Week 24 Fantasy Pitching Planner
With only 36 pitchers starting two games in Week 24, owners are going to have to make some tough calls when filling out their rotations. Al Melchior's Pitching Planner sheds some light on who might make a difference.
With just two scoring periods left in the Fantasy season, young pitchers continue to drop from the ranks of the starters.
Michael Pineda has only one start left to make this year, but it won't happen during Fantasy Week 24 (Sept. 12-18). The AL Rookie of the Year candidate is scheduled to make his final start on Sept. 21 against the Twins. Danny Duffy, on the other hand, is being shut down after making his 20th and final start. Of course, some rookies are just beginning their tenures in big league rotations. One of the latest call-ups, Drew Pomeranz, has forced Aaron Cook into the Rockies' bullpen, at least on a temporary basis.
Even owners who don't have to worry about replacing some of their young arms have something to be concerned about in Week 24. Only 36 pitchers are currently scheduled to make two starts, so finding top producers for the coming week will be a more challenging task than usual. Middle-of-the-road one-start pitchers like Homer Bailey, Mark Buehrle, Derek Holland and Mike Minor would normally not be advisable starts for owners in standard mixed leagues, but all four have squeaked their way into this week's top 70.
To see which 36 pitchers are slated to make two starts next week, just click the "2" button on the starts filter in the tool below. Of course, every pitcher expected to make at least one start is included in the tool, and there you can find matchup information, ratings, ownership rates and xFIP differentials for all of them.
Borderline Two-Start Pitchers
Zach Britton, Baltimore: It's been awhile since Britton has been in the discussion for a standard mixed league start, but he's earned it after his performance over his last three outings. The rookie had been reliable during the first half, and his early second-half woes were likely linked to the shoulder strain that landed him on the DL. Now Britton is back to getting ground balls and avoiding line drives and walks. He was worth using in two-start weeks earlier in the season, and especially with a matchup against the Angels next weekend, he is worth using again in Week 24.
John Danks, Chicago White Sox: Danks has deserved better this season in a variety of ways. His 6-11 record is deceptive, as only Doug Fister has received less run support among AL starting pitchers. Danks also appears to have been unlucky on grounders (.272 ground ball batting average) and with stranding baserunners (71 percent left-on-base rate). The White Sox's offense, defense and bullpen haven't been so bad that one would expect Danks to get so little support all the way around. His luck is starting to change, though. Initially a one-start pitcher set to oppose Justin Verlander in Week 24, now Danks will miss Verlander when he faces the Tigers, plus he will get a second start at the Royals. Contrary to what his record might suggest, Danks is a solid option for owners in nearly all formats this coming week.
|1.||Justin Verlander, SP, Tigers||@CHW, @OAK|
|2.||Cole Hamels, SP, Phillies||@HOU, STL|
