Did you read my mind & pick up Aaron Harang for a spot start today? No? Wow, that was dumb of you. He was the only guy I really liked today, but didn’t have time to post my picks as I was busy with the day job. As of this writing, he has thrown five scoreless at home against the Giants. Of course, halfway through the season, hopefully you would be able identify an under-owned Harang against a weak offense in the best pitcher’s park in the world as a viable spot start option.
For those still wanting the assistance, I am here to help so let’s take a look at some picks for the weekend (I’m one of those who lumps Friday in with the weekend, it should be a day off anyway). But first, we will look back on the bloodbath that was week 14.
Not even the good fortune of picking Harang & Rubby de la Rosa who had dueling no-hitters through five innings and each went on to throw six shutout innings apiece could erase the carnage of Carlos Carrasco’s two starts along with the implosions of Edinson Volquez and Bartolo Colon. By the way, Colon pitched in Toronto tonight and was dominated for eight runs in two-thirds of an inning. Mercifully for his fantasy team managers, only three runs were earned, but the eight runners allowed is going to sting.
Justin Verlander (*checks ownership rates*… What??? How is he on 105% of teams?? Nevermind.)
Vance Worley (PHI @ NYM) – This kid has been great in his second go-round with an 0.72 ERA in four starts since coming back up on June 18th. You would like to see his 6.5 K/9 tick up a bit, but it is passable. Meanwhile his 3.6 BB/9 is inflated by one outing where he walked four in six innings. He has walked two in each of the other three outings.
Doug Fister (SEA v. TEX) – The Mariners hate him for some reason so there is virtually no chance that he logs a win, even if he goes nine and allows two runs, but the chances of a quality outing at home are very strong.
Cory Luebke (SD v. SF) – This kid’s ownership rates should be skyrocketing after each of his starts, but he might get the Tim Stauffer treatment whereby he has to prove himself for three months before he will finally be trusted. Hopefully that is the case, that will leave us spot starting fans a gem to use every fifth day. Luebke’s numbers aren’t just built off of his 39 relief innings. He has a 1.06 ERA and 0.65 WHIP in 21 innings along with 11.1 K/9 and 7.0 K/BB rates. He is an auto-start right now, especially at home.
Rich Harden (OAK v. LAA) – One good start at home, one rough start in Texas. The latter was an easy layoff, but I am comfortable trotting him back out there for this home start against the Angels. The Angels don’t have an overwhelming lineup and that home ballpark always helps.
Jonathon Niese (NYM v. PHI) – One of the unnoticed bright spots for the Mets has been Niese who has allowed more than three runs just once in his last 10 starts. During that stretch he has a 2.73 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 8.6 K/9 rate. His 3.8 K/BB rate is quite impressive, too. The 24-year old just continues to improve and I am surprised to see that he is on just 13% of ESPN leagues right now.
Ted Lilly (LAD @ ARI) – I think he is going to have a big second half. His skills have produced an xFIP nearly a full run lower (3.99) than his 4.79 ERA through 107 innings. He doesn’t walk anyone (1.9 BB/9) and his 6.6 K/9 is pretty good, though a full strikeout under his rate from the last two years. He has always been a huge flyball pitcher so that isn’t a major concern and I expect him to regress back toward his mean over the remainder of the season. He could also find himself dealt by July 31st and his destination would play a role in his value of course, but for now I’m buying.
Homer Bailey (CIN @ STL) – Most head-to-head leagues aren’t just going with a four day week. However, if yours is and you are protecting an ERA and/or WHIP lead, I would pass on Bailey, but if you have all next week to go still he is a solid gamble especially for some strikeouts. He, too, could be instrumental down the stretch as his big second half in 2010 (3.55 ERA, 9.2 K/9 in 58 IP) earned him sleeper value coming into this season.