It's almost the end of the roto season and most of you are frantically searching the wire for spot starters and streamers. There's no buying low, no selling high. There's only what have you done for me lately and what can you do for me tomorrow. So we'll focus on that bottom half of the wire, the guys that are most likely not owned in your leagues. Because it's crunch time and you can save the top half analysis for the offseason.
Stephen Strasburg might actually embody the difference in league sizes in one package. His name screams 'own me in all leagues,' but his game might actually be limited. Sunday, he was only allowed three innings and 57 pitches. Sure, he struck out four, but he won't be able to get many wins that way. He only threw 56 pitches in his first start, too. If the clean slates and strikeouts can help your roto team in your deeper league, continue along Strasburg Avenue. But if you are in a ten-team mixer, fighting for wins every week, you may want to downgrade him to a spot-starter.
Similarly, Ubaldo Jimenez held the White Sox to two runs in six innings, which would have been good news if not for the five walks, but it's probably more important how his opponent and waiver wire resident Zach Stewart did in his follow-up to his near-perfect game. Well… he did okay. Stewart gave up three runs in five innings, struck out four, walked two, and got less contact on the ground than in the air. He remains a very risky spot-start if that's what he's going to do against the iffy Indians lineup. Edinson Volquez still hasn't found the plate, it seems. He came back and gave up two runs to the Rockies in five innings on Sunday, but he walked four guys. He's the epitome of the unsafe spot-starter, but if you need strikeouts at least you know he'll get you some of those. Freddy Garcia was dealing despite poor strikeout and ground-ball rates, but now his scuffling again. He gave up five runs on ten baserunners (with three strikeouts) in five innings on Sunday. It was the Angels too, so he's not an every-starter any more this season and probably a very risky spot-starter too.
Jake Westbrook, who struck out four Braves, walked one, and gave up two runs in five-plus innings (while getting almost twice as many ground balls as fly balls) is a safe spot start right now, especially in his league and division. Maybe it's time to finally trust Vance Worley. He doesn't get great swinging strikes, or ground balls, but he does get plenty of called strikes, and has great control. That continued Sunday against the Brewers. Even though he gave up three runs in 6 2/3 innings, he struck out seven and walked one, and it was in a difficult matchup. If he's still on your wire, he shouldn't be. Even if swinging strikes are so much sexier. Doug Fister also gets the called strike more than the swinging strike, but it's working for him in the second half. He tossed seven scoreless with five strikeouts against the Twins. Is Javier Vazquez on your waiver wire? He shouldn't be. His velocity is back up to pre-2010 levels, and he struck out seven in six shutout innings against the Pirates.
* At the plate, some waiver wire dudes made some noise too. Chipper Jones has aged to the point where he's on many wires. He singled and homered Sunday and has some multi-hit games on his ledger over the past week. Alejandro De Aza had two hits and two stolen bases against the Indians. He's an interesting start against righties for the speed-needy while Carlos Quentin is out. Marco Scutaro had a solo job against the Rays and has been hot over the past week, in case you need help at shortstop. Eric Young Jr.made the most of his first start in a month by getting two hits and three stolen bases. If his playing time was more predictable, he'd be a great speed pickup for the final two weeks. Alex Rios hit a walkoff grand slam Saturday night, and has been hitting well in September, but he's still stinking it up for the season.
* There are still a few waiver moves to make in the bullpen. Jason Motte struck out the side Sunday to record his fifth save and is suddenly entreanched in the role in St. Louis. He might be a better own than Kyle Farnsworth right now. The goggled professor has a tender elbow right now, or at least he complained about it again after blowing the save Saturday night. Joel Peralta is the Ray to own in the short term if you are looking for saves. Bobby Parnell and Manny Acosta are battling it out in the Mets bullpen. Parnell got the last shot, but didn't give up an earned run. He also has the sexy velocity, so he's a step ahead in the battle. It could go either way, though.
