Welcome back to Dixon’s Picks. In the madness of the trade deadline, you still have to keep a close eye on your fantasy team. It’s hard to believe that we’re nearly in August, but here we are. Just remember that this is the toughest month for pitching. Arms are tired, weather is hot, September callups haven’t arrived yet for mop-up innings.
Still, the time is now to make your move. If you need some help in pitching, give these guys a good look.
A.J. Griffin - Oakland Athletics
Probable Starts: vs. Tampa Bay Rays, vs. Toronto Blue Jays
Yes, the sample size for A.J. Griffin is a limited one, but look at what we’re dealing with. Six outings, six quality starts. For the record, we’re not dealing with bad offenses in that run. So far this year, Griffin has faced the Rangers, Red Sox, Yankees, and Athletics, along with the division leading Giants. On top of that, the A’s are red hot now, so the chance for a few wins is strong.
Griffin has an awful lot going for him. He isn’t a strikeout guy, but he doesn’t drag in that category. He also doesn’t walk a lot of hitters, keeping the whip down. I don’t know if the A’s will keep this momentum going all year, but Griffin is going too well to not notice. On top of that, both of these games are in Oakland, which is about as pitcher-friendly a park as the American League has to offer.
At the very least, look for the run of quality starts to continue.
Griffin’s Projections for the Week
Kris Medlen - Atlanta Braves
Probable Starts: vs. Miami Marlins, vs. Houston Astros
First off, it’s not at all impossible that the Braves will make a trade to nullify one or both of the scheduled outings of Kris Medlen this week. Therefore, this is something of a risky play, but one worth making.
Pitching out of the bullpen this year, Medlen has sported a clean 2.48 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. In that world, it often takes nothing more than a bad outing or two to seriously inflate those numbers. The fact that Medlen is in that range shows that he’s a competent pitcher. But that’s not all.
Atlanta has incredibly spacious gaps and deep fences, it’s never a bad place to pitch. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the best parks to use when streaming pitchers (San Diego is better because it’s a big park and if you go with the opponent, you get to go against the Padres).
Normally, I like to use quality starts as a barometer for streaming. With Medlen, that’s probably not a good one, as relief pitchers coming into the rotation tend to be limited in the innings. Still, I am expecting 10-12 innings of solid pitching from Medlen this week.
Medlen’s Projections for the Week
Mike Leake - Cincinnati Reds
Probable Starts: vs. San Diego Padres, vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
While pitching in the National League Central isn’t exactly a good thing for the stats, Mike Leake has an ERA of 3.31 and a WHIP of 1.25 over the last month; not bad. The first start is a no-brainer, as the Padres are just a dismal offense. If you can throw strikes and avoid the bats of Carlos Quentin and Chase Headley (if he’s still there) with men on base, then you have a real shot at a shutout.
The second start is a little riskier, as the Pirates’ offense is heating up. Still, outside of Andrew McCutchen, that’s a lineup that can be dealt with. I am not going to tell you that Leake couldn’t be a little more consistent this year, but he has had plenty of solid outings, with 11 quality starts. For the record, C.C. Sabathia and Ryan Dempster each also have 11. Not bad for a guy owned in seven percent of ESPN leagues.
Obviously, if you’re streaming pitchers in late July/August, you know it’s a gamble. But if nothing else, look at that outing against the Padres and assess where you are over the weekend (Leake starts Saturday vs. the Pirates).
Leake’s Projections for the Week
Lastly, while I don’t know that I would suggest him for the week to everyone, give a look at Jeremy Hefner of the Mets. He hasn’t been a great arm this year, but going against the Giants and Mets in San Francisco and San Diego, you could do a lot worse.