Note: FanDuel is hosting a one-day Fantasy Baseball league tonight. It's $5 to enter and pays out $100,000 in cash prizes. First place wins $10,000. Sign up now!
You may have heard Jake Arrieta threw a no-hitter Sunday -- a 12-strikeout performance that both vaulted him into the NL Cy Young race and stuck the majors' highest-paid team with the dubious distinction of being no-hit twice in a 10-day span, an NL record.
It was historically significant, to say the least.
But the problem with historically significant starts is that they tend to overshadow all the others, no matter how extraordinary they may be in their own right.
Sunday capped a weekend of stellar performances by starting pitchers who, unlike Arrieta, are widely available in Fantasy -- the kind you should be looking to add for the stretch run.
Derek Holland, SP, Rangers (63 percent owned)
Yes, Arrieta wasn't the only starting pitcher to throw a complete game shutout with double-digit strikeouts Sunday. Normally, a performance like Holland had against the Orioles, allowing three hits with 11 strikeouts to no walks, would dominate the headlines, but instead, the 28-year-old is still available in 37 percent of CBSSports.com leagues.
It's kind of embarrassing. True, Sunday's start was the first dominant one in three since he returned from a shoulder injury, but he has 20 strikeouts to one walk during that time. And you may remember the kind of impact he made down the stretch last year. Returning for five starts (and one relief appearance) after losing most of the season to a knee injury, he compiled a 1.46 ERA and 1.05 WHIP.
Granted, we haven't seen much of him the last two years, but Holland's last healthy season, 2013, was by all accounts a breakout season. He wasn't sub-2.00 ERA good, but he was something like a left-handed version of Lance Lynn, piling up innings with a good enough ERA and strikeout rate to make up for a WHIP on the high side.
With the Rangers fighting for a playoff spot, you know they're not going to hold Holland back over the final month, making him a good choice to replace that fading youngster on your Fantasy team.
Raisel Iglesias, SP/RP, Reds (73 percent owned)
OK, but what about the surging youngster? Iglesias' stock is trending up even though he's a rookie entering the season's final month. Friday's start in which he allowed three earned runs over seven innings was his second straight with double-digit strikeouts. After some initial growing pains, he has figured out how to attack major-league hitters with his four-pitch arsenal.
"His maturation has moved more rapidly than anybody else here in my opinion," manager Bryan Price told MLB.com. "The first thing was can he start here? Does he have the stuff, the temperament, the mix of pitches to be a major league starter? I think he's answered that question with an exclamation point."
He doesn't have walk issues, allowing just 2.6 per nine innings. He doesn't have home run issues despite pitching half his games at a hitter's park. He's on the right side of all three ratios that contribute to FIP, which should in turn contribute to a low ERA with a competent defense behind him.
The one potential pitfall is a vague innings limit that the Reds won't reveal but say he's approaching.
"We have a number of innings that we're comfortable with," Price said. "Right now, the eye test would suggest he's just fine. But he certainly will in short order be approaching an innings number that we're comfortable with."
Still, like Price said, Iglesias has answered all the questions with an exclamation point. With the breakthrough he has made since returning to the big-league starting rotation in mid-July, I expect him to perform like a high-end option until the innings run out. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
Aaron Nola, SP, Phillies (68 percent owned)
"Scouts and others tried to lower expectations for Nola upon his arrival July 21. They said he projected as a No. 3 starter, despite the fact the Phillies selected him in the first round of the 2014 MLB draft."
Those are the words of Phillies beat writer Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, and I'm beginning to think I fell for it, too. Sure, I touted Nola prior to his promotion, but I also tried to keep expectations in check, calling him a safe but not particularly exciting prospect.
After his latest start Friday against the Padres, I'm officially excited.
He allowed one run on two hits over seven innings, giving him one run on five hits over 15 innings in his last two starts. The control has been as advertised -- he has only once issued more than two walks in his eight starts, averaging 2.5 per nine innings -- and though he hasn't averaged a strikeout per inning, he looks like he has the stuff to improve in that regard.
"The guy throws strikes down in the zone," interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "His breaking ball has improved since he's been here. He's got movement, deception and a very good presence on the mound. He's fun to watch pitch. He's been doing a great job for us."
The polish is the key here, and it's why some were saying when the Phillies drafted him in 2014 that he could possibly skip the minors entirely. And while luck has now doubt contributed to his 5-1 record in eight starts for a last-place team, his ability to extend himself over seven and eight innings at such a young age counts for something as well.
Because he's a rookie, workload could become an issue for Nola down the stretch -- Zolecki cited 185 innings, which would mean about four more starts -- but you should enjoy what he gives you in the meantime.
Jean Machi, RP, Red Sox (15 percent owned)
Interim manager Torey Lovullo ended the speculation Sunday, saying Tazawa would go back to being a setup man.
"I think he just excelled in that role," Lovullo told MLB.com. "He was so good in that role. That's what I expressed to him. We're going to get him back in that situation for right now."
So Machi is the closer, then, but is it more to get him in the role or Tazawa out of it?
"He's battle-tested, but we just have to be careful about his workload as well," Lovullo said. "We might make some adjustments in that ninth inning depending on what the situation is with Jean."
That's not the strongest endorsement for Machi, who has only a 5.40 ERA in his 13 appearances for the Red Sox -- and that's after getting waived by the Giants in July. He could recapture what he had in 2013 and 2014, when he compiled a 2.49 ERA and 1.01 WHIP, but he was never much of a bat-misser and clearly has some work ahead of him now.
So while the clarity is nice, it doesn't change much outside of deeper Fantasy leagues. If you had devoted a roster spot to Tazawa, you can devote it to someone else now, but you'd have to be pretty desperate for saves to devote it to Machi. Basically, anyone else in that role -- Tom Wilhelmsen, John Axford, Bruce Rondon, etc. -- would be preferred.