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Pitching Value Meter: Not the Only Nat

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.

For the week April 15-21

AMERICAN LEAGUE

START

1. Justin Verlander - @LAA
2. David Price - @BAL
3. Yu Darvish - @CHC
4. Felix Hernandez - DET
5. Jake Peavy - MIN
6. Chris Sale - @TOR
7. Jon Lester - @CLE
8. CC Sabathia - ARI
9. Max Scherzer - @SEA
10. Brett Anderson - @TB
11. Matt Moore - BAL
12. R.A. Dickey - CWS
13. Doug Fister - @SEA
14. James Shields - @BOS
15. Jeremy Hellickson - @BOS, OAK
16. Tommy Milone - HOU, @TB
17. A.J. Griffin - HOU, @TB
18. Josh Johnson - CWS, NYY
19. Andy Pettitte - ARI, @TOR
20. Derek Holland - @CHC, SEA
21. Anibal Sanchez - @LAA
22. Jarrod Parker - @TB
23. Alex Cobb - OAK
24. Alexi Ogando - SEA
25. Hisashi Iwakuma - DET
26. Jason Hammel - LAD
27. Clay Buchholz - KC
28. Brandon Morrow - NYY
29. Hiroki Kuroda - @TOR
30. Gavin Floyd - @TOR, MIN
31. Felix Doubront - @CLE, KC
32. Bartolo Colon - HOU
33. Wei-Yin Chen - LAD
34. Ryan Dempster - KC
35. Justin Masterson - BOS
36. J.A. Happ - CWS
37. Miguel Gonzalez - TB
38. Ivan Nova - ARI
39. Phil Hughes - @TOR
40. Chris Tillman - TB
41. Zach McAllister - BOS
42. Ervin Santana - @BOS
43. Wade Davis - @ATL
44. Jake Arrieta - TB, LAD
45. Jason Vargas - @MIN
46. C.J. Wilson - DET
47. Bud Norris - @OAK
48. Lucas Harrell - CLE
49. Nick Tepesch - SEA

Notes: The top of the two-start pool this week is very thin with Hellickson and Johnson the most talented, though both are struggling mightily early on, too. Their early troubles aren't cause to hit the panic button, but reason enough to start the usual aces in one outing ahead of them. After all, even an on-fire Hellickson isn't getting strikeouts, and though Johnson is immensely talented, he still has to prove himself outside of Miami (career 2.86 home ERA, 3.63 on the road including 4.94 last year). I'm in on Johnson long-term, but there are some guys I feel more comfortable with as he gets himself right.

The second tier (talent-wise) of two-start pitchers offers some nice opportunities, including Milone with a home start against Houston and then a trip to face a Tampa Bay team that often struggles against southpaws. Griffin, his teammate, has quietly picked up where his strong 2012 debut left off. Holland is off to a nice start with the key being that he is preventing home runs (0.6 HR/9). If he can get his 2012 strikeout rate of 20 percent back in order, he can be a fringe fantasy ace.

Masterson's numbers might call for a higher ranking, but the Red Sox can stack as many as seven batters from the left side against him between true southpaws and switch hitters. Three outings - even three extremely sharp outings - isn't enough to erase his lefty issues, so while I'm still starting him for sure, I'm exercising some caution and stopping short of making him a sit.

Admittedly some of these backend names are ugly, but you have to start someone in the AL, and I'd rather take a chance on getting some strikeouts even if the ratios falter than running out some of these soft-tossers who can just get their brains beaten in at any moment, including twice for some of them.

CAUTION

50. Ubaldo Jimenez - BOS, @HOU
51. Roberto Hernandez - @BAL, OAK
52. Scott Diamond - @CWS
53. Joe Blanton - @MIN, DET
54. Mark Buehrle - CWS, NYY
55. Rick Porcello - @SEA, @LAA
56. Erik Bedard - @OAK, CLE
57. Brett Myers - @HOU
58. Carlos Carrasco - @HOU
59. Jeremy Guthrie - @ATL
60. Tommy Hanson - @MIN
61. Brad Peacock - @OAK
62. Garrett Richards - DET
63. Luis Mendoza - @BOS
64. Jose Quintana - @TOR
65. Alfredo Aceves - @CLE
66. Dylan Axelrod - @TOR, MIN
67. Justin Grimm - @CHC
68. Aaron Harang - DET, @TEX
69. Mike Pelfrey - LAA, @CWS
70. Brandon Maurer - @TEX
71. Vance Worley - LAA
72. Joe Saunders - @TEX
73. Kevin Correia - @CWS
74. Phil Humber - CLE
75. Liam Hendriks - LAA

Notes: Of the two-start pitchers I'm generally avoiding, Hernandez has shown some nice skills early with Tampa Bay, but the results haven't followed, and while Jimenez gets a Houston outing, he is exactly the kind of pitcher who can have it all erased by getting pummeled in his other start of the week. We saw this past week that spot-starting against Houston isn't exactly a foolproof plan and you may be tempting fate with Myers and Carrasco, both of whom have been overmatched early on.

