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August 2, 2013

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner

Week 19

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: Chris Sale, James Shields, Anibal Sanchez, Hisashi Iwakuma, John Lackey, Justin Verlander, and Justin Masterson

Yes, Verlander is still here.

START

Jeremy Hellickson

at ARI, at LAD

Jose Quintana

NYY, MIN

Ryan Dempster

at HOU, at KC

Corey Kluber

DET, LAA

Notes:

  • Hellickson got knocked around by the Diamondbacks, but even with those four earned in four-plus innings, he still has a 2.66 ERA in 47 1/3 innings over his last eight starts. He had a 1.18 WHIP, 21 percent strikeout rate, and seven percent walk rate, too. He’s been much better than the guy who carried a 5.67 ERA in mid-June.
  • Quintana has quietly been really consistent this year. He never gets smashed—well, outside of his season debut when the Mariners popped him for five earned in four innings—and he put together a strong six-start July during which he didn’t allow more than three earned in any of the starts. Most impressive was the fact that he fanned about a batter per inning with 38 in his 38 1/3 innings.
  • Dempster faced both of these ballclubs back in April and logged 18 strikeouts, but that was back when he was striking out the world. He had a 35 percent strikeout rate in April, but he hasn’t topped 19 percent in the three months since, including just 16 percent in July. Houston is still piling up the strikeouts, but KC has the fourth-lowest rate against righties at 17 percent. Of course, they have the sixth-lowest OPS, too, so it is still a good matchup.
  • I’m generally nervous about guys facing the Tigers, but Kluber has two sharp starts after the eight-run shellacking they gave him back on May 10. Without DET on his docket, he’d be much higher.

CONSIDER

Andy Pettitte

at CWS, DET

Notes:

  • How lucky are you feeling? Pettitte faces the 29th- and top-ranked offenses against lefties by OPS.

SIT

R.A. Dickey

at SEA, OAK

Kevin Correia

at KC, at CWS

Martin Perez

at LAA, at HOU

Jerome Williams

TEX, at CLE

Brett Oberholtzer

BOS, TEX

Notes:

  • I guess Dickey could be a “consider” as he had some nice starts in July, but it really depends on your risk tolerance. The Mariners had a huge July at the dish and though he held the A’s to two runs (neither earned) in six outings during his last outing, that was in Oakland and now he gets them in Toronto.
  • Correia has multiple outings against both teams he’s slated for next week and he’s dominated both and they’ve dominated him. The upside isn’t special because he just doesn’t miss any bats and the Twins don’t offer much by way of the offense to improve win probability.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

AUTO-START: Clayton Kershaw, Adam Wainwright, Stephen Strasburg, and Mike Minor

START

Matt Cain

MIL, BAL

Tyler Chatwood

at NYM, PIT

Jeff Locke

MIA, at COL

Ricky Nolasco

at STL, TB

Wade Miley

TB, NYM

Chad Gaudin

MIL, BAL

Kyle Kendrick

CHC, at WAS

Edwin Jackson

at PHI, at STL

Joe Kelly

LAD, CHI

Notes:

  • Even with the Baltimore start, I still like Cain because he’s been pitching much better of late and both are at home.
  • I’m not jumping off of the bandwagon after one bad start from Chatwood.
  • Locke got knocked around by the Cards on July 31, but it was the first time since April 18 that he allowed more than three runs in an outing, and he’s still yet to allow more than four in any outing. The 53 percent ground-ball rate and 0.5 HR/9 should come in handy in Coors Field, though I don’t like that start. The Miami outing is too juicy to pass up.
  • Miley was great the last two months with a 2.44 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 18 percent strikeout rate, and eight percent walk rate in 70 innings. He cut the WHIP to 1.13 in July, so don’t get too bugged out by the composite WHIP in June and July.
  • Kendrick had an every-other pattern of good and bad starts in July. Unfortunately it was two good and three bad. He gets a pair of nice matchups, though, so I’m rolling with him.
  • Jackson had a great July; 1.83 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 17 percent strikeout rate, and five percent walk rate in 34 1/3 innings. His skills have been sharp all year and he’s finally getting the results to match.

CONSIDER

Wily Peralta

at SF, at SEA

Notes:

  • He’s a little tough to figure out. He had that great run, but he’s come crashing back to earth lately. This week offers two nice venues, but only one particularly good matchup with the Mariners being on fire.

SIT

Henderson Alvarez

at PIT, at ATL

Tyler Thornburg

at SF, at SEA

Notes:

  • The skills don’t match Alvarez’s 2.61 ERA at all. He’s yet to give up a home run, which has helped a lot, but I don’t see it lasting. He still doesn’t strike nearly enough batters out.

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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