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June 22, 2012

Weekly Planner

Week 13

by Paul Sporer

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This is what happens when I trust Clay Buchholz. He faced Miami in back-to-back starts and initially demolished them at home, running his streak to four straight great games (which is why he got the seal of approval as a “start”), but the Fish smashed him for five runs on nine hits in six innings in their rematch. The silver lining is that he managed to get the win since Ricky Nolasco was even worse.

Of the three other AL “starts,” all of whom were relative no-names, it was actually Scott Diamond facing the Pirates in Pittsburgh who did the worst, surprisingly enough. After seven straight starts of three earned runs or fewer, he has allowed four in back-to-back outings against the Phillies and Pirates. Matt Harrison and Tommy Milone were excellent in their initial starts of the week, including a complete game from Milone.

Things have gone horribly on the NL side. Mat Latos faced a similar situation to Buchholz where he faced the same team twice in a row and got smoked (seven ER in four IP) in the first bout. Aaron Harang’s control imploded as he walked eight in three innings in Oakland, and Mark Buehrle was thrashed in Fenway while also doing the “same team twice in a row” thing. These guys need to rally to save the week.

AMERICAN LEAGUE
Auto-Starts: Jake Peavy, C.J. Wilson, and Yu Darvish

Wilson has walked just a single batter in two of his last three starts as he fights to keep his walk rate on the right side of 4.0. Of course, he sandwiched that with a five-walk game, so we’re not out of the woods yet. You can’t complain about the 2.44 ERA and 1.15 WHIP, though, so I’m still firmly in the Wilson camp.

Speaking of walks, Darvish continues to succeed in spite of them (5.0 BB/9), striking out nearly 10 per nine. If you are okay in WHIP, Darvish is a worthy trade target as he continues to deliver wins, strikeouts, and ERA. If the control comes around, he will be ace-worthy.

Start
Matt Moore (@ KC; vs. DET
Felipe Paulino (vs. TB; @ MIN)
Felix Doubront (vs. TOR; @ SEA)
Jason Vargas (vs. OAK; vs. BOS)
Hiroki Kuroda (vs. CLE; vs. CWS)
Phil Hughes (vs. CLE; vs. CWS)
Justin Masterson (@ NYY; @ BAL)

Moore was a little bumpy in Washington on Thursday night with four walks in five innings, but he balanced it out with six strikeouts and wiggled out with only two earned runs allowed. He’s a bit Darvish-esque at this point without the wins.

Paulino is coming back from the DL on Monday, and after a sharp rehab (9.4 K/9, 3.5 K/BB in 13 IP across three starts), I’m ready to put him right back into my lineup. Both of his matchups are in the bottom ten in terms of OPS against righties.

Both Yankees have home runs issues, but they also both have skill sets that are too appealing to ignore. Plus, the Yankees’ offensive support is more conducive to wins even if they only manage a baseline quality start. I am more worried about the White Sox starts, so if you can pick and choose, then I would consider sitting out the White Sox afternoon start for Hughes.

Consider
Justin Grimm (vs. DET; vs. OAK)

I like what I saw out of the rookie in his debut, and his Double-A stats are mighty impressive, but two home starts that will be his second and third as a major leaguer don’t exactly have me rushing to start him. The fact that he seems to have advanced command for his age earn him a “consider” nod, at least.

Sit
Francisco Liriano (vs. CWS; vs. KC)
Gavin Floyd (@ MIN; @ NYY)
Tommy Milone (@ SEA; @ TEX)
Luke Hochevar (vs. TB; @ MIN)
Christopher Archer (@KC; vs. DET)
Jacob Turner (@ TEX; @ TB)
Rick Porcello (@ TEX; @ TB)
Travis Blackley (@ SEA; @ TEX)
Daisuke Matsuzaka (vs. TOR; @ SEA)
Josh Tomlin (@ NYY; @ BAL)
Tommy Hunter (vs. LAA; vs. CLE)
Erasmo Ramirez (vs. OAK; vs. BOS)
Liam Hendriks (vs. CWS; vs. KC)
Jesse Chavez (@ BOS; vs. LAA)
Joel Carreno (@ BOS; vs. LAA)

I still need to see more from Liriano before I will even dip my toe into the “consider” pool. He is just too combustible. With him, it only takes one bad inning to completely tank an outing or even a week.

Floyd is riding shotgun next to Liriano, having shown very little of late. He has just the one gem, and it was against the Cubs. He has great skills that make you want to dive headfirst back in and invest, but home runs remain a huge problem. The Cubs start was the first in his last seven where he didn’t allow a home run, and it is no coincidence that it is the only start in the seven where he gave up fewer than four runs.

