The Yahoo! Trade Deadline is nearly upon us, which makes the coming days the final opportunity for fantasy managers to make a deal that puts their squad over the top. After looking at category-specific hitter targets last week, I will use the final 2022 edition of this column to find pitchers who can help in specific areas. Although coming out on top of every trade is an impossible task, I hope that some readers were able to use the tips in this space to find some deals that worked for them this year.
And as always, I encourage you to remember that the best traders are those who think creatively and see potential deals from a variety of angles.
Aaron Nola (SP, Philadelphia Phillies)
Nola will cost plenty on the trade market but he should be worth it. The right-hander is among the WHIP leaders (sixth overall) but ranks lower on the ERA list (24th). However, he places third among all qualified pitchers in xERA this year, which suggests that he could be a star in both categories down the stretch. Nola is also among the top-10 pitchers in whiffs — in short, he’s awesome.
Yu Darvish (SP, San Diego Padres)
Darvish is similar to Nola but should be slightly easier to acquire. The right-hander ranks among the WHIP leaders (11th) but is 26th in ERA and ranks lower than his Phillies counterpart in strikeouts (13th overall). His July K:BB ratio (45:6) was by far his best mark of the season, which makes me optimistic that Darvish could be a shallow-league ace down the stretch.
Los Angeles Dodgers starters
The old expression, "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth" applies here. All five starters in the Dodgers rotation — Tony Gonsolin, Julio Urias, Clayton Kershaw, Andrew Heaney and Tyler Anderson – have a WHIP of 1.00 or lower this year. This organization does a great job with its pitchers each season, and 2022 is no exception. Kershaw landed on the IL last weekend and is no longer a trade option, but the other four Dodgers starters should be ratio assets down the stretch, and they also have more win potential than starters on average or bad teams.
Jose Urquidy (SP, Houston Astros)
Urquidy is one of several fly-ball-prone pitchers who help with WHIP much more than ERA. The right-hander owns a lifetime 1.07 WHIP, and after working through a slow start to this season, he has logged a 0.88 WHIP since June 1. Urquidy is unlikely to help your ERA and logs merely an acceptable total of strikeouts, but his help with WHIP should nonetheless be recognized.
Sandy Alcantara (SP, Miami Marlins)
I could list Alcantara in the ERA or WHIP category, as the Marlins ace is the No. 1 trade target for those who need ratios help. Alcantara logs far more innings than a typical starter, which enables him to weigh more heavily on the overall ratios of a fantasy squad. He is worth the return of an elite hitter, for those who have room to make that type of deal.
Merrill Kelly (SP, Arizona Diamondbacks)
Kelly should be the easiest player to acquire in this article, as he opened the year on the waiver wire in most leagues and since then has posted good-but-not-great numbers while working on a non-contender. Still, his consistent success has led to a 2.86 ERA, which is not massively lower than his 3.29 FIP. Kelly can be part of the plan to chip away at a fantasy team’s ERA.
Carlos Rodon (SP, San Francisco Giants)
Rodon regularly carries one of the highest strikeout rates of any starter, including a 12.6 K/9 rate last year and an 11.3 mark this year. His 161 whiffs sit fourth in baseball, and he ranks fifth in strikeouts since July 1. Rodon continues to carry long-term injury risk, but that concern is minimal for those who are adding him for his final 2022 starts.
Charlie Morton (SP, Atlanta Braves)
Morton ranks 12th in the Majors in strikeouts but has mediocre overall ratios (4.09 ERA, 1.21 WHIP) as a result of a poor start to the season. The right-hander has been effective of late (3.07 ERA, 100 WHIP since June 1) and should be available for a mid-level trade return. And while we are talking about Atlanta starters, Spencer Strider (138 SO) is another solid trade target for those who need whiffs.
Tanner Scott (RP, Miami Marlins)
Scott certainly isn’t a great reliever and will help fantasy managers in just one category. But he should be relatively easy to acquire on the trade market and pitches for a team that gives him great potential for save chances. Miami has some effective pitchers but a poor offense, and those two factors combine to put the team in many close, low-scoring contests. Those who need saves but don’t have much to trade should approach the manager with Scott on their roster.
Liam Hendriks (RP, Chicago White Sox)
Hendriks has had a disappointing season that includes compiling just eight saves since the beginning of June. This could open a window in some leagues to acquire him for a reasonable return, which would be an excellent opportunity for any manager who needs a high-upside closer down the stretch. After all, the White Sox are desperate to stay in the postseason race and manager Tony La Russa has shown that he will use Hendriks heavily when necessary.