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Pitching Value Meter: Kicking Off the 2012 Season

David Regan

David Regan

David Regan is a five-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association award winner, and was named the 2010 Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year.

Welcome to the 2012 inaugural edition of RotoWire's Pitching Value Meter. For those unfamiliar with this tool, we'll help you with the tough decisions on which of your starting pitchers to go with each week. This piece is especially valuable for leagues that set lineups in advance for the week (as opposed to leagues with daily lineup changes), but hopefully there's a bit of something for everyone here. As to how I come up with the rankings, it's a combination of the following:

1. Number of starts for the week -
pitchers with two starts are usually more productive from a fantasy perspective than those with one start. However, I'm not going to ever rank Livan Hernandez (extreme example, yes) over Justin Verlander for example, just because Hernandez is a two-start pitcher that week and Verlander is only scheduled for one.

2. Past performance -
it will take a long string of poor starts for me to drop the likes of a Roy Halladay too far on this list due to Halladay's history.

3. Recent performance -
if a guy has a good run going and/or looks to be breaking out, then he'll get a bump in the rankings.

4. Opponents and ballpark -
clearly, all else being equal, I'd rather start a pitcher facing the A's over a similar pitcher in Coors Field against the Rockies.

That's it. Nothing too scientific there, but hopefully this will serve as a valuable tool for some of you this season. I'm always open to feedback, so please feel free to email me with any comments or suggestions, or sound off in the comments section below. I have a thick skin. A few parting comments:

Don't get too worked up about the rankings of the top pitchers. I'm pretty sure that if you're lucky enough to have both Clayton Kershaw and Roy Halladay, that you're using both regardless of who ranks higher on this list.

It will take more than one good start for pitchers near the bottom of this list to rise significantly in the rankings. One start does not a large sample size make.

As the deadline for this piece is late Friday night during the season, there are going to be the occasional injuries, minor league promotions, etc., that will impact these rankings after the article is posted. We will capture these news items in the article comments.

The Pitching Value Meter is posted Saturday mornings during the season, covering the upcoming seven days of games. However, because Opening Day is Wednesday this year, we'll stretch these rankings over 12 days - April 4 to April 15.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Start 'Em

1. Clayton Kershaw - @SD, PIT
2. Roy Halladay - @PIT, MIA
3. Cliff Lee - @PIT, NYM
4. Cole Hamels - MIA, NYM
5. Tim Lincecum - @ARI, @COL
6. Zack Greinke - STL, @CHC
7. Yovani Gallardo - STL, @CHC
8. Stephen Strasburg - @CHC, @NYM
9. Matt Cain - @ARI, PIT
10. Ian Kennedy - SF, @SD
11. Josh Johnson - STL, @PHI
12. Tommy Hanson - @NYM, @HOU
13. Dan Hudson - SF, @COL
14. Brandon Beachy - @NYM, MIL
15. Madison Bumgarner - @ARI, @COL
16. Matt Garza - WAS, MIL
17. Mat Latos - MIA, @WAS
18. Jair Jurrjens - @HOU, MIL
19. Gio Gonzalez - @CHC, CIN
20. Cory Luebke - LAD, ARI
21. Adam Wainwright - @MIL, CHC
22. Jordan Zimmermann - @CHC, CIN
23. Ryan Dempster - WAS, MIL
24. Mark Buehrle - @CIN, @PHI
25. Johnny Cueto - MIA, STL
26. Vance Worley - @PIT, NYM
27. Randy Wolf - STL, @ATL
28. Jaime Garcia - @MIL, @CIN
29. Edwin Jackson - @NYM, CIN
30. Edinson Volquez - LAD, @LAD
31. Ricky Nolasco - @CIN, HOU
32. Trevor Cahill - @SD, @COL
33. Mike Minor - @NYM, MIL
34. Tim Stauffer - LAD, ARI
35. Anibal Sanchez - @PHI, HOU (check status)
36. Johan Santana - ATL, WAS
37. Chad Billingsley - @SD, PIT
38. Chris Capuano - @SD, PIT
39. R.A. Dickey - ATL, @PHI
40. Shaun Marcum - @CHC, @ATL
41. Aaron Harang - @SD, SD
42. Jon Niese - ATL, @PHI
43. Jhoulys Chacin - SF, ARI
44. Erik Bedard - PHI, @LAD
45. Wandy Rodriguez - COL, ATL

