Week 3 Fantasy Pitching Planner
Should owners continue to roll out Francisco Liriano and John Lackey? Is Bruce Chen worth your time? Our Al Melchior shares his thoughts on every scheduled starter for Week 3 in his Pitching Planner.
The Fantasy Baseball Pitching Planner is your guide to setting your rotations for the upcoming scoring period. Every week, we'll give you the latest on all of the matchups, highlight two-start options and much more. NOTE: The Planner will be updated with the latest rotation information every Sunday prior to lineup deadlines.
Throughout Week 2, we have continued to get feedback on our new Pitching Planner, and we heard from many AL-only and NL-only league owners who wanted to just see the pitchers who are relevant to their format. You asked for it, you got it -- the Planner tool now includes a filter that allows you to view only pitchers from the AL or NL.
As always, every starting pitcher scheduled to make at least one start is included in the tool, and every two-start pitcher gets an analysis of what you can expect in the coming week. Several key one-start pitchers also get a more in-depth look.
Advisable Two-Start Pitchers (Standard Mixed Leagues)
Brett Anderson , Oakland: Anderson has not allowed more than two earned runs in any of his first three starts. The only concern with him is his ability to stay healthy.
Brandon Beachy , Atlanta: Beachy has given up a homer in each of his first three starts, but with his next appearances coming at Dodger Stadium and AT&T Park, he should be fine. The rookie is still not having any problems striking out big league hitters, fanning 17 in 17 1/3 innings.
Joe Blanton , Philadelphia: Sure, Blanton owns an ugly 10.45 ERA after two starts, but it looks like a small-sample fluke. He's getting plenty of strikeouts and grounders, but a .455 BABIP has led to a deluge of runs. A trip to PETCO Park should help speed Blanton's recovery, and he also gets a Monday start at home against the Brewers.
John Danks , Chicago White Sox: A 26 percent line drive rate suggests that Danks hasn't pitched as well as his 3.15 ERA would suggest. No worries, though, as Danks has been extremely consistent over the last three years.
Roy Halladay , Philadelphia: The reigning NL Cy Young winner keep cruising along, and he's even struck a batter per inning so far.
Tim Hudson , Atlanta: Hudson had a surprisingly ineffective outing against the Marlins on Wednesday, but he continues to throw strikes and get ground balls. He should rebound against the Dodgers and Giants.
Edwin Jackson , Chicago White Sox: He fattened up his strikeout rate by plowing through a struggling Tampa Bay lineup, but Jackson is a worthwhile start even without the gaudy K-rate. Last season may have looked like a step backwards but he actually continued to improve his skills. A low strand rate was mainly responsible for his 4.00-plus ERA.
Josh Johnson , Florida: Johnson's coming off a near no-hitter against a solid Braves lineup. This week, JJ faces off against a couple of back-of-the-rotation types in Paul Maholm and Esmil Rogers .
Hiroki Kuroda , L.A. Dodgers: The 36-year-old put up a clunker the last time out against the Cardinals, but over his three starts to date overall, he has been the same consistent strike-thrower he has always been. Kuroda's sharp enough to handle the Braves and Cubs in Week 3.
John Lackey , Boston: Lackey, a consistent ground ball generator, has been leaving the ball up over the plate in his early starts. The result has been a 50 percent flyball rate and three jacks allowed in only 8 2/3 innings. He will be working on location with pitching coach Curt Young before his next start. Especially with favorable matchups in Oakland and Anaheim, it's reasonable to expect Lackey to return to form.
Ted Lilly , L.A. Dodgers: Lilly has also had a disappointing start, but back-to-back years of sub-4.00 ERAs and sub-1.10 WHIPs have earned him a long leash. Try him again in Week 3.
Tim Lincecum , San Francisco: His velocity is back, and apparently, so is the Lincecum of old. Lincecum is a must-start anyway, but his first three appearances have been very encouraging.
Francisco Liriano , Minnesota: It won't be surprising if owners don't trust Liriano in the coming week after three poor starts, but his last time on the mound -- a 10-5 loss to the Royals on Wednesday -- featured a few good signs. He was back to throwing more strikes, and most of the damage was done in one inning where he allowed one ground ball hit after another. He's doing a good job of keeping the ball down and not getting hit hard often, yielding just four line drives in three games. It's just a matter of time before Liriano pitches well, and it could very well be in Week 3.
