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Pitch or Ditch for Friday, August 19

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Tom Koehler

ZACH’S PICKS

McHugh @ Miley – Tough matchup for McHugh.

Koehler @ Cole – Five straight quality starts for Koehler and the Pirates rank 24th in the Majors in runs scored since the All-Star break.

Wainwright @ Morgan – I wouldn’t blame you for benching Wainwright though.

Porcello @ Fulmer

B. Norris @ Adleman

Hamels @ Andriese

Liriano @ Bauer – Both are hard to trust these days.

Roark @ Teheran

Graveman @ Shields

Berrios @ Volquez

Hendricks @ T. Anderson – I’m still a believer in Anderson but this is a scary matchup.

Tanaka @ J. Weaver

Suter @ LeBlanc

Lugo @ Cueto

Greinke @ Cosart – Gotta stick with Greinke.

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Pitch or Ditch for Thursday, August 18

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Dan Straily

ZACH’S PICKS

Buchholz @ Boyd

Davies @ Arrieta – Davies a little risky though.

Musgrove @ Gausman – Tough matchup for Musgrove but he’s earned it. Gausman too inconsistent lately.

Stripling @ Eickhoff – Eickhoff has been shaky of late. I’ll play it safe.

Rodon @ Salazar – Rodon pitching well but I don’t like this matchup.

Fernandez @ Straily – Straily is 4-0 with a 2.13 ERA and 0.92 WHIP in six starts since the All-Star break.

R. Lopez @ Whalen – Lopez worth considering in deeper formats thanks to the matchup.

Duffey @ Gee

Iwakuma @ Shoemaker

Bradley @ Clemens – Bench Bradley until further notice.

deGrom @ Bumgarner

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Waiver Wire Wisdom (8/17)

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Article courtesy of Fred Zinkie:

Could your fantasy team use more power? What about saves? Steals? Runs, RBIs or wins?

Regardless of your holes, the fantasy waiver wire has a plug or long-term fix to pick up today. Check the following 10 men — all sitting in waivers in many leagues, and all ready to help you win.

Gary Sanchez, catcher: To put it mildly, the bar for mixed-league relevance at the catcher position has not been especially high this season. Recently recalled from Triple-A, Sanchez — who has hit .372 with four homers across 43 at-bats since Aug. 3 — should have the necessary workload and plate skills to help mixed-league owners in the batting average and power categories across at least four starts per week.

Consider in: 10-team mixed leagues

Brandon Moss, 1B/OF: With Matt Adams and Matt Holliday on the disabled list, Moss is set to boost a decimated Cardinals lineup by receiving regular at-bats in the coming weeks. Having compiled 21 homers and 51 RBIs across 276 at-bats this season, the lefty slugger is arguably the most powerful player sitting on waivers in standard-mixed leagues.

Consider in: 12-team mixed leagues

Alex Bregman, 3B/SS: After collecting two hits in his initial 38 big league at-bats, Bregman has posted a .295 batting average since August 6. Wise fantasy owners will ignore the rookie’s initial struggles and realize that his .306/.406/.580 slash line in the Minors this season is an accurate representation of his immense talent.

Consider in: 10-team mixed leagues

Aaron Judge

Aaron Judge, outfielder: Judge is unlikely to provide a batting-average boost out of the gate (career .252 average, 25.7 strikeout rate in Triple-A), but he has the necessary power to make an immediate fantasy impact and rank among the rookie home run leaders down the stretch. With extra-base hits — including a pair of homers — in each of his first three contests, the hulking rookie (6’7”, 275 lbs.) should be added in virtually all leagues.

Consider in: 10-team mixed leagues

Jorge Soler, outfielder: Since returning from the disabled list on August 5, Soler has hit .360 with three homers across 25 at-bats. The talented 24-year-old has yet to break through as a reliable mixed-league contributor, but he could make a major impact if he can hit well down the stretch as part of a potent Cubs lineup. Though Chicago has many outfield options, the struggles of Jason Heyward (.616 OPS in ’16) could give Soler a chance to add some right-field work to his usual left-field duties.

Consider in: 12-team mixed leagues

Robbie Ray, starter: As wise owners focus on specific categories late in the season, Ray (10.9 K/9 rate in ’16) is the perfect waiver-wire target for those who need strikeouts. While some owners will be scared off by his 4.47 ERA and 1.47 WHIP, he has produced a solid 3.53 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP across six second-half starts and has walked two or fewer batters in 11 of his past 12 outings.

