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May 3, 2013

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner

Week Six

by Paul Sporer

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Welcome to the Weekly Pitching Planner. Each week I will cover the pitchers are who slated to make two starts and help you decide who you should start and who you should sit. Sometimes guys will be in the “consider” where they might have one good start, but a second tough one and then your league settings might determine whether or not you should go forward with him. The pitchers will be split by league then by categories:

Auto-Starts – These are your surefire fantasy aces. You paid a handsome sum for them either with an early draft pick or high dollar auction bid so you’re starting them anywhere, anytime. Guys can emerge onto or fall off of this list as the season evolves. There won’t be many – if any – notes associated with these groupings each week. We are starting them automatically so why do I need to expound on how awesome they are and will be in the coming week?

Starts – These are the guys I’m recommending you put into your lineup this week. Some will be obvious, but not quite auto-start excellent while others will be waiver wire fodder who find themselves with a pair of favorable outings that you can take advantage of in your league. There will be accompanying notes supporting the decisions.

Considers – As mentioned earlier, these guys will be on the fence and your league settings and position in the standings will really be a decider here. If the Minnesota Twins fifth starter is slated to face the Astros at home followed by an interleague trip to San Diego, he will appear on this list because the matchups are great though he isn’t and if you are in a 10-team mixed league you probably don’t need to take the risk, but a 10-team AL-only leaguer might see it as a nice opportunity to log some quality innings from a freely available resource.

Sits – These are the guys I’m getting away from this week. They will range in talent from solid to poor. Rarely will you see a really good pitcher here unless he gets an “at COL, at TOR” slate. Speaking of the fateful “at COL”, any mediocre talent with a trip to Coors Field will be a sit until further notice. If they turn the humidor back on, I’ll reconsider, but after last year there is just no reason to throw any non-stud in that park.

And with that, here is our week six slate.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

AUTO-START: Hiroki Kuroda

Kuroda is new to this grouping, but he has earned it. I can’t imagine sitting him in any scenario at this point. Since 2011, he has handled quality competition (.500 or better) quite well with a 3.04 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 19 percent strikeout rate and five percent walk rate in 202 innings of work. His 52 percent ground-ball rate as a Yankee will help him in Coors Field this week, too.

START

Clay Buchholz

MIN, TOR (minotaur!)

Ryan Dempster

MIN, TOR (minotaur!)

Jeremy Hellickson

TOR, SD

Wei-Yin Chen

KC, at MIN

Nick Tepesch

at CHC, at HOU

CJ Wilson

at HOU, at CWS

Notes:
  • If it took Kuroda two-plus seasons of work to make the auto-starts category, then Buchholz needs more than six starts. It is six brilliant starts, so I can’t really imagine taking him out of the lineup when he’s on this roll, especially with the elevated strikeout rate (27.8 percent, compared to a career clip of 18 percent).
  • Tepesch’s 2.53 ERA heading into his last outing was a bit of fool’s gold as he’d faced the Mariners twice and the Twins and Rays once apiece. The White Sox—who aren’t any better than those teams with baseball’s second-worst TAv—should’ve given him a chance to stay hot, but they left the yard twice on him and touched him up for five runs. He continues the softest landing in history of baseball with the Cubs and Astros this week, but he doesn’t miss many bats, so the latter could prove a little tougher. I’m still starting him, but be prepared to jump off the bandwagon at a moment’s notice.
  • Wilson gets the 24th- (HOU) and 29th-ranked (CWS) teams in walk percentage this week. That’s always been his biggest issue, so with a pair of teams not particularly adept at taking advantage, he’s worth starting.

CONSIDER

Consider

Opp.

JA Happ

TB, at BOS

Zach McAllister

OAK, at DET

Notes:
  • Happ walked seven Red Sox in 3 2/3 innings on Thursday night, which is more of him not having it than the team he’s facing doing something against him. Even so, I can understand some trepidation with throwing him back out there against them in Fenway.
  • McAllister is having a strong season improving on some solid work from 2012, but he’s facing the first- and fifth-highest scoring teams. That’s not a lion’s den I’m eager to walk into with McAllister. Chances are high that at least one lineup gets him.

SIT

Sit

Opp.

Jarrod Parker

at CLE, at SEA

Tommy Milone

at CLE, at SEA

Scott Diamond

at BOS, BAL

Mark Buehrle

at TB, at BOS

Vance Worley

at BOS, BAL

Ubaldo Jimenez

OAK, at DET

Erik Bedard

LAA, TEX

Luis Mendoza

at BAL, NYY

Notes:
  • Do you know who leads baseball in TAv? Probably the A’s, right? Ooh ooh, or the Red Sox? Could definitely be the Rockies, as they are raking at home and away. Of course, it’s none of those. It’s the Cleveland Indians. Parker has shown some glimpses of coming out of his funk, but not enough to trust him twice this week. Milone remains a completely different pitcher at home than he is on the road.
  • Third and fourth in the aforementioned TAv category? That would be Boston and Baltimore, Diamond’s opponents for the week. He’s off to a great start and he can keep lineups off balance for stretches, but the upside just isn’t there.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

AUTO-START: Madison Bumgarner, Cliff Lee, and Kris Medlen

START

Trevor Cahill

at LAD, PHI

Josh Beckett

ARI, MIA

Paul Maholm

at CIN, at SF

Kyle Kendrick

at SF, at ARI

Andrew Cashner

MIA, at TB

Notes:
  • Beckett is off to a rough start as homers have wreaked havoc on his ERA. He has given up two homers in four of his six starts. Oddly enough, he’s given up just three runs in three of those starts, so the homers are taking him out of what would be great outings. The skills are still there. He’s dominated this Arizona team once already this season, and he gets baseball’s worst lineup in the Marlins later in the week.
  • Maholm bounced back nicely after the shellacking to Detroit. If you believed before the Detroit start, there is no reason you should’ve been dissuaded by just one dud.
  • Kendrick in 18 starts since rejoining the rotation on August 3, 2012: 2.92 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 18 percent strikeout rate, and five percent walk rate in 111 innings.

CONSIDER

Tim Lincecum

PHI, ATL

Jorge De La Rosa

NYY, at STL

Bronson Arroyo

ATL, MIL

Notes:
  • Your pain risk tolerance should guide your decision on Lincecum. He could strike out 10 Braves and give up five in the process.
  • De La Rosa had been pitching well before the implosion in Dodgers Stadium. I would err on the side of caution myself, but neither lineup has fared particularly well against lefties so far this season.
  • My problem with Arroyo is that his downside is through the floor, because his home-run issue can lead to some very ugly outings and he doesn’t strike anyone out (though the Braves can remedy that for anyone). Tread very cautiously, but if you need help with your WHIP, he could provide it. 

SIT

James McDonald

SEA, at NYM

Brandon McCarthy

at LAD, PHI

Jeremy Hefner

CWS, PIT

Scott Feldman

TEX, at WAS

Wade LeBlanc

at SD, at LAD

Notes:

  • McDonald can look like a Cy Young contender one start, and then leave you wondering why he’s in baseball the next. Hell, he can do that from inning-to-inning to be honest. Neither of these offenses is terribly threatening, but McDonald is to both your ERA and WHIP.
  • Nothing is going right for McCarthy right now, and I don’t think he’s going to start being himself again this week.
  • All three of the remaining guys have major home-run issues, and that puts their implosion potential sky-high, which is doubly risky when you have to watch them throw twice.. I could see trying Hefner in either of his starts and LeBlanc with the Petco outing if you were desperate and in a daily-transaction league, but committing to either for the pair is a bad idea. 

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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