Weekly Planner: Dan Haren picking up the slack for the Dodgers

Sunday May 11th, 2014

Dan Haren has helped stabilize the Dodgers amid injuries and inconsistent offensive output.
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Dan Haren routinely gets overshadowed by his rotation mates, and with good reason. After all, both Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke cast rather long, imposing shadows. However, just because a chronic back problem has robbed him of the frontline stuff he once had, Haren deserves notice for what he is doing this season.

While Kershaw spent six weeks on the DL, Haren helped stabilize the Dodgers' staff. In five April starts, he posted a 2.03 ERA, 2.66 FIP and 1.13 WHIP. He hasn't been nearly as good in his first two outings in May, though he did pick up quality starts in a win over the Twins and a loss to the Nationals. Only one of Haren's seven starts this year has failed to meet the quality start threshold, and in that one he still earned a win against the Diamondbacks.

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The Dodgers are the kind of team that can avoid the gloom and doom when they lose a player like Kershaw for more than a month, but most would have guessed that their offense would have done more to keep them afloat. Instead, it was the rotation, led by Greinke and Haren, that kept them neck and neck with the Giants and Rockies.

Haren is getting the job done despite his velocity dipping yet again this season. He's succeeding, as he always has, on the strength of his splitter and curveball. Even when he was able to run his heater up into the low-to-mid-90s, Haren depended on his split and curve to get him empty swings. The splitter is doing that this year, as he has a 14-percent swinging strike rate on the pitch, which he has thrown 114 times thus far.

Opposing hitters aren't whiffing on the knuckle-curve too often this season, but they are beating it into the ground with regularity. Haren's ground-ball rate on his knuckle-curve is 62.5 percent, thanks in large part to the 3.5 inches of vertical movement he's getting on the pitch, according to Brooks Baseball. If that held, it would be the second-most vertical movement he has had on his curve, be it the regular one or the version he throws now with a spiked knuckle, over the course of an entire season.

The 33-year-old is slated to make two starts this week. While he admitted after his last start that his troublesome back was sorer than it usually is, the Dodgers don't expect him to miss any time. His first start is Monday against Miami, and his second is Sunday in Arizona. No matter if you're in a weekly or daily league, you're going to want him active both times he takes the mound.

Roster trends

Most added

Cody Allen, Indians -- Terry Francona removed John Axford from the closer's role, and it's expected that Allen will lead the committee that will take over in the ninth. He has a 1.84 ERA, 1.99 FIP and 22 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings this season.

George Springer, Astros -- The rookie had a strong week, going 7-for-20 with two home runs and three RBI. Owners were a bit hasty to drop Springer a few weeks ago when he struggled, but they're scooping him back up in droves now.

Corey Dickerson, Rockies -- Dickerson is getting a chance to play consistently with Michael Cuddyer on the DL and he's making the most of it. After a two-homer game on Saturday, he's hitting .385/.404/.750 with four homers, 11 RBI and two steals in 57 plate appearances.

Most dropped

John Axford, Indians -- Axford lost his job as the Indians' closer after his struggles came to a head over the weekend. He could conceivably return to the ninth, but he'll have to pitch well in low-leverage moments for that to happen. He has a 4.91 ERA and 6.35 FIP in 14 2/3 innings this season.

Jonathan Broxton, Reds -- Broxton has pitched well as the interim closer in Cincinnati, but with Aroldis Chapman set to return from the DL, Broxton will lose essentially all of his fantasy value. He could potentially be worth keeping around in very deep leagues or those that use holds as a category.

Martin Perez, Rangers -- Perez has been terrible in his last three starts, allowing 19 runs and 24 hits in 13 1/3 innings. He still has a solid 3.65 FIP, but his ERA is up to 4.38 and he doesn't really offer much strikeout upside. He's really only worth considering in the deepest of mixed leagues.

Two-start pitchers

1. Felix Hernandez

2. Adam Wainwright

3. David Price

4. Jordan Zimmermann

5. C.J. Wilson

6. Andrew Cashner

7. James Shields

8. Gerrit Cole

9. Marco Estrada

10. Jesse Chavez

11. Dan Haren

12. Mark Buehrle

13. Zack Wheeler

14. Justin Masterson

15. Hiroki Kuroda

16. R.A. Dickey

17. Rick Porcello

18. Travis Wood

19. Ubaldo Jimenez

20. Tom Koehler

21. Colby Lewis

22. Tim Lincecum

23. Felix Doubront

24. Bud Norris

25. Bartolo Colon

26. Cesar Ramos

27. Jake Arrieta

28. Ryan Vogelsong

29. John Danks

30. Tyler Lyons

31. Mike Leake

32. Vidal Nuno

33. Gavin Floyd

34. Jacob Turner

35. Brad Peacock

36. Matt Shoemaker

Teams playing seven games

Los Angeles Angels

Baltimore Orioles

Chicago Cubs

Miami Marlins

New York Yankees

New York Mets

San Francisco Giants

St. Louis Cardinals

Tampa Bay Rays

Torono Blue Jays

Teams playing five games

Colorado Rockies

Philadelphia Phillies

Weekday day games

(all times Eastern)