Consider in: 12-team mixed leagues

Dan Straily, starter: When he arrived at the All-Star break with a 4.35 ERA on a rebuilding Reds squad that calls home to a hitter-friendly park, Straily seemed to be an unlikely candidate to pitch like a mixed-league ace (4-0 record, 2.13 ERA, 0.92 WHIP) across his initial six second-half starts. Although the right-hander lacks the swing-and-miss arsenal (7.2 K/9 rate in ’16) to make a major impact in shallow leagues, he should be active in all formats as long as he continues to post helpful ratios.

Consider in: 10-team mixed leagues

David Phelps

David Phelps, SP/RP: Desperate for rotation help, the Marlins moved Phelps to a starting role when he held an impressive 2.65 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP across 50 relief appearances at the end of July. With a 1.84 ERA, a 1.16 WHIP and a 10.4 K/9 rate across his initial three starts — including outings at hitter-friendly parks in Colorado and Cincinnati — , the right-hander is proving that he can help mixed-league teams as he becomes further stretched out in the coming weeks.

Consider in: 10-team mixed leagues

Tyler Thornburg, reliever: Likely due to an influx of new save sources at the outset of August, Thornburg’s ascension to the closer’s role in Milwaukee has flown under the radar in many mixed leagues. But with a 2.03 ERA, a 0.90 WHIP and a 12.2 K/9 rate this season, the right-hander has made the necessary improvements to thrive in the ninth inning. Yet to allow a run this month, Thornburg should be rostered in all rotisserie formats.

Consider in: 10-team mixed leagues

Adam Ottavino, reliever: Ottavino has bucked the trend of inconsistency from Tommy John returnees by tossing 15 scoreless frames and posting an impressive 17-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio since returning to action on July 5. Seemingly already in top form, the right-hander has the skills to overcome the challenges of his hitter-friendly home park and provide fantasy owners with low ratios and a substantial saves total down the stretch.

Consider in: 10-team mixed leagues

Fred Zinkie is the lead fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FredZinkieMLB

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Pitch or Ditch for Wednesday, August 17

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Yordano Ventura

ZACH’S PICKS

Happ @ Sabathia

Friedrich @ Archer

C. Martinez @ Fister – Sticking with Fister.

Strasburg @ J. Gray – Dangerous matchup for Gray. I’ll sit this one out.

Nova @ Cain – Watching this game could be more painful than a trip to the dentist! Sorry, couldn’t resist.

Price @ Bundy – I’ve been impressed enough with Bundy that I’ll take a chance on him here.

Kazmir @ Thompson – Kazmir fresh off a strong showing versus these very same Phillies.

Ranaudo @ Carrasco

Ventura @ An. Sanchez – Ventura sports a 3.26 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in six starts since the All-Star break and a 1.96 ERA in three starts versus the Tigers this season.

Cashner @ Bailey – Bailey a little risky but I’ll go for it.

Gibson @ Foltynewicz

Nelson @ Lester

Manaea @ Darvish

Niese @ Godley

Martin @ Skaggs – Skaggs coming off rough outing. I’ll play it safe.

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Pitch or Ditch for Tuesday, August 16

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Braden Shipley

ZACH’S PICKS

Garza @ Cahill (Gm 1)

Ch. Anderson @ Hammel (Gm 2)

E. Rodriguez @ Gallardo

Maeda @ Velasquez – Velasquez coming off ugly outing versus these very same Dodgers, but I’ll go for it.

Estrada @ Pineda – Dangerous matchup for the inconsistent Pineda.

Quintana @ Kluber

Duffy @ Verlander

Urena @ DeSclafani

Big Erv @ De La Cruz – Tasty matchup for Erv.

Jackson @ Snell – Not buying into Jackson. Great bounceback opportunity for Snell.

Triggs @ Harrell

Garcia @ Keuchel – Garcia has been outstanding of late.

G. Gonzalez @ Bettis – Challenging matchup for Gio though.

Syndergaard @ Shipley – Shipley blanked the Mets across seven innings on Thursday and now gets to face them again. Note that the Mets rank last in the Majors in OPS this month.

Miranda @ Chacin

Taillon @ Samardzija – Taillon has emerged as a must-start. Samardzija worth a try versus Pirates team that ranks 13th in the NL in both runs scored and OPS since the All-Star break.

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Second Half Stock Watch (8/15)

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Courtesy of Fred Zinkie:

Wise fantasy owners have noticed that a strong first half can mask a second-half slide. In contrast, players that fail to impress prior to the All-Star break can have a tough time turning the heads of fantasy owners during the stretch run.

