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September 14, 2012

Weekly Planner

Week 25

by Paul Sporer

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Some teams are running six-man rotations and every team seemingly has their rotation in flux, but we’ll try to iron out the two-start pitchers for next week as we inch closer and closer to wrapping up yet another 162.

AMERICAN LEAGUE
Auto-Starts: Max Scherzer and Doug Fister

It’s a full week for the Tigers, giving two of their best pitchers two opportunities each. Fister was originally slated for two this past week, but that was scrapped; now he has the Monday-Saturday pairing while Scherzer has Tuesday-Sunday. Both are pitching out of their minds right now.

Start
Ryan Dempster
(@ LAA; @ SEA) – Remember when Dempster was pummeled in his first outing? And then again in his third? The trade was deemed a failure by some right then and there, which, of course, is ludicrous. Since the second of the eight-run outings on August 13 in New York, Dempster has posted a 1.91 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 9.8 K/9, and 3.6 K/BB in 33 innings of work spanning five starts. Side-note irrelevant to fantasy: the Rangers staff is really coming together as Yu Darvish and Derek Holland are also throwing their best baseball right now.

Alex Cobb (vs. BOS; vs. TOR) – Even with an outing that saw him yield eight earned in 2 2/3 innings, Cobb still has a strong 3.31 ERA since August 1 (a span of 49 innings). It helps that four of those eight outings saw him give up one or fewer, including an August 23 shutout against Oakland. The best part of Cobb’s surge is the improved peripherals. His season strikeout rate is 6.8 with a 2.8 K/BB, both of which are solid, but during the run he has a 7.5 K/9 with an excellent 4.6 K/BB.

Jeremy Hellickson (vs. BOS; vs. TOR) – Hellickson has maintained a strong ERA all year (never worse than 3.55), but his peripherals weren’t too sharp through June with just a 1.7 K/BB in 81 innings. From July 1 on, he has a 2.99 ERA in 75 1/3 innings but with a much more palatable 2.3 K/BB.

A.J. Griffin (@ DET; @ NYY) – The matchups are quite far from great, but Griffin has been masterful in his first 11 starts, so I can’t see why anyone would be uncomfortable trusting him at this point. Sure, it’s only 65 innings, but it’s the sample we have, and I don’t think he is getting by on smoke and mirrors. He isn’t walking anybody (1.5 BB/9), and he is missing more than enough bats (7.3).

Andy Pettitte (vs. TOR; vs. OAK) – Pettitte was mighty impressive in his return from retirement, but his success was cut short by injury back in late-June. He returns after more than two months, but he can be a huge asset down the stretch if he is still the guy we saw for 58 2/3 innings across nine starts this year. Pettitte is toting a career-high (yes, at age 40) 9.1 K/9 as well as his best walk rate since 2005 (2.3 BB/9), yielding a very surprising 3.9 K/BB. If he weren’t coming back from injury, he would have placed ahead of Griffin thanks to his matchup advantage.

Ervin Santana (vs. TEX; vs. CHW) – How does a guy with a 5.08 season ERA make the starts list? When he pitches well enough to chisel nearly a run off of his ERA late in the season. After his July 21 start, Santana’s ERA hit 6.00, the highest it had been since April. He had trips to Texas and Chicago on the docket right after that, so obviously that mark was headed upward. Or not. He did give up five runs in 11 innings (4.09 ERA), but from that Texas start to now he has a 3.30 ERA across 57 1/3 innings with a 7.2 K/9 and 3.1 K/BB. The matchups aren’t great, but he just makes the cut for “starts.”

Sit
David Huff
(vs. MIN; @ KC) – The matchups are nice, but I would play it safe here in most situations. It probably goes without saying, but if you’re in desperation mode and chasing pitching numbers, then a guy like Huff is a worthy option. Otherwise, the risk isn’t worth it.

Felix Doubront (@ TB; vs. BAL) – While a strikeout force all year long, Doubront has been an ERA liability as well, and with him now sitting on the wrong side of 5.00, it is hard to justify his presence on a roster.

Luke Hochevar (vs. CHW; vs. CLE) – Every time it looks like he is putting it together, Hoch has a string a poor starts that essentially hit the reset button.

Aaron Cook (@ TB; vs. BAL) – Remember when he had like -48 strikeouts in his first 36 innings with a 3.50 ERA and some thought he was single-handedly disproving statistical analysis? Yeah, no. Seriously, he had three strikeouts, three walks, and four home runs allowed, and that level of bat-missing (or utter lack thereof) was going to make it tough to sustain such an ERA. You don’t have to strike batters out to succeed, but that much contact will come back to bite you as the sample grows. It just will. And it has with Cook ; he has a 6.70 ERA 45 2/3 innings with 15 strikeouts since then.

Ricky Romero (@ NYY; @ TB) – Why are they even starting him anymore? Just let him finish in the bullpen and maybe get some confidence.