|3.||David Price, SP, Rays||@BAL, @BOS|
|4.||Roy Halladay, SP, Phillies||@HOU|
|5.||Clayton Kershaw, SP, Dodgers||ARI|
|6.||Cliff Lee, SP, Phillies||FLA|
|7.||Zack Greinke, SP, Brewers||COL, @CIN|
|8.||Felix Hernandez, SP, Mariners||NYY, TEX|
|9.||Ian Kennedy, SP, D'backs||@LAD|
|10.||Tim Lincecum, SP, Giants||SD|
|11.||Dan Haren, SP, Angels||@BAL|
|12.||CC Sabathia, SP, Yankees||@TOR|
|13.||Jon Lester, SP, Red Sox||TB|
|14.||Jered Weaver, SP, Angels||@OAK|
|15.||Ricky Romero, SP, Blue Jays||@BOS|
|16.||Brandon Beachy, SP, Braves||FLA, NYM|
|17.||Yovani Gallardo, SP, Brewers||@CIN|
|18.||Shaun Marcum, SP, Brewers||COL|
|19.||Ervin Santana, SP, Angels||@BAL|
|20.||James Shields, SP, Rays||@BOS|
|21.||Johnny Cueto, SP, Reds||CHC|
|22.||Tim Hudson, SP, Braves||NYM|
|23.||Gio Gonzalez, SP, Athletics||LAA, DET|
|24.||Matt Cain, SP, Giants||SD, @COL|
|25.||Justin Masterson, SP, Indians||@TEX, @MIN|
|26.||C.J. Wilson, SP, Rangers||@SEA|
|27.||Javier Vazquez, SP, Marlins||@WAS|
|28.||John Danks, SP, White Sox||DET, @KC|
|29.||Madison Bumgarner, SP, Giants||@COL|
|30.||Chad Billingsley, SP, Dodgers||ARI, PIT|
|31.||Mat Latos, SP, Padres||@SF|
|32.||Daniel Hudson, SP, D'backs||@LAD|
|33.||Wandy Rodriguez, SP, Astros||@CHC|
|34.||Matt Garza, SP, Cubs||HOU|
|35.||Ted Lilly, SP, Dodgers||ARI, PIT|
|36.||Doug Fister, SP, Tigers||@OAK|
|37.||Roy Oswalt, SP, Phillies||@HOU, STL|
|38.||Jeff Niemann, SP, Rays||@BAL, @BOS|
|39.||R.A. Dickey, SP, Mets||WAS, @ATL|
|40.||Jeremy Hellickson, SP/RP, Rays||@BOS|
|41.||Matt Harrison, SP/RP, Rangers||CLE, @SEA|
|42.||Josh Collmenter, SP, D'backs||@SD|
|43.||Chris Carpenter, SP, Cardinals||@PIT|
|44.||Ryan Dempster, SP, Cubs||@CIN, HOU|
|45.||Vance Worley, SP/RP, Phillies||STL|
|46.||Ivan Nova, SP, Yankees||@SEA|
|47.||Hiroki Kuroda, SP, Dodgers||PIT|
|48.||Cory Luebke, SP/RP, Padres||@SF|
|49.||Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, Indians||@MIN|
|50.||Jhoulys Chacin, SP, Rockies||SF|
|51.||Aaron Harang, SP, Reds||@SF, ARI|
|52.||Mike Leake, SP, Reds||CHC|
|53.||Colby Lewis, SP, Rangers||@SEA|
|54.||Max Scherzer, SP, Tigers||@OAK|
|55.||Anibal Sanchez, SP, Marlins||@PHI|
|56.||Jaime Garcia, SP, Cardinals||@PHI|
|57.||Brandon McCarthy, SP, Athletics||DET|
|58.||Stephen Strasburg, SP, Nationals||FLA|
|59.||Edwin Jackson, SP, Cardinals||@PIT|
|60.||Phil Hughes, SP, Yankees||@SEA|
|61.||Ricky Nolasco, SP, Marlins||@ATL|
|62.||Zach Britton, SP, Orioles||TB, LAA|
|63.||Guillermo Moscoso, SP, Athletics||LAA, DET|
|64.||Alexi Ogando, SP/RP, Rangers||CLE|
|65.||Philip Humber, SP/RP, White Sox||@KC|
|66.||Mark Buehrle, SP, White Sox||@KC|
|67.||Derek Holland, SP, Rangers||CLE|
|68.||Randy Wolf, SP, Brewers||@CIN|
|69.||Mike Minor, SP, Braves||FLA|
|70.||Homer Bailey, SP, Reds||CHC|
Dillon Gee, N.Y. Mets: To look at Gee's 12.4 Fantasy points per start, he profiles as a pitcher worth considering during a week when there are few two-start options. While he does have a 4-3 record in the second half, his 5.46 ERA and 1.48 WHIP negate any positive impact that those wins might have. Owners also can't count on Gee continuing to get nearly seven runs of support per nine innings, so avoid him in all but the deepest of formats, even with two starts.
