Pitch or Ditch for Wednesday, September 28

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Rockies Padres Baseball

ZACH’S PICKS

Paxton @ Fister – Paxton is on a roll.

S. Miller @ G. Gonzalez – Gio has been inconsistent though.

Buchholz @ Mitchell – Buchholz a decent deep-league option.

Arrieta @ Taillon

Tillman @ Liriano – Sticking with Tillman despite the tough matchup.

McAllister @ Fulmer

Lugo @ Urena

Morgan @ Foltynewicz

Big Erv @ Vargas

Ch. Anderson @ Hamels

Snell @ M. Gonzalez – Snell worth a shot if you’re chasing K’s. Otherwise, pass.

DeSclafani @ Leake – Leake too unpredictable these days.

S. Gray @ Meyer – First start in almost two months for Gray. Who knows what we will see here.

De Leon @ Perdomo – De Leon a viable option in deeper formats.

Chatwood @ Samardzija – Chatwood continues to get the job done on the road (7-1, 1.88 ERA) and the Giants rank last in the Majors in runs scored since the All-Star break.

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2016 All-Breakout Team

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Fred Zinkie delivers the first of our season wrap-up articles:

Finding a breakout player is one of the best parts of playing fantasy baseball. While steady studs certainly have their appeal, leagues are often won by the owners who correctly pluck breakout performers during their draft or waiver-wire transactions. The following 14 players made massive jumps in ’16 and are likely to have populated the rosters of many fantasy championship squads.

Wilson Ramos, catcher: Ramos has easily surpassed his previous career bests by hitting .307 with 22 homers and 80 RBIs across 482 at-bats. But much of the backstop’s best work came when he hit .330 with 13 homers in the first half. With a .279/.317/.447 slash line since the All-Star break, Ramos looks more like a good fantasy option than a great one heading into ’17.

Wil Myers, 1B/OF: Much like Ramos, Myers rode an outstanding first half (19 homers, 60 RBIs, 15 steals across 379 plate appearances) to the top-tier of players at his position. But unlike Ramos, the 25-year-old has struggled in the second half (.221 batting average) to the point where he has fallen out of the active lineup in some shallow leagues. Myers will enter ’17 as a boom-or-bust draft option with the tools to make a major five-category contribution.

Daniel Murphy

Daniel Murphy, second baseman: Murphy turned out to be fantasy gold for owners who took his ’15 postseason power binge (seven homers across 58 at-bats) as a sign of a looming breakout year. Among the Major League leaders in batting average (.347) and RBIs (104), the second baseman should come off the board in the initial rounds of ’17 drafts.

Jonathan Villar, SS/3B: In a matter of months, Villar has gone from waiver-wire fodder to the Major League leader in steals. The 25-year-old has also proven to be more than a one-trick pony by posting a solid .283 batting mark and 18 homers across 569 at-bats. With swipes at a premium in all leagues, the infielder could come off the board as early as round three in ’17 drafts.

Jose Ramirez, 3B/2B/SS/OF: Owners who have missed Indians’ star Michael Brantley this season should notice that Ramirez has been doing an outstanding impersonation of Brantley’s five-category effectiveness. Slated to open ’17 with multi-position eligibility, Ramirez could be a major contributor to fantasy squads by repeating the 11 homers, 22 steals and .313 batting average he has produced across 602 plate appearances this season.

Jackie Bradley Jr., outfielder: Highlighted by a 29-game early-season hitting streak, Bradley has used his spot in the highest-scoring lineup in baseball to more than double his previous career bests in homers (26), runs (93) and RBIs (87). But before owners bid too heavily for the outfielder next season, they should notice that he has produced a .242/.324/.447 slash line since June 1.

Athletics Angels Baseball

Khris Davis, outfielder: After hitting .221 with three homers in April, Davis rewarded patient owners by being one of the most powerful players in baseball across the final five months of the season. Wise owners will predict the outfielder to experience some measure of regression next year based on his inability to make notable improvements in his walk, strikeout or fly-ball rates in ‘16.

Hernan Perez, OF/2B/3B: Fantasy owners without a crystal ball were content to leave Perez on waivers when he was hitting .255 with four homers and 10 steals across 146 plate appearances at the All-Star break. But the 25-year-old has used his improved power stroke, plus speed and versatile fielding skills to carve out a regular role and hit .278 with nine homers and 23 steals across 262 plate appearances in the second half. As one of the few players with the potential to make a major impact in the steals category, Perez should be a desired commodity in the middle rounds of ’17 drafts.

