This is it, folks. Your last chance to skim the wire, trying to scrape up every last win you can, or rack up enough last-minute strikeouts to gain a roto point. With one exception, all the following pitchers are available in more than 95 percent of Yahoo leagues and, depending on which stats you’re chasing, can help give your team that eleventh-hour boost to championship glory. (If you’re hunting wins, target the Saturday guys, because Sunday is far dicier in that department.)
Rafael Montero vs HOU
Montero, a preseason top-five prospect in the Mets system known for his excellent command, has actually had some pretty serious command issues ever since arriving in the majors, as his hideous 4.85 BB/9 will attest. On the bright side, he’s still been piling up strikeouts at a solid rate (8.31 K/9).
On Saturday, Montero will make his first start since Sept. 10, and he’ll face an Astros team that doesn’t hit right-handers very well at all. The team possesses an unfortunate .233/.301/.372 slash against righties this year, and they’ve struck out more times than any team not named the Cubs. Tilting things even more in Montero’s favor is that he gets the ball at home, in pitcher-friendly Citi Field, and his opponent is the very hitter-friendly Samuel Deduno.
Montero’s shown his share of warts in his first taste of the bigs, but he’s better than he’s shown thus far, and the conditions are ripe on Saturday for him to rack up the strikeouts and snare a win.
Kyle Lobstein vs MIN
I’ve never been what I would call a “Lobstein guy.” He’s fine, but he’s just one of those somewhat nondescript back-of-the-rotation arms. The 25-year-old southpaw throws in the 88-91 mph range, mixing in a cutter, change-up and curve. None of these pitches are really any better than average and, consequently, he’s probably never going to strike many guys out.
However, Lobstein has been good enough to deliver a 3.38 ERA (3.96 FIP) over 34.2 IP in his major-league cup of coffee, and he’s coming off a very strong start. On Monday, he hurled seven innings of two-run ball against the White Sox, allowing just five hits and one walk, punching out five. A similar line against the Twins on Saturday would be no surprise.
While the Twins have hit well over the last couple months, their lineup is starting to look like a skeleton crew, especially now that Trevor Plouffe is out for the year and Joe Mauer’s bouncing in and out of the lineup due to elbow issues. The last time the Twins faced a lefty, Danny Santana had a nice game, going 3-for-4 with a double. The rest of the team was 1-for-21 with ten strikeouts. The lefty they were facing, by the way? Vidal Nuno. You see where I’m going with this.
The other reason to roll with Lobstein on Saturday is his opponent, none other than Ricky Nolasco and his 5.47 ERA. I’m not expecting many strikeouts from Lobstein, but he should have plenty of run support and should limit the baserunners.
Bartolo Colon vs HOU
Remember everything I wrote above about Houston’s offense, especially against righties? That all applies here too. Colon’s been pretty inconsistent this year, but he’s been far better at home than on the road:
- Home (93 IP) – 3.68 ERA, 7.94 K/9, 0.97 BB/9
- Away (103.1 IP) – 4.44 ERA, 5.64 K/9, 1.56 BB/9
The 41-year-old seems like a good bet for a quality start against the Astros, but unlike Montero a day earlier, his opposing pitcher makes picking up the win less of a sure thing…
Nicholas Tropeano at NYM
On the other side of this matchup, I like Tropeano’s chances at a good game as well. In case you hadn’t heard, I’ve been in love with Tropeano — and his devastating change-up — all year. The lightly heralded righty had a big year in Triple-A, compiling a 3.03 ERA while striking out nearly a batter an inning, earning an invite to the PCL All-Star Game.
Offensively, the Mets are the worst team in the majors at home, with a .225/.296/.346 slash that is just plain sad. I expect Tropeano to earn a quality start just like Colon, but for that reason, I’m not counting on either guy for a win. However, if you’re making a last-minute effort at improving your rate stats, this game has all the makings of a low-scoring affair.
Robbie Erlin at SF
As Erlin’s 3.41 FIP and 3.59 xFIP indicate, he’s been a far better pitcher than his 4.53 ERA would indicate. Mike Podhorzer cautiously recommended using Erlin on Tuesday and he put up a bit of a dud, but that’s not stopping me from doubling down on the Erlin recommendation. It’s a solid matchup against a middle-of-the-pack offense in a very favorable park.
Again though, don’t expect a win — he faces Madison Bumgarner. With Madison Bumgarner pushed back to start the wild-card game, Erlin will face a spot starter — possibly Tim Lincecum — so a win certainly isn’t out of the question.
Scott Strandberg started writing for Rotographs in 2013. He works in small business consultation, and he also writes A&E columns for The Norman Transcript newspaper. Scott lives in Seattle, WA.