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July 15, 2011

Fantasy Beat

Weekly Planner #15

by Craig Brown

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As teams stack their rotations coming out of the All-Star break, that means we’re stuck dealing with the back end of multiple rotations in the first full week back. That’s means we have fewer quality options than usual if you’re looking to pick up a pitcher or two in your fantasy league for the coming week.

As always, starters listed are tentative and subject to change. At deadline, several teams had not announced their rotations for the early part of next week. The following teams will have opportunities for two-start pitchers, so keep an eye on the probables:

LAA - 7/19 vs TEX, 7/24 @ BAL
BAL - 7/18 vs BOS, 7/24 vs TEX
BOS - 7/18 @ BAL, 7/24 vs SEA
SEA - 7/19 @ TOR, 7/24 @ BOS
TB - 7/18 vs NYY, 7/23 @ KC
TB - 7/19 vs NYY, 7/24 @ KC

ARI - 7/18 vs MIL, 7/23 vs COL
ARI - 7/19 vs MIL, 7/24 vs COL
PHI - 7/18 @ CHC, 7/24 vs SD
WAS - 7/18 @ HOU, 7/24 @ LAD

Starters marked with an * are available in more than half the ESPN or Yahoo leagues. Those with a ^ are available in more than 80 percent of those leagues.

To the victor, go the spoils… We’ll start in the National League this week…

Brandon Beachy - 7/19 @ COL, 7/24 @ CIN
Chad Billingsley - 7/18 @ SF, 7/24 vs WAS
Matt Garza - 7/18 vs PHI, 7/24 vs HOU
Yovani Gallardo - 7/19 @ ARI, 7/24 @ SF
Ubaldo Jimenez - 7/19 vs ATL, 7/24 @ ARI
Anibal Sanchez - 7/19, vs SD, 7/23 vs NYM
Tim Stauffer - 7/19 @ FLA, 7/24 @ PHI
Ryan Vogelsong - 7/18 vs LAD, 7/24 vs MIL

Sanchez is currently fifth in the NL in pitcher abuse points.


Kyle Lohse - 7/19 @ NYM, 7/24 @ PIT
*Derek Lowe - 7/18 @ COL, 7/23 @ CIN

Lowe’s ground ball rate has increased each month of the season. He’s peaking at 67 percent in July.  I’m almost completely off the Lohse bandwagon. After posting a 48 percent ground ball rate in the season’s first month, he’s seen that rate steadily decrease… and his ERA increase. His BABIP remains luck at .249, so the ERA is still misleading.  He’ll continue regressing and is a shaky play.


^Chris Capuano - 7/18 vs FLA, 7/23 @ FLA
*Dillon Gee - 7/19 vs STL, 7/24 @ FLA
^Jason Hammel - 7/18 vs ATL, 7/23 @ ARI
^Clay Hensley - 7/18 @ NYM, 7/23 vs NYM
^Jordan Lyles - 7/18 vs WAS, 7/24 @ CHC
^James McDonald - 7/18 vs CIN, 7/24 vs STL
^Dontrelle Willis - 7/18 @ PIT, 7/24 vs ATL
*Randy Wolf - 7/18 @ ARI, 7/23 @ SF

Gee was on his way to being the fantasy story of the year… then reality set in. In his last four starts, he has a 6.35 ERA with 12 walks and just 11 strikeouts in 22.2 innings. What continues to cause concern is that his .247 BABIP and 70 percent left on base percentage still have a little correction remaining. Handle with caution. Maybe this is just me holding out hope one of my sleepers can have a good second half, but McDonald has posted a 3.08 ERA in his last 14 starts. The problem, however, is his WHIP is an ugly 1.47 over that same stretch. The walks (4.2 BB/9) are going to put a skewer in that ERA.

Capuano was a “sit” in his last two-start rodeo but had a 3.00 ERA and 1.33 WHIP while picking up one win. It’s tempting to put him in the “consider” category, given his 3.84 SIERA, but I’ll resist given that he will make both starts against the Marlins this week and their team splits are better against left-handed pitching. Coming off the DL (where he was recovering from a shoulder sprain) and moving from the bullpen to the rotation? That’s what the Marlins are doing with Hensley, who, because of rainouts, draws the Mets in back-to-back assignments this week.

Lyles had decent HR/9 rates in the minors, but he currently owns a 1.2 HR/9 in the bigs.  Hitters are putting the ball in the air 41 percent of the time, and they’re torching him for liners, hitting them in 21 percent of all balls in play. Hammel owns a 5.06 SIERA, the highest in the NL. Willis did have a 2.63 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and a 3:1 K/BB ratio in Triple-A, but I’m not in a hurry to hop back aboard the D-Train.

Are the cracks beginning to show for Wolf? Last time he had a two-start week, it was advised to keep him on the bench, and he posted a 6.23 ERA and 1.92 WHIP. He still has about a full run of separation between his ERA and SIERA.

On to the AL...


Scott Baker - 7/18 vs CLE, 7/23 vs DET
Alexi Ogando - 7/19 @ LAA, 7/24 vs TOR


^Mark Buehrle - 7/18 @ KC, 7/24 @ CLE
A.J. Burnett - 7/18 @ TB, 7/23 vs OAK
Bartolo Colon - 7/19 @ TB, 7/24 vs OAK

Burnett has been plagued by inconsistency this year. Take his two-start week at the beginning of July, for example.  That week, he threw a total of 12.2 innings and allowed just 14 base runners (good), but seven came around to score (bad). That’s a 1.17 WHIP with a 4.97 ERA. I listed him as a “consider” that week as well. Why is he owned in 85% of ESPN leagues while Buehrle is rostered in just 21% is beyond me. The last time Buerhle gave up more than three runs in a start was on April 22, a string of 13 starts where he’s posted a 2.72 ERA and 1.21 WHIP.  His 4.57 SIERA and 4.26 FRA are cause for concern, but he’s always outperformed his peripherials.

The Colon resurgence remains one of fantasy’s great 21st century mysteries. With a 3.48 SIERA, it’s possible he’ll continue to roll through the second half. After his first 12 starts, I wouldn’t be against him. With a 2.2 BB/9, his control has been the best it’s been since his Cy Young campaign, and his 7.9 K/9 is the highest it’s been since 2001. The Yankees have done a good job protecting him as he’s throwing just 92 pitches per start, has yet to top 103 pitches in any start, and has only broken the century mark three times. Of course, it’s difficult to throw 100 pitches if you can’t make it out of the first, like he failed to do in his start on Thursday.


^Fausto Carmona - 7/18 @ MIN, 7/24 vs CHW
^Brett Cecil - 7/19 vs SEA, 7/24 @ TEX
^Kyle Davies - 7/18 vs CHW, 7/24 vs TB
^Rick Porcello - 7/19 vs OAK, 7/24 @ MIN

Carmona is scheduled to be activated from the DL to make his start on Monday. He wasn’t doing anything before he was injured to warrant consideration, though (5.78 ERA and 4.13 SIERA with just a 5.3 K/9). Porcello is a pitch-to-contact starter with an above average 85 percent contact rate. He doesn’t walk many (2.6 BB/9), but with a lackluster Tiger defense behind him, hitters are batting .272 when they put the ball on the ground, which happens 45 percent of the time. Cecil has made a little bit of progress since his return from the minors at the end of June, but it’s not enough.

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

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