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Pitching Value Meter: Kicking Off the 2013 Season

Paul Sporer

Paul Sporer

Sporer covers pitching for RotoWire. He also writes for Baseball Prospectus and publishes an annual guide on starting pitcher. In his spare time, he roots for the Tigers.

NOTE: Rankings were revised since original posting.

Welcome to the 2013 edition of the Pitching Value Meter. Each Saturday we'll rank the upcoming week's slate of starting pitchers, helping you make the tough decisions as you set your lineups and hope to cash in the most advantageous innings on your team.

Obviously there is certain subset of pitchers who are blind auto-starts. These are your aces and frankly it doesn't matter if they have two starts in Coors Field (somehow), you are going to start them. Pitchers like Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw fit that bill. We will obviously see plenty of those names nabbing a pair of starts in the opening week.

Speaking of two-start weeks, those will be a major factor in a pitcher's value, too. If he has trips to Seattle and San Diego, he will get a major boost in the rankings even if he is a mediocre talent. Meanwhile, if a pitcher you might have been using in just about any situation has trips to Colorado and Arizona on his slate, he and his 45-percent flyball rate are taking a seat, even though you love his 25-percent strikeout rate.

In the end, talent wins out above most factors. Certain matchups can be scary, but we still want the best pitchers in our lineups whenever possible, so random a fifth starter against the Marlins isn't topping a quality No. 3 starter against the Reds in Cincy.

For the Week of April 1-7

NATIONAL LEAGUE

START

1. Clayton Kershaw - SF, PIT
2. Stephen Strasburg - MIA, @CIN
3. Cole Hamels - @ATL, KC
4. Cliff Lee - @ATL
5. Adam Wainwright - @ARI, @SF
6. Matt Cain - @LAD, STL
7. Madison Bumgarner - @LAD
8. Gio Gonzalez - MIA
9. Jordan Zimmermann MIA
10. Johnny Cueto - LAA, WAS
11. Mat Latos - LAA
12. Yovani Gallardo - COL, ARI
13. Ian Kennedy - STL, @MIL
14. Zack Greinke - PIT
15. Kris Medlen - PHI
16. Jon Niese - SD, MIA
17. Jeff Samardzija - @PIT, @ATL
18. Tim Lincecum - @LAD
19. Josh Beckett - SF
20. A.J. Burnett - CHC, @LAD
21. Lance Lynn - @ARI
22. Roy Halladay - @ATL
23. Matt Harvey - SD
24. Dan Haren - @CIN
25. Homer Bailey - WAS
26. Tim Hudson - PHI, CHC
27. Edwin Jackson - @ PIT
28. Mike Minor - CHC
29. Paul Maholm - PHI
30. Hyun-Jin Ryu - SF, PIT
31. Marco Estrada - COL
32. Dillon Gee - SD
33. Trevor Cahill - STL
34. Wade Miley - @MIL
35. Brandon McCarthy STL
36. Shaun Marcum MIA
37. Jaime Garcia - @SF
38. James McDonald - CHC
39. Wandy Rodriguez - CHC
40. Wily Peralta - COL
41. Nathan Eovaldi - @WAS
42. Ross Detwiler - @CIN
43. Chris Capuano PIT
44. Kyle Lohse ARI
45. Mike Fiers ARI
46. Ryan Vogelsong - STL

Notes:
We have the Cubs staff entirely undecided after Samardzija and Jackson, but Samardzija should get a second start. We have the Dodgers with a four-man rotation for Week 1 giving Ryu the extra start, and while he is an unknown to us, he gets a nice soft landing with a pair of manageable offenses heading out west.

CONSIDER

47. Julio Teheran CHC
48. Shelby Miller - @SF
49. Kevin Slowey - @NYM
50. Ricky Nolasco - @WAS, @NYM
51. Patrick Corbin MIL
52. Kyle Kendrick - KC
53. Clayton Richard - @NYM
54. Henderson Alvarez - @NYM
55. Travis Wood - @PIT
56. Jake Westbrook - @ARI
57. Wade LeBlanc - @WAS
58. Carlos Villanueva - @ATL

Notes:
League parameters will often be the deciding factor here as those in 10- and 12-team mixers needn't really dip into this pool unless an available arm has a cushy week of two matchups, while most NL-only owners likely don't have much choice. It is the in-betweeners, those playing 15-team mixed leagues or eight-team NL-only leagues where some of this talent is on the wire or on your reserve roster, leaving you a choice. Most of the time you will find young, unproven arms here with a smattering of veteran talent that is fine for a major league ballclub, but not quite fantasy material for one reason or the other.

Teheran is a former blue-chip prospect who some have soured on because he didn't become Stephen Strasburg the instant he hit the majors. Remember that he is still just 22 years old, and this will be his first real chance in the bigs. The Cubs won't be a complete walkover, but it is on the favorable side of matchups to kick off the season. Meanwhile, I've been rooting for Slowey to put it together for quite some time now so I'm particularly interested to see what he can do with the Marlins.

