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Earlier this week, I identified several widely available hitters who could help you over the season’s final weeks. The waiver wire could also provide some sneaky upgrades to your rotation, but the best pickups aren’t necessarily the ones drawing the most attention right now. For example, Chad Green has become a popular add on the heels of strong back-to-back starts against the Angels and Blue Jays, but the schedule won’t get easier for any of the Yankees’ pitchers as the season draws to a close.
As I mentioned in a post published just before his Wednesday start against the Twins, Matt Boyd is someone to target, given the favorable matchups he will inherit over most of the remaining schedule. Having tacked on another successful start to a growing string of impressive performances, Boyd won’t necessarily be available in your leagues. However, the following five starting pitchers all have schedules that should work in their favor, and each is currently under the radar for many Fantasy owners.
Especially in leagues where you may need a bold move to stay in contention or you are playing only for pride, these pitchers could be your best fit. Each is widely available because of the risk they present, but each has enough upside to justify a waiver claim. Each also has enough favorable projected matchups from here on out to be worth stashing, if you’re not ready to put them in your rotation right away.
Matt Wisler, Braves: It’s been a rough season in Atlanta, and there have not been many instances in which we could use the word “advantage”to describe the Braves’ fortunes. Their schedule over the final five weeks, though, is pretty enticing for their pitchers. Week 22 starts off with a series against the Padres, who have the lowest wOBA in the majors against righties. Then in September, the Braves will have two series apiece with the Phillies, Mets and Marlins, all of whom have struggled offensively since the All-Star break. All of this should work in Wisler’s favor in particular.
The last time we saw Wisler up with the Braves, he had reeled off four miserable starts in a row, but three of those were in tough environments for a flyable pitcher. Typically, when Wisler has been in a pitcher’s park against fair-to-weak competition, he has been effective. He makes his return to the Braves’ rotation Thursday night at the Diamondbacks, and assuming he pitches well enough to stick around, his schedule the rest of the way couldn’t be much friendlier.
Mike Foltynewicz, Braves: Over the last month-and-a-half, Foltynewicz has been far less homer-prone, but he has still struggled to find consistency. Like Wisler, he has done his best work at Turner Field and other homer-squelching venues. Of his seven starts with a game score of 55 or higher, four were at home, one was at Kauffman Stadium and one was at Busch Stadium. (The outlier was a dominant outing against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.). Of his eight starts with a game score of 45 or lower, only two were at home.
Foltynewicz should benefit from the generally low degree of difficulty in the Braves’ schedule, and especially from having 15 of the team’s final 22 games at home.
Eduardo Rodriguez, Red Sox: Rodriguez missed his last start due to a sore hamstring, but he is expected to take his next turn in the Red Sox’s rotation this Sunday against the Royals. Ever since coming back up from Triple-A Pawtucket after the All-Star break, Rodriguez has pitched exceedingly well, posting a 2.52 ERA over seven starts. He could continue that run, since the Red Sox will be facing a string of teams that have hit lefties poorly, including the Rays, Yankees and Orioles for two series apiece, and the Athletics for one series. Only the righty-heavy Blue Jays present a scary scenario for Rodriguez.
Francisco Liriano, Blue Jays: Those three AL East teams that don’t hit lefties well and have a healthy contingent of left-handed batters in their lineups — the Blue Jays will have two series apiece with them as well. That should benefit Liriano, who has compiled a relatively modest (for him) 3.8 BB/9 against left-handed batters. Liriano’s control has actually been decent since getting traded to Toronto, as he has walked six batters in 17 2/3 innings and thrown 62 percent of his pitches for strikes. Aside from any starts he may draw against the Red Sox, Liriano could show his best form of the season during this latter portion of the schedule.
Luke Weaver, Cardinals: Weaver may be strictly for deep league owners, but his progress is at least worth tracking even in standard mixed leagues. Across his 92 innings of work in the majors and minors this season, Weaver has dominated right-handed batters, holding them to a collective .213/.250/.287 slash line. The Cardinals have two upcoming series apiece against three NL Central rivals: the Brewers, Reds and Pirates. None of these teams has more than one major lefty threat in their lineup. Also, none of these teams has a wOBA against righties higher than .311.
The Cardinals’ schedule is not without some bumps, and Weaver’s owners need to give him a breather in Week 25, when the team plays the Rockies and Cubs on the road. Still, he could produce enough in the other four weeks to be worth owning right now.