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Friday Five: Pitchers for the Stretch Run

Last week, we covered five under-owned hitters who could provide a boost to fantasy owners in the season's final month. Today, it's time to do the same for pitchers.

With the end of the 2018 campaign rapidly approaching, it can be difficult to find worthwhile arms on the waiver wire in competitive leagues. That's true whether you're duking it out in a win or go home playoff matchup in a head-to-head league or scrapping for the numbers to put you over the hump in a rotisserie setup.

These five pitchers can help, and all but one of them is available in at least 75% of Yahoo leagues right now.

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Arm Yourself

Ryan Yarbrough, SP/RP, Tampa Bay Rays (14% owned)

Yarbrough has allowed just 15 batters to reach base and two to score in his last five appearances, spanning 21 innings. Only one of those was an official start, as he's most often been used this season after a short stint by an "opener." That's helped him rack up 13 victories - more than Chris Sale, Trevor Bauer, Patrick Corbin, and all but 14 other pitchers. Yarbrough is especially valuable in leagues with a limit on starts due to his unique usage. You'll need to be a bit more diligent to make sure he's active in your lineup when he pitches, but that's a small price to pay.

Anthony DeSclafani, SP, Cincinnati Reds (23%)

Perhaps unsurprisingly for a guy who hadn't thrown an MLB pitch since 2016 and plays half of his games in a bandbox, DeSclafani struggled to limit home runs in his first handful of starts this year. Over his last six turns, though, he's allowed just three bombs in 38 innings. During that time, he has excellent ratios (2.84 ERA, 1.08 WHIP) and a 31:6 K/BB.

Jaime Barria, SP, Los Angeles Angels (20%)

The Angels have dealt with an avalanche of injuries to members of their starting rotation from the jump this season, culminating in the news from earlier this week that Shohei Ohtani will require Tommy John surgery. Barria's performance stands as a silver lining. The rookie doesn't boast eye-popping strikeout numbers, but his 3.30 ERA and 1.23 WHIP are more than adequate for fantasy purposes. Like DeSclafani, Barria had issues with the long ball earlier this season and appears to have gotten a handle on them as the year has progressed. He's allowed just one homer in his last seven starts, which has helped him limit opponents to one run or no runs in six of those seven outings. And because he threw 140 innings last season and is only at 129 thus far, the risk of a shutdown is fairly low.

Jakob Junis, SP, Kansas City Royals (27%)

You want to talk about a guy who couldn't keep the ball in the yard? In the first half of the season, Junis gave up 24 homers in just 102 innings. He had more 3+ HR starts (five) than starts where he didn't allow one (three), and all three of the latter came in his first four games. As a result, Junis had a 5.13 ERA despite solid strikeout and walk numbers. Thanks to increased use of his slider, he has given up just three home runs in 52 innings since the break. Most recently, he threw seven shutout innings against the studly Cleveland lineup. His next three starts will come against the Twins (twice) and the Pirates.

Wei-Yin Chen, SP, Miami Marlins (13%)

One of just two Marlins making more than $3.5 million this season, Chen hasn't delivered much of a return on the five-year, $80 million investment Miami made in him as a free agent prior to the 2016 season. He made just five starts last season due to injury and had a 6.14 ERA two months ago. Recent results, however, have been much better for the veteran. In his last five starts, Chen has posted absurd ratios (1.44 ERA, 0.80 WHIP) and struck out nearly a batter per inning. His next two outings come on the road against the Pirates and Phillies; both Pennsylvania teams have been among the worst offensive clubs in baseball in the second half.


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