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Plumbing the Depths for Week 21

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Once upon a time, Roberto Hernandez was a pitcher who drew interest from owners in standard mixed leagues. That's a name change and several seasons ago, though, as he has been bedeviled by poor control and high home run rates in his more recent campaigns.

Hernandez's age and identify fraud scandal (and suspension) may be behind him now that he has made his season debut with the Indians, but as his poor showing on Wednesday reflected, he is even a risky pickup for owners in deeper leagues. The story of Hernandez's debut was a familiar one; he got the Angels to hit plenty of grounders, but he sustained too much damage on those balls that went airborne, including a pair of solo home runs. Hernandez gave owners a sneak preview of these difficulties when he allowed five home runs during a pair of Class A rehab starts in recent weeks. He still has time to shake off the rust and provide value to owners in deeper leagues, but until he starts to show improvement, there is little reason for owners to chase after him. His four percent ownership rate sounds just about right for now.

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On the other hand, each of the 10 pitchers featured below should have more value for owners in deeper leagues than Hernandez. If you're looking for a waiver pickup for Fantasy Week 21 (August 20-26), there is a good chance that several of these pitchers will be available in your leagues, and each offers some promise for the coming scoring period. All stats are current for games through Wednesday, August 15.

Deeper league two-start options

Joe Saunders, Diamondbacks
Projected matchups: MIA (Buehrle), SD (Volquez)
2012 stats: 6-9, 3.70 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 87 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 41/22
Outlook: With career-best strikeout and walk rates, Saunders has been a surprisingly solid option in deeper leagues, and in the occasional two-start week, he has even been trustworthy in standard mixed leagues. Saunders is not always an advisable start at home, though, where he sports a 4.72 ERA and 1.5 HR/9 rate. In Week 21, the lefty has the good fortune of facing the power-deprived Marlins and Padres at Chase Field, so these shouldn't be typical home starts. Saunders has already faced each squad once on the road this season, and he didn't allow a run in either start. Owners in standard mixed leagues should be able to find more reliable options, but in anything deeper, Saunders should be considered a must-start with these matchups.

Mike Leake, Reds
Projected matchups: @PHI (Halladay), STL (Garcia)
2012 stats: 5-7, 4.29 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 95 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 40/22
Outlook: As recently as three weeks ago, Leake was barely available in deeper formats, as he was riding a two-month stretch of consistently good starts. Back-to-back flops against the Padres and Pirates left owners dumping Leake in droves, but he rebounded in subsequent outings against the Cubs and Mets. Even with a two-start week on the horizon, the needle on Leake's ownership rate has barely moved. Even with his recent pair of subpar starts, the 24-year-old has posted a 3.47 ERA and 1.18 WHIP since May 16. Leake's matchups aren't the most favorable, but he should be started in all deeper leagues next week, and even a few standard mixed ones.

Lucas Harrell, Astros
Projected matchups: @STL (Wainwright), @NYM (Hefner)
2012 stats: 10-8, 3.81 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 103 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 35/22
Outlook: Owners in Head-to-Head points leagues have known for some time now that Harrell is a sneaky play in two-start weeks, as he is currently the fourth-highest ranked RP-eligible starter in those formats. Based on Harrell's ownership rate, what seems to be a better-kept secret is that he has been just flat-out good for the last two months. Over his last 10 starts, Harrell has posted a 2.23 ERA and 1.24 WHIP, as he's been getting more strikeouts while maintaining a high ground ball rate. He has also allowed just two homers over that 10-game span, and with a pair of starts away from Minute Maid Park, Harrell could continue his quiet success.

Freddy Garcia, Yankees
Projected matchups: @CHW (Floyd), @CLE (Jimenez)
2012 stats: 4-10, 4.28 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 97 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 22/12
Outlook: Garcia has been rivaling Harrell as an under-the-radar success. His first stint as a starter this season was so miserable (12.51 ERA over four starts) that his season-to-date stats are still bearing the weight of those early runs and hits. Since rejoining the rotation in early July, Garcia's ERA is a tamer 3.69, and though he is still susceptible to the long ball, he's missing enough bats to get by. Going back even further, Garcia's ERA from May forward is 3.17, reflecting the success he enjoyed during two months of bullpen work. Granted, the schedule has worked in Garcia's favor lately, but he's turned in good starts against the Rangers and Red Sox in his recent run, so he has a chance to tame the White Sox in the tougher of his two matchups this coming week.

Will Smith, Royals
Projected matchups: @TB (Hellickson), @BOS (Cook)
2012 stats: 4-4, 5.09 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 34 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 3/1
Outlook: Two weeks ago, I singled out Smith in this space as an underowned pitcher who needed to be used in more AL-only leagues, if not deeper mixed league formats. Since then, he has been making a case for even greater popularity, yet his ownership rate has barely budged. His first start out of his last three, against the Rangers, was lackluster, though having allowed four runs over 5 2/3 innings, he kept the Royals in the game. He followed that effort up with a pair of seven-inning quality starts against the Orioles and A's. There is no evidence to suggest that Smith is going to bust out as a strikeout pitcher, but the progress he made as a 22-year-old in Double-A last season suggests that he could have staying power as a control artist in the majors.