Rick Porcello, starter: Porcello began ’16 on many “do not draft” lists after posting a 4.92 ERA a year ago. But the right-hander has outpitched heralded teammate David Price to become the ace of Boston’s rotation. Even though Porcello’s .266 BABIP this season offers reason to expect some regression in ’17, he should win plenty of games as long as he can produce a mid-3.00’s ERA in front of Boston’s potent lineup.

Sanchez

Aaron Sanchez, SP/RP: Even those who tabbed Sanchez as a sleeper pick could not have expected that he would become the ace of the Blue Jays staff and rank among the American League ERA leaders. Despite a mediocre strikeout rate, Sanchez showed enough consistency to be ranked as a top-30 starter for ’17 drafts.

Kyle Hendricks, starter: Hendricks has likely benefited more than any other Cubs starter from pitching in front of a Chicago squad that leads the Majors by a wide margin with a .732 defensive efficiency ratio. The 26-year-old leads the Majors in ERA (1.99) and ranks second in WHIP (.097) despite not making notable improvements in his K/9, BB/9 or HR/9 this year. Owners should note that Hendricks has benefited from a .248 BABIP and rank the righty as a top-20 — but not a top-10 — starter next season.

Rich Hill, starter: Most ’16 drafters saw Hill’s uneven Spring Training results (11.25 ERA, 2.25 WHIP) and assumed that his five-start success last season was an aberration. But the southpaw’s 2.05 ERA and 0.98 WHIP would have ranked among the Major League leaders if not for a pair of disabled-list stints that have limited him to 19 starts. Owners should expect more of the same — stellar results but an inability to approach 30 starts — next season.

Drew Pomeranz, SP/RP: Pomeranz cemented his spot on this list by posting a 2.47 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP across 17 first-half starts with the Padres. However, major issues with the long ball since joining the offensively charged American League East at the All-Star break have led to a 4.68 ERA as a member of the Red Sox. His swing-and-miss repertoire and success with San Diego will combine with his struggles in Beantown to make Pomeranz a boom-or-bust option in ’17 drafts.

Alex Colome, reliever: Colome took over the closer’s role in the first week of the season and never looked back. Having blown just two of his 37 save chances, the right-hander has not given the Rays any reason to go back to incumbent stopper Brad Boxberger now that he has recovered from an injury-plagued season. Looking ahead, Colome has shown the skills to be a second-tier stopper in ’17 drafts.

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 Tuesday, September 27

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Ricky Nolasco

ZACH’S PICKS

Koch @ Scherzer

Price @ Cessa

Lackey @ Vogelsong

Gausman @ Ar. Sanchez – Tough matchup for Gausman but he’s been pitching very well for quite some time now.

Clevinger @ Verlander – Clevinger worth considering in deeper formats.

Syndergaard @ Koehler – Koehler a toss-up. I’ll play it safe.

Eickhoff @ Teheran

Berrios @ Kennedy

Nelson @ Griffin

King Felix @ Fiers – Fiers is risky but I like what I’ve seen from him of late.

Cobb @ Sale – Cobb coming off awful outing. No thanks.

Stephenson @ Wainwright – I’ll continue to stick with Wainwright, though I wouldn’t blame you for benching him.

Mengden @ Nolasco – Did you know that Nolasco sports a 3.78 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 13 starts since the All-Star break? Oh, and the A’s rank last in the AL in both runs scored and OPS.

Maeda @ Clemens

Marquez @ Moore

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Zach’s Two-Start Pitcher Notes – Week of 9/26

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Hey everyone,

And so we’ve reached the end. Here’s the final installment of my two-start pitcher notes for the 2016 season, and good luck over these final 10 days.

Standard mixed leagues

Bartolo Colon (@MIA, @PHI)

Pitching in his age-43 season, Colon has quietly been one of the most reliable hurlers in the game this year (14-7, 3.12 ERA, 1.19 WHIP), yet he can still be found on the waiver wire in some shallower mixed leagues. Coming off five straight quality starts, the veteran righty should be started with confidence in all leagues next week, when he closes out the season with a pair of favorable matchups. The Marlins and Phillies rank 27th and 30th, respectively, in the Majors in runs scored and in six combined starts versus these two clubs this season, Colon boasts a 2.45 ERA and 1.01 WHIP.

