Pitching Down the Stretch - NL
In continuing with last week's column, here are some NL pitchers who
should be good down the stretch and might be available either in
affordable trade or off the wire.
I've never been a big fan of his, but Darren Oliver (HOU) is pitching
the last month and getting a surprising amount of Ks. He's
sidelined for the moment by shoulder tightness, the severity of which
is undisclosed. But if it's only a mild, Oliver should get at
least a month's worth of quality innings as a reliever and spot
Jon Rauch (MON) looked very comfortable in his first two NL starts
strained his left oblique. That injury could sideline him until
early-to-mid September. Even though he won't get much support
from the Expo offense, he should be good for 2 or 3 quality starts if
you need Ks and or good WHIP/ERA. He's an especially good play
for NL only keeper leagues.
Which pitcher has the best K/IP ratio (minimum 15 IP) since the
All-Star break? The first inclination is to go with a stud closer
like Eric Gagne. However, that'd be wrong. The correct
answer is Brad Lidge,
who's striking out nearly 2 batters per inning (15.9 per 9).
Obviously, neither he or Gagne is going to be available on the
wire, but two relievers who might be, even if you are in an NL-only
league are the Marlins' Rudy Seanez (13.22) and the Pirates' Mike
Gonzales (12.706). Both
should help your ERA and WHIP, and at the rate they're striking batters
out and with the frequency they're being used, could give you as many
Ks as a 2nd or 3rd tier starter. They might also back into a save
I'm not sure why he hasn't been traded to a contending team, but Livan
Hernandez (MON) is putting
together a nice run right now and might still get traded if he passes
through waivers. Regardless, his value is
probably being undersold because he has the Montreal offense backing
him up. Still, his change-up has never looked better than it has
his last several outings and the resulting WHIP and ERA will help just
about any fantasy team.
Another possible pleasant surprise is Dustin Hermanson (SF).
Alou has never been totally satisfied leaving him as either a starter
a reliever. I'm trying to remember the last pitcher who has spent
his career being switched from closer (in the minors) to starter (in
Montreal) to closer (by Alou in Montreal) to starter (the following
year in St. Louis) and back to closer again and I'm coming up with no
one. Suffice it to say that this kind of role changing is
rare. Hermansen doesn't seem too affected by it, though. In
fact, over the last month his WHIP is barely over 1 and he's striking
out nearly a batter per inning. He won't be dominant, but there
are worse closers out there that get far more attention.
Speaking of closers, even if Jose Valverde doesn't return as the closer
when he returns from rehab, Greg Aquino is probably not the D-backs'
long-term solution at the end of the game. With the way Mike
Koplove (AZ) has been pitching since his meltdown in LA back in
he might be. He's striking out more than a batter per
inning, his K/BB ratio is 3-to-1 and he's holding batters to a .200
One starter who's probably not on the radar at the moment is Dennis
Tankersley (SD). The Padres are struggling to stay in the
division and wild-card races and finding a better 5th starter would
tremendously, especially with David Wells and Adam Eaton not pitching
well of late, a development that's putting additional burden on the
bullpen. Tankersley was called up earlier this season and pitched
reasonably well. He deserves a chance to start whether the Padres
stay in the race or not. Frankly, San Diego would have a better
chance of making the playoffs if they gave him that chance.