Pitching Forecaster: Santana, Lackey on the come
Plenty of changes taking place in rotations in both leagues as injuries and ineffectiveness start to make an impact. Our Eric Mack examines the state of all 30 rotations and looks ahead to see who might be in line for two starts next week in his latest Pitching Forecaster.
Our poor colleague Michael Levine, production manager at CBSSports.com, is getting undue criticism. He is taking responsibility for the standard scoring changes in our single game Fantasy Baseball leagues. It is his name on the product and he is the one who has stood up on his blog to defend it.
But, the truth is, it is this writer's fault.
"Come after me. I'm a man. I'm 40!"
OK, so I'm turning 33 in June (past my prime!), but I am at fault. I am also willing to take the heat like that now-famed Oklahoma State football coach defending his quarterback. Let this guy defend the changes.
These changes, while they might not be perfect, were long overdue. This writer, the darned son of gun, is the person who has lobbied for years to make changes. (This is sure to be the column that will draw the most hate mail the entire season).
We needed an updated standard scoring system -- one that didn't merely reward any pitcher for innings pitched without penalties for losses, or earned runs, hits and walks allowed. That is right: Our previous standard scoring system didn't penalize pitchers at all, just handing them points per inning, strikeout and victory.
How in the world of baseball can you consider yourself a good Fantasy gamer if you are merely stacking two-start pitchers to win every week?
That takes little thought or Fantasy Baseball knowledge whatsoever -- just a little timeliness. Merely, load 'em up and let 'em fly.
In Head-to-Head Fantasy Baseball, where that one week means the world, a system that penalizes pitchers for poor performances is a more accurate way to show a weekly strength of a team -- the performance of those players for that one week, that small sample size.
Heck, it's how actual baseball is decided. If you are the Mets and taking the risk to start Oliver Perez, plan on playing catch-up. (They aren't anymore, by the way, and you shouldn't have been for weeks).
With this new format, we are sorry you have to actually think, project, match-up and cross your fingers now.
Why did you like playing in a Fantasy Baseball league where a lot of the result is based on home many starts you have vs. your opponent? It could decide the game Monday before the games even begin. He has five starts, you have nine. Why bother playing it out?
The new scoring system -- again, not perfect -- balances the effect of a solid one-start pitcher vs. a shakier two-start one. There is no more sitting Roy Halladay because he is facing the Red Sox, because you have Tim Wakefield going twice against ... well, it really never mattered who the pitchers were pitching against. It just mattered they are starting and, most important, projected to do it twice.
We have gotten more e-mail feedback in past years complaining about those who employ the massive two-start pitcher strategy then we have gotten this year, complaining they can no longer rely on shaky two-start pitchers.
To be fair, most of the complaints we get are about not the actual changes, but the fact we didn't do enough to warn you of them in advance. That is a valid concern and one we took deeply to heart.
We are also not opposed to tweaking it next year. Heck, we might even be able to offer two different Head-to-Head formats in our single games, the new and the old. We are all about our gamers. The more the merrier.
Personally, penalizing earned runs by minus-2 is too harsh. It should be merely minus-1, because your pitcher already lost that point by allowing that baserunner to reach base, most likely. But, the increase of 1 point per out (3 points per inning pitched as opposed to 1 point per inning pitched), weighted pitchers too heavily over hitters. We wanted a good balance, where the good pitchers can perform on the level of the good hitters over the course of the full season. We can balance it another way and penalize earned runs by just one. That will take away some of the huge negatives you got for the Chien-Ming Wang-esque outings.
The thing to do now, other than send me hate-mail on the myriad of reasons why you hate the new standard scoring system, is live by it. You have to if you want to win.
The basic suggestion here is put your faith in good, consistent starting pitchers -- not the one-trick ponys. Over the long haul, the cream of the pitching crop will rise to the top. Go with the guy you can trust and follow the Pitching Forecaster every Wednesday and the Pitching Planner every Sunday night to get the latest on the matchups.
Trust me, and Mr. Levine. This culture shock will wear off and you will agree the better all-around Fantasy team wins more often over the long haul.
Seriously, we want to hear your feedback on the standard scoring system.
|Pitcher||TM||Own %||Start %|
|Chan Ho Park||PHI||4||1|
Week 6 two-starter(s): Garland. He pitches Wednesday vs. the
Padres and could prove to be a nice sleeper in mixed leagues.
Starters on the DL: Webb (shoulder). He is out until at least June.
Starters to watch in the minors: Jarrod Parker. He was moved up to Double-A, so he could be a factor before the end of the year now. Juan Gutierrez could be a candidate to take Petit's rotation spot until Webb can return.
