June 2014

Pitch or Ditch for Tuesday, July 1

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Minnesota Twins

CORY’S PICKS

Estrada @ Hutchison – Estrada out of the circle of trust, for now at least

Martinez @ McFarland

Price @ Kuroda

Mills @ Porcello – tough test but Porcello may have finally broken through

Jackson @ Buchholz

Richards @ Noesi (Gm 1)

Weaver @ Carroll (Gm 2)

Shields @ Nolasco

Iwakuma @ Cosart – hang with ‘em

Friedrich @ Strasburg

Miley @ Locke

Matsuzaka @ Minor – hang with ‘em

Burnett @ Alvarez – Marlins are tough at home but A.J. is in a groove

Masterson @ Beckett

Leake @ Kennedy

Gonzales @ Lincecum

Zach’s Two-Start Pitcher Notes – Week of 6/30

MLB: San Diego Padres at San Francisco Giants

PITCHES

Tim Lincecum (vs. STL, @SD)

As frustrating as it is to own Lincecum, due in large part to his unpredictability from one start to the next, regardless of the matchup, it’s awfully tough to bench a guy who is coming off a no-hitter. The vs. STL matchup might seem like an unfavorable one, that is until you realize that the Cardinals lineup has vastly underperformed this year, with the club ranking 12th in the NL in runs scored and dead last in homers. Plus, Tiny Tim is 4-2 with a 3.19 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in 10 home starts this season. As for the @SD matchup, well, the Padres happen to be the team Lincecum just no-hit, and this time he gets them at Petco. Listen, I’m not a huge Lincecum supporter, but even I would feel comfortable pitching him next week. Count on him being more than just a source of strikeouts.

Rick Porcello (vs. OAK, vs. TB)

Porcello is another guy who I’ve been very skeptical about over the past few years, but 2014 has easily been his best season to date, and remember that he’s still just 25 years of age. Next week will be an interesting one for Porcello as he will face both the highest scoring and lowest scoring teams in the AL. Yeah, the vs. OAK matchup is unsettling, but considering that Porcello has allowed three earned runs or less in 11 of his 15 starts this season and factoring in his ultra-favorable matchup at home against the Rays, I think pitching him next week is a risk worth taking.

Jake Arrieta (@BOS, @WAS)

Check out Arrieta’s last four starts: 3-0, 1.00 ERA, 0.56 WHIP, 36-to-2 K/BB ratio. That’s pretty much all you need to know. I don’t really care that these matchups aren’t the greatest. Arrieta is a former top prospect who had a hard time making the transition to the big leagues. Until now.

Wade Miley (@PIT, @ATL)

I own Miley in a couple of leagues this year and definitely expected better than a 4.78 ERA through 17 starts. Although 17 homers allowed in 17 starts is simply unacceptable, Miley has posted a career-best strikeout rate. Also, he’s allowed more than four runs in a start just twice, so there isn’t a huge risk of a disaster outing. But the key for next week is that both of his starts will come on the road, where he sports a solid 3.63 ERA, this compared to his 5.64 mark at Chase Field. In a shallow mixed league, there are probably better two-start options available on the wire, but Miley is someone who I’d consider spot-starting in mixed leagues of 12 or more teams.

DITCHES

Dan Haren (vs. CLE, @COL)

Haren is a longtime favorite of mine, so it’s pretty depressing to come to grips with the fact that he’s no longer a top half of the rotation caliber fantasy SP. But he has pitched well enough to remain mixed league relevant, though the drastic strikeout decline is concerning. I’ve been starting Haren every week so far in the two leagues where I own him, but next week, he will be taking a seat for the first time. Considering that Haren has always had trouble limiting the longball, even in his prime years, the @COL start has disaster written all over it. And even though he will be facing the Indians at home, Cleveland actually ranks in the top-5 in the AL in runs scored. The bottom line is that in mixed leagues, the risk outweighs the reward.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at New York Mets

Zack Wheeler (@ATL, vs. TEX)

So he teases us yet again. Less than a week after shutting out the Marlins, Wheeler took the mound at Citi Field and got lit up by the A’s. He shouldn’t feel too bad though, because many pitchers have gotten lit up by the A’s this year. Hopefully, you didn’t start him for that one. And I wouldn’t start him next week, even though the matchups aren’t particularly tough. For Wheeler, the consistency just hasn’t been there, especially of late.

Pitch or Ditch for Saturday-Monday, June 28-30

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles

ZACH’S PICKS

SATURDAY

Sale @ Stroman – Stroman bounced back nicely his last time out.

Santiago @ Ventura – Still a fan of Santiago though.

Bedard @ W. Chen – Chen is 3-1 with a 3.31 ERA at home this year.

