Fantasy Baseball Today

Midseason category help: Cheap wins

By Al Melchior | Data Analyst

Charlie Morton's 5-9 record is a head-scratcher, but he should provide Fantasy owners with more wins in the second half. (USATSI)
Charlie Morton's 5-9 record is a head-scratcher, but he should provide Fantasy owners with more wins in the second half. (USATSI)

I can't recall a time that I ever consciously tried to acquire a pitcher in Fantasy in order to boost my win total. I've constructed rosters with maximizing wins as a goal -- going heavy on starters, saving bench spots for pitchers with extreme splits so I could save them for their best matchups, and streaming two-start pitchers frequently -- but rarely, if ever, have I targeted specific pitchers to help me in the category.

However, if I needed a boost in wins and had gotten all the mileage I could out of the aforementioned strategies, there are a few starters who appear to be almost assured of picking up their wins pace from here on out. Each of the five pitchers featured here has the capability to prevent runs but most haven't received sufficient run support to date. Their teams, however, have the means to give them more runs than they allow.

A few of these pitchers are widely owned, but none is started in as many as two-thirds of the leagues on CBSSports.com, so their owners may find them to be expendable. If you need strikeouts or WHIP, you may need to look elsewhere, but each of these starters should give you second-half wins without doing much damage to your other categories.

Chris Archer, Rays: With a 66 percent start rate, Archer is the most popular of these pitchers on active rosters, but his 5-5 record and 1.31 WHIP could be making his current owners nervous. Archer, however, does a good enough job at preventing runs by limiting extra-base hits, as he has held opponents to a .329 slugging percentage. The Rays have actually given Archer a healthy amount of run support (4.21 runs per nine innings), but with their offense having caught fire over the last month, they could at least match that rate over the remainder of the season. Meanwhile, Archer has surged over his last 11 starts, posting a 2.25 ERA.

Yordano Ventura, Royals: Like the Rays, the Royals' lineup has gained their footing in recent weeks, but up until recently, they have floundered in Ventura's starts. He has received just 3.76 runs per nine innings, but even with a disappointing 7.7 K/9 ratio, Ventura has been able to give his owners a 3.22 ERA. He has the potential to increase his strikeout rate, but even if he doesn't, his walk and ground ball rates are strong enough to keep his ERA in the low 3.00s. Ventura is not only a potentially cheap source of wins, should the Royals continue their offensive resurgence, but he could be a great bargain overall if his strikeout rate rebounds.

Yovani Gallardo, Brewers: Gallardo's days of being a strikeout pitcher appear to be behind him, but he has been able to curb his walks by being more deceptive on pitches outside of the strike zone. While he is not likely to wow anyone with a 6.7 K/9 ratio, there's no reason why he can't maintain his 3.68 ERA. Backed by the Brewers' offense, Gallardo pitches well enough to be a winner, but he has had to settle for a 5-5 mark so far. Only nine qualifying starting pitchers have received less run support than Gallardo this year, but the Brewers' lineup is too potent to let that continue.

Charlie Morton, Pirates: Morton has actually become a decent strikeout pitcher, but his success still depends mainly on the ground ball. He gets enough of them to keep his ERA in the lower-to-mid 3.00s, but 11 unearned runs and 3.74 runs of support per nine innings have turned him into a 5-9 pitcher. The Pirates have made the fourth-most errors in the majors, but at the very least, they should provide Morton with better run support going forward.

Tyler Skaggs, Angels: With 4.8 runs of support per nine innings, Skaggs can't complain about getting a raw deal from the majors' highest-scoring offense. The lefty owns a decent 1.25 WHIP, and with a 53 percent ground ball rate and 0.66 HR/9 ratio, his 4.50 ERA looks suspiciously high. Skaggs' xFIP, which estimates that his ERA should be 3.73 after controlling for defense and luck, seems to agree. If Skaggs' 64 percent strand rate regresses towards the 73 percent norm, he should help himself to a lower ERA and more wins, with continued help from the Angels' potent lineup.

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