Eric Mack
Friday April 8th, 2011

If you have followed along this spring, we have spent time warning you about the likes of Mat Latos and young pitchers who are not conditioned to go 200 innings. Then Latos needed a brief stint on the DL to start the season with a sore shoulder, pointing directly to the Verducci Effect.

Forget all of that when setting your lineup this weekend. And forget the fact Latos is returning against the potent Reds.

He is just about a must-start, sight unseen, coming off the DL. Thank the Padres for scheduling him early in the week, as opposed to the weekend, where risk for a setback would have been greater and owners couldn't get the benefit of a second start.

You don't need reasons to trust him, but Latos allowed just one hit and one run through seven innings in his lone start against the Reds in his career. He also draws the lowly Astros against their journeyman No. 5 starter in his second matchup next weekend.

The same cannot be said for a healthy "ace" that is off to a great start, the Pirates' Kevin Correia. He is a top 10 fantasy pitcher through his first two starts, but he remains on our High-Risk list among two-start pitchers. It doesn't matter he is facing the potent Brewers and Reds. He is just a risk and is best off being ignored in mixed leagues.

We break down all the two-start pitchers and some of the fringy one-start matchups in our weekly pitchers report.

Outside of the obvious pitchers, here are some matchups to capitalize on this week, identified in italics.

Monday, April 11

Matchups to exploit:

Alexi Ogando, TEX (1-0, 0.00) @ Justin Verlander, DET (1-0, 3.86)

Ogando was impressive in his first start, enough to consider him a two-start sleeper at the Tigers and Yankees. Yes, that first start was that impressive. If you don't have the guts to start him, at least take the flier on him to stash.

Kyle McClellan, STL (0-0, 3.00) @ Barry Enright, ARI (0-0, 6.00)

McClellan is an unheralded starter who could be in for a great first half -- at least -- for fantasy owners. He is an advisable two-start pitcher and a must-get in deeper leagues, especially with this favorable first matchup.

Matchups to avoid:

Jason Hammel, COL (1-0, 7.20) @ Mike Pelfrey, NYM (0-1, 15.63)

Hammel and Pelfrey are two fringe mixed-league pitchers right now because of their poor starts. They list above as questionable two-start pitchers, but you are better off waiting until they get their footing before you start them.

Jeremy Hellickson, TB (0-1, 4.77) @ Daisuke Matsuzaka, BOS (0-1, 5.40)

Dice-K got off with his typical shakiness, along with the entire Red Sox pitching staff. Boy, do they really miss pitching coach John Farrell, apparently. Dice-K against the Rays and Blue Jays just isn't enough reward to be worth the risk.

Matchups to exploit:

Jeff Francis, KC (0-0, 1.98) @ Brian Duensing, MIN (0-0, 5.14)

Duensing isn't off to the great start Francis is, but Duensing is the two-start pitcher to use here. Duensing is 4-0 with a 3.33 ERA against the Royals in his career. He is also pitching at home, where the Twins have a decided edge.

Ricky Romero, TOR (1-0, 1.32) @ Michael Pineda, SEA (0-1, 4.50)

Pineda is a rookie flamethrower who could enjoy a strong first run through the league. The Blue Jays can mash, but Pineda draws them at home in Safeco, ie it is safer to start a young pitcher there.

Matchups to avoid:

C.J. Wilson, TEX (1-0, 2.84) @ Brad Penny, DET (0-1, 11.17)

Penny is listed among the two-start pitchers this week, but don't be sucked in by his name. He got off to a shaky start and is drawing the mashing Rangers here. It sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Esmil Rogers, COL (1-0, 1.23) @ Jonathon Niese, NYM (0-1, 6.55)

This is a matchup that you might consider taking advantage of either way, but there remains a measure of uncertainty with both of these young arms still. It looks like now, Rogers would be the decent two-start flier. It very well could go the other way this week, though.

Matchups to exploit:

Randy Wolf, MIL (0-1, 13.50) @ Paul Maholm, PIT (0-1, 2.19)

Wolf is coming off an awful first outing, but the prediction here is his next one will be a great one. This is one you are going to regret not taking advantage in all formats by week's end. Wolf is 8-3 against the Pirates in his career, but who isn't?

Kyle Drabek, TOR (1-0, 1.29) @ Jason Vargas, SEA (0-0, 1.35)

After Drabek's debut, he shouldn't be available in your league, but if he is, wow, this should be a great week to make him a one-start pitcher on your staff. The Mariners are about as vulnerable a lineup as there is in baseball.

