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This week’s Weekly Planner, more than ever, is rife with uncertainty as teams still haven’t put their rotations in stone, so this is definitely subject to change. I did my best cobbling a few sources together as well as my own leg/guess work.

AMERICAN LEAGUE
Auto-Starts: CC Sabathia and Jon Lester

There is a wide chasm between these two, obviously, but Lester isn’t killing you like some would-be aces (I’m looking at you, Timmy), so you have to keep him in there despite sub-optimal performance. He actually is sporting a three-year high in strikeout-to-walk ratio at 3.1 thanks to a career-best 2.4 BB/9, so even though it has felt like a completely awful season from him, it hasn’t been one.

Start
Phil Hughes (vs. TOR; @ OAK)
Matt Moore (vs. CLE; vs. SEA)
Jason Vargas (@ KC; @ TB)
Roy Oswalt (@ OAK; @ LAA)
Drew Smyly (vs. LAA; vs. CWS)
Gavin Floyd (@ BOS; @ DET)
Bartolo Colon (vs. TEX; vs. NYY)

Plenty of names I like here, but many are facing less than ideal matchups.

Hughes has been really good since that four-homer shelling against Atlanta back on June 20, and he was quiet excellent for a stretch before that too. Despite a tough lineup coming to the homer haven that is Yankee Stadium, I think he is a clear start for the week.

Moore has inexplicably been wretched against lefties this year, yet I can’t help but think this is something the Rays can help him figure out. Jason Collette and I discuss this seemingly weekly and did so again on the July 13 episode with Cory Schwartz (which may be out by the time you read this), and Jason posits that it is Moore’s position on the third base side of the rubber that contributes to the woes. Cleveland, terrible against lefties on their own, ripped Moore the last time, but I’m still betting on the odds; the Indians and Mariners rate 24th and 29th, respectively, against lefties in terms of OPS this year.

A quick look at the splits suggests Vargas is purely a home/road play in the vein of Tommy Milone, but further investigation tells a bit of a different story. Yes, he is an auto-start at home, where that stadium plays perfect to his (and really any pitcher’s) style, but his road numbers are inflated by a couple of rough outings away from Safeco (aptly named for pitchers). One in particular was a 10-earned-run smashing at the hands of the Diamondbacks. He’s not a star on the road, but the Royals and Rays check in at 22nd and 23rd on those OPS vs. lefties rankings, so I like him even in their venues.

I look at Floyd’s skills and wonder how he has a 4.54 ERA. He is posting a career-high strikeout rate (8.0 K/9) and a 2.7 BB/9 that is better than his 2.9 career mark, yet the home run woes from his early days have crept up to bite him again with a 1.5 HR/9. I’m quite bullish on him going forward but am a little skittish this week with a trip to Fenway and a faceoff against the hot-hitting Tigers. He showed for three straight years that he can quell the gopheritis (1.0 or lower HR/9), so I’m betting on this year’s rate trickling down as the season wears on.

Consider
Travis Blackley (vs. TEX; vs. NYY)
Alex Cobb (vs. CLE; vs. SEA)

Blackley has been nothing short of excellent this year, and his Ryan Vogelsong-esque story is great, but we made Vogelsong prove it for a while before buying in, so Blackley gets the same treatment. I love the venue, but those are a couple of beastly matchups. This is an incredible test, and if he passes it, then I will be more apt to trust him going forward. Your mileage may vary.

Sit
Ervin Santana (@ DET; vs. TEX)
Philip Humber (@ BOS; @ DET)
Rick Porcello (vs. LAA; vs. CWS)
Aaron Cook (vs. CWS; vs. TOR)
Henderson Alvarez (@ NYY; @ BOS)
Miguel Gonzalez (@ MIN; @ CLE)

Pitching machines set on level one have yielded fewer home runs than Santana and Humber this year. A pair of outings in Detroit, a trip to Fenway, and the Texas lineup is on their slate this week. No thanks.

Our own Ben Lindbergh gave some insight into why Mr. 0.8, aka Aaron Cook, should probably be avoided on the fantasy landscape.

NATIONAL LEAGUE
Auto-Starts: Anibal Sanchez

Sanchez has been rollercoastery of late, so hopefully the time off did him some good and allowed him to get his head in order and find out what is causing his inconsistency. The average ERA (yes, that essentially says average earned run average) aside, his skills have been nearly equal to last year’s sharp marks. He gave back some strikeouts but also shaved the walk rate, a trade I’ll make if you are still fanning eight per game.

There is a chance Roy Halladay will get a two-start week, which would obviously qualify him for this arena as well, but at press time nothing concrete was available.

Start
Jon Niese (@ WAS; vs. LAD)
Chris Capuano (vs. PHI; @ NYM)
Edwin Jackson (@ MIA; vs. ATL)
Kyle Lohse (@ MIL; vs. CHC)
Wade Miley (@ CIN; vs. HOU)
Trevor Bauer (@ CIN; vs. HOU)

Niese has auto-start potential, but he is still a bit away from that ceiling thanks to a home run issue that has crept up and inflated his ERA this year. At least he finally has the sub-4.00 ERA he has seemingly deserved each of the last two seasons, though.

Those of you waiting for/expecting Capuano to fall off will likely be disappointed. He may not track with a sub-3.00 ERA all year long, but he is definitely a sub-3.50 guy, and he continues to miss bats at a better-than-eight-per-game clip, making him a real fantasy asset across all formats.

Bauer finally had his coming out party, but it was against the neutered Dodgers lineup, so it is hard to fully count it. I still want to see something against a more formidable lineup. Even the Dodgers lineup with Matt Kemp would be enough for me, but not the current lineup that Tim Lincecum even worked over recently. Until then, I have to lean on the more trustworthy assets like Jackson, Lohse, and even teammate Miley. No doubt they all carry less upside, but part of two-start weeks is not getting smashed either.

