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August 27, 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
Chris Capuano LH 2 29.0 28 3 3.72 1.24 8.7 2.5 0.9 -- -- -- 2 3.36
Jordan Zimmermann RH 1 39.2 27 2 1.59 0.83 7.0 1.4 0.5 -- -- -- 1 3.55
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
Nelson Figueroa RH 3 48.1 39 4 2.98 1.08 7.3 2.4 0.7 -- -- -- 3 3.71
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  

Italics indicate numbers were compiled in the Minor Leagues.

Added to the list

Click graphic for more stats

Chris Capuano: As a direct result of Manny Parra's struggles, Capuano will be inserted into the Brewers' starting rotation. Cap had success as a reliever with a 1.80 ERA and 12-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his last ten innings of work. He missed all of the 2008 and '09 seasons due to Tommy John surgery, making his success this season all the more remarkable. The velocity on all three of his pitches (fastball, change-up, slider) are as high as they have ever been since he was given regular playing time in 2005.

Cap will start tomorrow against the Pittsburgh Pirates, baseball's second-worst offense behind the Seattle Mariners. The Brewers picked a good time to get Capuano back into the rotation. In deep mixed leagues, he will have a lot of value as the Brewers plan to provide the opportunity to re-establish himself as a starter before becoming a free agent after the season. He is available in 99.9 percent of ESPN leagues.

Jordan Zimmermann: Zim was recalled by the Nationals and made his 2010 debut yesterday against the St. Louis Cardinals. He was hit around but it was mostly due to seven hits in just four innings of work, despite four strikeouts and only one walk. That hit rate will not last, of course.

Zimmermann put up some impressive numbers in the Minors: 7.0 K/9, 1.4 BB/9, and a 1.59 ERA in 39.2 innings. The strikeouts are not where they used to be, but 39 innings is not exactly a large sample size. Going forward, expect more strikeouts and more walks. Zimmermann's next start will come Tuesday against the Florida Marlins. He is barely on the radar in ESPN leagues, owned in just a half of one percent of them. Given the injury to Stephen Strasburg, he has a good chance of getting the ball every fifth day, making him relevant in mixed leagues.

Click graphic for more stats

Nelson Figueroa: In his two starts since becoming a starter for the Astros, Figueroa has a 1.64 ERA and an 11-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He has been a part of a stretch of great Astro starting pitching. Aside from a two-game blip on August 20 and 21, the 'stros have allowed three or fewer runs in 12 out of their last 14 games. They are unlikely to make any changes as a result, so Figgy's spot in the rotation is solidified.

Owned in just 0.5 percent of ESPN leagues, Figueroa will start today against the New York Mets. Another solid outing should spur a wave of pick-ups.

Staying on the list

Mike Minor: Although Minor's next start will be skipped, he will remain a part of the Braves' starting rotation and Kenshin Kawakami will end up in the bullpen. Minor's 12-strikeout performance against the Chicago Cubs should have been enough motivation to pluck him out of the free agent pool. If your league is like the 88 percent of ESPN leagues where Minor is still available, go pick him up. In his three starts since being called up, he has an impressive 22-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Jhoulys Chacin: Chacin's latest start -- a nine-strikeout, one-walk performance against the Arizona Diamondbacks -- and the ongoing struggles of Esmil Rogers may have solidified his spot in the Colorado Rockies' starting rotation. When Aaron Cook is activated from the disabled list, he is likely to take Rogers' spot, not Chacin's.

I have been tooting the Chacin horn for most of the year and will continue to do so. Make the righty, owned in just 2.5 percent of ESPN leagues, a part of your fantasy squad.

James McDonald: McDonald hit a bump in the road, issuing five walks to the Mets on Saturday. He has had mixed results since being put into the Pirates' rotation, but his impressive strikeout rate and average walk rate -- 9.5 K/9, 3.6 BB/9 -- should give you confidence in making him a part of your NL-only or deep mixed league roster. He will start today against the Brewers and is owned in only one percent of ESPN leagues.

Homer Bailey: Bailey struggled against the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday, allowing five runs without exiting the sixth inning. Overall, the Cincinnati Reds' starting pitching has been sub-par as of late, so Bailey's struggles are not likely to earn him a demotion. Stick with the kid as he has a very high ceiling. Bailey will start on Tuesday against the Brewers. Despite the start against the Giants, his popularity is rising but he should still be available in the vast majority of ESPN leagues (over 90 percent).

Removed from the list

Daniel Hudson: If you were able to get Hudson, congratulations. He is currently owned in two out of every five ESPN leagues. That figure will only rise after he starts Saturday against the Giants. In his last three starts, Hudson struck out 28 batters and walked only three in 21 innings of work. Impressive, yes, but also a fantasy season-saver for many owners.

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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