Paul helps you decide which two-start pitchers are worth using this week and which ones you should avoid.
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?
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Trevor Cahill, Diamondbacks
Cahill showed up to camp svelter than usual. The offseason work paid off with a strong April, as Cahill averaged more than seven innings per start while striking out about 2.5 batters per walk issued. He saved his best for last: throwing eight innings of one-run ball on Tuesday against the Giants. The bread-and-butter of Cahill's arsenal remains his sinker. His secondary pitch of choice has changed, however. Cahill threw his cutter 26 percent of the time in April, compared to 11 percent in 2012. Increased confidence in the pitch gives Cahill a fourth option, or at least a backup plan on nights when he cannot find the feel for his changeup.
Patrick Corbin, Diamondbacks
Yes, another Arizona starter acquired through an earlier trade. Corbin allowed one home run in 33 innings after allowing 14 homers last season in 107 innings. A considerable difference, and one that allows for improvement even after regression. There are two encouraging signs from Corbin so far: 1) his velocity is slightly up, and—more importantly—2) his command has been better. Corbin must stay down in the zone in order to be effective. He's done just that early this season.
With Cliff Lee now added to the staff, where does the 2011 Phillies rotation rank all-time?
As Kevin Goldsteinnoted, Monday, December 14, 2010 may go down as one of the 10 best baseball nights in the history of Twitter. The night had it all: accounts successfully replicating those of very reliable sources to pull a prank, subsequently sending everyone and their followers into a veritable frenzy, the cream of the free-agent crop signing a lucrative contract, the revelation of a mystery team akin to a turn in a wrestling story line, and practically anyone that cares about baseball emotionally invested in every twist and turn. When the dust settled, Cliff Lee had agreed in principle to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies, a year to the day after Ruben Amaro Jr. acquired Roy Halladay and 363 days after Amaro traded Lee to the Mariners in a companion deal that drew the ire of every Phillies fan. The news was shocking, as it had seemed for weeks that Lee’s decision would boil down to the Yankees or Rangers. After all, both were contending teams making big offers.
A series that will feature spectacular pitching may come down to the tiniest advantages to decide the winner.
So, let's see, for an initial checklist for maximum LCS entertainment potential, is there anything missing? Record-wise, the two best teams in National League? Check, even if we allow for the fact that the Giants weren't one of the top two teams in Clay Davenport's adjusted standings. The two best rotations in baseball? Check. Heck, it even features two of the three best defensive units in the league (via PADE), with only the already-vanquished Reds separating the Giants and Phillies. And the offenses are... well, OK, this whole clash of the titans thing only goes so far, because they're not both among the best in the league. The Phillies are, tying for third in the league in team-level True Average, but the Giants finished back in ninth place, even with Brian Sabean's ticky-tack trades to accrue incremental improvements.
Taking a look at disaster starts from many different angles.
Going into Monday evening's game against the Blue Jays, the Yankees had every reason to feel good about themselves, having come from behind the night before to secure a stirring 10-inning victory over the Red Sox. With one more win (or a Red Sox loss) they would clinch a spot in the playoffs. Alas, by the third inning Monday night, it was clear the Yankees would be uncorking no champagne, as starter A.J. Burnett dug them a 7-0 hole by allowing two homers, seven hits, and seven runs while retiring just seven hitters. Had the Yankees been at home, Burnett would have been booed off the mound by the Bronx faithful, but as this was a road game, Yankees fans were left to hurl rotten tomatoes and blue epithets at their TVs.
A World Series rematch helps the two-time defending NL champs return to business as usual.
So it turns out the solution to all of the Phillies' problems may have been as simple as a rematch against their World Series foes. Mired in a slump for the past three weeks, their offense finally broke out against the defending world champion Yankees, scoring more than four runs in back-to-back games for the first time since May 20-21. Meanwhile, a pair of their soft-tossing starters subdued the majors' highest-scoring offense, helping the Phils to win their first series since the calendar flipped to June.
Featuring a full slate of games and for the first time this year... Interleague!
Let’s play seven!
Every team has a full slate of games next week. Every team. That means we have 59 two start pitchers to run through. Why 59 and not 60 you ask? Because the Boston Red Sox are being kind and throwing six pitchers this week with Tim Wakefield going early and Josh Beckett taking his spot for the weekend.
Who are the favorites for the #5 spots in the starting rotations of last year's World Series participants?
At the outset, Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes have the inside track to the #5 spot for the New York Yankees. Neither Chad Gaudin (career 4.61 SIERA) nor Sergio Mitre (4.15) have had sustained success at the Major League level as a starter. Mitre missed the entire 2008 season due to Tommy John surgery and did not inspire confidence upon return in nine starts last year. However, stats like xFIP and SIERA have thought more highly of his performances than regular old ERA.
Chamberlain in 2009 (4.43 SIERA), after spending most of '08 as a reliever (3.02), saw his strikeout rate chopped by nearly three batters per nine innings while his walk rate increased by nearly one, sending his K/BB ratio below 2:1. Additionally, he allowed nine percent fewer ground balls and seven percent more line drives while his HR/FB rate more than doubled. His fastball and slider usage dropped by several percentage points while his curve and change-up use increased accordingly. The velocity on his fastball and slider diminished by 2.5 MPH and 0.5 MPH respectively.
Evaluating single high-profile signings against more scatter-shot solutions to team needs.
In the first twoparts of this series, I explained my new approach to contract valuations and whether MORP should be linear with respect to WARP. Basically, this entailed asking the question of whether Matt Holliday, perhaps a six-win player, could be just as easily replaced by signing two three-win players or three two-win players. The issue is roster space and playing time. The alternative argument to doing MORP linearly is that a team can sign Holliday and concentrate all six of those wins on one spot of the diamond, and then they could improve themselves more by filling their other openings with decent players as well.