RotoWire Partners

Pitching Value Meter: Back on Track?

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.

As always, remember that rotations are subject to change so if you see something that isn't correct, assume that it was a change that has occurred since this article was posted. Feel free to bring it up in the comments, and I'll let you know where the new arm slots.

For the week April 22-28

NATIONAL LEAGUE

START

1. Clayton Kershaw - @NYM, MIL
2. Cole Hamels - PIT, @NYM
3. Cliff Lee - PIT
4. Stephen Strasburg - STL
5. A.J. Burnett - @PHI, @STL
6. Matt Cain - ARI
7. Matt Harvey - LAD
8. Mat Latos - CHC
9. Madison Bumgarner - ARI
10. Yovani Gallardo - @SD
11. Adam Wainwright - @WAS
12. Jordan Zimmermann - CIN
13. Gio Gonzalez - CIN
14. Wade Miley - @SF, COL
15. Kyle Lohse - @SD, @LAD
16. Jon Niese - LAD, PHI
17. Lance Lynn - PIT
18. Roy Halladay - PIT
19. Kris Medlen - @DET
20. Marco Estrada - @SD
21. Josh Beckett - MIL
22. Jeff Samardzija - @CIN
23. Ian Kennedy - @SF
24. Hyun-Jin Ryu - @NYM
25. Homer Bailey - @WAS
26. Chad Billingsley - MIL
27. Paul Maholm - @DET
28. Jose Fernandez - @MIN
29. Shelby Miller - @WAS, PIT
30. Tony Cingrani - CHC, @WAS
31. Ricky Nolasco - @MIN, CHC
32. Ryan Vogelsong - ARI, @SD
33. Ross Detwiler - STL, CIN
34. Patrick Corbin - @SF
35. Edwin Jackson - @MIA
36. Tim Lincecum - @SD
37. Jaime Garcia - @WAS
38. Trevor Cahill - COL
39. Jhoulys Chacin - ATL
40. Kevin Slowey - CHC
41. Kyle Kendrick - @NYM
42. Jorge De La Rosa - @ARI
43. Scott Feldman - @MIA
44. Wandy Rodriguez - @PHI
45. Jason Marquis - MIL, SF
46. Clayton Richard - SF
47. Eric Stults - SF
48. Jake Westbrook - PIT
49. Dillon Gee - PHI

Notes: Burnett is pitching out of his mind, and in fact he's pitched to a 3.08 ERA in 210.7 innings since that shellacking in St. Louis on May 2 of last year. He'd thrown seven shutout innings against the Cardinals a couple weeks before and threw another seven shutout innings against them in his last outing, including taking a no-hitter into the seventh. I'd still take one start from a pair of super aces if for some weird reason I was faced with that decision, but he is a must-start.

Niese's component skills look ugly after four starts, but I'm not panicking. In fact, I'm heartened by the fact that he got out of Coors with a quality start despite obviously not having his best stuff in miserable conditions. He's faced the elements in each of his last two starts (in Minnesota for the other), which is obvious when you compare that pair of outings against his first pair at home versus the Padres and Marlins. Stay the course.

If you're not heartened by Halladay's outing against a tough Cardinals lineup, then nothing is going to change your mind about him. He gets a favorable matchup this week and hopefully he can get on a roll.

I'm going to give Gee another shot this week as he is far more skilled than he has shown thus far. I'm not overwhelmingly confident, but I'm still starting him.

CAUTION

50. Ted Lilly - @NYM, MIL
51. Brandon McCarthy - COL
52. Mike Minor - @COL, @DET
53. Carlos Villanueva - @CIN, @MIA
54. Travis Wood - @CIN, @MIA
55. Dan Haren - STL, CIN
56. Mike Leake - CHC, @WAS
57. Barry Zito - @SD
58. Bronson Arroyo - @WAS
59. James McDonald - @PHI
60. Hiram Burgos - @LAD
61. Julio Teheran - @COL
62. Tim Hudson - @COL
63. Wily Peralta - @LAD
64. Tyson Ross - MIL
65. Edinson Volquez - MIL
66. Alex Sanabia - CHC
67. Wade LeBlanc - CHC
68. Jeremy Hefner - LAD
69. Aaron Laffey - PHI
70. Tyler Cloyd - PIT, @NYM (an educated guess based on John Lannan's injury)
71. Jeff Locke - @PHI, @STL
72. Jeff Francis - ATL, @ARI
73. Jon Garland - ATL, @ARI
74. Jonathan Sanchez - @STL

Notes: I know a lot of people like to be conservative with pitchers coming off the disabled list, and that is reflected in the Lilly ranking. I might be a little more risky on my personal teams given that he was missing bats and not walking anyone, but he was getting hit around and often for homers - albeit in some very hitter-friendly environments.

Long-term I would still invest in McCarthy, but he's not clicking and the Rockies are even hitting outside of Coors.