Shaun Marcum , Milwaukee: After an uncharacteristic five-walk performance in his debut, Marcum has rediscovered his strong command. He seems to be past his stiff shoulder and ready to be a starter Fantasy owners can count on just about every week.
Jonathon Niese , N.Y. Mets: Niese's strikeout, walk and ground ball rates to date are all better than they were last season, when he registered a 4.20 ERA. Unfortunately, he's allowed half of his baserunners to score. Even pitchers who are lousy at stranding baserunners don't have rates that are this bad. Niese is due for a rebound anyway, plus he gets a good matchup against Houston and a chance for a win against Armando Galarraga .
Carl Pavano , Minnesota: After giving up a trio of homers at Rogers Centre in his season debut, Pavano settled down to put together two strong starts. He appears to be back to his 2010 form.
David Price , Tampa Bay: Price hasn't been striking out many batters, but he hasn't been walking many either. It may not be his usual way of getting things done, but he's still succeeding.
Wandy Rodriguez , Houston: There's nothing wrong with posting 11 strikeouts to just three walks in 16 innings, but a 7.31 ERA would tell you otherwise. Factor out a high BABIP and low strand rate, and the ERA-estimator known as xFIP says his ERA should be more than three runs lower.
Ricky Romero , Toronto: Romero has pitched like an elite in his first three starts. He had breakout potential coming into this season, and he just may be fulfilling it.
Jonathan Sanchez , San Francisco: With Barry Zito (foot) heading to the DL, a shuffling of the Giants' rotation provides Sanchez with an extra start in Week 3. He doesn't get the easiest matchups, facing the Rockies and Braves, but it's too hard to pass up on all of Sanchez's strikeouts. His 3.24 ERA doesn't convey exactly how good he has been at missing bats and avoiding hard contact.
Max Scherzer , Detroit: Normally a flyball-neutral pitcher, Scherzer has been letting hitters get under the ball, and he has paid the price with four homers in only 17 innings. That's not a very large number of innings, but it's a trend to watch. In the meantime, though, owners shouldn't read too much into it. Especially with one start in pitcher-friendly Safeco Field, give Scherzer another shot.
James Shields , Tampa Bay: His matchup with Romero in Toronto is a tough one, but Shields has looked good in two of his three starts so far. It helps that his first start in Week 3 is at home (against the White Sox), where he has a career 3.59 ERA.
Travis Wood , Cincinnati: Wood has been every bit as effective so far this year as he was as a rookie last season. In fact, he could be even better going forward, as batters have been hitting .286 on grounders, a rate that is likely to recede as his innings add up.
Carlos Zambrano , Chicago Cubs: With Scherzer, we started a list of pitchers with alarmingly-high flyball rates that needs to be monitored. Add Zambrano (45 percent flyball rate in three starts) to that list, but don't downgrade him just yet. First, let's see how he does against less-than-imposing Dodger and Padre lineups.
Other Add/Activate Targets
Scott Baker , Minnesota: With a start in Camden Yards, you might think that this flyball pitcher would be in trouble, but he's done well there in four career starts.
|1.||Justin Masterson , SP, Indians||33|
|2.||Aaron Harang , SP, Padres||30|
|3.||Alexi Ogando , SP, Rangers||28|
|4.||Chris Narveson , SP, Brewers||26|
|5.||Matt Harrison , SP, Rangers||18|
|6.||Brian Fuentes , RP, Athletics||18|
|7.||Derek Holland , SP, Rangers||16|
|8.||Bruce Chen , SP, Royals||16|
|9.||Matt Capps , RP, Twins||15|
|10.||Kyle Farnsworth , RP, Rays||15|
Roberto Hernandez , Cleveland: The Indians' sinkerballer has recovered nicely from his disastrous season debut. His reward in Week 3 is a start against the struggling Twins. He lost a potential second start against the Royals, but as sharp as he has been, Carmona is still worth keeping active in mixed league formats, even with a single appearance.
