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July 2, 2010

Fantasy Beat

Weekly Planner #14

by Craig Brown

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A holiday kicks off the week, but major league baseball takes no time off as nearly every team plays a full compliment of games leading up to the All-Star break.  It’s a massive list of two-start pitchers from Heater Magazine this week with very little middle ground - there are a bunch of aces (CC Sabathia, Roy Halladay, Zack Greinke and Jered Weaver all make a pair of starts) mixed with several guys you would definitely avoid (Jake Arrieta or Jeff Suppan, anyone?) so instead of listing all starters, I’ll cherry-pick few notables.

Don’t forget to download the color-coded pdf of all two-start pitchers from Heater.

Tom Gorzelanny - @ ARI, @ LAN

Gorzelanny pitched well as a starter the first two months of the season with a 3.66 ERA and 1.36 WHIP, but was the odd man out (for some reason) when the Cubs decided to bring Carlos Zambrano back to the rotation.  As a reliever, Gorzelanny found it difficult to get into - and stay in - games.  He made only six appearances, and until his second inning relief appearance after the Great Zambrano Meltdown, he never faced more than four batters or threw more than 20 pitches.  

For the season, Gorzelanny owns an outstanding strikeout rate of 9.3 SO/9 but has been a bit on the wild side, with a walk rate of 4.1 BB/9.  He’s has a 1.3 GB/FB ratio and when he has allowed hitters to put the ball in the air, most of them are staying in the yard.  He has allowed only three home runs this year, which comes out to a 0.4 HR/9.

The only short-term concern is his stamina.  In his first start back in the rotation on Wednesday, he threw 77 pitches in five innings.  He didn’t give up a run, but the Cubs still lost.  That’s kind of been the story on days when Gorzelanny starts - his batters have supported him on average with 3.4 runs per start and his team has a 2-8 record in those games. 

Gorzelanny has a nice matchup against the free swinging Diamondbacks early in the week.  In his only start against Arizona this season, he punched out 10 in seven innings.  

Ian Kennedy - vs CHN, vs FLA

A couple of weeks ago, I sang Kennedy’s praises but called his impending start against the Red Sox as “a litmus test.”  Well, he gave up six runs in six innings in that start and hasn’t looked the same since.  Over his last three starts (counting the one in Boston) he has allowed 13 runs in 18 innings while walking 10 - including nine in his last start.  He was due to make a start on Saturday of this week, but that was moved back to Monday.  The extra rest makes sense as he’s thrown over 100 pitches in 14 of his 16 starts and with 100 innings under his belt, Kennedy is set to shatter his previous professional high for innings pitched.  Fatigue is almost certainly a factor at this point.

Trevor Cahill - vs NYA, vs LAA

Cahill sports a 6.1 SO/9 and a 2.7 BB/9, which on the surface, isn’t all that notable.  He’s better than league average when it comes to walks and a little below average when it comes to strikeouts.  However, when we dive beneath the surface, we can see how he’s been so successful.  

Just over 70% of all plate appearances against Cahill end with the ball in play… Again, slightly higher than league average.  Where he finds his success is on the ground - over 54% of all those balls in play are worm burners.  With those grounders and Oakland’s defense behind him (ranked fourth best in the AL according to Defensive Efficiency) he has yielded a league best .230 BABIP.  Yes, it’s an extremely low BABIP, but he’s come by that honestly.  If there’s a correction, it will be minor.

He faces some formidable competition this week, but both starts come at home where Cahill has been stellar with a 1.35 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP in 33 innings and has yet to allow a home run.

Justin Masterson - @ TEX, @ TB

Masterson has a nifty 3.55 SIERA but that 1.56 WHIP is enough to turn your stomach.  If you’re thinking of adding him this week, make sure you read Marc Normandin’s article from earlier on SIERA darlings.  If that doesn’t convince you…

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

Related Content:  Tom Gorzelanny

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Premium Article Future Shock: Top 11 P... (07/01)
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