Week 4 wasn't without surprises. It came as no shock that Roy Oswalt pitched well against Cincinnati, but his career record falling to 23-2 was unexpected. I guess that pit stop to his parents' tornado-ravaged house didn't help. I liked Jeff Suppan against the Pirates. Unfortunately, I didn't foresee his move to the bullpen. I didn't like Kris Benson against Colorado, but I didn't anticipate him leaving the game and going on the DL. At least Stephen Drew's continued success (and Nate McLouth's lack thereof) came as no surprise.
Let's take a look at the upcoming week in the National League, with a little help from Scottish rock-poets Idlewild.
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There's glory in your story
Aaron Cook @ SD: Cook is a safe bet at pitcher-friendly Petco Park. In nine career starts there, Cook is 6-1 with a 1.60 ERA and a .246 BAA (batting average against). Overall against the Padres, Cook is 13-4 with a 2.66 ERA, .258 BAA, and 1.168 WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched). He's authored three complete games against San Diego, with one career shutout. Cook is only owned in four percent of Yahoo! leagues, so if you need a fill-in starter this week, he's your guy.
Brad Penny @ PHI: Penny has been solid this year, despite a bad outing on Friday night, and I expect him to get back on track when he visits the Phillies. In 21 innings over two starts at Citizens Bank Park, Penny has only allowed 4 earned runs (1.71 ERA), 16 hits (.208 BAA), and has an impressive 16:3 K:BB ratio. On the season Penny is 3-1, allowing only six earned runs in 34.2 IP (1.56 ERA). He won't get you many strikeouts, but you can count on a quality start (QS).
Barry Zito @ FLA: I'm the first to admit I was down on Zito this year, but he's proven me wrong so far; he's 4-0 with a 1.53 ERA (six ERs in 35.1 IP) and five QS. This week Zito heads to Florida, where he's been phenomenal in three career starts, allowing only two ERs in 18.1 IP (Innings Pitched) for a microscopic 0.98 ERA. His .927 WHIP (eight hits/nine BBs) and .127 BAA cement his case as a must-start in Florida.
Matt Capps vs. ATL, vs. FLA: Perfect in 10 save attempts this year; one ER in 13.1 IP, 10.13 K/9 (strikeouts per nine innings).
Yovani Gallardo @ ARZ: Has not allowed a run in 12 IP against Arizona (2-0, 10 Ks/three BBs).
Tommy Hanson @ WAS: A .192 BAA in 4 starts (27.2 IP) vs. the Nats; 2.17 ERA, .217 BAA, 10.24 K/9 this year.
Mike Pelfrey vs. SF: 4-0, 0.69 ERA (two ERs in 26 IP) this season; 1.77 ERA (four ERs in 20.1 IP), 12 Ks/3 BBs vs. San Francisco.
Randy Wells @ PIT: 3-0, 27 Ks/five BBs this year; 2-0, 2.08 ERA (three ERs in 13 IP) career vs. Pittsburgh.
Kenshin Kawakami @ WAS, @ PHI: If you're looking for a two-start pitcher this week, please look elsewhere. Kawakami hasn't gotten shelled yet this year, but he hasn't pitched well enough to avoid defeat in all four of his starts. Kawakami has been awful in two starts in Washington, lasting only nine innings combined and allowing six ERs (5.79 ERA) and two HRs, and as many walks as strikeouts (four). He fares a little better against Philadelphia, but not much. Over 12.1 IP in two career starts against the Phillies, he's given up 12 hits and five ERs. Although he's managed two quality starts this season, he's been too erratic to trust.
John Maine @ CIN: Neither of Maine's two visits to The Great American Ball Park have been pretty. He hasn't made it out of the fourth inning in either game; in nine total IP he's allowed (are you ready?) 14 hits, 11 ERs, three HRs, and eight BBs, while striking out only seven. Maine hasn't brought much the table in 2010; in 22.2 IP over his first five starts he's allowed 18 ERs (7.15 ERA), .322 BAA, .407 OBP (on-base percentage), .527 SLG (slugging percentage), and five HRs. Although the Mets are playing well, don't let that tempt you into giving Maine a go this week.