R.A. Dickey , N.Y. Mets: Dickey wasn't at his best on Thursday against Colorado, as he has been dealing with a fingernail issue that has made it hard to command his knuckler. Still, it didn't seem to impact him much over the first five innings, so it may have just been a routine rough stretch against a tough lineup that did him in. Dickey should have an easier time against Houston next week.
Gavin Floyd , Chicago White Sox: Floyd deserved better than last season's 10-13 record and 4.08 ERA. Now with better luck on balls in play, we saw a version of Floyd through his first two starts that is a must-start. Don't put too much weight on his poor third start against the Angels; you can trust Floyd against the Rays this week.
J.A. Happ , Houston: Happ's biggest weakness is his penchant for walks, but in Week 3 he will face a Mets' squad that doesn't get to ball four all that often. He looks primed to go deep into a game for the third straight time.
Matt Harrison , Texas: Harrison's blistering start to the season looks legit on paper, but is still wildly out of character. Friday's start at Yankee Stadium, in which he limited the opposition to one earned run in eight innings, should give us a little more confidence that the 25-year-old has truly progressed. Harrison is safe to start this week, as his opponent -- the Angels -- are due to cool off.
Derek Holland , Texas: We've been teased before by Holland's periodic stretches of success, but he certainly looked sound in his first two starts, before getting a little wild against the Yankees on Saturday. With a start against the Royals in the next scoring period, it's a relatively safe time to put your trust in the third-year pitcher.
Jair Jurrjens , Atlanta: If Jurrjens is fully recovered from his oblique injury, owners can count on him to be a regular start in mixed league formats. After an encouraging first start off the DL on Saturday, in which he hurled seven scoreless innings against the Mets, inducing seven ground ball outs, it's worth giving Jurrjens a shot to stick in your rotation when he opposes the Dodgers this coming week.
Justin Masterson , Cleveland: With all of the ups and downs of his young career, Masterson still has a ways to go in order to earn the "must-start" tag, though he has been phenomenal so far this year. There may be some difficult times ahead, but owners can definitely have confidence that he will outduel Luke Hochevar in Kansas City next week.
James McDonald , Pittsburgh: McDonald's whiffs are enticing, but as he showed when he gave up a pair of homers at Great American Ball Park on Saturday, he is vulnerable to the big fly. Pitching in Sun Life Stadium against a Marlins' squad that has only eight home runs through 13 games, McDonald and his owners have little to worry about.
Brandon Morrow , Toronto: Morrow is expected to make his season debut on either Friday or Saturday at home against the Rays. The former reliever is a strong candidate to bust out this year, and a first start against a struggling Tampa Bay lineup could provide him with a soft landing.
Alexi Ogando , Texas: A 5.5 K/9 rate and 29 percent ground ball rate are far from impressive, but the bottom line is that Ogando has yet to allow a run. He'll eventually get knocked down a peg, but don't bet on Kyle Davies and the Royals to be the ones to do it.
Roy Oswalt , Philadelphia: Though he left Friday's start against Florida with a strained back, the Phillies expect Oswalt to make his next start at San Diego. While there is not a 100 percent guarantee that Oswalt will be ready, the risk of him missing a start is low enough that he should be kept active in all formats this week.
Clayton Richard , San Diego: Last week, I advised that Richard, despite his favorable career home splits, should be avoided due to his matchup against the potent Reds. I won't make the same mistake again, as he pitches at PETCO against the Phils.
Anibal Sanchez , Florida: Sanchez did not have his best stuff when he got clobbered by the Astros last Sunday, but for a pitcher who had been pretty effective just five days prior, it's hard to take his .500 BABIP through his first two starts seriously. Sanchez will continue the rebound he started on Sunday at Philadelphia when he goes up against the Rockies next week.
Josh Tomlin , Cleveland: Despite superb control, Tomlin's lack of strikeout potential renders him irrelevant to owners in standard mixed leagues. However, he can be very useful to owners in deeper formats when he has the right matchups and venues. His start against Sean O'Sullivan and the Royals is one of those situations where he should be active in deeper mixed leagues.
