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.
Those of you who visited last week's Pitching Planner no doubt noticed that we've added an interactive tool to this feature. Not only did you take notice, but many of you chimed in with suggestions on how to make it better. We've incorporated a couple of those recommendations into the even-newer-and-more-improved Pitching Planner. Specifically, the tool now provides the ability to view pitchers by team and date.
Now that the universe has been restored to its natural order, and we're back to a seven-day scoring period, we are also providing a way to select pitchers by their number of scheduled starts. Finding a list of two-start pitchers is now as easy as just clicking on the "2" button under "Starts" at the top of the tool.
Every starting pitcher scheduled to make at least one start is included in the tool. We'll also look at some of the more notable hurlers in greater detail below.
Advisable Two-Start Pitchers (Standard Mixed Leagues)
Chad Billingsley, L.A. Dodgers: He's been hurt by homers so far, but that doesn't change Billingsley's status as a must-start option.
Joe Blanton, Philadelphia: Blanton just had one of those games in his season debut against the Mets. He comes into this season very underrated, and gets a couple of decent matchups against the Nationals and Marlins.
Dallas Braden, Oakland: Braden is a flyball pitcher, but he hasn't fared that much worse away from Oakland, so his start at Chicago isn't as dangerous as it might appear. A second start against Detroit certainly doesn't hurt his viability this week.
Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco: Starts against the Dodgers and D-Backs in Week 2 is a nice way for Bumgarner to put his woeful season debut against the Padres behind him. He should return to form.
A.J. Burnett, N.Y. Yankees: A pair of solid starts in Week 1 is not quite enough to convince me that A.J. Classic Version is back. His start against the Rangers could be his first real test of the year, but he could still come away with a win against inexperienced Orioles starter Chris Tillman. That Baltimore matchup is reason enough to take a chance on Burnett this week.
Trevor Cahill, Oakland: He silenced a tough Toronto lineup in his second start, providing just a little more evidence that last year was no fluke. At this point, we don't need to worry about matchups with Cahill.
Chris Carpenter, St. Louis: We've seen the same old Carpenter in his first two starts this year. He's a must-start as long as he can stay healthy.
Ryan Dempster, Chicago Cubs: Dempster looks like an early-season BABIP casualty (.350 BABIP, 6.59 ERA), but we can expect a lot of those over the first few weeks. Things will even out for him.
Brian Duensing, Minnesota: Giving up a pair of homers in his first start was very un-Duensing-like, even if the game was in Yankee Stadium. The fact that he settled down after the first two innings is a very good sign, and he did his usual good job of inducing grounders. Duensing should be fine for Week 2, and matchups against the Royals and Rays can only help.
Jason Hammel, Colorado: Hammel isn't always a trustworthy option in standard mixed leagues, but he's not likely to repeat the control issues he faced in his season opener against the Dodgers. Matchups against the Mets and Cubs are reasonably favorable, so Hammel is worth a shot if more reliable options are not available on waivers.
Tommy Hanson, Atlanta: Could it be that Hanson is a slow starter? Actually, his performance on Thursday against Milwaukee was not all that bad, and looking at the bigger picture, he hasn't given us any reason to view him as anything but a must-start in all formats.
Dan Haren, L.A. Angels: All signs pointed toward a bounce-back season for Haren, and he has come through in his first two starts. Even with getting moved back a day, he still lines up to get two starts. In any event, keep him active.
Jeremy Hellickson, Tampa Bay: Hellickson was outdueled by the aforementioned Haren in his season debut, but he still managed to strike out 10 batters in 5 2/3 innings. He can back up the hype and should start in virtually any week.
Felix Hernandez, Seattle: It goes without saying, but never, ever sit Felix.
Clayton Kershaw, L.A. Dodgers: Kershaw is a must-start even with one start, so his owners will really enjoy a double-dip against the Giants and Cardinals.
