It is nice to have an ace starting pitcher or two who you can rely on, but, beyond that, when it comes to pitching I always subscribe to the plug and play method, unless I’m running an experiment or in an extremely deep league. There are always pitchers to be had, and odds are that a couple of pitchers who are free agents in your league are in the midst of a hot string of starts right now. So throw loyalty aside and play the hot hand or favorable match-up. On that note…
Jake Arrieta is going through his share of struggles, but he is coming into his prime and could turn his strikeout to walk ratio around in a hurry. He deserves more attention than he is getting. I say it’s safe to play him against promising match-ups if your rotation needs the boost.
John Axford continues to play a big role in Milwaukee and on your fantasy team. The Brewers will stick with him as long as he produces, and he is showing no signs of slowing down. Ride him.
Madison Bumgarner has been his same old self after a shaky April. His command has hit a new level and he should be owned in every league and started every time out right now.
Andrew Cashner deserves a shot at a rotation spot, but there’s no room unless Chicago decides to sell off a couple of arms. I don’t see that happening. Cashner has value only if it does.
Jhoulys Chacin deserved to stay in Colorado’s rotation. While he was there he was a sneaky good back of the rotation mainstay for your fantasy squad. I have never understood the love for Jorge De La Rosa, and hopefully Colorado sees the light. If Chacin gets promoted back up to the rotation I won’t hesitate to promote him either.
Wade Davis has done more harm than good in fantasy leagues. But, if he is unowned in your league, he is still worth keeping an eye on. He has the stuff to turn things around and get the best of the hitters he is now facing a multitude of times. The chants for Jeremy Hellickson are getting louder, but Davis still has time.
Barry Enright has always been a so-so pitching prospect in my book. But he has put together an impressive year thus far, and has managed to carry it over to the majors over a short sample size. He is definitely worth keeping an eye on, and if he has another solid start or two consider picking him up and plugging him in if you’re looking for a spark to your rotation.
Neftali Feliz has been as good as one could hope in the closer’s role. Texas’ faith in him has not faltered and Feliz is a horse to ride into the sunset.
Jaime Garcia continues to put up all-star numbers, but he is showing signs of slowing down and becoming more hittable. My recommendation is to sell on Garcia, as his arm may be reaching its limitation this soon removed from Tommy John surgery.
Jeremy Hellickson has been one of the most impressive minor league pitchers in baseball. If Tampa Bay hands him a spot in the rotation he needs to be an automatic addition to your team.
Daniel Hudson is a wait and see play. He has the stuff to succeed, and I love his makeup, but patience should pay off here. If he shows what he’s capable of over a series of starts, then it will be time to buy.
Mike Leake has been surprisingly consistent this season, never having a downright awful start. That makes him a reliable back of the rotation play right now, but the cap on his innings has to be approaching fast. That will be something to watch.
Brad Lincoln is finding it difficult to adjust to the majors. I have little doubt that he will improve over the course of the year, but he is a long way from even my watch list.
Brian Matusz should improve in the second half. I would put money on that. But even that won’t guarantee wins against the AL East. Keep him on your radar screen. He will never leave mine. Pounce if he puts together a couple of top notch starts in a row.
Andrew Oliver, over the long haul, should carve out a spot as Detroit’s No. 5 starter, but he will never be a fantasy mainstay. You can do better than Oliver for the second half.
Stephen Strasburg has grown up in a hurry. But dare I say it may be time to sell high? Washington’s inning constraints on his season are approaching fast. I won’t fault you for riding it out, but if you can cash in, I say do it.
Chris Tillman no longer qualifies as a rookie, but he is playing like one. He is definitely a keeper, but he isn’t anywhere near my radar screen for the second half of this year due to an ugly recent set of starts.
Travis Wood, for good reason, has been getting some positive publicity lately. He has made appearances on my Top-100 list before, but I always end up bumping him off. I just can’t envision him ever making consistently strong contributions to the strikeout category. But the strikeouts have been there so far this year, making him a hot hand to play. I get the feeling that you will have to pull the plug at some point, though.