And then we came to the end…

This is the final installment of the weekly planner for the 2010 season.  Hopefully, you found these entries informative, entertaining and useful.  

The starters listed here are provided by Heater Magazine and are subject to change.  Especially this week, with the expanded rosters, playoff teams setting their rotations for the Divisional Series and a couple of pennant races yet to be decided.  The week begins Monday, September 27 and runs through the final game of the season.  An asterisk next to a player indicates he’s owned in fewer than 50% of ESPN or Yahoo leagues.  An easy to use pdf of all pitchers listed is available for download.

The Weekly Planner is tentatively scheduled to return April 1, 2011.

Brett Anderson – @ LAA, @ SEA
Dallas Braden – @ LAA, @ SEA
Clay Buchholz – @ CHA, vs NYA
Felix Hernandez – @ TEX, vs OAK
Max Scherzer – @ CLE, @ BAL
Ervin Santana – vs OAK, @ TEX

Buchholz is completing a stellar campaign, thanks in no small part to a 0.5 HR/9 and a .266 BABIP.  Keep that, and his 4.32 SIERA in mind this winter when you’re prepping for 2011. He’s still below his career high in innings pitched, which is a very good thing, but it’s difficult to imagine the Red Sox throwing him out there for a pair of long starts this week.  He may stick around just long enough to earn a win, though.

Anderson has surrendered more than two earned runs in just one of his last 10 starts.  Start Scherzer and plot to make your annual league a keeper.  Then start Hernandez and keep your fingers crossed the Mariners can string together a couple of walks while reaching on a handful of errors so they can push at least one run across the plate.

Nick Blackburn – @ KC, vs TOR
Mark Buehrle – vs BOS, vs CLE
Carlos Carrasco – vs DET, @ CHA
Wade Davis – vs BAL, @ KC
Edwin Jackson – vs BOS, vs CLE
John Lackey – @ CHA, vs NYA
Brian Matusz – @ TB, vs DET

Overall, Lackey has had a miserable season and his SIERA of 4.35 says he came by it honestly.  Sure, his .326 BABIP (compared to a career .309 BABIP) suggests he’s been on the end of some rotten luck, but you can’t ignore the fact his walks are up and strikeouts are down.  Also, his swinging strike rate is way down (12%) and his 82% contact rate is his highest since 2003.  Time to put 2010 in the rearview mirror.

Davis is auditioning for a spot in the Rays postseason rotation and owns a 2.97 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in six starts (33.1 IP) since returning from the DL with a strained shoulder.  He gets a pair of low scoring offenses this week.  With a 5.61 ERA over his last four starts, Jackson is no longer dominating the way he did immediately following his trade to the South Side.  

Buehrle has been such a fantasy horse, it’s difficult to fathom he may be running short of gas.  Since his last win on August 19, he’s been torched for 51 hits in 38 innings to the tune of a 5.92 ERA.  And those have come against teams like the Orioles, Indians and Royals.  He will top 200 innings pitched for the 10th consecutive season when he makes his next start.  

With a 2.57 ERA and 1.12 WHIP, Matusz has pitched well over his last nine starts, covering 49 innings.  His strand rate has been around 83% during this stretch.  It hasn’t been the easiest season, but he’s on the right path.  Carrasco is showing control and is keeping the ball in the park – two things he didn’t do in his 2009 audition.  Perhaps worth a look if you’re scrambling for starters.

Blackburn is closing strong, posting a 1.97 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in 46 innings since his ERA hit a devilish high-water mark of 6.66 back on July 25 which earned him a trip to Triple-A.    He’s a virtual lock to make both starts this week as the Twins have the luxury of setting up their postseason rotation thanks to their early clinching of the Central.  Word is, the Twins will start him in Game 4 of the ALDS.  Part of me secretly hopes he splits his decisions this week, just so he can finish with an 11-11 record for the third consecutive season.

Kyle Davies – vs MIN, vs TB
Kyle Drabek – vs NYA, @ MIN
Armando Galarraga – @ CLE, @ BAL
Sean O’Sullivan – vs MIN, vs TB
David Pauley – @ TEX, vs OAK
Marc Rzepczynski – vs NYA, @ MIN

Toronto has been juggling their rotation, so this is Rzepczynski’s third consecutive week he makes our list.  I think they’re doing it on purpose, to force me to learn how to type his last name.  It worked.  Galarraga’s strikeout rate is down for the season (to 4.6 SO/9 from 6 SO/9 in 2009) and has really taken a tumble over the last two months.  

