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“65 Mustangs” Pick Your Spots : Spot Starter & Relief Pitcher Guide – It is Now or Never (Week 18)

Here we are in Week 18. By now you should know if you are a contender or not, whether it is H2H or Roto. Some of you may still be teetering on the edge. It is not always black and white whether you are a contender or not. While I feel bad for you, you must keepgirardi.jpeg plugging, as you never know what might happen. Those of you who are out of it have two obligations. 1) Keep your team competitive so you don’t affect the final standings by laying down and 2) prepare your team for next season, depending on if it’s a keeper league and what kind of keeper league it is. Besides, what better way to finish a disappointing season than by playing the spoiler?

It is now or never. If you are in a must-win-every-week scenario, the time to take chances is over. To borrow a baseball cliche, “you must put a team out there every week that gives you the best chance of winning.” It is time to pay less attention to the wave of call-ups and look closer at the guys who have been doing it all year, or vets returning from injury. Don’t forget that some of the young arms that have been carrying youmusgrove.jpeg this season could be on innings limits that will affect you in the playoffs. More about that next week. You deep keeper guys have a nice group of pitchers to grab now as well. There will be some good starts here, but I can’t take chances anymore. The latest crop includes Joe Musgrove SP, HOU, Daniel Norris SP, DET, Bradon Shipley SP, AZ, Jake Thompson SP, PHI, and soon enough, Alex Reyes SP, STL. I wouldn’t doubt if Lucas Giolito SP, WAS and Tyler Glasnow SP, PIT are still out there in shallower leagues.

This coming week should be good spot starting ground for you contenders. In fact, I’d say that if you can’t find some good spot starts this week you probably are not looking hard enough. I’m not even going farther down than 30% owned this week. I don’t want to take any more chances but also I just don’t need to. I’ll give good analysis on my 6 or so favorites, but I’ll also list a handful of pitchers I could have included that should nail a QS next week. The do not start list will be long this week as well, including some bad match-ups but also some SP who have been recent darlings but contenders should look twice this week. Some SP to grab/stash or keep an eye on include Matt Cain SP, SF and Alex Cobb SP, TB who are on or recently off minor league rehab assignments. Two of my favorite regulars, Bud Norris SP, LAD & Jeff Locke SP, PIT have recently been DL’d or banished to their bullpens making it easier for us to drop them..

There will not be a Closer Carousel segment this week since I recapped all the closer changes due to the trade deadline this past Tuesday. Some quick hits though: Did anyone else find it curious that Andrew Miller RP, CLE  came into the game in the 6th inning. He grabbed his 17 Hold of the season and struck out three of four batters he faced in completing the 7th as well. Most services list him as the closer. I suggested last week, and continue to think that he is a set-up man for now. Jake Barrett RP, AZ has struggled since winning the role there. The logical alternative is Daniel Hudson with Tyler Clippard traded, but he would have been the first choice anyway if he was not pitching so badly himself. I have no recommendation other than avoidance at this point. Steve Cishek has a labrum tear and was placed on the 15 day DL. I expect Edwin Diaz to be the closer for the rest of 2016.

Lets choose some spot starts for next week. I’ll pick my favorites from the under 50% owned group, but there are a lot more. If you want an opinion between any two or more email me @ Joseph.iannone021@gmail.com and I’ll give you my take. Or visit my thread on Reddit which is active all day Sunday. Percentages listed are from Fantrax, so an over 50% owned pitcher might make the list if they are lower in in ESPN, CBS, etc.

Trivia Question:  What 30% owned AL Central journeyman SP, a 32-year-old right-hander, has quietly amassed Seven (7) consecutive Quality Starts of late?  Answer below:

