Pitching Forecaster: Pitching help in Cleveland?!?
Plenty of intrigue with pitching rotations as we look ahead. How will the Red Sox handle John Smoltz' return? Will the Indians really provide Fantasy relief in the coming weeks? Our Eric Mack takes a look at that and more in his latest Pitching Forecaster.
It is perhaps a little difficult to fathom, but the Cleveland Indians could actually hold some significance in the Fantasy pitching market in the coming weeks. Yes, the same Indians who have the second-worst ERA in baseball at 5.24. And that's second to only the Triple-A Nationals at 5.33. The Indians' starters have a 5.45 ERA. Only the Nats' starters are worse at 5.57.
I know, hard to believe we might find some value with the Indians, but bear with us ...
While Cliff Lee is pitching like his 2008 self again, the Indians are also getting potential rehab assignment returns from the likes of Jake Westbrook , Aaron Laffey and Scott Lewis . That already adds to the fact former No. 1 picks Jeremy Sowers and David Huff have made strides of late.
There could be a logjam in Cleveland's rotation and the competition has to figure to make their starting five better. It would be difficult to get any worse.
Lee is dominating again, flirting with a no-hitter Sunday night. Sowers, a first-round pick in 2004, has a 2.77 ERA since his latest recall from Triple-A. And Huff, a first-round pick in 2006, has won back-to-back starts.
They could be joined by a trio of rehabilitating elbows by July. Westbrook is working his way back from Tommy John surgery. Laffey and Lewis are also pitching on rehab assignments after settling down sore elbows. All three of these guys have been viable in mixed leagues in the past.
Strength in numbers can help the cream rise to the top perhaps and generate some sleepers for Fantasy leagues. A return to health by Travis Hafner and soon Grady Sizemore would really help the offense get them run support, too.
Come the All-Star break, the Indians could slot a rotation of Lee, Westbrook, Lewis, Carl Pavano and the best of Sowers, Huff or Laffey. That should help them rise in the standings and become buyers instead of sellers, perhaps.
There have been rumors if the Indians were out of the race, they might dangle the front-line ace Lee in a trade -- a la CC Sabathia a year ago. A Lee trade doesn't make sense to us, but if he goes to a top contender like the Phillies or Rangers, his Fantasy value would shoot back up to the elite in baseball, even if those are dangerous pitcher parks.
Sometimes you have to pick through the trash to find hidden treasures. Outside of Lee, a pitcher every league has owned, the Indians are a decent place to look.
- Dan Haren
- Max Scherzer
- Jon Garland
- Doug Davis
- Billy Buckner
Week 12 two-starter(s): Scherzer. He can't be considered a
lock-down ace until he proves healthy over a longer period, but he is
sure on his way.
Starters on the DL: Brandon Webb (shoulder) and Yusmeiro Petit (shoulder). Webb now is merely hoping to return before the All-Star break. Keep him stashed. Petit is on a rehab assignment but isn't doing well.
Starters to watch in the minors: Jarrod Parker . He is more hittable in Double-A, but it is tough to complain about a 3.19 ERA when you're talking about a 20-year-old handling that level.
- Derek Lowe
- Jair Jurrjens
- Javier Vazquez
- Kenshin Kawakami
- Tommy Hanson
Week 12 two-starter(s): Vazquez and Hanson. They pitch Wednesday
and Thursday at Cincy and Vazquez should be a must-start, while Hanson
could be an advisable option with another solid outing.
Starters on the DL: Tim Hudson (elbow). He remains on target for August, but it is still possible he tries to accelerate his timetable by returning in relief.
Starters to watch in the minors: Cole Rohrbough . Their next pitching prospects are back in Class A ball, so the depth will come from relievers Kris Medlen , Jo-Jo Reyes and Jorge Campillo , if needed, later this season.
- Jeremy Guthrie
- Koji Uehara
- Brad Bergesen
- Rich Hill
- Jason Berken
Week 12 two-starter(s): Uehara. He could prove to be a sleeper in
deeper leagues with a solid outing Wednesday vs. the Mets.
Starters on the DL: Alfredo Simon (elbow surgery, out for the season).