Borderline Depending on League Format

46. Lance Lynn - @MIL, CHC
47. Kyle Lohse - @MIA, @CIN
48. Juan Nicasio - @HOU, ARI
49. Jeremy Guthrie - @HOU, SF
50. Jeff Samardzija - WAS, @STL
51. Bronson Arroyo - MIA, @WAS
52. Carlos Zambrano - @CIN, HOU
53. Mike Leake - STL, @WAS
54. Bud Norris - COL, @MIA
55. Dustin Moseley - ARI, @LAD
56. Joe Blanton - MIA
57. Homer Bailey - STL, @WAS
58. James McDonald - PHI, @SF
59. Randall Delgado - @HOU (tentative)
60. Ted Lilly - SD
61. Clayton Richard - LAD, @LAD
62. Ryan Vogelsong - PIT
63. John Lannan - @NYM, CIN
64. Chris Volstad - MIL, @STL
65. Dillon Gee - WAS
66. Chris Narveson - @CHC, @ATL
67. Drew Pomeranz - SF
68. Joe Saunders - @SD
69. Jordan Lyles - ATL, @MIA

Extreme Caution Advised

70. Paul Maholm - MIL, @STL
71. J.A. Happ - COL, @MIA
72. Jeff Karstens - PHI, @SF
73. Jake Westbrook - @CIN, @CHC
74. Barry Zito - @COL, PIT
75. Kevin Correia - @LAD, @SF
76. Mike Pelfrey - WAS, @PHI
77. Josh Collmenter - SF, @COL
78. Kyle Weiland - ATL - tentative
79. Charlie Morton (DL) - @LAD - tentative
80. Jamie Moyer - @HOU, SF

Notes:
Pretty nice to have Cole Hamels as your No. 4 starter, but that's what he's starting off as for the Phillies. Of course ,it couldn't be that the Phils would rather have Vance Worley start game No. 3 against the Pirates instead of the home opener versus Miami, right? ... I think the Nats win the NL East. That rotation looks strong, but not having Stephen Strasburg for a good chunk of September (innings limit) could hurt. ... Jeff Samardzija will open as the Cubs' No. 3 starter in an attempt to validate his decision to play baseball rather than be an NFL tight end. Samardzija has a 16:1 K:BB in 20 innings this spring, but I question his ability to maintain a starter's workload. ... I'll be pulling for 49-year-old Jamie Moyer this year simply because I want him to pitch well enough to get a shot to pitch next year at age 50. Moyer's "fastball" averaged a tick over 80 mph last year, and the fact that he's posted a 1.5 HR/9IP in each of the last three years is troubling considering his new home park in Denver. ... Jair Jurrjens is finishing strong this spring with two runs allowed in his last two starts covering 13 innings. He could be a nice value this year. ... Trevor Bauer shouldn't unpack his bags just yet, as Josh Collmenter has an 11.81 ERA this spring. Look for Bauer to be in the Arizona rotation before long.

Rotations Still in Flux:

Atlanta -
Either Randall Delgado or Julio Teheran should be the No. 5 starter, but neither has separated himself, leaving the door open for Livan Hernandez to make a couple starts until Tim Hudson (back) returns in late April.

Cincinnati -
We still don't know Aroldis Chapman's role. In theory, he's competing with Homer Bailey and Mike Leake for two spots.

Houston -
It's Jordan Lyles, Lucas Harrel and Kyle Weiland for two spots. Lyles is really the only pitcher worth rostering in most formats if he wins the job.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Start 'Em

1. Justin Verlander - BOS, TB
2. Yu Darvish - SEA, @MIN
3. Jon Lester - @DET, @TOR
4. CC Sabathia - @TB, @BAL
5. Jered Weaver - KC, @MIN
6. James Shields - NYY, @BOS
7. David Price - NYY, @DET
8. Felix Hernandez - @OAK, @TEX
9. Josh Beckett - @DET, TB
10. Dan Haren - KC, @NYY
11. John Danks - @TEX, @CLE
12. C.J. Wilson - @MIN, @NYY
13. Bartolo Colon - SEA, @SEA
14. Matt Moore - NYY, @BOS (tough way to start)
15. Brandon McCarthy - SEA, @SEA
16. Derek Holland - CHW, @SEA
17. Doug Fister - BOS, TB
18. Ervin Santana - KC, @NYY
19. Francisco Liriano - @BAL, TEX
20. Ivan Nova - @TB, LAA
21. Ricky Romero - @CLE, BOS
22. Gavin Floyd - @TEX, DET
23. Jason Vargas - @OAK, OAK
24. Hiroki Kuroda - @TB, LAA
25. Max Scherzer - BOS, @CHW
26. Ubaldo Jimenez - TOR, @KC
27. Colby Lewis - CHW, @SEA
28. Clay Buchholz - @DET, TB
29. Justin Masterson - TOR, CHW
30. Chris Sale - @CLE, DET
31. Matt Harrison - CHW, @MIN
32. Brandon Morrow - @CLE, BAL
33. Jake Peavy - @TEX, DET
34. Rick Porcello - TB, @CHW
35. Tom Milone - KC, @SEA
36. Bruce Chen - @LAA, @OAK
37. Luke Hochevar - @LAA, CLE
38. Neftali Feliz - SEA