Mat Latos, San Diego: His shoulder is feeling better, so Latos is expected to be activated from the DL in time for Monday's game against the Reds, and he should get a second start at Houston. Given his dominating performance last season, we can only assume that his difficult spring had something to do with his injury. We can still consider Latos a must-start.
|1.||Jordan Walden, RP, Angels||57|
|2.||Matt Harrison, SP, Rangers||47|
|3.||Zach Britton, SP, Orioles||34|
|4.||Sean Burnett, RP, Nationals||22|
|5.||Chris Narveson, RP, Brewers||22|
|6.||Kevin Correia, SP, Pirates||22|
|7.||Alexi Ogando, SP, Rangers||21|
|8.||Esmil Rogers, RP, Rockies||17|
|9.||Chris Young, SP, Mets||15|
|10.||Jeff Francis, SP, Royals||15|
Shaun Marcum, Milwaukee: Marcum bounced back after an ineffective first start, showing his usual pinpoint control against the Braves on Thursday. If you needed any convincing to use him in Week 2, he has favorable matchups against the Pirates and Nationals.
Daisuke Matsuzaka, Boston: Under normal circumstances, Matsuzaka is a risky play in standard mixed leagues, even as a two-start option. However, it's hard to pass up any pitcher who faces the Rays this season, at least until Evan Longoria returns.
Kyle McClellan, St. Louis: McClellan was sharp in his debut, though the Pirates are not the most formidable opponent. He will have a tough time getting a win while facing the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw on Saturday, but he gets a gift on Monday with the Diamondbacks and Barry Enright.
Brett Myers, Houston: Myers is off to a good start, and it's very encouraging that he did not give up a home run in either Philadephia or Cincinnati in his first two games. Looks like he is just about automatic.
Jonathon Niese, N.Y. Mets: He did not have a good second outing, facing the Phillies on Thursday, but mostly Niese just gave up a lot of singles. He has shown good command and strong ground ball tendencies, so his Fantasy owners shouldn't get hung up on this one game. The Rockies and Braves, Niese's opponents next week, are not easy matchups, but they are both winnable nonetheless.
Michael Pineda, Seattle: The rookie held his own against a tough Texas lineup in his debut, so we can have confidence in him as he faces the Blue Jays and Royals in the coming scoring period. The latter matchup in particular makes it hard to keep Pineda on the bench.
David Price, Tampa Bay: His 4.85 ERA may not show it, but Price has pitched fairly well over his first two starts. We are a long, long way from having any real reason to bench him, even in a one-start week.
Justin Verlander, Detroit: He's 2-0 with 17 strikeouts in 14 innings. So much for his history of slow starts.
Edinson Volquez, Cincinnati: He has 13 Ks in just 11 innings, but he's also given up three dingers already. As he did last season, Volquez is inducing grounders like crazy -- his rate is 65 percent after two starts -- so there should be fewer gopher balls in the future. One start at PETCO Park this week will hopefully help with that.
Other Add/Activate Targets
Brandon Beachy, Atlanta: Beachy's season hit an early snag when he faced the Phillies on Saturday, as he had some problems locating in the strike zone. Superb control had been his calling card as a minor leaguer, so don't expect those struggles to continue for long. You might as well keep Beachy active, barring any especially unfavorable matchups. Thursday's tilt with the Marlins is not one of those exceptions.
Zach Britton, Baltimore: Britton caught a break, having his next start moved back a day so that he will face the Indians instead of the Yankees. He's already proved that he can shut down a powerful lineup like the Rangers', so Britton should be safe to start with an easier matchup this week.
Fausto Carmona, Cleveland: The Carmona who stymied the Red Sox on Thursday is more like the resurgent pitcher we saw often in 2010. His sinker was working, and as long as that's the case, you can feel safe starting Carmona in standard mixed leagues.
