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August 6, 2010

Fantasy Beat

Hot Spots: Starting Pitchers

by Bill Baer

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Value Picks 2010 PECOTA Games '10
Starting Pitchers Throws W IP H HR ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 K/9 BB/9 HR/9 Starts SIERA
Randy Wells RH 5 129.0 146 10 4.40 1.43 7.3 2.7 0.7 6.9 2.3 0.8 22 3.87
Brian Duensing LH 4 60.0 49 4 2.10 1.10 5.3 2.6 0.6 5.1 3.3 0.9 3 4.30
Tom Gorzelanny LH 6 93.0 89 5 3.48 1.45 8.6 4.5 0.5 8.1 4.0 0.8 15 4.07
Jhoulys Chacin RH 5 82.1 70 8 4.04 1.31 9.7 4.2 0.9 9.0 3.9 0.8 12 3.54
Thomas Diamond RH 0 6.0 7 0 4.50 1.67 15.0 4.5 0.0 8.5 5.0 1.3 1 2.11
Bud Norris RH 4 86.0 94 10 5.65 1.56 9.5 4.2 1.0 8.9 4.5 1.1 16 3.72
Barry Enright RH 3 41.2 38 5 2.81 1.27 6.1 3.2 1.1 6.0 3.0 1.5 7 4.50
Subscribe to Heater 2007-09 in Rotation 1.39 6.6 3.1 1.1  
Heater Magazine 2007-09 in Relief 1.36 7.7 3.8 0.9  

Added to the list

Jhoulys Chacin: Aaron Cook has struggled all season but his last three starts have forced the Colorado Rockies to place him on the 15-day disabled list. Although he has not been recalled yet, Jhoulys Chacin, currently at Triple-A Colorado Springs, will take Cook's spot in the rotation. In 82 and one-third innings before his demotion to the Minors, Chacin put up a 3.54 SIERA and averaged more than a strikeout per inning.

Chacin will be in the rotation until the end of the season as the Rockies want to put themselves in the best position possible for a run at the National League Wild Card.  That means that Chacin, available in 98 percent of ESPN leagues, would get 10 starts. He is certainly worth the add in almost all formats. He even has value in shallower leagues as his strikeout rate is hard to ignore. The one issue with Chacin, though, is his propensity for issuing free passes. He averaged more than four per nine innings in his previous stint with the Rockies. Every rose has its thorn, and such.

Thomas Diamond: Diamond is similar to Chacin in that he can miss a lot of bats but also struggles with control often enough to become worrisome. To Diamond's credit, he has harnessed his control a bit as he has accrued more playing time following Tommy John surgery in 2007.

Diamond struck out ten Milwaukee Brewers in his Major League debut, taking Ted Lilly's spot in the Chicago Cubs' starting rotation. The Cubs will certainly give him some more Major League experience so they can evaluate him. He is worth an add in all NL-only leagues and most deep leagues. If choosing between Chacin and Diamond, opt for Chacin simply because he plays for a better offensive team and thus will be in line for more wins. You really cannot go wrong with either so long as you accept the control issues.

Removed from the list

Brian Duensing: Duensing's spot in the Minnesota Twins' starting rotation is secure barring a run of poor starts. However, given his lack of strikeouts and the recent emergence of strikeout-heavy starters like Chacin and Diamond, you should make a switch unless you are desperate for WHIP help. Barry Enright, mentioned below, is also a superior (and WHIP-friendly) option.

Bud Norris: Sometimes Norris can be brilliant, as he was on May 13 against the St. Louis Cardinals, July 3 against the Padres, and July 28 against the Cubs. Most of the time, he will be an average pitcher. He has allowed exactly four earned runs in four out of his last eight starts, including three out of his last four. Since the end of June, Norris has shown better control but he also has not put up the lofty strikeout totals we saw in May and June.

Norris has some value in NL-only leagues and deep mixed leagues, but otherwise you should opt for someone else on this list.

Staying on the list

Randy Wells: Wells is perplexing. From June 28 to July 23, he compiled a 1.30 ERA and 7.8 K/9 in 34 and two-thirds innings of work. In his next start on July 28, he walked five en route to allowing three runs in five and two-thirds innings. In his most recent start on August 2, he lasted only four innings, allowing seven runs (six earned) on ten hits.

It is not time to lose faith in Wells, though. Control is usually his forte, so you can chalk up his five walks on July 28 as a fluke. And you can attribute his ten hits allowed in his last start to some unfortunate BABIP luck, especially since his batted ball splits were not egregiously different that game (50 percent fly balls, 35 percent ground balls, 15 percent line drives). Wells should be owned in all but the shallowest formats. (Even AL-only! I kid, I kid.) However, he is available in 94 percent of ESPN leagues.

Tom Gorzelanny: If you need strikeouts and missed out on Chacin and Diamond (or if you prefer a lefty), Gorzelanny should be on your radar. He is currently averaging nearly a strikeout per inning and had been on a roll of four straight wins before earning a no-decision against the Colorado Rockies on July 31.

He will start today against the Cincinnati Reds but his next starts will come against the Giants in San Francisco, the San Diego Padres at home, and the Atlanta Braves at home. The Giants and Padres are average offenses and the Braves have struggled against lefties. This is a pretty good time to pick up Gorzelanny, statistically speaking.

(Note: Despite the preponderance of Cub pitchers in this week's Value Picks, I am not in any way financially backed by Jim Hendry.)

Barry Enright: Enright may soon become known as Mr. Consistency. Last night against the Washington Nationals, Enright continued a streak of pitching at least five innings and allowing no more than three earned runs. He held the Washington Nationals to two runs over six innings of work.

Enright is a control pitcher who does not strikeout as many batters. Additionally, he is an extreme fly ball pitcher -- not far off the pace of Kevin Slowey. Enright is a good fallback option if the Jekyll and Hyde qualities of some the aforementioned turn you off. Although the Arizona Diamondbacks have a decent offense, their bullpen has had a penchant for blowing leads late in games so Enright is not a great candidate if you are chasing wins. However, he is still a great play in NL-only leagues. Use your best judgment if you are considering adding him in a mixed league. Obviously, the deeper, the better.

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

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