First a look at the running totals through half of week 21:
Here’s a look at this week’s recs, with team wOBA in parentheses:
Danny Salazar – 30.0% ESPN/49% Y!/55% own, 28% start CBS – v. LAA (.319), @DET (.331)
Salazar’s late-season resurgence will be put to the test, as he faces two top-six offenses this week, both of which have a strong likelihood of making the playoffs. Salazar returned in late July, and has made eight starts since: 5-2, 2.30 ERA, 45-11 K/BB rate (47 innings), and an opponents’ slash of .232/.283/.311. He also made eight starts before being sent out: 1-4, 5.53 ERA, .886 OPS allowed, 10.4 K/9, 3.8 BB/9. Eno Sarris says that Salazar is using his slider more in lieu of a splitter/changeup, and it appears as though his command is better for it. That’ll be worth monitoring down the stretch, because the splitter/change was a solid swing-and-miss offering when it was right. He may slowly bring it back down the stretch.
Jon Niese – 10.5% ESPN/20% Y!/63% own, 33% start CBS – v. COL (.334), v. WAS (.315)
As a groundball-heavy lefty with decent whiff rates and limited blow-up potential, Niese is a mainstay in these columns. It’s fun to take a risk with guys like Salazar, early-season Garrett Richards, and other flamethrowers, but sometimes those blow up in your face, while Niese will go six innings, walk a pair, fan four, and give up two earned runs and get the win — well, sometimes he wins. Niese is on waiver wires for the same reason he cleared post July 31 waivers he isn’t sexy, and nobody really wants to commit to him. But for week-to-week streaming, he’s safe. Only three times all season in 26 starts has he allowed more than three earned runs, and only once (Aug. 6 versus these same Nationals) did he allow more than four (six).
Jason Vargas – 32.7% ESPN/37% Y!/77% own, 45% start CBS – @DET (.331), v. BOS (.304)
Vargas is a safe pick like Niese, but for different reasons. He’s more flyball heavy, and is all-time — for him, that is — stingy on walks this season. He doesn’t allow many baserunners (walk rate + .262 opponents’ batting average), and he’s got the best outfield defense and a more than adequate defensive infield behind him to clean up any balls in play. As is, Vargas has faced the Tigers three times this season: a blow-up in May (seven earned in five frames), and a pair of stellar outings, one coming in April (one earned over seven), and the other coming a month-and-a-half after the blow-up (two earned in seven innings). Again, he’s not sexy but he’ll give you good rates (K/BB especially), and is a safe bet for innings and probably at least one win.