Hughes @ Darvish – Hughes coming off rough outing but it’s too tough to sit him.

Scherzer @ Keuchel

Lester @ Tanaka

Tomlin @ Elias – Tomlin very shaky lately. Will give Elias a shot.

G. Gonzalez @ Beeler (Gm 1)

Treinen @ Samardzija (Gm 2)

Big Erv @ R. Hernandez (Gm 1)

Hale @ O’Sullivan (Gm 2)

Niese @ Cole

Chacin @ Garza – Garza has been outstanding this month (2.38 ERA).

Gray @ Eovaldi

Lynn @ Greinke

Simon @ Cain – I know, I’m probably crazy to pitch Cain.

Collmenter @ Stults – Collmenter a decent gamble in deeper leagues though.

SUNDAY

Quintana @ Buehrle

Cobb @ M. Gonzalez – Gonzalez deserves serious consideration here but not a whole lot of upside in pitching him.

Wilson @ Guthrie

Smyly @ Feldman

Gibson @ Lewis

TBD (CLE) @ King Felix

Lackey @ Whitley – The regression has already begun for Whitley.

Milone @ Heaney – I do like Heaney but this matchup scares me.

Harang @ Buchanan – This matchup doesn’t scare me, but Harang does. In mixed leagues, I’d play it safe.

Colon @ Volquez – Colon is 4-0 with a 1.75 ERA in June.

J. De La Rosa @ Gallardo

Bailey @ Hudson – Taking a short-term break from Bailey.

Miller @ Kershaw

Bolsinger @ Despaigne – Bolsinger a sneaky play in NL-only leagues.

MONDAY

Archer @ Phelps – Favorable matchup for Phelps.

Saunders @ Jimenez

Kazmir @ An. Sanchez

Arrieta @ Peavy – Challenging matchup for Arrieta but he’s been lights out lately.

Richards @ Noesi

Duffy @ Pino – Duffy is on a nice roll as well.

Walker @ McHugh – Very tempting to pitch Walker here but let me see one start first.

Flande @ Zimmermann

Wheeler @ A. Wood – Wheeler is back in my doghouse.

Kluber @ Haren

Latos @ Hahn – Keep an eye on Hahn though.

Pitch or Ditch for Friday, June 27

MLB: Texas Rangers at Los Angeles Angels

CORY’S PICKS

Colome @ Gausman (Gm 1)
Odorizzi @ Tillman (Gm 2)
Workman @ Nuno
Danks @ Dickey – both are erratic and facing big offenses, but Dickey is solid at home
Correia @ Tepesch
Shoemaker @ Vargas – Shoemaker will eventually return to pumpkin status, but for now…
Verlander @ Peacock – admit it, you thought twice about Verlander too, right?
Bauer @ Young
Roark @ Hammel – Hammel’s last start with Cubs?
Teheran @ Kendrick
deGrom @ Cumpton
Chavez @ DeSclafani – Marlins are tough at home but Chavez is hanging in there
Matzek @ Lohse
C. Martinez @ Ryu
McCarthy @ T. Ross – last chance for McCarthy, vs. league-worst offense
Cueto
@ Bumgarner

***ZACH SAYS “I have zero confidence in McCarthy, regardless of the matchup, so I’d play it safe and ditch. Odorizzi scares me too in tough pitching environment but in deeper leagues, I’m OK with going for it. Agree on rest.”

2014 Midseason All-Surprise Team

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Colorado Rockies

Zach here,

It’s that time again! Time for the midseason All-Surprise and All-Disappointment teams. So, to continue the 411 tradition in the post-podcast era, here’s my All-Surprise squad. Next week, I’ll unveil my All-Disappointment team. Feel free to chime in and even share your own choices in the comments section.

C   Devin Mesoraco (Honorable Mention: Derek Norris)

1B  Jose Abreu (Honorable Mention: Justin Morneau)

2B  Brian Dozier (Honorable Mention: Anthony Rendon)

SS  Dee Gordon

3B  Lonnie Chisenhall

OF  Nelson Cruz

OF  Charlie Blackmon

OF  Michael Brantley

SP  Scott Kazmir

SP  Mark Buehrle (Honorable SP Mentions: Collin McHugh, Jesse Chavez, Tanner Roark, Alfredo Simon, Dallas Keuchel)

CL  Francisco Rodriguez

Keep in mind that “All-Surprise” is a fairly loose term. On one hand, you have Blackmon and Chisenhall, who went undrafted in just about every mixed league. But then there’s Abreu, who we thought would be a legitimate top-15 first baseman but didn’t quite expect 22 homers and 60 RBI over his first 64 major league games. I considered Nelson Cruz to be a quality third outfielder in 12-team mixed leagues and a good bet for 25 home runs, not a top-5 OF with a legitimate chance to reach 40 homers. I liked Michael Brantley a lot this year as an underrated fantasy contributor who could maybe bat .280 with 85 runs, 15 homers and 15 steals. Instead, he boasts a .323-11-49-51-9 line through 73 games. Yes, Kazmir was drafted in the majority of 12-team mixed leagues as a serviceable back end of the rotation type, not a fantasy ace, or at worst a #2. The bottom line is that the range of options to fill out this roster is a rather wide one.