White Sox Phillies Baseball

Jerad Eickhoff (@ATL, vs. NYM)

Eickhoff’s mediocre August (4.85 ERA) prompted some mixed league owners to drop him, figuring that the 26-year-old, who is pitching in his first full big league season, had run out of gas. Not so fast! Through four September outings, Eickhoff is 2-1 with a 2.81 ERA and 0.97 WHIP. The Phillies righty should once again be owned in all leagues, and he’s a strong two-start option for next week. Although the Braves offense has improved significantly in the second half, Eickhoff’s dominance over Atlanta this season (1.88 ERA, 1.00 WHIP in four starts) cannot be discounted. As for the Mets, New York ranks 20th in the Majors in runs scored this month and Eickhoff has fared well versus the Amazins this season, registering a 3.00 ERA and 1.17 WHIP across three starts.

Collin McHugh (vs. SEA, @LAA)

The owner of a 1.53 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 8.7 K/9 rate over his last three starts, McHugh is doing his best to turn around what has been a disappointing 2016 campaign. The Astros righty could end his season on a high note, as he sports a 1.84 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in seven combined starts versus the Mariners and Angels this year. Plus, despite his overall inconsistency this season, McHugh has been a consistent source of strikeouts (8.8 K/9), which adds to his two-start appeal.

Deeper mixed leagues

Archie Bradley (@WAS, vs. SD)

Having allowed three runs or fewer in five of his last six starts, Bradley heads into a two-start week with one challenging matchup followed by a promising matchup. The Nationals rank in the top third of the NL in both runs scored and OPS, and Washington roughed up Bradley to the tune of seven earned runs over 3 1/3 innings back on August 1. On the other hand, the Padres rank last in the Majors in OPS since the All-Star break and Bradley is fresh off a solid performance versus San Diego on Tuesday (5 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 7 K). There is some risk involved in pitching Bradley next week, but his impressive recent results combined with his stellar strikeout rate (8.7 K/9 this season) makes him worth the risk for those in deeper formats.

Clay Buchholz (@NYY, vs. TOR)

Speaking of risk, starting Buchholz next week is very risky, as his second matchup will come against a high-powered Blue Jays offense that earlier this month tagged Clay for six runs over three innings. But in two games (one start) against the Yankees this season, Buchholz has tossed 6 2/3 innings of two-run ball, and the veteran righty has allowed two runs or fewer in three of his last four starts. Buchholz should also continue to benefit from plenty of run support, as the Red Sox are the highest-scoring team in the Majors. He could prove to be a difference maker for owners in need of wins.

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Pitch or Ditch for Saturday-Monday, September 24-26

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Yordano Ventura

ZACH’S PICKS

SATURDAY

Ventura @ D. Norris – Ventura coming off a complete game victory and he’s 3-0 with a 1.76 ERA in five starts versus the Tigers this season.

Reyes @ Hammel – Reyes too risky here unless you’re chasing strikeouts.

Darvish @ Alcantara

Sabathia @ Stroman

Porcello @ Andriese

Ray @ Miley – Pitch Ray only if you need K’s more than ERA/WHIP help.

J. Ross @ Nova – Ross will again be on a pitch count but he’s likely to make it through five innings if effective.

Blair @ Chen

Quintana @ Co. Anderson

Straily @ Jungmann – Straily is 2-0 with a 1.77 ERA in three starts versus the Brewers this season.

Chacin @ Peacock – Peacock worth a look in deeper formats.

Asher @ Syndergaard

Miranda @ Duffey – Miranda has been impressive lately but I don’t view him as 12-team mixed league material just yet.

Bumgarner @ Cosart

Bettis @ Kershaw – Bettis a borderline call here but I’ll pass in mixed leagues.

SUNDAY

Pineda @ Estrada

E. Rodriguez @ Odorizzi – Rodriguez an intriguing deep-league option though.

Rodon @ Tomlin – Sticking with Rodon.

Volquez @ Boyd – Boyd coming off strong bounceback outing.

Thompson @ Gsellman – Thompson a decent deep-league choice though.

Shipley @ Bundy – Bundy too inconsistent to trust these days.

A.J. Cole @ Brault

Finnegan @ Peralta – Seems like Finnegan is out of gas so I’ll bench him in his season finale. Taking a chance on Peralta but benching him is fine too.

