While this column often focuses on who to pick up, it's also important to underscore who should be dropped. Justin Masterson, come on down (and pack a suitcase). We're handing you the one-way ticket to Dump City. Sorry it went down like this, but someone had to lose.
Masterson's still owned in 46 percent of Yahoo! leagues, for reasons I can't fathom. This guy spits out more sevens and eights than the craps table at the local casino. Oakland had the latest eight-run party against Masterson on Thursday, pushing the righty's ERA up to 4.91. A 1.46 WHIP isn't earning any trophies, either.
According to Baseball Monster, Masterson is outside the Top 150 when you grade all the starting pitchers in 5x5 value this year. Pedigree matters, but performance trumps all.
It's the fourth time in seven starts that we've seen a disaster start from Masterson, seven runs or more. He's never found a path to getting left-handed batters out: they're slashing .291/.373/.458 against him this year, and for his career it's a .291/.366/.434 clip. The word has been out for a while - you fill your lineup with lefty sluggers and let them rip. Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick and Cliff Pennington (good grief) went deep off Masterson on Thursday, and Crisp and Brandon Moss got him two weeks ago in Oakland.
The schedule isn't letting up, either. Masterson works at Detroit next week, a bad draw, and then it's a date with Minnesota (a club with left-handed pop). How much evidence do you need to see, gamers? How much damage is enough? We still have five weeks to fix your place in the standings; do not go gentle into that good Rotisserie night.
• While most managers don't want a bullpen-by-committee as a long-term solution, it's often the logical way to play things until someone grabs the ninth inning and runs with it. Don Mattingly seems to be playing it that way; he says he'll allow Ronald Belisario and Brandon League to share the closing gig while Kenley Jansen is unavailable.
"Beli's thrown the ball really well," Mattingly told the LA Times. "He's had a few little stretches [of trouble], but his stuff is good. Brandon started off a little shaky but has been really good." That's nice, skip. Good to see you have faith in your pitchers, at least with these inane public quotes.
I'm still looking at Belisario as the first roto option, given his seasonal stats are considerably better. But perhaps the "previous closing experience" tag that League carries is going to mean something to Mattingly. We'll watch the weekend series very closely; in the meantime, do what you need to do. Belisario is owned in 13 percent of Yahoo! leagues, while League trades at 42 percent.
• And now, with a wink to Mike Damone, we sell you on The Stream Police. (Kid's stuff? Well, what about the pitchers?) Brett Anderson (44 percent) is an obvious green light at home against Boston. If the football malaise hasn't taken over in so many leagues, his ownership tag would be considerably higher. (When Oakland inquired about Mike Aviles recently, the Red Sox apparently wanted Anderson. Oh, that wacky Boston front office.)
Let's find some deep sleepers for the daring Yahooligans in the crowd. Anyone want to dial up sneaky Jeremy Hefner (one percent) at Miami? The park isn't scary, though he does have to face down Josh Johnson. Liam Hendricks (zero percent, Bluto) has awful numbers on the season, but he went nine strong against Seattle last week and he's up against the Royals (and Fraggle Rock) for Saturday. If you're in a head-to-head format where it's mostly about volume, you can at least pause and consider the argument.
I know A.J. Burnett has let his owners down (he's owned too much to be a streamer), but I still tap him on the shoulder at Milwaukee. Francisco Liriano at Detroit is an obvious no-go. I never trust Edinson Volquez on the road, and especially not at Colorado, natch (go stream some Rockies hitters — several good ones are floating around, under-owned). Homer Bailey has been up-and-down in the second half, but he's a fine play against the anonymous Astros. Josh Beckett against Arizona? Let's see one get-back start first.
• According to the Boston Globe, the Red Sox want to stretch out Alfredo Aceves during the final quarter. Maybe that means a starting gig here or there, maybe not. In any event, it's another clear sign Andrew Bailey is the ninth-inning man for the balance of the season. Aceves has been batting practice in August (8.78 ERA, 1.85 WHIP) and there's no format I'd trust him going forward, even AL-only pools. Move on, amigos.
• If you're looking for a serviceable pitcher to take over for Aceves in a very deep league (like an AL-only group), how about Chicago reliever Donnie Veal? The post-hype lefty has made a splash on the South Side (7.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 12 K), and he was a rated prospect in the previous decade. Mixed-league players, okay, you probably don't need to bother with a deep option like this. But when I see this type of strikeout potential, it's at least a secondary look.
Brad Evans with the Yahoo! Fantasy Minute