Speaking of the Rockies ... be careful with Minor heading into Coors. He is laden with home-run issues over his career and faces a tough lineup in a launching pad and another tough lineup who can leave the yard anywhere. The Tigers aren't exactly clicking at this moment after the last two games of their Seattle series and the first of the Los Angeles one, but it can turn on a dime for that crew. I prefer to play it safe with Minor if I can even though he is someone I like overall.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

START

1. Felix Hernandez - @HOU, LAA
2. David Price - NYY, @CWS
3. CC Sabathia - @TB, TOR
4. Justin Verlander - KC
5. Max Scherzer - KC, ATL
6. Matt Moore - NYY, @CWS
7. Yu Darvish - LAA
8. Jake Peavy - TB
9. Jon Lester - OAK
10. Chris Sale - CLE
11. Anibal Sanchez - KC
12. James Shields - @DET
13. R.A. Dickey - @BAL, @NYY (lowered due to neck, back pain that ended Thursday start early)
14. Hisashi Iwakuma - @HOU, LAA (keep an eye on the blister issue)
15. Alexi Ogando - @LAA, @MIN
16. Derek Holland - @LAA, @MIN
17. Clay Buchholz - HOU
18. Andy Pettitte - @TB
19. Hiroki Kuroda - TOR
20. Ryan Dempster - HOU
21. Alex Cobb - NYY
22. Doug Fister - ATL
23. Josh Johnson - @NYY
24. C.J. Wilson - @SEA
25. Brandon Morrow - @BAL
26. Jarrod Parker - BAL
27. Wade Davis - @DET
28. Jeremy Hellickson - CWS
29. Brett Anderson - @BOS (sprained ankle Friday puts start in doubt, stay tuned for news)
30. Felix Doubront - OAK, HOU
31. Jose Quintana - CLE, TB
32. Justin Masterson - @CWS, @KC
33. Zach McAllister - @CWS, @KC
34. Jason Vargas - TEX, @SEA
35. A.J. Griffin - @BOS, BAL
36. Bartolo Colon - @BOS, BAL
37. Jason Hammel - TOR
38. Tommy Milone - BAL
39. Scott Kazmir - @KC
40. Lucas Harrell - SEA
41. Ervin Santana - CLE
42. Wei-Yin Chen - @OAK
43. Gavin Floyd - TB
44. Joe Saunders - @HOU
45. Nick Tepesch - @MIN
46. Justin Grimm - @MIN
47. Jeremy Guthrie - @DET, CLE

Notes: If Dickey's health had a 100 percent guarantee behind it, he would slot right after Moore, but I'm worried that either the neck and back pain affect him in a start or worse yet, he misses one entirely, so I'm playing it cautiously with him. Long-term, I haven't wavered from being high on Dickey one bit.

Sanchez is quietly pitching out of his mind, picking up where his 2012 - including the playoffs - left off. He is among the more underrated pitchers in fantasy baseball.

I really like that trio of Iwakuma, Ogando and Holland especially since they have a nice matchup/venue mix with their tough outings - all three facing the Angels - comes in a favorable pitcher's park. However with Iwakuma's blister and the inconsistent nature of Ogando (see his outing in Wrigley) and Holland (see his entire freaking career), I still trust the one-start studs more.

Stick by some of the early strugglers you no doubt paid a decent price for: Morrow, Parker and Hellickson. The second you sit them or, worse yet, cut them is the second they start to pitch like the guy you paid for in March. It's cliched but true: if this three-start run was in July, it would annoy you, but it wouldn't cause such an overreaction.

Guthrie's raw numbers might suggest a better ranking, but consider the fact that since joining the Royals he has a 4.44 ERA and 1.24 WHIP against every team that isn't the White Sox. His healthy line total is built on 35.7 innings of 0.50 ERA and 0.81 WHIP against the Sox. I can understand starting him this week if you're desperate, especially with the Tigers sputtering a bit, but I don't have nearly as much confidence in as his 3.20 ERA and 0.97 WHIIP might suggest I should. He's given up five homers in 13.7 innings during his two starts that weren't against the Sox this year.

CAUTION

48. J.A. Happ - @BAL, @NYY
49. Bud Norris - SEA, @BOS
50. Phil Hughes - @TB, TOR
51. Ivan Nova - TOR
52. Rick Porcello - ATL
53. Chris Tillman - TOR, @OAK
54. Jake Arrieta - @OAK
55. Alfredo Aceves - OAK, HOU
56. Miguel Gonzalez - TOR, @OAK
57. Dylan Axelrod - CLE, TB
58. Brett Myers - @CWS
59. Mike Pelfrey - MIA
60. Aaron Harang - LAA
61. Brandon Maurer - LAA
62. Brad Peacock - SEA, @BOS
63. Joe Blanton - TEX
64. Roberto Hernandez - CWS
65. Mark Buehrle - @NYY
66. Phil Humber - @BOS
67. Erik Bedard - @BOS
68. Luis Mendoza - CLE
69. Garrett Richards - @SEA
70. Ubaldo Jimenez - @KC
71. Tommy Hanson - TEX
72. Kevin Correia - MIA, TEX
73. Scott Diamond - TEX
74. Vance Worley - TEX
75. Pedro Hernandez - TEX


Notes: The backend of the AL starter pool is total drek. There is some strikeout upside with a handful of guys, but most of them are homer-prone making the bad starts devastating to your numbers, especially if you are in a head-to-head league where you have a limited time to rebound.

