April 29, 2011
Value Picks in the Rotation
Jason Hammel, Colorado Rockies (1 percent ESPN; 2 percent Yahoo!)
Last year, Hammel set a career-high strikeout rate at 7.1 per nine innings, but he has not shown that same bat-missing ability thus far. Instead, Hammel is succeeding by making hitters swing to get on base (2.3 BB/9) and getting them to put the ball on the ground (52 percent ground ball rate). Ground ball pitchers are a great fit for Coors Field because of the light air and the very spacious outfield.
Hammel is fit for mixed league play, especially since his strikeout rate should start climbing as he accrues more innings.
Next start: Thursday, May 5 @ Arizona
Jason Marquis, Washington Nationals (3 percent ESPN; 3 percent Yahoo!)
Marquis struck out nine against the New York Mets on April 10, but starts like that are once in a blue moon. In his other three starts, he struck out a grand total of eight batters. There may be good news, though, as his current walk rate (1.8 BB/9) is much lower than at any time during his career. Be skeptical, but even a slight adjustment that allows Marquis better control could pay dividends in NL-only leagues.
Next start: Wednesday, May 4 @ Philadelphia
Livan Hernandez, Washington Nationals (7 percent ESPN; 8 percent Yahoo!)
In NL-only leagues, though, you have a bit more give for Livan's variance since your options are much more limited.
Next start: Tuesday, May 3 @ Philadelphia
Jeff Francis, Kansas City Royals (4 percent ESPN; 6 percent Yahoo!)
Last week, Francis was recommended for those of you in AL-only leagues. Nothing changes this week, despite the struggles.
Next start: Tuesday, May 3 vs. Baltimore Orioles
Brandon McCarthy, Oakland Athletics (27 percent ESPN; 19 percent Yahoo!)
Next Start: Monday, May 2 vs. Texas Rangers
Packing Up the Bags
For Your NL-Only...
Jeff Karstens, Pittsburgh Pirates (0 percent ESPN; 1 percent Yahoo!)
Karstens has not shown much in his 355 career innings at the Major League level. He does not miss bats with any regularity and induces a lot of fly balls, but he does have decent control. In NL-only leagues, Karstens is worth a look for a couple spot starts while you deal with your own managerial problems.
Next start: Tuesday, May 3 @ San Diego
For Your AL-Only...
Joel Pineiro, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (9 percent ESPN; 3 percent Yahoo!)
Pineiro seemed to reinvent himself in 2009 with the St. Louis Cardinals under the tutelage of pitching coach-slash-wizard Dave Duncan. That success continued last year after signing with the Angels as a free agent.
Starting him on Saturday against the red-hot Rays may be a risk. However, you probably do not have the luxury of picking and choosing at this point in the season, and it is quite possible that he becomes an option for mixed league players before long. If you want to hedge your bets, pick him up, but leave him on your bench on Saturday.