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June 8, 2012

Weekly Planner

Week 11

by Paul Sporer

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I wish I would have had the intestinal fortitude to put Jarrod Parker in the “starts” last week; instead, I straddled the fence with a “consider” in light of his start against Texas, even though it was at home.  He aced the test with seven no-hit innings before Michael Young broke it up to start off the eighth.  He gets his former team on Saturday in Arizona against the Diamondbacks with the pitcher he was dealt for, Trevor Cahill, on the mound opposite him. 

In the National League, is Tim Lincecum no longer a “start”?  He has already been stripped of “auto-start” status, but I left him as a “start” even with a date against Texas (it’s coming at home) because his first start of the week is in San Diego.  While he walked one and struck out eight, he was pretty bland otherwise, allowing four runs in six innings.  Pitchers are supposed to right the ship against the Padres, especially in PETCO Park, and even more so when you’re an elite talent. 

AMERICAN LEAGUE
Auto-Starts: None this week

Start
Brandon Morrow (vs. WAS; vs. PHI)
Colby Lewis (vs. ARI; vs. HOU)
Josh Beckett (@ MIA; @ CHC)
Ivan Nova (@ ATL; @ WAS)
Wei-Yin Chen (vs. PIT; @ ATL)
Alex Cobb (vs. NYM; vs. MIA)
Felipe Paulino (vs. MIL; @ STL)
Garrett Richards (@ LAD; @ ARI)

Not a glitzy group of AL arms this week, but the headliners of Morrow and Lewis should excel in their pair of matchups.  Morrow flashed that elite-level stuff that gets us so excited about his potential on Wednesday, but it was just a few weeks ago that he went a mere two-thirds of an inning and allowed six runs on five hits and three walks.  Three shutouts and a 10 K performance in a fourth start later, however, and we see how great things can be when Morrow is rolling. 

Lewis and his homer-friendly ways can be a bit daunting in a pair of home starts, but he owns Houston with a 1.80 ERA in 40 career innings against them, so I am willing to take a chance that he can stifle the Diamondbacks as well.  He isn’t walking anybody this year with an MLB-best 1.1 BB/9, leading to 6.7 K/BB—also an MLB-best. 

Paulino left his start in the first inning this week, so his status is uncertain going forward.  Even if he was guaranteed 100 percent health, I don’t think he would rate too much higher despite how much I like him; he has to go into the belly of the beast against the Cardinals.  The Mets dominated their faces last weekend, but they are still excellent without question.  A possibly ailing Paulino pushes his stock a bit. 

Consider
Max Scherzer (@ CHC; vs. COL)
Blake Beavan (vs. SD; vs. SF)

It is beyond maddening to see Scherzer’s AL-best 11.2 K/9 and his career-best 3.3 K/BB yield a pathetic 5.88 ERA and 1.59 WHIP in 64 innings.  He has been a one man launching pad with his 1.8 HR/9, which is causing a lot of the problems.  We are at a point where you simply cannot blame anyone if they choose to sit him, even against a pair of weak NL teams (Colorado has a .672 OPS on the road, good for 24th in baseball).

Beavan’s 5.22 ERA inspires exactly nobody, but he has two favorable matchups in his pitcher-friendly home park.  Two of his best starts have come in Texas and in Colorado (2.39 ERA in 11 innings during those starts), so he can come up with a gem every once in a while.  Of course, that tells you how bad he has been in his other nine starts if his ERA is still that high. 

Sit
Bartolo Colon (@ COL; vs. SD)
Jeanmar Gomez (@ CIN; vs. PIT)
Jose Quintana (@ STL; @ LAD)
Nick Blackburn (vs. WAS; vs. PHI)

Sorry Bart; you have been rather solid this year, but your 91 hits allowed are an MLB-high, and there is no way I am chancing that in Coors Field, even if the Rockies sit Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer for no reason. 

NATIONAL LEAGUE
Auto-Starts: Zack Greinke, Madison Bumgarner, Ian Kennedy, Josh Johnson, and Adam Wainwright

Johnson is back to “auto-start” status, putting together a nice run after his implosion in San Diego back in early May.  He has quality starts in five of his past six with the other being a three-run, five-inning outing, which isn’t great but hardly awful.  During the stretch he has posted a 2.95 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 40 innings. 

We are still waiting for Wainwright’s results (4.97 ERA, 1.36 WHIP) to catch up to his skills (8.3 K/9, 3.1 K/BB), but he is worth the wait.  He has had some gems in his 12 starts, and we know the reason for his struggles is his building back from Tommy John surgery.

Start
Johnny Cueto (vs. CLE; @ NYM)
Bud Norris (@ SF; @ TEX)
Chris Capuano (vs. LAA; vs. CHW)
Edwin Jackson (@ TOR; vs. NYY)

Despite 80 career starts, Norris has actually never faced the Texas Rangers.  Sure, they are in different leagues (for now), but the Astros and Rangers always meet up in interleague a few times a year.  I don’t love him in Texas for his debut against the team, but they are in a lull recently, and I trust him enough.  We all know how well St. Louis has been hitting this year, and he has 12 innings of 3.00 ERA with 16 strikeouts and four walks in two starts against them this year. 

Capuano has hit a rough patch of late with trips into Coors Field and Citizens Bank yielding just over 10 innings of 6.99 ERA ball thanks in large part to his four home runs allowed.  Home runs are always an issue for Capuano, but he has only allowed three at home in 33 innings. 

Consider
Clayton Richard (@ SEA; @ OAK)

Richard hasn’t been awful this year, and he is posting a 2.1 K/BB, his first time over 2.0 since his 48-inning debut in 2008.  Your matchups can’t get much more favorable than this in a week of interleague play. 

Sit
Randall Delgado (vs. NYY; vs. BAL)
Chris Young (@ TB; vs. CIN)
Kyle Kendrick (@ MIN; @ TOR)
Brad Lincoln (@ BAL; @ CLE)
Jeremy Guthrie (vs. OAK; @ DET)

The only one of these names that got some consideration for the “consider” pool was Delgado, and that’s because he is coming off of a nice start against Miami and can miss some bats. When push came to shove, however, I just didn’t trust him enough, especially against the Yankees.  Meanwhile, Kendrick’s matchups this week are beastly.

COMPOSITE RANKINGS
Auto-Starts

Greinke, Bumgarner, Kennedy, Johnson, Wainwright

Starts
Morrow, Lewis, Cueto, Beckett, Norris, Capuano, Jackson, Nova, Paulino, Chen, Cobb, Richards

Considers
Scherzer, Richard

Sits
Colon, Delgado, Beavan, Gomez, Young, Kendrick, Lincoln, Maholm, Quintana, Blackburn, Guthrie

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

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