For much of the fantasy baseball world playoffs are just a month away and some of you still have to scramble to get your team into the postseason. I believe that the value of a good lineup is the key to early season success, but like the actual MLB playoffs, in fantasy baseball nothing is more important than a solid pitching rotation.
For preparing your roster for the playoffs, it is important to know which pitchers may or may not far well in the late months of the season. Here are some of ESPN's top 20 pitchers to take a look at:
For starters, Felix Hernandez isn't having his best season. He's been very good, but not worth the first round choice many of you
spent on him. However, in August and September you won't regret that you did. Hernandez's best months in his career are arguably August and September. He has a career 3.01 ERA in August when his strikeout numbers are the tops out of any month in his career, and his .640 winning percentage is second best of any month in his career.
Josh Beckett is number 8 on the ESPN player rater, but he is someone I wouldn't look to rely on in the coming months. August is his worst month due to a career ERA over 4.50 in the month. He has been awesome this season and hasn't shown a hint on slowing down, but If you're counting on Beckett to be your ace for the next few weeks, you are probably in trouble.
Out in the desert there are a pair of snakes looking to do some damage in the coming months. Arizona Diamondbacks pitchers Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson have been very good all year. In fact Kennedy has been good enough for 11th on ESPN's player rater and Hudson is 33rd. In 6 August starts in 2010 Hudson went 4-1 with a 1.85 ERA, .870 WHIP and 42 strikeouts in 43.2 innings pitched. In September and October he got even better posting a 3-0 record and 1.50 ERA in 5 starts with 28 K's in 36 innings. Kennedy is similarly as good in September and October. In 8 career starts in the fall months he is 1-1 with a 1.65 ERA, 1.041 WHIP and 39 K's in 49 innings. They are both young, Kennedy is 26 and Hudson is 24, but they are in the playoff hunt in the NL West and will delight you down the stretch.
Texas has shown with great success that relief pitchers can pitch in the rotation for a full season or more. C.J. WIlson and Alexi Ogando were both All-Stars this season, but one of them is someone you can't count on for much longer. That would be the right-hander Ogando. He is 11-5 with a sparkling 2.88 ERA in 21 starts this year, but he has thrown nearly 100 more innings than he did in his only MLB season in 2010 and well over 100 innings than any minor league season. He hasn't pitched more than 7 innings since July 19 and his walk totals have been up since then. If he continues to struggle with his command and he's forced to throw more pitches down the stretch then he arm won't last long enough to secure you a playoff spot.
Ervin Santana has been one of the hottest pitchers in baseball since the start of July. Despite his 8-8 record, Big Erv is watched his ERA drop from 4.89 on April 28 to 3.21 and he has improved in every month since the start of the season. His July and August ERA's are both under 2.00 and he has thrown 8 consecutive quality starts since June 27 including a no-hitter. August and September are his two best months in his career in terms of wins, winning percentage, ERA and WHIP. He has three seasons with 16 or more wins, he has won 4 straight starts and with the Angels fighting for the division crown he could reach 14 wins this year. His 7.5 K/9 is the second best rate of his career as is his 1.149 WHIP. Falling at No.20 on the player rater Santana is a solid option going forward.
Keep and eye out for Francisco Liriano, Jake Peavey and Mat Latos. They may be available in your league and can surely help you come playoff time.