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Tuesday 17th Oct 2017

Oh, how fickle are the wings of Major League pitchers.

If you own Grant Balfour or Joe Nathan or Hector Santiago, you know exactly what I am talking about.

So, who are some veteran starters that have been up and down riding a yo-yo of good start to bad in no particular order, making it hard to even figure when to stream them, and what do they have in store?

Let's start with maybe the toughest thing to watch in the Tigers' Justin Verlander, who pitched so well down the stretch last year that many might have overlooked his drop off from a 2.64 ERA and 1.057 WHIP in 2012 to a 3.46 ERA and a 1.315 WHIP last year to his 6-7, 4.98 2014 with a 1.556 WHIP this year. Perhaps most alarming is the atrocious strikeout-to-walk of 1.68 with Verlander whiffing 69 while walking 41 over 97.6 innings this year.

Oakland's Jesse Chavez might seem like a new name to some fantasy players, but the reality is that Chavez is 30 years of age and had five big league seasons under his belt, although just two starts, over the 191 games in which he has appeared prior to this year.

With 86 innings already under his belt this year, Chavez has easily set his career high for that stat and we are not even half-way through the season.

Chavez has been just great with a 6-4, 2.93 line complemented by a 1.198 WHIP and really solid 78 strikeouts. The right-hander has been very efficient with his pitch counts each start, however, tossing 180-plus innings would triple his career high in the Majors. Oakland is so good--and still vastly under-rated (just check out their run differential compared to the rest of baseball if you have doubts)--but were I Bob Melvin I would more than monitor Chavez and make sure his amazing transformation continues to be successful by not wearing his pitcher out.

I really thought Chris Tillman had settled into a role as a solid #2 or #3 rotation member after being a second-round pick of the Mariners, and then part of one of the less successful trades (well, depending upon how you look at it) ever as Seattle swapped the pitcher plus Adam Jones and three other players for Erik Bedard in 2008.

And, though it seems like Tillman's numbers are not so bad when you look at his start log, and realize 26 of the 47 runs he has allowed occured over four of his 15 starts this year, but his strikeout-to-walk number has dropped to 1.61 (58 whiffs to 35 walks) and his 4.82 ERA and 1.488 WHIP scare me.

It appears that Justin Masterson is a new "Saberhagen-metric" darling, based upon his numbers since 2010. That year, it was 6-13, 4.70, then 2011 brought 12-10, 3.21, followed by 11-15, 4.93 in 2012 and then a really fine 2013 with a 13-10, 3.45 mark. So, logically, this is an off-year as witnessed by his 5.05 ERA and 1.524 WHIP. Stay away this year: jump on the cheap next. 

Right after the AL Tout auction in New York, I was asked on Sirius XM if I was worried about Ubaldo Jimenez: that he did get whiffs, but he also could be wild. My answer was a simple, "Yes." However, as we all know, Jimenez is indeed streaky, so I have him stashed on my reserve list, hoping one of those streaks starts around the break, and lasts through the balance of the season. Just like last year.

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