July 17, 2022, 11:57 am
It’s that time of year again friends, where the finest players in baseball and Paul Blackburn will meet down in the Chavez Ravine for the midsummer classic. It’s also (mostly) a week off for fantasy as there are no games until a short six-game slate Thursday, and then we get going in earnest again on Friday with 14 games. There will be no break for me over on Fantasy MLB Today, as I go every weekday of the year all through the offseason. Come check out the pod if you haven’t already!
With fantasy football right around the corner, people are slowly starting to shift focus to their mock drafts and season prep for the NFL. Some others have tuned out the year because their teams have underperformed and the season is all but lost for them. This is where you can take advantage in baseball and find players on the wire that probably wouldn’t have been available a couple of months back. Fewer teams in contention means fewer managers putting in the effort on the waiver wire or in FAAB.
Today I’ll be focusing on pitching (partly because last week’s emphasis was on some hot hitters, but mostly because there are a lot of valuable arms out there who could be of immense value down the stretch). I’m going to highlight five arms that you should at least consider adding to help you get to the finish line this year. Depending on your league size, it’s possible that all or maybe even none of these players are available, but I’ve included a mix of guys that are roughly 10-50% rostered.
If you read articles, absorb fantasy content, or just watch a lot of baseball (3/3 for me), the odds are that you’ve seen Stripling recommended many times, and yet he’s available in a ton of leagues. Since June 1st, his 2.00 ERA is ninth in baseball, better than Corbin Burnes, Clayton Kershaw, and teammate Alek Manoah. There’s only been one appearance this year where he allowed more than three earned runs (May 7th @ Cleveland), and he allowed four that day.
It’s very easy to forget that Stripling was an All-Star himself back in 2018 with the Dodgers, and he’s putting up similar numbers this year in some key areas:
2018: 3.02 ERA. 4.4 BB%. 3.42 FIP. FB Usage (41.1%)
2022: 3.03 ERA, 4.7 BB%, 3.08 FIP. FB Usage (41.4%)
The fastball usage has been a big key for the “Striploin”. He’s throwing it much less (51.1% last year, 41.4% this year) which is very good news because it was by far his worst pitch. He’s also got his slider usage back at 23.3%. It’s hovered between 14-18% over the last few years and the last time it was in the 20s was, you guessed it, 2018 (26.5%). He is worthy of an add in all leagues that are 12 teams or deeper.
Wood is no stranger to these pick-up pieces that I write. I’ve talked about him as a turnaround candidate for what feels like an eternity, but it feels like he is now starting to hit his stride. He could be a major asset in the second half with some better luck.
He’ll head to the break with a 4.20 ERA, but a 3.12 XFIP. He’s also allowed the 4th highest BABIP in baseball (.327) and the 4th lowest LOB% (66.8%) among qualified starters. We’ve started to see a turnaround as of late. Over his last three starts, he’s thrown 16.2 innings and has a .54 ERA and .72 WHIP while striking out 19.
Wood has a stellar 5.6 BB% and strikes out an above average 24% of batters. His pitch-mix is the same and there’s even been the slightest of upticks in velocity by roughly 1 MPH on his FB and SL. He’s still widely available in standard sized leagues and should be rostered in all leagues.
There have been a number of valuable relievers this season who are not the closers for their squads, and Munoz has been the best example of that recently. Over the past month, he’s tossed 14.2 scoreless innings for six holds and struck out 28, while also sporting a .61 WHIP.
If you look at the whole season, he has one win, one save, 10 holds and an absurd 39.6 K% compared to his 6.5 BB%. He also has a 2.92 ERA and a sparkling 2.01 xFIP. I mean, the guy can throw 103 MPH. He’s really one of the elite relief pitchers in baseball this year.
It makes sense to have a guy like Munoz on your roster, specifically in deeper/holds leagues to help out with your ratios while giving you a boost in Ks. Many people (myself included) love to stream starting pitchers several times a week, but when there aren’t many options on your waiver wire, consider going for someone like Munoz for a nice 3/4 category boost.
If you’re in the market for a closer right now, Martin is a good target to look at. Joe Barlow lost his 9th-inning role out in Texas and is now on the IL with a blister, and there is a chance that he could reclaim the position once he comes back. That being said, I know that a lot of people start to get desperate for saves this time of year so you have to take them where you can get them.
Martin has converted the first three opportunities he’s been given to close out games and he’s also put together a solid season as a whole. A 2.61 ERA in 31 innings with 25 Ks doesn’t exactly blow you away, but if he is able to maintain the closer role and keep those numbers steady, he’ll have plenty of value down the stretch.
I don’t have to tell you how hard it is to get production from your closers, but as someone with Josh Hader shares all over the place, I can certainly testify to the challenge a fantasy manager faces every week in finding saves. Grab Martin, and if he loses the job so be it, but the fact that he has the role and has done well so far means that he’s worthy of a roster spot in nearly every league.
The only possible issue here would be if Peterson gets moved back to the pen when Jacob deGrom comes back. I’m expecting them to go with a six-man rotation. There’s no need to put stress on deGrom or Max Scherzer, especially when you have so many impressive starters, and Peterson has been a huge standout as of late (granted he did have a poor showing in Cincinnati last week).
Over the past month, he has the 4th best K/9 at 13.50, trailing only Cristian Javier, Shohei Ohtani and Dylan Cease, plus he has the 3rd best xFIP behind only Ohtani and Shane McClanahan. Pretty impressive company to say the least.
The Mets are at the point where all six of their starting pitchers (deGrom, Scherzer, Walker, Carrasco, Bassitt, and Peterson) are must-roster players. An enviable situation, to say the least. Assuming that he does stay in the starting rotation, Peterson should have plenty of value going forward.
As always, thank you for taking the time to read. I welcome any and all thoughts that you may have on this piece or any of my other work. Hit me up over on Twitter with any questions, comments, thoughts, or anything else that comes to mind as you read this or listen to my podcast. Enjoy the rest of the weekend and good luck in the second half!