Borderline Depending on League Format

39. Jeremy Hellickson - @DET, @BOS
40. Blake Beavan - @TEX, OAK
41. Philip Humber - @CLE
42. Jonathan Sanchez - @LAA, CLE
43. Carl Pavano - @BAL, LAA
44. Scott Baker - LAA
45. Tyson Ross - KC
46. Dan Bard - @TOR, TB (tentative)
47. Derek Lowe - TOR, @KC
48. Luis Mendoza - @OAK, CLE
49. Jeff Niemann - @DET
50. Phil Hughes - @BAL, LAA
51. Kevin Millwood - @TEX, OAK
52. Brian Matusz - NYY
53. Drew Smyly - @CHW
54. Tommy Hunter - MIN, @TOR
55. Brett Cecil - @CLE, BAL
56. Danny Duffy - @OAK
57. Henderson Alvarez - BOS, BAL

Extreme Caution Advised

58. Felix Doubront - @TOR (tentative)
59. Jake Arrieta - NYY, @TOR
60. Jason Marquis - @BAL, TEX
61. Wei-Yin Chen - MIN, NYY
62. Freddy Garcia - @BAL
63. Josh Tomlin - CHW, @KC
64. Nick Blackburn - LAA, TEX
65. Hector Noesi - @TEX
66. Kevin Slowey - CHW
67. Kyle Drabek - BOS
68. Jason Hammel - MIN, @TOR
69. Jerome Williams - @MIN
70. Graham Godfrey - KC - tentative

Notes: Phil Hughes
will start the Yankees' third game of the season. Might he be on the verge of a breakout after a 2.03 ERA this spring? Could be, but he's disappointed me too often in the past. ... Michael Pineda looks to be out for a month or so with a sore shoulder, thus temporarily easing a rotation log-jam. Freddy Garcia will be the No. 5 starter for now, but things will get interesting once Pineda and Andy Pettitte are ready to return, likely early May. ... Scott Baker will open on the DL due to a sore elbow, but he's expected to be ready to pitch April 15. Good luck not being burned by Baker this year. ... After averaging just 88 mph on his fastball last year, Brian Matusz was clocked at 91-93 in his final spring start and should open as the team's No. 5 starter. He is about the only Oriole worth investing in. ... No, I'm not yet buying into Francisco Liriano returning to pre-surgery form. Liriano has an impressive 26:4 K:BB in 22 innings this spring, but let's see how he does against the likes of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder before we put a lot of stock in spring training numbers.

Rotations Still in Flux

Boston -
Dan Bard, Alfredo Aceves and Felix Doubront remain candidates for two rotation spots, with Aaron Cook a long shot. I have Bard and Doubront slotted in the slots for now, but that could change by the time this is published.

Baltimore -
I'm pretty sure Brian Matusz is in, but I have no idea how these guys will be slotted 1-5. Actually, it probably doesn't matter much.

Toronto -
Expect Kyle Drabek to be the No. 5 starter over Aaron Laffey, but that has yet to be announced.

Detroit -
It appears to be Drew Smyly or Duane Below for the final spot in the Tigers rotation. Smyly has to be the favorite given his 2.84 ERA to Below's 5.17 mark (and a 9:10 K:BB). Smyly has intriguing upside and would be worth a pickup in deeper formats and keeper leagues.

Cleveland -
It's Kevin Slowey versus Jeanmar Gomez for one slot. I have Slowey in there for now due to Gomez's mild hip injury, but that could change.

Oakland -
We have no clue who the A's are going slot as their No. 5 starter, so it's Graham Godfrey for now, but it may as well be Minor League Guy.

