Note: Don't whiff on this special FanDuel offer. Win your first contest or get your money back (up to $10) to keep playing. Try FanDuel now!
Dan Straily has been on a nice run since the beginning of July, and over the past two weeks, Fantasy owners have not only taken notice, but have taken it seriously. Straily has more than doubled his ownership rate in CBSSports.com leagues, rising from a 29 percent mark in Week 17 to his current level at 59 percent.
That leaves room for plenty of owners -- especially those in mixed leagues of 12 teams or fewer -- to join the party. Straily's Week 20 matchup against the Marlins should be all the invitation you need.
On the face of it, this would hardly seem to be the week to add the Reds' righty if you don't already own him. Even during a stretch of seven consecutive quality starts that has yielded a 2.56 ERA, Straily has struck out only 31 batters in 45 2/3 innings. With only one scheduled start, it may look like a better week to pursue a two-start option on waivers.
Yet Straily's singular start against the Marlins just might produce the Ks you need. While he has induced whiffs on only 9 percent of his pitches during his quality start streak, Straily has been superb at coaxing called strikes, doing so at a 20 percent rate. The Marlins own one of the majors' lowest swing rates, so they could play right into Straily's strength. In five starts since the All-Star break, Straily has been pounding the zone, throwing strikes at a 70 percent rate, so he has a unique opportunity to help with strikeouts.
Against another opponent, Straily's gains in control could be outweighed by his tendency to allow extra-base hits, but in this regard as well, the Marlins present an ideal matchup. Since the break, Straily has allowed flyballs at an astronomical 59 percent rate, but the Marlins have the majors' lowest flyball rate at 30 percent (per FanGraphs). They also have the majors' third-lowest Isolated Power (.136).
If Straily can freeze the Marlins on his way to a big strikeout total, that's all the better for Fantasy owners. Even if he doesn't, though, he is facing an opponent who is less likely than most to beat him with the long ball.
Denard Span, OF, Giants (51 percent owned)
Over the past month, Span has looked much more like the version of himself we saw in his last two seasons with the Nationals. While he hadn't exactly been a whiffing machine earlier this season, Span has been downright stingy with strikeouts of late, notching just eight of them in his last 25 games (107 plate appearances).During that stretch, Span has hit .310. Over the course of this season, he has been even better at spraying the ball around the infield, so as long as he continues to eschew strikeouts, he should easily improve on his season-to-date .214 batting average on grounders.
While Span has some long-term value for owners in five-outfielder leagues, his appeal extends even further for the coming week. The Giants will face the Pirates and Mets, who rank fifth and first in most stolen bases allowed. With just 12 steals on the year, this is one area where Span's production has lagged, but he will have ample opportunity to make up ground. He even has the good fortune of facing both Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, who rank first and second among all pitchers in stolen bases allowed.
Mike Fiers, SP, Astros (48 percent owned)
Though the Orioles possess the fifth-highest wOBA in the majors, they have recently become a favorable matchup. Over the last 30 days, only four teams have a lower wOBA, and only four teams have a higher soft contact rate. During that same period, the Orioles have the third-highest rate of swinging at pitches outside the strike zone and the fifth-lowest contact rate on those pitches.
Those trends could make it worth your while to start Fiers. While Straily or Fiers' teammate, Joe Musgrove, (66 percent owned) should be bigger priorities to add, Fiers is a good backup plan. He has produced a nice four-start stretch in which he has struck out 20 batters and walked only four in 24 1/3 innings and posted a 3.33 ERA. If not for a start against the strikeout-averse Angels, his K-rate could be even higher. He has thrown his cutter more often, and is allowing a lower batting average on it, particularly over his last three outings. As the graph below shows, he has also been having greater success with his four-seamer and curveball.
While Fiers is on an upward trend in general, the matchup against the Orioles could allow him to enjoy continued success. In his last three starts, he has been pitching out of the zone more often, and allowing less contact there, and that matches up with the Orioles' recent weaknesses.
Eddie Rosario, OF Twins (18 percent owned)
Remember last season when Rosario led the majors with 15 triples? That was weird and unexpected. Since returning from a minor league demotion in early July, Rosario is showing power once again, but in a more conventional way. In 122 plate appearances, Rosario has clubbed four home runs, nine doubles, and yes, two triples, to go along with a .336 batting average.
Though he has made modest reductions in his strikeout rate, Rosario is getting some serious help from a .402 BABIP during this hot streak. He may not be someone you can rely on for the long term, but Rosario has a chance to make an impact in Week 20 with series at the Braves and Royals. Both clubs' pitching staffs rank among the bottom eight in ERA since the All-Star break. Also, Rosario currently lines up to face five right-handed starters, and all but one of his extra-base hits have come against righties. These matchups make Rosario a must-start in deeper formats.