Fantasy pitching roundtable: The return of King Felix

King Felix is back in the game. (Getty Images)

We’re nearing the halfway point of the fantasy season, so your team’s strengths and deficiencies should be well known. If you’re in need of pitching assistance, let’s review your waiver options…

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Q. If we toss out Felix Hernandez’s disastrous two-inning appearance before he hit the DL, his 2017 stats aren’t too shabby: 24.2 IP, 3.65 ER, 20 Ks, 1 BB. He just finished off a minor league rehab stint with 6.0 scoreless innings for Tacoma, striking out eight batters. Are you buying or selling King Felix as a mixed league fantasy asset, rest of season? 

Scott Pianowski: Felix is just 31, but when you consider that he came up as a teenager, it’s an old 31. His ERA and WHIP have risen for three straight years, and now we have a season clouded with injuries. Reflexively, these are the types of stories I tend to sit out — I don’t want to get caught up chasing name brands. My heart can still root for him, but my head has to put Felix in the SELL folder.

Dalton Del Don: BUYING. There are admittedly some troubling trends (last year’s decline, he’s coming off a shoulder injury, his SwStr% has declined three straight seasons), but his 22:3 K:BB ratio suggests he’s not totally done. The elite pitcher Hernandez once was is almost certainly not ever coming back, but the current version can settle in as an SP4 type. 

Andy Behrens: I’ll BUY, but I’m not using him on Friday when he faces Houston, the A.L. leader in runs, homers and team batting average. No thanks. You really need to view Felix, at this stage, as a situational fantasy starter in most formats. 

Q. Which starter, available in shallow fantasy leagues (10-12 teams), are you most interested in adding at the moment?

Andy: ZACK GODLEY remains unattached in roughly 50 percent of Yahoo leagues, which seems nuts to me. His minor league numbers were excellent (2.96 ERA, 9.04 K/9), and his year-to-date major league performance has been terrific. He’s pitching in the right league and supported by a high-scoring lineup. Add as needed. 

Dalton: EDUARDO RODRIGUEZ. This depends on if you have an open DL spot, but if you do, stash Rodriguez. His injury is to his knee not arm, and he threw a successful bullpen session last week. Rodriguez has 65 strikeouts over 61.0 innings this season with a 3.54 ERA and 1.15 WHIP (it was 2.77 and 1.12 before he was shelled during his last start in which he got injured while warming up before the game).

Q: OK, give us a starting pitcher for deeper pools, please.

Dalton: JOE MUSGROVE. It admittedly gets ugly searching for options who qualify here, and Musgrove has certainly disappointed after entering the year something of a sleeper. But he looks healthy again and has good stuff that misses bats (his 10.5 SwStr% would rank No. 26 among starters if he qualified). The former first round pick will also get good run support while pitching for the Astros. 

Scott: The Royals offense has woken up in June, and JASON HAMMEL is taking advantage. He’s won three of his past four starts, all quality turns, with a 2.30 ERA and 0.91 WHIP. That’s over his true ability level, of course, but when you strike out 19 men and walk just one, you’re earning some of the favorable results. He’s at least on the preferred streamer list now.

Q: Who’s your favorite non-closing reliever, still available in an overwhelming majority of fantasy leagues?

Scott: It sure took a while, but the Angels have found something with BLAKE PARKER, the former Cub and Mariner. At 32, Parker is having a tremendous breakout season (2.16 ERA, 13.2 K/9, 2.4 BB/9). A spike in fastball velocity has helped, and he’s also getting mileage out of an improved sinker. Saves could be up for grabs here, but even if Parker never sees the ninth, he has juice in most fantasy formats.

Andy: TOMMY KAHNLE has been almost untouchable. He’s struck out 50 batters for the White Sox in just 29.1 innings, and his swinging-strike rate is a ridiculous 17.7 percent. His fantasy ratios are, of course, obscene: 1.23 ERA, 0.78 WHIP. If you’re a roto owner managing toward an innings cap, you want guys like this. 

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