D. Wright @ Musgrove

Walker @ Santiago – Both are far from sure things though.

Lewis @ Cotton – Favorable matchup for Lewis. Cotton a little risky here but I’ll go for it.

T. Anderson @ Hill

Cain @ Richard – I still wouldn’t trust Richard in 12-team mixed leagues.

C. Martinez @ Lester

MONDAY

Severino @ Happ

Bradley @ Roark – Playing it safe with Bradley here.

Hendricks @ Kuhl – Tough matchup for Kuhl.

Kluber @ Farmer

Colon @ Conley

Garza @ M. Perez – Perez an intriguing deep-league option.

Smyly @ Shields – Smyly always a little risky though.

Iwakuma @ McHugh – McHugh is on a nice roll.

Adleman @ Garcia

Manaea @ Weaver

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Pitch or Ditch for Friday, September 23

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Jon Gray, Jason Motte, Tom Murphy

ZACH’S PICKS

Leake @ Arrieta – Leake has actually pitched pretty well versus the Cubs this season, but this is still too dangerous of a matchup.

S. Miller @ Gallardo

G. Gonzalez @ Taillon – Gio very inconsistent of late but I’ll stick with him.

Mitchell @ Liriano – I still don’t trust Liriano.

Wisler @ Cashner – The same can be said regarding these two guys.

Pomeranz @ Archer

M. Gonzalez @ Bauer – Gonzalez worth considering in deeper formats though.

Duffy @ Fulmer

Hellickson @ Ynoa

DeSclafani @ Davies

Meyer @ Fister

Paxton @ Gibson

Hamels @ Graveman – Scary matchup for Graveman.

J. Gray @ Kazmir – Gray coming off a masterpiece and he’s registered a 3.27 ERA in four starts versus the Dodgers this season. Kazmir a toss-up. I’ll pass.

Suarez @ Jackson – Suarez a decent deep-league option.

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Pitch or Ditch for Thursday, September 22

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Twins Mets Baseball

ZACH’S PICKS

Price @ Tillman – Tillman is risky though, so if you’re in a tight ERA race, you might be better off benching him.

Collmenter @ Urena

Vargas @ Clevinger

Cessa @ Snell – Snell has been very erratic of late.

Morgan @ Lugo – Lugo 3 ER or fewer in each of his first six starts this season and the Phillies rank last in the Majors in both runs scored and OPS.

Verlander @ Big Erv

Nolasco @ Fiers – Fiers too inconsistent to trust.

Vogelsong @ Ch. Anderson

Chatwood @ B. Anderson

Samardzija @ Friedrich

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Waiver Wire Wisdom (9/21)

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Another dose of waiver wire advice, courtesy of Fred Zinkie:

Could your fantasy team use more power? What about 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.

Brandon Drury, 2B/3B/OF: Hitting .404 with five homers across 47 at-bats since Sept. 9, the reigning co-NL Player of the Week is among the hottest hitters in baseball. As part of a lineup that ranks fourth in the Majors with an overall .774 OPS since Aug. 1, Drury could be involved in plenty of run scoring during the final days of the season.

Consider in: 10-team mixed leagues

Jose Peraza, Andrelton Simmons

Jose Peraza, 2B/SS/OF: With strong plate skills (.320 batting average) and fleet feet (16 steals), the 22-year-old is the perfect replacement for injured speedster Billy Hamilton in both the Reds’ and fantasy lineups. Peraza may be a lineup regular for the rest of the season, as Hamilton has not made significant progress in his quest to return from the disabled list by the end of the campaign.

Consider in: 10-team mixed leagues

Joey Wendle, second baseman: With Jed Lowrie out for the rest of the season, Wendle has been assigned the second base job in Oakland down the stretch. Hitting .302 with a pair of steals across 69 plate appearances and getting regular work out of the leadoff spot, Wendle could be a valuable late-season contributor in deep-mixed formats.

Consider in: 15-team mixed leagues

Scooter Gennett, second baseman: Gennett owns notable lifetime splits, with a .781 OPS against right-handers in comparison to a .491 mark vs. lefties. The second baseman — who is hitting .400 since Sept. 11 — could thrive when the Brewers face a string of right-handed starters in the coming days.