Tigers @ Orioles, 12:35

Angels @ Phillies, 1:05

Rockies @ Royals, 2:10

White Sox @ A's, 3:35

Rays @ Mariners, 3:40

Braves @ Giants, 3:45


Padres @ Reds, 12:35

Red Sox @ Twins, 1:10

Pirates @ Brewers, 1:10

Cubs @ Cardinals, 1:45


Brewers @ Cubs, 2:20

Favorable matchups

White Sox (@ Oakland, @ Houston) -- The White Sox may spend the entire week away from the hitters' paradise they call home, but that shouldn't stop the from having a great run at the plate. They won't see Sonny Gray or Scott Kazmir during their trip to Oakland, then face a Houston pitching staff that has the second-worst ERA (4.90) and worst FIP (4.45) in the majors.

A's (vs. Chicago White Sox, @ Cleveland) -- In their six games this week, the A's face one pitcher -- Justin Masterson -- who is owned in a majority of fantasy leagues. The White Sox have a 4.63 ERA and 4.25 FIP, both of which are in the bottom five in the league. It should be a nice week for Oakland hitters.

Mariners (vs. Tampa Bay, @ Minnesota) -- The Mariners do have to face David Price, but that's the only pitcher who should inspire any kind of fear. Their offense has sputtered this year, but Cesar Ramos, Jake Odorizzi, Kyle Gibson, Samuel Deduno and Ricky Nolasco form an uninspiring group of pitchers. This would not be a bad week to deploy your Mariners.

Giants (vs. Atlanta, vs. Miami) -- The Braves' pitching staff is undoubtedly one of the best in the majors, and the Giants will have to face Mike Minor and Julio Teheran. However, this is about the backend of the week when they welcome the Marlins to San Francisco, as they have the great fortune of not seeing Jose Fernandez in a four-game series. That they play seven games this week is also a bonus for their hitters.

Nationals (@ Arizona, vs. New York Mets) -- The Diamondbacks' pitching staff, with its league-high 4.91 ERA, always presents a great matchup for hitters. The Mets' staff hasn't been terrible this season, just slightly below average. If you own any fringe Nationals -- think Danny Espinosa -- you'll want to get them in your lineup this week.

Unfavorable matchups

Angels (@ Toronto, @ Philadelphia, vs. Tampa Bay) -- The Angels do play seven games this week, but they'll face a tough slate of pitchers while doing so. They finish off a four-game, wrap-around set with the Blue Jays on Monday, getting Mark Buehrle in the finale. They'll see Cliff Lee and A.J. Burnett in a two-game series in Philadelphia, then get both Chris Archer and David Price when the Rays come to town.

Diamondbacks (vs. Washington, vs. Los Angeles Dodgers) -- How's this for your six pitching opponents of the week: Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister, Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw and Dan Haren. That's what the Diamondbacks have to deal with this week.

Cubs (@ St. Louis, vs. Milwaukee) -- The Cubs spend the entire week in the NL Central, and that is not good news. The Cardinals and Brewers each rank in the top seven in ERA, and the Cubs will see the best of what both teams have to offer. They matchup with Adam Wainwright (who they've actually beat up this year), Michael Wacha, Lance Lynn, Kyle Lohse, Matt Garza and Marco Estrada.

Reds (vs. San Diego, @ Philadelphia) -- The Reds will have their work cut out for the in six games against the Padres and Phillies. They get Andrew Cashner, the resurgent Ian Kennedy and Tyson Ross in the Padres series, and Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee in their trip to Philadelphia. They will be in good hitters' parks all week, but that doesn't outweigh the rough matchups in five of their six games.

Cardinals (vs. Chicago Cubs, vs. Atlanta) -- The Braves have a league-leading 2.66 ERA and 2.96 FIP, and while the Cardinals won't see Julio Teheran or Mike Minor, they will have a serious challenge this weekend. The Cubs' staff has a whole has been about average this year, but Jeff Samadzija and Jason Hammel have been great. They're both scheduled to start in the Cardinals' four-game set with the Cubs this week.

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