Starters to watch in the minors: Chris Tillman , Troy Patton , David Hernandez , Jake Arrieta , Brian Matusz , and Brandon Erbe (7-day DL). Patton has been moved to Triple-A, while Matusz has been promoted to Double-A. Patton and Hernandez might get chances before Tillman, but Tillman is the next one to really be intriguing to Fantasy owners in mixed leagues.
Boston Red Sox
- Josh Beckett
- Jon Lester
- Daisuke Matsuzaka
- Tim Wakefield
- Brad Penny
Week 12 two-starter(s): Penny perhaps. Smoltz's return date is
contingent on the Red Sox making a deal involving Penny or slotting
Dice-K on the DL or in the bullpen. Penny pitches Wednesday vs. Florida
and has a good chance to be an advisable option if he does well and gets
two starts. Smoltz's return might make for a six-man rotation, though.
Starters on the DL: John Smoltz (shoulder). He will make one last rehab start Wednesday in Triple-A and return to the Red Sox next week. Reports are it will happen next Thursday. Track his progress through the weekend. Dice-K is pitching for his rotation spot Friday vs. the Braves, although the Red Sox have not ruled out going with a six-man rotation for a couple of turns.
Starters to watch in the minors: Clay Buchholz , Michael Bowden and Junichi Tazawa . Buchholz is the best pitcher in the minor leagues right now, but a crowded rotation situation doesn't help much. He is 4-0 with a 1.75 ERA and an untouchable .167 batting-average againt in Triple-A. Bowden is just as impressive with a 2.48 ERA and .207 BAA. Tazawa is 7-4 with a 3.14 ERA and .233 BAA in Double-A. Yeah, they are loaded for bear.
- Carlos Zambrano
- Rich Harden
- Ryan Dempster
- Ted Lilly
- Randy Wells
Week 12 two-starter(s): Dempster and Zambrano. They pitch
Wednesday and Thursday vs. the White Sox. They are advisable, if not
must-starts, in all leagues.
Starters on the DL: None.
Starters to watch in the minors: Jeff Samardzija . His numbers aren't great but he is stretched out enough to be a candidate to replace Wells if the No. 5 starter strings some bad outings together. Watch this closely, because the Cubs are going to get hot this summer and crush teams going forward.
Chicago White Sox
- Mark Buehrle
- John Danks
- Gavin Floyd
- Jose A. Contreras
- Clayton Richard
Week 12 two-starter(s): Danks. He has struggled after a hot
start, but he figures to be an advisable option with a solid outing
Wednesday at the Cubs.
Starters on the DL: Bartolo Colon (knee). He will be brought back slowly as the White Sox take extended looks at Contreras and Richard through the All-Star break.
Starters to watch in the minors: None. Aaron Poreda and Colon are the rotation depth right now, but the White Sox have already shown an interest in adding a front-line veteran.
- Aaron Harang
- Johnny Cueto
- Bronson Arroyo
- Micah Owings
- Matt Maloney
Week 12 two-starter(s): Owings. He figures to be a questionable
option even with a solid outing vs. the Braves on Wednesday.
Starters on the DL: Edinson Volquez (elbow). He could return in Fantasy Week 12 (June 22-28), but track his progress through the weekend before considering him.
Starters to watch in the minors: Homer Bailey and Daryl Thompson . Bailey started slow in the minors (6.20 in April), but he has been dominant since, posting a 3.19 ERA in May and a 0.39 ERA in June. He could get another look before the All-Star break, although the Reds have to be wary with the talented right-hander who has proving to be a Quadruple-A pitcher (great in the minors, but looks unfit for the majors). The long-term talent is still there and very intriguing, though.
- Cliff Lee
- Carl Pavano
- David Huff
- Jeremy Sowers
- Tomo Ohka
Week 12 two-starter(s): Sowers or Huff. The Indians could choose
to skip Okha over the weekend due to days off Thursday and the following
Monday. That would move Sowers up and make Huff the two-start pitcher in
Fantasy Week 12 (June 22-28). Both are no better than questionable
options, even if you are a fan of their long-term potential.