Consider in: 15-team mixed leagues

Ryon Healy, third baseman: After posting an impressive .326/.382/.558 slash line in the Minors this season, Healy has hit .307 with 11 homers across 225 at-bats since joining the A’s on July 15. Hitting .413 since Sept. 10, the 24-year-old is a terrific target for those who are looking for a red-hot hitter.

Consider in: 12-team mixed leagues

Domingo Santana, outfielder: With Keon Broxton out for the season and Kirk Nieuwenhuis dealing with a lower abdominal strain, Santana should receive regular playing time in the coming days. The powerful outfielder (17 homers across 379 career at-bats) could rip his share of late-season round-trippers when the Brewers finish their campaign with a steady stream of contests at hitter-friendly venues.

Consider in: 15-team mixed leagues

Robert Gsellman

Robert Gsellman, starter: Gsellman has quickly become a key part of a surging Mets squad by posting a 2.86 ERA across four September starts. The right-hander could continue to help New York’s postseason pursuit when he wraps up the regular season with a pair of scheduled outings against a Phillies lineup that ranks 29th in baseball with a .691 OPS against righties.

Consider in: 12-team mixed leagues

Joe Musgrove, starter: Musgrove has had an inconsistent debut campaign, but his 51-to-16 strikeout-to-walk ratio shows that he has a solid skill set. The rookie could finish his season on a high note when he makes his final two scheduled starts against a top-heavy Angels lineup that ranks 27th in baseball with an overall .692 OPS since Aug. 1.

Consider in: 12-team mixed leagues

Ricky Nolasco, starter: Owners who look past Nolasco’s full-season 4.78 ERA will notice that he has produced a 2.25 mark across his past four starts. The right-hander could be a valuable source of stretch-run strikeouts when he makes his final two scheduled outings against an Astros lineup that ranks third in the Majors with 1,369 whiffs.

Consider in: 15-team mixed leagues

Martin Perez, starter: Having produced a 4.14 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP this season, Perez is sitting on waivers in most mixed leagues despite having two favorable matchups to finish off his schedule. The left-hander will first work at pitcher-friendly Oakland Coliseum against an A’s lineup that ranks 25th in baseball with a .692 OPS against lefties before facing a Rays lineup that ranks fourth in the Majors with 1,367 strikeouts. The Rays also rank 24th in baseball with a .659 OPS against lefties since trading away right-handed hitters Brandon Guyer and Steve Pearce at the Aug. 1 Trade Deadline.

Consider in: 15-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, September 21

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Collin McHugh

ZACH’S PICKS

L. Weaver @ Marquez – Not chancing it with Weaver at Coors.

McHugh @ Mengden – The A’s are the lowest-scoring team in the AL and McHugh tossed six shutout innings in his last meeting with Oakland back on August 30.

Ar. Sanchez @ King Felix

Buchholz @ Jimenez – Scary matchup for Buchholz.

Sale @ Eickhoff

Weber @ Colon

Kennedy @ Kluber

Tanaka @ Cobb

Scherzer @ Koehler – Tough matchup for Koehler but he’s actually pitched well versus the Nats this year (2.12 ERA over three starts).

Stephenson @ Lackey

J. Weaver @ Holland

Farmer @ Berrios

Kuhl @ Nelson – Kuhl a viable deep-league option. I don’t trust Nelson.

Greinke @ Perdomo

Moore @ Maeda

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Pitch or Ditch for Tuesday, September 20

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Joe Musgrove

ZACH’S PICKS

E. Rodriguez @ Gausman – Gausman is on a roll. I’d pitch him despite the tough matchup.

Shields @ Thompson – Thompson worth considering in deeper formats.

Teheran @ Gsellman – I trust Gsellman enough to pitch him in this matchup.

Volquez @ Tomlin

Pineda @ Smyly – Smyly far from a sure thing though.

Roark @ Fernandez

J. Smith @ Lester

D. Wright @ Griffin

Boyd @ Santiago – Giving Boyd another chance after he let me down his last time out.

Brault @ Garza

Wainwright @ J. De La Rosa – Playing it safe with Wainwright at Coors considering his inconsistency this season.

Musgrove @ Manaea – Two straight quality starts for Musgrove versus tough Cubs and Rangers lineups. The A’s, on the other hand, rank last in the AL in both runs scored and OPS.

Bradley @ Clemens – Bradley too unreliable lately.

Cueto @ Hill

Happ @ Iwakuma

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