CC Sabathia (SP - NYY): Sabathia was good enough to get the Win on Sunday but struggled again in Fenway, allowing 6 ER's on 7 hits and 5 BB's over 5 1/3 innings. Sabathia's velocity has been building as the season has gone on, but now his command is starting to drift. He's walked 11 in his last two starts and his BB Rates were up in August as well. With the velocity back I'm tempted to say now is an intriguing time to buy-low on Sabathia but it obviously takes an owner that can embrace some risk. He'll have a difficult matchup against a TB offense that ranks #1 in wOBA against LHP and given CC's struggles I think owners should take a cautious approach and sit that one out. I do think he has the chance to turn things around rather significantly given the climbing velocity and strong swinging strike rates, but admittedly I'll need a good start before I'm throwing him back into my active lineups.
Nick Markakis (OF - BAL): After a rebound in Markakis' power profile last year there was some hope the 29 year old would resurrect what once was a very promising fantasy career. Instead Markakis' power rates have fallen precipitously in 2013 as his .088 ISO is the worst of his career. The fall-off has been really magnified of late as Markakis has only picked up 2 XBH's in his last 180 AB's. All of the other peripherals look fine in terms of plate discipline and line drive rates which is allowing Markakis to generate an adequate batting average and on-base percentage, but his fantasy value has really been driven by the Orioles letting him hit 1st or 3rd much of the season. They've recently started to move him down to 5th in the order and the more he slides down the bigger the consequences to his fantasy value. In 12 team leagues with 5 OF's he's relevant because of playing time given the increased use of platoons in the OF, but his value is definitely on the decline. He's now basically an average/runs producer who is a drag in the other three roto categories. His value is on the decline.
Max Scherzer (SP - DET): Before the season started I compared Max Scherzer to Zack Greinke in that one year it would probably all come together in a combination of slightly good fortune and elite skills and Scherzer would compete for the Cy Young Award. Little did I know it would be this season! Scherzer's peripherals are an interesting study because much of the improvement in Scherzer's peripherals actually came in 2012, but they didn't start to funnel through to his performance until the 2nd half of 2012. He's been able to get more out of performance this year in part because of an improved BB Rate but also good fortune on balls in play (.246 BABIP) and a career low HR/FB Rate (7.6%). Given the long history of league average BABIP and HR/FB Rates, you have to assume this is Scherzer's career year (which is coming at an awfully nice time given his contract situation). Those who aren't contending in dynasty or keeper formats should certainly consider trying to get a haul for Scherzer as it's very likely he regresses back to being a solid #2 fantasy starter rather than the Ace he's been this year.
Chris Archer (SP - TB): Archer continues to defy the peripherals as tossed 7 dominant innings against the Blue Jays at home on Sunday, allowing just 1 ER on 4 hits while striking out 5. Archer didn't walk a batter in the outing and a big part of the success Archer has had at the big league level can be attributed to the improved command he's shown. In the minor leagues Archer posted a 5.0 BB/9 and never had a full season with a walk per 9 innings below 4.1. Even with the improved command a big part of Archer's success has been good fortune. His 81.1% LOB% and .232 BABIP are exceptionally favorable and are largely the reasons for the difference between his current 2.95 ERA and 4.36 xFIP. Interestingly enough Archer has shown some significant splits differences in his time in the big leagues (.355 wOBA to LHB, .209 wOBA to RHB). As a result it wasn't a big surprise for me to see him dominate a RH heavy Blue Jays lineup for the 2nd time this year. He'll face a Yankees team his next time out that is rolling out 5 LHB's as part of their everyday lineup, which should be a more significant challenge for the young RHP.
Scott Kazmir (SP - CLE): On the surface a start in Oakland may have seemed like a favorable opportunity to deploy Scott Kazmir, but the Athletics ability to stack RHB's in a significant way made it a very difficult test. Kazmir was forced to face a lineup with 6 of the first 7 batters being right-handed hitters who all have dominant splits against LHP. Kazmir himself has one of the largest splits in the league between RHB and LHB, so not surprisingly he struggled. He gave up 10 hits and 2 BB's over his 5 innings of work while surrendering 5 ER's (2 HR's) and striking out 4. Kazmir's performance has been up and down this season but that's not unusual for a player with severe splits. His next outing will come against a MIN offense that heavily depends on Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and Oswaldo Arcia for offense and they all hit from the left side, which should make for a more favorable outing. Kazmir has limited them to just 3 ER's in his 3 starts against them so far this season, which only adds to my confidence in deploying him for the upcoming week. While Kazmir is just a back-end spot starter with K upside in traditional mixed leagues, this matchup with the Twins is a favorable one to exploit.