Fantasy daily notes for Aug. 22
It's no surprise that Felix Hernandez is once again the top dog in Friday's daily starting pitcher rankings by a wide margin. Even though he pitched only five innings in his most recent start before taking a comebacker off his hip, Hernandez still extended his streak of allowing two runs or fewer to 17 straight starts. During this amazing run, the big right-hander is 9-3 with a 1.50 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, .173 opponent BA, 9.8 K/9 and 6.9 K-to-BB ratio. He'll try to keep the streak alive on Friday at Fenway Park against a Boston Red Sox team whose top two sluggers are both hurting in David Ortiz and Mike Napoli. That doesn't bode well for a Boston lineup that has the second-worst HR rate in home games this year (1.9 percent). Hernandez has always pitched well in this matchup in his career, going 8-2 with a 2.97 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, .238 opponent BA and 8.2 K/9 versus the Sox. These numbers are even better at Fenway: 3-1, 2.36 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, .223 opponent BA and 8.5 K/9. All of these reasons show why Hernandez is the cream of the crop to begin the weekend.Solid (can be used in both daily cash games and tournament play)
Three Friday starters who are a notch below Hernandez -- but still great plays -- are Mat Latos, Drew Smyly and Doug Fister. Latos has allowed more than three runs just once in his past 10 starts, going 4-3 with a 2.97 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, .200 opponent BA and 6.5 K/9. While his strikeout rate is below the MLB average of 7.5 K/9, Latos has increased that rate to 7.7 K/9 over his past five starts, where he's fanned at least five batters in each outing. I expect the strikeouts to climb even more on Friday against the Atlanta Braves, who have the fourth-worst whiff rate (22.6 percent) in the majors. This includes a dreadful 25.8 percent K rate in August, which ranks second worst in MLB. Also, since 2011, Latos has made four starts against the Braves, recording 27 K's in 22 innings, which equates to 11.0 K/9.
Drew Smyly has been very comfortable in three starts since donning a Tampa Bay Rays uniform, posting a 2.25 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, .203 opponent BA and 8.6 K/9. On Friday, the lefty will make his first career start versus the Toronto Blue Jays, and his timing couldn't be much better. The Jays are 5-12 to start the month of August, scoring only 3.3 runs per game with 131 strikeouts (7.7 per game) and a weak .248 BA and .342 SLG. Toronto also has the third-worst hard-hit average (.127) in the majors versus left-handed pitching this season, a rate that has dropped to .111 since July 1.
Doug Fister hasn't allowed more than three runs in 10 straight starts (1.57 ERA), a ride that includes not allowing more than two runs in seven straight starts (1.13 ERA) and not allowing a single earned run in the past three starts (0.00 ERA). On Friday, he'll face a struggling San Francisco Giants offense that even with an eight-run explosion Wednesday (off mostly the horrendous Edwin Jackson), has plated only 3.5 runs per game with 88 strikeouts during its past 11 contests. The only time the tall right-hander faced the Giants in his career was two months ago on June 10, when he twirled seven shutout innings and scattered seven singles and one double. Fister also has a great win opportunity going up against mound opponent Tim Hudson, who carries a 6.00 ERA, 1.73 WHIP and 3.6 K/9 so far in August.Value plays (best used in tournaments or on multiple-pitcher sites)
Carlos Carrasco (4 percent ESPN.com ownership) has been quite the find for the Cleveland Indians since rejoining their rotation on Aug. 10. After blanking the New York Yankees for five innings in the Bronx that night, the right-hander was even more impressive versus the Baltimore Orioles six days later when he allowed three hits and no walks over seven shutout frames with five strikeouts. He'll try to keep the scoreless streak going on Friday when he hosts the Houston Astros, who enter the weekend with no runs and only four hits in their past 11 innings. Carrasco has faced this team for just one inning in his career, giving up one hit with one strikeout in a scoreless frame last year. I also like how well the 27-year-old has thrown at Progressive Field this season, producing a 3.12 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 10.0 K/9 while holding visitors to a weak .227 BA and .319 SLG. AL-only owners should take a chance on Carrasco on Friday.
Shane Greene (8 percent ESPN.com ownership) is another lesser-owned pitcher whom I would recommend in deeper fantasy leagues. He's done a great job over seven starts this season, evidenced by a 3-1 record, 2.93 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 8.0 K/9. On Friday, the right-hander will face a slumping Chicago White Sox team with 10 losses in its past 14 contests. During this slide, the Sox have only 2.9 runs per game due to a pitiful .224/.267/.331 slash line and 4.8 K-to-BB ratio (101 K's, 21 BBs). Greene's soft pitches (changeup and slider) have limited opponents to a lowly .172 OBP this season, and Chicago has a .248 OBP against soft pitches this season, the fourth-worst rate in the majors.
Nationals Walk Off Against Diamondbacks
Baseball Tonight Spotlight: Denard Span scored on a throwing error in the bottom of the ninth to lift the Nationals past the Diamondbacks 1-0, stretching Washington's winning streak to 10 games.
Kershaw Takes No-No Into Sixth
Clayton Kershaw surrendered his first hit in the sixth inning and struck out 10 over eight innings in the Dodgers' 2-1 win over the Padres.
Braves Blank Reds
The Braves rolled the Reds 8-0 for Atlanta's sixth win in its last seven games.