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August 10, 2012

Weekly Planner

Week 20

by Paul Sporer

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There are usually questions about most, if not all, of the guys I don’t do any write-ups for each week, so let’s try something new and do a little something on every “start” and “consider.”  I’ll still do a little something on the group of sits, but those are generally rather self-explanatory. 

AMERICAN LEAGUE
Auto-Starts: CC Sabathia, Zack Greinke, and Jake Peavy

I wouldn’t say I’m close to removing Greinke from the “auto-starts,” but he needs to be held accountable for the fact that he can’t get his results to match those fancy peripherals.  Tons of strikeouts and a great strikeout-to-walk ratio are nice and all, but enough with the implosion starts that keep your ERA in the high-3.00s.  This isn’t bad luck; it’s him pitching poorly too often.  Even the best have rough outings, but guys with his skills don’t usually have this many. 

Start
Matt Moore (@ SEA; @ LAA)
Anibal Sanchez (@ MIN; vs. BAL)
C.J. Wilson (vs. CLE; vs. TB)
Hiroki Kuroda (vs. TEX; vs. BOS)
Bartolo Colon (@ KC; vs. CLE)
Alex Cobb (@ SEA; @ LAA)
Matt Harrison (@ NYY; @ TOR)
Ryan Dempster (@ NYY; @ TOR)
Wei-Yin Chen (vs. BOS; @ DET)
Jose Quintana (@ TOR; @ KC)
Justin Masterson (@ LAA; @ OAK)

Moore started to turn it on in mid-May with a big quality start against Boston in which he walked just one and fanned eight. In his 14 starts from that point, he has posted a 3.16 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 8.9 K/9, and 2.2 K/BB in 85 1/3 innings.  Once he didn’t hit the ground running, I’ve been eyeing him for a second-half surge. 

Even Jim Leyland admits to leaving Sanchez in too long during his debut with the team in Toronto; he was great through five and solid enough in the sixth, but he never should have seen the seventh.  I’m only dinging him slightly for that one, and then he rolled Cleveland before the Yankees rolled him.  That’s the long way of saying he’s really only had one bad start.  Stick with him, you AL-only-ers who are just getting your first exposure to him. 

Wilson showed in 2010 that he can succeed with a high walk rate, but it just doesn’t instill much confidence from start-to-start.  Thankfully, he’s got two teams that have fared terribly against southpaws this year this week, making him a great play.

Kuroda would be tops on this list if his matchups weren’t so tough.  After getting bombed out in Toronto on May 16, he had a 4.56 ERA in eight starts: three of which were awful, one shaky, and four great.  Since then, he has really only been smashed once (in Boston) en route to a 2.54 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 7.6 K/9, and 4.3 K/BB in 95 2/3 innings. 

Pudgy guys are dominating K/BB titles this year: Colon leads the AL at 4.1 while Joe Blanton is pacing the NL.  Colon’s strikeouts have come down significantly from last year, but so have the walks.  He really turned it on in June and has seemingly gotten stronger as the season has worn on; he owns a 2.28 ERA and just 11 walks in 71 innings since June 1. 

Cobb finally found some consistency of late with six straight starts of three or fewer earned runs allowed, including back-to-back outings of seven innings and one earned run.  Listen to this week’s Towers of Power podcast for more Cobb analysis (due out Friday afternoon). 

Harrison and Dempster chart this low because of match-ups.  Harrison is kind of a WYSIWYG guy while Dempster rebounded from his horrid debut with a solid quality start in Fenway against the Sox.  I like both just fine the remainder of the year, but trips to the Bronx and Skydome (I know it’s not called that anymore) aren’t terribly fun for starters. 

Whenever Chen gets on a roll, he lays an egg to cut into the gains.  The most recent example would be Thursday night’s total dud against the Royals.  He had a 2.89 ERA with 45 K in 43 2/3 innings over his last seven starts before Thursday. 

Quintana hasn’t let up, and every time he struggles for an outing or two, he comes right back with a gem soon after.  He is a major liability if you need strikeouts, but otherwise just keep riding this train.  A trip to Toronto isn’t great, as I mentioned, but at least their lineup is well below full strength. 

Imagine if Mike Trout and Albert Pujols were left-handed.  For those unaware, Masterson has no chance against lefties because of his delivery.  That is a primary cause for his inconsistency. 

Consider
Josh Beckett (@ BAL; @ NYY)
Blake Beavan (vs. TB; vs. MIN)

Who’d have thought that Beckett would be lumped in with Beavan at any point ever?  Beckett still has the talent edge, but I’d tread very cautiously here.  His track record is the only reason he wasn’t a flat-out sit here.  Beavan has a 2.86 ERA in 28 1/3 innings over his last four starts, but I’m not really buying in on him.  The matchups aren’t bad, though. 

Sit
Jeremy Guthrie (vs. OAK; vs. CHW)
Henderson Alvarez (vs. CHW; vs. TEX)
Samuel Deduno (vs. DET; @ SEA)

Guthrie carved up the White Sox his last time out and he was sharp against Texas before that.  I’m still skeptical. 