Week 6 two-starter(s): Lowe. He is a must-start in all leagues.
Starters on the DL: Tom Glavine (shoulder) and Tim Hudson (elbow). Glavine is throwing without shoulder pain and could be a factor by June again. Hudson is still on track for an August return, barring setbacks, but he now wants to return sooner as a reliever.
Starters to watch in the minors: Tommy Hanson, Charlie Morton and Kris Medlen. Hanson has been lights out and could be a candidate to replace Reyes by Fantasy Week 6 (May 11-17). Watch Hanson and Reyes very, very closely Friday.
Week 6 two-starter(s): Hendrickson. He is unlikely to be anything
more than a high-risk starter for the deepest of AL-only leagues after
he pitches Wednesday vs. the Twins.
Starters on the DL: Rich J. Hill (elbow) and Alfredo Simon (elbow). Hill might be just a couple of more rehab starts from a return. Consider him a flier in deeper leagues as a DL stashee. Simon is out for the season after Tommy John surgery.
Starters to watch in the minors: Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta and Brian Matusz. Future aces, all. Tillman or David Hernandez are next in line, perhaps June 1.
Boston Red Sox
Week 6 two-starter(s): Masterson or perhaps Wakefield. With an
offday Monday and the potential return of Daisuke Matsuzaka, Masterson could be skipped off his start next
Tuesday and perhaps moved back to the bullpen full-time. He pitches for
his rotation spot and two-start week Wednesday. He needs a good outing.
Starters on the DL: Daisuke Matsuzaka (shoulder) and John Smoltz (shoulder). Dice-K begins a rehab assignment Tuesday night, while Smoltz has been slowed down from starting a rehab assignment. He is no sooner than a June returnee now.
Starters to watch in the minors: Clay Buchholz and Michael Bowden. Dice-K is coming back and Smoltz could be back in June, so it will take a series of bad events to get one of these guys into the Red Sox rotation, regardless of how they pitch.
Week 6 two-starter(s): Harden. He is likely a must-start in all
Starters on the DL: Carlos Zambrano (hamstring). He will miss 2-3 weeks at this point, which means you won't be able to count on him until June.
Starters to watch in the minors: Mitch Atkins. Atkins' slow start (1-2, 6.99) cost him a chance to replace Zambrano, so that spot goes to Wells, who has been great (3-0, 2.77). Consider Wells a sleeper in NL-only leagues for the next few weeks.
Chicago White Sox
Week 6 two-starter(s): Buehrle. He pitches Wednesday vs. Detroit
and could be an advisable option next week.
Starters on the DL: None.
Starters to watch in the minors: Aaron Poreda. He is a great candidate for a June 1 call-up and could help all Fantasy leagues at that point.
Week 6 two-starter(s): Arroyo. He pitches Wednesday vs. the
Brewers and could prove to be an advisable two-starter even in mixed
Starters on the DL: None.
Starters to watch in the minors: Homer Bailey and Daryl Thompson. Don't look now, but Bailey has strung three consecutive quality starts together. He will eventually make a Volquez-like impact in the majors (we just refuse to give up on a talented 23-year-old arm).
Week 6 two-starter(s): Pavano and Laffey. Pavano will be at best
a questionable option even if he pitches well at Boston on Wednesday.
Don't count on it. Laffey pitches at Boston on Thursday and could prove
to be a two-start sleeper in deeper leagues. He has been a bit
Starters on the DL: Jake Westbrook (elbow) and Scott Lewis (elbow). Westbrook is out until at least July after Tommy John surgery, while Lewis is out until at least late May.
Starters to watch in the minors: David Huff, Jeremy Sowers and Charles Lofgren. Laffey has pitched well and will get a longer leash than expected, which makes these guys no better than June 1 call-ups at this point.
Week 6 two-starter(s): Jimenez. He has been terrible of late, but
he could prove to be a nice rebound candidate for mixed leagues if he
pitches well Wednesday vs. the Giants. We have a feeling he will.
Starters on the DL: Franklin Morales (shoulder) and Jeff Francis (shoulder). Francis is out for the season, while Morales looks like no better than late May returnee at this point.
Starters to watch in the minors: Greg Smith (7-day DL), Jason Hirsh, Greg Reynolds, Jhoulys Chacin and Keith Weiser. The Rockies always need viable starters. Anyone they would go to has to be considered high-risk initially.
Week 6 two-starter(s): Galarraga. He figures to be at least an
advisable option after he pitches Wednesday at the White Sox.
