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May 17, 2013

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner

Week Eight

by Paul Sporer

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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?

Starts – These are the guys I’m recommending you put into your lineup this week. Some will be obvious, but not quite auto-start excellent while others will be waiver wire fodder who find themselves with a pair of favorable outings that you can take advantage of in your league. There will be accompanying notes supporting the decisions.

Considers – As mentioned earlier, these guys will be on the fence and your league settings and position in the standings will really be a decider here. If the Minnesota Twins fifth starter is slated to face the Astros at home followed by an interleague trip to San Diego, he will appear on this list because the matchups are great though he isn’t and if you are in a 10-team mixed league you probably don’t need to take the risk, but a 10-team AL-only leaguer might see it as a nice opportunity to log some quality innings from a freely available resource.

Sits – These are the guys I’m getting away from this week. They will range in talent from solid to poor. Rarely will you see a really good pitcher here unless he gets an “at COL, at TOR” slate. Speaking of the fateful “at COL”, any mediocre talent with a trip to Coors Field will be a sit until further notice. If they turn the humidor back on, I’ll reconsider, but after last year there is just no reason to throw any non-stud in that park.

And with that, here is our week eight slate….


AUTO-START: Clayton Kershaw, Cole Hamels, and Shelby Miller

Miller joins the club! It’s only been eight starts, so his spot here isn’t guaranteed like those of Kershaw or even Hamels, but for now, he belongs, because I can’t really envision a single scenario where you wouldn’t start Miller right now.


Johnny Cueto


Ross Detwiler

at SF, PHI

Yovani Gallardo


Wandy Rodriguez


Patrick Corbin

at COL, SD

Julio Teheran


  • Cueto is generally an auto-start, but I dropped him down here for at least this week as we await his return from injury. Once we get an idea of what we’re dealing with post-injury, he will have a shot to rejoin the group. It’ll be more about health than his results.
  • Gallardo has been better than you probably think with a 3.53 ERA in his last six starts. His 6.61 ERA in the first three is what set him back. This week is a bit of a proving ground for him.
  • Corbin is headed to Coors, but it really hasn’t been as scary as it was last year, so I’m going to go ahead and roll the dice with him. He has a 48 percent ground-ball rate to keep the ball down and out of trouble, too. Plus, he gets the Padres in his second start. It’s a risky start, but I’m riding the wave with Corbin as he has been excellent throughout 2013.
  • Teheran has been great in his last four outings, posting a 2.84 ERA in 25 1/3 innings. His 1.30 WHIP is a bit high thanks to the 32 hits he’s allowed in the same span, but the one walk allowed is excellent. Let’s take a shot on with Teheran against a pair of modest lineups.


Carlos Villanueva

at PIT, at CIN

Ryan Vogelsong


Shaun Marcum


Alex Sanabia


Jon Garland

ARI, at SF

  • Villanueva gave up five runs in his first four starts before allowing 18 in his next four (6.94 ERA), including a season-high seven in his last outing against the Rockies. The trip to PNC Park isn’t too bad, but I worry it will be washed out by the trip to Cincy.
  • None of the rest of these matchups are at all enticing.


AUTO-START: Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, and Hisashi Iwakuma

Like Miller, Iwakuma has joined the auto-start ranks for at least the time being, because there is absolutely no situation where you are benching him right now.


Jeremy Guthrie


Wade Davis


Lucas Harrell



  • It’s a light slate and there is clearly some risk locked within this trio, but their opponents line up nicely. Obviously, the trip to Houston for Guthrie and Davis is a huge benefit, but the Angels are sputtering, too. Meanwhile, Harrell gets a solid Royals team, but follows that by facing an A’s lineup that has really hit a rut after a hot start to 2013.


Tommy Hanson

SEA, at KC

Kevin Correia

at ATL, at DET

Dylan Axelrod


  • Given our super-light start slate, there is also some risk locked up in this group, so you really should only be considering them if you are particularly desperate for some starts with at least a tick of upside.


Phil Hughes

at BAL, at TB

Scott Kazmir


Bartolo Colon

at TEX, at HOU

Felix Doubront


Mike Pelfrey

at ATL, at DET

Corey Kluber


Freddy Garcia


Ramon Ortiz


Chad Jenkins


Josh Lindblom



  • Only Hughes and Kazmir draw any real interest, but I absolutely refuse to trust Hughes for two road starts against a pair of lineups that can get loose against him. He is so inconsistent from start to start that you are really putting your ERA and WHIP at risk by trusting him with any type of long leash.
  • Kazmir has shown his heights and his depths. I just don’t think he’s in a position yet where we can trust him for two starts, especially with one in Boston against the hard-hitting Red Sox. If a far more proven Hughes is going to grab a seat on our benches this week, then leaving Kazmir on the pine is a no-brainer.

As much fun as two-start guys can be when they hit big with 14 huge innings of great ERA and WHIP and a pair of wins, you don’t want to force it. This week’s slate opens too many opportunities for forcing it, so play it cautiously. That’s especially the case for head-to-head players, because a poor two-start guy can destroy your week. 

Paul Sporer is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Paul's other articles. You can contact Paul by clicking here

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