R.A. Dickey, N.Y. Mets: The knuckleballer's surprisingly sound 2010 Fantasy stats were backed up by some impressive peripherals (2.2 BB/9, 0.7 HR/9). The solid control has been there in the past, but the key for Dickey is to maintain last year's high ground ball rate. He was able to do that against the Marlins last Sunday, and facing the Rockies in Citi Field instead of Coors Field, he shouldn't get burned by the long ball.
Kyle Drabek, Toronto: Drabek had little problem getting Twins and Angels hitters to ground out, so the Mariners' lineup shouldn't intimidate him. He won't always deliver a strikeout per inning like he did in his season debut, but he will always be worth starting as long as he has decent matchups.
Jeremy Guthrie, Baltimore: Guthrie pitches to contact and can be homer-prone, but as long as he is facing a mediocre lineup in a favorable pitcher's environment, he can be trusted in most formats. Next Saturday's start in Cleveland provides him with just such an opportunity. Though he spent part of Week 1 hospitalized with pneumonia, an effective start against Texas on Sunday shows us he'll be fine for Week 2.
Edwin Jackson, Chicago White Sox: His inconsistency can be a real turn-off, but when Jackson outdueled David Price on Thursday, striking out 13 batters, he showed exactly what he is capable of. The Rays were a pretty easy assignment, but the A's won't be too much tougher on Tuesday.
John Lackey, Boston: Lackey's Week 1 starts against the Rangers and Yankees were disappointing, to put it mildly, but that's about as tough a week, as far as matchups go, as there is in the American League. A start against the Rays in Week 2 is just what the veteran needs to get his season back on track.
Derek Lowe, Atlanta: After finishing off 2010 with a red-hot September, Lowe has extended his stretch of stellar pitching into the 2011 season. After a down 2009 and a difficult start to last season, Lowe appears to be back in top form.
Chris Narveson, Milwaukee: Narveson's robust skill profile from 2010 was obscured by a low strand rate – one that should improve this season. Because of last year's 4.99 ERA, the lefty is still something of a well-kept secret, but that could change very soon. Pick him up in mixed leagues for his coming start against Pittsburgh.
Jeff Niemann, Tampa Bay: His line from his first start of the year against the Angels wasn't pretty, but most of the damage was done in the first inning. After that, Niemann was pretty much his usual reliable self. He enters this season as a potential breakout candidate, as he saw his strikeout rate increase throughout last season until he was brought down with shoulder soreness. Given him another shot in Week 2.
Bud Norris, Houston: Norris is too unreliable to be trusted in standard mixed leagues most weeks, but he has a date with the punchless Padres in Week 2. It's safe to pick him up for this scoring period.
Carl Pavano, Minnesota: There aren't too many pitchers who aren't worth starting when they face the Rays these days. Certainly, Pavano isn't one of them. Even though he doesn't provide enough strikeouts to be used every week, you can start him with confidence this coming week.
Travis Wood, Cincinnati: I've been wary of recommending Wood when he pitches at home or at other homer-friendly ballparks, given his 48 percent career flyball rate. However, he should absolutely kill it in PETCO Park against the Padres on Wednesday.
Chris Young, N.Y. Mets: Speaking of flyball pitchers, Young is the major league's human launching pad. Still, he was in fine form against the Phillies and Nationals this past week and should not be too much of a home run risk pitching in Atlanta next Friday.
Jordan Zimmermann, Washington: Zimmermann wasn't particularly sharp against the Braves in his season debut, but he still limited Atlanta to two runs over six innings. A win may be hard to come by, as he will oppose Cliff Lee at Nationals Park in his Week 2 start, but he should put up good stats, as long he stays away from home run venues.
Inadvisable Two-Start Pitchers (Standard Mixed Leagues)
Mark Buehrle, Chicago White Sox: Buehrle does not strike out many batters, so he does not have much room for error. He has struggled in the early going, so with tough opponents this week in Dallas Braden and Dan Haren, it could easily be a winless week for the crafty vet.
