We’re heading into the home stretch of the fantasy season and per usual, pitching could very well determine whether owners finish in first or fourth place. With most fantasy baseball leagues beginning playoffs this week, it’s time to see what pitchers are going to be the most valuable as the season begins to wind down.
1.Roy Oswalt, SP PHI: 10-13, 3.01 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 161 K
Oswalt has now made seven starts for Philadelphia and has gone 4-1 over that span with a 1.89 ERA and 41 K’s. In layman’s terms, he’s been exactly what the Phillies had hoped for when they acquired him at the deadline. An afterthought for the majority of owners after a tumultuous 2009 campaign, Oswalt is enjoying the success he displayed in ’06-’08.
The only thing that will hold Oswalt back on draft boards heading into 2011 is his low win total, but a full year being supported by the potent Phillies offense should make for a quick turnaround and keep his owners happy.
2.CC Sabathia, SP NYY: 19-5, 3.02 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 165 K
Perhaps the most consistent pitcher in the majors, Sabathia is just about as automatic as they come and he’s proven that this year. Showing no signs of slowing down, Sabathia has now won six straight starts and looks like a shoe-in for a 20-win campaign.
The big man in the Bronx has now allowed three ER or less in 17 of his last 18 starts and should add to that mark this week when he takes on the Orioles. Heading into 2011, he should be atop fantasy baseball draft boards as one of the only true elite options in the game.
3.Carlos Zambrano, SP CHC: 7-6, 4.23 ERA, 1.61 WHIP, 87 K
In what has been a lost season for both the Cubs and Zambrano, Big Z is proving to everyone that he’s got plenty left in the tank. When he’s actually concentrating on the mound, Zambrano is one of the best pitchers in the game and fantasy owners will undoubtedly attest to that.
The former 18-game winner has been lights out over his last six starts, going 4-0 with 30 Ks and a 1.98 ERA. With his next start scheduled against the Astros, Zambrano can once again be relied upon as a viable option in mixed formats. He’s 13-8 with a 2.63 ERA in his career against the boys from Houston.3
4.Jaime Garcia, SP STL: 13-6, 2.35 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 124 K
One of the most pleasant surprises in fantasy baseball this season, Garcia should be in the running for ROY honors at the conclusion of the 2010 campaign. He doesn’t overpower anyone at the plate, but has been able to keep opposing hitters off-balance all year with an arsenal of dangerous pitches.
While Garcia usually doesn’t last very long into his outings, he’s pitched well enough to be considered a reliable SP3 heading into the playoffs. He certainly won’t help owners in the WHIP category, but his extremely low ERA and 13 wins are valuable to any squad.
5.Max Scherzer, SP DET: 10-9, 3.45 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 151 K
Scherzer’s utter dominance continued last week as he held the Twins to just one run over nine IP in his last start. Despite coming out with a no-decision, Scherzer has earned nothing but praise from everyone surrounding him. Now considered one of the best fantasy baseball pitchers in the game, his ability to blow opposing hitters away has been extremely fun to watch this season.
Mad Max has allowed just one run or less in six of his last seven starts and really looks to have benefited from his brief stint in the minors earlier this season. With a two-start week ahead of him against the White Sox and Orioles, Scherzer should turn in two more very valiant efforts for owners who gambled on him after his return to the majors.
6.Edwin Jackson, SP CHW: 9-10, 4.37 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 149 K
A rather unimpressive season line would lead some to conclude that Jackson is under-achieving yet again, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. He’s looked like a different pitcher since coming over to the White Sox and may have finally found a home for his unbridled talent.
Over his last five starts, Jackson is an incredible 3-0 with a 1.47 ERA and has 31 strikeouts over his last three starts alone. His electric fastball seems to be coming alive in the Windy City, and with starts against Detroit & KC on the horizon, his success should continue.
7.Wandy Rodriguez, SP HOU: 11-12, 3.71 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 138 K
Since July 25th, all Rodriguez has done is gone 4-0, record eight consecutive quality starts, and lowered his ERA by a full run; in other words, the kid has been brilliant. Despite making a near-weekly appearance on the Top 10, Rodriguez finds himself outside the top five once again due to a lack of wins.
It’s clear that Rodriguez has re-gained his ’09 form and looks to be capable of being a big fantasy contributor down the stretch. A very good source of both quality starts & strikeouts, Rodriguez will make two starts this week and look to push his record over .500 for the first time all season.
8.JA Happ, SP HOU: 5-2, 2.90 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 41 K
When Roy Oswalt was traded to the Phillies, Happ was the centerpiece of the deal that came over from Philadelphia. While many baseball experts and fantasy baseball owners were flabbergasted at the return, the young lefty has proven that he’s got a promising future in the league.
At just 27 years old, Happ is looking like the kid who finished second in ROY voting last season and a future mainstay of the Astros rotation. He’s still figuring some things out as evidenced by his K:BB ratio (41:32), but he’ll have to continue to adjust to new hitters in a different division. Coming off of a CG two-hit bid against the Cardinals, Happ will look to keep it rolling against the Dodgers this week.
9.Felix Hernandez, SP SEA: 10-10, 2.39 ERA, 1.10 WHP, 200 K
The King’s W-L record would suggest that he’s spending the season toiling in mediocrity, but one look at his peripherals and owners know that’s simply not the case. Pitching for a Mariners team that’s one of the worst in baseball, Hernandez has often struggled to find run support and therefore wins, as well.
Pitching like a true fantasy baseball stud, Hernandez has amassed an incredible 200 strikeouts already this season. Despite his record, he’s a CY Young candidate and should be active in every format, especially with a matchup against the Indians on the horizon.
10.Hiroki Kuroda, SP LAD: 10-11, 3.39 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 131 K
Despite managing just two victories since August 7th, Kuroda has been tossing the ball tremendously and has been one of the most consistent fantasy baseball starting pitchers for owners in the second half.
The man from Japan has been on a mission, lasting at least seven innings in each of those starts and has not given up more than two ER in any of them. He took a no-no into the eighth inning of his last start and has really come on as of late. A surprising source of strikeouts, look for Kuroda to finish out the season strong and continue to provide great value for his owners.