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Pitching Planner: Waiver wire offers quality pitching -- for a time


OK, so we said the offense was going to pick up with the calendar flipping to the summer months. We even warned the pitchers, especially the young ones. Still, there are a few surprising arms still defying logic.

We might as well jump on board for as long as it lasts.

Ryan Vogelsong, John Lannan, Jason Marquis, Carl Pavano, Carlos Carrasco, Ivan Nova, Randy Wolf, Freddy Garcia, Jordan Lyles -- great sleepers, all, right now. Heck, if these guys can pitch this well as the temperatures and offenses rise, they are trustworthy in any fantasy league.

Marquis, Pavano, Wolf and Garcia have proven capable in stretches -- this stretch they look more capable than ever. Vogelsong, Lannan, Carrasco, Nova and Lyles have had prospect status attached to their names and they look as deserving of the hype as ever.

Be warned: these aren't the names that are going to win you your fantasy league. Those still are Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander, Jered Weaver, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, CC Sabathia, Tim Lincecum, Felix Hernandez and David Price.

But Vogelsong, Lannan, Marquis, Pavano, Carrasco and Nova, specifically, are pitching as well as anyone right now. Pitchers can do that in stretches, just like a group of streaky hitters.

Finding value in streaky arms from the depths of the waiver wire is the reason so many fantasy analysts warn against spending premiums on pitching on draft day. It never lasts longer than for brief stretches, but you would be foolish not to take advantage.

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 italics.

Monday, June 27

Matchup to exploit: Brandon Beachy, ATL (2-1, 3.22) at Erik Bedard, SEA (4-5, 2.93)

Beachy was so good coming off the DL with his 11 strikeouts, he is a must-have and must-start in all fantasy leagues. He was only owned in 67 percent of leagues this week. While that number has shot up to 80, it should still rise. His starting percent of 37 percent should at least double. Two starts against the Mariners and Orioles sure look promising, too.

Matchup to avoid: Jeff Francis, KC (3-8, 4.76) at Mat Latos, SD (4-8, 4.22)

You won't find many fantasy owners willfully using Francis outside of AL-only leagues, but you might find a sucker willing to roll the dice on him in a two-start week, starting with the lowly Padres. Don't do it. Francis tosses a quality start every other time out (including his past start) and he is 5-12 with a 5.66 ERA in his 21 career starts against the Padres. It looks like an opportunity, but it is a bad risk.

Tuesday, June 28

Matchup to exploit: Ryan Vogelsong, SF (5-1, 1.86) at Doug Davis, CHC (1-6, 5.01)

Vogelsong has remade his career to the point he is irresistible in fantasy. He has tossed four consecutive quality starts and hasn't lost in his past five. He hasn't allowed more than two runs in nine starts (eight of those "quality") and has only given up two runs in two of those starts. Clearly, Vogelsong has entered must-start status -- especially against the likes of Davis and the Cubs.

Matchup to avoid: Gavin Floyd, CHW (6-7, 4.31) at Jason Hammel, COL (4-7, 4.13)

Floyd had a stretch from April to May in which he looked like a must-start, but he has hit the skids in June (5.96) and has been especially rough in his past three starts (0-2, 6.16). He also happens to be drawing a one-start week against the Rockies in Denver. It doesn't even matter his ERA is 9.31 in his career against them. Floyd is a must-sit this week on his recent performances alone.

Wednesday, June 29

Matchup to exploit: Chris Carpenter, STL (2-7, 4.26) at Jake Arrieta, BAL (9-4, 4.50)

Carpenter is active in a mere 54 percent of leagues? Really, folks? This is Carpenter we are talking about. Sitting him will cause you to miss out on the likes of his past start against the Phillies. Fantasy analysts love to say don't chase wins -- this writer scoffs at that thinking -- but they should be saying don't avoid losses. Win-loss record has little bearing on a pitcher's ability. Carpenter's 2-7 record just means there is plenty of market correction to come. He should be active in closer to 75 or 80 percent of leagues in this favorable one-start week.

