Saturday Starter - Justin Masterson - 6.1 Innings Pitched - 9 Strikeouts - Win - 1.42 ERA - 0.79 WHIP
Cumulative Starter Stats - 60.1 IP - 55 Strikeouts - 8.20 K/9 - 5 Wins In 10 Starts - 3.43 ERA - 1.23 WHIP
Starter Stats Spreadsheet here
I had a feeling that Dickey would be solid again at home, but he split a nail during the first inning and had problems gripping his knuckleball all day. He toughed it out and gave the overworked Mets the five innings keeping the team in the game, but it didn't amount to great fantasy stats. Injuries are out of my control folks. Luckily Masterson cruised to a Saturday night victory. One earned run that sorta came on an error and 9 strikeouts I'll take every day of the week. My Sunday recommendations (yes plural) are right after the jump break...
Aaron Harang - San Diego Dodgers vs Los Angeles Dodgers - 4:05 PM EST - 4.1% Owned in ESPN Standard Leagues
Harang came in to this year undervalued. He was a very good pitcher once upon a time before a relief appearance in 2008 led his career off track. He has been working to get his pitching mechanics back in order since and moved in the off-season from hitter friendly Great American Ballpark to the ever spacious Petco Park where he'll be on Sunday. He's not a ground ball pitcher, so that shift should really help him cut down a few home runs on the year. He's got the Dodgers tomorrow who are 28th in the league in runs scored as I write this. He should keep the runs down and have at least five strikeouts. The only worry here is run support because he'll be dueling with Clayton Kershaw. If you really need a win, check out my bonus recommendation...
Special Bonus Recommendation - Gavin Floyd - Chicago White Sox vs Tampa Bay Rays - 2:10 PM EST - 21.7% Owned in ESPN Standard Leagues
(Offering a second "recommendation" today just for everyone in weekly head to head leagues. Most week ones end on Sunday so if you are looking to make up ground Floyd is a fine 1A choice)
Look, I know we went down this road with Floyd last time out and he didn't turn in that great an outing... But it wasn't atrocious. He went 7.0 innings and gave up 4 runs while striking out 5. While it wasn't a great ERA day, if he picked up a win that would have been a worthwhile start. It also came against the Royals who I was assuming would tail off their run production some, which they haven't. The Rays on the other hand, have been awful on offense, still last in the league in runs scored even after scoring nine runs the other night. Edwin Jackson showed you the extreme high end upside of facing the Tampa offense just the other day. Also it has to be noted that this is just a horrible day for starting pitching choices. Many teams are back around to their fifth starters Sunday. I like Floyd for a solid 7-8 innings and at least five more strikeouts. If he does that and holds to Rays to under 2 runs it will make for a great all around spot start.
Last time I'll put this here. But Jordan Walden is still available in 37.6% of leagues. He's the new closer for the Angels and should be owned in your league.
Here's the rest of the list, as always, in order of how I would rank them just for this start. Percentages next to the players are their ownership in standard ESPN mixed leagues.
Barry Zito (5.7%) - San Francisco vs St. Louis - Zito isn't the 23 win pitcher of old anymore, but even at 33 he can still get the job done. His career K/9 has never fallen far below 6.00 and when he has his control, he's still an effective pitcher. He looked good in his first start and the Cardinals haven't been looking good so far and are 29th in baseball in runs scored. Zito should be good for a few strikeouts and a win here and makes a good alternative if Floyd and Harang are unavailable in your league.
Scott Baker (4.1%) Minnesota vs Oakland - Another case of a pitcher going from a bad park and match-up to a good park and match-up. Instead of pitching against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium he'll be going up against the Oakland As at home at fairly pitcher friendly Target Field. He is a guy who puts up a solid K/9 over 7.00 and plays for a good Twins team. He's been undervalued all draft season and now into the early year. He'll go something like seven innings with six or so strikeouts and a chance at a win. He might let up a homer or two though.
Josh Tomlin (0.5%) - Cleveland at Seattle - Tomlin's stuff isn't overpowering and he's not going to win you strikeouts, but his match-up and park make him a worthwhile spot start here. Playing at Safeco Field is where you want your pitchers to always pitch and the Cleveland lineup has been hammering the ball to start the season. Tomlin could coast to a win without letting up that many runs and makes it above the line even without great strikeout potential.
The guys after this line are recommended for deep/AL/NL-Only leagues.
Jeremy Guthrie (29.0%) - Baltimore vs Texas - I put Britton down below the line on Friday and he performed better than expected Saturday after being rained out, but then the Orioles got beat up by Texas later that night to the tune of 13 runs. That's why Gunthrie is down here as well. He had a great first start, letting up no runs over 8 innings and striking out six, however he is not an ace. He doesn't have enough "credit" with me to recommend starting him against Texas.
James McDonald (3.0%) - Pittsburgh vs Colorado - McDonald has had a strong K/9 throughout the minors and now playing for a Pirates team thats on the up and up. He had a strong but short first outing and should still be limited here Sunday with his injured oblique. He'll give you solid stats, but if Colorado does a good job of working on the pitch count here he might have trouble making it through more than five innings.
Derek Holland (2.9%) - Texas at Baltimore - Holland is a good young pitcher and part of the recently great looking Texas rotation. They have been having a lot of success so far with their starters since Nolan Ryan got there and instituted his new pitching regimen. Holland is a 7+ K/9 guy but had a somewhat shaky start the first time out against the soft Mariners. He falls on the list because of his first outing and his opponent and playing at Camden Yards.
Chris Young (3.8%) - New York Mets vs Washington - Young had a good first performance at Philly, and now with going against Washington he makes another appearance on this list. Young has had problems with walks throughout his career and walked four in just 5.1 innings in his first start. He had a good first appearance, but if the control problems creep up again he could get beat up.
Erik Bedard (5.0%) - Seattle vs Cleveland - Bedard is going to be a solid spot start this year, but even though he's home here, i don't like him for Sunday. Bedard has a rough matchup the way Cleveland has been hitting so far this year. The Indians are a team to avoid, but Bedard at has good stuff and is at a good park. That separates him from some of the guys following him here on the list.
Mike Leake (3.7%) - Cincinnati at Arizona - Leake might not be in the rotaion for long when the injured Reds starters return, but he's still a decent play here. He had a good first game against the Astros and has a week Diamondbacks lineup coming up here. I like him here if you need the pitcher today.
Jason Marquis (0.2%) and Brandon McCarthy (0.1%) - Don't like either of these guys to get a win or many strikeouts, but both have a better shot of giving you a good ERA/WHIP day than the guys that follow them on the list.
J.A. Happ, Kyle Lohse, Rick Porcello, Luke Hochevar, Jeff Niemann, Joe Saunders, Jo-Jo Reyes, Casey Coleman - These guys are all too risky to be worth a start for me. Some of them were blown up last matchup, some have bad matchups here, some are just plain bad and none of them is likely to overcome their problems with strikeouts. Avoid them all here.
Good luck in the last day of your match-ups. See you back here tomorrow for more.