Consider
Homer Bailey (vs. ARI; vs. MIL)
Bronson Arroyo (vs. ARI; vs. MIL)
J.A. Happ (@ SD; @ ARI)
Ross Detwiler (vs. NYM; vs. ATL)

I like both Reds, but they have home run issues that scare me, especially with a date against the Brewers on the docket. The Brew Crew rip righties with the second-most homers in baseball at 81. The D’Backs don’t fare quite as well power-wise, but they are smack dab in the middle for OPS against righties, and Cincy’s ballpark can turn well-struck balls into homers in a hurry.

Sit
Jeff Karstens (@ COL; vs. MIA)
Christian Friedrich (vs. PIT; @ SD)
Jordan Lyles (@ SD; @ ARI)
Carlos Zambrano (vs. WAS; @ PIT)
Jeff Francis (vs. PIT; @ SD)

Karstens is pitching pretty well this year, but a trip to Coors nixes him. Meanwhile, Friedrich might have had a shot this week had he been facing the early-season Pirates, even in Coors, but the new and improved Pirates are mashing the hell outta the ball, so even a trip to Petco can’t sway me. If you can make daily moves, then I would use both Karstens and Friedrich in their non-Coors starts.

COMPOSITE RANKINGS
Auto-Starts
Sabathia, Sanchez, Lester

Starts
Niese, Capuano, Moore, Vargas, Oswalt, Smyly, E-Jax, Miley, Lohse, Floyd, Bauer, Colon

Considers
Blackley, Cobb, Bailey, Arroyo, Happ, Detwiler       

Sits
Karstens, Friedrich, Santana, Humber, Porcello, Cook, Alvarez, Lyles, Zambrano, Gonzalez, Francis

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dandaman
7/13
Paul- I'm guessing that Michael Fiers gets 2 starts next week. If so, where would you place him?
sporer24
7/13
Probably just ahead of or right behind E-Jax.
hmarxnd
7/13
Isn't everyone a two start pitcher this week since it's 10 days? Do some leagues ignore this weekend?
sporer24
7/13
No leagues ignore it to my knowledge, rather many leagues count Fri-Sun as its own week. Well actually Jul 9 - Jul 15, but obviously that is only 3 game days.
hmarxnd
7/13
Fair enough. Thanks for clarifying.
sporer24
7/14
But to your point, if your "week" is Friday through NEXT Sunday, then yes, everyone is a 2-start guy save injury returns who may come back midweek next week.
ssiegel
7/13
Paul, take a look at the new Pitch FX diagrams for Fister. Quite revealing if you compare 2011-2012. He's getting killed in the lower inside quadrants (to righties) where his sinker lives this year (great numbers last year). Still getting mostly groundballs, but half of those are going for hits. You think this is a) flukely b) real and due to continue given poor IF defence c) real and could continue if he doesn't regain the 1.5 mph he lost on that sinker (he also has a different horizontal release point on it this year, but same break, so he could be deceiving fewer guys with it?) .... Anyways, would you trade Fister for Niese or EJAX? Ks don't count in my league.
ssiegel
7/13
Make that Fister for Niese, EJax or Lohse? Fister is potential keeper at $4 and those guys are waiver wire non-keepers. But I really only care about this year. Thanks
sporer24
7/14
I might do the Fister for Niese deal, but it may just be six half/one dozen other especially in a half season sample with variance. Variance has been negative for Fister in the first half, but could balance out espec. if they look to improve that 2B defense that has been so dreadful with Raburn. As I'm kinda typing/talking my way through it, I think I'd just stay with Fister. I know you're looking solely at the rest of '12 so the keeper aspect isn't swaying me, I just don't see Niese being significantly better plus you give up that keepability.
sporer24
7/14
Interested in checking this out more. I will do this weekend. I was encouraged with his efforts last night for sure.
ssiegel
7/15
Thanks Paul. I had to jump on a different deal and send Fister away. Been losing ground in RBIs and HR recently (thanks Napoli, Hanley, Votto etc!, no production past three weeks), so jumped on the chance to send Pagan and Fister for Willingham and Lind. Memories of Fister's dominance last second half almost convinced me to keep, but there's one thing that made him easier to go: He has not regained the 1.5 mph bump he enjoyed last year. Take a look at his velo game charts on fangraphs: He's stuck in a narrow 88-89 range. I don't think any of his pitches are even hitting 90 now. Last year second half he was 89-92. I don't think he is 100%. Note that all his gems this year have come immediately after extended layoffs. I think he will gut it out and be decent and probably win a number of games (I see the Tigers roaring this half), but I don't think I sent too much value away. Now I have an excess Duda to deal (don't see him getting time from Votto, Rizzo, Lind) ... going to try to get either Niese or EJax. Guess you are saying Niese is preferable? I'm leaning that way ...
MaineSkin
7/14
Alex Cobb (vs. CLE; vs. SEA) I really like this guy going foward with his S% so high (BBHQ).
sporer24
7/14
Smyly out, Jacob Turner in. I'd slot Turner as a third consider behind the other two AL guys. He's been great at AAA lately, but those aren't easy matchups by any stretch.
ssiegel
7/15
Lance Lynn now has two starts @MIL and home vs CHC. I've had horrible luck past 5 starts with Lynn, benching him for his two gems and playing him for his three disasters. There appears to be no rhyme or reason to his performance. He is either on or off, regardless of opponent and park. CBS is a big believer, ranking him 11th overall going into the week ... 26 spots ahead of Anibal! But I'm thinking of leaving him on my bench because MIL has been a huge hitters park. Any thoughts?