At the conclusion of play on August 14, we have experienced exactly one month of Major League action since players received a few days to clear their heads in the middle of July. Astute owners will use the month-long data to identify the following five players that have performed surprisingly well and the quintet that have performed surprisingly poorly to this point in the second half.

Trea Turner, 2B/OF: After spending most of the first half in the Minors, Turner has forced his way into the Nats lineup by hitting .311 with 20 runs and 10 steals across 110 plate appearances since the All-Star break.

Looking forward: Now a fixture atop the Nats’ lineup, Turner has the potential to rank among the National League second-half leaders in steals and runs. The 23-year-old should be a lineup fixture in all leagues.

Jose Ramirez, 2B/3B/SS/OF: After playing well enough (.295 average, four homers, 10 steals across 316 plate appearances) to earn a regular role in the first half, Ramirez has taken his game to another level (.365 average, four homers, eight steals across 114 plate appearances) in the initial month of second-half action.

Looking forward: Hitting .444 during an active 18-game hitting streak, Ramirez is likely to be a major batting average asset during the second half. But the 23-year-old is unlikely to maintain a second-half steals pace that includes a three-swipe game during which the Indians stole a total of eight bases.

Hernan Perez, 2B/3B/OF: After spending much of the first half as a reserve player, Perez has hit .330 with five homers and 10 steals across 112 plate appearances since the All-Star break.

Looking forward: Perez has the fleet feet to help in the steals category down the stretch, but his .387 BABIP in the second half urges owners to keep their batting average expectations in check. With five homers across 473 career at-bats prior to the All-Star break, the versatile fielder is also unlikely to continue his recent power production.

Danny Duffy

Danny Duffy, SP/RP: Following a productive first half that included a 3.09 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP across 27 appearances (11 starts), the southpaw has been arguably the most effective starter in the American League (5-0 record, 2.32 ERA, 0.89 WHIP) across his six second-half outings.

Looking forward: Backed by a Royals lineup that ranks 27th in baseball with 457 runs scored, Duffy may not compile a notable stretch-run win total. But with a 138-to-25 strikeout-to-walk ratio across 124 1/3 innings this season, the southpaw is showing the necessary skills to be projected as a frontline mixed-league starter.

Dan Straily, starter: When he arrived at the All-Star break with a 4.35 ERA on a rebuilding Reds squad that plays in a hitter-friendly home park, Straily seemed to be an unlikely candidate to pitch like a mixed-league ace (4-0 record, 2.13 ERA, 0.92 WHIP) across his initial six second-half starts.

Looking forward: With two walks across his past four outings, Straily has demonstrated improved control. But the right-hander lacks the swing-and-miss arsenal (7.2 K/9 rate in ‘16) to be more than a serviceable mixed-league starter when his .223 second-half BABIP regresses to the mean.

Bryce Harper, outfielder: Although Harper’s struggles began prior to the All-Star break, he still managed to compile 19 homers, 52 RBIs and 13 steals across 368 first-half plate appearances. Hitting .143 with one homer, six RBIs and two steals across 85 plate appearances in the second half, the top pick in many 2016 drafts has not warranted a mixed-league lineup spot.

Looking forward: Much of Harper’s ‘16 struggles can be traced to a .239 BABIP that is 94 points below the .333 mark he registered from 2012-15. If the 23-year-old can move past the neck injury that has plagued him in recent days, he could bounce back in a big way down the stretch.

Chris Davis

Chris Davis, 1B/OF: Known as a streaky slugger, Davis compiled 22 homers and 58 RBIs across 316 at-bats in the first half before enduring a major second-half slump — .160 average, two homers and four RBIs across 94 at-bats.

Looking forward: This is life for Davis owners. The slugger has whiffed in 31.5 percent of his plate appearances since the outset of 2013, which has contributed to some wild ups and downs.  Equally likely to hit 15 homers or bat .150 across the final seven weeks of the season, the 30-year-old ranks among the biggest wildcards for the stretch run.

Michael Saunders, outfielder: After flying to San Diego for the All-Star Game on the strength of a .298 batting average, 16 homers and 42 RBIs across 305 at-bats, the lefty slugger has batted .157 with four homers and six RBIs across 83 at-bats since returning from the Midsummer Classic.