Kevin Correia, Pittsburgh: The Bucs' opening day starter has looked like a world-beater in his first two games, but it's been something of a mirage. He only has six strikeouts in 13 innings, and he has been relying on getting oodles of flyball outs. That probably won't work out as well against the Brewers and Reds, especially with the latter matchup happening in homer-happy Cincinnati.
Barry Enright, Arizona: There won't be many instances where Enright will be an advisable two-start pitcher, and they certainly won't be when he has a pair of starts at home. He's a big-time home-run risk at Chase Field, and he has a pair of starts there against the Cardinals and Giants.
Nelson Figueroa, Houston: He should be owned in more than two percent of all leagues on CBSSports.com, but with Ryan Dempster and Mat Latos as his likely foes this week, his owners should keep him stashed.
Jeff Francis, Kansas City: Francis has looked sharp so far, but given the potential for low run support and his own lack of strikeouts, there are few weeks where you can trust him outside of deeper leagues.
Livan Hernandez, Washington: Only when Hernandez has very favorable matchups should he be trusted as a two-start option. With Philadelphia and Milwaukee on his agenda, this is no time to start Livan in even a deeper mixed league.
Mike Pelfrey, N.Y. Mets: Big Pelf has been a big mess so far. He is a borderline mixed league option in any event, so even with decent matchups in the week ahead, owners should let Pelfrey sit this one out.
Brad Penny, Detroit: Another inconsistent contact pitcher who hasn't found the strike zone yet this year. If you can punt on Pelfrey, you can certainly wait on Penny as well.
Clayton Richard, San Diego: In other weeks, Richard should be active in more than 31 percent of leagues, but even with two starts, he's a risky arm to start in Week 2. First, he faces a potent Reds' attack on Tuesday, and then on Sunday, he opposes red-hot Brett Myers in Houston.
Esmil Rogers, Colorado: Rogers looked great against the Pirates, but a history of high walk and line drive rates leaves some questions about his trustworthiness. Let's see how Rogers does against the Mets and Cubs this week before we crank up the bandwagon.
Mitch Talbot, Cleveland: There's just not much to recommend Talbot in any format in any week. He gets very few strikeouts, but isn't especially stingy with bases on balls. Even with two starts, he's best left to owners in the deepest of leagues.
Chris Tillman, Baltimore: Tillman was sharp in his debut against the Rays but showed that he's not yet trustworthy with a mediocre showing against the Tigers. Especially with a date with the Yankees on his calendar, it's best to save the 23-year-old for deeper leagues this coming week.
Chris Volstad, Florida: Volstad is a passable option in deeper mixed leagues with good matchups. He faces the Braves and Phillies next week – not good matchups.
Other Drop/Stash Targets
Brett Cecil, Toronto: He's a viable mixed league option in certain weeks, but Cecil is not the equal of Clay Buchholz. The Red Sox's righty is likely to get the best of Cecil in their matchup next week.
Wade Davis, Tampa Bay: I was excited for Davis' breakout chances heading into this season, but at least for now, run support is going to be a major issue. He is not a standard mixed league option for the time being.
J.A. Happ, Houston: Happ's wild side has reared its ugly head. You would think that a start against the Padres this coming week would be a cure-all, but owners should wait for Happ to straighten himself out first before trusting him outside of NL-only leagues.
Matt Harrison, Texas: After two fine starts, it's still hard to trust Harrison following three years of major league mediocrity. Low walk rates and high ground ball rates were the hallmarks of his minor league career, and that's how he has achieved his early season success so far. There's nothing fishy about his 1.29 ERA; he has dominated opposing hitters, allowing only one home run and one line drive in play. Until we can be sure that he can keep this up, though, leave him on waivers outside of AL-only leagues and deeper mixed league formats.