NATIONAL LEAGUE
Auto-Starts: Cole Hamels, Mat Latos, Gio Gonzalez, and Josh Johnson

Latos has a 2.03 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 8.7 K/9, and 3.3 K/BB in 62 innings across his last nine starts.  Going back to the start of May, he has a 3.27 ERA and 112 strikeouts in 113 innings.  Owners just have to weather the April storms with him.

Start
Ryan Vogelsong (vs. WAS; @ SD)
Ian Kennedy (@ STL; @ HOU)
Chad Billingsley (@ PIT; @ ATL)
Jeff Samardzija (vs. HOU; @ CIN)
Mike Minor (vs. SD; vs. LAD)
Tim Hudson(vs. SD; vs. LAD)
Jeff Karstens (vs. LAD; @ STL)
Wandy Rodriguez (vs. LAD; @ STL)
Clayton Richard (@ ATL; vs. SF)

You may have to watch Vogelsong to believe, but it’s legitimate and remains an incredible story.  Things have clicked, and he hasn’t slowed down one bit since 2011. 

The home run issues that plagued Kennedy in 2010 have returned, and they have caused his ERA to inflate. Otherwise, though, he has been great.  The control is there, but the command within the zone needs to improve in order for him to get back to his 2011 level.  The talent is there, and 2011 was not a fluke. 

Billingsley has been great since July started with a 2.51 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 7.3 K/9, and 8.7 K/BB (yes, 8.7… he’s walked just three batters) in 32 innings.  Like Kennedy, he could be a bit better within the zone; he has been too hittable, at times leading to an inflated WHIP

Some worried the wheels were coming off for Samardzija after a nine-earned-run outing to close out June, but since then he has a 2.58 ERA in seven starts spanning 45 innings with 45 strikeouts and just 15 walks.  This transition has worked out swimmingly for the Cubs and has given them an extra bright spot in a down season.  The Houston match-up alone could cover any issues he has in Cincy. 

After another rotten start on May 26, the Braves gave Minor almost two weeks off, and that seems to have helped him get his head right; he has avoided the implosion since then with a 3.15 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 7.3 K/9, and 2.1 K/BB in 65 2/3 innings of work.  These two match-ups should help him keep rolling.  Meanwhile, teammate Hudson just keeps getting it done despite some diminished skills at 36 years old.  After getting knocked around by Philly in Citizen’s Bank, he should be able to get back on track with these two pitcher-friendly matchups. 

Wandy and Karstens aren’t too different, save for their handedness.  They don’t strikeout too many guys, but they limit walks very well, so they avoid burying themselves in unforced errors.  St. Louis is still very tough on pitchers, but the Dodgers start should allow them to build a cushion before heading there.  If I had my druthers, I’d sit them for the St. Louis start, but if you can’t pick and choose then I’d go with them for both. 

Jason and I also discussed Richard on this week’s Towers of Power podcast, so please check that out for some information.  In general, I don’t love these kinds of low strikeout guys, but he has talent and the benefit of playing half of his games in Petco Park. 

Sit
Mike Fiers (@ COL; vs. PHI)
Chris Young (@ CIN; @ WAS)
Nathan Eovaldi (vs. PHI; @ COL)
Joe Kelly (vs. ARI; vs. PIT)
Randy Wolf (@ COL; vs. PHI)
Drew Pomeranz (vs. MIL; vs. MIA)
Chris Volstad (vs. HOU; @ CIN)
Ross Ohlendorf (@ ATL; vs. SF)
Kyle Kendrick (@ MIA; @ MIL)
Armando Galarraga (@ CHC; vs. ARI)
Jeff Francis (vs. MIL; vs. MIA)
Tyler Chatwood (vs. MIL; vs. MIA)

I hate to do it to my boy Fiers, but you know how I feel about trips to Colorado for non-studs.  He’s pitching like a stud, but let’s be honest: he’s not a stud.  So for that, let’s take a break on him.  If he goes out and dominates Coors, then hats off to him.  There are a lot of Coors Field outings in this group of “sits.”

Young is too much of a home run machine to be worth even a consider. 

Auto Starts

Start

Consider

Sit

Hamels

Vogelsong

Beckett

Fiers

CC

Kennedy

Beavan

Young

Greinke

Moore

 

Eovaldi

Latos

Billingsley

 

Eovaldi

Peavy

Samardzija

 

Kelly

Gonzalez

Sanchez

 

Wolf

Johnson

Wilson

 

Alvarez

 

Kuroda

 

Deduno

 

Colon

 

Guthrie

 

Cobb

 

Pomeranz

 

Minor

 

Volstad

 

T.Hudson

 

Ohlendorf

 

Harrison

 

Galarraga

 

Dempster

 

Francis

 

W.Chen

 

Chatwood

 

Wandy

 

 

 

Karstens

 

 

 

Harang

 

 

 

Richard

 

 

 

Quintana

 

 

 

Masterson

 

 

 

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:  Jeff Karstens,  Bad Start,  Matt Harrison

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