Making the jump from Double-A, Drabek has predictably struggled in his two starts. Patience…  For the second consecutive season, Davies is finishing with a strong September.  Still not buying either him or his teammate O’Sullivan against two of the stronger offenses in the AL.

On to the NL…

Tommy Hanson – vs FLA, vs PHI
Ubaldo Jimenez – vs LAN, @ STL
Ted Lilly – @ COL, vs ARI
Mike Pelfrey – vs MIL, vs WAS
Wandy Rodriguez – @ CIN, vs CHN
Jonathan Sanchez – vs ARI, vs SD
Edinson Volquez – vs HOU, vs MIL

Holy turnaround, Astroman!  On June 18, Rodriguez owned a 6.09 ERA, a 1.71 WHIP and a 6.3 SO/9. Since then, he’s posted a 2.06 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 9.3 SO/9.    

Pelfrey is still rolling, where seven of his last nine starts have finished with a Game Score greater than 50.  A 1.8 BB/9 and just two home runs allowed in 60 innings certainly helps the cause.  With the Reds set to clinch as early as Saturday, Volquez is a soft “start” as there will certainly be some shifting in the rotation as they set their postseason starters.  With 23 strikeouts in 21.2 IP since his return from High-A, he figures to be part of that picture.

Mat Latos – vs CHN, @ SF
Alejandro Sanabia – @ ATL, vs PIT
Anibal Sanchez – @ ATL, vs PIT
Tim Stauffer – vs CHN, @ SF
Carlos Zambrano – @ SD, @ HOU

Stauffer has a 2.57 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in 21 innings since slotting into the Padres rotation the first week of September.  His teammate Latos is now 50 innings over his career high set last season and has struggled in his last three outings.  It just so happens those three starts followed a season-high 113 pitch outing on September 7, a 10 strikeout performance against the Dodgers.  

Sanabia continues to pitch well enough to earn consideration, which is high praise for a 21 year old who made just two starts above Double-A before joining the Marlins this year.  Going forward, his low strikeout rate (5.8 SO/9) will need to be countered by his excellent control if he’s to have any shot at sustained success.  A high 3-something ERA seems like the best-case scenario which is what he's given us this season.  His teammate Sanchez has been extremely inconsistent over the second half of the season and has seldom had what we would call a mediocre start.  

Zambrano has six wins in nine starts and owns a 1.42 ERA, a 7.9 SO/9 and 1.25 WHIP since rejoining the Cubs rotation.  He would be a start, but with a 5.2 BB/9, he is still struggling with control.

Brian Burres – @ STL, @ FLA
Dave Bush – @ NYN, @ CIN
Jeff Francis – vs LAN, @ STL
Kyle Lohse – vs PIT, vs COL
Rodrigo Lopez – @ SF, @ LAN
Charlie Morton – @ STL, @ FLA
Oliver Perez – vs MIL, vs WAS
Jeff Suppan – vs PIT, vs COL

Lohse hasn’t pitched as poorly as his 7.18 ERA suggests, but when the SIERA sits at 4.91, that’s really just splitting hairs.  Same goes for Morton who sports an 8.11 ERA but a 4.56 SIERA.  Here’s hoping he finishes with a sub-8 ERA, just for the sake of how it will look on the back of his baseball card.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see Colorado shut down Francis before the official end of the season.  He hasn’t pitched well in two starts since returning from shoulder tendinitis.  With a SIERA of 4.79 and a 4.70 ERA, Bush has performed almost exactly as expected.  Although a declining strikeout rate and elevated walk rate don’t hold much promise for the future.  

Nobody has coughed up more long balls than Lopez this season.  He’s lucky his control (2.4 BB/9) is decent.  Burres was enjoying a strong September in the rotation prior to his last outing where he didn’t survive the third inning.  His major league track record suggests any kind of successful streak will be short lived.

A week were Perez and Suppan are both slated to make a pair of starts?  This sets up perfectly if you’re looking to tank for draft position.  Not that I advocate that…

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how bout CJ Wilson?
Hmmm... Wilson wasn't on the list, but he is starting tonight. A definite start, although I'd be concerned about his last start of the week since the Rangers will be in the process of setting up their rotation for the ALDS.
Craig, Thank you very much for the hard work and thorough analysis you provided this year. Although I did not fare well this year, your advice has improved my pitching staff immensely. Again, thanks.
Thanks for the comment. It was pretty fun going through and trying to find "nuggets" for each individual starter. Except Joe Saunders.