Week 25: Best and worst hitter matchups
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If you've taken a peek at the two-start pitchers for Fantasy Week 25 (Sept. 21-27), you may have noticed a trend, particularly among those who are available in at least 30 percent of the leagues on CBSSports.com. Lefties dominate the list, both in terms of quantity and quality.
If you're thinking about picking up a righty with two starts, take a closer look. Chris Heston appears to have good matchups with road starts at the Padres and Athletics, but he hasn't posted a quality start since Aug. 12, and his control has gone in the tank. Jered Weaver has been better of late, but his scheduled Monday start at the Astros could ruin his week, given his struggles away from Angel Stadium (6.21 ERA, 5.87 xFIP). Maybe pick up Erik Johnson (at DET, at NYY) as a sneaky play? A 29 percent ground ball rate doesn't bode well against a couple of teams that can hit for power.
No, in Week 25, southpaw is the way to go, though not every lefty is right for your rotation. The normally-reliable Brett Anderson is scheduled to make a start at Coors Field. Matt Moore, who is coming off a strong outing against the Orioles, will pay a visit to Rogers Centre to face the lefty-mashing Blue Jays. In facing the Braves and Reds, Jonathon Niese might look like a good choice, but you're best off avoiding someone who has allowed a .982 OPS over his last five starts.
Even if you take those pitchers out of the mix, there are several lefties worth considering. Best of all, the safest one is currently available in the vast majority of leagues.
Top target for standard mixed leagues: Martin Perez, SP, Rangers (at OAK, at HOU, 15 percent owned)
Perez's return from Tommy John surgery hasn't received much attention, but after some initial difficulty, he has been solid and consistent. He has turned in quality starts in six of his last eight tries, compiling a 3.62 ERA along the way. Perez begins the week with a favorable matchup at the Athletics and finishes up at the Astros. While Houston has been one of the better-hitting teams against lefties, Perez could neutralize their attack with his sinker. The Astros can put together a potent righty-heavy lineup, but Perez has induced grounders on his sinker at an 80 percent rate against righties this year, according to BrooksBaseball.net.
With a 5.1 K/9 and 7 percent whiff rate, Perez can't be used as a one-start pitcher, no matter how many grounders he gets, but his K-rate is far less relevant when he gets two starts for racking up strikeouts. For the most part, Perez has been stingy with walks, so he is profiling as the quintessential two-start streamer.
Other lefties to consider: Eduardo Rodriguez (vs. TB, vs. BAL) doesn't have Perez's ground ball tendencies, but he has recently been showcasing the sharp control he possessed in the minors. He's a close runnerup to Perez as this week's top waiver target...The less patient the opponent, the more Henry Owens (vs. TB, vs. BAL) succeeds, at least as of late. In recent starts against the aggressive Royals and Orioles, Owens allowed one earned run and one walk over 15 2/3 innings. Versus the patient Mets, Yankees and Blue Jays, he coughed up nine earned runs and 10 walks in 12 innings. The Rays could give Owens fits, but a return engagement against the Orioles alone could make him worth starting this week...Risk-averse (and possibly desperate) owners could give Robbie Ray (at LAD, at SD) a look. He has been effective on the road this season with a 2.71 ERA and a .356 slugging percentage allowed, but a 59 percent strikes thrown rate over his last seven starts makes Ray a risk in any venue.