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June 28, 2013

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner

Week 14

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 14 slate…

AMERICAN LEAGUE

AUTO-START: Doug Fister and John Lackey

START

Matt Moore

at HOU, CWS

R.A. Dickey

DET, MIN

A.J. Griffin

CHC, at KC

Andy Pettitte

at MIN, BAL

Jason Hammel

at CWS, at NYY

John Danks

BAL, at TB

Justin Grimm

SEA, HOU

Notes:

  • I was a little wary of Moore in mid-May when he was toting a low-2.00s ERA, but even with some correction to his 90 percent LOB rate, I didn’t think we’d see this. Moore has been awful in June posting an 8.39 ERA and 2.19 (!!!) WHIP in 24 2/3 innings over five starts. He still fanned more than a batter per inning with 26, but he also had 20 walks. He’s out as an auto-start for now, but this week’s slate is too juicy to pass up. In fact, if you aren’t starting him here, just cut him, because it won’t get any better from an opponent standpoint.
  • Dickey has tantalized in June with an on-off pattern that saw him throw 8 1/3 scoreless in San Franciesco, then give up seven in five against the White Sox, followed by a solid one-run outing over 5 2/3 innings in Texas. The ping-ponging continued in his last two, as the Orioles creamed him for six in six before he went into Tampa Bay and threw a two-hitter (one of three in MLB in the last two days). The home run counts in those five outings: 0, 2, 0, 3, and 0. It’s all about location for Dickey. The Detroit outing is a little ominous, but he can handle any opponent when he’s on, as evidenced by his trips to Texas and Tampa Bay.
  • Griffin also threw one of the two-hitters; in fact, it came later in the same afternoon as Dickey’’s. He’s spent most of the year as a solid, if unspectacular, arm, allowing more than four runs just once; Boston massacred him for nine runs, seven earned, in just four innings back on April 22. His ERA actually hit a season-high 4.65 in the start after that one, and since then, he has a 3.10 ERA in 11 starts spanning 72 2/3 innings. He’s not a huge strikeout guy, with 58 in that span, but that’s a solid 20 percent mark, plus the 3.9 K:BB is great.
  • Hammel is similar to Moore in that if you’re not willing to start him here, then he shouldn’t be taking up a roster spot for you. He has survived a four-start run against the Rays, Angels, Jays, and Indians by yielding a 4.21 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 25 2/3 innings. Maybe if he hadn’t allowed five homers in the four-start run, his ERA would more closely match the WHIP. He has to face both of these weak offenses in their friendly home ballparks, but he has actually been much better on the road with a 4.19 ERA compared to an ugly 6.30 in Camden Yards.
  • Grimm has suffered through a terrible June (9.00 ERA in 25 innings), but he faced a brutal schedule that included trips to Boston and Toronto. He beats up on weaker opposition with a 3.60 ERA against teams under .500, while the better clubs smash him to the tune of a 7.17 ERA. This is very similar to Hammel. Either start him here or cut him.

CONSIDER

Roberto Hernandez

at HOU, CWS

Samuel Deduno

NYY, at TOR

Notes:

  • Hernandez is similar to Hammel and Grimm, but I put him in the “Consider” pool because while he does fare better against weak offenses, the White Sox smashed him for five runs in six innings earlier this year. I don’t put too much stock into one start, because any team can rip even the best pitcher, but it’s worth considering, and that’s why he’s here.
  • The Tigers blasted Deduno for six runs in just 5 1/3 innings in his season debut, but since then, he has a 2.37 ERA and 1.13 WHIP over 38 innings with a 4.6 K:BB. He showed his electric stuff in the WBC this spring, and it seems to be finally translating in the majors. The big change is that he’s not walking so many batters. In 15 starts last year, he walked at least three in all but three of them, including five or more six different times. His season high in seven starts this year is three, done twice including in that opener against Detroit. The Yankees lineup is terrible, so the trip to Toronto is the concern.