SPOT STARTS –                                                                                                                                         

  • Tom Koehler SP, MIA (45% owned) Vs SF, TUE:  Nothing major has changed in the 30-year-old right hander Tom Koehler’s game this season other than experience,koehler_3nj8gla3_6vxfiym8 guile and baseball intelligence. He is not overpowering (7.2 K/9), not an extreme ground ball pitcher (.72 GB/FB), not exhibiting pin point control (4.1 BB/9) and he keeps getting it done…..when the match-up is right, and when he proposes at home plate. Maybe that is part of the reason I like him. But, in his last 3 starts, Koehler is 2-0, with 2 ER in 20 IP & 17 K vs 3 BB. All three of those starts were QS, including the last one at Chicago against the Cubs where he gave up one run in six innings with one walk. Getting the weaker hitting Giants at home should be easier. The Giants have little big time power but do have a good OBP. Koehler needs to keep it on the ground and not give up walks in the more homer friendly stadium in Miami.
  • ***Two Starts*** Kendal Graveman SP, OAK (48% owned) Vs  BAL, MON & Vs SEA SAT:  Prior to his last start in LA where he gave up 6 runs to the Angels, Graveman 0306KendallGravemanrattled off 5 consecutive quality starts, including a complete game Win against the Rays at home on July 23rd. He is by no means a no-brainer but he has two home starts this coming week that look pretty good. He is at home vs Bal Monday where the O’s hit 20 points lower on the road than home. They do hit righty’s at a .273 clip, but I think the 25-year-old righty’s home BA of .251, or 55 points lower than on the road, mitigates this, as does his 2.92 home ERA (vs 5.64 road ERA). I think the same factors will work vs the Mariners who are hitting .262 both Vs RH and Away from Safeco. Oakland seems to keep HR to a minimum as well, and both the O’s and M’s live on the long ball.
  • ***Two Starts***Dan Straily SP, CIN (57% owned) @ MIL, SAT: vs PIT, SUN: I’m still surprised that Straily’s ownership is not higher. Good for us. His last 6 startsstraily 2 have been QS where he has compiled a 2-1 record, 27/11 K/BB, & given up 5 HR. He gets the Brewers in Milwaukee and then home against Pittsburgh.
  • Michael Gonzalez SP, CHW (30% owned) @ KC, THU: Michael GonzalezYes, 32-year-old righty Michael Gonzalez has quietly amassed 7 QS in a Row. The Sox were smart to choose him over Matt Latos when they had to pare a SP. He gets the Royals in KC.  Mike has stopped wearing uniforms in his baseball card pictures as he changes teams too often. Photo data bases like that idea, including my own.
  • Matt Andriese SP, TB (48% owned) @ NYY, SAT: The 26-year-old Righty has been re-inserted into the Rays rotation and gets to face the punch-less & neutered NY Yankeesandriese Saturday in NY. Many owners dropped him when he was bumped from the rotation last month after pitching pretty well his first time through it even though he pitched well. I kept him so I could sit a Holds guy in a SP spot, and I’m glad I did.  He does have a start @ MIN today, where you should grab him if it is not too late.
  • Tyler Anderson SP, COL (52% owned) @ PHI, SAT:  I’ve grown to love this 23-year-old Lefty, which I know is against he tyler-anderson-mlb-2jpegrules, especially since he calls Denver home. He’s pitched pretty well at home though and this week gets a break playing the Phillies in PA Saturday. CAUTION: He is a two start pitcher next week with his first start at home vs TEX. I’m not taking my chances with him in that game even though he has pitched well at COORS. To much is hanging on every start now. So, you will also see him in my DO NOT START section below. It is not a typo.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART:    I’d start any of these SP this week!                                                                                      
  • Jorge De La Rosa SP, COL (27% owned)  @ TEX TUE : 35 L 8/9 QS
  • Andrew Cashner SP, MIA ( 56% owned) Vs CHW, FRI: 29 R
  • Wade Miley SP, (43% owned) @ OAK, TUE: 29 L
  • Brandon Finnegan SP, CIN (50% owned)
  • Chad Bettis SP, COL (43% owned) @ TEX, THU: 27 R 6 QS few HR
  • Homer Bailey, SP, CIN (49% owned) @ MIL, FRI: 30 R
  • David Phelps SP, MIA (41% owned) Vs SF, FRI: 29 R
  • Ivan Nova SP, PIT (32% owned) @ LAD, FRI: 29 R
  • Robbie Ray SP, AZ (53% owned) @ NYY, WEDS: 24 L

DO NOT START!

***R.A. Dickey SP, TOR (53% owned) Vs TB, MON & Vs HOU  SUN: Dickey had already had one of his worst seasons, sporting an ERA of 4.49 vs a 5.30 FIP and a 1.7/9 HR ratio. The Rays & Astros may not be the best offenses in the AL but they hit a lot of HR and get to play in Toronto, a homer haven, where Dickey’s 2016 ERA is 5.40.

Archie Bradley SP, AZ (55% owned) @ BOS, SAT. Right? Best offense in baseball.

Patrick Corbin SP, AZ (50% owned) @ BOS, FRI. Right? Best offense in baseball.

Ricky Nolasco SP, LAA ( % owned) @ CHC, WED. Right? Angels just want innings.

***Two Starts*** Tyler Anderson, COL (52% owned) Vs TEX. Yes. He is on both lists.

***Two Starts***AJ Griffin SP, TEX (51% owned)@COL & Vs DET, Right? No explanation needed.

 Closer Merry-Go-Round:  Still Under Construction. 

*”CLEW” = Closer En Waiting

** IRS + H = Inherited Runners stranded plus Holds

See you next week. Thanks for reading.

I'm an accountant and an amateur writer of fiction and sports commentary, mostly baseball. I've been a student of the game of baseball since the Dinosaurs roamed the earth, or at least since a few years before the world knew what a designated hitter was. Otherwise, I like "antique" cars of the 60's and 70's and have been a fantasy baseball fanatic since my first draft many years ago. I live in CT with my wife Megan of 25 years, our daughter Caitlin and their (their) cats. I'm also the better looking of the two guys in the the photo.

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