this is the time of year I start to look at Karstens for 2 or 3 years in a row now. Would you believe he posted a 3.47 xFIP in June and a 3.76 xFIP in July? Not half bad. Also, I salivate a little at the thought of rolling him out there to face the Astros and Cubs down the stretch (the Pirates actually get the Padres twice in the middle of August, as well). September for Pittsburgh sees two series against the Cubs, two against the Astros, and they head to Citi Field for the Mets in the final week of the season to play a team that should be well out of any semblance of even thinking they can contend by then. I have Karstens as a guy you could potentially spot start, but more often than a lot of other guys who may get that designation, due to the strength of his opponents. Thoughts?
Jake Westbrook, STL -- You know who Jake Westbrook is? The guy you cut when you go pick up Josh Vitters, or whoever the hell else is the flavor of the week. Despite his continual success since joining the Cards, he's still an afterthought on most teams. Without getting into too much detail over the ease of schedule the rest of the way (See: Joe Kelly), Westbrook has now logged at least 6.0 innings on every single start since June 8th; 10 in a row. He's 7 - 3 over that span, and interestingly enough, has earned a decision one way or another in every single start this year. Guy is a decision machine. So he's 10 - 8 now, but it really wouldn't shock me to see him finish 16 - 10 based on who he has left to face. If someone in your league drops him cause he's their last man, so they can pick up some bozo who they'll drop next week, Westbrook is a guy I would snatch up and probably hang onto for the rest of the season.
Mike Minor, ATL -- Riddled with a terrible case of the suck for most of the year, Minor has seemingly settled down since the calendar flipped to July. He was 4-for-4 on Quality Starts in the month, with a 1.98 ERA, 8.56 K/9, and 3.30 xFIP. I don't care that he sucked for most of the rest of the year. All I care about is what he does in August and September. This could very well be the point in the season where Minor has settled down, found a groove, and produces in the second half the way many speculated he would all season. High Ks, good ratios, and best of all, Wins. I don't know if you've looked at the landscape in the NL East lately, but it's riddled with teams who have mailed it in for this season. Minor faces the Marlins today, then the Phillies, then either the Mets or Padres. Then the Dodgers, then probably the Giants, then probably the Padres again, and that's his August. Would it really surprise you to see him win 5 Games in that stretch? Then in September it's another heavy dose of the Marlins, Phillies, and Mets. I may load up on Braves pitching if I can. Which leads me to...
Paul Maholm, ATL -- Take everything I said about Atlanta's schedule above, and apply it here too. Maholm was somehow pitching great at the time the Cubs dealt him to Atlanta, and he could have the perfect storm of mediocre competition brewing to keep that train rolling for the remainder of the year. Dude posted a 1.23 ERA in July. Really? I don't care if it was luck, his WHIP was 1.01. And now he gets to face sub-par offenses for almost the entire rest of the year. You could probably do worse.
So, who did I miss? Who am I way off on? What are your thoughts on these guys? Who sticks out as the guy you wanna own for the next two months over the guy you wanna pick up and drop? Let's get a conversation going here...
MIN: Deduno (2-0, 3.13 ERA)
BOS: Lester (5-8, 5.49 ERA)
NYM: Young (2-5, 4.58 ERA)
SF: Zito (8-7, 3.89 ERA)
LAA: Wilson (9-7, 2.88 ERA)
TEX: Dempster (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
SD: Ohlendorf (3-1, 5.05 ERA)
CIN: Cueto (13-5, 2.39 ERA)
CLE: Kluber (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
KC: Chen (7-9, 5.49 ERA)
PHI: Hamels (11-5, 3.31 ERA)
WSH: Detwiler (5-4, 3.24 ERA)
TOR: Alvarez (7-7, 4.43 ERA)
OAK: Colon (7-8, 3.78 ERA)
MIA: Eovaldi (2-6, 3.94 ERA)
ATL: Minor (6-7, 5.18 ERA)
STL: Lynn (13-4, 3.42 ERA)
COL: White (2-6, 6.45 ERA)