Archer deserves applause for walking just one National in his MLB debut, but his 5.3 BB/9 in Triple-A this year suggests he didn’t just miraculously acquire command and control, thus I can’t yet recommend him without seeing more.

No one after Archer has much intrigue at all. The Tigers youngsters are highly talented, but trotting them out in Arlington is asking for six earned runs and five walks in five innings each.

NATIONAL LEAGUE
Auto-Starts: Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Clayton Kershaw, Yovani Gallardo, and James McDonald

Welcome Mr. McDonald into the “auto-starts” category! With 13 straight starts with three or fewer runs allowed (yes, that would be all of his 2012 starts), he can be trusted anywhere, anytime. Remember when he had just six strikeouts in his first three outings, causing some to panic? Since then he has 72 in 66 innings (9.8 K/9).

Start
Vance Worley (vs. PIT; @ MIA)
Ryan Vogelsong (vs. LAD; vs. CIN)
Johan Santana (@ CHC; @ LAD)
Dillon Gee (@ CHC; @ LAD)
Daniel Hudson (@ ATL; @ MIL)
Mike Leake (vs. MIL; @ SF)
Erik Bedard (@ PHI; @ STL)
Wandy Rodriguez (vs. SD; @ CHC)
Nathan Eovaldi (@ SF; vs. NYM)

The Phillies have eased Worley back in since his return from the disabled list, first allowing him to go four innings, then six, and finally seven innings in his latest outing (which was also his first 100-pitch start since returning). He has a 2.12 ERA and 14 strikeouts over those three starts, yet for some reason fantasy managers have been slow to pull the trigger and re-acquire him. He is still available in just over 30 percent of ESPN leagues and 40 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

Only once has Vogelsong yielded more than three runs this season, and that was back on April 26. Since then, he has gone seven-plus in all but one of his 10 starts, posting a 1.92 ERA and 1.14 WHIP with a 6-2 record. He doesn’t have the skills we saw last year when he posted a 7.0-plus K/9, but he is still treading right at the 2.0 K/BB ratio, and as long as he keeps posting incredible ratios, you can get your strikeouts elsewhere.

Hudson is on the path to Gavin Floyd-dom this season; his impressive skills keep you intrigued, but the continued hits to your ERA and WHIP are becoming too much to take. His outing in Texas looked like a turning point, but then Seattle bombed him for seven earned runs at home. He has been boom or bust this season. It’s tough to take the busts, but I think he is someone to stick with for now.

Consider
Jake Westbrook (@ MIA; vs. PIT)
Joe Blanton (vs. PIT; @ MIA)

Westbrook is coming off of a complete game against the Tigers during which he was quite impressive. He has at least one complete game in seven of the last nine years, though, so that isn’t necessarily anything new. He is a standard WYSIWYG guy, and if you are in need of that, then use him; otherwise, you can probably find a higher upside option.

Blanton leads the NL with a 6.2 K/BB that would normally appeal to me, but perhaps he is finding the zone a bit too much, as he also leads the NL in home runs allowed. In other words, he is displaying control, but his 5.04 ERA and 1.7 HR/9 suggest that his command may be off. There is still some upside here if he can curb the home runs, but until then, be careful. Facing Pittsburgh and going to Miami is a nice pair of matchups, though.

Sit
Bronson Arroyo (vs. MIL; @ SF)
Anthony Bass (@ HOU; @ COL)
Jordan Lyles(vs. SD; @ CHC)
Ricky Nolasco (vs. STL; vs. PHI)
Barry Zito (vs. LAD; vs. CIN)
Travis Wood (vs. NYM; vs. HOU)
Ross Ohlendorf (@ HOU; @ COL)
Christian Friedrich (vs. WAS; vs. SD)
Josh Outman (vs. WAS; vs. SD)
Jeff Francis (vs. WAS; vs. SD)

Unlike the AL list where there was some hemming and hawing, this was a really easy list of sits. Arroyo’s home run issues have returned in full force (two homers in each of his last three starts), and Bass has a trip to Colorado on tap. None of these names were even the least bit appealing.

COMPOSITE RANKINGS
Auto-Starts

Strasburg, Gonzalez, Kershaw, Gallardo, McDonald, Peavy, Wilson, Darvish

Starts
Worley, Moore, Vogelsong, Santana, Paulino, Gee, Doubront, Hudson, Leake, Vargas, Kuroda, Hughes, Bedard, Masterson, Rodriguez, Eovaldi

Considers
Westbrook, Blanton, Grimm

Sits
Liriano, Floyd, Milone, Hochevar, Arroyo, Bass, Archer, Turner, Porcello, pick the rest out of hat… I’m not kidding, there is no discernible difference between Dice-K and Zito, either way you won’t be happy.

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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