Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Sleepers
As the second half of the season gets into full swing, you might consider giving up on those pitchers who failed to live up to your expectations in the first half. When doing so, it is important to find someone who won't destroy your staff numbers. Chances are you aren't going to find a top-tier gem on the waiver wire at this point in the season, but there are most likely some sleepers still available. Here are three pitchers who might be able to help you turn your season around, and who likely won't hurt you as each posts an above-average strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Bartolo Colon - SP, NYM
Owned in 38% of Yahoo!, 29% of Fleaflicker Leagues
The 41-year-old is still going strong. Now, he's not quite the dominant hurler he was even last year with Oakland, but for the most part, he has been quite serviceable for the Mets in 2014.
Colon's fantasy appeal lies in his career-high 5.28 K/BB ratio, which ranks eighth in the majors. His consistent improvement in that category since 2011 is likely linked to his enhanced ability to mix up his pitches. Earlier in his career, he was throwing too many off-speed pitches, particularly the slider and changeup, and he had trouble locating those offerings. Then, when he appeared to be approaching the end of his career in 2009, he was relying far too heavily on his fastball, throwing it 90% of the time. After sitting out all of 2010 due to a shoulder injury, Colon returned returned to baseball with much improved command and balance of pitches. As a result, he is allowing fewer baserunners and inducing weak contact.
While his 4.12 ERA is less than enticing for fantasy owners, that number was up at 5.84 in May, and even dropped down as low as 3.67 in late June. He may not be the most consistent option considering his age, but the fact that he won't hurt you by allowing a ton of baserunners is certainly intriguing when trying to replace a disappointing Shelby Miller or Ubaldo Jimenez. It's also worth mentioning that the Mets have made Colon available for trade to a contending team, where he could potentially pick up additional wins on a better club. Right now, he has value in NL-only and deeper mixed leagues, but there is a lot to like, and owners in shallower mixed leagues might want to consider adding the aging righty down the stretch.
Wei-Yin Chen - SP, BAL
Owned in 16% of Yahoo!, 15% of Fleaflicker Leagues
Last week, I wrote about how Chris Tillman was poised for a strong second half. Now I'm suggesting another Orioles pitcher that might be even more underappreciated. Chen is a career 4.00 ERA pitcher, so don't expect his 4.21 ERA to drop significantly, but there are a handful of other statistics that you don't want to overlook when considering Chen from a fantasy perspective.
Chen isn't a dominant pitcher, and he will get hit by opposing batters from time to time, but he has really been able to hit his spots this year; as a result, he's not walking batters like he has in the past. His 4.16 K/BB ratio puts him 18th in the MLB as of July 21. Perhaps the one stat that is even more favorable for Chen is the run support: Baltimore's offense provides him with 5.42 runs per start, tied for the third-most in all of baseball.
Feel free to leave Chen alone in shallow mixed leagues, and he should already be owned in most AL-only leagues. His sleeper appeal is for an owner looking to replace a struggling or injured pitcher in a deep mixed formats. Chen is likely to maintain a sub-4.00 ERA the rest of the way, and any pitcher who has the potential to win 15-18 games is worth at least a look in most leagues.
Brandon McCarthy - SP, NYY
Owned in 8% of Yahoo!, 12% of Fleaflicker Leagues
The 6'7'' McCarthy struggled to find himself in the beginning of his career, and like Colon, missed all of 2010 with a shoulder injury. When he returned to action in 2011 with the A's, he developed a cutter and worked on improving his ground ball rate. He had two great seasons in 2011 and 2012, with a 3.32 ERA and a 3.24 ERA, respectively, before taking a line drive off the head in September of 2012. McCarthy signed with Arizona in 2013, and he hasn't quite been the same since his injury. He followed a 4.53 ERA in an injury-plagued 2013 campaign with a 5.01 ERA in 18 games started for the D'Backs in 2014 before being shipped across the country to the Yankees. For whatever reason, he had begun to rely too heavily on his sinker, as he had early in his career.
In two starts in pinstripes, however, McCarthy has finally looked like his former self, allowing just one earned run over 12.2 frames and striking out 12. He has seemed to further improve his ground ball rate as of late, and the Yankees are working on getting him to mix up his pitchers better. At the moment, McCarthy is little more than a deep AL-only option, but if he continues to resemble the Brandon McCarthy of 2011, he will quickly become worthy of an add in almost all leagues.
In most leagues, an ERA hovering around 4.00 will not kill you, but a WHIP around 1.50 can (and will). All three of these pitchers will help pick up points in wins and strikeouts, and won't cost you points by giving up free bases. Once again, don't count on them to turn your team around the rest of the way, but any owner in a deep league looking to add another starter can look to these sleepers as reliable options.