Aaron Harang, San Diego: Harang has had good results over his last four starts, but I'm not convinced that he has put his second-half blues behind him. His control continues to be spotty, and he's still allowing too many flyballs. It may not matter, though. Harang has been just good enough lately that he's been able to cruise through some favorable matchups, and a Monday start at San Francisco should keep him in his groove for one more week. Especially since better low-end options are lacking in standard mixed leagues, Harang is worth starting in the back of your rotation.
Matt Harrison, Texas: Harrison spent 11 days out of the rotation before his last start at Boston, and the rest appears to have restored the lefty to his earlier form. It would have been nice to have seen Harrison get more than nine grounders out of 28 hit balls from the Red Sox lineup, but he should improve on that ratio against the Mariners, who have the third highest ground ball rate in the AL, next weekend. Between that start and a Tuesday outing against Cleveland, Harrison appears to be a reliable two-start option.
Kyle Lohse, St. Louis: After a nightmarish string of 11 starts in which Lohse recorded only one quality start, he has had something of a turnaround. Tuesday's six innings of shutout ball against the Brewers was Lohse's third quality start in his last five tries. He is back to throwing more strikes, but it would be an exaggeration to say that he's been consistently effective. Lohse's ERA during his recent stretch is still just 4.28, and he's getting hit fairly hard with a 21 percent line drive rate. Maybe Lohse will have a decent outing against the Pirates, but a second Week 24 start at Philadelphia could easily ruin his week.
Ted Lilly, L.A. Dodgers: Lilly was supposed to get two starts during Week 23, but rainouts on Wednesday and Thursday robbed the lefty of his second start. Actually, it just got moved to Week 24, and with home outings against the Diamondbacks and Pirates, Lilly has a good shot at extending his recent string of good starts. Over his last eight times out, he has a 2.61 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP. Lilly looked like a good two-start option this past week, and there's no reason to view him as anything less for Week 24.
Guillermo Moscoso, Oakland: Since Moscoso is not exactly a fixture in the top 70, it's understandable if his inclusion this week looks like a response to his near no-no against the Royals on Wednesday. Actually, Moscoso has been very good at home all season (2.26 ERA, 0.93 WHIP), as the popup-prone hurler has probably been helped by O.co Coliseum's large foul territory. One of his two home starts next week is against Justin Verlander and the Tigers, but he should have a much easier time when he faces the Angels earlier in the week. It's as good a time as any to use Moscoso in standard mixed leagues.
Brett Myers, Houston: Myers has posted good back-to-back starts, though both came against weak-hitting opponents (Giants, Pirates) at pitcher-friendly stadiums. Myers' ownership rate has trended upward for Week 24, possibly because of his good recent starts or maybe because of the two- start week. In either case, it's still not worth starting Myers outside of NL-only leagues. He'll face his ex- mates, the Phillies, and they are likely to feast on him at Minute Maid Park, where he has allowed 18 home runs in 78 2/3 innings. Myers is hardly a lock to dominate the Cubs at Wrigley Field in his other start, so the former amateur boxer could wind up taking a beating for the week on the whole.
Jeff Niemann, Tampa Bay: Niemann seems to save his best for the Red Sox and Yankees, but apparently, he had nothing left to give against the Rangers. In back-to-back starts against Texas, he allowed 12 earned runs, including four home runs, in 9 2/3 innings, as his normally-sharp command was way off. These are starts are concerning, to be sure, and they make him a less attractive option, even with two starts. In another week where there were, say, an additional half-dozen two-start options, you could probably afford to pass on Niemann in a standard mixed league. This time around, you may need to use him and keep your fingers crossed that his last two starts were just a bump in the road.
Roy Oswalt, Philadelphia: With mostly so-so results against the Marlins and Nats in his recent starts, it wasn't clear whether Oswalt was really any more reliable than he was before he went on his lengthy midseason DL stint. Wednesday's start against the Braves was reassuring, and he'll also get some help from the schedule-makers next week. His first start comes against the anemic Astros, and while the Cardinals will pose a bigger threat, the Phils should provide some run support against Jake Westbrook. Standard mixed league owners should have few reservations about starting Oswalt in the coming week.
