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July 26, 2013

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner

Week 18

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 18 slate…

AMERICAN LEAGUE

AUTO-START: C.J. Wilson, Derek Holland, Matt Garza, Ervin Santana, and Jered Weaver

Wilson and Garza join the list as they’ve been two of the best arms going lately. Wilson has a 2.41 ERA in his last 10 starts with a 22 percent strikeout rate and 7.3 percent walk rate in 67 1/3 innings. Garza had a great debut with the Rangers and now has a 1.06 ERA in his last seven starts with a 21 percent strikeout rate and five percent walk rate in 51 innings.

START

Felix Doubront

SEA, ARI

Jake Peavy

at CLE, at DET

Bud Norris

at BAL, at MIN

Wei-Yin Chen

HOU, SEA

Scott Kazmir

CWS, at MIA

Zach McAllister

CWS, at MIA

Brandon Workman

SEA, ARI

A.J. Griffin

TOR, TEX

Esmil Rogers

at OAK, at LAA

Notes:

  • Doubront is just on fire and he’s really made up for the fact that Jon Lester hasn’t been himself since mid-May. Doubront has a 2.71 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 79 2/3 innings over his last 13 starts and he hasn’t allowed more than three earned in any of those outings.
  • It remains to be seen whether or not Peavy will even be with the White Sox for that start in Detroit as it comes after the trade deadline. His ERA is on the high side at 4.28, but he’s looked strong in his two starts since returning from the disabled list, so I wouldn’t be benching him.
  • It remains to be seen whether or not Norris will even be with the Astros for that outing in Minnesota as it comes after the trade deadline. That said, rumors suggest that the asking price has been rather steep, so I think he is less likely to be dealt than Peavy.
  • Workman’s MLB debut was a relief appearance during which he allowed three runs in two innings against the Mariners, and if you judged him on that alone, you’ve missed two brilliant outings against quality opponents. He’s gone six or more innings against Oakland and Tampa Bay, allowing just two earned runs against both. He has nine strikeouts and two walks in the two outings, too.
  • Rogers has been great as a starter for the Jays, posting a 3.71 ERA in his nine starts, and it’s only elevated because of his seven earned runs allowed against Detroit. He’s allowed eight home runs in his starts, too, but seven have come against Tampa Bay. He’s been sharp overall.

SIT

John Danks

at CLE, at DET

Mark Buehrle

at OAK, at LAA

Roberto Hernandez

at BOS, SF

Joe Saunders

at BOS, at BAL

Mike Pelfrey

KC, HOU

Notes:

  • Danks has looked good at times, but home runs have really hampered him of late, as he’s allowed six in his last three outings—including three against Detroit who he faces again this week.
  • Buehrle is coming off of a shutout against Houston, but he’s got a pair of tough offenses, and he’s prone to get blasted, as evidenced by his eight earned runs allowed in Baltimore back on July 12.
  • Saunders has two road starts in tough venues against quality offenses. Methinks his 5.26 road ERA is about to climb.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

AUTO-START: Stephen Strasburg, Francisco Liriano, A.J. Burnett, and Mike Leake

START

Lance Lynn

at PIT, at CIN

Zack Wheeler

at MIA, KC

Kyle Lohse

at CHC, WAS

Ricky Nolasco

NYY, at CHC

Jorge de la Rosa

at ATL, at PIT

Jeff Samardzija

MIL, LAD

Jacob Turner

NYM, CLE

Nathan Eovaldi

NYM, CLE

Notes:

  • Wheeler has had a solid July, posting a 2.78 ERA in four outings, and he gets a great setup with these two opponents.
  • After a rough May, Lohse is back on track with two great months. He has a 2.49 ERA and 0.95 WHIP in 11 starts spanning June and July.
  • It’s not easy to roll Samardzija out there right now, but the upside remains high, and he showed it in Colorado two starts ago when he went 7 1/3 innings while allowing just one run.
  • These two Marlins haven’t been perfect this year, but the results are there, and so is the talent. I like each of them for a pair of home starts.

SIT

Brandon Beachy

COL, at PHI

Yovani Gallardo

at CHC, WAS

Jeremy Hefner

at MIA, KC

Jake Westbrook

at PIT, at CIN

Carlos Villanueva

MIL, LAD

Alex Wood

COL, at PHI

Ian Kennedy

at TB, at BOS

Juan Nicasio

at ATL, at PIT

John Lannan

SF, ATL

Sean O'Sullivan

CIN, NYY

Barry Zito

at PHI, at TB

Notes:

  • I’d like to see some work from Beachy before diving in.
  • If you can figure Gallardo out this year, let the rest of us know. Until then, he’s on the bench… or even the waiver wire in shallow leagues.
  • Hefner was one of baseball’s best pitchers for two months and then he threw it alllll away in his last two outings, allowing 13 earned runs in 6 1/3 innings of horrible, horrible work. This is a good setup matchup-wise, but I have no idea which Hefner is going to show up.
  • I’m not starting a guy with 32 strikeouts and 33 walks. I don’t care if Westbrook has a 2.95 ERA. He has a Hefner-like destruction coming sooner than later.
  • It’s only two starts, but Wood has a 6.14 ERA as a starter compared to a 2.37 mark in the bullpen.
  • Is anyone starting Kennedy, even in a 10-team NL West-only format?

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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