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The Fantasy Lookout: Three Starting Pitchers To Target; Cold Start But Hot Lately

starting pitchers to target
Photo Credit: Keith Allison

With many leagues approaching the trade deadline, now is the time to make your run as you jostle for playoff positioning. In last week’s Fantasy Lookout, we provided some help with hitters, as we unveiled a few cheap power options. Today, we look to the hill and see if we can find some hidden gems that will help your staff during the dog days of summer.

In this week’s Fantasy Lookout, we are going to provide three starting pitchers to target who have been hot of late but have poor year-to-date numbers. These hurlers will make great trade targets and may even be on the waiver wire. For all of these pitchers, their underlying numbers strongly suggest that they have turned a corner and they should continue their hot streaks through the end of the year.

The Fantasy Lookout: Starting Pitchers To Target

Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees


A lot more was expected out of Tanaka in 2017, especially when you consider that he was, on average, the 18th starting pitcher taken according the NFBC ADP. He has struggled mightily so far this year, evidenced by his hideous 5.37 ERA and unimpressive 1.34 WHIP. The long ball has been an issue, as Tanaka has already served up a career high 26 HRs in just over 115 innings. All of these numbers place Tanaka as the 78th best starting pitcher according the ESPN Player Rater.

Over the past month, Tanaka has been much better. While his ERA isn’t great with a 4.35 mark, his WHIP is more Tanaka-esque at 1.16. Even more impressive is the fact that he has posted a 3.12 SIERA, good for 12th best among all qualified starting pitchers over the last 30 days. Plenty of his success has been driven by his K-BB% of 22.3-percent, which ranks 17th among all starting pitchers over the last 30 days.

Overall year-to-date, Tanaka’s batted ball profile is pretty much in line with his career figures, expect for an unlucky HR/FB mark of 23-percent. He also appears to be fighting the baseball gods a bit when you compare his 2017 BABIP and LOB% to his career numbers. Lately, Tanaka has been pitching like the starter we all expected him to be. As his luck evens out, I see no reason why his rest of season numbers will not resemble his career numbers, a 3.55 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. That makes Tanaka one of the better starting pitchers to target for the stretch run.

Patrick Corbin, Arizona Diamondbacks


Patrick Corbin has been battling to regain his 2013 form when he had a breakout campaign. Thanks to his 2014 Tommy John surgery, the battle has been tough, and his year-to-date numbers are a far cry from his stellar season four years ago. With an ERA of 4.43 and WHIP of 1.50, Corbin comes in as the 87th best starting pitcher on the ESPN Player Rater. His expectations were quite tempered prior to the 2017 campaign, as he was the 123rd starter off the board according to the NFBC ADP.

Of late, Corbin has been locked in. Over the past month, he owns the 17th best SIERA at 3.26 and the 18th best K-BB% at 22-percent. His sparkling 3.10 ERA is partially offset by his 1.38 WHIP, as his .377 BABIP is in the rafters. His BABIP lately has been fueled by giving up too many line drives, however, on the other hand, Corbin has also done an excellent job of limiting hard contact.

When you look at Corbin’s year-to-date statistics, it is easy to see why he has not garnered much interest. However, his numbers over the month should give you confidence that his 2013 season was not a fluke. For the rest of the season, Corbin is definitely on the list of starting pitchers to target, as I expect him to post an ERA in the mid-3.00’s along with a WHIP around 1.25.

Kevin Gausman, Baltimore Orioles


Kevin Gausman’s 2017 campaign has been nothing short of a train wreck. He ranks as the 208th best starting pitcher on the ESPN Player Rater, which is shocking to many as his NFBC ADP was 33 in terms of starters. He has been giving up too many line drives, too many hard hits, and too many free passes. Not a great combination. All of this has resulted in an unsightly 5.79 ERA and 1.72 WHIP.

As bad as the season has gone for Gausman and his owners, there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Over the past month, Gausman holds the 16th best SIERA with a mark of 3.25 and the 15th best K-BB% with a mark of 23.5-percent. He has also done a much better job of limiting solid contact as his batted ball profile lately is basically in line with his career numbers.

Despite a line drive rate of 19-percent and a hard hit rate of 31.3-percent, Gausman has still suffered from a .347 BABIP over the last 30 days. This has resulted in, if nothing else, an improved ERA of 4.02 and WHIP of 1.31.

As Gausman appears to be pitching more in line with how he has in the past, his rest of season numbers should also reflect that. Ignore what has already happened and focus on the future.

Given his recently improved control and batted ball profile that looks similar to his 2016 season, I would expect Gausman’s rest of season statistics to closely mirror his numbers last year, an ERA of 3.61 and 1.28 WHIP.


With such a long season, it is easy to miss recent events and changes. The above mentioned starting pitchers to target should all come at a reduced price and provide solid contributions to your Fantasy team for the remainder of the 2017 season. Until the next Fantasy Lookout, enjoy the games!


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