FOXSports.com writer Joel Beall examines starting pitching options for the week of April 22 for weekly locked fantasy baseball leagues.
By Joel Beall FoxSports
Kyle Lohse (@SD, @LAD) Any worries that Lohse’s 2012 exploits were a one-year wonder have to be assuaged by the 34-year-old’s start to the spring (three games, 20 innings, 2.70 ERA, 0.90 WHIP). In truth, Lohse was commendable in 2011 as well, as evidenced by a 1.17 WHIP in over 188 innings. Envision a tad of regression from last season, yet given his preseason stock drop due to a prolonged free agency, Lohse will likely outperform his average draft position. The Dodgers and Padres are in the cellar on the Senior Circuit in runs scored, making the Milwaukee pitcher a must-start this week.
Hisashi Iwakuma (@HOU, LAA) Iwakuma posted solid numbers in his rookie campaign (3.16 ERA, 1.28 WHIP in 125 1/3 innings in 2012), yet his sabermetrics (4.35 FIP, 3.76 xFIP, 81.9 left-on-base percentage) alluded to a presence of good luck. Advanced metrics be damned, Iwakuma has come out of the gates firing, brandishing a ridiculous 0.53 WHIP in nearly 27 innings this year. Call me crazy, but maintaining a .119 BABIP and perfect left-on-base percentage could be an arduous venture, and facing Anaheim over the weekend won’t help this cause. Nevertheless, a matchup with the Astros should facilitate this providence to last at least one more outing.
AJ Burnett (@PHI, @STL) At age 36, Burnett has showed there are still some sodas left in his fridge, owning a league-best 13.1 K/9 ratio through four starts. With a full season in Pittsburgh under his belt, the numbers clearly illustrate that Burnett excels in PNC Park (3.10 ERA in 17 starts last year) while straddling the line of mediocrity on the road (4.01 ERA in 14 games in 2012), making two upcoming away appearances a fickle matter. However, though the Cardinals are one of the better offenses in the National League, the Phillies are more bark than bite. Burnett gets the nod in deep or NL-only leagues, and for owners debating on his insertion in mixed formats, his punch-out propensity should give him the nod.
Ricky Nolasco (@MIN, CHC) Rendezvouses with two of the worst lineups in the game may entice owners to implement Nolasco, and the Miami, ahem, “ace” hasn’t been bad by any means in the young season. On the other hand, limited run support for Nolasco makes him a long shot to rack up wins, and a dwindling strikeout rate slays most of his value. Even in NL-only formats, Nolasco offers more harm than help.
Joe Blanton (TEX, @SEA) The Angels lumber is coming around, the Mariners are last in the American League in runs scored and the once-potent offense of the Rangers is a shell of itself. Alas, Blanton has been rocked in the early going, surrendering 14 runs in 14 2/3 innings. In AL-only and deeper leagues, I think value can still be obtained, as Blanton’s durability, coupled with the expected fireworks from his offense, should translate to a fair share of victories. At this stage, however, Blanton is best left on your bench.
Travis Wood (@CIN, @MIA) Even if it’s only three starts, it’s hard to overlook four runs allowed against 19 2/3 innings from Wood. The Windy City lefty won’t accumulate a bunch of strikeouts, and if he doesn’t get a handle of his control problems, his ERA and WHIP will soon be in for an unwelcomed bump. A date with the Marlins is an attractive option for every pitcher, but be careful with Wood returning to his former digs in Cincinnati. The Reds’ 106 runs are the most in baseball, and Great American Ball Park is not known for its’ friendliness to hurlers. Utilize in NL-only leagues, yet understand the possible backfire heading in his direction.
Ross Detwiler (STL, CIN) Detwiler’s 0.90 ERA is tops in the game, and has cut his free passes in half from last season in his first three starts of 2013. Viewing in the long-term perspective, I’m a huge proponent of Detwiler’s forecast for the summer, as his possesses a repertoire of pitches and a dependable batting order to be a top-20 arm. Conversely, this outlook does not necessarily correlate to endorsement in his near future. The aforementioned Reds are a formidable foe, with the Cardinals entering the week as a top-five run producing squad as well. If owners are looking for a silver lining, the Reds lose a bit of their luster on the road, meaning this weekend’s engagement in our nation’s capital should favor Detwiler.
Jose Quintana (CLE, TB) Owners are still wary of Quintana’s precipitous fall in the dog days of 2012, evidenced by his average draft position and his current ownership rate of 9.3 percent despite a 2.55 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in three starts. For those looking for further advocacy on Quintana other than favorable matchups, the second-year starter has an elevated 8.7 K/9 mark this spring compared to his pedestrian 5.3 K/9 figure from 2012. He doesn’t have a superior fielding sanctuary at his backing, and U.S. Cellular Field is prone to granting the long ball. Yet there’s enough to like on Quintana to make the acquisition a low-risk, high-reward proposition.