FOXSports.com writer Joel Beall examines which starters schedule to make two starts are worth implementing for the week of June 18.
By Joel BeallFoxSports
Matt Harrison (@SD, COL) Owners are jumping on the Harrison bandwagon thanks to two consecutive outings without surrendering a run, but the Texas starter brandished four previous solid appearances, giving up nine earned runs in 27 innings. While Harrison’s strikeouts are slightly down this season, he’s also reduced his line-drive rate and concession of free passes. San Diego has the second-worst run ratio in baseball, and while Colorado may rank second on the Senior Circuit in runs, only the Marlins have crossed the plate fewer times on the road than the Rockies. With the game’s best offense aiding his mound endeavors, Harrison’s a smart play this week.
Clay Buchholz (MIA, ATL) Don’t let the 5.38 ERA fool you. In his last four games, Buchholz maintains a 1.45 ERA and is holding opposing batters to a .213 average. Even more encouraging has been the recent reduction in walks, allowing just six bases on balls over his past 31 innings versus 27 free passes in his first 49.1 innings. Buchholz’s .310 BABIP remains on the high side, and his 4.64 xFIP compared to his 5.38 ERA shows Buchholz hasn’t been as bad as advertised. Miami and Atlanta can be formidable adversaries, yet the Boston hurler has pitched better at Fenway than on the road, alleviating any apprehension owners may harbor in implementing Buchholz.
Scott Diamond (@PIT, @CIN) Diamond may be the best pitcher in baseball that you haven’t heard of. Through eight games in the 2012 campaign, Diamond is flaunting a diminutive 2.13 ERA with a 1.18 WHIP. Granted, his 3.91 FIP states he’s been the beneficiary of providence, though a .289 BABIP indicates an inordinate amount of luck is not in play. The soft-tossing 25-year-old takes on a Pirates squad that is last in the league in runs and a Reds team, while commencing June on an offensive tear, that is in the middle of the pack in most relevant hitting categories on the season. In deeper leagues or AL-only formats, Diamond, who’s owned in just 19.3 percent of FOXSports.com leagues, is a viable application.
Other Start ‘Ems Wade Miley (SEA, CHC) Justin Verlander (STL, @PIT) C.C. Sabathia (ATL, @NYM) Cole Hamels (COL, TB) Matt Cain (@LAA, @OAK) Lance Lynn (@DET, @KC) David Price (@WAS, @PHI) R.A. Dickey (BAL, NYY)
Matt Garza (@CHW, @ARI) Don’t confuse this as condemnation on Garza, who’s been relatively strong in June (3.50 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, .222 opponent batting average) following a rough end to May. Rather, pitching in two hitter-friendly parks (U.S. Cellular Field and Chase Field rank second and third respectively in runs, and both are in the top five for homers allowed) clouds his forecast. Also not helping the cause has been the anemic Cubs offense, which has scored just eight runs in his past three starts. Too much risk involved to endorse Garza with this slate.
Mike Minor (@NYY, @BOS) After atrocious execution in May, Minor has bounced back with two commendable performances in June, rocking a 1.46 ERA in just over 12 innings of work. Unfortunately, Minor is running into a buzz saw against two clubs that know how to work the wood, as the Yanks and Sox rank in the top five in runs scored in the American League. Even if owners are contemplating Minor for his penchant for punch-outs, the Atlanta arm’s Ks have taken a dive over the past three weeks, rendering this argument impractical.
Jonathan Sanchez (@HOU, STL) Sanchez looked revived in his return from a biceps injuring, going five innings of one-run ball with seven hits, two walks and four strikeouts last week against the Brewers. Moreover, a date against the reeling Astros, who are just 5-16 in their last 21 contests, seems to be exactly what the doctor ordered. Alas, the Cardinals could pose a matchup problem, and judging by his unstable past, we’d like to see another sound appearance or two before placing faith in the lefty.
Other Sit ‘Ems Josh Outman (@PHI, @TEX) J.A. Happ (KC, CLE) Randy Wolf (TOR, @CHW) Jason Marquis (TEX, SEA) Hector Noesi (@ARI, @SD) Chien-Ming Wang (TB, @BAL)
Brandon McCarthy (LAD, SF) A pitcher possessing a 2.79 ERA taking the rubber in a cavernous ballpark against two pedestrian lineups is seemingly a no-brainer. However, with lingering shoulder issues, McCarthy is far from a sure-thing against San Fran and LA this week. As one who owns the Oakland ace in multiple leagues, I’m giving the go-ahead on implementing the 6-foot-7 righty, as the ERA and WHIP contributions are too hard to pass up. Just beware that an abbreviated appearance won’t be out of the blue.
Mat Latos (@CLE, MIN) The Indians and Twins hardly instill fear, especially after Latos took care of business against the Tribe last week (seven innings, seven hits, one walk, two earned runs in the win). However, Latos has not been a model of consistency by any stretch of the imagination, and his sabermetrics (4.64 FIP, 4.15 xFIP, .295 BABIP) don’t paint the former Padre as a victim of misfortune. The Cincinnati lumber should facilitate enough runs to make Latos relevant in the W column, but your squad’s ERA and WHIP totals could be casualties.
Henderson Alvarez (@MIL, @MIA) Alvarez has deserved a better fate than his 3-6 record dictates, as the Toronto neophyte boasts a 3.87 ERA and 1.28 WHIP through 13 starts this season. Regrettably, the long ball has been the Achilles' heel for Alvarez, serving up eight jacks in his past four starts, all which resulted in losses for the Blue Jays. Milwaukee and Miami reside as sleeping giants at the plate, and until Alvarez gets a handle on the homer, he remains a gamble.
Other Cautions Jake Arrieta (@NYM, WAS) Derek Lowe (CIN, @HOU) Aaron Harang (@OAK, @LAA) Mark Buehrle (@BOS, TOR) Kevin Correia (MIN, DET) Jerome Williams (SF, LAD)