Looking forward: Having benefited from a .377 first-half BABIP, Saunders has been plagued by a .191 mark since the All-Star break. Even though the outfielder may not fully recapture his first-half form, he is an excellent buy-low trade target for those who can grab him at a substantial discount.

Carlos Martinez, starter: Arguably the Cardinals ace in the first half (2.85 ERA, 1.16 WHIP), Martinez has produced a 5.10 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP across five second-half starts.

Looking forward: Martinez has produced an unimpressive 21-to-14 strikeout-to-walk ratio across 33 second-half innings. After posting a 4.33 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP across his final 11 starts last season, the right-hander is once again showing signs that he cannot remain effective across a six-month season.

Noah Syndergaard, starter: Although Syndergaard boasts impressive season-long statistics (2.75 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 163 whiffs across 134 1/3 innings), the right-hander has produced a 3.45 ERA and 1.57 WHIP across five second-half outings.

Looking forward: With a late-June acknowledgement that he is pitching with a bone spur in his elbow, Syndergaard has posted a 4.20 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP across nine starts since June 22. He has also allowed 36 stolen bases this season, which is 14 more than any other starter. Even though he has dealt with a .407 BABIP in the second half, Syndergaard offers multiple reasons to be scratched off the buy-low list.

Fred Zinkie is the lead fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FredZinkieMLB

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Zach’s Two-Start Pitcher Notes – Week of 8/15

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Hey everyone,

It’s another Friday, and it’s another blog-only week for my two-start pitcher series. Let’s get to it.

Standard mixed leagues

Jeff Samardzija (vs. PIT, vs. NYM)

Heading into the season, who would’ve thought that pitching Samardzija in a two-start week in August would be far from a no-brainer? Well, the veteran righty has been far from consistent during his first season with the Giants. Samardzija’s recent results are particularly troubling, as he’s notched just one quality start across his last nine outings. Also of concern is his strikeout rate, which has steadily declined over the past few years. But Samardzija is coming off a stellar performance on Wednesday in which he held the Marlins scoreless over 5 2/3 innings, and next week’s matchups are promising. The Mets and Pirates rank among the bottom three teams in the NL in both runs scored and OPS since the All-Star break. Starting Samardzija next week is a risk worth taking.

Bartolo Colon

Bartolo Colon (@ARI, @SF)

The usually reliable Colon struggled in July, registering a 5.51 ERA and 1.35 WHIP over six starts. August has been a different story, however, as the ageless righty has allowed a combined two runs through two starts this month spanning 13 2/3 innings. Next week, Colon will face the same Diamondbacks squad that he dominated on Wednesday (7 IP, 1 ER, 8 K) before traveling to San Francisco to pitch against a Giants team that ranks 14th in the NL in runs scored since the All-Star break. Owners should not hesitate to start him.

Robbie Ray (vs. NYM, @SD)

Although Ray has been a consistent source of strikeouts this season (11.0 K/9), his overall performance from one start to the next has been entirely unpredictable. But the Diamondbacks southpaw is coming off a very impressive outing against the Mets on Wednesday (7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER) and will get to face the Mets again next week. As for his matchup on the road against the Padres, San Diego ranks 12th in the NL in OPS and Ray’s road ERA is 3.80, this compared to his 5.40 ERA at home.

Deeper mixed leagues

Drew Smyly (vs. SD, vs. TEX)

Like Ray, Smyly has had little difficulty posting high strikeout totals this year (9.0 K/9). But the Rays lefty owns a disappointing 5.04 ERA through 22 starts, allowing more than a hit per inning in the process. On the bright side, however, Smyly boasts a 2.52 ERA and 1.08 WHIP over his last four starts, so perhaps he has finally found his groove. Next week’s matchup against the Rangers is a dangerous one, as Texas ranks 4th in the AL in runs scored this season. And the Rangers recently beefed up their offense with the trade deadline additions of Carlos Beltran and Jonathan Lucroy. But the upgraded lineup ranks only 7th in the AL in runs scored so far in August. The Padres, meanwhile, rank 24th in the Majors in OPS this season. Smyly is certainly an intriguing two-start option for those in deeper formats.

Brandon Finnegan (vs. MIA, vs. LAD)

While Finnegan still has plenty of work to do in the control department (4.5 BB/9 this season), the 23-year-old is fresh off his third straight quality start. The Marlins and Dodgers both rank among the top eight teams in the Majors in runs scored since the All-Star break, so Finnegan will be challenged next week. But his strong recent pitching should not be discounted, and Finnegan limited the Dodgers to just one run over eight innings in a May 23rd outing in Los Angeles.

