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June 21, 2013

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner

Week 13

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 13 slate…

AMERICAN LEAGUE

AUTO-START: Chris Sale, Hiroki Kuroda, and Clay Buchholz

START

Ervin Santana

ATL, at MIN

Justin Masterson

at BAL, at CWS

Chris Tillman

CLE, NYY

Matt Moore

TOR, DET

Kevin Correia

at MIA, KC

Notes:

  • Those waiting for the other shoe to drop might want to start buying in, as Santana hasn’t slowed down since his hot start. He’s actually gone seven or more innings in each of his last seven starts, too, posting a 2.49 ERA and 0.87 WHIP in 50 2/3 innings with 38 strikeouts and just nine walks. His home run issues have been there, with eight allowed (1.4 HR/9), but seven have come in two games and five of those were solo shots. Now, he lost both of those, but they weren’t utter implosions (five and four earned runs against the Angels and Cards, respectively).
  • Tillman has been inconsistent, but this is a nice slate for him as the Indians haven’t been raking as much lately and the Yankees have been horrid since April.
  • Moore sputtered to a quality start in New York on Thursday, but he had three straight disasters before that, so I’m still a little hesitant right now. But I think this is someone you have to leave in the lineup and just ride out the lulls.
  • Correia had 20 strikeouts in his first seven outings and he has 19 in his last three. This strikeout surge definitely has at least something to do with his competition—the White Sox, Phillies, and Nationals—but the schedule stays friendly, so I say we ride the wave here with him.

CONSIDER

Rick Porcello

LAA, at TB

Esmil Rogers

at TB, at BOS

Notes:

  • This isn’t an overreaction to the Baltimore outing, there’s no crime in getting raked by them. Instead, it’s simply a tough slate, and while he’s been really strong since the last time he faced the Angels (nine earned in two-thirds of an inning), this isn’t a must-start week. Another reason that I’m okay putting him here in the “Consider” pool is because the price you paid makes his excellence a luxury, so you can afford to be picky with his starts and sits.
  • The Jays have transitioned Rogers into the rotation smoothly and it has been working very well with back-to-back quality starts his last two times out in Texas and home against the Rockies. The strikeouts haven’t come, and this is a very tough slate, but I think he is someone to get on your radar. The best-case scenario would be if you could roster him this week and reserve him so you can wait for some friendlier scheduling.

SIT

Jeremy Hellickson

TOR, DET

Ubaldo Jimenez

at BAL, at CWS

Mark Buehrle

at TB, at BOS

Justin Grimm

at NYY, CIN

Notes:

  • Hellickson’s nice start in Boston isn’t enough to convince that he’s worthy of a start this week with a tough two-start slate. Continue to observe him from afar.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

AUTO-START: Cliff Lee, Madison Bumgarner, and Gio Gonzalez

START

Hyun-Jin Ryu

SF, PHI

Jeff Locke

at SEA, MIL

Eric Stults

PHI, at MIA

Trevor Cahill

at WAS, at ATL

Kyle Kendrick

at SD, at LAD

Kyle Lohse

CHC, at PIT

Edwin Jackson

at MIL, at SEA

Chris Capuano

SF, PHI

Notes:

  • Ryu and Locke have had their skeptics, but they continue to get the job done, start in and start out. Locke has been more smoke-and-mirrorsy by comparison, but both lefties have absolutely excelled.
  • Stults has been amazing lately. He left April with a 5.65 ERA in five starts, but in his 10 since then, he’s posted a 2.31 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in 70 innings of work. He doesn’t bring any strikeouts to the table—save for his 12 against Seattle on May 29—but when you’re not walking anybody and posting great ratios, you can overcome a strikeout deficiency.
  • Kendrick’s trip to the west coast brings about a pair of nice venues to face some decent, but unspectacular lineups. Both the Padres and Dodgers have some threatening bats within their orders, but neither squad, one through eight, is particularly imposing. Kendrick gets bashed one from time to time, but his worst outing was in Coors Field, and no one came away surprised from that.
  • E-Jax’s skills have been so much better than what you’d normally find with a 5.49 ERA, and it’s not like he has an egregious home run rate inflating the ERA, either (0.7 HR/9). Alas, this is where we are, and yet I’m dissuaded even in a two-start week. The trick will be getting through the Milwaukee outing to get out to Seattle, where he has a chance for a really big outing. The Brewers have scored 10 runs against Jackson in 12 innings (though only six earned), but neither outing was particularly horrible if you look up the components. I’m rolling the dice here with E-Jax, a longtime favorite of mine.

SIT

Juan Nicasio

at BOS, SF

Notes:

  • He’s been good in his two starts against the Giants this year (two earned in 11 innings), but that trip to Fenway looms, and I’d rather not mess with him here. The skills haven’t been special (1.9 K:BB), but he is definitely someone I’m watching for later in the season to see if he starts to improve the skillset a bit.

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:  MLB,  Ervin Santana,  Fantasy,  Rick Porcello,  Hyun-jin Ryu

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