CAUTION

59. Bronson Arroyo - LAA
60. Mike Leake - LAA
61. Barry Zito - STL
62. John Lannan - KC
63. Jorge De La Rosa - @MIL
64. Juan Nicasio - @MIL
65. Scott Feldman - @ATL
66. Jhoulys Chacin - @MIL, SD
67. Jon Garland - SD
68. Jeff Locke - @LAD
69. Jeremy Hefner - MIA
70. Eric Stults - @NYM
71. Jonathan Sanchez - @LAD
72. Jeff Francis - SD
73. Edinson Volquez - @NYM, @COL
74. Jason Marquis - @COL
75. Tyson Ross - @COL

Notes:
Pitching in Colorado is an easy way to get listed here. In fact, every visiting Colorado start made the cut this week. Elsewhere, I'm looking for the entire Rockies rotation to prove something before trusting them even outside of their hitter's haven. Notice how this list is just littered with unnecessary risks? I guarantee at least one of these pitchers will throw a gem, but several will be blasted, too, so why try to find that needle in the proverbial haystack of earned runs?

AMERICAN LEAGUE

START

1. Justin Verlander - @MIN, NYY
2. David Price - BAL, CLE
3. Felix Hernandez - @OAK, @CWS
4. CC Sabathia - BOS, @DET
5. Yu Darvish - @HOU, LAA
6. Chris Sale - KC, SEA
7. Jered Weaver - @CIN, @TEX
8. R.A. Dickey - CLE, BOS
9. James Shields - @CWS, @PHI
10. Max Scherzer - NYY
11. Jake Peavy - KC
12. Jon Lester - @NYY, @TOR
13. Brett Anderson - SEA, @HOU
14. Jarrod Parker SEA, @HOU
15. Brandon Morrow - CLE
16. Matt Moore - CLE
17. Anibal Sanchez - @MIN
18. Jason Hammel - @TB, MIN
19. Doug Fister - NYY
20. Hisashi Iwakuma - @Oak, @CWS
21. Jeremy Hellickson - BAL
22. Alex Cobb CLE
23. Josh Johnson BOS
24. Chris Tillman - MIN
25. C.J. Wilson - @CIN
26. Hiroki Kuroda - BOS
27. Wei-Yin Chen - @TB
28. Alexi Ogando - @HOU
29. Andy Pettitte - BOS
30. Matt Harrison - @HOU (3/31), LAA
31. A.J. Griffin - SEA
32. Tommy Milone - SEA
33. Rick Porcello - @MIN
34. Dan Straily - @HOU
35. Jake Arrieta - MIN
36. Zach McAllister - @TB
37. Clay Buchholz - @NYY
38. Ryan Dempster - @NYY
39. Gavin Floyd - KC
40. Derek Holland - LAA
41. Scott Kazmir - @TB
42. Wade Davis - @PHI
43. Ervin Santana - @CWS

Notes:
There are a lot of juicy matchups for non-elite talents such as Chen at Tampa Bay, Ogando and Straily at Houston - expect most pitchers to find their @HOU starts on this list - plus Porcello and Arrieta with an early chance to continue where they left off in the Grapefruit League with outings against the Twins. Kazmir and Davis are on the riskier side by comparison, but I like their matchups and I'm excited about their 2013 prospects.

CONSIDER

44. Miguel Gonzalez - @TB
45. Brett Myers - @TOR
46. John Lackey - @TOR
47. J.A. Happ - BOS
48. Brandon Maurer - @OAK
49. Jeremy Guthrie - @CWS
50. Mark Buehrle - CLE
51. Luis Mendoza - @PHI
52. Jose Quintana - SEA
53. Dylan Axelrod - SEA
54. Bud Norris - TEX (3/31), OAK

Notes:
I like several of these pitchers on the whole this year but would rather pass on their season debuts if I have the luxury: Myers, Lackey, Happ and Norris. Guthrie was great with the Royals last year in 91 innings (3.16 ERA, 3.0 K/BB rate), but I'm still skeptical of the 34-year-old, so I'll avoid him early until he proves that it wasn't just a hot stretch from a pitcher who had just escaped the hell of Coors Field.

