by Ray Kuhn
Aside from the “studs” this week, it is slim pickings for those searching for pitchers taking the hill twice. If you are still playing for this season, the main thing you need to weigh is the risk involved with some of these options and the effects they could have on your place in the standings. Let’s take a look:
Studs that never should be benched:
- Matt Cain – @ Houston and @ Chicago Cubs.
- Yovani Gallardo – @ Chicago Cubs and @ Pittsburgh.
- Felix Hernandez – @ Minnesota and vs. Los Angeles Angels.
- David Price – @ Texas and @ Toronto.
- Chris Sale – @ Baltimore and @ Detroit.
- James Shields – @ Texas and @ Toronto.
- Stephen Strasburg – @ Miami and vs. St. Louis.
- Jered Weaver – vs. Boston and @ Seattle.
Five Pitchers that should be starting in every format:
A.J. Burnett – vs. St. Louis and @ Milwaukee. I think just because it is Burnett I can’t put him in the above category, but he should be starting every week. Outings like his last one against the Padres, when he gave up 4 runs and 12 hits in 6.2 innings, of course do not help his case. I would give slight pause to Burnett because he has an 11.17 ERA against the Cardinals in 2 starts this season, but the way he has been pitching you can’t bench him. He is 15-4 and after his last start his ERA rose to 3.63. His WHIP is still a little on the high side at 1.25, but his 15-4 record and 133 strikeouts certainly help to make up for that.
Kyle Lohse – @ Pittsburgh and @ Washington. Lohse is just a solid pitcher who is dazzling fantasy owners with a 2.61 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in easily the best season of his career. He also is pitching deep into games (169 innings this season) and winning often (13-2 record). The fact that Lohse is pitching twice this week is a bonus for the ratio assistance it will provide. Plus you will not have to sacrifice strikeouts by having him the lineup either.
Chris Capuano – @ Colorado and vs. Arizona. Capuano is another solid starting pitcher who is having a very good year and providing a nice boost to owners who are using him on a regular basis. His ERA is higher than Lohse’s, but at 3.38 still very good and the same goes for his WHIP of 1.18. Starting him in Colorado would give me some pause but chances are there not many better options out there, especially one that starts twice. With 145 strikeouts in 162.2 innings and an 11-9 record Capuano is providing value in all the categories.
Jake Westbrook – @ Pittsburgh and @ Washington. This is not a category I would have expected to find Westbrook in, but he comes with a lot less risk than some of the other candidates and he is hot. Overall he has a 3.50 ERA for the season with 12 wins and over his last 3 starts it is 1.69 with a 2-1 record. I still do understand some skepticism since his WHIP is 1.28 and he has only struck out 95 batters in 154.1 innings. Still, for those chasing wins and strikeouts Westbrook could prove to be a useful option this week while also providing some ERA stability and not too much WHIP damage.
Bronson Arroyo – @ Arizona and @ Houston. Lately it seems that any pitcher facing Houston is a wise play. The fact that Arroyo also faces Arizona this week makes him more appealing. He has 10 wins on the season and is working on a streak of 3 straight quality starts (and has 5 in last 7). The Reds are a team that will give him run support and he is a veteran pitcher that gets better as the season progresses. He won’t strike many batters out (102 in 158 innings) but he also won’t walk many hitters (27) which helps keep his WHIP of 1.22 respectable. With a 3.87 ERA, 2 starts this week and the opponents he is facing, Arroyo should be starting.
Five That Must be Debated Based on Your Situation:
Clay Buchholz – vs. Kansas City and @ Oakland. For starters his matchups this week are appealing, especially the fact that he is pitching in Oakland for his second start of the week. His last start against the Angels was outright brutal as he gave up 12 hits and 7 runs in 5.1 innings, but that was his first start of less than 7 innings in a month and first start of less than 6 innings in 3 months. I would chalk up this as a bad outing, give him a pass and get him the lineup for 2 favorable matchups this week.
