Cumulative Starter Stats - 41 IP - 30 Strikeouts - 3 Wins - 3.95 ERA - 1.29 WHIP
Starter Spreadsheet here
Wow, Minor was just horrible. He walked the first three batters he faced in the game and I knew it was going to end bad from there. Thats two misses in a row I'd like to apologize for. Hopefully you don't judge my work based on just those two outings. Even after having two pitchers get blown up I still have an ERA under 4. It's workable. Today's starter pick is a better pitcher and has an amazing match-up. Find out who after the jump...
Edwin Jackson - Chicago White Sox vs Tampa Bay - 2:10 PM EST - 29.1% Ownership in ESPN Standard Leagues.
Jackson is a huge no brainer pick. Not only is he the best pitcher available amongst slim pickings below my 50% ownership line, but he has an absolute cakewalk match-up against Tampa Bay. The Rays have been hitting horribly this year, they are last in the league in runs, average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage and without a win to boot. Jackson is an under-owned guy who has been much improved since joining the White Sox, throwing more than a strikeout per inning in 12 starts since he's been working with White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper. Expect 6-7 IP with about the same amount of Ks and a sub-3.00 ERA and obviously, the win.
Before I get to the rest of the rankings, two notes.
First off... If you didn't see yesterday and he's still available in your league, pick up new Angels closer Jordan Walden. He's a closer for a pretty decent team. He should be owned in every league.
Secondly... He's owned in slightly too many leagues to officially make my list, but A.J. Burnett (52.3%) looked good in his first start and the Yankees own the Twins. The former strikeout leader is worth a nab if available in your league.
And on to the rest of the list...
Chris Tillman (2.1%) - Baltimore vs Detroit - His advanced numbers aren't great as a professional, but Tillman had excellent numbers throughout his professional career in the minors, throwing more than a strike out per inning. He doesn't turn 23 until next Friday and the Orioles finally seem to be putting it together as a team overall with Buck Showalter managing. In his first start he had six innings of no-hit ball before he got over 100 pitches and was pulled by Buck. Tillman might finally be over the big league adjustment hump and become a valuable fantasy starter. Either way he's worth a spot start here if Edwin Jackson is already owned in your league.
Sam LeCure (0.1%) - Cincinnati vs Houston - LeCure yet is another young pitcher in his first full year with a professional K/9 rate of over 7.00. These guys seem to be in every fifth starter role in the league. The reason I have him over the line here is he is on a much better team than the all the other guys and has a much better match-up. Houston is near last in the league in offense so far and the Reds have been scoring runs at a ridiculous clip. LeCure might get hit a bit, but he should give you at least 5 strikeouts and the win.
Paul Maholm (0.2%) - Pittsburgh vs Colorado - Malholm is a guy who has been waiting for the team around him to get better, and it finally seems to be getting there. His FIP (Fielding Independant Pitching) has been better than his ERA for most of his career, so if the players around him are finally playing better, Malholm might become a more playable pitcher. He's not going to strike out too many guys, so he's not the ideal fantasy starter, but he makes it over the line here because of a dearth of other good guys and because he is coming off a 6.2 inning start where he didn't allow a run.
This is the line. Anyone below the line is only being recommended for deep/AL/NL-only leagues.
Jonathon Niese (1.2%) - New York Mets at Philadelphia - Niese is probably going to be the Mets' best pitcher this year until Johan Santana gets back. Mike Pelfrey isn't that great, and Niese is young and seems to be getting better each year. He has a career K/9 of over 7.00, has fairly good control and looked good in his first start. After saying all that, I wouldn't start him here. He's going up against the Phillies in a rubber game for the early season series going against Roy Halladay. He has another tough start against the Braves next week, but he'll be good to go for a while after that.
Esmil Rogers (0.1%) - Colorado at Pittsburgh - Rodgers is another young pitcher entering his first full year as a starter in the majors. He had a K/9 rate of over 7.00 throughout his pro career and would be higher on this list if he was more well polished. The worry with Esmil is that he had control issues at times in the minors. I'd like to see him make a few starts before I put him out there as a starter and Pittsburgh has been doing a good job scoring runs thus far this year. Like the strikeouts but avoiding him for now.
John Lannan (0.1%) - Washington at Florida - Lannan isn't going to strike anyone out and is on a poor team, but he's always been a decent enough ERA and WHIP guy. He had a fairly good first outing and that makes him worth more than the guys that are going to follow him on this list.
Brad Penny (0.9%) and Fausto Carmona (1.6%) - Detroit at Baltimore and Cleveland vs Boston - Grouped these guys together because they are at the bottom of the list for the same reasons. Both guys got blown up in their first start this year and both have rough match-ups against AL East teams. I have Penny ranked over Carmona because of his better match-up and getting less hit around in his first game, but I'm not going near either of these guys right now in any league. Let them prove they can get it back together and wait until they have better match-ups before considering starting either.
Thats a wrap for today. Tomorrow, I'll be writing up another starter column along with at least one other column about the results from the first week.
Also a programming note... Going to be starting trade reviews as soon as the first one goes down in one of my leagues. If you'd like me to review your trade, send the players involved in the trade along with the league details, full rosters of both teams and each teams' roto ranks/win-loss. Can't comment on a trade without all of that knowledge.