Starters on the DL: Jake Westbrook (elbow), Scott Lewis (elbow), Aaron Laffey (side) and Anthony Reyes (elbow surgery, out for the season). The first three could be ready from rehab assignments, barring setbacks, by July. Huff and Sowers will be pitching for their jobs in the coming weeks.
Starters to watch in the minors: Roberto Hernandez , Jeanmar Gomez , Hector Rondon and Chuck Lofgren . There is talent here long term, but the Indians figure to be considering their DL returnees far before the return of Carmona, who has not pitched since his demotion, or their top prospects.
- Aaron Cook
- Ubaldo Jimenez
- Jason Marquis
- Jorge De La Rosa
- Jason Hammel
Week 12 two-starter(s): Cook. He could prove to be a sleeper with
a solid outing Wednesday vs. the Rays.
Starters on the DL: Jeff Francis (shoulder, out for the season).
Starters to watch in the minors: Franklin Morales , Christian Friedrich, Greg Smith , Jason Hirsh , Greg Reynolds , Jhoulys Chacin and Keith Weiser. If not for a hideous start June 11, Morales might have been activated to start. Instead, he will get the rest of June to prove dominant in Triple-A. He could be an impact pitcher in the second half.
- Justin Verlander
- Edwin Jackson
- Rick Porcello
- Armando Galarraga
- TBD since Dontrelle Willis won't start Saturday
Week 12 two-starter(s): Jackson. He is enjoying a breakthrough
year and could be a must-start option with another solid outing
Wednesday at St. Louis.
Starters on the DL: Jeremy Bonderman (shoulder). He is in baseball purgatory now. He cannot get his shoulder strong enough and looks like he could need a full year on the shelf. We figured he could be a contributor, but it is pretty obvious he isn't close now.
Starters to watch in the minors: Brooks Brown and Chris Lambert . Peter Gammons tipped us off to this name, Brown (gotta give him credit). He is a combined 5-5 with a 2.74 ERA and .250 batting-average against in 11 starts between Double- and Triple-A. Acquired from the D-Backs in spring training, he could be the Willis replacement if the Tigers don't want to go to Nate Robertson out of the bullpen.
- Josh Johnson
- Chris Volstad
- Ricky Nolasco
- Andrew Miller
- Sean West
Week 12 two-starter(s): Miller. He is a sleeper for deeper
leagues if he pitches well Wednesday at Boston. That is a tough matchup,
but next week's are easier.
Starters on the DL: Anibal Sanchez (shoulder). Sanchez will be brought back a lot more slowly this time around, especially since West has looked capable of sticking around long term.
Starters to watch in the minors: Rick VandenHurk , Ryan Tucker (7-day DL), Graham Taylor and Aaron Thompson . Tucker is the best prospect of this disappointing group, but he is hurt. Thompson has posted three consecutive quality starts in Double-A, but he is just 22 and won't be rushed.
- Roy Oswalt
- Wandy Rodriguez
- Russ Ortiz
- Brian Moehler
- Brandon Backe
Week 12 two-starter(s): Perhaps Ortiz. The veteran journeyman
hasn't allowed a run in almost a month, but that should change Wednesday
at Texas. Consider him a questionable option, unless he somehow shuts
out the potent Rangers.
Starters on the DL: Mike Hampton (groin) and Felipe Paulino (groin). They don't figure to be candidates to return before July.
Starters to watch in the minors: Bud Norris . He has become too good for the minors at 24. He tossed eight shutout innings Sunday and could be an option to join the rotation any week now. He has a 2.34 ERA with a .230 BAA. Although he has allowed too many walks, most of them came early in the season.
Kansas City Royals
- Zack Greinke
- Gil Meche
- Kyle Davies
- Brian Bannister
- Luke Hochevar
Week 12 two-starter(s): Greinke. Is there any more of a sure
thing in baseball to date? Keep him active.
Starters on the DL: None.
Starters to watch in the minors: Dan Cortes , Michael Montgomery and Danny Duffy. Cortes hasn't proven good enough for Double-A yet, while the latter two are more long-term projects at this point.
Los Angeles Angels
- John Lackey
- Ervin Santana (elbow, out until at least June 23)
- Joe Saunders
- Jered Weaver
- Matt Palmer
- Sean O'Sullivan
Week 12 two-starter(s): Palmer. He came on like gangbusters, but
the journeyman has to be considered a questionable option only worth
trusting in AL formats.