Charlie Morton, Pittsburgh: Morton has been far worse than Harrison during his time in the bigs, so we should temper our enthusiasm over his first week that much more. Besides, he has struck out only three batters in 13 innings while walking 10. Despite a 2.08 ERA, it looks like the same old Morton.
Ivan Nova, N.Y. Yankees: The 24-year-old will pick up some wins and provide a decent ERA, but ultimately, he's another contact pitcher who doesn't do quite enough to merit a spot in mixed leagues -- even deeper ones -- most weeks.
Alexi Ogando, Texas: In his first appearance as a major league starter, Ogando looked great, though a lot of pitchers can impress when they're facing the Mariners. He draws Justin Verlander as his opponent in his Week 2 start, but we should probably wait for Ogando to build more of a resume before starting him in standard mixed leagues anyway. Also take note that Ogando, who appeared to be on track for two starts prior to Friday's rainout in Baltimore, now only gets this one start.
Tim Stauffer, San Diego: Like Ogando, Stauffer is no longer a two-start option for Week 2. With a matchup against Travis Wood and the powerful Reds in the offing, save the Padres' opening day starter for another week.
Javier Vazquez, Florida: Vazquez's dreadful season debut raised a lot of questions about his candidacy as a comeback player. With a matchup against the Phillies in store, this is not the time to roll the dice with the free agent signee.
Home Run Alerts
Phil Hughes, N.Y. Yankees: As a flyball pitcher who calls Yankee Stadium home, it's not surprising to see that he fares much better on the road. Last season, Hughes gave up 20 homers in 106 1/3 innings at home and posted a 4.66 ERA. Are those stats you want on your standard mixed league active roster? I didn't think so, and we haven't even addressed his plummeting velocity yet…
James McDonald, Pittsburgh: McDonald's impressive strikeout rate makes him the most attractive of the Pirates' pitching options for Fantasy, but because he is flyball-prone, owners still have to use him with caution. The Reds have some home run threats in their lineup, and their stadium gives them a hospitable environment, so it's best to stay away from McDonald in mixed leagues this coming week.
James Russell, Chicago Cubs: Russell is a risk first and foremost because he faces off against a tough opponent in Brett Myers. Also, a visit to Houston is probably not conducive to the lefty's Fantasy health. He has a consistent track record of allowing frequent homers, and he doesn't need the help of a hitter-friendly stadium like Minute Maid Park.
Ubaldo Jimenez, Colorado: The Rockies' ace is eligible to return from the disabled list on April 17, but the team has not issued a timetable for his activation. He is not an advisable start, barring further news on his status. Greg Reynolds will hold his place in the Colorado rotation for now.
Jair Jurrjens, Atlanta: Jurrjens is expect to return for an April 16 start against the Mets. Even if everything goes as planned, he is not an advisable start in standard mixed leagues, as owners should see how he fares in his first start back before activating him.
Jon Garland, L.A. Dodgers: Aside from the fact that Garland is not a good mixed league option under normal circumstances, there is no guarantee that he will even start in Week 2. The Dodgers are targeting an April 15 return for Garland from the disabled list, but if he isn't ready, John Ely could wind up taking his turn against the Cardinals.
Joel Pineiro, L.A. Angels: Pineiro is hoping to make the first of at least two rehab starts towards the end of Week 2. This puts him on schedule to return no sooner than Fantasy Week 4 (April 25-May 1). In the meantime, Tyler Chatwood will hold down his spot in the rotation.
Ross Ohlendorf, Pittsburgh: Ohlendorf was placed on the DL with a strained shoulder on Saturday. Most likely, he will not return until Fantasy Week 4 (April 25-May 1) at the earliest. The Pirates have not named his successor, but Daniel McCutchen, who was just recalled, is the most probable candidate.
Scott Kazmir, L.A. Angels: The Angels put Kazmir on the DL with lower back stiffness. Because the move was made retroactive to April 3, he could possibly be back for Fantasy Week 3 (April 18-24). Matt Palmer will take his turns in the rotation for now.
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