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Buy Low Fantasy Baseball Pitching Options for the Second Half

The first half of fantasy baseball is officially over. The start of the second half means teams MLB and fantasy alike will be making their push to the playoffs.

With fantasy teams, owners will need to look at starting pitchers on their rosters or waivers that might not have performed to start the year, but could bounce back and regain their fantasy prowess. There are also relief pitchers looking to become fantasy relevant in the form of the almighty save.

In either case, moves to be made in order to secure yourself a spot in the postseason, and here are five hurlers you need to either hold onto, buy low in a trade, or pick up for your team.


Collin McHugh, SP, HOU

The Astros have been the biggest breakout team this season, and very easily could be heading to the playoffs this season. Collin McHugh, however, has seen a regression from his much more productive 2014 season. Last year, he ended the season with an 11-9 record, 2.73 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and a 157/41 K/BB rate. In the first half this year, while the offense has improved his record to 9-5, he has a 4.50 ERA, 1.26 ERA, and a 91/28 K/BB rate. Along with his K/9 rate dropping from 9.14 to 7.19, he has recently become available in a number of fantasy leagues.

Despite what seems like a drop in his fantasy value, McHugh is very likely to improve from his first half numbers. He has not seen a major drop in velocity, and is rather victim of a spike in his BABIP, with opponents going from .259 to .298 this season. A positive when looking at McHugh’s ERA is his FIP, xFIP and SIERA all say his ERA should be lower than it is. I also like his SwStr%, which at 10.4% is in the Top 30 in baseball right now.

Considering McHugh’s 2014 numbers, and the fact he is playing for a contending team, he is worth holding onto or picking up for the stretch. If he comes anywhere close to his 2014 numbers, he will be a valuable member of your fantasy rotation.


Ken Giles, RP, PHI

This one is pretty simple for the 38% of Yahoo owners that are holding onto Ken Giles. The last place Phillies would be insane not to trade away their starting closer, Jonathan Papelbon. The 34-year-old has 14 saves this year with a 1.60 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and a 35/7 K/BB rate, and has repeatedly requested to be traded to a contending team. Assuming this does happen, which isn’t much of a stretch, Giles would be next in line for the ninth inning in Philadelphia.

While he has been impressive in a setup role with 11 holds, a 1.86 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 49 K’s in 38 innings. It might have been frustrating for his owners who do not count holds, as he has yet to record a save thanks to a combination of Papelbon being healthy and the Phillies not having too many save chances thanks to a Phillies record of 29-62, easily the worst in the league. For those that already own him, hold tight as the investment should pay off soon enough. For those owners lacking in saves over the first half, Giles is a cheap option on waivers that will be worth owning once he is the official closer in Philly.


Carson Smith, RP, SEA

Another reliever who didn’t start out in the ninth inning, Carson Smith is already closing games in Seattle, and is only owned in 35% of Yahoo Leagues. While Fernando Rodney was not performing in the closer role to start the year, Smith racked up 12 holds. Since the beginning of June, Smith has been given six saves chances and converted all of them. In the same time, Rodney has been given four chances and blown two of them. On the season, Smith has six saves, a 1.73 ERA, 0.77 WHIP and a 47/6 K/BB rate.

While it might not be popular, I recently added Smith while dropping Dellin Betances, citing Smith the more likely option to be picking up saves, as Andrew Miller has regained the ninth inning in New York. I would suggest fantasy owners make a similar move to make room for Smith, especially those looking for saves and possibly having a reliever on your roster who won’t be giving you many (i.e.: Betances, Benoit.)


Yordano Ventura, SP, KC

After breaking through in 2014, Yordano Ventura has not been the same pitcher in 2015. Last season, Ventura has a 14-10 record with a 3.20 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 159/69 K /9 rate with 22 quality starts. This year, he has struggled to the tune of a 4-6 record, 4.73 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 58/24 K/BB and just four quality starts. Ventura did miss a month with an injury to his pitching hand, which makes this next statement interesting: Ventura’s velocity has been down this year. After having a 97 MPH fastball and 94.3 MPH cutter in 2014, his velocity has decreased to 95.9 and 91.2 MPH, respectively. This has been a factor in his inefficiency, with his SwStr% coming down to 9% from last year’s 10.3%.

Now that Ventura should be 100%, I am very interested to see how he performs in the second half of 2015. The Royals are one of the best offenses in the league, with the second highest batting average in baseball at .274. So he is going to get the run support to win games. If Ventura can get his velocity back up to what it was in 2014, and in turn raise his SwStr%, I am confident in his ability to turn his season around.


Ervin Santana, SP, MIN

Lastly, we have Ervin Santana, who is just two starts back from his suspension for performance enhancing drugs. He started with a great game against the Royals, going eight innings, giving up two runs on just three hits, striking out eight. He followed that up with a disastrous start against the Tigers, giving up six runs on eight hits over four innings. He also walked three batters each time out. What Santana has working in his favor, is due to his time suspended, he is much fresher than the average pitcher who has been throwing since April.

Each year since 2012, Santana’s K% has risen, from 17.4% in 2012 to 21.9% last year. The same can be said for his SwStr%, going from 8.4% to 11.8%. He had what I would consider a positive year for the lowly Braves in 2014, going 14-10 with a 3.95 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and a 179/63 K/BB rate, all with an incredibly high .319 BABIP. If he can get that number close to his career .286, Santana can be a positive addition to the Twins 2015 playoff push.

With all five of these pitchers, my immediate reaction is to get them on your team. While their potential upside is the main reason for their appeal, they also should not be expensive to add, based on their lack of production in the first half. This should also make it much easier for them to be dropped if they should not pick up their fantasy production.
Make sure to follow me on Twitter @JustBerglund and ask any questions you may have on these players.


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