NATIONAL LEAGUE
Auto-Starts
: R.A. Dickey, Madison Bumgarner, Cliff Lee, and Jordan Zimmermann

Excellent week for Senior Circuit aces. Lee has won three of his last four with a 0.99 ERA and 0.95 WHIP across 27 1/3 innings. The amazing thing is that he needed this run to push his season total up to FIVE wins.

Start
Marco Estrada
(@ PIT; @ WAS) – Estrada has seen his ERA plummet lately because he has quelled his biggest issue: home runs. He has a 2.82 ERA in 44 2/3 innings over his last eight because he has allowed just a single home run. His peripherals have remained great, too: 44 strikeouts and 10 walks. He allowed 16 HRs in his previous 74 2/3 innings, which is why he had a 4.34 ERA before August.

A.J. Burnett (vs. MIL; @ HOU) – Burnett’s struggles since the beginning of August (4.62 ERA in 50 2/3) have obviously contributed to Pittsburgh’s demise; he was their unquestioned ace. That said, he still has a 9.8 K/9 and 2.9 K/BB during the stretch, so he hasn’t completely melted down.

Tim Lincecum (vs. COL; vs. SD) – Perhaps he is the NL’s version of Ervin Santana for 2012. I’m not drawing a direct 1:1 comparison between the two by any stretch; rather, I am pointing out how both have been pitching quite well for an extended stretch yet still tote season ERAs over 5.00, which shows just how poorly they pitched through the first half of the season. With a 5.09 ERA, it might be hard for some to believe that Lincecum actually has a 3.33 ERA in 73 innings spanning his 12 starts since the All-Star break. He also has 73 strikeouts and a still-high, but improved, 4.0 BB/9 (it was 4.7 before the break).

Tim Hudson (@ MIA; @ PHI) – Hudson can’t seem to find any measure of consistency lately with yo-yoing earned run totals since the start of August: 0, 6, 0, 4, 1, 5, 0, 4. I guess that means you will get at least one good start out of him next week, right? No, it doesn’t really work that way; I don’t think you can blindly buy into some odd every-other-one pattern. He’s been the solid Hudson we’ve grown accustomed to with a 3.62 ERA overall in that span (3.66 for the season), but the distribution has just been patterned in a noticeable one on, one off fashion.

Mike Leake (@ CHC; vs. LAD) – Home runs have always been an issue for Leake (1.3 HR/9 this year and for his career, due in part to his home park). Thankfully, he is facing the 24th (Cubs) and 29th (Dodgers) ranked teams in home runs this week, which should give you the confidence to run him out there.

Sit
Ian Kennedy
(vs. SD; @ COL) – Things has been annoyingly hit-and-miss for Kennedy since the break, if you look at his earned runs allowed by start: 6, 1, 2, 3, 2, 5, 3, 1, 6, 0, 5, 0. You know how I feel about non-stars in Coors, and while his peripherals are exactly the same (8.0 K/9, 2.2 BB/9), he has been far too hittable (9.4 H/9, 1.3 HR/9), making that park way too dangerous.

Jhoulys Chacin (@ SF; vs. ARI) – His return from the disabled list has been solid (2.49 ERA in 25 1/3 innings), but that team-wide pitch limit makes it tough to use precious innings and an active roster spot on him when his chances for a win are so much lower than for another pitcher.

Aaron Harang (@ WAS; @ CIN) – He has a passable 3.86 ERA in his last seven starts. He hasn’t given up more than three earned in any of them, but the 27 strikeouts and 22 walks leave me unsettled and make him tough to trust.

Travis Wood (vs. CIN; vs. STL) – I honestly liked Wood initially when I was scanning the list of two-start guys, but then I saw his matchups. He has a pair of top five NL offenses (by OPS), so there could be some trouble ahead.

Justin Germano (vs. PIT; vs. STL) – Germano is a good example of why peripherals alone don’t tell the whole story. His 6.2 K/9 and 2.8 K/BB aren’t bad at all, but he is a soft-thrower with generally unimpressive secondary stuff who has never been particularly effective. I don't really believe in him as a pitcher, so his 5.60 ERA may not be all bad luck.

Kevin Correia (@ CHC; @ HOU) – I love the matchups, but not so much given the overall talent of the man facing them, at least from a fantasy-standpoint.

Jeff Francis (@ SF; vs. ARI) – No thanks.
 

COMPOSITE

Auto Starts

Start

Sit

Dickey

Dempster

Kennedy

Scherzer

Cobb

Chacin

Bumgarner

Hellickson

Doubront

Lee

Griffin

Harang

Fister

Estrada

Wood

J-Zimm

Burnett

Huff

 

Pettitte

Germano

 

Hudson

Romero

 

Leake

Correia

 

Santana

Hochevar

 

 

Francis

 

 

Cook

 

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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