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Matchup to avoid: John Lackey, BOS (5-6, 7.36) at Kyle Kendrick, PHI (4-4, 3.23)

After three consecutive victories coming off the DL, Lackey went right back to the skids with his rough outing against the lowly Padres. We have advised taking advantage of Lackey as a buy-low guy, but he is a sit-low guy here. Coming off that bad start and facing the Phillies -- regardless if it is a back-end starter -- you should not be trusting Lackey this week.

Thursday, June 30

Matchup to exploit: Jonathan Sanchez, SF (4-5, 3.71) at Carlos Zambrano, CHC (6-4, 4.50)

We are going to stay on the Big Z train. He had a few awful outings, but we advised using him going into Fantasy Week 12 (June 20-26) and he rewarded us with a great outing against the White Sox. He is drawing the offensively weak Giants here and is a must-start, one-start pitcher this week.

Matchup to avoid: Jake Peavy, CHW (3-1, 4.72) at Aaron Cook, COL (0-2, 4.673)

Peavy is far more useful than he has shown, but this isn't yet a good time to try to jump on board. Peavy was something less than mediocre in his first start coming off the DL and he goes to Coors Field to face the Rockies in a one-start week. You are best off sitting him one more week to prove effective and capable of pitching deeper into a game.

Friday, July 1

Matchup to exploit: Josh Collmenter, ARI (4-3, 2.09) at Trevor Cahill, OAK (7-5, 3.24)

The fantasy distrust for Cahill is uncalled for. He is far more deserving to start than most of the knuckleheads who are getting run out there in fantasy lineups. Cahill proved it in his past start, kicking a slump that had lasted four starts. Even after that stretch, Cahill's ERA still sits at an ace-like 3.24. This guy is an ace and should be active in more than 58 percent of leagues he is currently active in.

Matchup to avoid: Charlie Morton, PIT (7-4, 3.77) at Tom Gorzelanny, WAS (2-5, 4.53)

The 27-year-old Morton was enjoying a breakthrough this season, sitting at 6-2 with a 2.52 ERA through 11 starts. His past three have been a disaster, though, and he needed what will be a 10-day break (fatigue) before this start against the Nationals. This is an intriguing matchup -- and the rest might help -- but his 12.27 ERA in his past three starts is just too ghastly to take a chance on him outside of deeper NL-only leagues.

Saturday, July 2

Matchup to exploit: James McDonald, PIT (5-4, 4.858) at John Lannan, WAS (5-5, 3.40)

OK, this Lannan guy is good. Of late, he has been very good. Since allowing six earned runs to the lowly Orioles on May 21, he has allowed a total of six earned runs in his next six starts (1.38 ERA). He is drawing a two-start week at the Angels and against the Pirates, the latter of which makes him an advisable option in all leagues. He has been added in 10 percent of leagues this week and his 25 percent ownership makes him the two-start sleeper of the week here. Pick him up with confidence.

Matchup to avoid: Roy Halladay, PHI (9-3, 2.51) at Zach Stewart, TOR (0-1, 5.91)

Stewart is a nice pitching prospect and he is drawing a two-start week, but his matchups make him a high-risk option. His quality debut is closer to what you should expect compared to his past start, but facing the contender Tigers and Phillies should be a bit too much to handle. That second start comes against Halladay, too. Stash Stewart this week.

Sunday, July 3

Matchup to exploit: Kevin Correia, PIT (9-6, 3.74) at Jason Marquis, WAS (7-2, 3.53)

Clearly, we are getting the good Marquis this season. After allowing a season-high 12 hits June 17, Marquis rebounded to blank the Mariners for eight innings in his past start. He heads into a two-start week with a 1.82 ERA in four June starts. Oh, he also happens to be drawing the Angels and Pirates, like Lannan. Marquis is a legit sleeper available in almost 60 percent of leagues.

Matchup to avoid: Josh Beckett, BOS (6-2, 1.86) at Jordan Lyles, HOU (0-2, 4.20)

Lyles is the youngest pitcher in the major leagues at just 20 years of age and he has a considerable amount of upside. He tossed his third quality start in five career starts last time out against the offensive potent Rangers of all teams. This makes him a solid addition in all formats. This two-start week, though, potentially dangerous. He draws the Rangers again in his first start and the Red Sox and Beckett in his second. Absolutely own the talented, young Lyles in any format. Don't start him in a mixed league this week, though.

Eric Mack helps you plan your pitching staff every Friday at 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.