When the Pirates acquired J.A. Happ from the Mariners just ahead of the July 31st trade deadline, it was hard to figure just what they saw in him. Owner of a 32-44 record and 4.75 ERA over his prior four seasons, Happ had once again proven ineffective over the first four months in 2015, compiling a 4.64 ERA and 1.41 WHIP with Seattle.
Yet, since his move out east, something amazing has happened: Happ has been good. I mean really, really good.
It's been a night-and-day difference for the 32-year-old left-hander. In seven starts with Pittsburgh, he is 5-1 with a 1.79 ERA and 42-to-7 K/BB ratio over 40 innings. Those numbers are particularly fantastic if you take out his first start with the Bucs, in which he coughed up four runs over 4 1/3 innings in a loss to the Cubs.
Since that outing, Happ has been locked in like never before in his career. His last time out, he racked up 10 strikeouts with zero walks over six innings in Cincinnati -- just his fourth double-digit K effort in 60 big-league starts, and his first that did not include a single base on balls.
The scorching hot southpaw is in line for two starts in the coming week, though neither match-up is favorable. First, he'll get that same Cubs team that touched him up in his first start after the trade, then he'll head to Los Angeles to face a Dodgers offense ranked second in the NL in OPS.
Still, with the way he's going right now, who could bet against him? Despite the tremendous run he's on, Happ remains unowned in more than 60 percent of Yahoo leagues.
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* Cole Hamels had his next start, originally scheduled for Sunday, pushed back to Monday, placing him in the two-start pitcher mix. He's got a couple prime match-ups at home against the Astros and Mariners, but obviously if you don't have him on your roster you're not getting him.
In that case, fellow Texas starter Martin Perez is a decent fallback option with the same opponents on deck. He's available in all but the deepest of leagues.
* Taijuan Walker has been quality in seven of his last nine starts and always offers the potential for big strikeout totals. His inconsistency can be an issue but I would feel fairly comfortable rolling with him this week against the Angels and Rangers.
* Collin McHugh has been a man on fire since the beginning of August, with a 2.33 ERA and 45-to-13 K/BB ratio in 46 innings. He has won six of his last eight decisions. Unfortunately, his successful stretch has gotten him snatched up in most leagues, but be sure to grab him if he's available to you.
* Over his last six starts, Carlos Rodon has posted a 1.76 ERA while holding opponents to a .186/.263/.297 slash line and averaging a strikeout per inning. Yet, he inexplicably remains available in 60 percent of Yahoo leagues. With the Athletics and Royals coming up, he's an excellent option.
* James Shields has been very solid this season but I'd avoid using him this week as he travels to face the Diamondbacks and Rockies, the two highest-scoring offense in the Senior Circuit.
* Corey Kluber's next scheduled start would come on Monday, but he's battling a sore hamstring so that's probably dependent on how his bullpen session Friday goes. Keep an eye on him.
Cole Hamels: HOU, SEA
Jake Odorizzi: NYY, BAL
Sonny Gray: @CWS, @HOU
Collin McHugh: @TEX, OAK
Scott Kazmir: @TEX, OAK
Carlos Rodon: OAK, @CLE
Corey Kluber: KC, CWS
Danny Salazar: KC, CWS
Mark Buehrle: @ATL, BOS
Martin Perez: HOU, SEA
Erasmo Ramirez: NYY, BAL
Taijuan Walker: LAA, @TEX
Tyler Duffey: DET, LAA
Garrett Richards: @SEA, @MIN
Andrew Heaney: @SEA, @MIN
Ubaldo Jimenez: BOS, @TB
At Your Own Risk
John Danks: OAK, @CLE
Aaron Brooks: @CWS, @HOU
CC Sabathia: @TB, @NYM
Mike Pelfrey: DET, LAA
Kyle Lobstein: @MIN, KC
Eduardo Rodriguez: @BAL, @TOR
Stephen Strasburg: @PHI, MIA
Carlos Martinez: @MIL. @CHC
Jordan Zimmermann: @PHI, MIA
Clayton Kershaw: COL, PIT
Jake Arrieta: @PIT, STL
J.A. Happ: CHC, @LAD
Wily Peralta: STL, CIN
Justin Nicolino: @NYM, @WAS
Aaron Nola: WAS, @ATL
Jon Gray: @LAD, SD
Julio Teheran: TOR, PHI
At Your Own Risk
Tim Hudson: CIN, ARI
Keyvius Sampson: @SF, @MIL
Chase Anderson: SD, @SF
The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:
Wednesday, September 16: Danny Duffy @ CLE
Although Duffy has been pretty off-and-on this year, he's been mostly effective since the All-Star break. We like his chances against a mediocre Cleveland offense.
Wednesday, September 16: Ivan Nova @ TB
With the exception of one clunker against the Astros, Nova has been decent at worst when taking the mound for the Yankees. We suspect he'll be better than decent against the light-hitting Rays, whom he beat at home last week.
Thursday, September 17: Tommy Milone vs. LAA
In his two September starts, both victories, Milone has allowed only two runs on nine hits over 14 innings.
Tuesday, September 15: Chris Heston vs. CIN
The standout rookie has a 2.93 ERA at home and matches up well against the last-place Reds.
Wednesday, September 16: Jeremy Hellickson vs. SD
Hell Boy had been pitching well prior to landing on the DL with a strained hamstring, from which he has now recovered. Since the start of July, he has a 3.18 ERA and .229 opponents' batting average.
Friday, September 18: Brett Anderson vs. PIT
Anderson has a 3.36 ERA on the season and has surrendered more than three earned runs only once in his last 15 starts, yet he remains unowned in nearly 80 percent of Yahoo leagues
6: BOS, DET, NYY, SEA, TOR
7: BAL, CLE, CWS, HOU, KC, LAA, MIN, OAK, TB, TEX
6: ARI, ATL, CHC, CIN, COL, LAD, MIL, PHI, PIT, SD, SF, STL
7: MIA, NYM, WAS
You can get a full listing of injured players at Rotoworld's Injury Page but here's the latest on a few prominent players who have been out of action:
Hanley Ramirez: Out until mid-September (shoulder)
Buck Farmer: Out indefinitely (elbow)
Jose Iglesias: Out until late September (finger)
Scott Feldman: Out indefinitely (shoulder)
Glen Perkins: Out indefinitely (back)
Jonathan Lucroy: Out indefinitely (head)
Nathan Eovaldi: Out for the season (elbow)
Josh Hamilton: Out until late September (knee)
Michael Taylor: Out indefinitely (knee)