MIXED LEAGUE TOP 100

1. Clayton Kershaw - @SD, PIT
2. Roy Halladay - @PIT, MIA
3. Cliff Lee - @PIT, NYM
4. Justin Verlander - BOS, TB
5. Cole Hamels - MIA, NYM
6. Tim Lincecum - @ARI, @COL
7. Yu Darvish - SEA, @MIN
8. Zack Greinke - STL, @CHC
9. Jon Lester - @DET, @TOR
10. CC Sabathia - @TB, @BAL
11. Jered Weaver - KC, @MIN
12. Yovani Gallardo - STL, @CHC
13. James Shields - NYY, @BOS
14. David Price - NYY, @DET
15. Felix Hernandez - @OAK, @TEX
16. Stephen Strasburg - @CHC, @NYM
17. Matt Cain - @ARI, PIT
18. Ian Kennedy - SF, @SD
19. Josh Beckett - @DET, TB
20. Dan Haren - KC, @NYY
21. John Danks - @TEX, @CLE
22. C.J. Wilson - @MIN, @NYY
23. Josh Johnson - STL, @PHI
24. Bartolo Colon - SEA, @SEA
25. Matt Moore - NYY, @BOS (tough way to start)
26. Tommy Hanson - @NYM, @HOU
27. Dan Hudson - SF, @COL
28. Brandon McCarthy - SEA, @SEA
29. Brandon Beachy - @NYM, MIL
30. Madison Bumgarner - @ARI, @COL
31. Matt Garza - WAS, MIL
32. Mat Latos - MIA, @WAS
33. Jair Jurrjens - @HOU, MIL
34. Derek Holland - CHW, @SEA
35. Gio Gonzalez - @CHC, CIN
36. Doug Fister - BOS, TB
37. Ervin Santana - KC, @NYY
38. Cory Luebke - LAD, ARI
39. Francisco Liriano - @BAL, TEX
40. Adam Wainwright - @MIL, CHC
41. Jordan Zimmermann - @CHC, CIN
42. Ryan Dempster - WAS, MIL
43. Ivan Nova - @TB, LAA
44. Ricky Romero - @CLE, BOS
45. Mark Buehrle - @CIN, @PHI
46. Gavin Floyd - @TEX, DET
47. Johnny Cueto - MIA, STL
48. Jason Vargas - @OAK, OAK
49. Hiroki Kuroda - @TB, LAA
50. Max Scherzer - BOS, @CHW
51. Vance Worley - @PIT, NYM
52. Randy Wolf - STL, @ATL
53. Jaime Garcia - @MIL, @CIN
54. Edwin Jackson - @NYM, CIN
55. Edinson Volquez - LAD, @LAD
56. Ricky Nolasco - @CIN, HOU
57. Trevor Cahill - @SD, @COL
58. Ubaldo Jimenez - TOR, @KC
59. Mike Minor - @NYM, MIL
60. Tim Stauffer - LAD, ARI
61. Anibal Sanchez - @PHI, HOU (check status)
62. Johan Santana - ATL, WAS
63. Chad Billingsley - @SD, PIT
64. Colby Lewis - CHW, @SEA
65. Clay Buchholz - @DET, TB
66. Justin Masterson - TOR, CHW
67. Chris Capuano - @SD, PIT
68. R.A. Dickey - ATL, @PHI
69. Shaun Marcum - @CHC, @ATL
70. Aaron Harang - @SD, SD
71. Jon Niese - ATL, @PHI
72. Jhoulys Chacin - SF, ARI
73. Chris Sale - @CLE, DET
74. Erik Bedard - PHI, @LAD
75. Matt Harrison - CHW, @MIN
76. Brandon Morrow - @CLE, BAL
77. Wandy Rodriguez - COL, ATL
78. Jake Peavy - @TEX, DET
79. Rick Porcello - TB, @CHW
80. Tom Milone - KC, @SEA
81. Bruce Chen - @LAA, @OAK
82. Luke Hochevar - @LAA, CLE
83. Neftali Feliz - SEA
84. Lance Lynn - @MIL, CHC
85. Kyle Lohse - @MIA, @CIN
86. Juan Nicasio - @HOU, ARI
87. Jeremy Guthrie - @HOU, SF
88. Jeff Samardzija - WAS, @STL
89. Bronson Arroyo - MIA, @WAS
90. Jeremy Hellickson - @DET, @BOS
91. Carlos Zambrano - @CIN, HOU
92. Blake Beavan - @TEX, OAK
93. Philip Humber - @CLE
94. Jonathan Sanchez - @LAA, CLE
95. Carl Pavano - @BAL, LAA
96. Scott Baker - LAA
97. Mike Leake - STL, @WAS
98. Bud Norris - COL, @MIA
99. Dustin Moseley - ARI, @LAD
100. Joe Blanton - MIA

Regan, a five-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association award winner, was named the 2010 Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year.

Follow @vtadave on Twitter.

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