Starters on the DL: Jeremy Bonderman (shoulder) and Dontrelle Willis (anxiety disorder). Willis could be as little as one more rehab start away from taking Miner's rotation spot for Fantasy Week 6 (May 11-17). Track Willis and Miner closely in the next week. Bonderman is no better than an early June return at this point.
Starters to watch in the minors: Scot Drucker and Chris Lambert. Willis and then Bonderman will be the Tigers' first options, then perhaps Nate Robertson out of the bullpen before they consider a minor leaguer.
Week 6 two-starter(s): Taylor or Sanchez. Taylor pitches
Wednesday vs. the Braves, perhaps for his rotation spot. He could be
skipped next Tuesday after Monday's day off and could be sent to the
minors after his next start, because of the potential DL return of ...
Starters on the DL: Andrew Miller (obliqe) and Rick VandenHurk (elbow). Miller will make rehab starts Wednesday and the following Monday and could return to the Marlins rotation before the end of Fantasy Week 6 (May 11-17). Consider Miller a sleeper in deeper leagues, but we wouldn't trust him in his first start off the DL, whether it is next week or not.
Starters to watch in the minors: Sean West, Ryan Tucker, Brett Sinkbeil and Aaron Thompson. They went to Taylor to save the arms of West and company. West could be a factor by June 1 if Miller cannot prove capable off the DL.
Week 6 two-starter(s): Hampton. He could prove to be a sleeper if
he fares well in his start Wednesday vs. the Cubs.
Starters on the DL: Brandon Backe (oblique). He is still a couple of starts away from a return from his rehab assignment. Consider him a high-risk option for the deepest of NL-only leagues, when/if healthy in late May. Don't consider him viable for Fantasy Week 6 (May 11-17).
Starters to watch in the minors: Bud Norris. He will get ample time down on the farm, but he could impact deeper leagues later this year.
Kansas City Royals
Week 6 two-starter(s): Perhaps Ponson. We don't see the Royals
skipped Ponson's turn to keep Bannister on regular rest next Tuesday,
but that is a possibility if Ponson gets beat up Wednesday vs. the
Mariners. Consider Ponson a high-risk two-starter, while Bannister could
be advisable if he pitches well vs. the Mariners on Thursday and moves
ahead of Ponson for next Tuesday's start.
Starters on the DL: None.
Starters to watch in the minors: Luke Hochevar, Danny Cortes and Carlos Rosa. Hochevar will be the next in line if he continues to pitch well. The problem is Ponson has been surprisingly serviceable.
Los Angeles Angels
Week 6 two-starter(s): Ortega or Weaver. Ortega could be skipped,
moved back or sent to Triple-A if he struggles against the Blue Jays on
Wednesday. Weaver could move up nicely after Monday's offday to be the
Angels' two-start pitcher.
Starters on the DL: John Lackey (elbow), Ervin Santana (elbow), Kelvim Escobar (shoulder) and Dustin Moseley (forearm). Santana and Lackey will make second rehab starts this weekend and could be candidates to return late in Fantasy Week 6 (May 11-17). Track their news closely through the weekend. Loux, Ortega and Palmer are likely pitching for one rotation spot Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, respectively.
Starters to watch in the minors: Jordan Walden, Sean O'Sullivan and Trevor Reckling. If they haven't been considered stopgaps by now, we can't see them being factors once the veterans start coming back late next week.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Week 6 two-starter(s): Kershaw. He could prove to be an advisable
option with another solid tart Wednesday vs. the Nationals. Expect it.
Starters on the DL: Hiroki Kuroda (shoulder), Jason Schmidt (shoulder) and Claudio Vargas (elbow).
Starters to watch in the minors: Joshua Lindblom. The Purdue prospect has only had one bad outing. With a 19-2 K-to-BB rate through the weekend, he has a chance to help the Dodgers and Fantasy owners this season.
Week 6 two-starter(s): Parra. He has a chance to be a real useful
sleeper if he pitches well at Cincy on Wednesday.
Starters on the DL: None.
Starters to watch in the minors: Jeremy Jeffress. He needs polish and was awful in his past start, but the Brewers look like they have five serviceable starters right now anyway.
Week 6 two-starter(s): Slowey. He could prove to be an advisable
option if he pitches well Wednesday at Baltimore.
Starters on the DL: Boof Bonser (shoulder). He is out for the season.
Starters to watch in the minors: Anthony Swarzak and Kevin Mulvey. The Twins didn't need much help from the minors last year, so you cannot expect they will this season right now.