Greg Smith @ SD: You might be tempted to try and throw a start Smith's way when he's at Petco Park, however, this is something you should not do. I cannot stress this enough. Smith got shelled in his last start, only lasting one inning. In 23.1 IP over his first five starts this season, Smith has allowed 19 ERs (7.33 ERA), 27 hits (.303 BAA), and 15 BBs. Although the Padres are one of the worst hitting teams in the NL, I predict they knock Smith around early and hasten his exit out of the Rockies' starting rotation.
Johnny Cueto vs. NYM: Three career starts (15 IP) vs. New York: 0-2, 16 ERs (9.60 ERA), 23 hits/8 BBs (2.067 WHIP).
Octavio Dotel vs. CHI, vs. STL: Two blown saves, 11 ERs in 9.1 IP; Evan Meek has been pitching well and converted a save opportunity on Thursday, so there may be some controversy ahead in the back of the Buccos' pen.
Trevor Hoffman @ LAD, @ ARZ: The future Hall of Famer just can't stop blowing saves, he's blown four this year and has allowed 13 ERs in 9 IP and has a .357 BAA.
Jamie Moyer @ ATL: 5-9, 5.18 ERA in 17 career games against Atlanta.
Todd Wellemeyer @ FLA, @ NYM: Another two-start temptation to avoid. Two games (one start) at Citi Field: 7.2 IP, 11 hits, 5 ERs, 6 BBs/2 Ks. 6.33 ERA this season.
Some guys will give you two great starts this week, some guys you'll want no part of, and some guys are a little bit of both.
Not just sometimes but always
Joe Blanton vs. STL 5/4; vs. ATL 5/9Cole Hamels vs. STL 5/3; vs. ATL 5/8Livan Hernandez vs. ATL 5/4; vs. FLA 5/9Ubaldo Jimenez @ SD 5/3; @ LAD 5/9Clayton Kershaw vs. MIL 5/4; vs. COL 5/9Roy Oswalt vs. ARZ 5/4; vs. SD 5/9Adam Wainwright @ PHI 5/4; @ PIT 5/9
(I am) what I am not
Kevin Correia vs. COL 5/3; @ HOU 5/9Ryan Dempster @ PIT 5/4; @ CIN 5/9Jamie Garcia @ PHI 5/3; @ PIT 5/8Mike Leake vs. NYM 5/3; vs. CHI 5/9Chris Narveson @ LAD 5/4; @ ARZ 5/9Anibal Sanchez vs. SF 5/4; @ WAS 5/9
Kenshin Kawakami @ WAS 5/4; @ PHI 5/9Ian Kennedy @ HOU 5/4; vs. MIL 5/9Paul Maholm vs. CHI 5/4; vs. STL 5/9Kevin Mulvey @ HOU 5/3; vs. MIL 5/8Felipe Paulino vs. ARZ 5/3; vs. SD 5/8Oliver Perez @ CIN 5/3; vs. SF 5/9Todd Wellenmeyer @ FLA 5/4; @ NYM 5/9
Safe and sound
Michael Bourn, OF: I was down on Bourn for a while, and he wasn't delivering at the start of the season. However, he's been hot of late, and historically gets better in May. Bourn is at home this week, where his batting average and stolen base percentage both improve. Against Arizona, Bourn is 16-for-46 (.348), with a .423 OBP, and is 6-for-6 in SBs. He hasn't been a good against San Diego, but he his 9-for-10 in SBs. Bourn is batting .311 in 2010 and has a .407 OBP. Factor in the value of steals (9-for-11 SB) in fantasy, and he makes a great play this week.
Kelly Johnson, 2B: Until he shows signs of slowing down, Johnson is going to be a fixture in this space; and with Houston and Milwaukee up next, I expect him to keep rolling. Johnson has gotten it done during his visits to Houston, where he's 7-for-19 (.368), with a .435 OBP. His overall numbers against the Astros are even better: 17-for-42 (.405), .458 OBP, 1.125 OPS. The Brewers haven't been able to slow him down either; in 24 games he's hitting .304, with four HRs and 15 RBIs.
Casey McGehee, 2B/3B: McGehee's early season performance is quieting the doubters who thought his breakout rookie campaign was just a fluke. He'll be on the road this week, but that shouldn't bother him; his career numbers are better when he's away from Miller Park. McGehee crushed Arizona pitching in four games last year to the tune of .583 (7-for-12), two HRs, and seven RBIs. He wasn't quite as successful against Los Angeles, but he still managed a .400 OPB.
