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August 20, 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
Mike Minor LH 1 12.0 10 0 3.75 1.08 7.5 2.3 0.0 9.0 3.9 1.2 2 3.78
Daniel Hudson RH 4 45.1 39 5 3.57 1.19 8.1 3.0 1.0 8.8 3.7 0.9 7 3.66
Tom Gorzelanny LH 6 112.1 110 7 3.85 1.46 8.1 4.3 0.6 8.1 4.0 0.8 18 4.22
Jhoulys Chacin RH 5 87.1 75 8 4.33 1.35 9.6 4.4 0.8 9.0 3.9 0.8 13 3.67
James McDonald RH 2 25.1 25 1 4.26 1.34 9.6 3.2 0.4 8.2 3.7 1.1 4 3.29
Thomas Diamond RH 0 15.0 18 1 7.20 1.87 9.0 6.0 0.6 8.5 5.0 1.3 3 4.62
Dustin Moseley RH 3 39.2 39 9 4.76 1.37 4.3 3.2 2.0 5.8 3.2 1.3 5 4.78
Homer Bailey RH 2 56.2 57 7 4.92 1.38 7.1 3.3 1.1 6.8 3.6 1.0 10 4.25
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

Click graphic for more stats

Mike Minor: Minor looks like a solid add to the back of the Atlanta Braves' starting rotation as he pitched well in his first two starts. In six innings apiece, Minor notched two quality starts, striking out ten and walking three. 90 percent of his pitches are fastballs and change-ups but it is effective due to the 10 MPH separation in velocity. He averaged well over a strikeout per inning in his brief Minor League career and our own Kevin Goldstein wrote at the end of July that Minor doesn't "need much more seasoning".

Christina Kahrl notes, however, that the Braves intend to use him as a "skippable starter" especially with expanded rosters in September. He will face the Chicago Cubs on Sunday -- a good outing may force the Braves to feature him on a regular basis. Minor is owned in five percent of ESPN leagues. He is a must-start for Sunday in all formats, but beyond that, we will have to see how the Braves choose to use Minor in his first full season of professional baseball.

Click graphic for more stats

James McDonald: The Pittsburgh Pirates picked up quite a pitcher when they traded Octavio Dotel to the Los Angeles Dodgers. McDonald struck out 20 in 17 and two-thirds innings with his new team. He was always a high-strikeout pitcher in the Minors but had worse control than he has shown in his three starts with the Pirates, so expect a walk rate closer to PECOTA's 3.7 BB/9 going forward.

McDonald, owned in less than one percent of ESPN leagues, will make his next start on Saturday at home against the New York Mets. That is a must-start in all formats as the Mets are one of the weaker offensive teams in baseball, averaging 4.05 runs per game, 13th best in the National League.

Click graphic for more stats

Homer Bailey: Bailey is once again a regular part of the Cincinnati Reds' starting rotation after six impressive shut-out innings against the Florida Marlins on Sunday. Subsequently, Mike Leake has been moved to the bullpen in an effort to limit the rookie's innings. Bailey brings average control with slightly above-average swing-and-miss stuff.

Owned in one percent of ESPN leagues, Bailey is a good play in NL only and deep mixed leagues. Given the rampant availability of pitchers like Minor, McDonald, as well as Daniel Hudson and Jhoulys Chacin mentioned below, there are still better options in shallower leagues. Bailey will start today against the Dodgers. Unlike Minor, however, Bailey's definitive role makes him a more reliable option over the (relative) long-term.

Removed from the list

Tom Gorzelanny: Gorzelanny simply has not been able to find any consistency. He walked three and struck out only two in his most recent start against the San Diego Padres and is slated to face the Atlanta Braves tomorrow. Some of his struggles can be blamed on BABIP -- .324 in his last five starts -- but his control has also been hit-or-miss as three of his four-plus-walk outings have come since the start of July. Additionally, Gorzelanny has not struck out more than five batters in a start since July 10.

Thomas Diamond: The Cubs did not give Diamond much room for error. After a great debut against the Milwaukee Brewers on August 3, Diamond allowed nine runs on ten hits and seven walks while striking out only three in his next two starts, totaling just seven innings.

The Cubs are giving Diamond's spot to Casey Coleman, a sinker-baller who does not miss many bats. Coleman showed good control in the Minors but walked eight in 12 and two-thirds innings since being promoted to the Majors. Simply put, Coleman is a poor man's Kyle Kendrick and is not a viable option for fantasy baseball purposes, the exception being HACKING MASS.

Dustin Moseley: Moseley's recent struggles can be traced to a lot of bad home run luck (21% HR/FB). He is still a passable stopgap in AL-only leagues but if you are gearing up for the playoffs, you should take a look at the names in green and white above.

Staying on the list

Daniel Hudson: Since moving over to the National League, Hudson has enjoyed tremendous success in four starts. In his two most recent outings, he struck out 19 batters and walked just one in 14 innings. He is legitimately this good as his 3.66 SIERA indicates and should be picked up in all formats.

Hudson starts Sunday against the Colorado Rockies. Although they are one of the National League's better offenses, they also strike out a lot. Start Hudson if you manage to pick him up -- his popularity is skyrocketing and should be owned in the majority of fantasy baseball leagues by Monday.

Jhoulys Chacin: Chacin showed some rust in his return to the Majors, walking five batters in five innings of work Tuesday against the Dodgers. Although Chacin has control problems, his elite strikeout rate makes him one of the best options among starting pitchers this late in the season. Taken in just two percent of ESPN leagues, Chacin has viability in almost any format.

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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