***Note that even though Dee Gordon has been playing second base this year, he’s still shortstop eligible, so in order to make room for Dozier at 2B, I moved Gordon to SS.

Pitch or Ditch for Thursday, June 26

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Detroit Tigers

ZACH’S PICKS

Minor @ Cosart – Cosart has earned it.
Nolasco @ Weaver
Carroll @ Happ
Porcello @ Martinez – Tough matchup for Porcello. Sitting this one out.
Koehler @ Hamels – Koehler too inconsistent to trust.
Matsuzaka @ Worley
Fister @ T. Wood
Friedrich @ Peralta – Peralta coming off strong outing @COL and now gets Rockies at home.
Wainwright @ Beckett
Leake @ Vogelsong – Leake probably worth starting in deeper leagues but he’s been totally unpredictable from one start to the next. Vogelsong has been awful in June (6.04 ERA).

Pitch or Ditch for Wednesday, June 25

MLB: Washington Nationals at Pittsburgh Pirates

CORY’S PICKS

Morton @ Price – Morton is not as good on the road, and the Rays score more at home…trap game

Noesi @ Jimenez

Kuroda @ Hutchison

An. Sanchez @ Saunders

Haren @ Shields

A. Wood @ McHugh – not sold on McHugh but the results have been solid so far

Pino @ Richards

Buchholz @ Iwakuma

Strasburg @ Estrada – Estrada is probably one more bad start from losing his rotation spot

Gonzales @ Flande

Kennedy @ Lincecum – if you can’t use Lincecum at home vs. SD, you should never use him

Latos @ Jackson

Alvarez @ Burnett

Mills @ Wheeler – Wheeler is on a tear and is a must-start, even vs. the A’s

Kluber @ C. Anderson

Pitch or Ditch for Tuesday, June 24

MLB: Houston Astros at Minnesota Twins

ZACH’S PICKS

Quintana @ M. Gonzalez – Quintana coming off nice rebound performance.
Phelps @ Buehrle – Buehrle always makes me nervous but Yanks aren’t hitting right now.
Locke @ Archer
Smyly @ Lewis – Tough matchup for Smyly but he’s on a roll.
Kershaw @ Duffy – Ditto for Duffy.
Harang @ Feldman – I don’t trust Harang. Period.
Gibson @ Wilson – Gibson 21 IP, 0 ER over his last three starts.
Peavy @ Ramirez
Heaney @ Buchanan – Buchanan worth a look in NL-only leagues though.
Kazmir @ Colon – Interesting matchup.
Bailey @ Arrieta – Sticking with Bailey. Going for it with Arrieta at home.
Zimmermann @ Gallardo
Miller @ J. De La Rosa – Miller at Coors worries me.
Masterson @ Miley – Playing it safe with both in tough environment.
Hahn @ Hudson

CORY’S PICKS

Quintana @ M. Gonzalez
Phelps @ Buehrle – Buehrle is 13-for-15 in QS this year, gotta go for it
Locke @ Archer
Smyly @ Lewis
Kershaw @ Duffy
Harang @ Feldman – Harang is fading
Gibson @ Wilson - Gibson is on a nice run but I’m not sold yet
Peavy @ Ramirez
Heaney @ Buchanan – impressive debut for Heaney, let’s try again
Kazmir @ Colon – ironic matchup, huh??
Bailey @ Arrieta
Zimmermann
@ Gallardo
Miller @ J. De La Rosa
Masterson @ Miley
Hahn @ Hudson

Zach’s Two-Start Pitcher Notes – Week of 6/23

MLB: New York Mets at Miami Marlins

PITCHES

Andrew Heaney (@PHI, vs. OAK)

Yeah, it was the Mets, but I really liked what I saw from Heaney in his big league debut. The one walk over six innings was very encouraging, as it shows that he has successfully carried over his stellar control to the big league level. I mean, how many times have we seen young pitchers struggle to consistently throw strikes upon their first promotion to the Majors? These are by no means easy matchups, but Heaney is the type of talent that deserves a spot in your active lineup regardless of the opponent, at least until he proves otherwise.