Anibal Sanchez – @ Kansas City and vs. Chicago White Sox. Sanchez has not been good overall in his 5 starts for the Tigers. After a 6.2 inning 1 earned run outing his ERA dropped to 6.33, which says a lot for just how bad he has been. Combined his ERA for the season is only 4.38 which shows that he has been in fact pitching pretty well overall. The fact that he is believed that prior to his last start he fixed a flaw in his delivery lends a little more optimism to his most recent start. There is not much holding me back from starting Sanchez this week and giving him a chance to correct the damage he did to your ERA in his last few starts. If you are picking him up off of waivers he is a perfect buy low candidate.
Brett Anderson – vs. Cleveland and @ Boston. Anderson came back off the DL in a big way, pitching 7 innings and giving up 4 hits, no walks, 1 run and striking out 6. That outing against the Twins should translate to how he will do against the Indians. The 2 things that would give me some hesitation is that he has not started in over a year due to Tommy John surgery and facing the Red Sox offense (though now that is a little less formidable). The Red Sox offense has been so up and down this season and after starting off shaky against the Twins he seemed to recover nicely. The track record for the season is not a long one, but I would take a flyer on Anderson as he makes 2 starts this week.
Hisashi Iwakuma – @ Minnesota and vs. Los Angeles Angels. In his first major league season Iwakuma has been pretty good for the Mariners compiling a 3.64 ERA. He won’t strike out many batters (aside from his 13 strikeout game a few starts ago against Toronto), but enough to help in a 2 start week. The Angels could be a somewhat difficult opponent which, coupled with his WHIP of 1.33, could give some hesitation to starting him. However 3 starts ago he did pitch 7 innings against the Angels only giving up 3 runs so there is some cause for optimism (along with the fact that he faces them at home). If you are scrambling to find a starting pitcher this week and could use one making 2 starts, then Iwakuma could be a solid option.
Wei Yin-Chen – vs. Chicago White Sox and @ New York Yankees. For most of the season Chen has been a very good starter for the Orioles. However his most recent 3 start stretch has not been pretty bad. In 15.2 innings he has given up 13 runs and he has allowed 29 base runners. That would give me some pause before starting him this week. As it is the Orioles have recognized that he is tiring and are now giving him an extra days rest, as he received in Japan. With 122 strikeouts in 151 innings there is some value here, and there is the possibility of the extra rest helping before his next start, but I would still trend somewhat carefully for the rest of the season.
Three for Thought:
Bud Norris – vs. San Francisco and vs. Cincinnati. Norris has been downright brutal at times this season with his 5.20 ERA and 1.46 WHIP. While he is capable of turning it around at times and having some useful outings, it seems to be a 50/50 proposition. Out of his last 7 starts he has 4 quality starts, but he also had are 3 starts that could be absolutely brutal to your ratios. It is clear Norris has been a hit or miss option this year with the emphasis on miss, but if it is strikeouts you are chasing then he could be your guy. He has 130 strikeouts in 131.1 innings, so he could make a difference in one category for you, while possibly risking some damage to two. Plus neither of these matchups are terribly appealing, so tread at your own risk.
Francisco Liriano – @ Baltimore and @ Detroit. I would describe Liriano the same way I described Norris as a candidate for this week. With a solid 7 inning performance he just lowered his ERA to 5.12 and he sports a 1.42 WHIP. However in his last 7 starts, he has had a few where the damage is ugly and over quickly as he has had outings of 2.2 innings and 7 runs and 3.1 innings with 6 runs given up. However, Liriano can give owners a nice strikeout boost as he has struck out 139 batters in 126.2 innings. Start him at your own risk, but at least you know the risk and reward.
Ricky Romero – @ New York Yankees and vs. Tampa Bay. Romero fits in well with Norris and Liriano (pitchers with talent and flashes of good performances, but just some overall ugly implosions). The one difference is that Romero does not really strike many batters out (104 in 155 innings). Facing the Yankees and Tampa is not a good matchup week for him either. Granted you probably drafted Romero with the intention of relying on him this season, but depending on the shape your ratios are in it might be best not to take the risk of Romero this week.
What are your thoughts on these options? Anybody else you have your eye on that could be a sneaky play this week?