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Waiver wire targets

Ross Detwiler, Nationals
Projected matchups: ATL (Medlen)
2012 stats: 6-5, 3.18 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 74 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 57/31
Outlook: Detwiler has remarkably similar rate stats to Matt Harrison and only slightly less run support, yet the Rangers' hurler is almost universally owned, while Detwiler has only recently cracked the 50 percent ownership mark. Harrison does have more value, especially in points leagues, as he is almost a lock to last six innings or more, but given the degree of their similarities, it's hard not to conclude that Detwiler is owned in too few leagues (and perhaps, that Harrison is owned in too many). Detwiler's popularity has risen enough that he won't be available in most deeper leagues, but he needs to be snapped up in those where he is still on waivers. He's been on a serious roll over his last six starts, holding opponents to a .311 slugging percentage, so he also needs to be on active rosters in all deeper formats.

Zach McAllister, Indians
Projected matchups: @SEA (Iwakuma)
2012 stats: 5-4, 3.46 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 69 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 33/15
Outlook: After striking out 59 batters over 62 1/3 innings over his first 10 starts this year, McAllister looked like a sure-fire regression candidate, and in fact, his K-rate has started to shrink over his last three outings. Even if McAllister's days as a strikeout pitcher are over, it's not necessarily a bad thing for Fantasy owners. Those strikeouts were fueled by a high foul ball rate, which we often see from flyball pitchers, but more recently, we've seen McAllister rediscover his ability to induce grounders. That gives him a chance to lower his home run rate, which in turn, can help him to maintain his relatively modest ERA and WHIP. Toss in a favorable matchup against the Mariners, and this looks like a good week to start McAllister in the 33 percent of leagues he is currently owned in and then some.

Hisashi Iwakuma, Mariners
Projected matchups: CLE (McAllister)
2012 stats: 3-3, 4.16 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 58 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 22/11
Outlook: Iwakuma will face off with McAllister, so at best, only one will emerge with a "W," but both are worth starting in most deeper leagues. Iwakuma's numbers don't look as impressive as McAllister's, but if you factor out Iwakuma's time in the bullpen, it's a closer contest. He's been striking out more batters since entering the rotation, posting a 7.7 K/9 rate as a starter, as compared to his 6.8 rate as a reliever. Also, his starter ERA (3.73) is more than a run lower than his mark as a reliever (4.75). Iwakuma's sketchy control prevents him from having broader Fantasy appeal, but he may be underrated as a source for Ks. Deeper-league owners needing to make a run in that category need to look into claiming the former Rakuten Golden Eagle.

Kyle Kendrick, Phillies
Projected matchups: WAS (Jackson)
2012 stats: 5-9, 4.53 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 74 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 6/4
Outlook: Kendrick has turned in more than his share of mediocre performances this year, so it would be easy to dismiss Tuesday's seven innings of shutout ball against the Marlins as the product of a favorable matchup. However, it was the fifth time in Kendrick's 16 starts that he pitched at least seven innings, and in three of those long starts, he held the opponent scoreless. The other two victims, by the way, were the heavy-hitting Cardinals and Braves. The point here isn't that Kendrick is a safe bet in deeper leagues week in and week out, as inconsistent command has gotten him into trouble too often. It's that Kendrick does have the potential to stymie opponents, which makes him valuable enough to start in most NL-only leagues. Kendrick shouldn't be the target of waiver wire hysteria, but NL-only owners intrigued by his latest start should give him a try.

Jeremy Hefner, Mets
Projected matchups: HOU (Harrell)
2012 stats: 2-4, 4.76 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 33 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 1/0
Outlook: Strikeout pitchers are in high demand, so here at Plumbing the Depths, you'll find a lot of control pitchers. Hefner falls in that category, but he has the makings of a good one. At each level of the minors, he has shown the ability to limit walks, and he has done it again over his first 18 appearances as a major leaguer. According to data on the StatCorner site, Hefner threw 67 percent of his pitches for strikes as a starter at Triple-A Buffalo this year, and he has followed that up with a 66 percent rate as a Mets starter. Now that he is back as part of the Mets' six-man rotation, Hefner is worth picking up and using in deeper NL-only leagues. Though he hasn't fulfilled it yet, Hefner has the potential to lower your Fantasy staff's WHIP, as he is just a correction of his .321 BABIP away from doing so.

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Vulnerable rotation spots

Athletics: Brett Anderson is rehabbing with Triple-A Sacramento, and he could be ready to return to the A's rotation in Week 21, possibly for Saturday's series finale against the Rays. It's not yet known how manager Bob Melvin will reshape the rotation, though it would seem to mean a permanent move to the bullpen for Travis Blackley. If Melvin opts for a six-man unit, that would mean more days between starts for youngsters Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone and Dan Straily.

Red Sox: Manager Bobby Valentine plans to put Felix Doubront back in the rotation after having his most recent turn skipped. He will start sometime during the Red Sox's next homestand, which begins on Tuesday against the Angels, though Valentine has yet to indicate whether Aaron Cook will lose his starting role or stay as part of a six-man rotation.

