Fantasy owners often put too much weight on the start of the season, when stats and performances are looked at through a microscope. Of course, stats in traditional roto leagues count just as much in September as April. Yu Darvish’s late-season stats have been quite the story if you’ve paid attention.
Coming off a lost 2018 season, his first in Chicago, Darvish got off to a poor start this year, to say the least. Through three months, Darvish had a 4.98 ERA with 49 walks in 90.1 innings.
Then Darvish flipped a switch in July. He walked two batters for the entire month. He did even better in August, walking one batter in five starts. While Darvish has walked a total of three batters in his first start starts this month, both outings have been scoreless. The result is that Darvish has lowered his ERA below 4.00 for the first time this season. Since the beginning of July, Darvish has an amazing 2.71 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, and 99/6 K/BB in 73 innings.
Since July 1, Darvish ranks 12th in ERA, fourth in WHIP, fifth in K/9, and first in K/BB ratio among all qualified starting pitchers. The K/BB is particularly eye-opening for a pitcher who has a good but not spectacular 3.33 K/BB ratio for his career. Darvish’s second half is just what the doctor ordered as the Cubs vie for a playoff spot, and looking forward, he could be in the conversation as a top 20 starting pitcher entering 2020.
-Another former ace has also quietly been on a great run lately. 2015 AL Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel’s ERA is down to 3.35 as a result of his last month. Since August 14, Keuchel has allowed a total of four runs in 37 innings, only giving up one home run over that time. The recent performance comes at the right time for the playoff-bound Braves and should also help Keuchel this offseason as he searches for the long-term contract that never came this year. Perhaps more importantly for teams in the current juiced ball era, Keuchel has a league-best 62% groundball rate to help counteract the continued loss in velocity.
-The wait is almost over. Luis Severino was drafted as a top 10 starting pitcher this year before a series of injuries, but he’s scheduled to make his season debut Tuesday against the Angels. He will be on a limited pitch count but also enters a two-start week as he ramps up for the playoffs. Severino effectively has three starts remaining before the playoffs begin, and could work himself into the Yankees playoff rotation if he impresses. Even with the pitch count, it goes without saying that Severino should be scooped up if he’s on any waiver wires.
-Yordan Alvarez is likely the frontrunner for AL Rookie of the Year, but John Means continues to make a late surge. The surprise O’s lefty has shown a second wind after struggles in July and early August, now allowing two or fewer earned runs in five straight starts. During that time, he has a 2.53 ERA and has walked only three batters in 32 innings. One of the best stories of the year, Means has a great shot to finish out the year on a high note with remaining starts likely vs. Detroit, Seattle, and Boston.
Notes: Probable pitchers as of Friday, September 13, and are subject to change.
Justin Verlander: TEX, LAA
At Your Own Risk
At Your Own Risk
The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:
Wednesday, September 18: Adam Plutko vs. DET
Plutko has allowed two or fewer runs in four of his last five outings, and faces a Tigers lineup with the second worst OPS in baseball this season.
Wednesday, September 18: Homer Bailey vs. KC
Bailey has quietly been very good since joining Oakland, aside from one start. He gets his former team on Wednesday, who have a .719 OPS vs. right-handers.
Thursday, September 19: Yusei Kikuchi @PIT
Kikuchi continues to be inconsistent this season, but the Pirates are the top matchup for any lefty with an MLB-worst .676 OPS against southpaws.
Wednesday, September 18: Mike Leake vs. MIA
Leake is a thoroughly average pitcher, but the favorable Miami matchup is just too good to pass up, with a league-worst .662 OPS against right-handers.
Friday, September 20: Anibal Sanchez @ MIA
Like Leake above, Sanchez is a must-start against Miami. Sanchez’s ERA currently stands above 4.00 due to an awful start last week, but he’s fared well in two previous starts against the Marlins this season.
Sunday, September 22: Gio Gonzalez vs. PIT
Gonzalez has a two-start slate, and he’s a great start in his second outing of the week if you have mid-week changes against the anemic Pirates lineup.
6: BOS, CLE, CHW, LAA, NYY, OAK, SEA, TOR
7: BAL, DET, KC, MIN, TB, TEX
6: ARI, ATL, CIN, COL, MIA, NYM, PHI, PIT, SF, WAS
7: CHC, MIL, SD, STL
Here’s some injuries to prominent players from the last week, and other players to watch for in the coming week. You can get a full listing of injured players at Rotoworld's Injury Page.
Javier Baez: Out for regular season (thumb)
Byron Buxton: Out for the season (shoulder)
Kyle Crick: Out for the season (finger)
Corey Dickerson: Day-to-day (foot)
Edwin Encarnacion: Day-to-day (oblique)
Logan Forsythe: Day-to-day (ribs)
Jake Fraley: Out for the season (thumb)
Yuli Gurriel: Day-to-day (hamstring)
Brad Hand: Status uncertain (arm)
J.A. Happ: Status uncertain (biceps)
Rich Hill: Out for the season (knee)
Max Kepler: Day-to-day (shoulder)
Kevin Kiermaier: Day-to-day (neck)
Starling Marte: Day-to-day (wrist)
Shohei Ohtani: Out for the season (knee)
Michael Pineda: Out for the season (suspension)
Hunter Renfroe: Day-to-day (ankle)
Addison Russell: Day-to-day (concussion)
Gary Sanchez: Status uncertain (groin)
Miguel Sano: Day-to-day (back)
Nick Senzel: Out for the season (shoulder)
Will Smith SF: Day-to-day (back)
Kurt Suzuki: Day-to-day (elbow)
Raimel Tapia: Day-to-day (knee)
Mike Tauchman: Out for the season (calf)
Mike Trout: Day-to-day (foot)
Justin Turner: Day-to-day (ankle)
Justin Upton: Day-to-day (knee)
Christian Yelich: Out for the season (knee)