* That said, the medical news on the stars is interesting for all daily lineup leagues. Like Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, universally owned, sat out Sunday to rest their hip and back respectively. Both are day-to-day and not candidates for being shut down yet. Rickie Weeks returned on Sunday… no one dropped him in your league, right? Nelson Cruz might be back Tuesday. Kevin Youkilis will deal with his hip and hernia the rest of the way, but wants to rejoin the lineup on Tuesday. The Yankees have the same deal going with Alex Rodriguez. His thumb hurts a little and he won't play for the next three-to-four days. Too good to drop, both guys will still cost you some games as they get right. Tommy Hanson should get a start this season in order to determine if he can help in the playoffs, but he only had his first bullpen Sunday, so don't hope for much more than that. Jake Peavy didn't ever find his old star self this year, and he's not fully recovered from his shoulder surgery, so that has to be part of it. Now he's shut down for the season. Mike Stanton was pulled Friday and missed the weekend and is still dealing with that hamstring injury. Teammate Logan Morrison should be back Monday after missing time from a bruised knee.
And then there's the injury news for the waiver wires. Jason Kubel could be ready to return by Tuesday from his sore foot. He'll want to audition for other teams if the Twins don't re-up him this offseason. Ben Revere missed Sunday's game, but just from the flu-like symptoms that felled a couple Twins pitchers, too. Travis Hafner is back! For now. And there's Jim Thome in town now, too. Edwin Encarnacion missed the weekend after tweaking his shoulder during a swing Friday, and Yunel Escobar was hit on the elbow Saturday. Both are day-to-day, the most annoying phrase to fantasy players at the end of the season. Russell Martin's right thumb doesn't have a break, but he's not ready yet. Tsuyoshi Nishioka is fighting for next year's job, but he's also battling his oblique right now. He played Friday but not Saturday or Sunday.
National League Quick Hits: You can drop Johan Santana (shoulder) now, as his manager admitted that he is unlikely to pitch for the Mets before the end of the season … Chase Utley (concussion) has been cleared to resume baseball activities … It looks like Randall Delgado will stay in the Braves rotation (he struck out three, walked three and gave up one run in five innings to the Cardinals on Friday) and Julio Teheran will move to the pen for the time being … Trevor Bauer and Jarrod Parker might come up the bigs to help in the D-Backs' pen … Josh Collmenter gave up six runs in four innings agains the Padres and his success is built upon a funky delivery, so watch out … If you are looking for wins, the Giants starters are a little iffy these days; Ryan Vogelsong lost another decent start (eight innings, three runs against the Dodgers) and that's five straight L's now for him … Drew Pomeranz struck out two, walked two, and got good ground-ball action in his debut, a five-inning scoreless stint against the Reds, but it's unclear how many more innings he'll get from the Rox so he's a spot-starter for now … Brad Peacock will make his first major league start Wednesday against the Mets and might be an interesting spot start in the deepest of leagues, but others should wait for more (major league) info.
American League Quick Hits: Josh Beckett could return to the rotation by the weekend … Erik Bedard (knee, lat) has not yet resumed throwing and will miss another start … Adam Jones was scratched from Sunday's lineup, but there was no talk of it being a setback … Michael Cuddyer (wrist) hopes to return mid-week sometime … Danny Valencia was scratched Sunday due to right shoulder soreness, but there was no talk of an injury … Matt Moore, the best starting pitcher prospect in the minor leagues, will come up to the bigs Monday, but we still don't know if he's a reliever or a spot-starter (September 21st or 22nd?), that's yet to be determined … Felipe Paulino has always had the strikeouts, but teams have been murdering his fastball; Sunday, he struck out 11 Mariners, proving that most starters against the Mariners are decent spot starts … Likewise, though teammate Everett Teaford doesn't have the same strikeout rate, he also did well against the Mariners, with five strikeouts, one walk, and no runs in five innings Sunday … Josh Outman gave up four runs in less than five innings to the Rangers in Texas, but there's no way you started him, hopefully … Tommy Hunter gave up four runs in six-plus and just doesn't have the stuff to be a worthy fantasy starter … Ditto Scott Diamond, who did hold the Tigers to one earned run in six innings, but did so with four strikeouts against four walks … Dustin McGowan had his first big league start in three years, and gave up four runs in three innings and is a pitcher to avoid until he gets his control back.