CAUTION

55. Joe Blanton - @CIN
56. Felix Doubront - @TOR
57. Jason Vargas - @TEX
58. Tommy Hanson - @TEX
59. Ivan Nova - @DET
60. Justin Masterson - @TOR, @TB
61. Joe Saunders - @OAK
62. Ubaldo Jimenez - @TOR
63. David Phelps - @DET
64. Lucas Harrell - TEX
65. Roberto Hernandez - CLE
66. Brad Peacock OAK
67. Liam Hendriks - @BAL
68. Phil Humber - TEX
69. Erik Bedard - OAK
70. Vance Worley DET, @BAL
71. Kevin Correia - DET
72. Cole De Vries - @BAL
73. Mike Pelfrey DET
74. Blake Beavan - @CWS

Notes:
Blanton, like some of the "Consider" pitchers, is someone I actually like quite a bit in 2013, but his big issue is allowing home runs, so a trip to Cincy isn't best place for him to start. While I'm not as high on him in general, Vargas is a similar case to Blanton. Otherwise, it is just a ton of scary venues and mediocre-or-worse talent. The Jays and Rays can stack upwards of six lefties apiece against Masterson when you factor natural southpaws and switch-hitters. His .606/.799 righty/lefty OPS split says stay away.

MIXED LEAGUE TOP 100

1. Clayton Kershaw - SF, PIT
2. Justin Verlander - @MIN, NYY
3. Stephen Strasburg - MIA, @CIN
4. Cole Hamels - @ATL, KC
5. David Price - BAL, CLE
6. Felix Hernandez - @OAK, @CWS
7. CC Sabathia - BOS, @DET
8. Yu Darvish - @HOU, LAA
9. Adam Wainwright - @ARI, @SF
10. Cliff Lee - @ATL
11. Matt Cain - @LAD, STL
12. Chris Sale - KC, SEA
13. Madison Bumgarner - @LAD
14. R.A. Dickey - CLE, BOS
15. James Shields - @CWS, @PHI
16. Johnny Cueto - LAA, WAS
17. Yovani Gallardo - COL, ARI
18. Brett Anderson - SEA, @HOU
19. Jarrod Parker SEA, @HOU
20. Jeff Samardzija - @PIT, @ATL
21. Jered Weaver - @CIN, @TEX
22. Gio Gonzalez - MIA
23. Jordan Zimmermann MIA
24. Mat Latos - LAA
25. Max Scherzer - NYY
26. Jake Peavy - KC
27. Ian Kennedy - STL, @MIL
28. Jon Lester - @NYY, @TOR
29. Zack Greinke - PIT
30. Kris Medlen - PHI
31. Jon Niese - SD, MIA
32. Brandon Morrow - CLE
33. Matt Moore - CLE
34. Anibal Sanchez - @MIN
35. Jason Hammel - @TB, MIN
36. Doug Fister - NYY
37. A.J. Burnett - CHC, @LAD
38. Hisashi Iwakuma - @Oak, @CWS
39. Jeremy Hellickson - BAL
40. Alex Cobb CLE
41. Josh Johnson BOS
42. Josh Beckett - SF
43. Lance Lynn - @ARI
44. Roy Halladay - @ATL
45. Chris Tillman - MIN
46. Tim Lincecum - @LAD
47. Matt Harvey - SD
48. Dan Haren - @CIN
49. Homer Bailey - WAS
50. Hiroki Kuroda - BOS
51. Wei-Yin Chen - @TB
52. C.J. Wilson - @CIN
53. Alexi Ogando - @HOU
54. Andy Pettitte - BOS
55. Matt Harrison - @HOU (3/31), LAA
56. A.J. Griffin - SEA
57. Tommy Milone - SEA
58. Tim Hudson - PHI, CHC
59. Edwin Jackson - @ PIT
60. Mike Minor - CHC
61. Paul Maholm - PHI
62. Hyun-Jin Ryu - SF, PIT
63. Marco Estrada - COL
64. Dillon Gee - SD
65. Trevor Cahill - STL
66. Wade Miley - @MIL
67. Brandon McCarthy STL
68. Shaun Marcum MIA
69. Rick Porcello - @MIN
70. Dan Straily - @HOU
71. Jake Arrieta - MIN
72. Jaime Garcia - @SF
73. James McDonald - CHC
74. Wandy Rodriguez - CHC
75. Wily Peralta - COL
76. Nathan Eovaldi - @WAS
77. Ross Detwiler - @CIN
78. Chris Capuano PIT
79. Kyle Lohse ARI
80. Mike Fiers ARI
81. Ryan Vogelsong - STL
82. Zach McAllister - @TB
83. Clay Buchholz - @NYY
84. Ryan Dempster - @NYY
85. Gavin Floyd - KC
86. Derek Holland - LAA
87. Scott Kazmir - @TB
88. Wade Davis - @PHI
89. Ervin Santana - @CWS
90. Julio Teheran CHC
91. Shelby Miller - @SF
92. Miguel Gonzalez - @TB
93. Kevin Slowey - @NYM
94. Ricky Nolasco - @WAS, @NYM
95. Patrick Corbin MIL
96. Brett Myers - @TOR
97. John Lackey - @TOR
98. J.A. Happ - BOS
99. Brandon Maurer - @OAK
100. Jeremy Guthrie - @CWS