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Stealing points in pitching categories

Picking a hot pitcher against a sluggish offense could help you pick up much-needed points late in the season.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It's the final two weeks of the baseball season and unless you are still in the championship chase, you are probably already working on your football team, having abandoned your "Boys of Summer."

But the final dozen games offers an opportunity, particularly in the pitching department. If you are close in either wins or strikeouts, you can play the "daily waiver wire game."

Without dropping any of your core starters (for me that is C.C. Sabathia, Tim Lincecum, and Francisco Liriano), there are usually two or more borderline players who if lost wouldn't really hurt your team.

Now it's time to choose your free agent replacement.

It's a game of picking the best available pitchers for tomorrow's schedule. It is also a game "on the edge," because you will likely take a hit in ERA and WHIP. But if you have a little "wiggle room" in those two categories, and are not limited by innings pitched, then picking up one or two starters each day can work out.

You are not going to see pitching studs available on the waiver wire (except for the occasional minor league call up), so I have found the best way to determine my pickups is to play against bad teams or teams that have clinched and are using their entire 40-man roster while resting their stars.

Usually there will be a list of maybe 10-12 starters who are free agents and making a start. I cull that list down to those pitching reasonably well. Only looking at guys who have an ERA under 3.80 and a WHIP under 1.40 in their last outing or two. You will probably find three or four pitchers make the cut. Move on to who they are playing and where.

Over the last 30 days the worst hitting teams have been Oakland (.226) , Arizona (.229), Colorado (.237), Florida (.244), Cincinnati (.249), Milwaukee (.254) and Pittsburgh (.255). Checking the runs scored totals you find Arizona (97), Oakland (104), Pittsburgh (108), Houston (108) and St. Louis (109) at the bottom of the list.

Three teams (Arizona, Oakland, Pittsburgh) show up in both lists and I target them whenever possible, but any team who seems to have "thrown in the towel" is good.

It's also good to look at "pitchers" parks. Any reasonable starter going in San Diego is better than the same pitcher at Citizen's Bank Park in Philadelphia. Pitching in Chavez Ravine trumps starting in the Astros' "bandbox" any day.

If you do your homework, you can steal one win and five strikeouts a day that you wouldn't get by staying with your old roster. In my Sports Network League, I started about two weeks ago and have come from more than 100+ strikeouts down to just 18 behind the leader. And the owner I am trying to catch is cutting back on innings because he didn't budget correctly (we have a 1,500 innings limit). I am also quickly closing in on the two "wins leaders" and it's possible that I could pick up two more points in the standings from that category.

How would three points added to your total look? Like a winning move would be my educated guess.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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