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I hated to put Mike Fiers among last week’s “sits,” but with the trip to Coors on the docket, I just had to. That decision paid off as he hit his first real blip of the season.  I think we’ll see him rebound against the Phillies this weekend, though, and he is a good play going forward.  In the AL, both Matt Moore and Hiroki Kuroda have remained white-hot as they head into their weekend starts. 

NATIONAL LEAGUE
Auto-Starts: Clayton Kershaw, Madison Bumgarner, R.A. Dickey, Roy Halladay, Adam Wainwright, Jordan Zimmermann, and Cliff Lee

What a week for studs in the Senior Circuit.  Some head-to-head teams could feasibly have three or four of these guys and could be poised for some insane numbers this week. 

Start
Tim Lincecum (@ LAD; vs. ATL)
Trevor Cahill (vs. MIA; vs. SD)
Mike Leake (@ PHI; vs. STL)
Mark Buehrle (@ ARI; @ LAD)
Joe Saunders (vs. MIA; vs. SD)
Wandy Rodriguez (@ SD; vs. MIL)

I think we have to get used to a dud start every three or four outings from Lincecum for at least the remainder of the 2012 season.  He has left many skittish since his ERA hasn’t been below 5.35 all season, but I’ll stick by him after the four-inning, four-ER outing against the Nationals.  The four good starts out of five before that outing on Wednesday earned him some confidence. 

Cahill has been alright, on the whole, this season.  He has a shutout, an outing with seven shutout innings, and five one-run outings.  He hasn’t really been destroyed in any single outing, but he does have eight four-run contests; his floor has been relatively high with the upside for greatness.  That definitely works, especially against a pair of hapless offensive units. 

I certainly don’t love Leake against St. Louis, but he has survived them in two starts already this year, plus the trip to Philly should give him some cushion for that second start. 

Buehrle is a classic WYSIWYG guy.  You know you’re getting low strikeout totals, tons of innings, some great outings, tons of solid ones, and the occasional beat-down.  He still usually goes about five innings in his duds, so he doesn’t totally smoke your ratios for the week. 

Isn’t Saunders really just Buehrle 2.0?  OK, maybe not 2.0, since that usually implies a better version, but he still gets the job done.  His shift to the NL a few years ago has definitely helped him, and I could see this lefty throwing another five or six years, at least. 

Wandy’s stint in Pittsburgh hasn’t been terribly sharp through four outings.  After a pair of quality starts, he has been knocked around in the subsequent pair.  Still, I love a trip to San Diego to kick off the week, and at least he gets the Brewers at home.  Like Anibal Sanchez, he has struggled since being traded, but both have enough of a track record this season and for their careers to stick with them. 

Consider
Tim Hudson (@ WAS; @ SF)
Lucas Harrell (@ STL; @ NYM)
Homer Bailey (@ PHI; vs. STL)

Hudson works better in roto since you can just set it and forget it, having a good idea of how the final numbers will look in October.  Head-to-head leaguers have to deal with the volatility a bit more.  Washington has been on fire since the break (most runs in MLB) and cleaned Hudson’s clock twice this season (12 ER in 12 2/3 IP), so this might be one to sit out, even with the trip to San Francisco later in the week.

If Harrell didn’t have a trip to St. Louis on tap he would have been a “start.” Instead, I will play it conservatively despite how strong he has been in his last 10 starts.  He has surged against a favorable schedule, though, with just a couple formidable opponents.  Daily leaguers should look to sit him against St. Louis and start him in New York. 

Bailey is back to being his frustrating self with four straight rough outings, including three straight with four earned runs allowed.  I don’t understand how he can be so good for months (and sometimes longer) at a time and then just lose it. 

Sit
Edinson Volquez (vs. PIT; @ ARI)
Ricky Nolasco (@ ARI; @ LAD)
All Rockies (@ NYM; @ CHC)

Volquez has walked two or more in all but one of his 25 outings this year.  He has walked three or more in 21 of 25.  That’s insane. 

Remember when Nolasco had truly special peripherals and we were simply waiting for the results to catch up?  That was nice. 

AMERICAN LEAGUE
Auto-Starts: None

It’s a rough week for two-start pitchers in the AL, topped by zero auto-starts.  It only gets worse from here. 

Start
Brandon McCarthy (vs. MIN; @ TB)
Max Scherzer (vs. TOR; vs. LAA)
Jeremy Hellickson (vs. KC; vs. OAK)
Derek Holland (vs. BAL; vs. MIN)

McCarthy has pitched like an “auto-starter;” I just wish he was as reliable as those who usually populate that field.  He simply cannot be counted on to even take the mound from start-to-start, but when he does, he is golden. 

Scherzer has been a strikeout machine all year long.  When he is on, he is among (or at least very near) the elite.  Unfortunately, he really implodes from time-to-time.  Sometimes it is due to walks, other times it is because of home runs, but it always ends up hurting his fantasy managers.  The upside remains massive enough that you simply cannot sit him. 

The peripherals don’t do anything for you, but Hellickson is reliable and simply knows how to get the job done without missing a ton of bats.  You might be skeptical if you haven’t watched him a few times, but once you see, you believe. 

Holland looked great against the Tigers last weekend.  He finally seemed completely healthy for the first time in a long time (to me).  With that in mind, I am reticent to freak out over a weak start in the Bronx.  He wasn’t home run’d to death, which was his primary issue in the four starts before the Detroit outing.  Minnesota is a sneaky-tough matchup for lefties this year, which is why I have Holland at the bottom of the list.  I’d still start him, but despite their W-L record, the Twins could give him some trouble. 

Consider
Gavin Floyd (vs. NYY; vs. SEA)

Floyd is nauseatingly inconsistent—essentially the AL’s version of Homer Bailey—but he is in the midst of a solid run with a 3.26 ERA in his last six and 2.83 in his last nine. 

Sit
Miguel Gonzalez (@ TEX; vs. TOR)
Kevin Millwood (vs. CLE; @ CHW)
Ricky Romero (@ DET; @ BAL)
Ervin Santana (@ BOS; @ DET)
Ubaldo Jimenez (@ SEA; vs. NYY)
Cole DeVries (@ OAK; @ TEX)
Brian Duensing (@ OAK; @ TEX)
Scott Feldman (vs. BAL; vs. MIN)

Neither Texas nor Toronto has been great at the dish since the All-Star Break, and Gonzalez has been a revelation for the O’s, but I’m still bowing out here.  Apart from him and Millwood, I didn’t even give any of the others a second thought. 

Auto Starts

Start

Consider

Sit

Kershaw

McCarthy

Floyd

Gonzalez

Bumgarner

Scherzer

Harrell

Millwood

Dickey

Lincecum

Hudson

Santana

Halladay

Cahill

Bailey

Volquez

Wainwright

Leake

 

Nolasco

Zimmermann

Hellickson

 

Romero

Lee

Holland

 

Jimenez

 

Buehrle

 

Duensing

 

Saunders

 

DeVries

 

Wandy

 

Garcia

 

 

 

Feldman

 

 

 

White

 

 

 

Francis

 

 

 

Chatwood