Pitching Planner: Full week of games will test managing skills
It is another year of the pitcher. If two no-hitters within a week didn't reveal that to you, the upcoming week should.
It is a week loaded with games and two-start pitchers as every team in baseball plays a full seven-game schedule for the first time this season. It should be a week of monster scores in head-to-head points leagues and plenty of lineup options.
With so many options the necessity to weigh the matchups is crucial. Every fantasy lineup is going to be beefed up with starts. You should spend the extra time Sunday night and Monday morning dealing with the minutia of lineup decisions.
It is impossible to do it all for you here, but are some suggestions:
You're going to come up with plenty of starts to score with anyone next week. Don't shy away from a decent one-start pitcher -- particularly if he has a great matchup. This is especially true in leagues that penalize losses and runs allowed. Two bad starts can do a lot of damage. Don't get two-start happy.
It is very tempting to fill your lineup with two-start pitchers, but that is better strategy when starts are at a premium. Full weeks make for ample games and save opportunities for relievers, too. That should not be understated. In fact, with more games, it might be a good chance to try to collect your nuts in the save categories over a starter.
Pitchers coming off the DL can give you a shot in the arm in normal weeks, but it far less necessary to take those risks in the week to come. There are starts and favorable matchups everywhere.
Our weekly report breaks down all of the two-start pitcher options and outlines some of the fringy one-start matchups to take advantage of. Enjoy this week's slice of baseball heaven:
Outside of the obvious pitchers, here are some matchups to capitalize on this week and some to avoid, with the pitcher in question identified in italics.
Duensing returns to the Twins' rotation after a brief two-appearance stint in the bullpen, just in time for a two-start week. The matchup at Seattle makes him a useful option in mixed leagues. Duensing's starts have been good enough to trust him regardless of the matchups.
Drabek came out of the gate holding up well, but he has hit the skids in his rookie season. He has an 8.31 ERA in his past three starts and is facing a soaring Porcello. It's not a week to trust Drabek with so many two-start options on the board.
Baker didn't really look like much to write home about in his past start, but a matchup against the Mariners in their pitcher's park should encourage you to trust him in mixed leagues. He had four consecutive quality starts before that past bad outing.
This one has to be patently obvious to you by now. Lackey's ERA in his past three starts is over 10, and his wife is dealing with breast cancer. He says, "My life (stinks) right now." It is not a good time for him or his owners.
Colon struggled as expected against the Rangers, but it is time to jump back on the his bandwagon. His renaissance will resume against the O's. He is a solid one-start option in any fantasy league, if you're using a waiver-wire one-starter in his week loaded with two-starters.
McDonald has been lights out in his past three starts (2-0, 1.00), but a one-start matchup against the Reds is not a good one. It doesn't help he has a career 6.48 ERA against them either.
Cueto didn't take long to prove his must-start status off the DL with shoulder woes. He is even a must-start, one-starter this week against the Pirates. He is a sterling 9-2 with a 2.68 ERA in his 13 starts against them.
Bedard has turned his season around in his past three starts (1.89 ERA), but he is not going to prove useful to you this week. He is facing the Angels, a team that has owned him to the tune of 2-5 and a 5.70 ERA in eight career starts -- and most of those came years ago when he was actually a must-have fantasy ace.
Arrieta has proven to be a rock-solid young pitcher even with the O's since his awful season debut. He draws the Nats in interleague play and at home. The O's still want to own the mid-Atlantic area ,and Arrieta should be a winner for you here.
You should be well-versed in avoidance behavior of Vazquez by now. But if you need more reasons to sit, or even cut him outright: He has a 7.31 ERA in his past three starts and has an ERA approaching 5.00 against the Rays in his career.
Burnett is a new man for the Yankees this season. He has been a steady force for fantasy owners, despite a bad stigma from his 2010 campaign. He also has a 3.36 in 18 career starts against the organization with which his pro career began.
Sticking with the same game here: Pelfrey has won three of his past four starts, including both his turns in May. A matchup against the Yankees in the wind tunnel is obviously dangerous, though. He has a 4.70 ERA against the Yankees and a 7.20 ERA at The Stadium, for what those are worth.
Britton is the leading AL Rookie of the Year candidate right now and is pitching like a five-year vet. Britton is good enough to start in any format this week, especially with that particularly favorable second matchup in interleague play.
Harrison has been much improved in his past two outings -- one of which didn't count because of a rain postponed before five complete innings. That doesn't mean you should be all that anxious throwing him back in your fantasy lineup as a two-start pitcher, particularly with that second matchup at Philly.