Starters on the DL: Dustin Moseley (elbow). He is likely out until the All-Star break, but the move of Kelvim Escobar to relief opens a potential spot for him.
Starters to watch in the minors: Jordan Walden , Sean O'Sullivan , Trevor Bell and Trevor Reckling . O'Sullivan gets the first look in Santana's spot start, but Walden (4.65 ERA in Double-A) is the best long-term prospect. Reckling (2.26 ERA, .194 BAA between high Class A and Double-A) and Bell (2.23 ERA, .212 BAA in Double-A) have outpitched him. Whichever one is moved to Triple-A in the coming weeks could prove to be a second-half sleeper.
Los Angeles Dodgers
- Chad Billingsley
- Hiroki Kuroda
- Randy Wolf
- Clayton Kershaw
Week 12 two-starter(s): Kuroda. He is an advisable option with a
solid start Wednesday vs. the A's.
Starters on the DL: Eric Stults (finger), Eric Milton (back) and Jason Schmidt (shoulder). Stults and Milton are eligible to return this weekend. They are high-risk NL-only options if they get the No. 5 spot back.
Starters to watch in the minors: James McDonald and Josh Lindblom . McDonald has been untouchable in his past two starts. He has allowed just one run in 14 innings, striking out 10 and 13 in two starts. That last outing June 14 could make him a candidate for the currently vacant No. 5 starter's spot, although the Dodgers might err on the side of caution. Lindblom, meanwhile, is now working in relief and could be a candidate for a call-up to help the Dodgers there. He is an elite 2008 draftee.
- Yovani Gallardo
- Jeff Suppan
- Braden Looper
- Dave Bush
- Vacant, but Manny Parra could return the next time the No. 5 spot is needed June 27
Week 12 two-starter(s): Suppan. He figures to remain a
questionable option even with a solid start at Cleveland on Wednesday.
Starters on the DL: None.
Starters to watch in the minors: Jeremy Jeffress . We have seen the 21-year-old dominate high Class A (1.93 ERA .130 BAA), but he needs to go back to Double-A before we consider him a potential second-half call-up.
- Kevin Slowey
- Scott Baker
- Francisco Liriano
- Nick Blackburn
- Glen Perkins
Week 12 two-starter(s): Liriano. He has been better of late and
could be an advisable, or even a must-start, with a solid outing vs.
Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
Starters on the DL: Boof Bonser (shoulder, out for the season).
Starters to watch in the minors: Anthony Swarzak and Kevin Mulvey . They have proven capable of being major league options, but Perkins will get another shot off the DL and the other four should be steady enough to stick around, barring injury.
New York Mets
- Johan Santana
- Mike Pelfrey
- Livan Hernandez
- Tim Redding
- Fernando Nieve
Week 12 two-starter(s): Redding and Hernandez. They are
questionable options who could prove to be sleepers with solid outings
Wednesday and Thursday at Baltimore.
Starters on the DL: John Maine (shoulder) and Oliver Perez (knee). Maine could be ready to return on a limited pitch count in Fantasy Week 12 (June 22-28). Track his progress through the weekend before considering him. Perez might start a rehab assignment before the end of June, but we doubt he returns to the Mets rotation before the All-Star break at this point.
Starters to watch in the minors: Jonathon Niese , Bradley Holt and Tobi Stoner . Niese has improved recently in Triple-A (1-6, 6.31), while Holt (4-1, 3.02 ERA and .203 BAA) has joined Stoner (2.68 ERA, .170 BAA) in Double-A. Holt looks like he has some nice potential, but Niese and Stoner might not be that intriguing as major league starters.
New York Yankees
- CC Sabathia
- A.J. Burnett
- Andy Pettitte
- Joba Chamberlain
- Chien-Ming Wang
Week 12 two-starter(s): Wang. He figures to be a questionable
option or merely a middle reliever after his outing Wednesday vs. the
Starters on the DL: None. Ian Kennedy (shoulder, might be out for the season) will stay on the DL in the minors all season.
