Héctor Neris on July 16, 2016 (cropped)

Photo credit: By Editosaurus (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons.

In my latest column for Today’s Knuckleball, I looked back at my season in Rotisserie leagues to find some lessons to take into 2017. One of the things that went well for me in one particular league was placing well in both the counting and rate stat categories for pitching. It’s not an easy thing to pull off, and I needed both a good auction and some good luck to do it.

More often, you don’t get to have it both ways, but at this late point in the season, it’s easier to set priorities. A few weeks ago, it was probably safe to start punting some categories, as you were locked into position in the standings for those categories. In weekly leagues, you now have your final chance to tweak your roster so you can maximize your chances of moving up in the categories where you’re able to.

If you’re boxed into position in wins and strikeouts, but you have room to rise in ERA, WHIP and saves, unless you’re in danger of violating an innings minimum, you don’t need starters. In the above-mentioned league, I’m at the bottom of a cluster of four teams separated by three wins. Rising to the top of that cluster could be enough to move me into second-place overall. A title is out of reach, but this is what I have left to play for.

That means I’m done with my relievers, and any available pitcher who might make two starts becomes fair game. So do one-start pitchers who have exceptionally good matchups. As I mentioned in Thursday’s blog on streaming pitchers, Bartolo Colon and Collin McHugh are no-brainer options if they are available. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Colon was available in my league, and because he doesn’t provide strikeouts, he could be unowned in your Roto league as well.

There’s an even better chance you could pick up Drew Smyly, and for good reason. He has gone back to allowing oodles of homers — at least one in each of his last seven starts — and has one quality start in his last four tries. Smyly can allow all the homers he wants this week; in facing the White Sox with James Shields and the Rangers with Colby Lewis, he has a decent chance to add two wins to my staff’s total. Jered Weaver is also homer-prone and doesn’t offer many strikeouts, but the first of his two starts comes against the Athletics. Start No. 2 — against the Astros and McHugh — is less attractive, but I have little to lose by putting him in my rotation. Really, just about any two-start pitcher could be added to pad your win and strikeout totals, but of the ones who may be available, these are the ones who are worth prioritizing.

By the time you add some two-start pitchers, you may be as well-positioned as you can be to pick up wins and strikeouts, but even some one-start pitchers could be an upgrade over those on your roster. In my last post, I mentioned Seth Lugo (at MIA), Francisco Liriano (vs. BAL) and Ariel Miranda (vs. OAK) as three of the better potential waiver options. If you’re only looking for Ws and Ks, you might as well add Josh Collmenter (vs.PHI, Morgan) and Gio Gonzalez (vs. ARI, Miller) to your shopping list.

It’s going to be difficult to catch up in saves, but if you’re not worried about ERA and WHIP, then it’s time to pick up a closer — any closer — who might be available. If ERA and WHIP are bigger priorities than any of the counting stats, including saves, it’s time to send your starters home. To fill the void, some combination of Chris Devenski, Addison Reed, Liam Hendricks and Hector Neris should lower your ERA and WHIP. Neris might even chip in a save or two or the final week.

So if you only need help in certain pitching categories, don’t fear a lopsided roster. It might actually be your best bet to move up over these last few days of the season.