SIT

Dallas Keuchel

TB, at TEX

Erik Bedard

TB, at TEX

Scott Kazmir

at KC, DET

Phil Hughes

at MIN, BAL

Luis Mendoza

CLE, OAK

Jose Alvarez

at TOR, at CLE

Joe Saunders

at TEX, at CIN

Chien-Ming Wang

DET, MIN

Scott Diamond

NYY, at TOR

Notes:

  • There are actually some intriguing names on this list, but the matchups are just brutal—particularly for the two Astros. Both Keuchel and Bedard got done finishing excellent Junes, but they haven’t instilled enough confidence to throw them out there against two top offenses in a single week.
  • Kazmir has been wildly inconsistent this year with no rhyme or reason behind the good or bad starts. He left his last outing with back spasms, though he’s expected to be fine. The worst-case scenario is that he’s not fine and either misses or has his Kansas City outing shortened, leaving your hopes pinned to a start against Detroit. No thanks.
  • Mendoza has a 3.28 ERA in his last 10 outings, but the 1.37 WHIP and 1.8 K:BB suggest caution, as do outings against Cleveland and Oakland next week.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

AUTO-START: Clayton Kershaw, Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Lance Lynn, Cole Hamels, and Patrick Corbin

START

Kris Medlen

MIA, at PHI

Homer Bailey

SF, SEA

Jeff Locke

PHI, at CHC

Jose Fernandez

SD, at STL

Yovani Gallardo

at WAS, NYM

Jeremy Hefner

ARI, at MIL

Bronson Arroyo

SF, SEA

Scott Feldman

at OAK, PIT

Notes:

  • Medlen had an 8.5 percent walk rate and 1.41 WHIP through his first eight starts, but in the eight since, he has cut the walk rate to 3.5 percent and WHIP to 1.11 in 48 2/3 innings. He is starting to pay dividends on the lofty draft-day price and, with this run of excellent work, he has all but assured himself of a spot in the rotation even if Brandon Beachy returns in the near future.
  • Locke has a 1.07 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in his last eight outings. Unfortunately, he is just 4-0, as the Pirates offense leaves something to be desired when it comes to run support.
  • Gallardo had a 2.32 ERA in 31 June innings despite bookending the month with five- and three-run outings in six and four innings, respectively. He didn’t allow a single earned run in the 21 innings in between, though. We still aren’t seeing the strikeout dominance we are used to from him, but everything else is finally starting to come together.
  • Hefner has allowed more than three earned runs just three times in his 14 starts, and since April 18, when his ERA hit a season-high 7.20, he has a 3.42 mark in 71 innings. He also had a 20-to-4 K:BB in 24 June innings.
  • Arroyo and Feldman are far from special, but each has been solid all year, and they get nice matchups this week. Feldman faces a tough Oakland lineup, but it’s in Oakland, which helps.

CONSIDER

Robbie Erlin

at BOS, at WAS

Jason Marquis

at MIA, at WAS

Wade Miley

at NYM, COL

Shaun Marcum

ARI, at MIL

Notes:

  • Erlin gets baseball’s worst hitting team against lefties in the Nationals, but even the Red Sox struggle against them, sitting 17th in OPS with a 710 mark. If only both outings were in San Diego.
  • I don’t know how Marquis is getting away with a 3.99 ERA—which isn’t even that good—given his 1.2 K:BB and 1.5 HR/9 rates. He’s facing two nice opponents, but I’d rather not risk him on my roster.
  • Miley suffered through a rough May, posting a 7.34 ERA, but has since rebounded with a 3.56 ERA in June. His 1.55 WHIP suggests caution, though.

SIT

Tim Lincecum

at CIN, LAD

Roy Oswalt

LAD, at ARI

Wily Peralta

at WAS, NYM

Tom Koehler

at ATL, at STL

Michael Kickham

at CIN, LAD

Notes:

  • Two of the biggest names of the last seven years find themselves on this list, but don’t let their name value fool you.
  • Koehler showed some decent things in May, but he was been brutal in June, and this week’s slate is rough.

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,  Tim Lincecum,  Fantasy,  Robbie Erlin,  R.A. Dickey

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