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August 16, 2013

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner

Week 21

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 20 slate…

AMERICAN LEAGUE

AUTO-START: David Price, Ervin Santana, and Jered Weaver

Yes, Weaver stays even after that odd implosion in the Bronx.

START

Jon Lester

at SF, at LAD

Rick Porcello

MIN, at NYM

Jarrod Parker

SEA, at BAL

Ivan Nova

TOR, at TB

Miguel Gonzalez

TB, OAK

Danny Salazar

at LAA, MIN

Kyle Gibson

NYM, at CLE

Notes:
  • Porcello hasn’t allowed more than three earned in any of his last eight outings spanning 50 2/3 innings, though it is worth noting that he has been a bit hit-prone of late, with seven, eight, six, and 11 allowed in his last four. His two opponents next week aren’t exactly prone to hitting, though.
  • Parker is my guy, I’m a huge fan of his for sure, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention this is a tough slate with the Mariners actually being the toughest of the pair. They have the top wOBA against righties since the All-Star break with a .345 mark. I think he’s got the talent to overcome that, but his margin for error is thin.
  • Gonzalez has rebounded from a lull that saw him struggle against the Royals and Astros with back-to-back quality starts. He’s quietly been sharp all year long including a 3.56 ERA since returning from the DL on May 21.
  • Salazar was supposed to have a two-start week last time out after starting on Monday against the Twins, but the Indians squeezed Carlos Carrasco in and ended up with a six-man rotation this week. He’s once again slated for two including a rematch against the Twins who popped him on Monday so I’m particularly interested in seeing how he fares against a team the second time around.

CONSIDER

Esmil Rogers

at NYY, at HOU

John Danks

at KC, TEX

Notes:
  • After three horrid outings, Rogers looked excellent against the Red Sox, throwing six strong with just one earned and six strikeouts because that’s how baseball works! These are two excellent matchups so I’m heavily considering him with leagues where I’m protecting ERA/WHIP being the only league where I would probably just pass to play it safe.
  • The Royals don’t hit lefties while the Rangers do, so I’m conflicted with Dank, especially his homer-happy tendencies. Tread lightly here, Hank.

SIT

Alexi Ogando

HOU, at CWS

Aaron Harang

at OAK, LAA

Mike Pelfrey

at DET, at CLE

Notes:
  • I’m not even sure Ogando will make both starts, but if he does, I might actually use him because of the opponents.

NATONAL LEAGUE

AUTO-START: Patrick Corbin, Jose Fernandez, Jordan Zimmermann, Francisco Liriano, Shelby Miller, A.J. Burnett, and Lance Lynn

This week is a perfect antidote for Burnett’s woes with trips to San Diego and San Francisco.

START

Hyun-Jin Ryu

at MIA, BOS

Tony Cingrani

ARI, MIL

Jorge de la Rosa

at PHI, at MIA

Dan Haren

at CHC, at KC

Jeff Samardzija

WAS, at SD

Andrew Cashner

PIT, CHC

Bronson Arroyo

ARI, MIL

Jacob Turner

LAD, COL

Dillon Gee

at MIN, DET

Chris Capuano

at MIA, BOS

Randall Delgado

at CIN, at PHI

Ryan Vogelsong

BOS, PIT

Tyler Thornburg

STL, at CIN

Chris Rusin

WAS, at SD

Notes:

  • De La Rosa is the rare Rockies pitcher who is actually better at home, but these two lineups don’t present a major threat in their home ballparks and his 3.84 ERA on the road is more than palatable.
  • It would seem Haren’s back is feeling quite fine! He has a 2.43 ERA and 0.92 WHIP in his last six starts which includes a 5 IP/5 ER shellacking against Pittsburgh coming out of the All-Star break, too. His 39-to-8 K:BB ratio in his 37 innings during that stretch is even more impressive. Trips to Wrigley and Kauffman offer a great opportunity to stay hot.
  • Speaking of antidotes for terrible pitching, if this doesn’t serve as one for Samardzija then I’m not sure we’ll find one the rest of the season. If he doesn’t roll both, hopefully he is at least average in the off one while getting fat with the other.
  • I’m just as uncomfortable trusting Arroyo as you are, but he’s been great this year especially at home with a 3.07 ERA in 91 innings of work. Neither offense he is facing is particularly potent with the Brewers being downright bad with the 24th-ranked wOBA against righties since the break at .292.
  • While Turner does get the red-hot Dodgers among his pair, he gets them at home and he’s allowed more than three earned just twice in his 14 starts this year (four earned both times).
  • Getting the Tigers at home keeps Gee as a start despite how potent they are offensively. He has a 2.21 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 69 1/3 innings at home this year.
  • Vogelsong looked great in his return from injury and hopefully this spurs a run of more 2011-2012 Vogey than the early-2013 disaster we saw in April and May. Both starts being at home helps mitigate the Red Sox being on his list.
  • Thornburg has avoided the one thing that sank his 2012 MLB sample and pushed him to a 5.79 ERA in 15 Triple-A starts this year: home runs. He’s allowed just one in 37 1/3 innings this year which includes three starts. This isn’t an easy slate, but I’m taking a shot with him.

CONSIDER

Kris Medlen

at NYM, at STL

Tim Lincecum

BOS, PIT

Notes:
  • I’m torn on Medlen. The 153 hits in 145 innings still give me pause particularly with St. Louis on his docket. Of course he’s allowed 20 hits in 18 1/3 innings over three starts against the Mets, too. I’m just nervous. Your best bet with him right now on the heels of some nice starts is to trade him over the weekend if you can.
  • On paper, you would expect some struggles against the Red Sox and a pasting of the Pirates, but since it’s Lincecum he will throw a two-hitter against the Red Sox and give up six earned in two innings against the Pirates.

SIT

John Lannan

COL, ARI

Ethan Martin

COL, ARI

Jeff Manship

at PHI, at MIA

Notes:

  • No… just no.

Paul Sporer is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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