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As we move to the closing weeks of the season, fantasy owners in the championship hunt are forced to chase specific categories. Realistically, only a category or two leave room for fluctuation with so few games remaining, so any late-season waiver pickups tend to relate to those specific needs.

In this article, I want to focus on little-owned starting pitchers who could help rack up the strikeouts down the stretch. Most leagues have moved beyond the trade deadline; thus, any potential additions must come from the waiver wire. All ownership statistics are from ESPN leagues, but one can reasonable assume that Yahoo! and CBS ownership rates would be roughly equivalent.

Here are a trio of available hurlers who could provide ample strikeouts for the stretch run:

Drew Hutchison (13.1% owned)
Although people have shied away from Hutchison because the earned run average isn’t attractive, the right-hander is missing bats and collecting strikeouts. His 11.4 percent swinging-strike rate since the All-Star Break ranks 13th among qualified starters, just behind Zack Greinke and Max Scherzer. That’s far above the league-average swinging-strike rate of 8.8 percent. More importantly, it has led to a myriad of strikeouts. Hutchison had a 23.9 percent strikeout rate in the second half, and that was before he punched out 11 on Tuesday evening.

He’s primarily a fastball-slider guy, but he will feature a changeup approximately 12 percent of the time. All three pitches have double-digit whiff rates, and they have all improved as the season has progressed. Of course, not everything is sunshine and roses. Hutchison also has a healthy home-run rate and doesn’t keep the baseball on the ground well at all. That’s been one of the largest reasons his earned run average hasn’t matched the impressive strikeout-to-walk ratio. However, if you’re not concerned about ERA and need the strikeouts, Drew Hutchison could be a deft addition to your team’s rotation.

Jorge De La Rosa (11.3% owned)
Again, looking at second-half whiff rates, De La Rosa’s 10.5 percent swinging-strike rate since the All-Star Break ranks better than Felix Hernandez and Stephen Strasburg. That’s precisely in line with his historical whiff rate, which is both good and bad. It’s a good thing because it suggests fantasy owners can expect de la Rosa to continuously miss bats. It’s a bad thing, however, because it hasn’t historically translated into strikeouts. His 15.7 percent strikeout rate is below average, as is his overall 17.9 percent strikeout rate this season. In the second half, though, his strikeout rate has bumped up to 19.7 percent, which is better than the league average and suggests his stuff could be improving and returning to his pre-injury levels prior to the 2011 season.

It’s scary to rely on pitchers in Colorado, but his second-half numbers have been trending up across the board:

K%

BB%

ERA

WHIP

BABIP

1st Half

16.8%

9.9%

4.56

1.31

.263

2nd Half

19.7%

6.3%

3.88

1.13

.263

The strikeout rate has improved in the second half, and he’s been a solid overall arm for the Rockies. He deserves to be owned in more than 11.3% of leagues. If you need a bump in strikeouts and can’t afford to sacrifice much in other categories, Jorge de la Rosa might actually be a better choice than Drew Hutchison, thanks to the better overall skill set and lengthy track record.

Chase Anderson (5.7% owned)
Anderson doesn’t get enough love in fantasy circles because he plays for the lowly Arizona Diamondbacks, doesn’t have overpowering stuff, and didn’t enter the season with massive prospect hype. However, he’s compiled an ERA under 4.00 and has managed to post an above-average strikeout rate throughout the entire year. His 8.9 percent swinging-strike rate in the second half is roughly average, but his 23.5 percent strikeout rate is well above the league-average mark. He does it with a nasty changeup that has a 22.65 percent whiff rate, as well as a solid curveball. The fastball doesn’t do much, but he’s one of the crafty pitcher who can work backward and find success by featuring his plus-changeup, which makes his average fastball play up.

He’s been a top-100 starter this year and is only owned by 5.7 percent of ESPN owners. That’s too low. It’s nothing special, but it’s solid. If you can get “solid” with above-average strikeout potential this late in the season, that’s good business as a fantasy owner.

Thank you for reading

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seanqueue
9/17
Looks like it's too late to make a play on Anderson, the Diamondbacks announced that he will be shut down for the year after his next start, which happens to be in Colorado.