We've seen Bedard look sharp in a long relief outing and a short start. This is who he is now. His ERA in innings 4-6 last year was 6.30, as he just doesn't hold up well as the game wears on, thus I'm passing despite two starts and a decent beginning to his season. Guthrie is an auto-start against the White Sox, but essentially an auto-sit against everyone else. Since joining the Royals he has a 0.50 ERA in 35.7 innings against the Sox, but a 5.04 ERA in 54 innings against everyone else.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

START

1. Clayton Kershaw - SD
2. Stephen Strasburg - @NYM
3. Jordan Zimmermann - @MIA, @NYM
4. Cliff Lee - @CIN, STL
5. Kris Medlen - KC, @PIT
6. Madison Bumgarner - SD
7. Gio Gonzalez - @NYM
8. Matt Cain - @MIL
9. Johnny Cueto - MIA
10. Mat Latos - MIA
11. Jeff Samardzija - @MIL
12. Adam Wainwright - @PHI
13. Cole Hamels - STL
14. Lance Lynn - @PIT, @PHI
15. Homer Bailey - PHI, MIA
16. Mike Minor - KC
17. Paul Maholm - @PIT
18. Yovani Gallardo - CHC
19. Jaime Garcia - @PHI
20. Kyle Lohse - SF
21. Chad Billingsley - SD, @BAL
22. Tim Hudson - @PIT
23. Dan Haren - @MIA
24. Ted Lilly - SD
25. Shelby Miller - @PIT
26. Josh Beckett - @BAL
27. A.J. Burnett - STL
28. Marco Estrada - CHC
29. Wade Miley - @NYY
30. Edwin Jackson - @MIL
31. Pat Corbin - @NYY
32. Hyun-Jin Ryu - @BAL
33. Ryan Vogelsong - @MIL
34. Ross Detwiler - @MIA
35. Tim Lincecum - SD
36. Roy Halladay - STL
37. Mike Fiers - SF
38. Dillon Gee - WAS
39. Ricky Nolasco - WAS
40. Barry Zito - @MIL, SD
41. Jake Westbrook - @PIT, @PHI
42. Wily Peralta - SF, CHC
43. James McDonald - STL, ATL

Notes: Lynn and Bailey shown the gamut of their skills in just two starts this year by struggling badly in one outing and thwarting a very strong opponent in another. Their inconsistency dating to last year (and well beyond for Bailey) is why several unquestioned aces are still ahead of them with only one start plus a guy in Samardzija, who is developing into one and also gets a nice matchup.

Lilly is my guess as Greinke's replacement, but it could be Capuano, too. Meanwhile, I find it impossible to feel confident about Lincecum and Halladay, even with Lincecum facing the Padres. I left them joined at the hip and likely will continue to do so as they work their immense struggles in the hopes of recapturing their once incredible stature atop the game ... or at least some semblance thereof.

TALENT WITH BAD MATCHUPS

44. Ian Kennedy - @COL
45. Trevor Cahill - @COL
46. Matt Harvey - @COL
47. Jon Niese - @COL
48. Jose Fernandez - @CIN
49. Brandon McCarthy - @NYY, @COL

Notes: I gave this group their own category because as the heading suggests, they are talented enough to be in the start pool almost every week, but this particular week finds them in a precarious set of matchups, most including trips to Coors Field. You have a pair of young studs in Harvey and Fernandez hitting extremely tough venues, and we just don't have a track record for them to know how it will go. Then you have a group of veterans all headed to Denver for what could be a terrifying outing. Play it cautiously with this group, but I broke them off from the "Caution" pitchers below to delineate their talent separation. When in doubt, I would take one of these highly-skilled pitchers, a Teheran in Pittsburgh or Richard in San Francisco.

CAUTION

50. Kevin Slowey - @CIN
51. Eric Stults - @LAD, @SF
52. Julio Teheran - @PIT
53. Bronson Arroyo - PHI, MIA
54. Travis Wood - TEX, @MIL
55. Kyle Kendrick - @CIN, STL
56. Edinson Volquez - @SF
57. Clayton Richard - @SF
58. Mike Leake - PHI
59. Jason Marquis - @LAD
60. John Lannan - @CIN
61. Jeff Locke - ATL
62. Phil Irwin - ATL
63. Tyson Ross - @LAD
64. Scott Feldman - TEX
65. Carlos Villanueva - TEX
66. Jhoulys Chacin - NYM
67. Jorge De La Rosa - ARI
68. Jon Garland - NYM
69. Wade LeBlanc - WAS, @CIN
70. Alex Sanabia - WAS, @CIN
71. Jonathan Sanchez - STL, ATL
72. Aaron Laffey - @COL, WAS
73. Jeremy Hefner - @COL, WAS
74. Juan Nicasio - NYM, ARI
75. Jeff Francis - NYM, ARI

Notes: Of these 26, Slowey is the only one I like even a little, but with homers being his biggest hurdle (along with health) to sustained success, I just can't start him in Cincy. I would rather start a high-strikeout, great-ratio middle reliever over the remaining 25, especially this week as most face daunting matchups.

MIXED LEAGUE TOP 100

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

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