Bartolo Colon (vs. OAK, @PIT)

After getting roughed up by the Yankees on May 12th, Colon has been on quite a roll, going 5-0 with a 1.66 ERA and 0.92 WHIP over his last six starts. The A’s are the highest scoring team in the Majors but they aren’t quite as good on the road, where they have posted a .709 OPS, this compared to a .796 mark at home. Plus, Colon boasts a 2.34 ERA through five starts at Citi Field this year. As for the Pirates, despite making some headway offensively this month, they still rank in the middle of the pack in runs scored.

Drew Smyly (@TEX, @HOU)

Even though he has been very up and down this year, Smyly has now turned in three straight excellent performances. High pitch counts have been an issue at times, but efficiency is a skill that he could easily improve upon as he gains more big league starting experience. Facing the Rangers in Arlington is no easy task, but somewhat surprisingly, Texas ranks in the bottom half of the Majors in runs scored at home this season. Regardless, Smyly has the type of stuff that can baffle any lineup when he’s on his game. While the Astros offense is no longer a laughingstock, we’re not exactly talking about a run-scoring machine.

Wei-Yin Chen (vs. CHW, vs. TB)

Chen might seem like the riskiest of my four Pitch recommendations, but in four starts since the calendar turned to June, he’s 2-0 with a 2.13 ERA and 0.83 WHIP. In seven home starts this season, he’s 3-1 with a 3.13 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. The White Sox and Rays both rank in the bottom third of the AL in runs scored this month. What’s not to like?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DITCHES

Aaron Harang (@HOU, @PHI)

What can I say, I simply don’t trust this guy. And now is as good a time as any to jump off the Harang bandwagon (my condolences to those of you who pitched him for his last start). On paper, these matchups seem decent, but Harang will go up against a Phillies team that lit him up just a few days ago and an Astros lineup that is not nearly as inept as last year’s version. Harang owners would be wise to cash in their chips now before it really gets to be too late.

Marcus Stroman (vs. NYY, vs. CHW)

Stroman certainly has a bright future, but as his last start against the Yankees demonstrated, growing pains are a part of the game for any young pitcher. The six walks over 28 innings is a great sign. The 38 hits? Not so much. A solid week here would get Stroman back into my good graces. But for now, in a 12-team mixed league, I’ll take a wait and see approach.

Pitch or Ditch for Saturday-Monday, June 21-23

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Detroit Tigers

ZACH’S PICKS

SATURDAY

Norris @ Nuno

Young @ Vargas – Young pitching fairly well of late but Royals lead AL in runs scored this month. Vargas has posted five straight quality starts.

Rienzo @ Correia

R. De La Rosa @ Chavez

Peacock @ Odorizzi – I’ll give Peacock another shot in rematch with Rays.

Verlander @ Bauer – Who woulda thunk it? Watch Verlander throw a shutout here. Playing it safe with Bauer in tough matchup.

N. Martinez @ Weaver

Happ @ Leake – Scary matchup for Leake.

Hamels @ Wainwright – Nice!

Peralta @ Friedrich – Taking the conservative route with Peralta at Coors.

deGrom @ Koehler – Koehler has fallen back down to earth but this matchup is too enticing to pass up.

Worley @ T. Wood – Wood a decent option in deeper leagues but I’m just not a fan.

Teheran @ Fister

Beckett @ T. Ross – Fading Ross far from an automatic pitch versus strong lineup.

Vogelsong @ McCarthy – Not overly confident in Vogelsong though.

SUNDAY

Scherzer @ Tomlin

Keuchel @ Bedard

Tillman @ Tanaka

Elias @ Ventura – Elias coming off a gem but it was against the Padres. Borderline call.

Danks @ Hughes – Danks 2 ER or less in each of his last five starts.

Lester @ Milone – Always pitch Milone at home.

Darvish @ TBD (LAA)

Dickey @ Cueto – Not a great environment for Dickey but Reds offense has underperformed this year.

Niese @ DeSclafani

Big Erv @ Roark – Roark continues to get it done.

Kendrick @ C. Martinez

Cumpton @ Hammel

Ryu @ Stults

Lohse @ Matzek

Bumgarner @ Bolsinger

MONDAY

Sale @ W. Chen – Rolling the dice on Chen at home.

Whitley @ Stroman – Could be 10-9 or 2-1. I’ll pass.

Volquez @ Cobb

Greinke @ Guthrie

Lackey @ King Felix

Eovaldi @ R. Hernandez

G. Gonzalez @ Garza – Hopefully, Gio has shaken off the rust.

Simon @ Samardzija

Lynn @ Chacin – Only 6 HR allowed by Lynn through 15 starts.

Despaigne @ Cain – If Cain gets roughed up here, we have a big problem.

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