Preseason football kicked off last night, which means the baseball season is mere weeks away from its conclusion. You only have a few chances left to make the Daily Baseball Fantasy Championship final — time is of the essence. Which pitcher is going to take you to the promised land? My picks are below.
Ace: Cole Hamels, PHI vs. WAS ($8,200). I may not be saving you much money by telling you to go with a pitcher with a price tag over $8,000, but even at his price Hamels is just the sixth most expensive pitcher on Friday. With excellent career numbers against Washington and a K:BB ratio over 5.0 this year, he’s near certain to crack the top five and contribute positive value.
Middle Man: Brandon McCarthy, OAK vs. TEX ($6,500). It may not be the prettiest matchup, but McCarthy sports a 2.39 ERA and 1.14 WHIP with 42 Ks in 52.2 innings at home this year. He’s 4-0 in his last five starts, with 14 Ks and no walks in his last two. To keep it short, he’s dominating right now. It should continue, even against a good Ranger offense.
*Wild Card: Nathan Eovaldi, LAD vs. HOU ($2,700). Eovaldi made his MLB debut on August 6, holding the Diamondbacks to two runs through five innings on four hits and two walks. The most impressive aspect of the start was his strikeout total of seven. His minor league numbers suggest he’s not quite that good, but against the Astros? Expect a huge line.
Roto Stream Team: 1. Brandon McCarthy (vs. TEX), 2. Nathan Eovaldi (vs. HOU), 3. Mike Minor (vs. CHC), 4. Alfredo Simon (vs. DET), 5. Zach Stewart (vs. KC).
*Ace: Josh Beckett, BOS at SEA ($8,000). Both Beckett and Saturday opponent Felix Hernandez are aces, but would you take Beckett against the Mariner offense or Hernandez against the Red Sox in the same stadium? Throw in a $1,300 markdown on Beckett, and the choice is pretty clear. If you have the scratch to spare, throw $9,100 at Clayton Kershaw against the Astros.
Middle Man: Tim Stauffer, SD at CIN ($6,400). Stauffer hasn’t gotten lit up in consecutive starts all year, so we should be safe going with him the game after he surrendered four runs in seven innings. With the Padre offense suddenly looking like Murderer’s Row for a minute or two, the team may actually give him enough runs for a win.
Wild Card: Jeremy Guthrie, BAL vs. DET ($6,000). This isn’t the day to pinch pennies, and I think the absolute smart move on Saturday is to take an ace like Beckett (which is why he earned an asterisk). But if you simply have to go with a cheap guy, take Guthrie, who has a 31:9 K:BB ratio, a 2.83 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP against the Tigers in his career.
Roto Stream Team: 1. Luke Hochevar (at CWS), 2. Derek Lowe (vs. CHC), 3. Jeremy Guthrie (vs. DET), 4. Javier Vazquez (vs. SF), 5. Homer Bailey (vs. SD).
*Ace: Ryan Vogelsong, SF at FLA ($6,500). One poor start (5 IP, 5 ER and the loss) isn’t enough to make me run in the opposite direction of our favorite affordable ace, especially when he struck out eight batters in that start while walking just two. He dominated Florida early in the season but took his only other loss despite holding them to one run in eight innings. Revenge is served.
Middle Man: Kevin Slowey, MIN at CLE ($5,500). Slowey belongs in the category below, as he’s the embodiment of Wild Card, having not started a game in the majors this year. However, he’s displayed his typical excellent control in the minor leagues, and he looks ready to make a positive contribution to fantasy teams.
Wild Card: Charlie Furbush, SEA vs. BOS ($2,700). Facing the Red Sox anywhere is no easy task, but the burden is lessened a bit with the game in Seattle. Also, Furbush has Tim Wakefield opposing him, a guy that can get roughed up on the scoreboard anywhere, anytime.
Roto Stream Team: 1. Kevin Slowey (at CLE), 2. Rich Harden (vs. TEX), 3. Brett Cecil (vs. LAA), 4. Charlie Furbush (vs. BOS), 5. Jeff Francis (at CWS).