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The Week Ahead

Week Ahead: Big Erv

by Nick Nelson
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Ever so quietly, Ervin Santana has emerged as one of baseball's hottest pitchers over the past month. His rise carries potential implications for the last-place Minnesota Twins and their interim GM as they head toward the trade deadline in seller mode. It also presents an intriguing situation for fantasy owners, with Santana in line for two favorable starts next week.


In his last six turns, dating back to June 19th, the veteran right-hander owns a 2.03 ERA and 0.93 WHIP over 40 innings. During that stretch, he has held opposing hitters to a .200/.242/.269 slash line with only two home runs.


He hasn't faced the toughest slate of opponents during this impressive run, but that won't change in the coming week. Santana is looking ahead to home tilts against the Braves and White Sox. Atlanta has the least effective offense in baseball and the sliding South Siders aren't too far off.


Santana became a fantasy afterthought while scuffling through much of the first three months and hasn't really rebounded despite his recent success. He remains unowned in 80 percent of Yahoo leagues and nearly 90 percent of ESPN leagues. This presents a ripe opportunity for fantasy owners to snag him and get a big pitching boost in The Week Ahead.


Read on, and we'll touch on a few other hurlers that could help out.


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* Making his debut for the Red Sox on Wednesday, Drew Pomeranz didn't exactly leave a great first impression. The southpaw, freshly acquired from the Padres to bolster Boston's rotation, was knocked around by Giants for five runs in only three innings. The timing was less than ideal for his worst start of the year, but we'll chalk it up as a fluke. Pomeranz has two starts on deck and they come against the slumping Tigers and mediocre Angels. Let him loose.


* Since re-joining the Reds rotation in June, Anthony DeSclafani has been simply superb. He's 5-0 with a 2.50 ERA overall and has rattled off six consecutive quality starts. He's still out there in quite a few leagues and has a relatively soft slate next week that includes a start in Petco.

* Speaking of stunningly effective hurlers in the National League, how about Jerad Eickhoff? Ignore the league-leading 10 losses -- a byproduct of Philly's lousy offense -- and take a look at his recent performance. Since the start of June, the 26-year-old has only two bad starts, and one came at Coors Field. Subtract those and he's 4-2 with a 2.34 ERA in eight starts. Next week he'll get the Marlins and Braves.


* James Shields has gotten back on track after a horrendous beginning with the White Sox. The veteran righty has delivered five consecutive quality starts and has his ERA back below five. However, he still isn't getting strikeouts, with only 16 in 34 innings during his successful run. Plus, he's got match-ups on tap against a powerful Cubs lineup and an improving Twins offense. I'll pass.


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Going Twice...


American League


Strong Plays


Ervin Santana: ATL, CWS

Chris Tillman: COL, @TOR

Drew Pomeranz: DET, @LAA

Steven Wright: DET, @LAA

Justin Verlander: @BOS, HOU

Ian Kennedy: LAA, @TEX

Aaron Sanchez: SD, BAL


Decent Plays


Dallas Keuchel: NYY, @DET

Hector Santiago: @KC, BOS

Michael Pineda: @HOU, TB

Martin Perez: OAK, KC

James Shields: CHC, @MIN


At Your Own Risk


Yovani Gallardo: COL, @TOR

Miguel Gonzalez: CHC, @MIN

Tim Lincecum: @KC, BOS

Daniel Mengden: @TEX, @CLE

Kyle Lohse: OAK, KC

Brian Flynn: LAA, @TEX


National League


Strong Plays


Carlos Martinez: @NYM, @MIA

Jerad Eickhoff: @MIA, @ATL

Noah Syndergaard: STL, COL

Bartolo Colon: STL, COL

Jake Arrieta: @CWS, SEA

Kyle Hendricks: @CWS, SEA


Decent Plays


Gio Gonzalez: @CLE, @SF

Jaime Garcia: @NYM, @MIA

Jake Peavy: CIN, WAS

Jeremy Hellickson: @MIA, @ATL

Wei-Yin Chen: PHI, STL

Anthony DeSclafani: @SF, @SD


At Your Own Risk


Matt Cain: CIN, WAS

Matt Garza: ARI, PIT

Chase Anderson: ARI, PIT

Tom Koehler: PHI, STL

Chad Bettis: @BAL, @NYM

Lucas Harrell: @MIN, PHI

Patrick Corbin: @MIL, @LAD

Colin Rea: @TOR, CIN

Jorge De La Rosa: @BAL, @NYM


Streamer City


The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:


American League


Tuesday, July 26th: Doug Fister vs. NYY

The Yankees have a .681 team OPS on the road this year, compared to .734 at home.


Wednesday, July 27th: Tyler Duffey vs. ATL

Duffey was 3-0 with a 3.08 ERA in four starts before getting shelled in Boston on Thursday. He should find it again at home against the lowest scoring team in the majors.


Friday, July 28th: Ivan Nova @ TB

After a brutal first half, Nova has shown some positive signs in July, posting a 3.24 ERA and 17-to-4 K/BB ratio in 16 innings.


National League


Wednesday, July 27th: Michael Foltynewicz @ MIN

Foltynewicz has notched 55 strikeouts in 61 innings this year, with a 3.79 ERA. The Twins have struck out more than all but two AL teams.


Thursday, July 28th: Aaron Nola @ ATL

Following a rough stretch, Nola got back on track in his latest outing and should be able to keep it rolling against the Braves.


Thursday, July 28th: Tyler Chatwood @ NYM

When pitching away from Coors Field this season, Chatwood is 5-0 with a 1.30 ERA.


Total Games


American League


5: CLE, SEA, TB

6: DET, HOU, MIN, NYY, OAK, TOR

7: BAL, BOS, CWS, KC, LAA, TEX


National League


5: LAD, PIT

6: ATL, CIN, SD, WAS

7: ARI, CHC, COL, MIA, MIL, NYM, PHI, SF, STL


The Infirmary


You can get a full listing of injured players at Rotoworld's Injury Page but here's the latest on a few prominent players who have been out of action:


Chris Herrmann: Out indefinitely (hamstring)

Tyler Flowers: Out until late August (hand)

Koji Uehara: Out indefinitely (shoulder)

Hyun-Jin Ryu: Out until August (elbow)

Geovany Soto: Out until early August (knee)

Jhonny Peralta: Out until early August (thumb)

Shin-Soo Choo: Out until early August (back)

Prince Fielder: Out indefinitely (neck)


Nick Nelson

Nick Nelson is a frequent contributor to NBC Sports Edge's baseball coverage and regularly blogs about the Minnesota Twins at Twins Daily. Follow him on Twitter @NickNelsonMN.