It is a strange time of year for baseball. On the one hand, we have a large number of teams still fighting for playoff berths. On the other, we also have a bunch of teams out of the hunt taking a look at new players and resting veteran with hang-mails. To top it all off, there are a few games with the possibility of rain Saturday. In other words, you need to make sure that the players you chose are actually starting and their games will actually happen. You also need to make sure that you have potential replacements in mind for all the players you plan on starting.
Felix Hernandez, Seattle, $12,000 – Yes, $12,000 is a lot for a pitcher especially when said starter is not facing a weak offense. Oakland’s offense has slowed down and only been average this month. Better yet, Hernandez has done very well against the A’s this season – four wins and 32 strikeouts in five starts. Sure, at that price you are not likely to get triple value, but double is a pretty reasonable expectation since Feliz has averaged 24.9 fantasy points per start this season.
Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Dodgers, $11,000 – Greinke has had 26 strikeouts in only 20 innings pitched against the Giants this season. Greinke is not without risk as the Giants offense has been hot this month, but 23 of the Giants runs came at Colorado. Bottom line, I think Greinke’s mastery of the Giants will trump the hot Giants offense.
Jared Weaver, Los Angeles Angels, $7,600 – In his last three starts, Weaver has a 2.37 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP. On Saturday he is at home against a Houston team that is hitting only .247 in September – and whose batters have struck out 75 times in their last nine games entering Friday’s contest.
Kyle Kendrick, Philadelphia, $6,000 – Obviously, the lower in price you go, the more risky the options become. Kendrick draws a Miami team that had been hitting well in September. Too bad that they recently lost their best player in Giancarlo Stanton. If you want to go deep into the stats, from 2011- 2013, Kendrick went 8-0 – in eight starts – with a 1.69 ERA against the Marlins.
Carlos Santana, 3B/C, Cleveland, $4,700 – Let’s just say I am a little skeptical that a guy with a 89 mile-per-hour fastball can maintain an ERA under three. Santana has been on fire this month and is facing Kyle Lobstein and his 89 MPH “heat” Saturday.
Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Detroit, $5,700 – Danny Salazar does bring legitimate heat, too bad that heat ends up being hit so often – and you will be hard pressed to find a better hitter than Cabrera. That is a lot of money for a better, but entering Friday’s games, Cabrera was averaging 13.7 fantasy points over the last ten contests and will be facing a hittable starter Saturday.
Neil Walker, 2B, Pittsburgh, $4,600 – I will once again refer to my magical formula from last week: Felix Doubront + batter = profit. Sure, you can argue that Doubront has pitched well lately, but I see a guy who has never had a WHIP under 1.43 for a season starting against a second baseman averaging 9.3 fantasy points per game the last ten games.
Adrian Beltre, 3B, Texas, $4,600 – Beltre is hitting .369 with ten home runs at home this season, Julio Teheran has a 3.97 ERA on the road this year. Beltre is at home facing Teheran – in Texas, in September. It seems to me all those factors make Beltre a nice play.
Jose Reyes, SS, Toronto, $4,700 – There are not a lot of premium shortstop options. Reyes is the best of the healthy ones, plus gets to face Jeremy Hellickson. In his last three starts, Hellickson has a 6.92 ERA, 2.00 WHIP and a 10/6 K/BB ratio in 13 innings pitched.
Nelson Cruz, OF, Baltimore, $5,400 – After a mid-season lull, Cruz is heating up again. Over his last ten games he has averaged 13.4 fantasy points. On Saturday he gets to face Shane Greene who has a 4.56 ERA and 1.64 WHIP over the last month.
Justin Upton, OF Atlanta, $4,900 – Honestly, I am always scared to recommend an Upton as anytime I do, they make me look bad. As loath as I am to suggest Upton, there are two factors that outweigh that concern: Upton is playing at Texas and Scott Baker is starting for the Rangers. Baker has allowed four home runs – in less than 11 innings pitched – over his last four starts.
Anthony Recker, C, New York Mets, $3,700 – Granted it is a very small sample size, but Recker is hitting .364 over the last 14 days and .429 over the last seven – excluding Friday’s games. He also had a home run in each of his last two games. If Recker starts Saturday, he is well worth taking at $3,700.
Joe Mauer, 1B, Minnesota, $4,000 – Sometimes you just find yourself having to take a player. Mauer is not hot or anything, Mauer is not facing a weak or struggling starter; Mauer is still Mauer though. He also has averaged seven fantasy points a game over the last ten games and only costs $4,000.
Scooter Gennett, 2B, Milwaukee, $3,400 – I suppose you need a reason for me telling you to pick Scooter other than his name is Scooter? Well, he is $3,400. Still not enough? How about David Holmberg is starting for Cincinnati? Want more? Holmberg has a 8.25 ERA, a 2.25 WHIP and a 10/9 K/BB ratio in the majors?
Jonathan Schoop, 2B/3B, Baltimore, $2,800 – I have a weakness for starters who are dirt cheap. Schoop is not for the faint of heart. He is hitting .111 over the last week, .196 over the last two. But, as mentioned earlier, Shane Greene is struggling. I like to save money at the middle infield positions which is why I am willing to take a bad game from both Schoop and Simmons my value shortstop option today. The risk with both guys is a 0 point game, the upside is they provide triple value.
Andrelton Simmons, SS, Atlanta, $3,000 – Like Schoop, Simmons is mainly a price pick. The price is hard to pass up considering he is also facing a struggling starter in a park favorable for batters.
Chris Young, OF, New York Yankees, $3,000 – With Brett Gardner hurting, Young has gotten a chance to start in left-field for the Yankees. While as of this writing Young had only had three starts, he had made the most of them: two home runs, seven runs batted in and two doubles.
Wil Myers, OF, Tampa Bay, $3,500 – R. A. Dickey is like a box of chocolates, you never quite know what you are going to get when he starts against your batters. After disappointing owners most of the season, Myers has finally started hitting – he is hitting .346 over the last week. Again, Myers is a risk, but at that price there is also a good deal of potential reward.
Good luck with your baseball teams Saturday. May all of your hitters hit and all of your pitchers pitch perfect games!