Starters to watch in the minors: Kei Igawa . Phil Hughes is on call out of the bullpen in case Wang implodes, when Burnett serves his suspension or a drastic move of Chamberlain to the bullpen is made.
- Dallas Braden
- Josh Outman
- Trevor Cahill
- Brett Anderson
- Vin Mazzaro
Week 12 two-starter(s): Cahill. He could prove to be a sleeper in
deeper leagues with another promising outing Wednesday at the L.A.
Starters on the DL: Justin Duchscherer (elbow). After another setback, we have to figure he will merely return in relief ... if he returns at all this season now.
Starters to watch in the minors: Dana Eveland , Gio Gonzalez and James Simmons . Eveland (4-0, 3.64) and Gonzalez (3-1, 2.75) are ready whenever the A's decide to swap out one of their rookies. Gonzalez is more unhittable but less in command.
- Cole Hamels
- Joe Blanton
- Jamie Moyer
- J.A. Happ
- Antonio Bastardo
Week 12 two-starter(s): Moyer. He is a questionable option better
left for the deepest of leagues.
Starters on the DL: None.
Starters to watch in the minors: Kyle Kendrick , Carlos Carrasco , Joe Savery and Kyle Drabek . The latter two are pitching better, but it is more likely the Phillies make a deal for a pitcher than slot another young arm in their championship-contending rotation.
- Paul Maholm
- Zach Duke
- Ian Snell
- Ross Ohlendorf
- Charlie Morton
Week 12 two-starter(s): Snell. He figures to be a
questionable option at best after his start Wednesday at Minnesota.
Starters on the DL: Phil Dumatrait (shoulder). The Pirates have too much pitching depth more intriguing in Triple-A to consider Dumatrait in their rotation this season.
Starters to watch in the minors: Tom Gorzelanny , Brad Lincoln , Bryan Morris and Daniel McCutchen . Gorzelanny and recent bullpen demotion Jeff Karstens will be the depth, while the Pirates give their prospects the full season to develop in the minors at this point.
San Diego Padres
- Chris Young (shoulder) out until at least next week, might be a DL candidate
- Kevin Correia
- Chad Gaudin
- Josh Geer
Week 12 two-starter(s): Gaudin. He should be no better than a
questionable option after his Wednesday start vs. the Mariners. He might
even be a candidate to get skipped.
Starters on the DL: Jake Peavy (ankle), Shawn Hill (elbow) and Cha Seung Baek (elbow). Devastatingly, Peavy might need season-ending surgery. Hill and Baek might as well, too.
Starters to watch in the minors: Mat Latos , Walter Silva , Cesar Carrillo , Nick Schmidt , Will Inman and perhaps Mark Prior . Latos is arguably the hottest pitching prospect in baseball right now, especially when you consider the Padres' desperate need for a starting pitcher. Latos is a combined 6-1 with a 0.84 ERA and a .153 BAA between high Class A and Double-A. That is some Jedi stuff. Take the flier on the 21-year-old right now, especially in NL-only and keeper leagues.
San Francisco Giants
- Tim Lincecum
- Randy Johnson
- Matt Cain
- Barry Zito
- Jonathan Sanchez
Week 12 two-starter(s): Sanchez. After getting beat up Tuesday
night, he is a high-risk option.
Starters on the DL: Noah Lowry (shoulder, out for the season).
Starters to watch in the minors: Madison Bumgarner , Tim Alderson and Kevin Pucetas . Bumgarner has looked a bit more human of late, but 7-2, 2.01 ERA and .223 BAA between high Class A and Double-A projects him as the next Lincecum. This 19-year-old is a another once-a-generation talent.
- Felix Hernandez
- Erik Bedard or Brandon Morrow
- Jarrod Washburn
- Jason Vargas
- Garrett Olson
Week 12 two-starter(s): Hernandez. He is a must-start option with
or without two starts. He could move up to Sunday and lose his two-start
week, though. In that event, Olson or Morrow or even a held-back Bedard
could be options for a two-start week.
Starters on the DL: Ryan Rowland-Smith (biceps), Carlos Silva (shoulder) and Ryan Feierabend (elbow, out for the season). Rowland-Smith hasn't proven that healthy or effective, so Morrow could be the Mariners' long-term solution in the rotation again.
