These next few weeks are always a very difficult and stressful time for Fantasy owners as those who play Fantasy Baseball and Football (most, if not all, of us) have to deal with updating our playoff baseball lineups and make sure we get off to a good start in our football leagues.
To make all of your lives easier, I’ve identified a few starting pitchers who have been outkicking their coverage since the All-Star Break and can be a difference-maker for you down the stretch.
Pitching pickups can make or break your Fantasy team over the final few weeks of the season, and these starters could be the difference between winning or losing your championship. None of them are big names (anymore) — they’re all owned in fewer than 50 percent of leagues — but they’re all worthy of being added to your team before season’s end.
There’s a New Need for Nova
Ivan Nova has been one of the best starters in baseball since he was traded from the Yankees to the Pirates at the trade deadline. His numbers since switching teams, and leagues, echoes the reason I make it my business to roster any pitcher with a sniff of talent who goes from the AL to the NL. Nova’s numbers with the Pirates are ace-worthy — 5-0 with a 2.41 ERA, a 0.94 WHIP and two complete games in eight starts. A pitcher with those stats should be owned across the board, yet he remains available in close to half of leagues. Following another quality start, which included a season-high 11 strikeouts on Tuesday, it’s time to make a move for the Bucs’ starter, as the National League is certainly treating the right-hander well.
Unusually Usual Run for Ubaldo
Another pitcher whose role change has done him well is O’s starter-turned-reliever-turned-starter Ubaldo Jimenez. Since being inserted back into the Orioles’ rotation on Aug. 25, he’s simply racked up four quality starts, including two wins and a complete game. Beyond that, his post All-Star break ERA is a sparkling 3.24 to go along with a 1.01 WHIP. Despite those numbers, Ubaldo is still somehow owned in fewer than 10 percent of leagues.
With his next start coming Thursday against a Tampa Bay Rays team that he owns a 5-2 record, a 2.89 ERA, a 1.14 WHIP and nearly a strikeout per inning against, Jimenez is a must-own for the stretch run. It’s really amazing that owners continue to overlook a pitcher on a playoff contender who seems to have found “it” again.
The big righty goes through elite stretches like this every so often in his career, and if you’re a smart owner, you’ll add him for his final few starts this season.
Former Ace Makes Nice September Addition
If I told you there was a starting pitcher on a contending team with a career September ERA of 2.88, you’d likely jump to have them on your roster. Well, there’s one such pitcher, coming off four quality starts in his past five outings, owned in fewer than 20 percent of leagues. That starter is none other than the Yankees’ CC Sabathia.
The big lefty has been better on the road this year with a 3.30 ERA, and looking at the Yankees’ upcoming schedule, his next two scheduled starts are away from the Stadium. Add Sabathia in deep leagues or as a quality streaming option in the final weeks of your head-to-head playoffs.
Rangers Veteran Provides Quality Option
Colby Lewis was activated from the 60-day disabled list for a Sunday start against the Angels. He was very mediocre (three runs and five Ks in 5.1 innings) but the righty is likely just shaking off the rust after missing nearly three months with a strained lat.
Prior to hitting the DL, Lewis racked up 12 quality starts in 15 outings along with a 3.21 ERA, a 1.02 WHIP and 61 strikeouts in 98 innings. He’s on a playoff team that will look to get him into postseason form over the final weeks of the season, meaning he will likely give you length and thus more quality starts in his last few regular season outings.
Grab the veteran starter before his Sunday start at home versus a weak Oakland A’s lineup, as he should provide quality returns down the stretch.
Take a Shot with This Tigers Starter
Matt Boyd had a rough start to the season, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at his numbers coming into his start on Tuesday — 5-3 record, 3.89 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 76 Ks in 85 innings. It would be tough to guess that the lefty had an ERA over 8.00 in the month of June. Since then, he has put up a sub-3.00 ERA in July, August and one September start, while going 5-1 in the process. Boyd is just part of the reason the Tigers have made a run at the AL Wild Card, and adding him to your roster could keep you in contention for your league championship.
Pitching pickups like Boyd, or any of these other starters, can and will make you look good during the remainder of your Fantasy Baseball playoff run. Use them as you please, take home a title and then you can happily focus solely on your Fantasy Football team(s).