Spot Starters For the Week
By Eno Sarris //
Those of you in head-to-head leagues are in the midst of your playoffs, and it’s all hands on deck time. You might not have streamed all year, but you’re streaming now. Scanning the schedules on your lunch break might not immediately provide the best results though. So we’ll do something a little different today. We’ll do that work for you, and give you a mixed league and deep-league starter or two for every day between now and Sunday. One-stop (streamer) shopping!
For our mixed leaguer, Alexi Ogando might be out there and is tempting. But he’s really been flagging, and his strikeout rate falls to 5.54 against lefties, and his repertoire suggests that he might have trouble against lefties going forward. Cleveland boasts Grady Sizemore, Travis Hafner,Jason Kipnis, Kosuke Fukudome, and Lonnie Chisenhall as good lefties that might tee off in Texas. He makes for a decent option in what might be his final start, but instead you could go toJhoulys Chacin if he’s available in your league. Chacin hasn’t been so great in the second half (4.60 ERA, 1.53 WHIP), but he’s still getting ground balls (56.1%) and enough strikeouts to matter (7.29 K/9). Oh, and he’s facing the Giants on Thursday.
Deep league streamers are sort of screwed on short-schedule days. If Homer Bailey is available, he’s an interesting pickup for his matchup against the Cubs. With his above-average swinging strike rate (9.2%) he could be striking out more batters than he is (6.71 K/9). His control is at a career-best level and Bailey is coming off a good stretch through August and September so far. If he’s gone, then consider Dana Eveland. There’s not much nice to say about Eveland other than he’s a lefty pitching at home in Los Angeles, which suppresses home runs from righties by 8%. Oh, and he’s facing the Buccos, which are having a hard time scoring runs.
Javier Vazquez faces Washington, but if you were reading last week, he’s probably already on your roster. Tim Stauffer has been scuffling over the second half, but he still has a 2.76 ERA and 1.17 WHIP at home… and that’s where he’ll face the Diamondbacks on Friday. To finish off a trio of mixed-league spot starters, Doug Fister faces Oakland at home in Detroit. One of these three guys will be available in your standard league, and they’re listed here in order of safety, so that should help you find a streamer. Well, Fister might be more solid than Stauffer, but his five-ish K/9 is not very exciting (even if his control is excellent).
Deep leaguers have a decent selection to choose from. Alex White is a rookie with a six-plus ERA pitching in Colorado, so he may not seem very exciting, but there are some hints of future success in his peripherals. He had decent ground-ball rates in the minors (57.2% in Double-A) and had close to a 55% rate in Cleveland. He hasn’t quite shown that in Colorado yet, but those grounders are coming. He also gets whiffs at an average rate and had great control in the minor leagues. He has promise… and he’s facing the Giants. Kevin Slowey against the Indians at home is also a decent idea. He hasn’t been getting the whiffs so far this year, but at least you know he won’t walk many.
Speaking of great control, you wouldn’t think a knuckleballer would be known for his ability to keep that thing in the zone, but R.A. Dickey has now walked about two batters per nine for two straight years. He may not seem safe, but he also gets more than half of his contact on the ground and is facing the Braves, which often struggle to score runs. He’s safer than non-knuckler Rick Porcello, even if Porcello draws the Athletics. The best spot starter of the day may not be available, but if he is, jump on Colby Lewis. He’s facing Seattle, but most importantly, it’s in Seattle. He’s a fly-ball guy that has trouble with home runs sometimes, and that won’t be an issue Saturday.
In deep leagues, it might make sense to look to the game in Los Angeles again. James McDonald is facing Ted Lilly, who likes pitching at home, so he may not get the win. But the park will help keep the homers down, and he’s been showing better control in the second half. Drew Pomeranz is an exciting young lefty facing the Giants in Colorado, so that’s even a little more enticing than Alex White really. Everett Teaford of the Royals faces Zach Stewart of the White Sox, and good luck picking the right spot-start there. Teaford had a good debut, but it was against the Mariners in Seattle. Stewart has had two good starts that followed two terrible starts. His ground-ball rate and good control probably makes him the pick.
Maybe John Danks is available in your league? He hasn’t been good in September, but he likes facing the Royals in his career. Aaron Harang is at home against the Diamondbacks in multiple senses of the phrase. Otherwise, Sunday is a little light on safe candidates. Brandon Beachyshould be owned, and so should Justin Masterson. But if someone dropped Masterson after his bad start earlier this week, his matchup against Minnesota is a good one. Make sure he’s owned before moving on to the deep league paragraph for your starter.
Joe Saunders takes on the Padres in San Diego, which helps makes him a passable play. Brad Lincoln is not very sexy himself, but he’s taking on the rapidly imploding Chad Billinsgley in Los Angeles, so that’s sort of interesting, too. Matt Harrison is way too average across the board to be a great pitcher most days — but he’s in Seattle on Sunday. He’s probably the best start in this paragraph, actually. If these guys are all owned, try Dillon Gee. He likes pitching at home and takes on the on-again and off-again Braves offense. If he’s owned… pray. Maybe Dontrelle Willis won’t walk the lineup against the Brewers?
It’s difficult to stream. Hopefully this guide will help you make it to the next round in your playoffs!