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June 7, 2013

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner

Week 11

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 11 slate…


AUTO-START: Hisashi Iwakuma, CC Sabathia, Jered Weaver, Alex Cobb, Jon Lester, and Doug Fister

Cobb and Fister join the auto-start ranks.

On August 18 of last season, he was pounded by the Angels for eight runs on 12 hits in just 2 2/3 innings. He followed it up with a four-hit shutout of Oakland. From the shutout through his outing against Detroit this week, he has the seventh-best ERA in baseball (2.43), the 12th-best WHIP (1.05), and the 15th-best innings-per-game average (6.59, where .33 equals one-third of an inning). And though he isn’t known as a strikeout guy, his 22.6 percent rate in that span is 0.1 percent behind Matt Moore, who is very much known for strikeouts. His rate also tops those of CC Sabathia, Adam Wainwright, and Madison Bumgarner.

Coincidentally, Fister had a terrible outing the day after Cobb did, as he yielded seven runs in 3 2/3 innings to the Orioles. He didn’t bounce back with a shutout—in fact he needed 11 days before making another start thanks to an oblique that bothered him all year—but we will use the same timeframe for him. Since Cobb’s shutout, Fister is 18th in ERA (3.12), 27th in WHIP (1.15), and 11th in walk percentage (4.5 percent) while lasting 6.37 innings per outing. He has done all that while being tied for the highest BABIP (.306) among those in the top 20 for ERA. Teammate Anibal Sanchez joins him, and that is no coincidence. That is the Detroit infield defense in full effect.


Derek Holland


Alexi Ogando


John Lackey

at TB, at BAL

Bartolo Colon


Corey Kluber


Dylan Axelrod


  • Holland is right on the cusp of being an auto-start. He’s been great through 12 starts so far this season and he will be tested thoroughly this week with the Indians and Blue Jays as a double slate.
  • I was thrilled to see Ogando pitch really well in his first start off the DL in Fenway. He was an out shy of a quality start, but all in all it was a strong return. The walks need to come down, as he had three in this outing and he hasn’t had a walk-less outing yet, but everything else is working for him right now.
  • Kluber had a string of three quality starts interrupted by a rained-out start where he only went two innings, and then the Yankees go to him for six runs (four earned) in six, but he still managed an 8-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in that game. I was impressed with his four shutout innings after giving up the runs in the first two innings.
  • Axelrod doesn’t wow you, but he has been solid. He did the proverbial dodging of raindrops in Seattle—he allowed 11 base runners in 5 1/3, and yet somehow held the Mariners scoreless—but otherwise he has been sharp and earned his quality ERA. His five walks against the M’s took his walk rate from 5.9 percent to 7.2 percent. He needs to operate in that 5-6 percent range to be effective especially since he doesn’t miss bats.


R.A. Dickey

at CWS, at TEX



  • I’d love to believe that Dickey’s San Francisco outing was a corner being turned, too, but this is starting to look like Dan Haren’s 2012, where we will never know when the neck/back (it was back/hip for Haren) is bothering him enough to cut his effectiveness in half.


Miguel Gonzalez


Dallas Keuchel


Jeremy Guthrie

DET, at TB

Roberto Hernandez


Freddy Garcia


Wade Davis

DET, at TB

P.J. Walters


Chad Jenkins

at CWS, at TEX



  • Gonzalez is pitching better of late, but an Angels/Red Sox slate is dangerous. I’m especially pleased with his 24 percent strikeout rate over his last five starts, a span during which he has at least five strikeouts in each outing.
  • All but Keuchel have at least one dangerous opponent, and while Keuchel has back-to-back nice matchups, it’s not enough for me to trust him just yet.


AUTO-START: Clayton Kershaw and Cole Hamels

Still trust Hamels. For now.


Homer Bailey


Julio Teheran

at SD, SF

Matt Garza


Michael Wacha

at NYM, at MIA

Scott Feldman


Ricky Nolasco


Jason Marquis




  • Teheran follows up his near-no hitter with a very friendly pair of matchups. He gave up at least four runs in each of his first three outings yielding a 7.31 ERA, but since then he has a 2.13 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 55 innings. In those first three starts, he gave up five home runs (2.8 HR/9); he’s only allowed three in the subsequent eight outings (0.49 HR/9).
  • While the results haven’t stair-stepped up from one to four, Garza has looked better with each passing start. He and Feldman get a Reds offense that is scarier on paper than it has been on the field, as they sit 14th in OPS against right-handers.
  • Wacha got pushed from his start against Cincy this weekend and now has a two-start slate against the Mets and Marlins, which sets up much better than the Diamondbacks/Reds slate he was originally set up for in week 10.


Tim Lincecum

at PIT, at ATL

Jeremy Hefner




  • Use Lincecum at your own risk. If you have him, you almost have to start him; otherwise, what’s the point?
  • Hefner got a Miami start ripped from him by a rainout of the Mets on Thursday, pushing him to a two-start week starting Tuesday that isn’t nearly as enticing as the Washington/Miami duo he was slated for in week 10. He crushed the first leg of the would-be double dip by holding the Nats to one run in seven innings on just four hits and a walk. He also struck out seven.


Yovani Gallardo

at MIA, at CIN

Dan Haren

at COL, at CLE

Wily Peralta

at MIA, at CIN

Jon Garland




  • The most likely outcome for Gallardo is that he dominates the Marlins and gives most of it back against the Reds. Another possible outcome is that the Marlins bum-rush him and he also struggles against the Reds, severely damaging your ERA and WHIP (even more than he has thus far).
  • These matchups could get really ugly for Haren. 

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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