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 23 slate…


AUTO-START: Felix Hernandez, Chris Sale, Hiroki Kuroda, Derek Holland, and Justin Masterson


Chris Archer

at LAA, at SEA

John Lackey


Chris Tillman


Matt Moore

at LAA, at SEA

Doug Fister

at BOS, at KC

Jon Lester


Jason Vargas


Jose Quintana

at NYY, at BAL

Danny Duffy


Erasmo Ramirez

at KC, TB

Dan Straily


Garrett Richards


  • After a bout with forearm soreness that seemed to limit his effectiveness in the subsequent start, Archer has reeled off three straight seven-inning gems, allowing a total of four earned runswhile posting a 14-to-2 K:BB ratio. The latest was while facing the very same Angels he will open the week against on Monday.
  • I was a little leery of Tillman’s All-Star bid since it seemed spurred by his gaudy 11-3 record. He had an ERA just south of 4.00 and modest component numbers, including a 19 percent strikeout rate and 8.8 percent walk rate, but he’s emerged to justify the selection after the fact. He’s been brilliant since the break, with a 2.98 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 23 percent strikeout rate, and 8.5 percent walk rate over 48 1/3 innings of work.
  • Moore returns from the DL on Tuesday and I know there are two camps with these players. Some fantasy managers use them immediately while others wait. I’m in the former camp. I want to get all I can out of my guys, especially from a big arm late in the season. I’m going to trust that if he’s being brought back, he’s ready to go. Sure, sometimes the guy tanks, but in this case I also like the matchups and venues.
  • Vargas has been rounding into form since his return from the DL with a couple of shaky outings initially, but a pair of gems in his last two. The lefty has been markedly better at home this year as well, so this week sets up nicely for him.
  • Duffy has a rematch against Detroit, which is a little scary in general because they rake lefties, but he handled them brilliantly back on August 16, throwing six scoreless innings of one-hit ball. The impressive southpaw is working his way back from Tommy John surgery and has displayed excellent control in his short three-start sample so far, which is uncharacteristic of those returning from the operation.
  • Straily has been inconsistent this year, looking excellent at times and Triple-A worthy at others. Oddly, the only consistency to his season has been his home/road splits. He hasn’t leveraged Oakland’s favorable home stadium with almost identical ERA, WHIP, and K:BB totals at home and on the road.
  • With two duds in his last three, I’m a wavering a bit on my Richards support, especially since one was against Houston. He has electric stuff, but he’s still trying to harness it properly.


Andy Pettitte


Bud Norris


Andrew Albers


Bartolo Colon


Bruce Chen


  • All five of our considerations have at least one good start, most of them against the White Sox or Astros, but their general mediocrity as well as a tough second matchup leaves us on the fence. With so little time left in the season, let your standings be a big part of the decision here. If you’re sitting on a tenuous lead, then you should run away, but if you’re desperately trying to gain in the pitching categories, then you have to look at one or more of these guys…


Todd Redmond

at ARI, at MIN

Paul Clemens


  • …but you don’t have to look at either of these two.


AUTO-START: Clayton Kershaw, Adam Wainwright, Stephen Strasburg, Mat Latos, Madison Bumgarner, Cole Hamels, and Homer Bailey

I have no idea what that was from Wainwright on Wednesday night against Cincinnati, but you can’t sit him—not even with a rematch against the Reds.


Wade Miley

TOR, at SF

Travis Wood


Paul Maholm


Ian Kennedy


Charlie Morton

at MIL, at STL

  • Have you checked in on Miley lately? You may still have a sour taste in your mouth from the end of May, when he had back-to-back seven-run outings, but I’d encourage you to forgive him. He’s given up more than three earned just once in the subsequent 16 starts, posting a 2.66 ERA over 105 innings in the process. In fact, the duds at the end of May capped off a four-start stretch during which he had a 9.14 ERA in 21 2/3 innings. Playing everyone’s favorite game and lifting those from his numbers, he has a 2.74 ERA in 148 innings. That’s not how real or fantasy baseball works, but it can be instructive when analyzing a guy’s full record instead of making too many judgments solely on his composite ERA.
  • This endorsement for Maholm is more about matchups than anything else, although he does deserve credit for six strong against a Cleveland team that has been great against lefties this year. Remember when he opened the season with 20 1/3 scoreless innings in three starts? He has a 5.19 ERA in his 19 starts since that hot start.
  • Kennedy is a pure home/road play for me right now. I’m starting him at home against almost anyone, but benching him on the road, also against almost anyone.
  • While Jeff Locke has fallen off so much that he was optioned to the minors this week, Morton has been there to pick up the slack. He has a 3.12 ERA in eight starts since the All-Star break, including a sparkling 1.83 in his last five to close out the month after opening it with a five-earned-run shelling from the Cardinals.


Brandon McCarthy

TOR, at SF


  • As I mentioned in the AL, you have to be careful this late, so you would only want to entertain this risk if you are more on the desperation side of the standings in need of as many chances as you can get to make up ground in one or more of the pitching categories. McCarthy had an inconsistent August, but he is coming off of a seven-inning start against San Diego during which he allowed just a single run, which wasn’t even earned.


Henderson Alvarez


Tom Gorzelanny


Yusmeiro Petit

at SD, ARI

Chad Bettis

LAD, at SD

Daisuke Matsuzaka

at ATL, at CLE

  • Alvarez and Gorzelanny have had stints of success this year, but both have been horrible lately and they are capable of coughing up the sort of disaster outing that can just ruin a week.
  • Petit and Bettis getting a trip to San Diego adds some intrigue, but like Alvarez and Gorzy, they can post a meltdown that threatens to end your season if you are in the playoffs of a H2H league or trying to make a move in Roto. There is too much risk without an appropriate amount of upside.
  • Meanwhile, Matsuzaka is nowhere these guys. I would use any two of these guys for both of their starts before I would use Matsuzaka in either one of his.