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September 20, 2013

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner

Week 26

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.

It’s the final week which is exciting, but also sad since it seemed to go by so quickly! Let’s go out with a bang and bring home some titles. And with that, here is our week slate starting with the AL…

AUTO-START: Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Justin Verlander, and Matt Moore


Chris Tillman


Chris Archer


A.J. Griffin

at LAA, at SEA

Jose Quintana


Garrett Richards


  • Tillman has been quite good since the break, as he is able to keep the O’s in the game even in his down starts. It’s not an easy closing slate, but he’s done enough to earn the confidence to stay in the lineup for the final week.
  • Griffin doesn’t dominate consistently­—he has five four-ER outings in the second half—but he’s avoided the complete implosion and he’s having a great September so far with a 2.77 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, and 30 strikeouts in 26 innings.
  • Quintana hasn’t allowed more than three earned in any of his last seven starts including a tremendous 2.14 ERA in four September starts, though he’s just 1-2 thanks to a dismal supporting cast around him with the Sox.


Danny Salazar


Yordano Ventura

at SEA, at CWS

Bruce Chen

at SEA, at CWS

Jason Vargas


  • If you are in need of wins, Salazar is a tough bet because the Indians have heavily regulated his pitch count, which makes it tough for him to last the requisite five innings let alone any more than that. Even with the limiting inning count, he’s still delivering strikeouts, with 25 in 19 2/3 innings over four starts this month.
  • Ventura will be similar to Salazar, with a managed pitch count and heavy strikeout potential.
  • Chen and Vargas have relatively high implosion potential, which is why I can’t fully endorse starting them regardless of circumstances. You have to let your standings and league format dictate whether or not you can take the risk with them.


Wei-Yin Chen

at TB, BOS

J.A. Happ

at CWS, TB

Phil Hughes

TB, at HOU

Mike Pelfrey


  • Chen has a 5.71 ERA and 1-4 record over his last nine starts and a rather difficult slate of divisional foes.
  • Even with a trip to Houston, you couldn’t pay me to use Hughes.


AUTO-START: Adam Wainwright, Mike Minor, Matt Cain, and Hyun-Jin Ryu


Johnny Cueto


Wade Miley

at SD, WAS

Marco Estrada

at ATL, at NYM

Tanner Roark

at STL, at ARI

Eric Stults

ARI, at SF

Charlie Morton

at CHC, at CIN

  • The Reds originally planned to use Cueto in relief the rest of the way, but inserted him back into the rotation, and he gets three gems to close out the season with a matchup against Houston already completed and then the Mets and Pirates. He will probably be something of a five-and-dive or maybe six-inning kind of guy, but that doesn’t mean he can’t deliver some big numbers. Plus these are very crucial games for the Reds, so they will pull out all of the stops to net a win.
  • Roark has been a big reason that the Nats have even an outside chance at a playoff spot, but they will need him more than ever in a pair of tough outings to close out the season. In three starts since joining the rotation, he’s got a 3-0 record, 0.95 ERA, and 0.74 WHIP with a 13-to-2 K:BB ratio in 19 innings of work.
  • Stults is much better at home with a 3.17 ERA compared to 4.84 on the road, but AT&T Park is a great pitchers park, so I still like him even with a road trip to close out the season.
  • Apart from a dud against the Cards earlier this month, Morton’s been great of late. In fact, if it weren’t for a pair of five-ER outings in his last 10, he’d have an ERA even better than the 3.19 he has managed in those 62 innings.


Brandon McCarthy

at SD, WAS

Nathan Eovaldi


Roy Halladay

at MIA, at ATL

Alex Wood


  • A mix of youth and age, these four all offer legitimate upside, but carry a worrisome downside potentially strong enough to keep you from starting them in leagues where your ERA and WHIP standing could be impacted. Some of you have a real shot at gaining in wins and strikeouts with only an outside shot in ERA and WHIP, and for you guys, these four are all must-starts.
  • If you can pick and choose, I’d love McCarthy against the Padres, Eovaldi against the Phillies, Halladay against the Marlins, and Wood against the Phillies.


Jeff Samardzija


  • Some of you chucking Hail Marys will have to use him, but otherwise he’s not worth the hassle.

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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