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April 30, 2010

Fantasy Beat

Hot Spots: Starting Pitchers

by Bill Baer

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Value Picks 2010 PECOTA Games '10
Starting Pitchers Throws W Sv IP H HR ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 K/9 BB/9 HR/9 Starts Relief
Randy Wolf LH 2 0 32.1 35 4 3.34 1.40 6.1 2.8 1.1 7.0 2.9 1.2 5 0
Kevin Correia RH 3 0 28.0 25 4 3.86 1.52 8.4 3.2 1.3 6.3 3.3 0.8 5 0
Jeff Niemann RH 1 0 22.0 18 4 3.27 1.05 6.1 2.0 1.6 5.9 3.2 1.0 4 0
Doug Fister RH 2 0 27.0 20 0 1.67 0.93 4.3 1.7 0.0 7.1 2.5 1.2 4 0
Jason Vargas LH 2 0 25.0 20 2 3.60 1.04 6.8 2.2 0.7 8.8 3.2 1.3 4 0
Ian Kennedy RH 0 0 30.1 24 7 4.45 1.02 8.0 2.4 2.1 9.6 4.5 1.1 5 0
Tom Gorzelanny LH 0 0 22.0 16 0 2.45 1.05 7.0 2.9 0.0 8.7 4.1 1.1 4 0
Colby Lewis RH 3 0 23.2 20 2 3.80 1.35 10.6 4.6 0.8 10.7 2.5 1.2 4 0
Subscribe to Heater 2007-09 in Rotation 4.43 1.39 6.6 3.1 1.1  
Heater Magazine 2007-09 in Relief 3.94 1.36 7.7 3.8 0.9  

Removed from the list

Randy Wolf, Milwaukee Brewers: Wolf is not being removed due to performance reasons; he is simply last on this list of value picks. He had a decent start against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday, holding them to two runs in eight innings. Wolf still is available in about 75 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues. Wolfie's next start will come on May 2 against the San Diego Padres, who collectively hit for a .509 OPS against him. If Wolf is available in your league, his next start may be a good bet.

Kevin Correia, San Diego Padres: Correia had a huge spike in ownership prior to his last start against the Florida Marlins, going from four to 13 percent. Given that his last start was mediocre -- four runs in five innings -- that figure may stabilize. His next start will be at home against the Colorado Rockies on May 3. Seth Smith and Carlos Gonzalez have hit him hard in limited at-bats while Todd Helton has his number in 22 PA with a .955 OPS. I consider it a push -- I do not think you can make a wrong decision whether you choose to bench or start him on May 3.

Added to the list

Colby Lewis, Texas Rangers: How can a pitcher with just a 90 MPH fastball and a typical slider-curve-change arsenal rack up nearly 11 strikeouts per nine innings? Your guess is as good as mine, but Lewis has done just that in four starts thus far in 2010. PECOTA saw that coming a mile away. His walk rate has been a bit too high as it is over 4.5 per nine innings. If you need help with strikeouts and can sacrifice some WHIP, Lewis is a perfect fit. Given that the offense of Rangers not named Cruz, Hamilton, and Guerrero should pick up sooner rather than later, Lewis should also help you with wins. His 3.40 SIERA looks enticing as well.

Tom Gorzelanny, Chicago Cubs: Gorzelanny is a lite version of Randy Wolf—left-handed and compiles about average strikeout and walk rates. There is nothing special about him but he is available in about 98 percent of ESPN leagues. If you missed out on Wolf, go for Gorz. A victim of low run support, Gorzelanny has received losses in each of his past three starts despite allowing exactly two runs. So far, he has compiled a 4.07 SIERA. His next start will come on May 2 against the above-average Arizona Diamondbacks. As a team, the D-Backs do not perform significantly worse against southpaws, even looking only at their left-handers. As with Correia, Gorzelanny's next start is a push—I do not think either decision to bench or start him is wrong.

Keep an Eye on...

Joe Blanton, Philadelphia Phillies: Blanton is due to come off of the DL some time this weekend. As a result, Kyle Kendrick will likely be sent down to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Blanton's strikeout rate skyrocketed last year from barely over five per nine innings to seven and a half. While he likely will not strike out quite as many batters, he is a good bet for six to six and a half per nine. Additionally, he has good control with a walk rate somewhere between two and a half and three walks per nine. He will not be finishing with any Cy Young votes, but he is solid all the way around for fantasy purposes. With a high-octane Phillies offense, Blanton should have no problem getting into double-digit wins and his ERA will finish in the low-to-mid fours. He is owned in less than 70 percent of ESPN leagues. If he happens to be lying around in your league, take a chance on Blanton. Feel confident about starting him against anybody as he does not have much of a platoon split.

Bill Baer is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Bill's other articles. You can contact Bill by clicking here

Related Content:  Tom Gorzelanny,  Randy Wolf

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