by Eno Sarris //
Every win could put you over the top right now, and if you’ve got innings left, or are in a hyper-competitive head-to-head matchup, it’s time to stream. For each day, I’ll identify a safer play for mixed leagues and a riskier start for deeper leagues. Good luck in your final week!
Philip Humber against Cleveland is a decent start, but other than his control, the righty is just so average across the board. He has also been less than inspiring in the last month, so when taken in combination with his minor league performances, he’s just a “meh” option. Zach Britton is riskier, but he has an elite skill in his ground-ball rate. He’s coming off a good start against the Angels and is facing a Detroit team that has clinched for the post-season and has not been scoring a ton of runs. Deeper leaguers should look at Henderson Alvarez who draws the on-again off-again Angels offense. Alvarez has a similar repertoire as Britton, as he’s getting buckets of ground balls with his 94 MPH sinker.
In deep leagues, the Rockies’ young lefty Drew Pomeranz should be interesting to you. He draws the hapless Astros on Friday and has so far been a ground-ball machine. That has been his M.O. all along, but his fastball/curve/change pitching mix might eventually get a ton of strikeouts too. Still, it’s the Astros and you’re a beggar not a chooser in deep leagues. Shallow leaguers have a choice of two strong spot-starts that are available in about half the leagues out there: Josh Collmenter at home against the punchless Giants, and Matt Harrison taking his left arm against the Mariners at home. Neither is a great full-season option: Collmenter is surviving on a funky delivery and Harrison is another guy like Humber who is really just average across the board. But their matchups make them more exciting in the final week.
If you don’t mind risk, there isn’t a higher-risk higher-reward start out there than Matt Moore versus the Blue Jays on Saturday. It will be the first start of his career, but scouts love him, his minor league numbers are incredible, and his stuff has looked great so far. But yeah, it’s the Blue Jays and their power bats, so that’s the risk. At least they are in Tampa. Aaron Harang at home against the Dodgers is about as safe as you can get on the other end of the spectrum. Somewhere in between is deep league option Jerome Williams taking on the Athletics in Los Angeles. Williams has shown better velocity this year, and a slightly different pitching mix, and they’ve both been working so far. Oh and we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that one of the most boring pitchers in the majors, Joe Saunders, does have a nice matchup at home against the Giants. Put him next to Harang on this risk/reward continuum.
Sunday’s best spot starter might be Mike Minor against the Nationals. Minor has been a little up-and-down — that’s why he’s available in about three-quarters of the leagues out there — but he has strikeout-per-inning upside, decent control, and has deserved better results this year. Since August began, Minor has either been lights-out or okay, which is pretty much ideal for a spot-starter. If he was any better, he’d be owned by everyone. Oh and the Nationals have been worse against lefties than righties this year, so there’s that. Deep Leaguers might be looking at Homer Bailey again, who will take on the Buccos in Pittsburgh. He’s been decent, and Pittsburgh’s park suppresses offense slightly, but he’s also only owned a little bit less than Minor. If you’re in a deeper league, you might have to go with Kevin Millwood against the Astros. Yeah he’s unexciting, but he’s been painting the corners in the National League, and it’s the Astros.
You’ll be living on the edge all weekend, but hopefully this guide will help you find the best spot-starts quicker. Good luck!