New York Mets
Week 6 two-starter(s): Santana and Pelfrey. Santana will be a
must-start in all leagues, while Pelfrey could be advisable if he
Starters on the DL: Redding (shoulder). He could be a candidate to return to the rotation as soon as May 13 vs. Atlanta.
Starters to watch in the minors: Jonathon Niese and Bradley Holt. Niese has been brutal until his last start. Holt, a 2008 draftee, is older and more intriguing long term, but he is still pitching two levels lower in high Class A. Redding gets the first shot at replacing Oliver Perez after Takahashi proves incapable. Then, it might be Pedro Martinez.
New York Yankees
Week 6 two-starter(s): Burnett. He will likely be a must-start
option after he pitches Wednesday vs. the Rays.
Starters on the DL: Chien-Ming Wang (hip). He could begin a rehab assignment and prove capable by mid-May again. Track his progress.
Starters to watch in the minors: Ian Kennedy. Hughes could be headed back down if he struggles in his next start Saturday and Wang proves worthy of being activated late in Fantasy Week 6 (May 11-17).
Week 6 two-starter(s): None. The A's play only five games and are
not likely to skip a starter at this point.
Starters on the DL: Justin Duchscherer (elbow). He said he could be pitching in games by June, which could make him a rotation candidate come mid-June. There is still a chance he returns as a reliever, though.
Starters to watch in the minors: Dana Eveland, Gio Gonzalez, Vin Mazzaro and James J. Simmons. Gonzalez was solid in long relief Sunday before being sent back to Triple-A, likely to start again. He could be a factor in the A's rotation around June 1.
Week 6 two-starter(s): Park or Moyer. The Phillies have no plans
to replace Park in the rotation, but they could choose to skip him or
demote him to the bullpen before his next Tuesday start after a Monday
offday. Park will pitch for two-start status Wednesday at the Mets.
Moyer can start next Tuesday on regular rest and could be a two-start
sleeper in deeper leagues if he pitches well at the Mets on Thursday.
Starters on the DL: None.
Starters to watch in the minors: Kyle Kendrick, Carlos Carrasco, Joe Savery, Antonio Bastardo and Kyle Drabek. They won't get a look before J.A. Happ does out of the bullpen, which could come as soon as Fantasy Week 6 (May 11-17).
Week 6 two-starter(s): Duke. He could be a two-start sleeper for
mixed leagues if he fares well Wednesday at St. Louis.
Starters on the DL: Phil Dumatrait (shoulder). The surprising Pirates rotation doesn't look like it needs him right now.
Starters to watch in the minors: Tom Gorzelanny, Brad Lincoln, Bryan Morris and Daniel McCutchen. Lincoln has been interesting of late, but we don't see a Pirates starter that needs to be replaced at this point.
San Diego Padres
Week 6 two-starter(s): Peavy. He figures to be a must-start in
Starters on the DL: Walter Silva (elbow), Cha Seung Baek (forearm) and Shawn Hill (biceps). They are begining rehab assignments and could be candidates to return after Fantasy Week 6 (May 11-17) at this point. They are merely risky NL-only options when healthy, though. Hill is intriguing if he can ever prove healthy, but we have doubts he can at this point. Consider him out until at least early June.
Starters to watch in the minors: Cesar Carrillo, Nick Schmidt, Wade LeBlanc, William Inman and perhaps Mark Prior. The last one is the most intriguing, but also the most unlikely to see the majors at this point.
San Francisco Giants
Week 6 two-starter(s): Johnson and Cain. They could be
must-starts in all leagues if they pitch well Wednesday and Thursday at
Starters on the DL: Noah Lowry (shoulder, elbow). He is out until at least midseason and might not pitch at all this season now. The Giants aren't counting on him, so you shouldn't either.
Starters to watch in the minors: Madison Bumgarner, Timothy Alderson and Kevin Pucetas. No one in baseball has a better pair of elite arms down on the farm than Bumgarner and Alderson, potential front-line guys. Bumgarner (3-1, 1.48) is outpitching Alderson (1-1, 4.15) by a wide margin in high Class A through Tuesday. Pucetas is solid in Triple-A (2-1, 3.90), but the Giants are five-strong in their rotation right now.
Week 6 two-starter(s): Silva or Washburn. The Mariners are
growing tired of Silva ... finally. He is a high-risk starter for the
deepest of AL-only leagues. Washburn could move up after a Monday offday
to start Tuesday on regular rest. They pitch Wednesday and Thursday at
Starters on the DL: Ryan Rowland-Smith (triceps) and Ryan Feierabend (elbow surgery). Rowland-Smith could begin a rehab assignment and be an option for the rotation by the end of June. Take a DL flier on him in deeper formats, mostly AL-only. Feierabend is out for the season.
