With less than 15 games left in the regular season, fantasy baseball playoffs are winding down and owners are looking to solidify their spot in the standings. With a lot of young hurlers being shut down early, it’s becoming more and more difficult to gain a leg up on the competition. These ten fantasy baseball starting pitchers should have owners riding high so long as they’re inserted into lineups this week.
1.Carlos Zambrano, Chicago (N): 9-6, 3.75 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 99 K
To describe Zambrano as a different pitcher since his return would be an understatement. In what appeared to be a completely lost season for Zambrano & his fantasy owners, Big Z has done a complete 180 and looks like his former dominant self. He’s compiled an insane 6-0 record and a 1.37 ERA over his last seven starts and has appears poised to finish the season strongly.
2.Jonathan Sanchez, San Francisco: 11-8, 3.21 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 188 K
Despite much of the attention circling his fellow rotation mates rather than he, Sanchez has pushed himself to the head of the spotlight with his string of recent performances. Having not lost since August 13th, Sanchez is 3-0 with a 1.78 ERA over his last six starts. He struggled mightily in the middle of the season but is really bringing it hard for the stretch run. With a pitcher’s duel against Zambrano on top next time out, Sanchez should be in all fantasy lineups, especially with his strikeout potential.
3.Felix Hernandez, Seattle: 12-11, 2.35 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 222 K
King Felix has simply been brilliant all season long and deserves a better fate than just one game over the .500 mark, but that’s what happens when you pitch for an anemic Seattle offense. Even though run support is a rare occurrence from his teammates, Hernandez has pitched so well that he doesn’t need much help in the majority of his starts. The league leader in innings, ERA, and strikeouts, he is a must-start player in any fantasy baseball format.
4.Jered Weaver, Los Angeles (A): 12-11, 2.96 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 218 K
Much like Hernandez, Weaver finds himself with just a 12-11 record despite putting together his best campaign to date. Even though he’s got just a 2.84 ERA since the All-Star Break, he has a record of 3-6 to show for it, which is a bit discouraging. Despite the uneven W-L record, Weaver has been a fantasy baseball ace all season, and should continue to keep it rolling in a two-start week.
5.Cole Hamels, Philadelphia: 11-10, 3.00 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 201 K
Hamels was number one on the list last week and responded with a 13-strikeout performance against the Marlins. So why no. 5 this week? With the Phillies & Braves battling for the division crown and an upcoming three-game set between the two clubs, owners better bet that the Braves will give Hamels’ their best effort. It may not matter though, as Hamels has found success against just about every team he’s pitched against of late. As a two-start pitcher this week, Hamels can definitely shoot his way back up to the top of next week’s rankings.
6.Roy Oswalt, Philadelphia: 13-13, 2.90 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 181 K
It seems that the theme of this list is pitchers who are throwing better than the record indicates, and Roy Oswalt is no different. After just nabbing his 13th win last week to pull him to .500 for the season, the southern boy has been lights out since joining the Phils. After losing his first start with the team, Oswalt is 7-0 with a 1.55 ERA since. Really benefiting from an offense that can support him, Oswalt will continue to be a solid fantasy contributor as the season draws to a close.
7.Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles (N): 12-10, 2.85 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 201 K
Another pitcher who deserves to have more wins than he does, Kershaw has done everything (and more) that the Dodgers could’ve hoped from him this season. Those that gambled on his potential in fantasy baseball drafts have to be thrilled with the return on investment, as Kershaw has proved to many that he’s one of the best young pitchers in the game. Coming off of his first career complete game shutout, Kershaw will take on another talented hurler (see below) in his next matchup at Arizona.
8.Daniel Hudson, Arizona: 7-2, 2.58 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 73 K
White Sox GM Kenny Williams has always been somewhat of a gambler, but I’ll bet he’d take a do over on the Hudson-Edwin Jackson exchange at this year’s trade deadline. The former top-prospect has given D-Backs fans something to cheer for and looks like a mainstay of the rotation for years to come. He’s been downright awesome: 6-1 with a 1.67 ERA in nine starts. He’s also establishing himself as a strikeout pitcher as he’s got 73 in just 80.1 IP, so it’s not like he’s a one-trick pony. He’ll take on the Dodgers this week and should continue to showcase what makes him so valuable.
9.Matt Cain, San Francisco: 12-10, 3.08 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 163 K
Cain doesn’t ever receive a whole lot of credit in fantasy circles because he typically doesn’t get much run support from his teammates, but Cain has been a model of consistency all season in 2010. Posting a 2.71 ERA since the All-Star Break, Cain has allowed three ER or less in 11 of his 12 second half starts. On par to pitch 200+ innings, strikeout 175+ batters, and maintain an ERA under 3.25, Cain’s got top fantasy baseball starter written all over him.
10.Fausto Carmona, Cleveland: 12-14, 3.81 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 114 K
Even though he had his scoreless innings streak snapped at 22 in his last start, Carmona has been pitching quite effectively for the Indians. Despite just a 1-1 record over his last three starts, Carmona has pitched 24 innings and allowed just three earned runs. While he’s never going to be much of a strikeout pitcher, Carmona’s value is in his ability to pitch deep into the game and keep the opposition off the base paths. Currently enjoying his best season since 2007, Carmona can be readily inserted into lineups for those owners looking for increased production.