Rockies: Jhoulys Chacin is expected to rejoin the Rockies for their series at the Mets next week. He has missed more than half the season due to nerve damage in his chest. Tyler Chatwood is the most likely candidate to get pushed out of the rotation.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Al Melchior at @almelccbs . You can also e-mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Astros SP Scott Feldman looks average in Double-A rehab start
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(12:35 am ET) Astros starting pitcher Scott Feldman didn't look overly impressive during a rehab start for Double-A Cospus Christi on Sunday.

Feldman allowed three runs, two of them earned, on four hits in three innings of work. He walked three batters, but did manage to strike out another three.

Feldman has been on the 15-day disabled list since late May because of a knee injury.


Yankees RP Andrew Miller could return after one rehab game
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(12:28 am ET) Yankees relief pitcher Andrew Miller might be able to return to the club after just one rehab appearance, per the New York Post.

Miller will pitch for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Monday, and could possibly come off the 15-day disabled list and rejoin the team after that.

“We will see where he is at. The thing is we don’t have to build him up [like a starter.] We have him throwing 25 pitches [Monday],’’ manager Joe Girardi said. “We will see how he feels. If he feels good we have to make a decision.’’


Mets manager Terry Collins reacts to Matt Harvey's complaints
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(12:12 am ET) After a 4-3 loss on Sunday, Mets starting pitcher Matt Harvey put some of the blame over his recent struggles on the team's six-man rotation. On Sunday, manager Terry Collins fired back and told Harvey to get over it, per MLB.com.

Collins ultimately said that Harvey and the other pitchers need to "get over it"

"They've got to," Collins said. "Matt knows that. I know he's frustrated by it, and he and I have talked about it. But you've got to come up and be creative between starts. I certainly understand it. I certainly do understand it. He's a tremendous competitor and he wants to be out there as much as he can on a regular basis. I guess the easiest way for me to say it is, 'Matt, we'll go back to a five-man, but I hope you enjoy watching the rest of the season sitting on the bench in September when we need you.' So we've got to make the adjustment."


Rays OF Steven Souza gets stitches on hand after HBP
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(7/5/2015) Rays outfielder Steven Souza had to get stitches on on the pinky of his right hand after being hit by a pitch during Sunday's game against the Yankees.

Souza remained in the game temporarily after being hit. He ran the bases and scored a run but didn't return to the game after that. He isn't sure how much time he will miss because of the injury.

"Right now it's just day to day," Souza said.

Souza received x-rays on the finger, which came up negative. He will undergo more tests on Monday.

"It was a really deep cut, it was deeper than the doctor thought it was when he opened it up," Souza said. "We don't know what's in there. We're going to see a specialist in Kansas City.

"It's just my pinky. A giant laceration that runs up my pinky. I can't really bend it too well now. I'm hoping I wake up tomorrow and it feels little better. But I don't have much feeling in my pinky right now, which is kind of a worry for us. So we'll go from there."


Mariners 2B Robinson Cano hit by pitch, should be OK
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(7/5/2015) Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano says he should be OK after being hit by a pitch on the ankle during Sunday's game against the Athletics, per Mynorthwest.com.

Cano has a slash line of .248/.289/.363 this season with five home runs and 27 RBI.


Marlins recall 2B Jordany Valdespin from Triple-A
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(7/5/2015) The Marlins have recalled second baseman Jordany Valdespin from Triple-A New Orleans on Sunday.

The Marlins called up Valdespin in a corresponding move after they optioned outfielder Marcell Ozuna earlier Sunday.


Giants SS Brandon Crawford slugs 12th home run of season
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(7/5/2015) Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford was the lone offensive bright spot for his team during a 3-1 loss to the Nationals on Sunday.

Crawford went 1 for 4 with a solo home run, his 12th of the season.

Crawford is hitting just .228 over his last 10 games, but he does have eight hits, three home runs and seven RBI.


Nationals RF Bryce Harper enjoys multi-hit game in win
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(7/5/2015) Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper went 2 for 3 with a double and a run scored in Sunday's win over the Giants.

Harper is hitting .414 with 12 hits, six doubles, a home runs and three RBI over his last seven games.


Nationals C Wilson Ramos homers, records two RBI in win
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(7/5/2015) Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos went 2 for 3 with a home run and two RBI in Sunday's win over the Giants.

Ramos hit a solo shot, his eighth of the season, in the sixth inning. He followed that up with a single in the eighth inning that scored another run.

Over his last three games, Ramos is hitting .426 with five hits, a home run and three RBI.


Nationals closer Drew Storen notches 25th save of season
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(7/5/2015) Nationals closer Drew Storen shut the door on the Giants on Sunday and recorded his 25th save of the season while doing do.

Storen needed just 15 pitches to close out the ninth inning of a 3-1 win over San Francisco. He is second in the National league with 25 saves.

Storen (1-0) has a 1.97 ERA with 37 strikeouts and seven walks in 32 innings of relief this season.


 
 
 
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