Matchups to avoid:

Carlos Carrasco, CLE (0-1, 9.45) @ Ervin Santana, LAA (0-0, 4.05)

This isn't a matchup to avoid as much as a matchup that comes with a caveat. Ordinarily, Santana is a must-start against the Indians. But, Santana, for whatever reason, is 0-6 with a 5.14 ERA against the Indians in his career. It might make you take a chance on a two-start pitcher over him.

Matchups to exploit:

Dustin Moseley, SD (0-1, 1.29) @ Bud Norris, HOU (0-1, 11.25)

Here are two pitchers who made ironic debuts opposite of what you might expect. Norris is the start here, though, facing that Padres lineup. Norris has strikeout-per-inning potential and still warrants our attention in mixed formats.

Matchups to avoid:

Phil Coke, DET (0-1, 7.71) @ Gio Gonzalez, OAK (1-0, 1.29)

This is a matchup to avoid on both sides. Coke clearly looks more dangerous, but Gonzalez has been disastrous against the Tigers in his brief career, too, going 0-3 with a 10.22 ERA in his three starts. It is enough to sit him in mixed leagues. Coke is still no sure thing as a starter even in AL-only formats either.

Matchups to exploit:

Jake Arrieta, BAL (1-0, 1.50) @ Justin Masterson, CLE (1-0, 1.29)

This is a matchup of two young pitchers where you could go on either side as a sleeper for mixed leagues. Masterson looks like the safer bet, but both talented young arms are facing an opponent worth trying to take advantage of in a one-start week.

Chris Young, NYM (1-0, 1.69) @ Derek Lowe, ATL (1-1, 0.77)

Lowe is one of the more underrated starters in fantasy, and some even sat him in the extended Week 1, despite a three-start period. That was a mistake. Don't make that mistake again. Lowe is a knockout against the Mets at home.

Matchups to avoid:

Javier Vazquez, FLA (0-1, 15.43) @ Roy Oswalt, PHI (1-0, 3.00)

This one is a bit obvious, but it should be reminded that going back the NL doesn't automatically make Vazquez a potential winner for fantasy owners. He is an extreme risk against anyone and a must-start against Oswalt and the Phillies.

Matt Harrison, TEX (1-0, 1.29) @ Freddy Garcia, NYY (0-0, -.--)

Harrison is an intriguing pickup in all leagues because of his talent and potential run support with the contender Rangers, but starting him against the Yankees looks a bit too bold so soon. Stash him and let him prove effective of a few more starts. If he handles the Yankees lineup, he is a must-add in all formats.

Matchups to exploit:

Mat Latos (0-0, -.--) @ Nelson Figueroa (0-1, 10.13)

You really don't need a good reason to sit the riskiest two-start pitcher of the week in Figueroa. But the Padres might be sucking you in. Don't let it. It is Latos. It could be a low-scoring game, but there is no good reason to risk it with Figueroa.

Matchups to avoid:

Justin Verlander (1-0, 3.86) @ Dallas Braden (0-1, 6.43)

Although this is the better of the two matchups for Braden this week, it still isn't a favorable one. That is Verlander he will be opposing. It is enough to consider a one-start pitcher over Braden in mixed leagues.

Matchups to exploit:

Chris Volstad, FLA (0-0, 0.00) @ Joe Blanton, PHI (0-0, 15.54)

Blanton was hammered in his season debut, but he is drawing a pair of favorable starts this week in the Nationals and at home against the Marlins. Despite the 15-plus ERA, he is worth the risk with those matchups as a two-start sleeper.

Kevin Correia, PIT (2-0, 1.39) @ Edinson Volquez, CIN (1-0, 7.36)

You shouldn't trust Correia at the Reds, no matter what his two starts looked like. It is Volquez you take the chance on in his two-start week. He was much better in his second outing and facing the Padres and the Pirates.

Matchups to avoid:

Shaun Marcum, MIL (1-1, 4.22) @ Livan Hernandez, WAS (0-1, 4.77)

Hernandez's fast start last season might have fantasy owners considering him in two-start weeks out of the gate. His opponent is the potent Brewers with an unheralded ace on the mount in Marcum. Don't take the risk.

Eric Mack writes fantasy for You can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice on Twitter @EricMackFantasy. Hit him up. He honestly has nothing better to do with his free time.

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