Phillies' Hellickson, Eickhoff, Cardinals' Garcia among best options
By Zach Steinhorn
Is your fantasy starting rotation struggling? Or maybe you just need some extra strikeouts? Then consider adding these pitchers, who are all scheduled to make two starts in Week 17.
Standard mixed leagues
Jeremy Hellickson (@MIA, @ATL)
After registering a rough 5.40 ERA in June, Hellickson has bounced back nicely this month, pitching a 2.42 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP through four July outings. The Phillies righty could close out the month in strong fashion with a pair of favorable matchups on tap. The Marlins and Braves rank 23rd and 30th, respectively, in the Majors in runs scored this season, and in four combined starts against these two clubs, Hellickson boasts a 2.49 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP.
Jerad Eickhoff (@MIA, @ATL)
Struggling at Coors Field is not uncommon for any pitcher, so Eickhoff deserves a mulligan for his poor performance in Colorado on July 9 (eight earned runs in 5 1/3 innings). That outing just so happens to represent the only start since the beginning of June in which he has allowed more than three runs. Plus, like his Phillies teammate Hellickson, Eickhoff has enjoyed considerable success against the Marlins and Braves this season, posting a combined 2.88 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP across four starts.
Jaime Garcia (@NYM, @MIA)
Garcia has seen his ERA rise by more than a full run since the middle of May, but he is coming off a fine performance in a 3-2 victory over the Padres on Wednesday (one earned run in 5 2/3 innings). The owner of a solid career track record, the Cardinals southpaw still deserves a place on most mixed-league rosters, and he's a fairly safe starting option for next week. The Mets and the Marlins both rank in the bottom third of the Majors in runs scored this season.
Ervin Santana (vs. ATL, vs. CWS)
Back in mid-June, Santana sported a 5.10 ERA. In six starts since, the Twins righty has recorded an exceptional 2.03 ERA, lowering his season mark to a respectable 3.93. Expect that ERA to continue to drop next week, as the Braves and White Sox both rank among the bottom seven teams in the Majors in runs scored. By now, the 33-year-old veteran has earned a roster spot in most mixed leagues and a starting spot in most two-start weeks.
Bartolo Colon (vs. STL, vs. COL)
The normally reliable Colon has struggled in two of his past three starts, but those two outings came against the Cubs and Nationals, teams that rank in the top-10 in the Majors in runs scored. Next week's matchups are far from favorable, especially the first one, as the Cardinals lead the NL in runs. For this reason, Colon is more of a deep-league option. Still, the Mets righty, with his trademark pinpoint control, is the type of pitcher who can handle any lineup when he's on his game. Plus, the Rockies, despite ranking fourth in the Majors in runs scored overall, rank only 19th in runs scored on the road.
James Shields (vs. CHC, @MIN)
Following a very rough four-start stretch during which he allowed 31 earned runs over 11 1/3 innings, Shields seems to have finally settled down. The White Sox righty has allowed two runs or fewer in each of his past four outings. The Cubs rank third in the Majors in runs scored, so pitching Shields next week is plenty risky. But the Twins are a middle-of-the-pack offense (18th in the Majors in runs), and Shields earned the win in a start vs. Minnesota on June 29, allowing just one run across 6 2/3 innings.
Zach Steinhorn is a fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.