This week was a process for the Spot Starter picks. It started off poorly as posterboy Brandon McCarthy, who I recommended keeper permanently last week, was torched by the Angels allowing seven runs on 14 (!) hits in just five and a third innings. Meanwhile, my second pick on Tuesday (skipped Monday due to a lack of viable options) was his opponent, Tyler Chatwood, who I went with over Marco Estrada and Gavin Floyd in order to get the most favorable matchup.
He was passable and earned a win, but the Floyd was excellent against the Yankees (W, 8 IP, 2 ER, 10 K, 5 BR) and Estrada looked sharp against the Reds (7 IP, 2 ER, 5 K, 5 BR). But I stand behind choosing Chatwood as those two were playing two of the best offenses in baseball and they happened to escape with some gems. The favorable play was passing on those two, especially for this strategy.
Then on Wednesday Derek Holland was ripped for five earned runs in the third straight start and all of a sudden I had three recommendations who totaled 15.7 innings allowing 15 runs with just six strikeouts. Of course there was plenty of time left in the week and the remaining seven selections all allowed three or fewer runs while five of them logged six or more innings.
The rally helped lower the season-long ERA while the five wins logged double the season total to 10.
Let’s keep the weekend momentum (1.75 ERA in 25.7 innings with the Saturday & Sunday starters) going into week 5:
Bartolo Colon (NYY @ DET) – His ownership rates will likely bump up again after free agent pickups are run on Sunday, but as of now he remains available in a lot of leagues across all of the major outlets. He is striking batters out, he is inducing groundballs and he is going deep into his starts. There is just nothing within this profile so far to caution against buying into it. His resurgence is the epitome of Ron Shandler’s axiom: “Once a player displays a skill, he owns it.”
Derek Holland (TEX @ OAK) – The string of 5 ER starts has to stop here, right? Holland is too talented to keep getting pounded for a nickel each game and the A’s in their spacious stadium is a great place to get right. I will be watching this start to get a better handle on Holland, too. I haven’t seen him throw since the start in NY where Ron Washington was an idiot.
Sam LeCure (CIN v. HOU) – LeCure is a perfect matchup play as he feasts on the weak, but isn’t quite as strong against the stiffer competition. To wit, he has allowed 2 ER and 1 ER in starts against Houston and at San Diego, respectively, striking out 14 in 11 innings across the two starts. In his other two starts he allowed five to Arizona (including four HR) and three at Milwaukee in just 4.3 innings.
R.A. Dickey (NYM v. SF) – He hasn’t quite been as strong as he was in 2010, but nobody really expected him to be, either. He has been useful especially getting through some control issues early in the season. He is generally strong at home (1.99 ERA at Citi; 3.58 away in ’10) and the Giants aren’t scaring anyone with their lineup as Buster Posey slumps (5 for his last 26) and Pablo Sandoval, their best hitter so far this year, just went on the disabled list for 4-6 weeks with a hand injury.
Kevin Correia (PIT @ SD) – The Giants look like the ’27 Yankees compared to their divisional foes in San Diego as the Padres needed a 7-run surge today to finally top 80 runs for the season (84-last in the majors). Meanwhile, Correia has just one implosion this season while allowing two or fewer runs in four of his six starts. He likely won’t maintain his 2.90 ERA all year, but I doubt the regression begins against his old teammates.
Jake Arrieta (BAL @ KC) – The Royals offense is doing some nice work this year, but so is Arrieta having looked great in five of his six starts (an 8 ER in 3.3 IP shellacking against Texas as the lone blemish) which is masked by a 5.01 ERA. I like him to tame the Royals a bit and keep his streak going. He may even sneak a win, too, as his offense gets to face Kyle Davies.
Joel Pineiro (LA @ BOS) – After starting the season on the disabled list, many owners cut bait on Pineiro as he just made his season debut this past weekend. The Red Sox are still trying to find their footing so I like Pineiro to take advantage and induce plenty of weak contact en route to a solid showing.
Brandon Beachy (ATL v. MIL) – He is this week’s pick to keep as his ownership starting to increase with each passing great start. I’m not sure what took so long. Of course, he is still available in quite a few leagues so he makes the list at least once more. He has a sub-1.00 WHIP and a strikeout per inning pitched, I can’t imagine a format where that isn’t useful.
Jonathon Niese (NYM v. LAD) – He just keeps performing so he keeps getting recommended. His ERA looks available after being inflated in back-to-back starts in early April when he gave up 11 in 10 innings to Philly and Colorado. Since then he has reeled off three straight 2 ER starts allowing just the six runs in 19.3 innings. The Dodgers are essentially a two-man lineup right now so Niese should be able to continue rolling.
Phil Humber (CHW @ SEA) – Pitcher on a roll + garbage opponent + pitching in garbage opponent’s excellent ballpark = auto-start. Humber is another guy with only one real significant negative mark on his record (4 ER in 5.3 against Tampa Bay), but he has been sharp otherwise including a gem under the spotlight in Yankee Stadium. The MAAAriners shouldn’t prove too challenging.
Weekend picks later in the week…