Rick Porcello, Detroit: Porcello has made more strides this year than his 4.87 ERA would indicate, as he is getting more strikeouts and ground balls than he did one season ago. Unfortunately, too many of those grounders have become hits, as opponents are batting .284 on ground balls against Porcello. It's probably not a coincidence that, according to data from Fangraphs, the Tigers rank 11th in the AL in team Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR). Jhonny Peralta excluded, their infield defense has been especially porous. It's not entirely his fault, but Porcello simply allows too many hits to be reliable in most mixed leagues, regardless of how many times he starts in a week.
Joe Saunders, Arizona: In the middle of the season, Saunders went through a stretch of 13 starts where he pitched at least seven innings nine different times. He was remarkably efficient, but he owed part of that ability to plow through innings to a .240 BABIP that looked too good to be true. In his last seven starts, Saunders' BABIP is back to a more believable .301, and he has exceeded six innings only once. He's failing to deliver for Fantasy owners in categories other than innings, as he has posted a 4.97 ERA and 1.49 WHIP, and he's barely striking out a batter every other inning. That's too little production for owners outside of NL-only leagues to be trusting Saunders with a pair of starts.
Eric Surkamp, San Francisco: After blowing away Eastern League hitters for five months, Surkamp is off to a good beginning as a major leaguer. He picked up his first win on Tuesday at San Diego, and he'll face the Padres again next week. There's no reason to think that Surkamp can't put up a decent start in that sequel, but as a flyball pitcher, there is cause for concern when he travels to Coors Field next weekend. The soft-tossing lefty can miss plenty of bats with his breaking pitches, but it remains to be seen how his arsenal will play in the thin air of Denver. Though there aren't too many reliable two-start options next week, there is still no need to take a risk on a pitcher as unproven as Surkamp, especially with a potentially tough matchup.
Other Add/Activate Targets
Doug Fister, Detroit: Fister is one of the least likely candidates to put up a 13-strikeout performance, but that's exactly what he did on Monday against the Indians. Fantasy owners shouldn't expect a repeat, but that doesn't mean that he can't be trusted in a one-start week. Control has always been Fister's strong suit, and since becoming a Tiger, he has handed out five walks in 51 1/3 innings. Because he typically allows so much contact, Fister is not an automatic start in standard mixed leagues, but a Week 24 start at Oakland gives him a lineup and a venue that he can easily handle.
Jaime Garcia, St. Louis: After having a start skipped, Garcia had his best performance in a month and a half when he faced the Reds on Sept. 3, and then he followed that up with another solid performance against the Braves on Saturday. That alone may not be enough evidence to prove that the southpaw is back to being himself, but the fact that he was able to strike out ten batters over a dozen innings in those starts is an encouraging sign. Garcia will go up against the Phillies next week, and he has compiled a 1.17 ERA against them over 23 career innings. While Garcia may or may not be back in prime form, his recent improvement and strong track record against his opponent makes him a worthwhile risk in standard mixed leagues.
Phil Hughes, N.Y. Yankees: Hughes has been erratic this season, but overall, he has been good more often than bad. In 10 starts since coming off the DL in July, he has had three awful games, one that was just shy of being a quality start, and six games that did qualify as quality starts. One of those quality starts was against the Mariners, and he'll see them again in Week 24, this time at pitcher- friendly Safeco Field. That's enough to get Hughes into the bottom portion of this week's top 70.
Philip Humber, Chicago White Sox: In his two starts since returning from the disabled list, Humber struck out 13 batters while walking none, allowing just two runs in the process. Good control was a major ingredient in his surprising success earlier in the year, so Humber is looking like a decent standard mixed league option once again. An upcoming matchup against the Royals plays right into Humber's hands, as they draw walks at a lower rate than any other AL team besides the Orioles.
