In the NL, Gerrit Cole gets the band back together, and Jon Lester remains steady if less spectacular than the 2016 version. In the junior circuit, Carlos Carrasco and Dallas Keuchel are must-plays.
Every Friday we preview the hurlers scheduled for two starts in the upcoming week. Hopefully that will give enough insight to make educated lineup moves and FAAB decisions over the weekend. As the old wrestling promoters would always say, “Card Subject to Change," because lots can happen between the time this goes up and first pitch. Unfortunately: weather, injuries, and tinkering managers make this less than a science. I’ll do my best, though, and should new information present itself, we can go over it in the comments. We’ll crowdsource this as well, so if you hear anything, feel free to comment and we all can offer our takes, hot or not.
Here’s how this works. The pitchers will be split by league using these categories:
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Max Scherzer, Yu Darvish and Michael Fulmer represent the "Auto-Starts" this go-around. As for Steven Wright: Sit!
Every Friday I’ll be previewing the hurlers scheduled for two starts in the upcoming week. Hopefully that will give readers enough insight to make educated lineup moves and FAAB decisions over the weekend. As the old wrestling promoters would always say, “Card Subject to Change"—because lots can happen between the time this goes up and first pitch. Unfortunately, weather, injuries, and tinkering managers make this less than a science. I’ll do my best, though, and should new information present itself after this posts, we can go over it in the comments. We’ll crowd source this as well, so if you hear anything, feel free to comment and we all can offer our takes, hot or not.
Here’s how this works. The pitchers will be split by league using these categories:
Paul tells you which starters are worth using and which ones to avoid in your fantasy leagues this week.
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?
Detroit's pitchers toyed with Yankees batters in all four games of the ALCS. Here's a closer look at two striking Tiger sequences.
When I was in high school, the thing to do was play poker. Kids would play during free periods, lunch, whenever, sometimes winning and losing over $100 in a day. (And some of them could actually afford it.) Like any high schooler worth his salt, I followed suit, and soon I was a dependably willing player, relatively conservative but always game to try to fleece a freshman who’d just looked up the rules on his expensive new iPhone. As an editor of the school newspaper, I even planted this quote in a cover story we ran on the poker fad: “It’s the most intellectually challenging thing I’ve ever done.” Yeah, when it came to antagonizing our teachers, we had a lot of tricks in our bag.
Poker may not have taught me as much as I wanted my teachers to think it did, but I did introduce me to one piece of advice that has stuck with me ever since: a successful poker player focuses more on his opposition’s holding than his own hand. I find that’s true in many walks of life, nowhere more so than in the duel between batter and pitcher, when it’s just natural to do what feels most comfortable to you, rather than what might feel least comfortable to your opponent. In the most extreme example, Aroldis Chapman walks a Little Leaguer on four sliders because he fears he doesn’t have his best heat that day. In a real-world example, the Yankees don’t adjust to the way their ALCS opponent’s pitchers attack them, and their season ends because of it. (Oh, and Justin Verlander somehow allows a home run to Eduardo Nunez. But we’ll get there.)
A new way to visualize and analyze every batter-pitcher matchup from the PITCHf/x era.
Just in time for the playoffs, we’re bringing you a way to get detailed information on every batter-pitcher matchup via our new Matchup Analysis Tool, found here and also accessible through the “PITCHf/x Matchups” dropdown link on the “Statistics” tab of the navbar at the top of the page.
The Matchup Analysis Tool allows you to select a particular pitcher and batter and visualize every time they’ve faced each other during the PITCHf/x era (partial 2007, complete 2008-2012). As an example, let’s take Prince Fielder vs. CC Sabathia.
Rotations are in serious flux as teams juggle starters down the stretch, but Paul helps make sense of it all in this week's Planner.
Some teams are running six-man rotations and every team seemingly has their rotation in flux, but we’ll try to iron out the two-start pitchers for next week as we inch closer and closer to wrapping up yet another 162.
A look at the two-start pitchers worthy of your active fantasy squad this week.
I wish I would have had the intestinal fortitude to put Jarrod Parker in the “starts” last week; instead, I straddled the fence with a “consider” in light of his start against Texas, even though it was at home. He aced the test with seven no-hit innings before Michael Young broke it up to start off the eighth. He gets his former team on Saturday in Arizona against the Diamondbacks with the pitcher he was dealt for, Trevor Cahill, on the mound opposite him.
In the National League, is Tim Lincecum no longer a “start”? He has already been stripped of “auto-start” status, but I left him as a “start” even with a date against Texas (it’s coming at home) because his first start of the week is in San Diego. While he walked one and struck out eight, he was pretty bland otherwise, allowing four runs in six innings. Pitchers are supposed to right the ship against the Padres, especially in PETCO Park, and even more so when you’re an elite talent.
The return of the Weekly Planner helps you decide which two-start pitchers to start and sit
Welcome to the 2012 debut of the Weekly Planner! Here, we will look at the scheduled (subject to change, of course) two-start pitchers across the league and decide whether or not they are worth a start in your league based on performance to date, opponents, and venues.
Some pitchers are no doubters and, obviously, we won’t need to spend too much time on them. I don’t care if Justin Verlander is starting in Texas or against the Yankees; you are not benching him. Others get the thumbs up for this specific week because things set up favorably for them, even if you wouldn’t otherwise use them. Finally, there are the guys we would be wise to avoid. Sometimes this will be because we would always avoid them, and other times these are guys who we might otherwise start but the factors align to make them too risky.
As the Cardinals and Rangers approach the end of their series, we offer a reminder to their skippers: batter-pitcher matchups aren't very predictive.
With the Cardinals facing elimination, Game Six will be an all-hands-on-deck endeavor. Both managers are scouring their rosters for any potential advantage, and as part of that effort, they’ll probably be referring to historic batter-pitcher matchups. Should La Russa lean heavily on a player like Octavio Dotel, who has historically done well against Rangers hitters like Adrian Beltre and Michael Young? Or should he opt for the players with the best overall performance, regardless of what the matchups say?
Let’s say we want to predict the outcome of a particular batter-pitcher matchup. I’m going to lean heavily on True Average, which is scaled to look like batting average but captures a player’s total batting value (so a player gets a little credit for a walk and a bit more for a single, all the way up to a home run).
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.
Why hasn't Major League Baseball ever scheduled a Dodgers trip to the Bronx?
Tonight the Yankees and Dodgers kick off a three-game interleague series in Los Angeles. The two teams have matched up in the World Series a record 11 times, seven of them while the two shared the Big Apple with the Giants, six of them during baseball's so-called "Golden Decade" between 1947-1956. It matters less that the Yankees have won eight of those World Series than that the two have combined to create what's undoubtedly the game's top interleague rivalry, not to mention some of baseball's most indelible moments: Mickey Owen's dropped third strike, Al Gionfriddo's catch to prevent a Joe DiMaggio homer, Cookie Lavagetto's double to break up Bill Bevens' no-hitter, Jackie Robinson's steal of home, Johnny Podres' gritty effort to bring Dem Bums their first world championship, Don Larsen's perfect game, Reggie Jackson's three home runs, Graig Nettles' Octopus-like leaps, George Steinbrenner's phantom elevator fight... The list goes on. Here's my own handy thumbnail guide to the 1941, 1947, 1949, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1963, 1977, 1978 and 1981 matchups.