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June 14, 2012

Value Picks

Starting Pitching for 6/14/12

by Paul Sporer

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Wednesday was banner night for fine pitching performances, capped off by Matt Cain’s perfect game, while several of the gems came from guys who were Value Picks earlier this season.

And that doesn’t even mention several other sharp six-inning outings, including one from Stephen Strasburg

Last Chance
One of those six-inning gems came from Hiroki Kuroda (Yahoo! 62%, ESPN 70%, CBS 78%), who is absolutely on fire of late.  In his last four starts, he has a 1.29 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 6.8 K/9, and 4.2 K/BB in 28 innings with three wins.  Going back to April 19, after Minnesota kicked his butt and pushed his ERA to 5.00 on the dot, he has thrown 63 1/3 innings with a 2.99 ERA and 1.20 WHIP.  You are definitely running out of time. 

The aforementioned Felix Doubront (Yahoo! 44%, ESPN 56%, CBS 80%) will likely see his availability evaporate a bit more this morning as fantasy managers pore over another gem when viewing their morning box scores.  With another big strikeout night, he is now fanning 10 batters per game, and a road-bump outing against the Nationals is the only thing between Doubront and seven straight outings with two earned runs or fewer.  Instead, he settles for six of seven with an ERA of 3.51 in that 41-inning span. 

Really?
If you want me to stop writing about A.J. Burnett (Yahoo! 47%, ESPN 58%, CBS 74%), then pick him up.  This is insanity.  His ownership rates have risen dramatically since I last included him in this space, but he is still being underutilized.  Since the Disaster at Busch (working title) in which he was brutalized for 12 earned runs in a mere two and two-thirds innings, he has posted a 2.12 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 7.5 K/9, and 2.8 K/BB in 47 innings spanning seven starts.  Is there that much name bias against him? 

Upgraded
A couple weeks back, Nate Eovaldi (Yahoo! 6%, ESPN 5%, CBS 15%), was recommended as the NL-only VP.  On Wednesday, he tamed arguably the hottest team over the past couple of weeks in the Los Angeles Angels, netting another one of those six-inning outings I mentioned earlier.  He also made it out of Colorado alive in his second outing of the season, allowing just two earned runs (three in all) in 5 2/3 innings.  That’s virtually a perfect game in 2012 Coors Field.  His 6.5 K/9 isn’t going to win you the category, but it’s at my threshold for mixed league viability, as is his 2.0 K/BB. 

Arriving
I am surprised, shocked, and perhaps somewhat embarrassed that this is Jonathon Niese’s (Yahoo! 33%, ESPN 22%, CBS 70%) VP debut for 2012, though he did just recently get his ERA back under 4.00 for the first time in a month.  He can be aggravating, however, as he continually displays quality skills without commensurate results. 

He is fresh off throwing 13 shutout innings against two of baseball’s most fearsome offenses in the Cardinals and Yankees, during which he fanned 16 and walked just a pair.  In the last month, he has a 3.38 ERA in 35 innings despite the inclusion of an eight-earned-run outing in Toronto back on May 18.  Between Dickey, Johan Santana, and Niese, the Mets may well stick around all summer, especially if Dillon Gee can push his 4.42 ERA down toward his 3.35 xFIP. 

Leaving
The consistent inconsistency of J.A. Happ (Yahoo! 7%, ESPN 3%, CBS 24%) earns him the boot from the VP list.  He was crushed on the other end of the Cain perfecto, allowing eight runs on 11 hits in just 3 1/3 innings.  The silver copper lining is that he had five punch-outs.  His 9.4 K/9 is mighty appealing, but his continued issues with home runs make him terrifying regardless of opponent (1.6 HR/9). 

Alex Cobb (Yahoo! 4%, ESPN 2%, CBS 25%) is joining Happ in the ejector seat as he struggles to grab hold of that fifth spot in the Rays rotation.  He has a 6.27 ERA in his last three starts, but his 14 strikeouts and five walks in the same 19-inning span are intriguing enough to keep an eye on… from afar. 

AL-only VP
Part of Cobb’s ejection is because Wade Davis (Yahoo! 2%, ESPN 0%, CBS 6%) is surging out of the bullpen and could get a look in that fifth spot.  He has a 2.12 ERA with 30 strikeouts in 30 innings of work.  Even if he doesn’t get a look, he has Ogandian-type value as a multi-inning bullpen arm who can chisel away at your ratios with strikeout and vulture win upside.

NL-only VP
The Braves are stretching out Kris Medlen (Yahoo! 1%, ESPN 0%, CBS 10%) in the minors to get him ready for starting upon his return to the majors.  Randall Delgado and Mike Minor are auditioning for their roles, and while the results have been strong the last two weeks (3.18 and 1.46 ERAs), they are still walking 5.6 and 4.4, respectively, and Minor isn’t striking nearly enough batters out to counteract such a rate (5.8 K/9).  Medlen was roughed up in the first outing, but he has bounced back with back-to-back quality starts and has struck out 12 in 13 innings with a 2.0 K/BB.

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

Related Content:  Felix Doubront,  Espn

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