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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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
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
Carlos Martinez: @NYM, @MIA
Jerad Eickhoff: @MIA, @ATL
Noah Syndergaard: STL, COL
Bartolo Colon: STL, COL
Jake Arrieta: @CWS, SEA
Kyle Hendricks: @CWS, SEA
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
The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:
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.
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.
5: CLE, SEA, TB
6: DET, HOU, MIN, NYY, OAK, TOR
7: BAL, BOS, CWS, KC, LAA, TEX
5: LAD, PIT
6: ATL, CIN, SD, WAS
7: ARI, CHC, COL, MIA, MIL, NYM, PHI, SF, STL
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)