Last week, we took a look at some good hitters to roster if you’re looking to play a spoiler in a few categories. This week, we take a look at the pitchers.
Now, these guys are a little different. Because they don’t play every day, they won’t make quite the same impact as hitters. But on the other hand, adding these guys will be much easier. It’s a little hard to add hitters in certain positions if you’re already strong there. That’s not the case with pitchers, as different guys are going every day, so activating bench players is more natural.
But enough talking, let’s take a look at some of these pitchers to add for a boost in every pitching category. As a reminder, standard pitching categories are wins, strikeouts, saves, ERA, and WHIP.
Wins: Jake Westbrook, St. Louis Cardinals
First of all, Jake Westbrook is a pretty complete pitcher. Hitters put the ball in play as Westbrook doesn’t strike many out, so his WHIP leaves something to be desired, but it doesn’t really show up in his ERA in a big way. So, he wouldn’t be the worst addition to a pitching staff, although there a few names I am going to list here that I would add before Westbrook if you’re looking for the total package.
But as for wins, it’s hard to beat Westbrook. The Cardinals are one of the best offensive teams in the league. They are second in runs scored and first in batting average, which is phenomenal for a National League team. So, Westbrook will have plenty of runs working for him more often than not.
On top of that, anyone who remembers 2011 knows that this team can close a year out well. If that repeats itself, Westbrook will have even more chances to boost his win total. He currently sits at 11 and with just fewer than two months of baseball remaining, it wouldn’t at all surprise me to see him to get to 16 or more.
Strikeouts: Francisco Liriano, Chicago White Sox
I know that people who strike a lot of hitters out and are available in more than half of the leagues are available for a reason. They walk a lot of hitters. But remember that we’re looking at Francisco Liriano as a guy to bring in if you are looking to make up room in strikeouts. Obviously you inherit the risks in the other categories.
But while Liriano has his issues, he’s still completely capable of taking a game over, especially in the strikeout department. Not only does he have more strikeouts than innings pitched in 2012, but the same can be said for his entire career. That’s too good to ignore for someone who’s been around for a few years now.
Additionally, Liriano has good success in his new park of US Cellular Field. Toni Ginnetti of the Chicago Sun-Times quoted Liriano saying the following about the park after he was moved to the White Sox.
‘‘I like pitching here…I’ve pitched here so many times. I’ve pitched good games here, so I’ll try to do the same thing.”
Blunt, but it works well for me. What also works well for me is that he’s thrown a no-hitter in the park. His numbers suggest that he can be a strikeout machine in the American League Central. If he likes the change of settings, it’s even better. Liriano has issues as a fantasy pitcher, but he’ll jack your strikeout totals up.
Saves: Steve Cishek, Miami Marlins
I had to break one of my rules here, as Steve Cishek is owned in more than half of ESPN leagues, but the not many closers are truly available. Think about it, fantasy teams tend to have 2-3 closers, so if you’re in a league with anything more than 10 people, there aren’t many (if any) available. But Cishek is owned in nearly 40 percent of ESPN leagues, which is far too many given how strong he’s pitched. Of all the people I really see being their team’s primary closer for the rest of the year, Cishek is owned in by far the most leagues.
That alone makes him the best “available” closer, but he’s pretty well rounded. He sports a sub 2.00 ERA, while MLB saves leader Jim Johnson is at 3.40. Cishek also strikes out roughly a hitter an inning, which isn’t great for a closer, but won’t hurt your tally.
From his days as the White Sox manager, Ozzie Guillen is no stranger to bullpen struggles. Looking at those stats, Cishek is the only man who should get the ball in the ninth. In the last 30 days, he’s recorded five saves, while Dunn and Bell have one between them, so logic is winning out in South Beach. Put Cishek on your team if you need some saves.
ERA: Scott Diamond, Minnesota Twins
Now, I don’t care if you need ERA help or not, if you have a pitching staff that couldn’t use Scott Diamond, you have a vaunted rotation. He’s been a real diamond in the rough this year (see what I did there?). In all seriousness, Diamond has been steady all year, recording a quality start in 12 of 17 outings, even winning 10 games for the lowly Twins. But we’re here to look at his ERA, so let’s do that.
As of right now, it comes in at 2.91. Just for the record, I am in four league. Between them, there are 50 teams. In those leagues, only one team has an ERA that low, nobody else is even below 3.00. So, on ERA alone, one of 50 teams wouldn’t be improved by adding Diamond, and I’m guessing the rest of your leagues have similar situations.
The Twins are one of the worst pitching teams in the league, but Diamond has been strong all year. As a matter of fact, in the typical starter categories, I would say the only one he’s bad in is strikeouts. He missed all of April but still has 10 wins, and sports a 1.17 ERA.
When you don’t walk batters and pitch in a pitcher-friendly environment, the odds are with you. Diamond has fewer walks this year than games started, which is sick. The guy can absolutely deal and at pitcher-friendly Target Field, there is no reason to think that he won’t remain consistent for the rest of the year.
WHIP: Ross Detwiler, Washington Nationals
There were a few names to consider here, but when we’re looking at WHIP, the key is to not walk hitters. Using that criteria, it’s hard to beat Ross Detwiler, who hasn’t walked more than two hitters in any game that he’s started this year. Remember that the odds are with the pitcher if the hitter has to swing the bat to get on base, as even phenomenally good hitters will get out 65 percent of the time when swinging the bat. It’s when pitchers start walking guys that things get messy. Fortunately for Detwiler, that doesn’t happen very often.
He presently has a 1.21 WHIP and over the last 30 days, it’s even better, coming in at 1.01. The rest of his stats are a little misleading, as Detwiler has gone between the starting rotation and the bullpen this year, so the win totals aren’t staggeringly high. But looking forward, it’s hard to imagine Detwiler losing his spot again, especially if Stephen Strasburg is going to be shut down, or at least more limited.
Also, unlike a lot of low walk guys (like Diamond), Detwiler actually has fewer hits allowed than innings pitched. Now, it’s pretty close, but that’s a strong thing to be able to say, as low walk guys are often around the plate and in the hitting zone.
Looking at all of that, I would be perfectly happy to hedge my bets on Detwiler to lower my team’s WHIP for the rest of the year. Unless your WHIP is already very low, I would advise that you take similar action.