Pitching Planner: Time has come to trade young starters at their peak
Last week we warned everyone about Erik Bedard's fail-safe point (15 starts and 80-plus innings). This week we will go with the young starter caveat: Young pitchers are midseason sell-high candidates. Every year.
Trade the Alexi Ogandos, Josh Collmenters and Michael Pinedas of the fantasy world right now, while the getting is good.
Yes, Ogando (7-0, 2.10 ERA and 0.898 WHIP) looks as dominant as anyone right now. Only Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander, Jered Weaver and Cole Hamels have scored more fantasy points among pitchers in a standard league.
No pitcher with at least 50 innings to date can touch Ogando's WHIP. No pitcher with at least that many innings is still undefeated. Only seven pitchers -- all of which were in the top 20 in SI.com's preseason rankings -- have more quality starts to date than Ogando.
Great company, all. But ...
Sell, sell, sell.
Ogando is going to hit the wall all young pitchers hit, particularly rookies. While Ogando doesn't qualify for rookie status like Collmenter or Pineda because of service time as a reliever a year ago, he is even more dangerous than either of those other two.
See, Ogando has made 12 career starts for the Rangers, all this season. He made only three career starts in the minors entering this season, all a season ago.
His shoulder is bound to bark at him in the second half. Get max value for him right friggin' now, fantasy owners.
Ogando set a career-high in pro innings a season ago with a total of 72 1/3 between Double-A (15 2/3 in three starts and four relief appearances), Triple-A (15) and the major (41 2/3). It was his first season pitching in America, having had visa issues for so many years out of the Dominican. He never got over 34 2/3 innings (with nary a start) from 2006 through '09 in the Dominican Summer League.
This adds up to a dangerous time for Ogando's health, if not productivity. If he doesn't break down physically this season, he will next. Regardless, his unconditioned shoulder won't allow him to be
Get what you can right now for Ogando.
Ogando should be far higher than tied for the 46th most-traded player on CBSSports.com right now. The top 10 is littered with the disappointing veterans getting sold at their lowest value. Remember, these are fantasy rookies doing this.
In other words, sell high, buy low. Not vice versa.
We aren't just picking on Ogando, either. Any rookie pitcher is entering a dangerous time in these summer months. The 162-game, 30-plus-start grind is going to push them up against that proverbial wall. Arms need to be conditioned and built up to handle the workload, not run down like donkeys.
Hey, where is that Stephen Strasburg guy right now anyway?
Now, on to the rest of our weekly report that breaks down all of the two-start pitcher options and outlines some of the fringy one-start matchups to take advantage of:
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
Wolf is a fringe starter available in many mixed leagues, 51 percent to be exact. He is not getting enough love, particularly when you consider the offensive damage the Brewers can do with Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder going well. Wolf has a 2.84 ERA in his past three starts and hasn't really pitched poorly in almost a month.
Arroyo is a bit too shaky to trust right now. We list him as a questionable two-start pitcher, but you're better off going with a decent one-start option right now. The Dodgers are actually scoring some runs of late and Arroyo's ERA has climbed over 5.00 in the past month.
If it hasn't become patently obvious, Ogando is a must-start in all leagues right now. He cannot possibly keep this pace up, especially with how deep the first-year starter is going into games, but he is an absolute must-ride right now. In fact, you should start this burgeoning young star Monday and then trade him before his two starts are up. He is a sell-high candidate because he cannot be expected to maintain this level of dominance deep into the season never having tallied this many innings. He has made only three career starts in the minors before these amazing 12 starts in the majors. That should just isn't conditioned for this workload. Enjoy it while you can, even with this difficult matchup. The Red Sox did get to Sabathia hard late Thursday.
Volstad has tossed back-to-back quality starts, but he remains a risk best left for deeper NL-only leagues. His past two-start week started out poorly and this one figures to be tough on him, too, at Philly. Volstad has a 4.45 ERA in 10 starts against the Phillies and is 0-3 with a 5.84 ERA in his past three starts. He hasn't won a game since late April, going 0-6. Clearly, he is not mixed-league worthy.
This is a bizarro matchup: Gee looks like a world-beater and Hudson looks like cannon-fodder. It is time to play it the other way, fading Gee and loading up on a Hudson revival, though. Hudson is 0-2 with a 9.22 ERA in three starts, including a brief beating handed down by these Mets. Gee has never lost. He will here as the Mets head to their person house of horrors in Atlanta. Hudson remains a must-start, one-starter in this matchup. This is an extreme vote of confidence in the veteran.
The "over" is the play in this one. Carmona looks like a pitcher for the opposition to take advantage of, having posted an 0-3 record and 7.36 ERA in his past three starts. Penny is no one to dare to capitalize with, though. He has an ERA over 7.00 in his own past three and was abused by the Indians in his one career start against them (13.50 ERA). Penny is not worth owning, much less starting, in a standard mixed format this week.
McDonald is an oft-featured fringe starter in this space and this is one of the weeks to pitch him vs. ditching him. The Astros aren't an imposing offense and Jackson has held up well against mediocre teams. The Astros might be even worse than mediocre, too, particularly with back-end starter opposing Jackson.
The Twins offense doesn't scare anyone in this disaster of a season with Joe Mauer (legs) on the DL and Justin Morneau struggling coming off last season's post-concussion syndrome. Morneau should be buoyed by Mauer's return by this game and Jackson is 1-4 with a 6.23 ERA against the Twins in nine career games. Jackson is a one-start sit in mixed leagues, despite the seemingly favorable matchup on the surface.
Garcia was extremely underwhelming his past start against the Red Sox, but these are the Loveable Losers here with a suspect Davis on the mound in interleague play. The Yankees should rout this one out for Garcia, who happens to be 4-0 with a 1.47 ERA against the Cubs in his career. Davis' ERA is 6.28 against the Yankees and he has lost every one of his five starts this season.
Lewis has been an up-and-down starter this season and it has been mostly down of late. He was hammered his last time out and draws the Braves on the road with one of their aces on the mound. Hanson should be a tough guy for the Rangers to handle on their first-ever look at him.
Kuroda is consistently one of the more underutilized starters in fantasy, active in only 41 percent of leagues this week. His two-start week should make that number almost double, though. He gets a tough opponent in his first start against the Reds, but he should more than make up for any struggles against them with his second start against the far-weaker Astros. Start Kuroda in mixed leagues with confidence.
Coke has shown some flashes of being a potential contributor in mixed leagues, but his past start was a bad one (six runs) and his two-start week features a pair of contenders in the Rays and Rockies. This second start is the one that promises to be the most dangerous at Colorado. That could be a tough place to get used to in a first start, particularly against a rejuvenated ace in Jimenez. If you even own Coke in mixed leagues right now, don't start him.
We cannot pretend to understand the damage Collmenter is doing right now, but we might as well jump on board with it and label it a function of the unknown the first time around the league. Well, this will obviously be the White Sox's first look at Collmenter in interleague play, so continue to use the surprising rookie in all fantasy leagues in this two-start week. The first start might be against the Giants, but that is a far less potentially potent offense than the White Sox. You shouldn't be scared of either opponent with Collmenter's dominance to date.
Arroyo looks like someone to try to take advantage of and Villanueva is yet to lose a start, but this isn't an advisable spot. Villanueva might be unbeaten, but he carries a 5.71 ERA in his past three starts and is facing the offensive potent Reds in that bandbox ballpark in Cincy. The Reds are all too familiar with him, too, after Villanueva's time with the Brewers. Don't be sucked in by Villanueva in mixed leagues this week. He's still too dangerous.