Jordan Zimmermann , Washington: Zimmermann couldn't keep up with Cliff Lee on Thursday, but he was still impressive nonetheless. He has not allowed more than two earned runs in any of his three starts, and that's with facing the Braves and Phillies in two of those games. Look for Zimmermann to hold his own against another tough opponent, the Cardinals' Jaime Garcia , in Week 3.
Inadvisable Two-Start Pitchers (Standard Mixed Leagues)
Jake Arrieta , Baltimore: Arrieta showed some improvement in Thursday's start against the Yankees, but he needs to demonstrate greater consistency before he can be trusted in standard mixed leagues.
Carlos Carrasco , Cleveland: The 24-year-old has looked sharp in his last two starts, albeit against the Mariners and Angels. Putting matchups aside, he's been getting ground balls and strikeouts after a difficult season debut against the White Sox. While Carrasco is still a bit risky for owners in standard mixed leagues, he's worth a try in deeper mixed league formats this coming week.
Bruce Chen , Kansas City: Chen faces off against Jeanmar Gomez in his first start next week. While that is a possible win for Chen, there is too much potential for him to get blasted later in the week at Texas. This is a good week to stay away from Chen in all formats.
Kevin Correia , Pittsburgh: It's hard to know what to make of Correia so far this year. On the one hand, he is getting batters to pop out on more than one out of every seven balls in play, which has helped him to a 2.70 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. On the other hand, he has jus t seven strikeouts in 20 innings. Neither rate is the norm for Correia, but it seems unlikely that he can succeed to this degree with so few punch outs. He's best reserved for NL-only leagues for now.
Kyle Davies , Kansas City: Davies has never put up sparkling peripherals, and a 5.1 BB/9 and a 25 percent line drive rate so far this year isn't helping to change perceptions. There's little reason to make him active, even in AL-only leagues.
Doug Fister , Seattle: He's been pretty effective so far, but Fister is one of those players who has more value in the real world than in Fantasy. He simply doesn't get enough strikeouts to help in standard mixed leagues, though he is perfectly safe to start in deeper formats.
Armando Galarraga , Detroit: Ignore the 2-0 record and focus on the fact that Galarraga has allowed five home runs in only 12 innings. He's a last resort option in NL-only leagues.
Jeanmar Gomez , Cleveland: Though it has not yet been officially announced, it is expected that Gomez will assume Mitch Talbot rotation spot while he is on the DL. Gomez would inherit a couple of nice matchups against the Royals and Twins, so he could help owners in AL-only formats.
John Lannan , Washington: Lannan is up to his old tricks, compiling a modest ERA despite the lack of impressive peripherals. Like Fister, he is fine to start in deeper mixed leagues, but don't look for any help with strikeouts.
Sam LeCure , Cincinnati: With a seven percent ownership rate, LeCure is a little underrated, but his stats have also been padded by a couple of favorable starts against the Astros and Padres. The Diamondbacks and Cardinals should provide more of a challenge next week, but he is still a worthy start in NL-only leagues and some deeper mixed formats.
Paul Maholm , Pittsburgh: Maholm is another strikeout-deprived starter and inconsistent as well. His current 2.33 ERA is nice enough, but he still needs to be reserved for NL-only leagues.
Daisuke Matsuzaka , Boston: Dice-K's numbers are trending in the wrong direction and in a hurry. He can no longer be trusted in most mixed leagues, regardless of his matchups.
Dustin Moseley , San Diego: There is absolutely nothing in Moseley's supporting stats that suggests a sub-4.00 ERA, much less the 1.83 mark that he currently owns. Anyone can run a lucky streak over three starts, but sooner or later, Moseley's luck will run out.
Matt Palmer , L.A. Angels: Palmer is a risky start in Fantasy, and not only because of his underwhelming track record. He is merely a stopgap for the Angels until they figure out when they want to bring Scott Kazmir back or go with another option. Even if Palmer makes both scheduled starts next week, owners in all formats should look to other alternatives.
Esmil Rogers , Colorado: Since it will be Rogers, and not Ubaldo Jimenez , starting against the Giants on Monday, it's the Rockies' fifth starter who will have a two-start week. Rogers has some nice upside, but even if he shows it while opposing Tim Lincecum and Josh Johnson , those matchups are too tough to make him viable in standard mixed leagues.
