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Strikeout Rate Risers and Fallers - Buy or Sell for Week 25

Welcome back to the strikeout rate risers and fallers series for Week 25! Each week we will take a look at two K% risers and two fallers, analyze what is behind those changes, and then decide if they are actionable. A pitcher can best control their fate by generating swings and misses, so this exercise holds particular importance for fantasy value. Understanding strikeout trends and the stats behind them can help you sort through all the noise and determine which pitchers are legit and which pitchers should be avoided.

The players in this article were chosen using RotoBaller’s K% Risers and Fallers premium Tool. This tool identifies players who are surging and falling in strikeout percentage over the last 30 days. The goal of this tool is to help you find pitchers who are showing improving or declining K%.

The fantasy playoffs are well underway with only a few weeks left! As you all know, picking and choosing your pitching matchups carefully is essential at this time. I will discuss two interesting strikeout rate risers and two fallers to hopefully help you with your tough decisions this week. Some of these names are repeats from recent weeks because they still raise questions around whether they should be started.

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Strikeout Rate Risers

All stats current as of Sunday, September 15


Yu Darvish - Chicago Cubs

Season K%: 30.3%, Last 30 Days: 38.3%

Our first K rate riser had a slow start to the season but has been providing more of what fantasy owners have expected lately. The one constant for Yu Darvish this season, however, has been his K rate; his season mark is at 30.3% and that number has been an insane 38.3% over the last 30 days. Darvish's season ERA is now just below 4.00 (3.97), so do owners have anything to worry about for the final few weeks? 

The bottom line is that Darvish has pitched extremely well lately. His 2.01 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, and 2.52 SIERA over his last five starts indicate that everything is clicking. Consequently, he has racked up at least seven strikeouts in each of those starts, including 14 in his last start at the Padres.   

Darvish has always been a strikeout pitcher, but his batted-ball profile and command were questionable at times earlier in the season. Those issues seem to have figured themselves out and Darvish looks like a higher-end fantasy asset once again. He has a two-start week, taking on the Reds in a decent matchup and the Cardinals in a tougher one. Regardless, I would not hesitate to use Darvish this week.

Eric Lauer - San Diego Padres

Season K%: 20.0%, Last 30 Days: 25.9%

Our second K rate riser has been a subpar starter this season but has offered higher strikeout upside lately. Eric Lauer hasn't offered a ton of strikeout upside this season but has a respectable 25.9% K rate over the last 30 days. He is currently available in 81% of leagues, so could Lauer be a useful streamer for the fantasy playoffs?

Unfortunately, Lauer hasn't done enough to make him a trustworthy add. His strikeout numbers over his last five starts were bolstered by an eight-strikeout and a nine-strikeout performance; he only had 11 strikeouts in his other three starts. Aside from that, Lauer posted a 4.81 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, and a 4.59 SIERA over those starts, which don't inspire confidence.

Lauer hasn't pitched well for most of the season and his matchup against the Diamondbacks isn't great. He should not be trusted in the fantasy playoffs with just a couple weeks left.    



Strikeout Rate Fallers

All stats current as of Sunday, September 15


Zack Wheeler - New York Mets

Season K%: 22.9%, Last 30 Days: 14.7%

Well, here we are again. This is Zack Wheeler's fourth straight week on this list. He has pitched better lately overall, but the K rate is still quite low. What's the verdict on Wheeler for this week?

The good news is that Wheeler's woes seem to be behind him. The strikeout numbers of late may still be low, but Wheeler has now strung together four straight starts with just one run allowed. His most recent start was a seven-inning gem against a tough Dodgers matchup with nine strikeouts. We all know Wheeler's upside, so, given his recent performance, it seems like the worries have subsided. Wheeler is on a hot streak at the right time.

Wheeler will be at the Reds this week, a decent matchup. I feel confident in starting him this week, the first time in a while. He seems to be finding his rhythm and fantasy owners should play the hot hand (or arm in this case).


Mike Minor - Texas Rangers

Season K%: 23.6%, Last 30 Days: 16.8%

Our second K rate dud is a veteran who is putting forth an excellent season to this point. Mike Minor has performed extremely well in 2019 despite pitching his home games in hitter-friendly Globe Life Park, posting a 13-9 record with a 3.33 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and a 23.6% K rate through 189 2/3 IP. However, he has struggled lately, posting a 4.99 ERA and a poor 16.8% K rate over the last 30 days. He has been a huge asset for owners this season, but should they leave him on their benches now?

Minor has not been able to find his command lately (1.34 WHIP) and it has affected his ERA and his batted-ball profile (5.15 SIERA). He has been inconsistent, allowing five combined earned runs in three starts and 17 in his other three. His strikeout numbers have of course suffered, but the more worrisome thing is his diminished performance overall.

Minor has a tough matchup at Oakland this week, a team that scored seven runs off him in his last start. While Minor has been great for most of the season, I would not be willing to rely on him in his next start with a fantasy title on the line.


K-Rate Risers and Fallers - Premium Tool

Identifying top strikeout rate risers and fallers for each week can help you spot the best pickups before your competition. RotoBaller's Premium K-Rate Risers and Fallers tool has you covered every day. As thoughtful fantasy baseball players, we won't lead you astray. This tool will soon be active once we have a large enough sample size in the season to be considered reliable.

This type of data is available as part of our Premium MLB Subscription. Don't settle for basic stats and surface-level advice from other sites. RotoBaller brings you advanced statistics and professional analysis that you need to win your fantasy leagues and DFS games, because we're ballers just like you. We are your secret weapon!

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