Marlon Byrd, OF: Has been getting a look in the clean-up spot; .348, 4 HRs, 16 RBIs, .320 (8-for-25) with RISP (runners in scoring position) this year.
Carlos Gonzalez, OF: Recently moved to the RBI-generating five-hole. .350, 17 RBIs, four SB this season; riding a six-game hitting streak.
Miguel Olivo, C: Taken the starting job and run with it (.291 AVG, five HRs, 13 RBIs). Loves hitting at Petco Park (27-for-80 (.338)).
Ryan Theriot, SS: Hits well at PNC Park (.320 in 27 games) and The Great American Ball Park (.295 in 27 games); 4-for-12 (.333) against the Reds this year. 12-for-27 (.444) with RISP this season.
Dan Uggla, 2B: Does his best work in May (highest AVG, fewest Ks, most HRs, RBIs, hits, runs of any month). Hits well against San Francisco (.303 AVG in 26 games), and in Washington (.297 AVG, .439 OBP, 1.064 OPS, five HRs, 15 RBIs in 17 games)
In competition for the worst time
Nate McLouth, OF: I firmly believe that McClouth will pull it together and have a decent season; but I don't believe it will start this week (despite his performance Friday night). McClouth has two road series this week, and he's been horrible away from Turner Field in 2010 (3-for-31 (.097), .200 OBP, 11 Ks/four BBs). His numbers with runners on base (2-for-17) and RISP (0-for-10) are a joke, and indicate he might be pressing just a bit. McClouth starts the week in Washington; he's a .231 hitter in 34 games against the Nats. He then travels to Philadelphia where he's a .250 hitter in 10 games at Citizens Bank Park, with nine Ks against three BBs. Keep McClouth on the bench until he proves he's worth a spot in your lineup.
Alfonso Soriano, OF: Rumors abound that Soriano might be released or traded, and he continues to lose late inning at-bats to defensive replacements. He's got two road series coming up, which isn't a good thing. Away from Wrigley, Soriano is only batting .256 (vs. .345 at home). He's already seen Reds' pitching once this season, and he treated fantasy owners to a 1-for-12, four K performance.
Ian Stewart, 2B/3B: I'm a big Stewart fan. I targeted him during drafts and have written about him in this column. But sometimes you have to hurt the ones you love, and this week Stewart doesn't look like a good play. He's heading to two pitchers' parks where he's had limited success. At Petco Park he's a career .182 hitter (6-for-38) with 10Ks; at Dodger Stadium he's batting .231 (9-for-39) with 19 Ks. Toss in some recent struggles, and you'll want to be careful how you use Stewart this week.
Todd Helton, 1B: Whatever "clutch" is, this isn't it: 5-for-29 (.172) with men on base, 4-for-16 (.250) with RISP.
Matt Holliday, OF: Tough to sit a guy of his caliber, especially in that lineup, but if you have other options, it might be worth the risk. He's only 4-for-31 (.129) with RISP, 11-for-46 (.239) with men on base.
Garrett Jones, 1B/OF: Cooled down since opening week (8 hits in his last 42 at-bats). Batting a cool .171 in nine career games against Chicago.
Placido Polanco, 2B/3B: Been slumping as of late (.158, 0 HR, 1 RBI in his last 10 games). Struggling with ducks on the pond (.227 AVG with RISP).
Brandon Phillips, 2B: Moved from fourth to second in the order, which could affect his RBI opportunities. Lifetime .209 hitter in 63 games vs. Chicago (48 Ks).
Last week I gave you some players who are owned in less that 20 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Here are a few more players who are probably sitting on your waiver wire who could give your team a spark.
Drew Stubbs (OF) hasn't gotten off to a great start, but he's a five-tool guy who's going to break out ... Ronnie Belliard has triple eligibility (1B/2B/3B) and is making the most of his opportunities ... Eric Young (2B) has been productive in the at-bats he's gotten recently ... Andy LaRoche (3B) is hitting .333 for the Pirates .... Wade LeBlanc (SP) has allowed one ER in 17.1 IP and is 2-0 ... Sean Marshall (RP) has two holds and a 12.0 K/9 ... Tim Stauffer (SP/RP) hasn't allowed an ER yet this year (13 IP) ... Sergio Romo has three holds to go with a 1.54 ERA and 10.03 K/9.
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