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September 20, 2012

Resident Fantasy Genius

One-Category Saviors: Strikeouts, Wins

by Derek Carty

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Over the past week, I’ve discussed the importance of prioritizing categorical impact over raw value with the season nearing an end. At this point I think I’ve given the concept more press than Psy is getting, and while "Gangnam Style" becomes no less brilliant play after play, I fear me talking anymore about this would have the opposite effect.  So, I’ll simply point you towards my one-category contributor articles for saves and homers and steals and invisible horse dance my way onto the meat of today’s article...

Wins
The best strategy when chasing wins is to play the match-ups, if you have the luxury of doing so in leagues with daily transactions and/or deep-ish free agent pools.  Ideally, you’ll target pitchers with good skills and potent offenses who are facing weak offenses.  Mixing and matching is almost certain to be better than rolling with a single starter come hell or high water.  Still, if you need to for whatever reason, here are a few to consider.

Ross Detwiler isn’t supremely talented, but he is serviceable.  More importantly, though, he has one of the league’s best offenses supporting him and three cushy matchups on the docket to close out the season: the Dodgers and the Phillies twice.  If you’re chasing wins and there aren’t any obviously qualified candidates on the wire, Detwiler should be a serious consideration.

Over the course of a full season, give me Marco Estrada over Ross Detwiler in a landslide.  Given present circumstances, though, I’ll take Detwiler.  Estrada only has two starts remaining after defeating the Pirates yesterday: the Nats and Astros.  I’ll devour the Houston match-up but pass on the Washington one.  Still, Estrada is one of the most underappreciated pitchers in fantasy and has the NL’s highest-scoring offense in the second-half behind him, so bid accordingly.

Shallow Option: Lance Lynn finds himself in pretty much the same boat as Estrada.  He got the win yesterday and has the same Jekyll and Hyde pair of matchups remaining with Houston and Washington.  He has good offensive support and has pitched well since returning from the bullpen, though, so utilize as appropriate.

Deep Option: Miguel Gonzalez has been one of the pleasant surprises of the fantasy season, though he remains widely unowned.  His peripherals aren’t as good as his ERA indicates, but he gets a full slate of three match-ups the rest of the way, ranging from slightly-to-incredibly favorable: Boston, Toronto, and Tampa Bay.  Baltimore’s offense should be good enough to notch Gonzalez a win or two if he can hold up his end of the bargain.

Strikeouts
The control of Edinson Volquez is as terrible as ever, but as I anticipated in the preseason, they haven’t been nearly as damaging pitching in Petco Park, where his HR/FB has taken a dive from where it was with the Reds in Great American Ball Park.  What you care about is the strikeouts, though, and they are still intact.  Volquez is the cream of the crop when it comes to non-elite pitchers who have a chance to pop a 10 spot in the K column on any given day.

It’s beyond the scope of this article to delve into all of Francisco Liriano’s problems, but regardless of the pounding he generally takes when he’s on the mound, he still manages to strike out a Volquez-esque number of batters.  If your ERA and WHIP can take the small hit of a bad couple of games, Liriano is a spectacular option to give you that last push up the strikeout standings.

Shallow Option: If you truly only care about strikeouts, Volquez and Liriano may well be equal or better options than Brandon Morrow on a per-inning basis. Morrow is the better pitcher, though, and is at a lower risk of getting hammered and subsequently pulled in the second inning, so if he’s available, he’s likely to be one of the better bets out there.

Deep Option: It appears Jorge de la Rosa will be rejoining the Rockies’ rotation today.  It’s hard to know if he’ll be the same pitcher he was so soon after returning from injury (he had just two rehab starts), plus there’s the whole Colorado pitch-limit thing to worry about. Still, de la Rosa’s strikeout upside is as high as it comes for a guy unowned in so many leagues, and he gets a tasty match-up against the Cubs next week.

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Fantasy Article Value Picks: Starting ... (09/20)
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