Ervin Santana , L.A. Angels: Even a start opposing Daisuke Matsuzaka can't save Santana's week. His first appearance comes at Texas, where he has allowed 19 homers in 64 2/3 innings. It could be a disastrous outing for the flyball pitcher.
Tim Stauffer , San Diego: Stauffer is worth a shot in deeper mixed leagues when he musters average strikeout numbers like he had over the previous two seasons. He hasn't replicated the feat so far this year, and with more reliable options available in deeper formats, there is no reason to take a risk with him in Week 3.
Chris Tillman , Baltimore: Aside from his season debut against Tampa Bay, Tillman has still looked like a pitcher who isn't yet ready for the majors. For now, he is no more than an AL-only option.
Jason Vargas , Seattle: Vargas has been much better than his 4.86 ERA would indicate, but then again, he has yet to trot out his flyball tendencies in a good hitters' park this year. That trend will continue, as he has two home starts next week, but he also faces potentially formidable foes in Max Scherzer and Trevor Cahill . Vargas' ERA could easily dip, but he'll be hard pressed to pick up a victory.
Jake Westbrook , St. Louis: He relies on good control to be successful, but with 11 walks in 15 1/3 innings, it just hasn't been there for Westbrook. Go with other options outside of NL-only leagues until he straightens himself out.
Other Drop/Stash Targets
Erik Bedard , Seattle: View this as a wait-and-see week for Bedard. He had a decent start against the mighty Rangers and then fell apart against the Indians and Royals. There are safer, better options available to standard mixed league owners right now, so stash Bedard and see how he does against the Tigers next week.
Nick Blackburn , Minnesota: In 2008 and 2009, Blackburn made himself relevant in deeper formats despite ultra-low K-rates by walking very few batters. When his walk rate rose last season, we saw Blackburn's ERA exceed 5.00. This year, his control has been inconsistent, though he had allowed only one run in first two starts before getting blasted by the Rays. Blackburn could be headed for another hard fall, so it's best to use him only as a desperation option in the deepest of leagues.
Dallas Braden , Oakland: Braden has been plenty effective so far this year, but when the lefty himself tells reporters that he is "not optimistic" about making his next scheduled start, it's a good idea to stash him in all but the deepest of leagues. Stay tuned to see if his tight shoulder will keep him out for an extended period of time.
A.J. Burnett , N.Y. Yankees: On Wednesday, we saw that Burnett is still a home run risk, especially if you put him a hitter-friendly environment like Camden Yards. He gave up two taters and four runs overall in that start against the Orioles, and he could provide more of the same when he goes to Toronto next week. Until he can show that he is trustworthy in all venues, leave Burnett off your active roster in standard mixed leagues.
Brett Cecil , Toronto: Normally flyball-neutral, Cecil has compiled a bloated 46 percent flyball rate through three starts, and he has allowed four homers. He is a good bet to bounce back, but it's too risky to assume that he will do it next week against the powerful Yankees.
Barry Enright , Arizona: There is no circumstance where owners should trust Enright in a standard mixed league, but in the right situation, he could help owners in deeper formats. With a start coming up against the Mets in pitcher-friendly Citi Field, owners in NL-only leagues can trust Enright, and he is a potential option in deeper mixed leagues as well.
Jeff Francis , Kansas City: Francis probably won't produce enough strikeouts to be worthy of a spot in a standard mixed league, but he has been very good in each of his first three starts nonetheless. More owners in deeper mixed leagues should be picking him up and starting him.
Jesse Litsch , Toronto: Litsch has been solid through his first three starts, but a scheduled matchup against Rays' ace David Price isn't the only worry that his owners have. Brandon Morrow is expected to be activated from the DL this week, and Litsch and Jo-Jo Reyes are the most likely candidates to lose their rotation spots to him. We'll give Litsch an edge over Reyes to keep his job, but be aware that you may not see the 26-year-old take the mound on Saturday.
