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September 3, 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 3 23.0 24 1 3.91 1.35 10.2 2.7 0.4       4 3.09
Carlos Carrasco RH 0 7.1 6 2 3.68 0.96 4.9 1.2 2.5       1 3.85
Chris Capuano LH 2 32.0 34 5 5.06 1.41 9.3 3.1 1.4       3 3.43
Jhoulys Chacin RH 7 107.1 87 8 3.69 1.28 9.4 4.2 0.7       16 3.56
James McDonald RH 2 41.2 46 2 5.62 1.54 9.5 3.9 0.4       7 3.65
Nelson Figueroa RH 4 60.1 48 5 2.83 1.14 6.3 3.1 0.7       5 4.40
Jenrry Mejia RH 0 27.2 29 2 3.25 1.59 5.5 4.9 0.7       0 3.99
Homer Bailey RH 3 75.0 78 7 4.92 1.40 7.1 3.2 0.8       13 4.21
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

Carlos Carrasco: In his 2010 debut, Carrasco pitched well into the eighth inning against the Chicago White Sox. He had only allowed one run through seven, but a combination of fatigue and poor relief from Justin Germano caused another two runs to be tacked on to his line. Carrasco is no fantasy savior like Mike Minor, but should be a reliable option in AL-only leagues. He will not be a strikeout machine in the Majors -- at least not yet -- but he avoids walks and induces an above-average amount of ground balls.

Carrasco is barely on the radar in ESPN leagues, thus he is most likely yours for the taking in your league. He will start Monday against Dan Haren and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Jenrry Mejia: As a reliever for the Mets earlier this season, Mejia enjoyed success albeit unsustainable at the rate he was issuing walks (4.9 BB/9) and not striking hitters out (paltry 5.5 K/9). He has never had the best control but it is not 4.9 BB/9 bad. As a starter, a role he is plenty familiar with, his numbers should start to reflect the hurler the Mets have been observing since 2008. In NL-only leagues, Mejia will have some value, especially given his home ballpark.

Mejia will make his Major League debut as a starter tomorrow against the Chicago Cubs. Like Carrasco, Mejia is not on ESPN league radars, so go ahead and pick him up tonight if you are so inclined.

Removed from the list

Mike Minor: At 17 percent ownership in ESPN leagues at the time of this writing, Minor is no longer a "value pick". If you missed the Minor train, pray that your league fell asleep when he burst onto the scene and scour the free agent pool for him. If you are still hurting for strikeouts, check out Jhoulys Chacin below.

Nelson Figueroa: In his last 12 innings, Figueroa has walked eight and only struck out three, an alarming trend. However, Figueroa has been enjoying success anyway, earning a win in his most recent start against the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday. His success, though, is based on a .227 BABIP since being inserted into the Houston Astros' starting rotation and that will not last.

Staying on the list

Chris Capuano: Cap struggled against the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates last Saturday, allowing six runs over three innings of work. While he struck out five, he walked three. The biggest factor, though, was the six hits he allowed -- three of them were of the extra-base variety, including two home runs.

He will start against the Philadelphia Phillies today. It sounds like a bad match-up, but the Phillies' offense has been hit-or-miss going on three months and their best hitters are mostly left-handed. Cap has held lefties to an OPS 115 points lower so far this season.

As you may expect with a 5.06 ERA, Capuano is available in over 99 percent of ESPN leagues. If he struggles against the Phillies, the Brewers may move him back to the bullpen, so keep a close eye on that.

Jhoulys Chacin: Chacin did not have his best stuff last night against the Phillies, but fortunately for fantasy owners only one of the three runs he allowed counted as an earned run. Additionally, he did not miss bats at the rate to which we had grown accustomed. On the other hand, he was stingier in allowing walks -- just two of them in five and one-third innings. Overall, it was a very minor bump in the road. He will be back to punching out batters at a rate of over one per inning.

Chacin, owned in nine percent of ESPN leagues, has significant value in mixed leagues. His next start will come Tuesday against the Cincinnati Reds.

James McDonald: After dazzling in his August 16 start against the Florida Marlins, McDonald has been lackluster in his three starts since, earning losses in each. The culprit has been BABIP -- .392 to be exact, over those three starts. Assuming his BABIP regresses, McDonald should be much more effective going forward. However, the Pirates grade as one of the worst defensive teams in baseball according to UZR. In NL-only leagues, he is worth the gamble, especially if you are in need of strikeouts.

Homer Bailey: Like McDonald, Bailey's recent struggles are BABIP-related. Bailey allowed only one run in his first two starts back in the Cincinnati Reds' rotation, but has since allowed nine runs in his two most recent starts. The .425 BABIP is utterly unsustainable. Bailey's K/9 and BB/9 in those eleven-plus innings are acceptable at 6.4 and 3.1 respectively.

Bailey will start Sunday against the fading St. Louis Cardinals and Chris Carpenter. His popularity has waned in ESPN leagues. If you are considering picking up Figueroa, opt for Bailey instead. They have performed similarly in limited action so far, but Bailey's team is better offensively (thus more wins) and has a better defense playing behind him. 

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:  Minor Leagues,  Chacin,  Jhoulys Chacin

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