Starters to watch in the minors: None. Their organization is not real ripe with pitching prospects now that Phillipe Aumont has been moved to relief.
St. Louis Cardinals
Week 6 two-starter(s): Boggs or Wellemeyer. Boggs pitches
Wednesday vs. the Pirates and is slated to start next Tuesday after a
Monday offday. He could be moved back in favor of Wellemeyer perhaps,
who pitches vs. the Pirates on Thursday. Boggs could be a sleeper in
Starters on the DL: Chris Carpenter (ribcage) and Jaime Garcia (elbow). Carpenter is feeling better but he is out at least until late May still. Garcia is out for the season.
Starters to watch in the minors: P.J. Walters, Jess Todd and Clayton Mortensen. We don't figure any of these starters will be needed before midseason at best right now.
Tampa Bay Rays
Week 6 two-starter(s): Sonnanstine. He could prove to be a
sleeper in deeper leagues if he pitches well at the Yankees on Wednesday.
Starters on the DL: None.
Starters to watch in the minors: David Price, Wade Davis and Jeremy Hellickson. We have to figure Niemann will determine his and Price's near future with his next few starts. Davis and Hellickson likely have to wait until spring 2010. We had thought Price would pitch 25 innings in Triple-A, which is a total he will reach after his next start. Niemann will pitch for his rotation spot Thursday at New York. If he struggles again and Price pitches well, look out!
Week 6 two-starter(s): Feldman or McCarthy. Feldman pitches for
his No. 5 starter's spot Tuesday at Oakland. After a Monday offday,
Feldman could be skipped or sent back to the bullpen. McCarthy can start
Tuesday on regular rest and would pick up the two-start week. He could
prove to be a nice sleeper in any format if he pitches well at Oakland
Starters on the DL: Kris Benson (elbow) and Eric Hurley (shoulder surgery). Benson might be just one or two rehab starts away from a return, so he could reclaim Feldman's rotation spot in Fantasy Week 6 (May 11-17). Hurley is out for the season.
Starters to watch in the minors: Neftali Feliz, Michael Main, Tommy Hunter, Thomas Diamond and Kasey Kiker. Derek Holland is already up in the majors in relief, so Harrison and Feldman/Benson will be looking squarely over their shoulders at any of these guys by June 1.
Toronto Blue Jays
Week 6 two-starter(s): Halladay. He won't sit in any league.
Starters on the DL: Ricky Romero (oblique), Jesse Litsch (forearm), Dustin McGowan (shoulder), Shaun Marcum (elbow). Romero is starting a rehab assignment Friday and could be a candidate to return late in Fantasy Week 6 (May 11-17), most likely in Tallet's spot. Litsch could return before the end of May. McGowan is no better than midseason, while Marcum is now hoping to return before the end of the year after Tommy John elbow surgery last September.
Starters to watch in the minors: David Purcey, Brad Mills and Marc Rzepczynski. The latter is on the come and could be the next to get a look, although we would have thought Mills would have gotten a look before Ray or Tallet, if not Cecil. The Blue Jays are a surprising contender, so these prospects have increased intrigue in deeper leagues. Rzepcynski was just recently added to the CBSSports.com database on a special request from Jake Payton, a former programmer (and Blue Jays fan) who was reknowned for winning Fantasy Baseball leagues. Rzepczynski is scorching in Double-A right now.
Week 6 two-starter(s): Cabrera. He will need a really good outing
at the Dodgers on Wednesday to be anything more than a high-risk option
for the deepest of NL-only leagues.
Starters on the DL: Matt Chico (elbow). He is out until at least late July after Tommy John surgery.
Starters to watch in the minors: Ross Detwiler, Josh Smoker and Colton Willems. We don't see any of them impacting Fantasy leagues this season.
You can e-mail Emack your Fantasy Baseball pitching questions to DMFantasyBaseball@cbs.com. Be sure to put Pitching Planner in the subject field. Please include your full name, hometown and state. Be aware, due to the large volume of submissions received, we cannot guarantee personal responses to all questions.
Heath Cummings offers 12 sleepers who look like they'll be undervalued in Fantasy Baseball...
Relief pitcher is its own animal, valued mostly for its impact in one category. Scott White...
The way the starting pitcher role has evolved over the last five years, the delineation between...
Outfield is a monstrous position with monstrous tiers that work differently than they do in...
Heath Cummings says you shouldn't chase career years, and walks you through his other types...
Third base is strong at the top, but is it as deep in the middle? Scott White looks at the...