The top eight (through Arrieta) are all intriguing, but they are all off to suspect starts and/or don't have the track record to trust on a weekly basis.

For most of these pitchers, you are better off with a high-strikeout, great-ratio middle reliever like Koji Uehara or Charlie Furbush instead of these potential stat-destroyers.

MLB TOP 100

1. Clayton Kershaw - @NYM, MIL
2. Felix Hernandez - @HOU, LAA
3. Cole Hamels - PIT, @NYM
4. David Price - NYY, @CWS
5. CC Sabathia - @TB, TOR
6. Justin Verlander - KC
7. Cliff Lee - PIT
8. Stephen Strasburg - STL
9. Yu Darvish - LAA
10. A.J. Burnett - @PHI, @STL
11. Max Scherzer - KC, ATL
12. Matt Moore - NYY, @CWS
13. Matt Cain - ARI
14. Matt Harvey - LAD
15. Mat Latos - CHC
16. Madison Bumgarner - ARI
17. Jake Peavy - TB
18. Jon Lester - OAK
19. Chris Sale - CLE
20. Yovani Gallardo - @SD
21. Adam Wainwright - @WAS
22. Jordan Zimmermann - CIN
23. Gio Gonzalez - CIN
24. Anibal Sanchez - KC
25. James Shields - @DET
26. R.A. Dickey - @BAL, @NYY (lowered due to neck & back pain that ended Thu. start early)
27. Hisashi Iwakuma - @HOU, LAA
28. Wade Miley - @SF, COL
29. Kyle Lohse - @SD, @LAD
30. Alexi Ogando - @LAA, @MIN
31. Derek Holland - @LAA, @MIN
32. Jon Niese - LAD, PHI
33. Lance Lynn - PIT
34. Roy Halladay - PIT
35. Kris Medlen - @DET
36. Marco Estrada - @SD
37. Josh Beckett - MIL
38. Jeff Samardzija - @CIN
39. Ian Kennedy - @SF
40. Hyun-Jin Ryu - @NYM
41. Clay Buchholz - HOU
42. Homer Bailey - @WAS
43. Chad Billingsley - MIL
44. Paul Maholm - @DET
45. Andy Pettitte - @TB
46. Hiroki Kuroda - TOR
47. Ryan Dempster - HOU
48. Alex Cobb - NYY
49. Doug Fister - ATL
50. Josh Johnson - @NYY
51. C.J. Wilson - @SEA
52. Jose Fernandez - @MIN
53. Shelby Miller - @WAS, PIT
54. Tony Cingrani - CHC, @WAS
55. Ricky Nolasco - @MIN, CHC
56. Ryan Vogelsong - ARI, @SD
57. Ross Detwiler - STL, CIN
58. Patrick Corbin - @SF
59. Edwin Jackson - @MIA
60. Tim Lincecum - @SD
61. Brandon Morrow - @BAL
62. Jarrod Parker - BAL
63. Wade Davis - @DET
64. Jeremy Hellickson - CWS
65. Brett Anderson - @BOS (sprained ankle Friday puts start in doubt, stay tuned for news)
66. Felix Doubront - OAK, HOU
67. Jose Quintana - CLE, TB
68. Justin Masterson - @CWS, @KC
69. Zach McAllister - @CWS, @KC
70. Jason Vargas - TEX, @SEA
71. AJ Griffin - @BOS, BAL
72. Bartolo Colon - @BOS, BAL
73. Jaime Garcia - @WAS
74. Trevor Cahill - COL
75. Jhoulys Chacin - ATL
76. Kevin Slowey - CHC
77. Jason Hammel - TOR
78. Tommy Milone - BAL
79. Scott Kazmir - @KC
80. Lucas Harrell - SEA
81. Ervin Santana - CLE
82. Wei-Yin Chen - @OAK
83. Gavin Floyd - TB
84. Kyle Kendrick - @NYM
85. Jorge De La Rosa - @ARI
86. Scott Feldman - @MIA
87. Wandy Rodriguez - @PHI
88. Jason Marquis - MIL, SF
89. Clayton Richard - SF
90. Eric Stults - SF
91. Jake Westbrook - PIT
92. Dillon Gee - PHI
93. Joe Saunders - @HOU
94. Nick Tepesch - @MIN
95. Justin Grimm - @MIN
96. Ted Lilly - @NYM, MIL
97. Brandon McCarthy - COL
98. Mike Minor - @COL, @DET
99. J.A. Happ - @BAL, @NYY
100. Jeremy Guthrie - @DET, CLE