Kyle McClellan , St. Louis: It's no wonder that McClellan continues to gain popularity, as he has allowed just four runs over his three starts. His strand rate of 87 percent is unrealistically high and he may not maintain a BB/9 rate of 2.4 either. Overall, McClellan is due for some regression, and with a matchup against Cincinnati in his future, Week 3 is a good time to give someone else a chance to start in standard mixed leagues.
Mike Pelfrey , N.Y. Mets: Pelfrey's utter lack of command has been an issue, though he showed some signs of turning his young season around in Week 2. The Diamondback bats have been potent so far, so Week 3 might not be the best time to take a chance on the Mets' sinkerballer.
Javier Vazquez , Florida: It's still very early, and Vazquez has only pitched 13 1/3 innings. However, when you match his current stats up against last year's, which we all remember were decidedly not good, and last year's are better, it's not yet time to trust Vazquez.
Edinson Volquez , Cincinnati: Volquez continues to get torched by the long ball, giving up three long drives to the Pirates on Sunday. This may be just an early-season rough patch, but until Volquez settles down, give your standard mixed league rotation spot to someone else.
Home Run Alerts
Ian Kennedy , Arizona: After two solid starts, the ex-Yankee got shellacked on Wednesday, allowing nine runs to the Cardinals in just three innings. He shouldn't fare quite so badly against the Reds next week, but because he'll be pitching in Great American Ball Park, a dinger or two could put a damper on his outing. While you can expect a bounceback, he is too risky to trust in a 10-team mixed league.
Chris Narveson , Milwaukee: Narveson has been one of the Fantasy darlings of the early season, as he started out with two scoreless starts. Week 3 provides an opportunity for the lefty to not only get scored upon for a second straight game, but to hit the showers early. We could see Narveson return to his homer-prone ways with a visit to Philadelphia. He should probably take a seat in standard mixed leagues.
Randy Wolf , Milwaukee: Wolf is fairly flyball-neutral, but he tends to give up a high proportion of homers on the flies he does allow. He, too, will get a start in Philly, so the good feelings generated by his win on Thursday over the Pirates will probably be short-lived.
Zack Greinke , Milwaukee: Greinke will begin a Class A rehab assignment on Tuesday and is likely to rejoin the Brewers' rotation during Fantasy Week 5 (May 2-May 8).
Jake Peavy , Chicago White Sox: Peavy is on a Triple-A rehab assignment, and if all goes well, he will return for Fantasy Week 4 (April 25-May 1).
Johnny Cueto , Cincinnati: Cueto embarked upon a Triple-A rehab assignment this weekend. He is on target to return in Fantasy Week 4 (April 25-May 1).
Brian Matusz , Baltimore: There had been talk of Matusz returning during Fantasy Week 3 (April 18-24), but he has yet to schedule a bullpen session while working towards his return in Florida. Don't count on Matusz for the coming week, as there is still no specific timetable for his activation.
Homer Bailey , Cincinnati: Bailey is about to being his Triple-A rehab assignment. At best, he will rejoin the Reds in Fantasy Week 4 (April 25-May 1),, though Week 5 (May 2-8) is also a possibility.
Joel Pineiro , L.A. Angels: Pineiro may throw a simulated game next week. He is still on schedule to return no sooner than Fantasy Week 4 (April 25-May 1).
Phil Hughes , N.Y. Yankees: Hughes was placed on the 15-day DL on Friday with a "dead arm," though the Yankees made this move to avoid optioning him to the minors. There is no specific timetable for his return; meanwhile, he has been replaced in the rotation by Bartolo Colon .
Chris Young , N.Y. Mets: After developing biceps tendinitis following his second start, the Mets decided to place Young on the DL. He may only miss two starts, in which case Young could be ready to return for Fantasy Week 4 (April 25-May 1). Dillon Gee joins the Mets' rotation in Young's place.
Barry Zito , San Francisco: For the first time in his career, Zito is on the DL, after being placed there on Sunday with a sprained foot. The Giants won't need a fifth starter in Week 3, but we could see Ryan Vogelsong in the rotation for Fantasy Week 4 (April 25-May 1).
Mitch Talbot , Cleveland: The Indians put Talbot on the DL on Sunday with a right elbow strain. He will likely miss at least three weeks. Jeanmar Gomez is expected to take his turns in the rotation.
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