Starters to watch in the minors: Michael Pineda (7-day DL). Their organization is not real ripe with pitching prospects now that Phillippe Aumont has been moved to relief. Pineda was off to a great start (4-1, 3.23 and a .183 BAA) in high Class A before going on the DL. The 20-year-old won't be an option this season.
St. Louis Cardinals
- Chris Carpenter
- Adam Wainwright
- Joel Pineiro
- Todd Wellemeyer
- Brad Thompson
Week 12 two-starter(s): Wellemeyer and Pineiro. They are sleepers
for deeper leagues with solid outings Wednesday and Thursday vs. the
Starters on the DL: Kyle Lohse (elbow) and Jaime Garcia (elbow, out for the season). Lohse could be a candidate to return in Fantasy Week 12 (June 22-28). Track his progress through the weekend before considering him.
Starters to watch in the minors: Mitchell Boggs and Clayton Mortensen . They are pitching well enough to contribute, but the Cardinals appear content leaving them back in Triple-A to develop.
Tampa Bay Rays
- James Shields
- Matt Garza
- David Price
- Andy Sonnanstine
- Jeff Niemann
Week 12 two-starter(s): Price. He has been a bit wild, but we
have to figure he could pitch well enough Wednesday at Colorado to be an
advisable option in all leagues.
Starters on the DL: Scott Kazmir (quadriceps). He is ready for a rehab stint and could position himself for a late June or early July return.
Starters to watch in the minors: Wade Davis . Davis is pitching well enough to be called up, but it won't happen barring a trade at this point.
- Kevin Millwood
- Vicente Padilla
- Scott Feldman
- Matt Harrison
- Derek Holland
Week 12 two-starter(s): Harrison. He figures to be a questionable
option as he comes off the DL on Wednesday vs. the Astros.
Starters on the DL: Brandon McCarthy (shoulder) and Eric Hurley (shoulder, out for the season). McCarthy has a broken shoulder that could end his season. Keep him stashed just in case he can prove healthy and effective for the season's final month-plus.
Starters to watch in the minors: Neftali Feliz , Michael Main , Tommy Hunter , Thomas Diamond and Kasey Kiker . The Rangers could rush Feliz, but we tend to believe they will parlay their surprising season to make a trade for a starter and a run at the division title.
Toronto Blue Jays
- Ricky Romero
- Scott Richmond
- Brian Tallet
- Brad Mills
Week 12 two-starter(s): Richmond. The rookie could prove to be a
sleeper with a solid start at Philly on Wednesday.
Starters on the DL: Roy Halladay , Casey Janssen (shoulder), Robert Ray (shoulder), Dustin McGowan (shoulder), Shaun Marcum (elbow) and Jesse Litsch (elbow, out for the season). Halladay goes on the DL with a good chance of being activated when first eligible. Litsch recently was ruled out for the season, while McGowan and Marcum are merely hoping to return in August at this point. Keep them stashed on DL spots, but don't count on them returning yet. They figure to need a full month of healthy throwing. Janssen and Ray could be back sooner, but they will need a couple weeks off from throwing and then begin a program again.
Starters to watch in the minors: David Purcey , Brett Cecil , and Marc Rzepczynski . Cecil and Purcery are candidates to pitch on Halladay's turn Saturday. Cecil is just 1-5 with a 5.69 ERA, but he is the best prospect of the bunch. Purcey has a respectable 4.28 ERA and .256 BAA back in Triple-A, making him a candidate to help, too.
- John Lannan
- Shairon Martis
- Jordan Zimmermann
- Ross Detwiler
- Craig Stammen
Week 12 two-starter(s): Lannan. Even with a solid outing
Wednesday at the Yankees, he figures to be no better than a questionable
Starters on the DL: Scott Olsen (shoulder) and Matt Chico (elbow). They are on rehab assignments. We expect Olsen will be ready in late June before Chico in mid-July, barring setbacks.
Starters to watch in the minors: Stephen Strasburg . Word is the Strasburg negotiations are going a lot better than expected. He still is not close to signing, much less pitching as a pro. Olsen and Chico's returns figure to be the next moves the Nationals make with their young rotation.
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