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Pitch or Ditch for Saturday-Monday, August 13-15

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Adam Conley

ZACH’S PICKS

SATURDAY

Andriese @ Tanaka – Andriese worth monitoring though.

McHugh @ Ar. Sanchez – Dangerous matchup for McHugh. I’ll play it safe.

L. Weaver @ Hendricks

Cole @ McCarthy – Dodgers hoping McCarthy can make this start.

Whalen @ TBD (WAS)

T. Anderson @ Eickhoff – Favorable matchup for Anderson.

Bradley @ Buchholz – Bradley has been shaky lately.

Shields @ Conley – I’m back to not trusting Shields. I’ll take a chance on Conley versus White Sox offense that ranks in the bottom third of the Majors in both runs scored and OPS.

Straily @ Davies – Seven straight quality starts for Straily and this matchup is far from scary.

Gee @ Duffey

Shoemaker @ Clevinger

Cosart @ deGrom

Boyd @ Hamels

Gausman @ Bumgarner

Iwakuma @ Graveman – Iwakuma 14 1/3 IP, 0 ER, 15 K over his last two starts. Graveman a decent option in deeper formats.

SUNDAY

Odorizzi @ TBD (NYY)

Fiers @ Stroman – Stroman a little risky though.

Sale @ Koehler – Koehler has been dominant of late.

J. Weaver @ Bauer – Bauer too inconsistent these days.

Richard @ Matz

Greinke @ Porcello

Jenkins @ Roark

Chatwood @ Buchanan – Chatwood is 6-0 with a 1.30 ERA in nine road starts this season.

Reed @ Peralta

Volquez @ Santiago – Favorable matchup for Santiago but he’s been so-so since trade to Twins. This one is a toss-up.

Fulmer @ Griffin

Miley @ Cueto

LeBlanc @ Neal

Kuhl @ B. Anderson – Kuhl an intriguing deep-league option though.

Leake @ Lackey – Leake hard to trust in this matchup.

MONDAY

Dickey @ Green

Pomeranz @ Tomlin – Sticking with Pomeranz.

Kennedy @ D. Norris – Norris a fairly safe play here.

Phelps @ Finnegan – Finnegan pitching well recently but I still wouldn’t start him in 12-team mixed leagues.

Perdomo @ Smyly – Smyly finally putting together a strong stretch.

Detwiler @ M. Perez – Perez is 6-1 with a 2.47 ERA in 12 home starts this season and this is a favorable matchup. He’s worth a try here.

Scherzer @ J. De La Rosa

Colon @ Ray – Great matchup for Ray.

King Felix @ Nolasco

Vogelsong @ Moore

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Pitch or Ditch for Friday, August 12

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Andrew Cashner

ZACH’S PICKS

Wainwright @ Arrieta – Wouldn’t blame you for benching Wainwright though.

Foltynewicz @ Strasburg

J. Gray @ Thompson – I’m expecting a bounceback outing from Gray here.

Archer @ Sabathia

Musgrove @ Liriano – Too tough of a matchup for Musgrove.

Corbin @ Price

Rodon @ Cashner – Rodon hard to trust right now. Cashner worth a try versus White Sox offense that ranks in the bottom third of the Majors in both runs scored and OPS.

Skaggs @ Carrasco – Skaggs a little risky but I’ll go for it.

Clemens @ Verrett

An. Sanchez @ Darvish

Bailey @ Nelson – Nelson really struggling lately. Continue to monitor Bailey.

Ventura @ Gibson – Ventura mildly tempting.

Miranda @ Manaea

Nova @ Stripling

Bundy @ Cain – Bundy getting it done.

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Pitch or Ditch for Thursday, August 11

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Miguel Gonzalez

ZACH’S PICKS

Shipley @ Syndergaard – Shipley worth considering in deeper leagues but the walks are a concern.

Friedrich @ Taillon – Taillon sports a 2.62 ERA since the beginning of July.

Fister @ Berrios (Gm 1) – Keep an eye on Berrios going forward though.

Devenski @ Milone (Gm 2)

Bettis @ Harrell

R. Hernandez @ Garza

Tillman @ Triggs

Chacin @ Kluber

Pineda @ E. Rodriguez – Scary matchup for Pineda.

C. Martinez @ Lester

M. Gonzalez @ Duffy – Seven straight quality starts for Gonzalez and the Royals rank among the bottom two teams in the Majors in both runs scored and OPS since the All-Star break.

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