The trade deadline has passed in all but the most lenient of fantasy leagues, meaning it's time to focus on the margins using free agency and waivers in order to bolster your roster during the remaining month and a half of the regular season. Those in head-to-head leagues have even less time to improve, with their league playoffs just a few weeks in the future, so with that in mind we'll take a look at pitchers (the most coveted commodity) using
His punch-out rate is one reason we can't expect his current actual ERA to last. Though he's striking out more batters since his first 10 starts, he's still at a below-average 4.9 K/9 for the season. Throw in that he induces grounders just 36 percent of the time, and it's easy to see why Olsen is not a favorite when it comes to this statistic (since ground-ball tendencies are another component of QERA). He's regressed closer to his QERA figure over his last 10 starts, with a 5.19 ERA over 59 innings pitched, even though he's put some space between his strikeouts (4.9) and walks (2.7) per nine, in part because he's started to give up far more home runs, with a 1.5 HR/9, or 34 per 200 innings, a significant increase. Opponents have knocked Olsen around for an ugly .286/.336/.524 clip, and it's tough to survive a ballgame when you're turning all of the opposition into this year's
Olsen isn't the only Sunshine State hurler who is pitching above expectations, as Tampa Bay's
Thanks to his defense, Jackson can survive with his low K rates as long as he doesn't let the walks or homers get out of control. While the walks have not been as much of an issue as in the past, he's struggled with the long ball over his last 10 starts. Though he has a 4.10 ERA (and 4.25 RA) over the 59 1/3-inning stretch, he's given up 1.7 homers per nine, a projected total of nearly 38 home runs over 200 innings. That's a poor showing for anyone, never mind someone with the high walk totals and low strikeout rates he has. At this point, Jackson's defense makes him a worthwhile innings eater on a club desperate for that, but his recent stretch is worrisome, and he's of no help to someone who already has productive pitching in place. He's the kind of guy you dump into free agency if you're forced to make a move for help elsewhere.
Regardless, the defense can't catch the balls that Vazquez lets hitters put into orbit, and there has been far too much of that lately. QERA does not account for home runs, which makes sense when you see that it expects Vazquez to have a sub-four ERA, about a run better than his current numbers. Vazquez's career HR/9 rate is 1.2, and he's matching that this year despite his recent bad patch, but that career rate is somewhat misleading thanks to awful campaigns with the Diamondbacks and Yankees. During his better years, he's usually around the 1.0 mark, right where he was after his first 14 starts of this season. Even with the homers and ERA, Vazquez does plenty of good thanks to the low walk rates and multiple punchouts; if he manages to rein in his homer rate before year's end, it's all to the good for your club.
Silva is striking out fewer than four per nine, continuing a streak that he's kept going since 2004, his first year with Minnesota. Luckily, walks are rare, as he's giving out just 1.7 BB/9 on the year, right around his career rate; the problem has been his BABIP of .331. With Seattle ranking second-to-last in the AL in Defensive Efficiency and converting a paltry 68.8 percent of balls in play into outs, it's no wonder Silva has been unable to pitch to his normal standards. When nearly 86 percent of your opponents end up putting the ball in play, you would like to have a defensive unit behind you that can catch a few of those. The right side of the infield hasn't had too much trouble with his grounders, as the opposition is hitting just .250 there on 25 percent of balls in play, but the left side is allowing a .301 average on 20.1 percent of balls in play, which is far too high for ground balls. The outfield isn't doing him any favors either, with .431, .500, and .531 averages from left to right. The lesson you should glean from these numbers is that Silva isn't the answer for you, no matter how hard up for pitching you may be, not unless Seattle's defense all of a sudden learns how to field. Given how unlikely that is, you'll want to avoid him.