Edwin Jackson, St. Louis: Jackson's numbers with the Cardinals don't look much better than those that he compiled with the White Sox, but the picture looks a lot different if you subtract out a single start. If we ignore Jackson's disaster on Aug. 3 at Milwaukee, he has a 2.45 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP in eight other starts with St. Louis. He is still very prone to allowing line drives, but he has cut back on his walks, which has helped him to avoid short outings. Any pitcher with a line drive rate in mid-20s always has the potential to put his owners on a roller coaster ride, but given his recent hot streak and a good matchup with the Pirates, the drama should be kept to a minimum.
Stephen Strasburg, Washington: A week ago, I cautioned owners to check all of their alternatives before using Strasburg in standard mixed leagues. After a year's layoff and constricted by a pitch count, Strasburg looked like he could be an underwhelming producer in his first week back, even with two starts. After getting his first start under his belt, Strasburg had already netted 15 Fantasy points, and that was with the Nationals' bullpen blowing his chance for a win. He was good in his second start on Sunday as well, though he made it only three innings, as he was not quite as efficient as he was on Tuesday. This is the risk of starting Strasburg, as he could wind up going only three or four innings in his single start against the Marlins next week. Then again, he could pitch a little deeper into the game and pick up a "W." The possibility of Strasburg producing like he did in his season debut -- or better -- makes him worth starting as a back-of-the-rotation option in standard mixed leagues.
Other Drop/Stash Targets
Bartolo Colon, N.Y. Yankees: Colon was a sure-fire standard mixed league option in the first half, but his mediocre second-half performance (11 starts, 4.06 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, five quality starts) makes him a marginal choice at best. If owners need one more reason to bench him in standard mixed leagues, check out his Week 24 matchup. He'll face the Blue Jays for the fifth time this season, and over his first four starts, he's posted a 6.86 ERA with four homers allowed over 19 2/3 innings. Stash Colon if you must for a likely pair of starts against the Rays in Fantasy Week 25 (Sept. 19-28), but now is a good time to cleanse Colon from your active roster.
Fausto Carmona, Cleveland: So much for Carmona's renaissance. Prior to Tuesday's start against the Tigers, Carmona had a 3.19 ERA in the second half, and his improvement was backed up by more strike-throwing and fewer free passes. Only 24 of Carmona's 41 pitches against Detroit were strikes, and he was slammed for six line drives in 1 1/3 innings. Was this just a bad game or a regression to old habits? He did fare better against the White Sox on Saturday, but his control was still iffy. Given that Carmona has had frequent struggles with finding the strike zone in the past, he's a little too risky to trust in standard mixed leagues, especially with only one start.
Bud Norris, Houston: Norris has been inconsistent lately, but his performance seems to vary with the difficulty of his matchup. While he fared well in recent starts against the Dodgers, Cubs, Giants and Nationals, Norris got clobbered in two games against the Brewers and in a start at Colorado. Next up: the Phillies. Norris' history -- a 5.30 ERA in four career starts against Philadelphia -- does not inspire confidence any more than his recent string of starts does, so standard mixed league owners should sit him next week.
Tim Stauffer, San Diego: Stauffer's second-half struggles are starting to pile up. His ERA over his last ten starts is an unsightly 6.22, and he has practically ceased to strike out batters. With only 28 Ks in 55 innings, Stauffer is allowing far too much contact, and even a low line drive rate and BABIP haven't kept him from allowing too many baserunners. Owners can no longer chalk up Stauffer's troubles to an isolated short-term slump. It's time to sit him in most mixed leagues.
|1.||Guillermo Moscoso, SP, Athletics||20|
|2.||R.A. Dickey, SP, Mets||11|
|3.||Eric Surkamp, SP, Giants||9|
|4.||Rick Porcello, SP, Tigers||8|
|5.||Joe Saunders, SP, D-Backs||8|
|6.||Jason Motte, RP, Cardinals||8|
|7.||Matt Harrison, SP, Rangers||7|
|8.||Aaron Harang, SP, Padres||7|
|9.||Philip Humber, SP, White Sox||6|
|10.||Rafael Betancourt, RP, Rockies||6|
Ryan Vogelsong, San Francisco: Because he got off to such a great start this year, Vogelsong still ranks among the top 10 starters in the majors in ERA, but he is starting to slide down those rankings. As Vogelsong's control has eroded, he has registered a 3.80 ERA over his last seven starts. He's also been getting fewer grounders, but all but one of those starts were in pitchers' parks. While his recent stats haven't been terrible, that could change after next week's start at Colorado. To look at Vogelsong's recent production, he may not seem like that much of a risk, but the safe play is to bench him for the coming week in standard mixed leagues.
Might Not Start in Week 24
Dylan Axelrod, Chicago White Sox: The White Sox are planning to stick with a six-man rotation for now, even though Jake Peavy has been shut down. Axelrod is the leading candidate to fill the hole in the rotation, which currently falls on Wednesday against the Tigers. However, manager Ozzie Guillen has not yet announced who will make that start.
Aaron Cook, Colorado: Rockies manager Jim Tracy says he wants to give Cook one more start, but for now, he has been moved to the bullpen. With Drew Pomeranz now occupying Cook's former rotation spot, it is unlikely that the Rockies' all-time wins leader will get worked back in during Week 24.
Kyle Kendrick, Philadelphia: The Phillies will need someone to make a spot start in one of their doubleheader games against the Marlins on Thursday. It is probably safe to assume that Kendrick will perform his usual role as the sixth starter, but no announcement has been made about who will make that start.
Chris Narveson, Milwaukee: The Brewers have two days off in Week 24, and manager Ron Roenicke has said that he plans on using Narveson out of the bullpen until he needs a fifth starter. That need will not arise until Sept. 20 at the Cubs.
Alex Sanabia, Florida: Sanabia been tentatively named as one of the starters for the Marlins' doubleheader with Phillies on Thursday. However, manager Jack McKeon has said that he may opt to have a "bullpen game" instead, so Sanabia may just remain as a reliever for the coming week.
Rick VandenHurk, Baltimore: VandenHurk entered the Orioles' rotation when he started against the Blue Jays on Saturday. The former Marlin was not very effective, as he was chased in the third inning. With Jo-Jo Reyes, Brian Matusz and Jim Johnson all looming as potential starting options for Friday's game against the Angels, owners should not necessarily count on VandenHurk to take his next turn.
Kyle Weiland, Boston: Weiland filled in for Erik Bedard (lat, knee) on Saturday, and with Bedard expected to miss another start, he could get the nod again for Friday's game against the Rays. However, Josh Beckett may be ready to return by then, so owners should be ready for the possibility of Weiland getting pushed back into the bullpen.
Josh Beckett, Boston: Beckett sprained his right ankle in his Tuesday start at Toronto, and he had his start skipped on Sunday at Tampa Bay. He will pitch a bullpen session on Monday, and if he has no difficulties, he will probably make a start on either Thursday or Friday.
Erik Bedard, Boston: Bedard (lat, knee) missed his last start and has yet to resume throwing. That makes it unlikely that he will be ready to return to the Red Sox's rotation during Week 24.
Tommy Hanson, Atlanta: Hanson (shoulder) tossed a 20-pitch bullpen session on Sunday. He will probably throw another session and then pitch in an instructional league game. Barring any setbacks, expect Hanson to make at least one start at some point during Week 25 (Sept. 19-28).
Jair Jurrjens, Atlanta: Jurrjens (knee) is probably a week or more away from throwing, so it is very unlikely that he will pitch again in the regular season.
Johan Santana, N.Y. Mets Santana (shoulder) made a rehab start with Class A Savannah on Friday, pitching three innings. The Mets have yet to decide upon the next steps for Santana, but a start in Week 25 is still a possibility.
Scott Baker/Brian Duensing/Francisco Liriano, Minnesota: Baker (elbow), Duensing (oblique) and Liriano (shoulder) will pitch out of the bullpen, if any of them are able to return before the end of the season.
Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyBB . You can also follow Al on Twitter ( @almelcbs ) and can e-mail us your questions to DMFantasyBaseball@cbs.com . Be sure to put Pitching Planner in the subject field. Please include your full name, hometown and state.
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